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#YourEdustory Weeks 8, 9 and 10. Chaos reigns

OK, I admit it upfront. This post is a cop-out!

The reality of the start of a new academic session has hit and I’ve launched myself headlong into the world of Knowledge Networking for Educators…which makes my difficulty in getting around to posting for YourEdustory all the more ironic.

My other excuse is that the topics for these weeks have: one, not inspired me (I don’t have a defining moment when I decided to become a teacher, it was always there as something I might do); two, left me open mouthed saying “umm…I don’t know” (I’m not sure that I do infect students with a passion for learning, oops!), or three, too big for just one blog post (design brief for a learning space).

There’s not much I can (or have time to) do about the first two but for the third, courtesy of a subject I completed last year, I can at least link to some other writing I have done (yes I said this was a cop-out).

Last year I completed a subject called Designing Spaces for Learning lead by the remarkable Ewan Mcintosh. It was exciting, challenging, and ultimately very rewarding – you can read my final reflection here. One thing I learnt is that you can’t come up with a design brief in the space of a blog post; the design brief can only come after a period of observation, immersion, and ideation. It’s not a learning space but here is my Design Brief for a suburban railway station. And, this isn’t a design brief, but here are my thoughts on a learning space: Vertical Library.

So that’s me caught up, and I already have thoughts for the next topic on student voice. Hopefully (if I can get a swag of reading, a couple of forum posts, a blog post and a proposal for an assignment completed first) I’ll actually get to write it before the week is out.

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#YourEdustory – Why do I do what I do?

“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it” Simon Sinek – Why do you do what you do?

I’ve found this prompt a tricky one. It’s an easy one to be flippant about – “because they pay me” or “for the holidays” came to mind. I make no apologies for not being the teacher who does it “because I love kids” or some similar saccharine sentiment, I much prefer working with teachers. When I strip it all away I think it comes down to the fundamental role of a librarian – to connect people with information. For me that information might be a book, a resource, a tool, using technology to do something in a different way. I guess what is interesting is why I prefer to do this in the context of a school rather than anywhere else, and (sad as it may be) it’s because I love the routine and cycles of school.

I love the excitement and potential of a new school year. New children, new teachers, new possibilities, new ideas, habits, ways of doing. I love the way the school year is punctuated by annual (and biannual and quarterly) events. In 2013 I spent a year working outside of a school for the first time since I was a bus conductor in the 80’s (but that’s another story). It was an exciting year and a great experience working on a project about disaster resilience education but by the end I knew that I wanted to be back in a school. What was lacking in the “real world” of the office environment I was working in were those indicators that come around (almost too quickly) each year in schools and the sense that we were all in it together. In a large open-plan office including sections of the Emergency Management, Migration Support and International Law programs of Red Cross, people worked away on their own thing, sometimes together but often not. Perhaps I wasn’t there long enough to really understand (and perhaps my position as an externally funded project officer made it harder to see) but what I noticed missing was the sense that we were all there with a common purpose and goal. The end of the year was celebrated but then it was business as usual for most. There was nothing to match the “first day back” feeling.

So there you have it. I just like schools!

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#YourEdustory – What is Connected Learning and WIIFM?

This prompt had me stumped for a few minutes. I’ve got a bit of a handle on connected learning but what was WIIFM? A new learning theory? The ultimate educational techno app? Some sort of radio station for Nintendo fans? I had to Google it…oh What’s In It For Me – one of those new-fangled acronyms that people apparently speak in these days. I get it now LOLZ.

Well, that makes this week’s topic so much simpler. I’ll start with what I know off the top of my head and then do a bit of digging around to add a bit of credibility.

Connected learning is, but is also more than, connecting what you want students to learn with what they already know and are passionate about. It is allowing students to follow their passions and interests and capitalise on the learning opportunities these present. Connected learning is also about taking advantage of the opportunities our globally connected world presents. Technology can enable learners to connect with other learners of similar interests or with experts in the field, regardless of their age, stage in education, and where they physically are – in the same classroom, city, country or anywhere in the world. It is about giving student’s ownership of what they learn and where and how they learn it. Connected learning is social and participatory. With connected learning every student can be a teacher and every teacher a learner too.

WIIFM? It’s pretty much a no-brainer I think. Think about yourself – when have you learnt the most and with the most enjoyment? 9 times out of 10 I’d say it’s when it is related to something you are passionate about. I’ve always maintained, particularly with things relating to technology, that there’s no point learning how to do something unless you have an immediate need for that skill. And I don’t mean it’s just pointless, rather that you won’t learn it effectively and retain your new knowledge or skills. It’s part of why my motto is “Learn, do, teach”.

So what’s in it for me is students who are engaged and interested in what they are doing. Students who don’t actually view what they are doing as “work”. My daughter recently started in year 11. She plays the cello and is studying VCE music. I was taken aback and impressed at how excited she was when she got her timetable and discovered she has music three times a week (instead of three times a fortnight previously) and made the comment “it’s not like class, it’s what I do”. I’m so pleased for her that for at least one of her subjects she has passion as a motivator.

If you google Connected learning you’ll find the Connected Learning site, a project of DML Research Hub and Connected Learning Alliance. I don’t think these organisations “own” connected learning as such but with the likes of Howard Rheingold and Mimi Ito behind them their credibility and authority is pretty high. And their websites provide lots of useful case studies, stories, ideas, videos and links including this great infographic which sums it up pretty neatly I think:

Connected Learning

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#YourEdustory Learning…in 100 words (or less)

CC0 Public Domain image from  http://pixabay.com

CC0 Public Domain image from http://pixabay.com

Learning is the process of acquiring and refining knowledge, skills, habits, opinions, values…

Learning is different for everyone.

Learning is messy, fun, challenging, never-ending, frustrating, scary, rewarding…

Learning is something others may guide, motivate, inspire, instruct, or expect you to do, but;

Learning is in your own hands – you cannot be made to learn.

Learning is something I do every day, and hope to keep doing for the rest of my life.

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My favourite teacher #YourEduStory

This week’s topic for the #YourEdustory challenge: How are you, or is your approach, different than your favorite teacher? got me thinking about who my favourite teacher was and there was one clear winner.

Yes that's me with my eyes closed (back row, left)

Yes that’s me with my eyes closed (back row, left)

Peter Clutterbuck was my grade 5 teacher. I thought he was awesome (although that word wasn’t commonly used back then) and very nearly as silly as his name sounded. My memories of grade 5 are of a slightly anarchic classroom where anything could and did happen. I remember having lots of laughs but I’m pretty sure we worked hard too. School was never dull that year. Mr Clutterbuck was the acting headmaster at the time and was frequently called away, often leaving me, or one of my similarly “girly-swot” friends “in charge”. The trustworthy amongst us also took turns at sitting in the office to answer the phone. Our country school of about 200 students seemingly didn’t have any clerical support and, although every other year there had been a headmaster without any teaching duties, in this particular year we were making do. I really don’t know what the background to the circumstances were but I have to say I loved the feeling of importance, sitting in the office and begging the phone to ring! We got to do many things that would be unthinkable these days. I remember being sent to the shops quite often to buy supplies for science experiments and art projects and also being sent home (almost daily for a while) with my new puppy who didn’t follow me but would arrive sometime after school started and sit whining outside the classroom door.

Mum, Mr Clutterbuck says “If that dog comes to school again…#$%$^&*”

class rules

I remember Mr Clutterbuck as a teacher who inspired and provoked curiosity. He made everything seem exciting although being in his class could be dangerous at times. Mr Clutterbuck was a smoker and, as bizarre as it seems today, he smoked in the classroom, often perching a lit cigarette on the chalk ledge. Occasionally he would pick up a piece of chalk and attempt to puff on it, then, as he realised what it was, he would throw it (quite hard) at a random student. Hanging on a cupboard door was a sign reading “Rule 1 – the teacher is always right. Rule 2 –  if the teacher is wrong, rule number 1 applies.” I know variations of that can be found all over the place but it was the first time I’d seen it and never has it been more true!

It was in grade 5 that I really firmed up on the idea of becoming a teacher, quite possibly because Mr Clutterbuck told my mum I’d be good at it! Many years later, when I first worked in a P-12 school, I found myself cataloguing teaching resources written by Peter Clutterbuck and I’ve often wondered since if it was the same Mr Clutterbuck. Today I did some searching but it seems Peter Clutterbuck the author has successfully avoided having his photo online.

For the purpose of this topic I think it’s just as interesting to reflect on how I am similar, as well as different, to Mr Clutterbuck. One thing I do love to do is give kids some responsibility. The library monitor program which I started last year has been very successful with a long list of kids wanting to have a go. One thing I ask them to do is to answer the phone if it rings when they’re on the circulation desk. This has caused great excitement and led to scripts being written on sticky notes so they know what to say. I like the surprise the caller gets.

I’m not sure that I’ll ever be as successful as Mr Clutterbuck, but I like to make things exciting and fun, to mix things up and try new ways.

How am I different? Well, I’ve never smoked in class, or thrown anything at a student. I certainly can’t draw on the blackboard like he could so I never tried to. I’ve never been confident enough to bend the rules as much as he did (and there’s so many more rules these days) and I know I’m not always right.

 

 

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How will I make the world a better place? #YourEduStory

Blue world map from Openclipart.org

I must admit I’m not good with questions like this. I mean I’m just me, one little (ok, not so little) person in this world of 7 billion plus. How can I possibly, on my own, make the world a better place?

And the truth is I can’t, not on my own.

But what I can do, what I already do, is have a little influence in the education of hundreds of children and the professional learning of many teachers. In turn each of them may influence hundreds more and so on. So, what I can do is ensure that the everything I do reflects the things I think are most important:

  • Humanity
  • Community
  • Compassion
  • Connection
  • Sustainability

I can promote the use of information and technology in collaborative and creative ways to empower others to make changes (however small) for positive impact on others. I can share what I know and learn because no one benefits if I keep it all to myself. I can be there for support and assistance, and I can recognise when to shut up and let them learn on their own.

I can keep on being a teacher. I might be one tiny drop of water or grain of sand but isn’t that what every ocean or desert started with?


creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Yeager139

 

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A new year, a new blogging challenge


creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Sunchild57 Photography.

This poor blog has been sadly neglected – I’ve been focusing on writing on my Thinkspace blog, the reflective tool for my Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) studies – but the tweet I saw this afternoon from my friend Celia caught my eye:

I checked out the link and the challenge looks interesting AND do-able! I’m not promising to write much but I’ll make the effort to write regularly AND I’ll make the effort to comment. One of the things I found most satisfying about the subject I did in second semester last year (INF536 Designing Spaces for Learning) was the requirement, not just for regular blog posts, but to comment on three other blogs on each topic. It’s so easy to read a blog post and have your own thoughts; so much tougher (and sometimes scary) to commit to responding…but as the writer of blog posts so rewarding to get those comments.

I’ll probably rely on the weekly topics but who knows, I might find new inspiration too. So here goes…

What is your “one word” that will inspire you in your classroom or school in 2015?

Connection.

As the Library Manager at my school I am hugely excited that we are changing over to a new library management system AND introducing LibGuides this year. They will both, in their own ways, separately and together, allow the library to develop new and stronger connections with students, teachers, classes, subjects, teaching and learning. We will go from having virtually no online presence to a 24/7 library. Bring it on!