So, it is day 2 of Ulearn, and we have been given some time. Time is so precious, and I always struggle to use it wisely. Or I get so caught up in tomorrow I forget about today, or last year, or even before that.
One of my favourite poems is about time
Time out – Hone Tuwhare
Can not catch up with you, Time.
You precede me
like the echo of sad footfalls in my heart,
as I turn back
to find the solace
in a resolute search
for my space
It is resonating with my right now, as I think about the English teacher who first introduced me to it, Ms Fowler. Fowler was hard arse – she reminded me off the teacher Katie Novak talked about in the keynote. Fowler made me work harder than I ever had, and unlocked some potential. I argued with her, got cross, got disheartened and then picked myself up and tried again. I learned to love poetry as a means of expression rather than to loathe it as yucky english – even if I still can’t spell to save my life. I learned resilience, perseverance, and the importance of sticking to you guns despite what others say or think. To go with your gut feeling. That can again be described by a poem (this one I found specifically for a ‘read allowed’ assessment we had to do, I didn’t fully understand it at the time) – she taught it to her classes after which I found amazingly flattering. We ‘bumped’ into each other online recently, and she is still doing amazing things.
The Riders in the Stand
There’s some that ride the Robbo style, and bump at every stride;
While others sit a long way back, to get a longer ride.
There’s some that ride like sailors do, with legs and arms, and teeth;
And some ride on the horse’s neck, and some ride underneath.
But all the finest horsemen out — the men to Beat the Band —
You’ll find amongst the crowd that ride their races in the Stand.
They’ll say “He had the race in hand, and lost it in the straight.”
They’ll show how Godby came too soon, and Barden came too late.
They’ll say Chevalley lost his nerve, and Regan lost his head;
They’ll tell how one was “livened up” and something else was “dead” —
In fact, the race was never run on sea, or sky, or land,
But what you’d get it better done by riders in the Stand.
The rule holds good in everything in life’s uncertain fight;
You’ll find the winner can’t go wrong, the loser can’t go right.
You ride a slashing race, and lose — by one and all you’re banned!
Ride like a bag of flour, and win — they’ll cheer you in the Stand.
And as I ponder my Ulearn experience, and try take in all the ideas, I need to remember that everyone is on a different journey. I can only be me. It is so easy to get overwhelmed with all the awesomeness that is around you and feel a bit small.
My most important message came from @MsMagiera – stop asking/telling people to use tech, and start asking what they would change in their class room if they could.
Tech is can be scary and off putting, and sometimes completely unnecessary.
When I look back at my journey, I really like using tech when it empowers students to learn at their own paces and takes the focus of me as the bringer/holder of knowledge. Sometimes they need help to go over it, cement it, or have it delivered in a different ‘wrapper’ so the idea can make sense to them. Sometimes a practical needs a supervising set of eyes. The tech makes this easier, but could I have done the same thing with a bit more planning with non digital resources.
So I am going to keep trying and push the ‘thinking’ and connections rather than the tech. I don’t want to be thought of as the ‘tech’ teacher. Although I’m not quite sure what ‘label/package’ I want. But people looking to improve/tweek their practice are often at the forefront of new ways to do so and do get wrongly labelled as all about the tech.
I was also inspired by Alister West’s presentation on 365. Lots of thinking when into his presentation and he did a great job of managing a multilevel ‘class room’ while still getting his message across. It wasn’t perfect, it was messy, collaborative and a great example of how learning should look.
So I am thinking I need to go back to go forward. Look at the language I am using. The packages I am putting the learning in. Am I making it accessible for everyone? Am I making it useful or just flashy? How can I encourage connections?
What did people do before tech? How did my teachers make me see connections? How did they reach everyone? Or was it a case of hopefully sometime in your school you came across that one teacher who ‘got’ you and made the difference? I had lots of great teachers – especially Science – but 4th form English with Ms Fowler sticks out as the year I learned to think.
Have I achieved this with any of my students yet? Trouble is, could they tell me or will they think back in 5,10,15 years and realise.
So I need to look back a little more often.
And ulearn does rock – it is huge, but it has been super awesome to meet lots of people face to face, have wee chats, and generally just feel awed and awesome. It will take a while to process all the awesome