This week, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to listen to George Couros speak about "Leading Innovative Change". I couldn't hardly tweet fast enough to capture all of the great nuggets of thought that I wanted to share and remember. Couros challenged the audience to go home and blog about the session. So, looking back at my Twitter feed from that day, here are the gems that are sticking with me.
"To be an expert teacher, you have to be an expert learner" with "everyone's a teacher and everyone's a learner"
Teachers should always be learning. I know that I am a heck of a lot smarter now that I was four years ago when I came back into teaching after staying home with my kiddos. I was armed with a new Master's of Library Science degree and ready to take on the world, but I am in such a better place now. There is no way I can look at where I am now and say, "I'm good, I know everything." I look forward to five years from now and how much I will have grown in that time.
I feel like the term "life-long learner" gets thrown around quite a bit in education, but what does that really look like? Are we, as teachers, modeling life-long learning? I love when students have a question that I can't answer, I'm not scared to ask them as a group for help or model how to find help from the internet. I've watched YouTube videos with classes to figure out how to add something to a project or simply Googled how to do something with technology. I certainly do not have all of the answers - about anything. Kids seemed amazed when I admit this. What would our school look like if we were all trying to make a year's annual growth this year? Even the adults. (Maybe this should say "especially the adults") I think it would change how we think about teaching and pushing ourselves to be better for all kids every day.
"It's not about 'finding time' it's about 'doing differently'"
Time constraints seem to be the reason that many changes in education don't happen. A teacher's day is very busy and often planning times are lost to a discipline issue or other building event. I like the idea of "doing differently" rather than creating time. It is important to make small changes. Perhaps taking that one lesson that you think is boring (if you don't like it, I bet your students don't like it either) and that's the lesson you revamp or try doing something completely new. As the librarian, I love working with teachers to integrate technology into lessons. Since I'm already going to teach students how to use new tools, I would love to have these match up with what is going on in the classroom.
Often we have several new things thrown our way at time and it becomes overwhelming. When we take a step back and reflect on one thing we would like to change, then it becomes doable. I have been trying to join one Twitter edchat each week and in March I have committed to blogging once a week. I'm sure I will mess these things up at some point because I am human. Even though I have many pressures on my time, when I make something a priority I find that I can make time for it.
"Sometimes innovation becomes synonymous with technology, but innovation starts with what is best for a particular learner."
I love this because I think we forget that tech and innovation are not the same thing. Sometimes my best ideas come from talking to my colleagues and simply brainstorming. Technology will not save a tired curriculum, and if we aren't using technology in a new way an iPad or computer may just be a really expensive pencil. How can we use technology to transform the way that students tell their stories? If a student is terrified to talk in front of a class, can they use a tool to record themselves giving the presentation? Couros showed great examples of student videos. These were thoughtful demonstrations of student learning. We need to better use the tools we have available to give students the ability to share their learning in authentic and meaningful ways. Often teachers feel unable to allow students to use tools the teacher doesn't fully understand, by the time we fully understand how to use a tech tool it is usually obsolete. Let students lead the way with tech, don't constrain them because of your technical (in)ability. Also, I think it is so important that we remember that every tech tool is not right for every kid. At some point students should get to choose how they will present information. When they have this freedom, the results are amazing (and not always tech related). 6th grade Genius Hour is one of my favorite projects because the learners get to pick what they will learn about and how they will share their learning. It is a messy and awesome process.