I should have started this so much earlier but I always seem to think my memory for events will linger long past what they actually do. Because of my confidence in my over rated memory, I'll probably go back and forth between events as thoughts occur to me, rather than chronologically, which would have been ideal.
At this time, I've given Google presentations at two faculty meetings and I've finished one set of workshops. I had hoped to give another, and that was the plan, but lack of interest at this time means I'll have to hold off. I had listed one of the "risks" for success as the timing of the workshop, and that may be the case. I think teachers are in "wrap-up" mode so that automatically leaves some out. Others do not have the game installed at their school so they're reluctant to try. Still others have no interest in using gaming to stimulate student engagement. Regardless of the reason, it's disappointing.
Even more interesting is to realize how few "Mike Beardsleys" and "Jane Wildes" there are out in the education world. People who firmly believe in the power of gaming as a tool and intend to learn more for the greater good, not to mention the fun of it. Yes - it's yet another thing to do, as so many teachers wail, but isn't interest piqued - even a little? We're not suggesting it's the only tool but we are saying it's a powerful one.
My first presentation was at Shaftsbury Elementary, one of my targeted schools. The principal, Jeff Johnson, is in his first year and is enthusiastic and open to ideas. He's also remarkably tech savvy, which is wonderful to see. The teachers seemed very open to the idea of Minecraft in school and had a few questions. Still, only one signed up. Another was interested but unable to attend due to prior commitments. I did meet with her later - but that's for another post since it's a story in itself.
Jeff was very supportive during the meeting and later asked me if I would be willing to work with the teachers during the fall. Absolutely!
My second presentation was at the middle school, my second targeted school. The presentation went well and the after school club director who is also a 6th grade teacher had some very supportive (and unsolicited!) comments. He's dropped in on our Minecraft Club a number of times over the past year and has seen the activity and engagement of the students for himself. He talked about there being a number of kids who generally have no other place to be, yet who come faithfully to Minecraft Club. I know, too, that these are the "untribed" kids - just as we were hoping to get.
However, I was disappointed in the lack of, how shall I say it, professionalism on the part of some teachers. While I had a short Joel Levin video on, I had a chance to watch the staff. I saw some people turn their faces away, put their heads down and exhibit general disengagement. After that, I found myself watching them while I was speaking. Their behavior of boredom continued throughout the presentation. Certainly not everyone exhibited this behavior but it was disappointing, nonetheless. Perhaps it's just who I am but I couldn't help thinking that even if I was bored at a presentation (and who hasn't been?), I would never be so unprofessional as to exhibit that behavior - especially to a guest and colleague.
I found out later that a teacher with two years teaching experience was mocking the idea of using Minecraft to teach science. She was talking about it in that bastion of honest and kind remarks - the teachers' room. Apparently, she had played Minecraft over the past couple of years and announced that you can't use Minecraft to teach science. I find it interesting that (a) she didn't challenge me directly in the faculty meeting (too bad - I would have loved the honest exchange) and (b) she played all this time and didn't see any (not any?!) connection to science. How sad that a young teacher with presumably a long career ahead of her does not appear to have an imagination.