Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Always Learning; Baby Steps; Is it Enough?

The brain ticks over, exhausted; another meeting, another PD, another something. I see it all the time; people so desperately want to learn new things yet at the same time, are so tired that they just don't have the energy to fully engage in new learning opportunities.

Teachers have a huge workload with so many expectations placed on them. I understand that pushing yourself to make the time to learn new things can be hard. I also know how rewarding it can be.

I have been pushing myself lately to get out more and learn new things. I have goals and know that if I don't extend myself, I won't reach them. I have been coerced into presenting new learning to others as well and I am so grateful for these opportunities.

It's so fulfilling to be surrounded by other educators that share similar interests and pedagogical beliefs. It's equally rewarding to share my knowledge with others and see that they can take something from me and be genuinely thankful. So many positive things come from these meetings and I always leave feeling uplifted, enthused and motivated.

As teachers, sharing our learning is important as it helps us to learn from best practise and avoid similar mistakes others' have made. Ultimately, we all want to do the best for our student's so, learning new ways to support them makes us better at our job.

I guess the ultimate challenge now is how to get my colleagues to engage with these new learning opportunities. Things such as local NETS meetings, TeachMeets and school based I.T sharing sessions. Is my own motivation advertising enough? I guess sometimes it can be (I can be very convincing when I'm excited about something new).

This is something that I have been mulling over recently and I run through different scenarios in my head and try to predict the outcome. When talking about it with others', I am always told "baby steps, Danny. You need to take baby steps". So far this year, baby steps have worked to a certain degree but what can I do to drive a bigger change? What should my baby steps be? There truly is a lot to consider but at the heart of why I want to trigger change is the fact that we really need to prepare our students for a digital world. Prepare them for a digital workforce; a new world that is vastly different to what we grew up with. I worry that we aren't doing enough and we are too worried about 'the ways things have always been done'. Is it wrong to think like this?

Friday, 14 April 2017

Teachers: Why We Need to Challenge Our Thinking

Something I've really liked and admired about some of my teacher friends is that they challenge the way I think about teaching and learning. We all have opinions about best practise and it's all too common to get comfortable with one way of doing things. This can hinder our ability to consider different approaches that may benefit ourselves as professionals and most importantly the development of our students.

I think there is a real danger in complacency and sticking to the status quo. By doing so, I believe a number of things happen:

1. We develop an attitude that there is no better way to do something than what we are currently doing. There becomes that self-righteous belief that we are 'already the best and can't do any better and no one can convince me otherwise'. This closes our mind to new and powerful ideas that could change the way we teach and change our students learning behaviours for the better.

2. We don't take risks and as a result, we don't encourage our students to take risks as well. Ellen DeGeneres said it best when she said “When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” This is a message that we need to encourage children to understand. We need them to know that it is fine to fail because that in turn is how we learn. As teachers, it's perfectly OK to test new ideas and if they don't work, then so be it. We can be truthful and say "you know what, I tried this and it didn't work, so let's try something different". Students appreciate that honesty and know that if you can admit to failing and learning then they can to.

I'm lucky to be surrounded by teachers that openly engage in professional discussion about best practise and understand its importance. In a nutshell, I wrote this piece because I needed to remind myself that it is OK to have my thinking challenged and likewise, it is important that I challenge the thinking of others. I want to do the right thing by my students and encourage them to be inquisitive, powerful thinkers and problem solvers. 

Thanks for reading. I'd love to know your thoughts on this.