Sunday, 5 November 2017

#IMMOOC Finale - but just the beginning...

My shoutouts:

A cracking hook line which reinforced the necessity to capture people’s attention early! But the main reason this resonated with me was the notion of  ‘on purpose’. Only doing things that you have a made a positive decision about doing.
I also enjoyed the description of forcing oneself to reflect on whether they are actually doing things the best way they can, or just the way they are used to doing it.

Time alone. I love making connections, and this one did it for me. Kerri Zitar’s post resonated with a podcast I had listen to recently, which was all about the importance of rest and recuperation in being the most efficient and effective that you can and another which promoted being bored to truly unleash your creative talents. One of the struggles I have is not being constantly busy (This course actually doesn’t help in that regard!) That quiet time of reflection is gold dust, and essential, don’t miss it!

To be honest, it was the title that resonated with me most here. I love working with the youngest students, they really do just learn because they want to. However, the title made me think. And it’s sad, that on reflection, I came to the conclusion that so many teachers seem to have lost their love for learning. It was probably beaten out of them by their own schooling experience to some extent. But in the main, it’s because they are too busy.
What can we do to ensure that teachers have time to follow their own curiosities?

What I am going to do differently….

Firstly, I will spend more time with people, being present. Naturally, I am not a social extrovert. I like being in people’s company, but it is not how I rejuvenate myself. But, I ‘The Innovator’s Mindset’ clearly points out, empathy and relationships is where the journey to improvement and change begins. relationships are key. So I will go to where the people are. These places around school where groups gather, and people talk. And I will listen, be present, and build my understanding of what their situations are.
Next, I will spend more time learning. Choice paralysis is a real thing. And as a learning technology coach I face a lot of choice. So many new technologies, with new possibilities rear their heads on a daily basis. So, how can I be more effective? I’m going to make some purposeful choices to learn. To choose something and learn about that.
Finally, I am going to share. I will share my learning using our school hashtag #BSJBbytes. But I will also be the voice for others in our school. I will be sharing their successes and their experiences in the aim of promoting that acceleration of progress in our community.

With these three (manageable) changes, I think I can begin to make a difference, this is my challenge!

Friday, 27 October 2017

Week 5 #IMMOOC - Mini Blogs

What are the few purposeful areas that we are focused on?

As a staff, we are clear on the revised professional learning programme that the school has implemented this year. The move away from ‘one size fits all’ meetings, where information is disseminated and objectives are misaligned with personal strengths and passions, is welcome. One key area for the staff to focus on has been the revision of the curriculum, particularly in the lower school. This has led to PLN groups of teachers who have a special interest in reading and mathematics in particular, to join together to look at ways learning in these areas can be developed.
The second area is meeting the need for our school community to be able to articulate clearly what we mean when we discuss good learning. Without a good understanding of what good learning looks like, we’ll never move forward as a community. It’s imperative for us to get this right, with the whole community buying into this vision. This makes it a key focus for us.

How do we share openly and regularly to further our own learning and development?

I’m interested if this is as a community or as individual. 250 words is a lot, so I think I can cover both! As a community we utilise a virtual learning platform for all classes. The expectation is that all assignments are listed as tasks within this platform. All class spaces on the platform are open to staff, giving each staff member a window into others’ learning spaces. We have also embedded our school hashtag #bsjbytes in a feed on the dashboard of every user, be it parent, student and staff. The PLN opportunities detailed in the next post also give opportunity for staff to share their own learning in more depth.
As an educator, I rely on my blog posts, my twitter feed and one to one relationships to share what I am up to. As a Learning Technology Coach, I get to interact and talk with all members of our community specifically around learning, and learning with technology. This puts me in a privileged position, and I relish it.

Do our professional learning opportunities mirror the learning we want to create for our students?

Well, we need to have a clear and shared understanding of what learning looks like at our school. That might sound an odd thing to say, but we currently have a task force working on defining what our school agrees is good learning. Even so, our professional learning is evolving this year. Teachers are choosing a focus for them to come together and learn about. They were also able to offer something they were interested in as a focus as long as that related to one of the school focuses for the year, or on learning directly. These were shared, and the teachers signed up to what they were interested in learning more about.

These PLNs are given times to meet, discuss, plan, try out and reflect on new strategies and approaches. In addition, teachers are expected to pursue learning of their own choosing. This could be their masters course, something offered by our Learning Technology team or an externally offered course, such as an MOOC. As these opportunities are driven by passions, interests and strengths I think they are reflective of the direction that we wish our students’ learning to go.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

#IMMOOC 4 - A real influence

So I had been plowing a fairly lonely furrow as a classroom teacher. I had taken bits and pieces from various books and twitter chats and started to redesign how I organised the learning in my classroom. Most of what I was changing was giving much more control and choice to the students. But I felt vulnerable to accusations of experimenting without evidence that what I was trying would have a positive impact on the students’ learning. I knew it was working, and I knew I was on the right track. But I struggled to articulate this convincingly to those people who would ask about what I was doing.

Then came my validation and then some. From my PLN I kept hearing about this Pirate Book. Not the teach one, I’d been put off that by the ‘theory without real life application’ reviews. But the ‘Learn Like A Pirate’ book. It was a revelation. The confidence it gave me inspired me to continue exploring what I was attempting. It also encouraged me to take it much further with the practical suggestions really supercharging the changes I made and the experiences my students had in class. I write about it in more detail here.

For this, I tip my hat to @PaulSolarz, many thanks indeed sir!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

#IMMOOC Starting from empathy.

My response to chapter 4 and 5 of ‘The Innovator’s Mindset’ has been one of reflection. Reflection on what I need to do more of, what I need to do next, and how I need to offering the folk I work with what they want, and what they need.

This is a fine balance in the role of a coach. What people want, and what they need are not always the same. Often, they want a quick fix, they want it to work instantly, without knowing why it went wrong or how to fix it next time it goes wrong. And I resist this. Caught up in my priorities I want them to do it themselves, I want them to muddle through and to find their own work-arounds as much as possible. I want them to learn through experience. I feel like I am facilitating their independence, their development and their ability to innovate and improve further.

But on reflection, have I really been thinking about this the best way? Have I really thought, if I was them, what would I want from my Learning Technology Coach?

So, in response, I am going to do something. I am going to put myself in the environments of the people I serve more regularly. Experience the unfamiliar classrooms and recognise the challenges that they face on a daily basis. Noticing where their struggles are and being more able to support them in improving their efforts in the classroom. I’ll be speaking to the students, finding out what works, what is done well already, and build on from that, in small steps.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

#IMMOOC If you were to start a school from scratch, what would it look like?

Each learning community has specific needs and a specific context. What better way to create a school that meets the needs of the community than to get the community to create it’s own school.

Image result for community construction
What is a school? In my mind, school is a community of learners. Each working to improve their own learning, but also that of the other members of the community.

Experienced and enlightened leaders would facilitate the organisation and development of the school in whatever form the students and teachers decide. The financing, construction and planning and all the other necessary organising will be done by students who are completing courses offered by the teaching community on a sign up basis. Students and teachers can request courses, which are then designed by members of the community with expertise in these areas.

I’m a believer in authentic audiences and having a real purpose to learning, I can think of nothing better than creating a school to be a worthwhile learning experience. I have no idea how it will look. Whether it will have a physical presence or not, or how it will achieve its aims, but that’s what I think is the beauty in this kind of project.
Image result for school construction

Each year, the community would decide what needs changing for the following year, what mistakes would need improving on and how new ways of doing things better could be explored. This could be completely remodeling the whole thing, to just tweaking processes. If it should grow, once the organisation get to over 150 members, it can choose to split,and a new school planted.

Sure, there are some practicalities that would need ironing out, but the relationships built, the mistakes made and the consequences of their decisions will have a lasting impact on the students, and the community way beyond a ‘normal’ schooling experience.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Go smart, go change, go innovate (Go-Jek) #IMMOOC

Why is innovation in education so crucial today? #IMMOOC

I am lucky enough to live in Indonesia, in Jakarta, which is a huge sprawling megatropolis. The streets are crowded and chaotic to the untrained eye. Streets built for feet and wheeled carts, now entertain all kinds of vehicles, signposts and street names sometimes exist and it’s a scary place to navigate and get around.

Image result for o-jek signTo meet the need of the wary traveller, leather skinned men hung around the street corners, chain-smoking cigarettes. Next to them is their bike which has a piece of cardboard hanging off, with ‘O-Jek’ handwritten on it.
Sometimes one of these motorbike taxis was there when you needed it. Often there were many and most only seemed to do one or two ‘jobs’ a day, for a negotiated price.

Why am I telling you this? Well because O-Jeks in their previous form have almost entirely disappeared in the space of two years, and I think this could be an analogy of what could happen to our current school system.
In Jakarta, a disruptor called ‘Go-Jek” entered the market, matched up customers with drivers through an APP and charged a fraction of negotiated prices. Go-Jek was quickly followed by Grab Bike and Uber and the old way was lost.
Image result for o-jek

There are plenty of disruptors on the horizon for education, a few are already making headway. Plenty have been written about such things as open courses, MOOCs and the like. Video is playing a huge role too. On top of that the upper echelons of our academic systems are in danger of pricing themselves out of the market for the masses.
The needs of our learners are changing. The traditional school > college > job pathway is becoming less relevant and less affordable. If our education approaches remain static, outside elements will begin to meet the needs of our learners more effectively. And education as we know it will be in trouble.

I care less about the current institutions of education, but as our learners’ needs change, we have a duty to innovate to meet those needs.