It ain’t about the tool … but it helps

We decided to start using Edmodo in a serious way at our school this year. Edmodo is a digital tool that is a hybrid of Facebook and Blackboard. It allows teachers to set up and invite students to groups – typically classes. Assignments can be posted to the entire group or to individuals. Submitted assignments can be annotated, graded and commented on privately. In-program polls, quizzes, links, and libraries are tips of the Edmodo iceberg. I’m not getting paid to talk up Edmodo, though, go check it out yourself if it sounds intriguing.

The cool thing is that our faculty had a mass (grassroots) conversion to Edmodo this summer. I mean, the PE/Health teachers are rocking this thing, not to mention an overwhelming majority of the core teachers. One great aspect of this movement is that everyone is using it in a context that best supports their class. One math teacher uses it for his spin on flipped instruction by posting his (interactive white board) lessons each day. Many require essay and project assignments to be uploaded here. Others use it as a safe and sometimes curated discussion board. There aren’t any “Thou Shalts” though. That might be why it’s working well so far.

To be perfectly clear, we aren’t all Edmodo all the time. It’s just one tool in our bag. A very versatile, user friendly, powerful tool. But not the only one we have.

I was prompted to write this post because I just finished “checking” lesson plans on Edmodo a few minutes ago. We decided to stop killing so many trees this year. Teachers submit lesson plans on Edmodo in a group I set up. It took us a while to get calibrated, but I read every lesson plan submitted and sent SOME reply to every one. Many were rather thoughtful reflective questions. Some were long. Some promised a thoughtful response soon (or next week). Here’s my confession: this is the first time I have EVER read every single lesson plan submitted to me. I’ve never commented on or responded at all to more than a few. I’m not saying Edmodo makes me a better principal, but I did something this week that I have known for years would benefit my teachers. So maybe I’m letting a digital tool compensate for a professional weakness – I think that’s okay. If it helps one teacher grow enough to help one student it’s worth it.

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