Category Archives: Digital Leadership

Enabling Educators to be Learners: 1/10

This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!

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How can we enable our colleagues to access the rich professional learning opportunities available online?

 

We want to own our own learning.

We want to self-direct our learning.

In 2016, it has never been easier to do this.  The abundance of open, accessible resources is overwhelming.  Learning to manage and organize the information is a new competency.  Learning to reflect, to share, to find, to converse, to connect, to adapt – we are doing this.

Or are we?

We all know colleagues who don’t participate in learning in digital spaces.

For those who provide learning opportunities online, the sphere of influence has a definite, distinct boundary.  They cannot reach the individual who does not engage in digital spaces.

Online teachers struggle to help students who refuse to log into the course.Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.07.59 AM

In the same way, it doesn’t matter how rich, how engaging, how simple to use or how valuable online learning is for educators  if they don’t know where to look for it or how to use the tools that will allow them to access it.

I think that we have done very well in providing digital resources and learning opportunities for teachers.

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Thanks to Julie Balen for collating this year’s #ontwordont

How, now, can we work to enable the educators who still do not access the rich professional learning environment online?

As someone who self-directs their own professional learning online, how can you help one colleague this month to see some value in engaging in online learning or using online resources?

Leverage your PLN to ask for help.  What is the best starting point for one colleague? What can you show them that will help them see the value in engaging in online, self-directed professional learning?

Resources:

OSSEMOOC

Twitter for Absolute Beginners

Leveraging Twitter for Rich Professional Learning

Ontario Edublogs

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It IS About the Tools

How will, and how do, our students navigate an exponentially changing world?

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How do they manage workflow, information, projects?  How do they know which type of social media best suits their message or their purpose?

How do they know where to find out about job openings, certification opportunities, concerts?

Managing our lives personally and professionally in 2016 requires knowledge of the tools available to us, and the ability to think critically about how to use those tools to best manage ubiquitous information.

Ira Socol has written extensively about this.  Toolbelt Theory is very clearly explained here in an easy read that is well worth your time.

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Last week, I had lunch with some of my colleagues who are also knitters.  What did we talk about? First, “What are you making?’, and then, “What is that you are working with?”.

For example, as I learn to knit wool socks for my granddaughter’s rapidly growing little feet, I need different tools from my other projects.  If I want a sock that fits (task), I need to determine how I will try it on her, and when I will work on it (environment), how much I need to learn about this (skills) and then what TOOLS I need to accomplish the task.

knitting socks

 

Little Chloé lives far from me, so I need to carry an outline of her foot with key foot and ankle measurements, enough pure washable wool for the project, tiny dp needles, and my ipad for the video of how to knit custom toe-up socks (skills).  These tools allow me to complete the project.

If I am knitting thrummed wool mittens, I need different tools.

knitting mitts

Because I fly every week (environment), I can’t use scissors or a knife to cut thrums (airport security will take them) so I make sure I have something like nail clippers to cut the 3.5 inch thrums, stitch holders for the thumb work, several dp needles of different sizes a needle size template so that I don’t choose the wrong needles while working, and a pattern book because I have not internalized how the pattern works yet (skills).

If I am missing any of these tools, I cannot complete the task.

Knowing which tools to choose, based on what the task is, where I am working, and the skill level I have for that project, will allow me to complete the task.

Similarly, I am always rethinking how I manage personal and professional information, and how I share back with my colleagues.

What tool do I use to gather information quickly?

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What tool to I use to organize ideas?  More recently, I have been using Google Keep for quick links and for short notes.Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 7.11.05 AM

I tend to put my learning notes in “Notes”, and both tools migrate seamlessly across all of my devices.

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How do I communicate over distances? I use Google Hangout with colleagues 24/7.  I just finished Facetiming with my daughter and granddaughter.  Yesterday I Skyped with a colleague in Arizona. And each week, I have a number of scheduled  phone calls and teleconferences.

I have many tools for many purposes available at my disposal. Choosing the right tool for the task (conversation, share documents, visuals, collaborate), given the environment (office, home, driving, airport, cab) and the skills (are colleagues familiar with collaborative documents or Skype?) is a decision I have to make many times every day.

In 2016,  our students need to develop the ability to critically analyze a task, and to choose the tools that are best for them in that situation. This isn’t about “offering choice”, it’s about applying critical thinking skills to the completion of a task.

Earlier this week, I was fortunate to spend time with my Early Years colleagues, and as we talked about the work they are doing around “How Does Learning Happen?”, they expressed their own interpretation of Toolbelt Theory as it applies to young learners.

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They asked me why we thought that it was okay to tell older students that they were to do this task on this computer, using this program, at this time.  How did this way of thinking respect individual abilities?  How did this type of task allow students to demonstrate their learning in the best way they knew how?

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As we consider TELT (Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching), how are we ensuring that students are becoming competent in the key digital literacy of understanding tools, and choosing the tool that is most appropriate for them to complete the task?

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Resources:

Toolbelt Theory – Ira David Socol

How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years

Afraid to be Wrong

Over the past few days, mostly while shovelling snow, I have been listening to one particular podcast from the CBC Ideas Program: Knowledge and Democracy.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 7.29.04 AM The program examines the interaction between science and society, looking at the “position” of the discipline “science” in a democracy.

It is of particular interest to me because of our  recent experiences with a government that chose to muzzle scientists and withdraw support from scientific inquiry.

The podcast is a combination of a talk given by Harry Collins at Memorial University in Newfoundland, and a conversation he had with Paul Kennedy.

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It raises important questions about the position of science in society.  I recommend it to anyone interested in how science is perceived in our society, and particularly for those advocating for science instruction and literacy in our public school system.

One sentence that resonates this morning is, “Would I prefer a society where people expose their ideas to criticism, or where they hide them away so nobody can tell them that they are wrong?“.

In our work with open learning, we often hear that education leaders are afraid to openly share their learning – to be “lead learners” – because it will expose what they don’t know.

Schooling promotes this thinking – that it is better to hide your ignorance.  It is very challenging to shift people who excelled in  school – many who then entered schooling as a profession – into believing that it is better to share ideas than to hide them.

How do we create the conditions in our public education system that encourage leaders to be learners, and to openly share their learning with others?

If we want “innovation”, we need to embrace ideas.

The only way to have great ideas, is to have a lot of ideas.

If our school culture values ‘being right’ more than it values learning, we can’t be innovative.

 

 

Resources:

Are we All Scientific Experts Now? (by Harry Collins)

Ideas with Paul Kennedy: Knowledge and Democracy

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What’s the Professional Reading List for Educators? The Shift…

“The reading isn’t merely a book, of course. The reading is what we call it when you do the difficult work of learning to think with the best, to stay caught up, to understand.

The reading exposes you to the state of the art. The reading helps you follow a thought-through line of reasoning and agree, or even better, challenge it. The reading takes effort.”

Seth Godin

 

What do we need to read to stay caught up in our profession?

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The Ontario College of Teachers sets out the Standards of Practice for the profession in Ontario.

One of the Standards is Professional Learning:

Ontario College of Teachers: https://www.oct.ca/public/professional-standards/standards-of-practice
Ontario College of Teachers: https://www.oct.ca/public/professional-standards/standards-of-practice

 

Seth Godin: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/11/did-you-do-the-reading.html
Seth Godin: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/11/did-you-do-the-reading.html

Do you know where to go and what to read to keep up in your profession?  Recently, Seth Godin commented on this.

Many leaders in education will tell you that they most certainly do know what to read to stay current, and to share with other educators.  Books, research – all important to the foundations of our learning for our profession.

But we also must be willing to be disturbed in this thinking, because in 2015, we need to be much more agile and flexible in our learning, as thinking changes and innovation happens much faster than books can be published and research papers can be finished.

This is Seth's Blog: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/11/did-you-do-the-reading.html
This is Seth’s Blog: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/11/did-you-do-the-reading.html

 

In choosing what to read, we have to consider,

“What is the core role of a teacher?”.

Catherine Montreuil, Assistant Deputy Minister of Education in Ontario, explains this better than anyone else I know.

Our role is to ensure learning – that progressing toward learning goals –  is happening.  It is not okay for any child to be stuck and not learning.

We do not have to do this alone, but we have to ensure that we are doing everything we can for every single child in our care.  We know our best practice.  When that isn’t working, we have to find our next practice.

 

Finding our “next” practice: Our ability to share our practice with others has changed exponentially over the past decade.  Our ability to find out what others are doing – the practices that are working elsewhere – now requires digital literacies, the ability and understanding of how to leverage online tools to access the curated stream of information that can lead to our next practice.

In the same way that we once had to learn to use the card catalog in the library, we now must know how to access digital spaces to find the content we need.

This is Seth's Blog: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/11/did-you-do-the-reading.html
This is Seth’s Blog: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/11/did-you-do-the-reading.html

 

The reading list for educators has shifted.

The reading list now includes the blogs where other educators are sharing, and the tweets where other educators curate and share the information that is valuable to them in their professional practice.

And the culture is participatory.  

If you are an educator, there is a moral obligation to use your digital literacies and share your practice with others, so that all of our students benefit from the collective work of our profession.

 

How Do We Tackle “Crippling Incrementalism”?

Thank you to #YRDSBQuest for streaming keynote presentations and encouraging the sharing of learning on Twitter.  It makes it much easier to learn from a distance.

While working near Thunder Bay on Wednesday, I was able to keep in touch with much of the learning.

I also spent time last Sunday and Monday following the Tweets from the OPC event with Dr. Michael Fullan.  I found some relevant work like this:

But I also worried that leaders were once again embracing a lot of conceptual information, like this:

This year, I am wondering about how we can move learning forward.  I think a lot about Simon Breakspear’s plea for us to get out of the conceptual and into a very clear, specific vision of future practice.

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Original video and comments here: https://fryed.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/fallsim15-learning-from-simon-breakspear/

So after reading all the Tweets from Day 1 of #YRDSBQuest and watching the keynotes streamed, I came to this inquiry question:

I feel as though we have spent a lot of time in Ontario working on “building relationships”, building our emotional intelligence, talking about innovation, talking about 21C, reading books about the secrets of change, drivers, instructional core, sticky ideas and mindsets.

Isn’t it time now to take some action?

“We are now better than fifteen years into the 21st Century and educators are still discussing what role technology plays in education.”

Tom Whitby, My Island View, How Do We Stop Illiterate Educators?

Let’s look at the last bullet on the slide above:

“Ultimately you need people to take charge of their own learning…”

What if we invested in putting a simple, reliable mobile device into the hands of every educator (especially leaders), and provided reliable connectivity, then offered some basic instruction into how to self-direct their learning

…. imagine what would happen if every leader committed to learning and sharing openly, if every educator openly reflected on learning and practice on their own blog/website in a searchable, open way.

Think of the spread of best practice – next practice that could happen if all educators were simply empowered with those simple three things:

  1. A simple, reliable mobile device
  2. Reliable connectivity
  3. Basic instruction on self-directing their learning in open collaborative online environments.

How well would we then understand the critical needs to ensure that our students are able to self-direct their own learning in this world where knowledge is ubiquitous?

 

 

Resources:

See how some Ontario Educators are taking the next steps in self-directing learning:

 

 

 

 

 

Why Should Educators Understand Social Media?

Educators must understand social media, because this is where our children are:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/common-sense-media-report-reveals-new-facts-about-kids-use-of-technology-social-media/

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Is shutting down the device the answer?

Do our kids, and our teachers, understand how powerful social media can be for LEARNING?

Isn’t it ESSENTIAL for our school and system leaders to be fully digitally literate?

Here is a great guide to digital life for teens.

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This Guide to Life Online is Produced by http://mediasmarts.ca/ and available free by clicking on the image.

As school and system leaders in education, how are we preparing our youth to be digital leaders in online environments?

How are we modelling the skills,  aptitudes and behaviours that are appropriate in digital spaces?