Thursday, 11 August 2016

The Power of Dialogue

My good friend and colleague, Joe sent me a text the other day asking me when I was going to come over so that we could make a podcast. This is what Joe does, he throws himself head first into projects and more often than not, they turn out great.

This was my first real foray into the world of podcasting as part of the creation process. I had previously made a single episode of a podcast for a class as part of a graduate diploma, but nothing since. The topic of the session was educational leadership and my new role as principal at St. Martin's in Vegreville. What I really want to focus on in this blog posting is the power of dialogue and how there is so much growth that happens in the act of dialogue.

I participate in Twitter and Facebook and have numerous colleagues and other individuals involved in education in these fields. I engage in "conversation" which these individuals through social media, but it is not often enough and I would contend it is not the same thing. In a 2012 Time Magazine article MIT professor Sherry Turkle indicates that she "believes that having a conversation with another person teaches kids to, in effect, have a conversation with themselves — to think and reason and self-reflect". “That particular skill is a bedrock of development,” Turkle is quoted as saying.

In the podcast, Joe asks me about my how I am feeling about my new role. As I reflect upon that experience, I realize that perhaps I had some ideas rolling around in my head, sort of like laundry in the dryer. You can see that there is a red sweater in there, but not exactly which red sweater. Until you have a chance to verbalize fully through dialogue with another individual, you don't know exactly what your thoughts on the subject are; you don't know that the red sweater is your favourite Roots Team Canada sweater. My interaction with Joe allowed me to think, reason, and self-reflect about the questions I was being asked. As I listened to the podcast once it was posted online, I again had a chance to consider my answers and entrench the feelings I was having or make arguments against myself. It was quite an interesting experience.

By bringing technology into the school and classroom, as teachers and school leaders, we need to be cognizant of how that technology is implemented into the classroom. Educators need to ask the question, "How can I leverage the technology to make the teaching and learning that was occurring in my class better than before?" If the technology does not have a positive impact on the teaching or learning, the technology is best left alone. I however feel that the technology can have a huge impact. The activity of podcasting is an extremely enlightening experience that is rooted in conversation and dialogue and is a perfect example of how technology can be used in the classroom. I believe this would be a wonderful format for students to share their learning but by further extending the activity to have students reflect upon their answers after the podcast was completed would also be an extremely useful activity.

If you would like to hear Joe's podcast, the first of hopefully many more episodes can be found here.