An Approach with An Attitude
Partnership for Learning (P4L) pairs a student mentor with
a teacher in their major area of interest. The student is a catalyst
for technology learning and gains a new perspective of the field
through the teacher.
abilities rather than teaching applications will
lead to more effective teaching.
conditions for evolution,
rather than planning for reform, will
lead to deeper learning.
fluency ~ the independence to discover and learn for
themselves what works in their classroom ~ improves with
a catalyst and a spark.
Why spark and catalyst and not a hook?
a fractal image is developing, the pattern and beauty are often
unseen. This can be true of the learning process as well. And just
as one mathematical formula can create a wide variety of fractals,
each instance of the catalyst + spark can result in a unique creative
universe is alive with sparks. We have at our fingertips an infinite
capacity to light the spark of possibility."
Art of Possibility
Zander & Zander
concepts for this approach are rooted in over 20 years of teaching
classes, running training sessions, participating in train-the-trainer
programs. I learned that finding the learner's passion was key to
ownership and success. The question evolved, "What's their
hook?" However, images of hooks are not pleasant ~ even Disney's
Hook is a villain.
was uncomfortable with the underlying message: hooking someone
into something has a sneaky, negative connotation. They are
victims and not partners. This was not what I wanted to convey nor
was it my vision of the process. As the idea of a spark and
catalyst evolved, the fractal, including its sparks, seemed an obvious
a quality with latent potential; something that ignites.
agent of change; something that initiates or accelerates action
or reaction; something that dissolves or loosens.
Mary & John ~ Relevancy & One-on-One Mentoring
Mary's Marvelous Adventure
Mary's boss knew Excel would be a big help to Mary and asked me
to train her. Specifically, he knew it would help with her student
abroad balance sheets. She attended training sessions, but it just
wasn't clicking. She was dubious and reluctant. I began working
with her for 20-30 minutes twice a week. The sessions were two-part:
I was learning how she did her job in order to build a spreadsheet
template and she was learning Excel. Progress was slow. She couldn't
see how it would be much better than what she was already doing
very effectively and comfortably.
Solved: Just two days before a group of 22 was
due to leave for Italy and Austria, one student dropped from the
program. Everything had to be recalculated. It took Mary six hours
- a very long night! When I met with her the next day and brought
up the spreadsheet, I typed '21' in the cell that had '22' for the
number of students. Viola! Close to instantaneously, the calculations
Results: Mary's astonishment (hand to mouth, drop
back in chair, audible gasp) was a delight. We completed the training
in another week. She began converting all of her work into spreadsheets.
She taught herself other applications for her office work and began
using these in her work as clerk for her church. Most importantly,
her resistance to technology melted and she became inventive in
how she approached her work and using technology.
this same idea - a relevant project - work
with teachers? What worked with Mary was the
complete relevancy of the project to her technology learning. While
she made progress through her philosophical commitment to learning
Excel, it wasn't until the demonstration of applicability that she
was emotionally involved with the learning. With relevancy, she took
ownership of the project and of technology in general. Could relevancy
be one point that holds back teachers from learning and integrating
technology as well?
John Slides into Tech
used hundreds of slides in teaching history. They were talking
points that brought the people and events alive to his students.
Manually loading and unloading the carousels and filing the slides
was tediously time consuming. In class, it was cumbersome to go
back eight or ten slides to illustrate a point in class discussions.
Solved: I hired a student to scan that huge collection
of slides. The student not only scanned the slides and put them
into PowerPoint (PPT) presentations, but also ran the presentations
in class. It was a fruitful partnering as the student was enrolled
in the class so, not only provided technical assistance and was
a valuable resource for what worked academically, but also gained
a better grasp of the subject matter.
Results: The following quarter, the
student continued to scan images and create PPTs, but John now
ran the presentations. By spring quarter, John had created his
own six-slide PPT for the first day of class covering his syllabus
and course expectations. John
always referred to the "confuser" with disdain, but
now he had gained confidence in file management and could use
the equipment in any classroom. He was no longer intimidated.
relevancy is a factor, but how does that tie to the one-on-one sessions?
mentoring has been an option for years. Several studies on developing
technology integration through a mentoring process document success
(Polselli, 2002). However, finding faculty peers that have the time
is often a challenge.
students provide the path for scaling this to a larger group?
Varying approaches to student support for technology are reporting
infuses technology throughout a school tying the outcomes to national
standards. It provides a framework for the teacher and the student
technology partner to develop the unit incorporating the appropriate
technology. Ann Thompson's one-on-one partnering program, Faculty
Technology Mentoring, at Iowa State University's Education College
began at the university level. It spread to local K-12 schools in
which the university student teachers were placed. Wake Forest University
program partners students with faculty across disciplines for development
of faculty teaching and technology integration.
I explored the ideas of mentoring, I found the following four recurring
key points increase the likelihood of success.
mentors ~ empathic partners empower
mentoring ~ both gain and give
commitment ~ one year or more consistently
~ approachable and available
a student mentor from the field of the teacher's interest link relevancy
and these four mentoring standards?
Roger/Ella, John/Ethan ~ Spark & Catalyst
Spark that Ignites:
Roger Lights Up
For Roger, Sociology courses are better served through original
source materials than through text books. But his sources were dated.
He used publications from the 12+ organizations as resources in
his courses. This instructionist approach meant that students did
little daily research on their own. He was unaware of the richness
and relevance of online sources and thought the internet was just
a collection of superficial materials. He closed his
eyes whenever we opened a browser. Roger was unfamiliar
with our online Library
resources, including the college online card catalogue. Thus
he could not verify his students' sources nor was he aware of the
depth of their research.
Solved: We tried several mentoring and coaching
approaches and agreed on utilizing the web as forum for technology
progress. A web support-tech worked with him on his pages. The trainer
worked with him on basic skills. I worked with him on classroom
application utilizing the web resources. Progress was evident, but
modest. With the launch of Partnership for Learning (P4L), Roger
was a natural candidate ~ and an eager one! Ella, his student partner,
made more progress with him in ten weeks than our team had in over
a year. She was inventive
and finally succeeded in raising his comfort level with the classroom
Results: Roger is passionate about the subjects
he teaches. That spark ignited his willingness to venture into technology.
Through the use of web pages, Ella significantly raised Roger's
awareness of the value of technology and alternative teaching and
did Ella's mentoring outstrip other attempts? Several
factors contributed to his transformation:
1. They met frequently amd regularly
2. She was availabile on a daily basis
3. She was his one point of learning
4. She was a Sociology major ~ understood the field and his approach
these four factors in the success of this partnership, the last
point - her tie to his field - was perhaps the most
critical. They related in ways that neither the trainer,
the web developer, nor I could. Both the personal interest and the
professional standpoint supported the partnership and led to progress.
On several occasions, Roger consulted with Ella on how to approach
sharing an issue with the students. Her grasp of the material, as
well as her student perspective, gave her a unique place from which
to share ideas. They were truly peers in their mentoring.
how did we arrive at this success?
and Ethan: Empathetic Evangelists
Empowered and Empowering
How to find the right mentors? Finding the right mix of skills (both
people and technology), experience in the major, and a good match
were all critical. While the teachers and I were about to
opt for hand-picking students, the Student Employment Office advised
against that approach. They were interested in fairness; I realized
that approach would lessen the student choosing
to be part of the program.
We sent out applications, with a brief explanation of the program.
The teachers culled through the responses for students that did
well in the field and to whom they related. I looked over the technology
and mentoring backgrounds. In this way, both parties
made an overt choice to participate in the partnership.
The matches worked well. Each student met with challenges that led
them to move out of the traditional role of student and into a peer
relationship. Both students gained new technology skills. Each student
gained insight into the material on which they worked.
Ella, who had taken the course on Indigenous Cultures previously,
found a deeper insight into the cultures through the improved
Ethan, who was taking the course on Mexican History at the time
he was developing the PPTs, often had discussionswith John that
ranged far afield.
to best develop the idea of the catalyst ~ the two-way mentoring?
The spark - the relevance that engaged the teacher
- was evident in that first experience with Mary and held true with
the early experiences with both John and Roger. Finding the best
way to mix that relevance with mentoring was the next step.
programs tended to put the teacher in the role of learner and rarely
as a teacher. Several exceptions - Louisana's Intech,
Broward County, Florida's DETA,
and Fort Smith
Arkansas school system - all provide components in their programs
where the teacher comes back to share or teach. Nevertheless, there
is still a hierarchical nature to most mentoring approaches.
a process whereby both partners would be in the role of giving as
well as gaining, where both would have the opportunity to learn
as well as to teach. This approach would empower both by building
in interest, interdependence, and trust. As noted above, empathetic
partners empower each other. As each partner gained confidence
in his or her role through the support and successes of the partner,
they were empowered to take initiative. This
ownership of the partnerships that led in unexpected directions
and to far more progress than anticipated.
expected Ella to provide Roger with the training on the equipment.
None of us anticipated his need or progress in learning to utilize
never anticipated the Ethan's success in teaching John to use
Google image searching. This was not part of the original plan.
Ownership & Training ~ Learning at Lunch
what happened in our ten-week quarter?
~ Initially, the students focused on the projects. It was an opportunity
to build relationships through the regular meetings. Both partners
gained trust and respect. At the end of two weeks, the students,
working with the teachers, developed a scope document for the full
three quarters. It covered goals for each partner, a description
of the projects, and skills each will have mastered. Though I discussed
the general ideas and focus of P4L with the teachers and students
individually, I gave little direction in the specifics of the scope.
Both partners used this to take ownership of the process, the project,
and their expected outcomes. The partnerships themselves refined
these and implemented their own sense of how to proceed. This was
far more powerful: empower and get out of the way.
~ Weekly tech training sessions with the students broadened and
deepened their skills and confidence. We began filling in the holes
in their tech experience. As authentic learning opportunities arose,
they shared their new knowledge with the teachers. Occasionally,
one of the students taught us a special skill or shared tech tip
they found helpful. As the student group grew in their feeling of
community of practice, they felt more comfortable sharing gaps in
their knowledge and asking for suggestions.
~ In the initial meetings with the students, I covered the power
the concept of two-way mentoring. We all acknowledged how empowered
we felt when we were the "one who knew." Therefore, it
was important for them to find opportunities to be on the receiving
side of the equation. We also shared ideas about listening for the
concerns behind the words and creativity in finding gracious ways
to address those concerns. We discussed the collaborative nature
of a partnership, the sharing together ideas about the process and
student was challenged in various ways by the shift in roles. For
initial disillusionment about Roger's ignorance of the College
Library resources led her to renewed determination and she took
this on as an additional challenge. The joy he took in sharing
his new-found resources was a thrill for her.
struggled with managing unrealistic expectations from John on
the number and timing of tasks he requested. The shift from the
more passive role of a student to the more active role of a partner
required a significant shift in his thinking.
~ Each student learned more about their field (see below) and grew
in their own technology skills. Both teachers made significant strides
in their technology fluency. In the ten weeks, Roger went from inability
to run equipment or use the web on his own, to regular independent
use in the classroom. John was comfortable running PPT at the start
of the quarter, but learned about web images and mastered PPT authoring.
Successes in Fluency
are having fun and are proud of their accomplishments! All
of the partnerships are eager to continue. Other teachers are asking
about joining the program because they have seem the strides John
and Roger are making.
it is too early to see much evidence of transference of technology
skills to other applications, both teachers began to ask questions
about other options. Both are now eager for more independence; both
have asked to use Blackboard next quarter where they will have more
independence, more flexibility in the course direction and resources.
They are interested in exploring the e-discussion options. The
most significant change is in their attitude: an eagerness to approach
technology options grounded in confidence rather than a reluctance
to consider new options rooted in fear.
sodas, chips, and cookies ~ modest fare for a small celebration
for the four partners at the end of the first quarter of P4L. Though
I planned a few remarks of thanks, my agenda was irrelevant. The
meeting immediately took off with a life of its own! The genuine
collegiality of the helicopter jock and the environmental ecohead
surprised both students and me. John noted
that both he and Roger had moved significantly toward fluency with
technology - though they had used different tools, but the result
was the similar.
two faculty members were fascinated by what the other was doing
and openly shared successes and challenges. John led the group into
an evaluation of the impact of the two approaches (PPT and Web)
on student learning. Notably, he asked wonderful questions of the
group about 'spoon feeding' the students versus making them do their
own search for sources. It was encouraging
to see them all share ideas and directions as well as what they
will do differently in the future. Their comfort
with the technology skills gave them a fluency to consider the pros
and cons of these approaches and of technology in general. Bingo!
faculty members were enthused about their student partners. The
student partners were solicited for their views on what works from
their perspective. The faculty wanted to know how their classroom
approach could be different as well as what worked for student assignments
and how to teach needed technology skills to the students. It was
true collaboration that can be more ostensibly incorporated in the
surprised himself with how much he achieved in the ten weeks.
Not only were his tech skills advanced, but they had immediate
applicability to his courses. His fluency with PPT enabled him
to diverge from teaching plans to discussions sparked by the images.
He discovered that jumping back a day or two in the images provided
a great opportunity for review and reinforced frame of reference.
noted that he had lost much of his fear and was no longer stymied
when technology caused a problem, especially in the classroom.
His comfort with the web led him (with no prompting from student
helpers) to demonstrate in his class how to look for value in
web sites in his course on Environmental and Social Change. One
site on farming provided a great deal of concrete data; the other
was a superficial emotional site. This step was so huge for him
that he came to share his success immediately after class. His
joy in his new-found dominion is rewarding.
fared far better in the Mexico History course through working
on this project. While working on PowerPoints, he and Glen often
engaged in side conversations covering material that was not necessarily
part of the course, thus enriching his experience.
began with some technology skills, FrontPage was completely new
to her. Her change in her self-perception came about six weeks
into the program. I received this voicemail message from her with
notable excitement in her voice: "I never saw myself as a
tech person and here I am designing web pages!" She became
inventive in helping Dr. Batz toward independence. Learning to
manage the technology in any classroom
was her idea to help him gain confidence. She
took the initiative to survey the class for an evaluation of her
web site ~ both its design and content. The survey was pointed
out some areas for improvement next quarter - notably in how Batz
uses the web pages.
~ Lessons Learned and Next Steps
thus far indicates that that one-on-one mentoring - a personal touch
on a personal project - creates conditions that promote evolution
of technology skills leading to a fluency in integration of technology
into the classroom and curriculum. Combining the teacher's spark/passion
with the student catalyst provides a powerful partnership for learning.
Focusing on changing attitudes rather than on teaching applications
engenders in both partners independence and initiative in utilizing
The idea of action research will play a key role as we progress.
As Acosta-Sing noted in Edutopia, "We're just kind
of learning as we go." (Chen, 2002) While action research
is definitely not 'winging it,' it does provide a flexibility
and openness for partnering - for working side by side with
collaborators in exploring opportunities.
The concepts of collaboration, learning circles, communities of
practice, and leadership coupled with educational theories, including
project based learning and scaffolding, provide methods for moving
would be advantageous to do a full or half day training with the
students before they started. However, I would not want to lose
the constructivist approach that developed through this process.
"Read" applicants carefully. One professor was never
really committed to P4L. Rather, she was interested in getting
help with data entry for a database. She did not seem particularly
concerned about the lack of progress. A second one wanted the
P4L and then was gone for two quarters.
One wanted a partner, and none applied from his field. It would
be helpful to have a few students waiting in the wings for these
teachers are interested in partners for next year. Another three
from our high school are also interested. The time needed to manage
students and partnerships is minimal, so scaling to a larger group
will be reasonable. Management comes from the partnerships.