A big part of my focus after attending the E2 educator exchange was being courageous and brave. I blogged about this in an earlier post that you can read here. So when I spotted an opening to present at #teachmeetNZ I jumped in. I was going to talk about building collaboration when the ever amazing Sonya suggested I talk about my award. So I did, and it was a really nice reminder about what I learned, and what I promised myself I would try to do when I got back.
I had some idea of what to expect from my involvement in the science teachmeetNZ earlier in the year when I was the twitter broadcaster. Sonya does an amazing job in her roll, and makes sure you have practiced, received feedback and practiced some more. We also uploaded our presentations to the wiki page (I learned how to embed a powerpoint via 365 – it was easy peasy)
As I was a bit late into it, I got to meet everyone online the Wednesday before and, as I always am, was taken aback by the generousity, innovation and bravery displayed by educators in NZ. Then it was Saturday, and we were all set to go (with instructions to comb our hair and check our lippy – I wore lippy once when I got married…. but did wear my #scichatNZ hoody for the occasion)
I will also thank everyone involved, especially Sonya. All of these people gave up there time to help other teachers, and are there totally KICK ARSE awesome.
The presentations were outstanding, but some real key points stood out for me from each of the talks
1) Stuart Kelly talked about digitising his L3 english class. My favourite line was don’t wait, fail now. This echoes what I have heard Matty Nicoll say, if you wait for it to be perfect, you won’t start. Stuart was honest in his reflection and results, and I loved the teaching and learning was foremost in his thinking, and devices were last.
2) Natasha Waldon talked about her experiences with gaming. As a reformed game player (starcraft anyone…..) I loved Natasha’s honesty around being up till 2am raiding not being good for working the next day.Students will connect and collaborate in a game environment. But the links with others in the game virtual world can be continued outside that environment, and if gamification engages students and enhances learning then lets get the game on. Natasha also talked about the need for digital, real time reporting. As an outspoken ‘intense disliker’ of the current reporting model on offer by my school it was music to my ears to hear of alternative approaches.
3) Steven de Bruin’s talk was fascinating for me. He is teaching Yr 1 students how to set goals and self manage. This is AMAZING to me, but reminds me that students will reach to the expectation set. But I have, at times, such difficultly getting my students to bring a pen to class let alone set there own goals and learning pathways. Do I need to get rid of my spare pen jar perhaps? So his challenge was to break the students mindset of the teachers roll. I love this idea and I am keen to strengthen student agency in my classroom, so it was super inspiring for me. I am going to think about how I can try to scaffold this into my lessons, and I am once again envious of how primary colleagues for their work.
4) Terry Beech was up next, with a strong focus on collaboration and relationships. I think relationships are so important to teaching, but they are hard to quantify, and everyone will have a different relationship with each student, because we are all so different.
5) Adam Baker talked about how he is using comic life with his students to promote reading and literacy by designing their own comics. By using a material the student were interested in, he increased engagement and enjoyment. Anything with star wars has to rock.
6) Kerri Thompson talked about #NZreadaloud. While this doesn’t really apply to me now, I so wish this had been around when I was at nipper, I would have loved it.
7) Shona Poppe talked about being inclusive in the classroom. My favourite quote was ‘their should be no passengers in your class room’. This, along with authentic learning experiences and structured groups to ensure all learners are catered for. It was a good reminder that the quiet, diligent kids might not always be the most comfortable.
8) Then it was my turn. I was so glad the tech work, and you can see my presentation below
It was an amazing opportunity to share. I got some lovely feedback from some tweets
But my talk was as much for me as anything. I talked with a friend about it after – it is really hard to be brave. Twitter has the lone wolf idea, but even beyond that, I think many teachers genuinely want to be the best they can be, but are just like the students who are afraid to write an answer down before they know it is correct. Breaking the culture of teaching in isolation and in its place building collaboration, openness and sharing shouldn’t be as hard as it is. But sadly the culture around competing schools, and even competing departments over student numbers and resourcing can lead to closed doors.
It is also hard not to come across as intimidating when you are considering change, and I guess if people were trying to change me by telling me I am doing it wrong I’d get pretty ticked off too. So I really hope I can continue to be brave with my teaching and by modelling risk taking (within reason, and not with acid) and collaboration with my teaching and learning, my students and colleagues will benefit.
There will always be those underlying fears of ‘is this good enough’, ‘so and so is way more awesome’ ‘is this really the best way to approach problems X, Y and Z’ ‘what happens if it doesn’t work’. And I am beginning to realise it is important those doubts are there, so I can have a point of reference and make sure I am doing what I do with the best intentions. And if it fails, it fails and I can try again 🙂
So my favourite tweet of all was this one
you can watch the full teachmeet presentation HERE, and see the storify Monika put together HERE. The #teachmeetNZ wiki also has all the presentation and info on the presenters HERE – you need to scroll down a bit to get to the individual links
Be brave peeps.