First day in Grade 6


Some rights reserved by Jamie McCaffrey


This is our first week back, and the adventure begins.

This is also my first year in a classroom in five years.  I’m pretty excited about it, as a Digital Literacy Coach I worked a lot in classrooms and with classroom teacher, but I haven’t actually been guiding a class for sometime.

So my first week back I decided I wanted to be a flexible classroom.  I want the students to be able to decided how and when to sit a certain way. This gives my students a little more agency and just establishes us as co-creators of a classroom which is pretty exciting.

Not too much to report after just a day, but I wanted to start getting in the habit of writing.

Stages of Learning

Attribution Some rights reserved by pgbailey

I do a lot of things in my off time, even though I really like doing nothing.  One of the things I’m doing this year is captaining/coaching a frisbee team.  We have a great coach we work with, and he was talking about stages of a great ultimate player, and I thought this applied a lot to learning too. 

I wonder how often we are stuck in the conscious incompetent stage. Without a learning coach or someone explicitly helping us become conscious and competent, how can we easily navigate our own life long learning.  
Part of the job I think I am good at is listening and helping shape consciousness and direct people towards competence.  When we can understand what we need to do to get better, I think it’s much easier for us to make that progress, it’s when we don’t understand that we feel frustrated. 
As a beginner things can be liberating because we don’t even know what we’re doing wrong, everything is just kind of fun, but as we get through the process things can become more difficult. 

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 Some rights reserved by tim.klapdor

I think we can apply this easily to many aspects of our learning, but I like how this image shows the disappointment.  Once we start becoming more conscious we enter into this “trough of disillusionment”. 

So how can we remain optimistic about the future like we are when we are unconscious and still promote and develop consciousness?

New problems

We were walking in the outdoor discovery center the other day, and it looked like a lot of our problems (litter, dying plants, chalk) had disappeared, or been taken care of.  So we started looking for new things we could solve.  
It had been raining a lot, so there were lots of puddles (it’s been a really strange rainy season here in Singapore).  Anyway, the learners found tadpoles. So currently we are wondering how we can make the tadpoles environment a little more secure.  It was an interesting day.

Growing together

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I love my job, seriously, it’s up there with top jobs in the world, at least in my opinion.  But, like everyone at times I get frustrated with my colleagues. 

Lately it has been revolving around this idea of growing together. A lot of the people I work with are amazing, literally.  Their passion and desire to grow and become amazing educators is overwhelming at times.  There are a few people I am always a little frustrated with, and I think that’s my growth area for the next couple of weeks.  The people I work with, I do think they want to get better, but they have a lot to focus on and at times, I feel that my focus isn’t their focus, this new revelation is that’s okay.  
I need to recommit to the idea that I’m helping them achieve my goals, not my reaching my goals. I need to help them become better and actually grow together.

Personalized Learning

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Back to school! 

I’ve been thinking over the break about the whole idea of personalised learning, and who should be “in charge” of the experience. 
I think as a teacher it can be overwhelming at times to think about all the organising we have to do for a personalised learning experience.  Often we try to guide and direct and shape the future, even with personalised learning we aren’t fully wondering about what the students want. I’ve been working a lot with maker spaces this year, and iTime inquiry and I think that letting students have some control of the learning while still being able to hit most of the outcomes necessary.
I think working towards personalised learning is crucial, but I’ve been wondering more about how to make it also communal. 
I want to start bringing experts in from near our school. I want to start building a community, but I also want students to start working together (maybe even being assessed together). 
I don’t know, it’s the beginning of the year.  I love personalised learning, but I don’t just want to focus on the individual.  

Deep Learners

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Just got back from a Deep Learners Conference in Malaysia.  I went with some of my colleagues and presented on “Real Connections”.  I posted my first draft up here a couple of weeks ago, but it turned out a lot different after last week.  It ended up like this…

A lot of it was the same, but I wanted to make mention of how I kind of wanted the future to look. 
One of the most interesting aspects of the conference for me was the focus on bad ideas. I like how we can change our thinking around, how we can look at a bad idea and eliminate the “bad” parts of it. 
We had a lot of time to work through our idea, and as a group, we laughed, grew and got to know each other a little better.  I think this focus on having a bad idea and honouring it, really helped us as a team. 
A couple of my colleagues presented which was nice to see us grow as a school. It was all around a great conference actually. I love the format where you can go and discover new ideas in the morning (no big commitment, only twenty minutes) and then do something in the afternoon.  
Check it out if you’re keen Deep Learners

Practicing going slow and listening

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Last week of classes for the term.  Exciting times for sure, and a good time to practice our listening skills. Most of us are distracted, thinking about other things, wondering what is going to happen, what we’re going to get, so this week has been great for trying to clear our mind, we haven’t been totally successful, but it has been fun.

Starting to formalize this final project for Coetail, collaboration is new for some of these students, especially collaboration of project or educational design, so it’s not easy.  But I think it will be rewarding for all of us.

Learning group

After school yesterday we had our first meeting for the blogging group.  I’m looking forward to see what my colleagues are doing. Too often I feel like I don’t get to see secondary, understand how they teach, what their focus is, so I’m really looking forward to learning more with this group.

We plan to use the 3-2-1 method, reading three blogs a week, commenting on two and writing one blog post.  Hopefully this inspires our little community. I hope to see it grow.

Truthfully yesterday was already more than what I had expected. We had more people show up then I thought, and people seem to be keen to learn more and contribute. It’s an exciting school when people want to get better, use tech, and inspire students.  Happily for me, some of them are also in the environmental action group we have on campus. It will give me more of a chance to delve into the same questions I have.

Social Media and Environmental Education

This was the topic of our #enviroed chat this week.  Honestly, it is something I have thought a lot about.  Since I’m living the life of an expatriate, there are many things I am unaware of regarding the environment.  Back home I would know who to contact, or would have a more entrenched sense of community.  Living abroad is fantastic for so many reasons, but this connection is something I often feel I am lacking.

My biggest wonder is how I can leverage social media to enhance my students’ understanding of their learning goals.  Personally, I have used twitter (my #enviroed group especially), Instagram, Skype and Facebook to learn more about how I can interact in my new community, as well as continue to develop my environmental awareness of what is happening in Canada.  I am wondering how I can transfer these ideas to my students.  There is a huge opportunity for students to collaborate effectively using social media in the classroom with people who are located at various spots around the world.

What we need, I think, is like minded-teachers who are willing to open up these possibilities.  It seems that in Canada it can be easy to find a board nearby where you can interact with others who share similar learning outcomes.  There are a million small reasons why my students and I have hesitated jumping into this digital world, but I wonder what’s really stopping me.

My goal this year is to have at least some students from my school connecting with students in Canada regarding the environment.  My hope is that is positive and hopeful, not doom and gloom.  I have a community to work on this, just need to set aside time to actually get the students working on this. I would really love to have conservation photography as the centre of our discussions.  Students selecting something they would like to conserve, take photos of it throughout the year, and learning more about that thing, and passing their knowledge along to others.

Side goals are establishing twitter accounts for the classes I work with as a tech coach.  By having students further their inquiry through discussions with others, and then hopefully moving those discussions into blogs or wikis, we can create a world where my students are no longer just consumers of knowledge.  I want them to be collaborators and creators.  When working with others, and seeing learning as not something that happens solely within the classroom, we can start taking action that is meaningful for each of them independently.