The Fish Market is going out of business!

Yesterday I spent a few amazing hours talking  and brainstorming with my Head of School about our three-year technology plan. It is rare that we both have enough time to talk at great length and in such detail. When our conversation turned to professional development planning, my Head of School asked me to articulate the skills that teachers need in order to teach students of the 21st century. As I started to list off some of the skills that came into my head (using a blog, using GoogleDocs, other web 2.0 tools, etc.), I thought…. this is impossible. There is no list… or should I say, today’s list will be different from tomorrow’s and different from next year at this time. Assuming teachers have the basics of operating a computer, saving, launching programs, etc., the list, beyond those basics, doesn’t exist. It can’t.

SO… I quickly backtracked and said “I can’t name them”. He paused, and asked how I was supposed to plan professional development when I had no idea what I needed to develop.  I said, “I know what I need to develop.”  I need to develop A New Culture of Learning. I recalled the book that I read this summer as one of the weekly #isedchats.  There was a part of the book that had a profound impact on me. It popped right into my head.

“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, and feed him as long as the fish supply holds out.  But create a collective, and every man will learn how to feed himself for a lifetime.”

Thanks, John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas, for resonating so deeply with me. It was my “AH HA” moment!

My professional development plan will be to teach faculty how to “feed him/herself for a lifetime”, how to use the power of technology to learn new things, how to use the power of technology to help solve problems, to test ideas, to connect and collaborate with others. I will teach them to create their own “collective”. (According to Brown and Thomas, “a collective is a collection of people, skills and talent that produces a result greater than the sum of its parts”)  I know this will look different for each and every faculty member. My collective is personal to me… Twitter, Diigo, and blogs (my own and those I read) are my  “collective”. My goal will be to develop a plan that guides faculty in finding what works for them! Help them find their own answers so they don’t need ME any longer! Perfect!

So, the fish market is going out of business! I will no longer need to sell fish.  Isn’t that what we ultimately want for our students? Why not for our teachers too?


    1. Yes we do have to view teachers very differently to close the market. It will not happen over night and might not happen for every teacher before their career ends. However, if we continue on the path of teaching one tool at a time or identifying one skill at a time, it is like climbing a mountain with no summit. Creating a culture of sharing and learning from each other is a HUGE part of what we need to cultivate at our schools.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Thomas!


  1. Lorri,

    I love your plan! You are right. . . You have inspired me to rethink my approach. I have been pushing the idea of developing a PLN but I can see that is not enough. Thank you for your wonderful insight (and perfect timing)!


  2. Lori, your post resonates and, from my perspective, is right on the mark. Closing the fish market might make folks uncomfortable at first, but in the long term the neighborhood will benefit.

    Cheers, Laurie
    P.S. Coupled with Andrew Speyer’s recent blog post, your words are helping me to reframe the way I perceive/describe my role.


    1. Thanks Laurie! Yes, I agree about the discomfort part and I’m not looking forward to that, but I do agree that it will really be the best in the long run. Often, people ask how I “know” so much about technology… truth is- I have taught it to myself by exploring, reading, trying (and failing), and connecting with others who can support me and answer questions.

      Happy New Year to you and Fred!

      P.S. Andrew’s post made me think as well! (and he always shames me into blogging because I don’t do it enough!)


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