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Access Denied: A School Web-Blocking Experience With Rafe Esquith

As you may know, we hosted a professional development webinar earlier this week with renowned teacher Rafe Esquith. Funny story: Shortly before we were scheduled to go live, Esquith discovered that he couldn't access the interface for the presentation from his school in Los Angeles because of an Internet-filtering program. He had even notified his school's tech people earlier in the week that he would need access to our webinar site, but apparently—as we were notified at the last moment—this turned out to be impossible for some reason.

In the end, everything turned out fine: Esquith just worked from a printout of his presentation, while we moved his slides for the online audience and relayed questions to him. (When I had asked him just before we went on if he had a printout, he responded, "Of course I do. I'm a teacher. I always prepare for the unexpected.") But still, it was hard not to realize that there was something grimly representive about this situation: That is, what does it say about schools' use of technology and the lack of professionalism we grant teachers when one of the most decorated and esteemed educators in the country can't access his own webinar from his classroom computer? I have to admit, I felt briefly depressed and then angry about this. I mean, c'mon, let's have some respect and create some level of digital empowerment for the people in our society who are knowledge workers in the truest sense. ...

But as I said, the webinar, in which Esquith outlined his approach to classroom management, was excellent in spite of all this. Ironically, Esquith's new book is partly about that need for teachers to cultivate emotional strength and a positive spirit in the face of professional discouragement and frustration. Funny how in this presentation, behind the scenes, he demonstrated another example of just that.

You can catch the on-demand version of Esquith's webinar (assuming you can access it) here.

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