flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

In a recent post, Dean Shareski reflected on the notion of  ‘watershed moments’:

I was chatting with someone the other day and the idea of watershed moments came up. Specifically, we reflected on watershed moments in our own learning and careers. Watershed moments are those occasions where there the lightbulb came on or something profound was shared or understood. They happen in various contexts no doubt. As I thought about my own I was instantly curious about other people’s experiences.

Inspired, I decided to share some of my own watershed moments …

Professional Development

It is so hard to choose one experience that stands out above others. Some of the activities that come to mind include the TL21C community of practice or developing a presentation with Steve Brophy. However, if I were to choose one professional development experience that stood out as being a watershed moment, it would have to be being a part of the Google Teachers Academy in Sydney in 2014. I must be honest, I have failed in my endeavour to further engage parents and the community. However, the event completely changed the depth and detail that I apply to problems. Working with Tom Barrett and Hamish Curry from NoTosh (although Tom has since gone solo), it gave a thorough insight into Design Thinking and the discipline required to bring about change.


It is hard to identify one presentation that has left a significant impression. I find I attach myself to people and their ideas, rather than a particular presentation. I think that like millions of others, I was captivated by Sir Ken Robinson’s original TED Talk. However, I think that it was Alan November’s keynote for ICTEV12 that really propelled me into the world of connected learning. It was not that he necessarily provided a map for how to reform education, rather he painted a picture as to how things could be different. Whether it be self-publishing or using various search methods to break out of your echo chamber, he demonstrated that change is possible.


Reflecting upon reading, I feel that my consumption of late has been predominantly non-fiction. However, it is the worlds introduced in books of fiction that leave had the most profound mark. If I were to choose one book, I think that it would have to be Catcher in the Rye. I must admit that I am drawn to anti-heroes, flawed characters who remind us that life is neither simple nor obvious. Although I could easily have included something by Jane Austen or James Joyce, Catcher is one of those books whose fractured simplicity means that they are forever open, yet at the same time leave you with a feeling of the uncanny.


I think that like Dean Shareski, the watershed technology would have to be blogging. When I think about my voice and identity as a blogger, it has roots to a time long before I wrote my first post. I have come to realise, as I recently went through some old university documents, that my tendency to follow threads of thought were alive back then in the margins of pages or on the back of envelopes. What blogging has allowed is a personal space to actually follow through with some of these thoughts and articulate them. When I speak to people about blogging, I wonder sometimes if discussion of platforms misses the point. I think that what matters most is the possibility to communicate and collaborate. If this is not important before you start a blog, then I am not sure that you will find much worth.


I am a believer in the power of the collective village, so to choose one person seems problematic. If I had to choose one, it would have to be Richard Olsen. What stands out about Olsen is his willingness to push an idea to its limits. Whereas others may nod as a sign of approval or simply agree to disagree, it feels as if Olsen sees such opportunities as the beginning of something deeper. I must admit that this is not for everyone and some prefer to live what would seem as an unexamined life. Instead when I am pushed by those like Olsen, Greg Thompson, Jon Andrews, Deborah Netolicky, David Culberhouse, Alan Levine, Andrea Stringer, Steve Brophy, Mariana Funes, Jon Corripo, Corinne Campbell, Anthony Speranza, Jenny Ashby etc … I feel privileged that they are willing to make the effort and spend the time to take an idea that bit further.

So there you go, those are some of my watershed moments. I am sure that I have missed many moments, as well as people. However, it is at least an attempt.

So what about you? What are your watershed moments? I would love to know.

If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.

creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by mrkrndvs:


In an insightful post, ‘Missing the Moments By Trying to Capture the Moments‘, +Chris Wejr spoke about the dangers of missing the moment by failing to just be there. Wejr’s issue is with technology and the modern trend to try and capture each and every moment. However, I think that it is not just technology which prevents us from being there. Sometimes the helter skelter nature of life means that even though we are there, we are not always aware of those significant moments that occur around us each and every day.

Final Moments

This was all brought to the fore with the recent passing of my mother. It is a strange experience being told that there is no more treatment that they can do, that the cancer is terminal. On the one hand, the doctor gives some indicative date, while others talk about how they were told that there was nothing that could be done for them and that was over ten years ago. Subsequently, every time that I saw my mum in the last few weeks of her life, I was never sure if it would be the final time. A part of you realises this, however I feel that there is also something inside that simply denies that it will never happen. This is something that I have written about elsewhere (‘Denial Never Worked for No-One’).
My last real one to one chat happened when I was least expecting it. With my step dad out picking up my brother and sister from school, I had a few moments with my mum. All of the sudden the tone of the conversation changed from being chatty, talking about this and that, but nothing in particular, to being more serious. I am not sure if it was something that I said or whether it was something that mum was just waiting to say, but she learnt forward from the couch and told me that I was a great brother, an amazing son and a fantastic husband and that I should not listen to anyone who says otherwise. In my usual manner, I tried to dodge these compliments. Like my mum, I just don’t like being pumped up. However, it didn’t occur to my till much later that these were mum’s last meaningful words for me. Although we had a few more conversations, none of them were as deep as this moment.

Being Aware of the Other Voices in the Classroom

This all got me reflecting about the conversations that we have in the classroom and thinking about the opportunities that we may let pass by because we were distracted by or more focused on something else. With so many conversations occurring in and out of the classroom, it can be so easy to fall into auto mode where we respond but we are not really there. Where we give a student answer, but fail to realise the intention behind the question. Where we may negatively respond to a student who is acting out, when the student in question may in fact be calling out for help.
In a post ‘Listening to the Other Voices in the Classroom‘ I spoke about the role of technology as being a vehicle for capturing all the voices in the classroom. Whether it be sharing ideas with Padlet or collecting responses using Socrative, there are many ways to collect information. However, what this overlooks is that the true other voice in the classroom is that voice whose response is incidental and unexpected, whose response doesn’t have a place in a daily planner, whose response is not necessarily easily resolved. The problem with this though is that we are not always ready for such responses, nor are we always willing to accept them.
So how are you making sure that you are listening to those other voices in the classroom? How are you making sure that students feel comfortable sharing those things important to them? Would love to know your thoughts and ideas.

If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.