Earlier in the year, I had the benefit of hearing Will Richardson present. Like so many others, Richardson put forward the argument that, with the drastic changes occuring in the world today, school and education is in desperate need of an overhaul.
The two takeaways I left the presentation with were:
- Start with ten percent at a time
- Be the change through your own learning
I have discussed both before, but was reminded about the question of learning and change recently by a post from Matt Esterman for the collaborative blog Learning e-Nabling in which he asked the question, “what gifts have you given this year?“
It is easy to think that extending your learning into the 21st century is as easy as joining Twitter and creating your own personal learning network. However, for change to truly happen in education, it needs to have more facets than that. I was particularly taken by a post from George Couros where he suggested that there are three levels of ‘teacher’: classroom, school and global. I feel that a good teacher encompasses all three of these elements. It is also a good way of reflecting upon how we are making the educational world a better place. This then is how I feel I made the (educational) world a better place last year …
In regards to making the change in the classroom last year. I paid more attention to my pedagogical approach in the classroom. This led to providing students with more choice about what they do and how they do it, especially in electives. To support this push for empowerment, I continued to use ICT as a medium for communication and collaboration in order to foster thought and celebrate new knowledge, especially in intervention,
On a school basis, I have taken a step back from pushing my notions of change and reform, as this was becoming more of a hindrance rather than a help. Instead I have learnt to work with and through others. For as Tim Kastelle writes, “You need the great new ideas, but you also need the execution skills to pull off the ideas.” This has culminated in getting a few people engaging beyond the school through Twitter, some exploring blogging (see for example https://commandokiddz.wordpress.com/ and http://shapingbridges.blogspot.com.au/), while others took up new ideas relating to pedagogy and technology here and there, particularly around the notions of choice and instruction. I feel that many of these ‘seeds of change’ will often grow and develop overtime. The reality is that instead of cultivating a single tree, I feel I have propagated a forest. Some will not come into fruition as when the saplings pop their heads, they are yanked out as ‘weeds’, while others see something good. The most important lesson that I have learnt is for change to truly occur, we need to hold onto our ideas less tightly. Yes, sometimes someone else might get ‘credit’ for something, but at the end of the day, that is not what it is truly about.
The last area of influence is the world. It is easy to get caught up with this and jump around the globe, but sometimes the first step to becoming ‘global’ is connecting with those schools in your own area, as Sam Irwin and I did with our digital network. In regards to external professional development, I attended a few Teachmeets this year, presented at a range of conferences/sessions including DLTV14 with Steve Brophy and the Melbourne GAFE Summit. In regards to the more informal, I have continued to grow and nurture my ever so global PLN, whether this be engaging in discussion on Twitter, sharing resources on Diigo, commenting on blogs, supporting others in getting connected, creating images to capture cool ideas and just generally thinking out loud online. Although not always explicit, I think that all of these activities help build towards a better education.
Although it can be good to discuss how we are going to change the world and make it a better place, it can be just as powerful to look back upon and build on the things that we have already done. Sometimes this point of reflection has the potential to be uncanny. So what about you, what you have been doing that has made a difference? I would love to know.
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