For the fourth post in our series on gifted education we turn to Jeff Agamenoni, who posts as @teacherman79 on Twitter. Though relatively new to gifted education, Jeff’s experience in education and honest perspective on teaching made him a natural choice to invite as a guest blogger here. Jeff is also active in Second Life and Quest Atlantis.
My name is Jeff Agamenoni and I have been teaching for 17 years in a variety of positions, mostly middle school, in Great Falls, Montana. I am in my second year as a gifted and talented specialist and I learned a ton in my first year. I hope to continue learning about how to be more effective with my students as I move into my second year.
When Gerald asked me to guest blog, he posed the question, “How are we going to meet the needs of the gifted population as we continue moving into the twenty-first century?” My initial response was that we need to be changing the way we deliver instruction for all kids in much the same way. I told this to Gerald and he said I needed to think it through more thoroughly. So I did, and the truth of the matter is, I really don’t know. There are a couple of things, however that I am fairly certain of.
I believe the answer lies somewhere within the concept of Connectivism. New technology, to me, is not about the machines, the applications, or the search engines; but about its ability to connect us to others. Most experts I have read talk about the importance of grouping gifted students as a means of providing them with increased learning opportunities. They also talk about connecting gifted students to experts in their fields of interest. Not only do current technologies increase our capacity to connect gifted students to one another, but they increase our capacity to connect our students to other great teachers and experts in a variety of fields. I believe I have begun doing this on a small scale and I believe my job is to continue to try and increase the scale at which I connect my students with each other, to other great teachers, and to experts in a variety of occupational fields.
The second thing I began thinking about last night is sometimes it seems in education we focus more on what we need to be doing differently instead of what we are already doing right. I believe most teachers really want to do what is right for kids, but every year, no matter what happened in the previous year, it seems it has never been enough for some people, usually people who haven’t been in the classroom since last century. So, teachers who are reading this: you did a great job last year, and keep up the good work. I am certain that in some way, you touched a kid’s life.
Finally, I love connectivism and having a PLN. I connect to my PLN in a variety of places including twitter, blogs I read, and second life, among others. I believe that without it (my PLN), I would be lost and extremely unsure of how to approach issues like the one that Gerald asked me to guest blog about. I think it is important to continue looking at and discussing how we can improve the way we deliver instruction to our students. Having a strong PLN and a willingness to be a little reflective gives us the ability to accomplish that very important goal.
Jeff, the fact that you are on Twitter, write for blogs, and have a PLN automatically places you into a separate category of teacher. If all teachers were like you, I could agree with your statement, ” I believe most teachers really want to do what is right”. Sadly, as a parent of gifted children & consultant to gifted parents, you’re the exception to the rule. This is especially true when it comes to utilizing technology in the classroom and reforming education. I believe the Twitterverse presents a false impression that all teachers are fired up about improving education in this country. I often feel like I live in 2 parallel universes — online and reality when the subject is motivated teachers.
This is not to suggest that I think the situation is hopeless; quite the contrary. Hope lies in the connectivism of not just of people, but of ideas and teacher peer interaction. It is my hope that good teachers, like yourself, will continue to connect with other good teachers and work to make the system work for students.
My recent post Personal Branding and Your Gifted Student
Many teachers do not see the benefit of tools like twitter, blogs, or other social media yet. They take classes on it, see it all over the news, and here about it at conferences, yet fail to give it a fair shot in their own practice. Or when they do give it a shot, fearful administrative types shoot those things down, so pursuing the use of social media in the classroom or in one’s own PD is completely taboo in many cases. And once again, I do not know the solution, only that I can use social media in my own classroom and in my own professional development and hope that others see its benefit. Thank you for reading my post and commenting too.
I think that you are right, the reason technology is so compelling is because it connects us, it allows us to be social in our learning, shopping, and viewing. It isn’t really about the tools, technology that doesn’t connect is dying out, I believe this is the reason you are seeing televisions coming out with flickr, youtube, facebook, and twitter integration. They are trying to make what can be a passive activity more social. They know if they don’t do it on your TV set, someone will do it online and the tv no longer has an audience.