When I first read the topic, I immediately thought of my network. However, I think your creative council is more than that. In a classroom, it should include more than other classroom teachers that you share and gain ideas from. They should also be classroom mentors, parents, members of the community, other students, business leaders, fellow teachers, and more. These are the people who support your classroom. These are the people you AND your STUDENTS can reach out to.
I think this is a common misconception about networks. Your network should not just include other professionals. It should include others who can greatly impact your entire classroom. For a while, I thought of my network of people who can help me as opposed to people who can help my classroom or school.
It's a hard transition. Even the acronym PLN refers to something rather personal, when, perhaps, it shouldn't be. Perhaps, it should be about bringing in that extra padding. That "padding" should make you and your team/class better and stronger. Sometimes, it may be in the form of a guess speaker or a classroom mentor. Other times, it may be a parent volunteer or student aide.
If you think of your creative council as your network, you can make your network much more than a self-serving tool. I used to encourage teachers to build their network because it would make them better. And, that is true. But, what I failed to mention was making your network something not just for you, but for your classroom or team.
So, in revisiting my network or creative council, I don't just want others in the EdTech field.
- Students...lots of them. Students are full of ideas & creativity. They are the reason we do this.
- Teachers in all realms - not just the so-called "connected" teachers. You need a wide variety of opinions - not just those that speak your "language."
- Parents...yes, we need them. Think about all of the wealth of knowledge they bring. You just have to be able to channel that knowledge.
- Community members - this is an area I want to grow. I do this virtually, but I think face-to-face is still important. Students are still going to have to apply for a job and will still need to work with others in a face-to-face environment at times.
- Administrators - I have mixed feelings on admin. On one hand, they have a great understanding of the system. We need that knowledge to make us all stronger. And, on the other, they can, sometimes, be very removed from the actual classroom. So, I will pick carefully.
- Fine Arts - we need them. "What is all of this worth if we can't enjoy the arts?"
Here are the questions to ask when creating your creative council:
- What would…think?
- How would … approach this problem?
- What historical precedent or example can inform us about what to do next?
- Who would be smiling about what we are doing and why?
- What would … say are the biggest challenges to this approach?
- What actions would … take next?
- What would … say we had forgotten and why?
- Would … be proud of us?
With all of the members above, I can effectively answer most questions. When deciding upon an action, I would ask: what would parents think? What would community members think and so on? Being able to ask these questions for all groups gives a greater understanding.
Who is on your creative council or who should be? Are you making sure your network is not only self-serving, but team-serving?