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!
Who can help me answer my inquiry question?
Today I worked with my colleagues to support educators in establishing inquiry questions.
Part of our work has been finding the resources to meet the individual needs of each educator. The TBCDSB leadership team asked me to join the group to share the process of becoming a networked learner.
I spent the morning getting to know the needs of the learners in the room, and then created these resources tailored to their requests.
I leveraged my own PLN to find the resources.
In learning that several of the educators were teacher-librarians, I asked my colleague, Mark Carbone, about where to find the work he has been doing with Carlo Fusco.
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.
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.
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.
Last evening we had a rich conversation in the #OSSEMOOC open mic around why educators are not blogging.
1. Not enough time.
Educators are the hardest working people I know, hands down. No contest. They would NEVER think of not preparing for classes or not providing feedback on student work.
Isn’t blogging and sharing and reflecting just as important? How long does it take to share a few thoughts online? How long does it take to upload a file to share?
2. Fear of judgment.
Creating a safe environment for risk-taking is a classroom priority. Why do we make it hard for our colleagues to share their practice? Do our students feel they will be judged when we ask them to share? How do we model to our students that learning and sharing and growing together is a valuable use of our time?
Today I was fortunate to be part of a group of Ontario leaders* learning through a series of webcasts sponsored by CPCO/ADFO/OPC. George Couros returned to talk further about how we can use blogs as a personal portfolio.
I was particularly interested in the kinds of questions people were asking about blogging, and how we might be able to provide some more robust responses without the time constraints of the webcast.
3. Aren’t you afraid of making your opinions public and then having them online forever?
Why not start with blogging facts instead of opinions? When we scaffolded the blogging process for Ontario leaders last year, we asked them to simply share, “What did you learn today?“. Are you reading a book? Share what you are reading. Did you go to a conference, or sit through a webinar? What did you learn? There is nothing controversial about simply sharing what you learn with others.
*NOTE: Nicole Hamilton wrote this post last night after attending an OSSEMOOC open mic session. It is the story of her learning at the session. If we all told the stories of our learning, imagine how much more learning everyone would have access to!
4. How do you possibly have enough time in the day to do this?
Do you have 10 minutes to devote to your own personal growth? OSSEMOOC has a series devoted to becoming a connected leader in only 10 minutes a day. Start here, and stick with it!
5. How do we get more followers?
Write your blog for yourself. Post your learning so that it is searchable. You will never lose your notes again! Then, share it with OSSEMOOC to post on our site, and share it through other social media.
6. How do I keep my blogging from becoming essay-writing?
Check out other blogs. See what style works for you. You can see school and system leader and teacher blogs on the OSSEMOOC website – all in one place.
Leaders in the webcast were also asked these questions. What do you think?
*leader in the informal sense of the word, not the formal “title”. If you are working to move your practice forward in education and to model the learning you want to see, you are a leader. Some questions about the use of the term “instructional leader” can be found here.
Mark Carbone and I recently took advantage of the opportunity to share our passion for connecting education leaders at the TEDxKitchenerED event.
If you are wondering about #OSSEMOOC, here is the story of how we are working to connect leaders, and helping Ontario learners, to thrive in the complexities of teaching and learning in today’s rapidly changing world.
As we have travelled throughout the province this week, we have heard loud and clear that we need an easier entry point for our education leaders to start the connecting process.
Last Tuesday, connected leaders met to discuss how they became connected leaders – the catalyst that got them started. Here are some of the things we learned. Which of these do you need? Which of these can you bring to a leader you know to help them connect?
1. TIME! When can we possibly find the time to connect?
Educators are busy. Nobody disputes that! But could connecting actually make your life easier? YES IT CAN! You can pose a question on Twitter 24/7 and get an answer in minutes. We have heard many stories with this theme.
Learn to make time. Start with 15 minutes each day. Some of us do “Tea and Twitter”, some of us start…
Jenni’s question this week is one that needs more that 140 characters to answer.
I think we have to begin with why we even bother to blog. It begins with a fundamental belief that knowledge is to be shared and that learning comes from conversations. It isn’t enough to just learn any more. We need to learn, connect, reflect and share. We expect our students to do this every day. We need to model that for them.
When we recognize blogging and sharing our learning as a priority, it becomes easier to do it.
Before blogging becomes a habit, though, professional learning needs to be a habit. This was stated nicely in #satchat today.
So how can professional learning become part of your life? Here are a few simple suggestions:
1) Listen to podcasts, all the time. I hate mundane tasks like vacuuming and raking, but plugged into a great podcast makes the chore simply listening and learning time. Suggestions? Get ASCD’s Whole Child Podcast on your iPhone, along with CBC Ideas, HBR Ideacast (great stuff for school and system leaders), Moving at the Speed of Creativity with Wes Fryer (once listened to these every commute – learned a ton from Wes), CBC Spark (I’m a bit partial to Episode 195!). Those are my favourites, but I could go on forever here with other suggestions.
2) Read your notes! How often do you go to PD sessions and take notes. Do you ever read them again? You should! As you learn and grow, some parts of previous learning sessions begin to make more sense.
3) Read great books. Don’t know where to start? Ask your PLN on Twitter. Some recent favourites? Intentional Interruption by Stephen Katz and Lisa Ain Dack, Professional Capital by Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan. I am certain your PLN can suggest many, many more.
If you don’t have time to read a blog, you can always “listen” to one. Check out how Darren Kuropatwa uses his commuting time to work to post to his blog – “while walking“.
5. Enrol in a MOOC! There are so many MOOCs for learning out there. Try Coursera if you can’t find what you want elsewhere.
6. Connect Online. Enable Feedly, use social bookmarking, connect on Twitter. Maximize sharing and connecting to learn from other educators. There are endless ways to do this.
But what to share?
Sometimes just sharing your learning is so worthwhile. I often do this after a particularly valuable session at a conference (Catherine Montreuil, John Malloy).
Sometimes things happen in your day that inspire a post about a topic you are learning about or that you want to explore further.
For example, this past week, I was explaining my new role in promoting digital learning throughout Ontario to my optometrist when he started into a rant on how we had better get Facebook out of schools. It reminded me of how much work we have to do to teach the public about the importance of digital learning – a blog post for another day.
Doug Peterson (@dougpete <– follow him) explains very nicely how he comes up with his blog topics here.
How can you organize your learning, your experiences, your blog ideas, your blog post catalysts? There are many tools available.
Recently, I have started using a free app called Notability.
It allows me to use handwriting or voice to quickly record my thinking.
I can organize it by topic.
When I synch it with my other devices, the documents download to my laptop in pdf format.
I also use my phone to record ideas while walking or hiking. Then, as I start to write the blog, I often switch to Evernote, which is synched across all of my devices and where I store and tag much of my online learning.
And sometimes I even use good old-fashioned paper when I am really trying to sort things out.
Most educators I know are trying to do too much with too little time. Having time to exercise, get outside, relax and heal has to be a priority. Sometimes, this is the best time to reflect and consolidate learning, and as you make connections, why not share those ideas with your colleagues when you get back? We are all learning together.
There is no doubt that #ECOO13 was an outstanding opportunity for learning and networking. The event was exceptional from beginning to end and I am grateful for the talents and very hard work of all involved.
Of course the learning continues long after the event, as long as we continue to heed the “call to action” so clearly emanating as a theme for the event. Incoming ECOO President, Mark Carbone, summarized it perfectly in his closing remarks (posted here: http://blog.markwcarbone.ca/2013/10/25/ecoo13-call-to-action/).
In one of my presentations on Thursday, I cited the work of Stephen Katz and Lisa Dack, showing that most professional development does not result in a change in classroom practice. Our ECOO13 experience must be different. We must work to change our practice based on our new learning, and we must courageously continue to share our learning by taking the same risks we ask our students to take, and make our thinking visible.
I have never really thought about “nurturing” as a method of effecting change. Nurturing is different from “leading” or “supporting” or even “building relationships”. It is far more personal, far more precise, and, I think, potentially far more effective.
It is empowering to recognize nurturing as an agent of change.
When I think about Andrew’s “new teacher” from Beaverton (where, coincidentally, my husband and I purchased our first home together), I wonder what she is doing now. I hope that someone is there to encourage her through those first difficult years and to connect her to this massive support system of educators.
I hope someone nurtures her so she too can recognize her full potential as a teacher and learner.