I had a really nice first day of March break today caving with my kids. In the midst of an ever increasing network of people online, I’m in awe of the opportunities that I’m having to connect with other educators in my PLN and beyond, but I’m constantly challenged to keep the balance between what could become a 24/7 workday and my other priorities: family, learning, and a few interesting pursuits along the way to keep me sane. Conscious of how quickly the kids are growing, I know that the huge amount of time I spend online, largely in the evenings since I’m teaching all day, is coming at a cost.
However, I’m so in awe of the teachers I’m meeting up with online that are so caring about their profession and so passionate about learning! This week I found myself challenged by my friend Gary Stager to speak up on Twitter about my beliefs about students and learning, certainly something I’m not encouraged to do in my day-to-day. In fact, in public education we are so rarely asked to develop a personal philosophy of education that it dawned on me that this should be considered quite worrisome! Whole generations of teachers may spend a good chunk of their lifetime becoming ‘expert’ teachers (at least in terms of years served) and never think very deeply about what it is they are doing that could change the life of a child. This has not been my experience, as what appeals to me most about teaching is my own learning about learning…I’m thankful to have an online community in which to engage in such rich discourse and thankful that after 21 years, I’m still constantly challenged to become a better teacher; there is always more to learn!
Good examples of learning-centred approaches are all around us, and I’m so grateful to my colleagues for sharing their work. When Mike Anderson organized our Skills Canada event at UGDSB this week, I was so impressed with the collaborative, authentic challenges that were presented to the students to promote problem-solving. Lego Robotics, Toon Boom animations, Lego Mechanics, Video Production with Apple Canada, student created Health and Safety presentations, building wind turbines and designing and building replicas of houses were the focus of this event, with a focus on a constructive rather than instructive approach.
This week I’ve been checking out Ben Hazzard, who creates a collaborative space for teachers, Alec Couros, a prof from Regina that I’ve met on Twitter who was u-streaming a conference presentation from Calgary this week, and veteran teachers like Peter Skillen taking on new projects like Adobe Youth voices. Also, Nathan Toft and Jane Smith and their portablePD.ca, Kent Manning sharing his love of digital storytelling and Doug Peterson’s regular updates on his blog.
You see what I mean? What is a person to do? Not only do I feel a little guilty for being such a taker, and not contributing, but it’s such a challenge just to keep up with all this good stuff and keep doing my thing for teachers and students in my school district.