Reading other blogs

This blog is inspired by Keith’s blog on his thoughts about other blogs he had been reading. It challenged me to think about my own post and also gave me ‘warm fuzzies’ that my thoughts are contributing to greater conversations. So I thought I would write some responses to some blog posts that have made me think recently.

Number 1 – Karen Muhuish Spencer – Holding ideas lightly

This post by Karen  explores how educators can become more future focussed and embrace student centred learning, despite the fact there are unknowns and complex issues to consider.

‘Building planes as they fly is our speciality’ is such a superb analogy for educators. I am developing a loathing for ‘fixed’ unit plans and the need to show resources in beautiful neat folders as the gold standard of a good, organised teacher. If I am embracing student centred learning then the learning should go where the previous learning takes it and not along a path predetermined by me or my HoD. Which is why I am finding myself more and more at odds with some aspects of our assessment driven system – especially with external NCEA assessments which have very specific requirements in order to achieve success. But when something doesn’t go quite to plan, or results dip, it is so easy to fall back into old habits.

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My favourite advice from this post was to innovate from an informed position and make sure you are using multiple markers to inform your teaching – not just test scores. Make sure you run ideas past a critical friend and then be prepared to change it if it doesn’t work.

It also makes me think about why it is so important to share what you are trying to achieve outside of your classroom walls. If you hold onto resources because no-one shares back – everyone loses. You don’t get a chance to improve them, and others don’t get the chance to learn from them.

Number 2: Steph Collingwood – Letting students discover OneNote features by themselves

I really enjoy Steph’s posts – short, sweet but always with something new. This post was on some features of OneNote that I hadn’t used myself – but it reminded me of how powerful it is to let students 1) choose the method/tech that works for them and b) to have a play round with new stuff

Too often I feel we don’t let ourselves take time when learning new tools to really get a feel for how we can use them best. I have decided this is my remote control rule. If you are too afraid to touch buttons on the remote control to find out what they do, you have become afraid of the new.

And if we are unwilling to let our students try things we are not comfortable using – I’d argue that we are not modelling life long learning. Learning from our students empowers our students and gives them confidence to try new things. If teachers are always too afraid to try something new for fear of it not working, then of course out students will adapt this behaviour to themselves and play it safe.

Number 3: Pip Cleaves – It’s not them, it’s me – why I can’t do big conferences anymore.

I read this post as I was pondering about whether I forced the issue of U-learn with my school. I have been to Ulearn before and really enjoyed it. But Rotorua is expensive to get to, the conference is expensive and I have been away a whole lot already this year for various reasons. I thought I should go up and present and share what I’m doing – but really I do most of that on my blog anyway.

So how much would I have got out of it? I have heard or read the books of most of the keynotes. I of course value face to face interactions and would love to have caught up with all the cool peeps that would be there. But in terms of bang for buck – some-one else from my school really would get a lot more from the opportunity. PLD is SOOOOO expensive and often not equitably shared so this is also about a moral responsibility I suppose. The money could be better spent than my going to hear what I already think and to present what I would willing share for free.

So I have made the choice to focus instead on educamps (I self funded a trip to Auckland) and teachmeets and real stuff. Real educators sharing what they do. Free, often on a weekend or in own time, and real. I will continue to connect with educators via webinars (Loving the EDCHATNZ MOOC ones even if I didn’t have time for the mooc, thanks MissDtheTeacher and the edchatNZ crew), twitter chats, facebook and the vln. Even the odd coffee or after work drinks.

That said, I had MASSIVE FOMO for the recent ISTE conference held in the US (I drooled over the twitter stream) – and so might make a mission to get to that next year.

There are more blogs that I read out there too – keep blogging and sharing your stories – as we are all contributing to a conversation that matters. Be sure to check out the EDBLOGNZ page with a list of the NZ educator blogs, if yours isn’t there, just use #edblogNZ when sharing on twitter.




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