I’ve already done a post which was the basic run through of my week, so this post is more about the thoughts and ideas I have bought back – and how I hope they will impact on my teaching and learning programs, as well as how I can share them with other educators.
The biggest take home message for me that I want to share is that this conference/meeting was not about the tech. While it was an integral part of the week, the tech was so seemlessly integrated that at time it was barely noticeable. I often get funny looks when people walk into my classroom and I’m up the front scrawling on the board talking 10 to the dozen. But sometimes this is the best and fastest way to explore an idea. I saw a wall at Microsoft covered with post it notes (didn’t take a photo as I wasn’t sure if it was free to be shared) I asked about it – it was the planning wall for that group. Post it notes worked well for them, they could be easily re-arranged, sub’ed in and out, and different colours could easily ID different tasks
This isn’t the wall – this is a free to use pic I searched – but it shows the point
but this meeting was so much more than about the tech. It was about empowering ourselves and our learners to BE MORE.
This was especially highlighted in our group task. I found this task incredibly challenging. Collaborating with strangers from different places around the world with different ideologies and background – it was tough. Yet, we got there – via an infusion of different methods (including shouting!!), and our finished product was more polished than I ever could have dreamed of in the short time frame as we did. And what better way to demonstrate the challenges our students face, than by throwing us in the deep end.
Group 35 – we didn’t win a prize, but we rocked it just the same
Another big message for me was about being courageous. The themes of the conference were bravery, leadership and courage. For me, this focussed in on being courageous. Sometimes, just standing up in front of a class full of students is courageous. Travelling to another country and putting yourself out there is certainly courageous. Being able to say ‘oops, I stuffed up, how can I put it right’ takes courage. I liked the idea of courage over bravery – again linking back to the group task. When we were talking about bravery, it meant something slightly different to everyone in their different language – the most being common was ‘to stand’. I guess, rightly or wrongly, bravery for me is linked to the idea of fighting, and being immovable, where as courageous is more flexible, while still promoting positive action and change.
The best session in terms of applicable learning for me was from Josh and Steve on building capacity for success. You can see some of my hand written scrawls below.
This session really hit home for me – and gave me the most ideas to come home with. It wasn’t just about student success either. A large concern for me at the moment is the different in competencies within the staff of my school. Some are racing ahead with technology, others are making amazing learning programs with great thought to pedagogy and planning, while other still seems to be trapped in a paper work haze. How can I (and the SLT and department leaders etc) ensure that all the other teachers in my school feel that they can be successful in their jobs. How can I encourage and empower them to embrace a more collaborative and open approach to teaching and learning? As teacher we need to have trust and belief in ourselves and in our colleagues if we are going to embrace positive change for our classrooms and students.
My final impression was the challenge, but also the celebration. I think (and maybe this is a New Zealand thing in particular) we are terrible at celebrating success and our genius. I was embarrassed to wear my OneNote cap when I got back to school, cautious about showing off my yellow ‘inspirational’ ribbons and I didn’t even get a mention from our senior leaders when I got back. We celebrate sporting success to the hilt, but we don’t always celebrate teachers and learners the way we should. Some-where there must be a happy medium of celebration and modesty, but as teachers we were celebrated in Redmond. And not just those of us lucky enough to attend, but all teachers everywhere through us all sharing stories of challenges and successes we are working through. Education is a global solution to many problems the world is facing, and too often we take our excellent education system for granted. Hearing of the challenges other educators faced with such passion, courage and I’ll be damned determination was amazingly inspiring. This was also the message I took from Ziauddin, who has fought so hard for education for Girls and Boys in his home country.
So rock on teacher out there, you are changing my world, and I am challenging myself to do the same