Reflections from EducampTimaru

Lately I have been feeling a bit under the weather with reports and assessments. So I thought it would be well worth the drive to Timaru for the Educamp there – especially as the lovely Anne was going to, so I could hitch a ride.

If you are new to the educamp idea, they are unconferences. Run by teachers for teachers. Who give up there weekend or after school time to learn and teach others. Awesome

And as these things usually go, it is not what that you expect that gives you the most enjoyment. For a completely random, out of the box thing, I got to drive Martin’s Electric Car. It was totally cool – weird how quiet the car was. I was tempted to do some donuts, but not my car, so I was a very considerate driver. I would have loved to give it a burl on the open road

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 8.08.55 pm

We also played with a drone – for some pretty ‘clued up’ people, we couldn’t get the bugger to fly. Bruised fingers and egos all round.

The smackdown was short and sharp this time round – keeping the presentations to 1 minute meant there was a good coverage without getting bored. I picked up a few wee animations ideas from Gala that I will feed to the art dept at school, got reminded about crowdsourcing and got introduced to Chicktionary. I shared about using OneNote and Office Mix, and asked about sites.

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The most interesting thing for me was the idea of ILE. Almost before it had properly begun, it seems that MLE or modern learning environments is out, and innovative learning environments are in. You can review the report here – it is long. I am still working my way through it – but so far the most important factors are

1) There is a big focus on self regulation for students. And to group by ability/interest rather than age. Which to me seems a no brainer  – I hear timetablers the country over grinding their teeth, but we need to find a away forward to do this.

2) ‘Strongly promote horizontal connectedness across areas of knowledge and subjects, as well as communities and around the world’. I have quoted that whole sentence as it is resonating with me strongly at the moment. We need to smash down some subject silos. I am very frustrated with students struggling to apply skills learned in maths to mechanics, or asking me why I am talking about history in Science – especially as it isn’t in the assessment. There is more to the world than assessments.

So I am going to have to make some time to finish going through that report – it might be a holiday job.

The best bit of the whole meeting was talking Scichatnz with Matt Nicoll and meeting and talking with Jennie. It is a fun thing about a professional learning network, you can feel like you know people before you have even meet them.


As usual, I missed the memo about how to pose for the photo…. sigh

It was good to touch base, go over what we want to do with the future and how we can keep trucking on with things. We put some plans on paper, and hopefully we can get them to come to fruition 🙂 I am still enormously proud of how far ScichatNZ has come, and hope we can continue to grow.

I then spent some time talking with Pete from Balclutha. He has a web designer past, and as I am spending some time on sites in the next wee while, it was good to talk to some-one with more expertise than me. I got some tips on structure, permissions and a different look at file organisation – the ‘traditional’ set up doesn’t allow for a file to be more than 1 thing – whereas if we can get tags set up and working properly, we can have a more fluid and useful file/document library. Lots to think about.

For me, the day was a really good chance to get some fresh perspectives and advice. I have been struggling a bit lately, and hearing different things from different people all combined to give me a more positive outlook. I’m still not quite sure of what my next steps should be, but I am more confident in knowing I do LOVE being in the classroom (or at a stretch the freezing cold football sideline). It is definitely were I want to stay. So knowing that means I can come up with what things I could do while still staying in the classroom to break up some frustrations. Firstly, I got some good book recommendations. I might look at some online mentoring options. I’m going to look at doing some papers (madness I know, but having something more concrete to work towards might make me feel like I am making more progress). And then there are options for TIC or HOD or specialist classroom teacher rolls, and some advice about how to make myself more employable for those rolls.

So it was really nice to see some people face to face, to get some ideas kicking round and to realise I am not alone in my doubts and wanderings. And that I should have a little more faith that things will fall into place.

So thanks to everyone at educamptimaru for being open, sharing and caring. Taking the time to share ideas and learn new things is always empowering and inspiring. Educamps arekick arse

Now, when is the next one……?

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