Tag Archives: reflection

Leading Change is Hard

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by m-c

Leading change is hard. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it isn’t. If it was, I doubt there would be so many expensive books, people and programs out there that claim to revolutionise your working environment in ‘just a few easy steps’. The books on my coffee table currently include ‘Start with Why’, ‘Leaders Eat Last’ and ‘Think Like a Freak’…I have watched countless YouTube videos on leadership and educational change and I have listened to some amazing people share their stories about leading change. I think it is safe to say I’m always looking, reading and researching ideas to help me be better at my job.

I have been in my current position for a little over a year now. I have learnt a lot, a lot about leadership and I have learnt a lot about people. Some days I get so frustrated- a big part of my learning has been about patience and learning to understand that not everybody thinks the same way as I do…and may not be quick to take on new ideas and challenges like I do. I remind myself all the time to slow down- but it is so much easier said than done! I don’t recall having these kind of challenges with students I have taught- those challenges are different. But working with adults- well that is a whole other ball game. Don’t get me wrong- I absolutely love what I do- to be able to work so closely with teams of teachers and individuals…to challenge their thinking, to support them to take risks and try new things, it is amazing and incredibly rewarding…but it is hard!

In the past few weeks I have felt stilted by what I viewed as a lack of change and movement. I have constantly had to remind myself to take a step back and look at how far we have come- as a school, how learning is being transformed on a daily basis and how teachers are now challenging each other’s thoughts, ideas and reasoning. Instead of focusing on what is not happening, or that massive list of ideas I have…I have had to reign myself in and just relax and go with the flow…something that I am not comfortable in doing.

Today, three things happened that reinvigorated me and reminded me just how much impact I have had on some people I work with and how far their learning (and my own) has come.

1. I watched as two educators wrote a proposal to present at a conference, something they have not done before- and while they may be anxious about the whole experience, they have amazing stories to share it would be a shame if they were not shouted from the roof tops. Listening to them discuss what they wanted to do and say and reflect on what they have achieved says a lot for the effort and commitment they have made to their own learning.

2. I received a message that thanked me for challenging another’s thinking…something that I am myself thankful for with my wider networks of educators and friends I talk to. It is where I learn the most so to know someone thinks of me and what I do in a similar way confirmed I was asking the right questions.

3. I received a reply to an email I had sent yesterday asking for feedback about some of our Inquiry / CBL processes. The reply whilst may not have seemed like anything special to an outsider…clearly demonstrated how far this person has come in their own thinking about inquiry learning. What I appreciated most was when this person questioned me and could back it up…and made me think differently.

I felt compelled to write this post to celebrate the successes- however small they seem from the inside…they are pretty huge on the outside and will continue to motivate, engage and challenge me to keep on keeping on!

So yes, leading change is hard but it is most definitely worth it.

The Best of the Best – 2014

A new year calls for new lists, lots of lists; best of lists, who to follow lists, what to try lists, what to read lists…so many lists!

I’m not sure how I feel about this growing ‘list’ culture.

I’m sure that many people appreciate being given lists of things to do, try or read but I question the authenticity of some of these lists and question the culture of ratings and rankings we find ourselves in. Lately, given the time of year, I am sure, such posts are overflowing in my social media feeds. However, I’m not saying that every list out there is ‘unreadworthy’, I have been known to write a list post or two in the past and have found myself or my blog on many lists. I just hope that as competent educators we don’t take such lists as verbatim.

I think my biggest concern is that many of these lists are often subjective and lack depth and substance. Who are creating the lists? Are they crowd sourced? Is it just one person with a specific agenda? What qualifications do they have? Why should I listen to them? Perhaps I am being too critical, but I would prefer to see more posts written that discuss the pedagogy underlying the reasons behind using such tools as an example, rather than a top 10 list of the ‘best’ edtech tools.

When reading such lists I think it is important to think about context- what works for one, may not work for another. Question the advice, do further research…talk to someone, have a conversation. I am also concerned that more and more of these list-type posts I am seeing are being used for marketing purposes- which frustrates me. Posts like that do not seem to care about teaching and learning or education in general.

It seems I’m not the only one having these thoughts…a quick Google search ‘the problem with lists’ finds many people out there with similar thoughts to me from a variety of industries, far beyond education. My advice? Whether you find yourself on a list, reading a list or creating a list this year, think about the context and if said lists are actually going to help or teach you anything…

Teaching the Social Media Generation

Yesterday I attended ICT in Education Victoria‘s annual state conference and was lucky enough to present about the ways I am exploring social media in my classroom.

I have written a couple of posts about embracing social media with students-

Twitter in my Classroom

A Chance Tweet 

One of my students has also written a post about his experiences-

Tweeting the Prime Minister

My session overview stated- 

The majority of students we teach use social media, they have Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Google and Twitter accounts. It is no longer ok for teachers to ignore the fact that their students are using these tools and that social media is becoming a fundamental source for students to research, gather information, learn, play and communicate. It is time that we as educators start embracing this use of technology in the classroom. This session will specifically explore using Twitter as a fundamental educational tool in the classroom.

It was great to see a booked out session and some familiar Twitter faces in the crowd.

Click the following link to view my presentation slides- Teaching the social media generation – ICTEV 2013 Presentation

How do you use Twitter with your students? 

Bye Bye 2012

 

2012 has been a remarkable year. It has been busy and at times demanding, exciting and stimulating. There have been many ups and a few downs but each time I have managed to get back up again! I have learnt a great deal, I have taught a great deal, I have accomplished so much more than I could have imagined, which of course, has left me wanting even more! I have been surprised and I have been shocked but I can happily look back on 2012 and know that I am still in the right place. Being an educator is who I am and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I love my job, no matter what it throws at me and yes, some days I may just want to pull my hair out…but I don’t because I know that what I am doing is worth it. There are young people who rely on me everyday to be the best I can be, so I keep going. I don’t give up.  I do it for them!

My highlights of 2012 have included:

–       This Blog: What a wonderful way to share and learn from others, to engage in professional learning and to reflect on my practice.

–       My Class Blog: My very first year of blogging in my class has opened up a myriad of ideas and learning in my classroom.

–       T is For Teaching: An article by Jewel Topsfield published in The Age Newspaper. Teachers rarely get the recognition they deserve for the things they do in the classroom, just to be noticed and valued for what I have done is something that I am extremely grateful for.

–       Evernote Ambassador: This year I was made an international education ambassador for Evernote. It is extremely exciting to share, teach, help and inspire other teachers to use Evernote to become more organised and efficient teachers!

–       My students: I have been blessed with an amazing group of students who have challenged me and nearly everyday teach me something new. Without them I would not have been able to accomplish half as much as I did this year.

Where to in 2013-

–       IWBNet Leading a Digital School Conference: I am looking forward to presenting and running workshops about Evernote at the IWBNet leadership conference, my first conference presentation.

–       Evernote Ambassadorship: I can’t wait to meet more teachers looking at using Evernote and being able to share what I know with them.

–       A new year in a growing school: 2013 will be the third year of operation for my school and I have been there from the beginning- what a privilege to be a part of it.

– Continuing to learn and grow: I don’t think I could ever stop wanting to find out more, I wonder what i will learn in 2013?

My ‘words of wisdom’ from what I have learnt this year:

  • Expect the unexpected
  • Start with a clean slate
  • Be patient
  • Never give up
  • Have high expectations
  • Hard work really does pay off
  • Learn from those around you
  • Listen to what others have to say
  • Discuss…don’t argue
  • Nudge…don’t force
  • Persevere
  • Put yourself out there
  • Try something new…try something new…try something new…try something new…try something new…get it?
  • Give people time- everybody is different, just because what someone else does is not the same as what you would do, doesn’t mean it is wrong
  • Ask questions- enquire, research, have the want for more, we are always learning!
  • Smile and be positive- ‘EVERYDAY is a good day to have a good day’ (as my thermo mug tells me every morning)…even if you don’t feel like it…our students deserve the best!

What has 2012 been like for you?

What are you looking forward to in 2013?

What are your ‘words of wisdom’?

Educational Blogging # 2

At the beginning of the year, I blogged about the launch of my first classroom blog. The last six months has proven to be a myriad of things; challenging, exciting, stimulating, inspiring,worthwhile, fulfiling, interesting but above all one of the most rewarding things I have done in my teaching career to date.

There is nothing better as a teacher to witness your students become responsible and independent learners who are able to reflect on what and how they learn. I believe that having our class blog has encouraged my students to become thought provoked, interested learners who take pride in their work and thrive on sharing their successes with an authentic audience.

Last week my students and I discussed why we blog and how it helps their learning. This is what we came up with:

It was great to be able to hear their thoughts and ideas on whay blogging is important and discuss the ways it helps their learning.

During Term 2 students in my class participated in a ‘Blog Challenge‘- Students had to try and get as many of their friends and family to comment on our blog as possible. I implemented this challenge as an effort to encourage more of a connection between school and home. It was great to see the enthusiasm of students and many of their family members! With the announcement of our winners last week, my students have already asked if we will be having another challenge during the year.

The next step in my journey will be having some student bloggers. I have about three students in my grade who I think are nearly ready to embark on their own blogging adventure and can’t wait to help them begin. I am sure this will be another learning curve but one that will be rewarding all the same.

Some pictures of students blogging in my class-

Do you blog with your students?

How has blogging improved student learning in your class?

Kathleen Morris has blogged a lot about educational blogging here. If you are thinking about starting a class blog I would highly recommend visiting her site, there is lots of great ideas and advice!