What will it mean to be educated in 2050?

Today I was lucky enough to be at the first of 2016’s Core Breakfasts in Hamilton. Derek Wenmouth challenged the thinking of a group of Hamiltonian educators and inspired them to question their practice.

By way of recording the conversations I have created this Storify.

What will it mean to be educated in 2050?

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Teachers as Learners First

Sheryl Nussbaum talks about schools being “Future Ready” and there are four elements to being future ready 

  1. learning is student centred
  2. the technical infrastructure will easily support the learning,
  3. distributed, collaborative leadership which happens when many people share leadership functions. 
  4. remembering always that teachers are learners first

The final element of “teachers as learners” has been an important part of my last few weeks. They have been a whirl of learning.  In my new role as a Connected Learning Advisor I have been in a team running Professional Learning days for leaders.  First we headed to Whangarei, then Hamilton and finally, yesterday we were connected with educators in Christchurch.  Principals and eLeaders travelled from the far north and the deep south to engage in rich conversations, challenging thinking and robust questioning over the three days.

The sessions dealt with strategic planning, shifting teachers’ thinking and managing change through professional learning, and exploring how social media can build connections between schools and the wider community.

But the focus was on collaboration and connectedness and teachers as learners. Providing time to have conversations, share stories and good practice, plan and make connections was a key element of the days and it seems that it was appreciated by those who attended.

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 I know that I have learned as much as the teachers I have been working with. There is such power in conversations and I have been inspired by so many people and the work they are doing in schools, grappling with overwhelming change with commitment, positivity and open minds.  Thank you.

After each event we “Storified” the days and published posts on the VLN to encourage the participants and those who couldn’t make it to continue or join in the conversations.

The links to the Storifies are below.

Whangarei

Hamilton

Christchurch

We also used Todaysmeet to “chat” and record the conversations. Here is the transcript from some of the discussion in the sessions on Professional Learning.

#edblognz Week 1 Challenge 2 People who inspire me

Mmm…

A good word…inspire:

1. fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something.

Who has inspired me?  Got me thinking… so many areas to think about… and makes me think of what my passions have been over the years. There are two types of people who have inspired me; those who I have met and who through their interest in me and the care they showed me have had a profound effect on who I am today. And those who I have never met, but who through their actions, deeds, philosophies fill me with admiration and who make me want to aspire to be or act like them.

As an eight year old I was introduced to gymnastics by my PE teacher at primary school.  Mr Biscombe.  I was a quiet little thing, didn’t say boo to a goose in public (although a complete chatterbox with my friends).  He recognised that I had some talent, he nurtured it, he believed in me and he encouraged me.  I spent the next 20 years of my life pretty much immersed in gymnastics as a gymnast and a coach.  It is probably partly because of Mr Biscombe that I became a teacher.

As a nine year old I was introduced to French at the same primary school by Miss Larraine Francis. She was passionate about French and her interest in all her students was clear.  She treated us all as if we were special and brought out the best in us.  I have spent the rest of my life with a passion for learning languages, for exploring cultures and travelling.  She also shares my love of Roquefort cheese!  Miss Francis is probably the other reason that I became a teacher.

(Oh, and do you know the best part? Mrs Biscombe and Miss Francis, my two favourite teachers, fell in love and got married!)

My Mum and my Dad both inspired me too but I didn’t think they did when I was a teenager. They were just, well, Mum and Dad! Doh! Looking back though, how much of what you do is not inspired by your parents? They are the ultimate believers in you, everything they do is for you, even when you don’t think it is!

woman doing a handstand on the top of a hillAs a gymnast I was inspired by my coaches, Mrs Pollard and Mrs Marjorie Carter.   Mrs Pollard was an old lady – well she seemed that way to me as a 10 yr old – small, wrinkly, white haired and extremely agile. She could still do the splits and handstands.  I was determined that at 60-something I too would still be able to do the splits and handstands!  A few years to go yet but the challenge is still on!  I was terrified of Mrs Carter at first but soon realised her bark was worse than her bite and as I got older and started to coach alongside her I appreciated her determination, strength of character, integrity and absolute fairness.  Her belief in us all was absolute.

Olga Korbut – every gymnast’s idol in the 1970s. I so wanted to be like her, do what she could do. But it was Elvira Saadi who inspired me with her grace and poise.  She was the gymnast who “flew under the radar”. She didn’t turn the tricks of Korbut and the Comaneci, she did her own thing beautifully. I never met these people but I was inspired to train hard to be like them.

caver doing a handstand in a caveAs I left gymnastics behind, my new passion was the outdoors. In particular caving.  The old guard of the caving club were incredible. Their longevity, their dedication to their passion and their perseverance to keep doing what they loved was, is inspiring.  As their bodies grew old, they moulded their actions to their abilities. They caved less “hard” but still went out every week passing on their passion and their skills freely to any who would listen and accompany them.  They tell their stories, many have gone down in the annals of caving lore, embellished, growing richer in the telling.  I have moved on, I wonder if I was still in Yorkshire whether I would still be caving, but motherhood and a move to the other side of the world has broken the continuity. Who knows – it is never too late…

Man diving from a rocky outcrop into a riverNorbert Casteret is my caving hero.  Maybe partly because he is French and he links two of my passions? A highly talented sportsman he won many national honours in an array of sports; diving, running, boxing, ski jumping. He also explored more caves than appears humanly possible often with very little equipment. It is documented that he stripped off, attached his clothes to his head with a candle and matches firmly enclosed as he swam through sumps to continue exploration of caves in the Pyrenees. Anyone with that sort of dedication has got to be inspiring hasn’t he? But he was also deeply patriotic and risked his life in the Resistance during WW2 rescuing many fugitives and hiding important documents deep in the caves.

The last person who inspired me (not the only one but this post could get even longer than it already is if I go on!) is a colleague of many years in the UK. Actually, I’m going to cheat here and slip another inspiration in. Both these women, had qualities which I admire and aspire to. I’m still working on them.  Mrs Adam, a diminutive, white haired Scotswoman with half moon glasses who taught me Latin had such presence and commanded such respect that even the biggest, loutish boys at school would obey when she stood at the end of the corridor and shouted “WALK!”.   She was fair, had high expectations of us all, was always prepared and taught us with interest and passion for her subject.  Mrs Sue Cross, my dear colleague, just retired, had such serenity, her classroom door was always open, invited anyone in and her students were always clearly engaged in whatever task she had set them.  Her passion for French was, is, such that her students couldn’t fail to be infected by it.  She rarely raised her voice, was calm, firm, fair and stood absolutely no nonsense.  Of course, she had difficulties from time to time, don’t we all.  But she didn’t pretend, she asked for help when she needed it.  She accepted everyone and was generous with her time to help others.  And her sense of humour was infectious.

It is the human qualities of all of these people which connects them and inspires me. Their passion, their humanity, their integrity, the way they communicate with me and show absolute interest to make me feel special, their belief in me.  If I could go half way to being anything like any of these people, I would be a rich woman.

#edchatnz conference August 2014

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I just got back from an inspirational day of learning, collaborating, connecting, talking, sharing and all-round enjoyment. The #edchatnz conference, thoughtfully and inspirationally crafted in just 12 weeks by 7 passionate NZ educators. They were supported by over 350 equally passionate educators who all meet via Twitter each Thursday evening to chat about teaching and learning.

The #edchatnz conference demonstrates the power and potential of social media to bring people together. The #edchatnz twitter chats already represent one of the best PLNs for NZ educators but developing it into a Face to Face opportunity brings the essential human element to our PLN. We know that relationships are key to building trust, mutual respect and connections that lead to much more effective learning both for our students and for us as adult learners.

edchatnzHowever, conferences don’t just happen. The seed of an idea is planted, a dream is vocalised, a crazy “what if..” is encouraged and supported by passion and “we can…”. It needs a group of people who, together, can make crazy ideas come to fruition. It was an idea who’s time has come, teacher (tweechers) are ready for it, we are ready to take control of our own learning and the momentum is growing. @MissDtheTeacher and her team have started the ball rolling, they have proved that if you dare to dream big then you can make things happen and people respond to your passion.

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View my Storify of the Tweets of the #edchatnz conference from Saturday onwards – there were just too many to deal with over the full tow days and since I was only lucky enough to attend on Saturday I will leave Friday to someone else to Storify!

Engaging and Extending

Teachers at my school are amazing.   They, like many other teachers, have coped with a huge amount of change. Scarcely has one new intiative been incorporated into already busy schedules than another is introduced.  There is little time to assimilate, practise and embed.  Two years ago we introduced a BYOD programme and we focused our Professional Learning on blending technology with effective pedagogy.  This year the plan was to have some time to consolidate what we had explored last year.  Then GAFE came along and we had to put plans on hold.  After three years of pushing for the school to adopt GAFE, all of a sudden we got the go ahead and we were determined to make sure that our teachers and admin staff were as well-trained as possible.  Term 1 was spent learning how to manage gmail, Google calendars, and Docs.  As you can imagine, some people took it and ran with it, others, are still feeling overwhelmed!  However, they continue to be positive and motivated as we have continued to support and develop.

Last week we had some really rich discussion looking at the eLearning Planning Framework with our teachers.  The eLearning Planning Framework is “a tool to help schools and teachers measure eLearning capability.  It can support regular self-review and subsequent improvement of eLearning skills and knowledge, in ways that reflect our bi-cultural heritage”.  As we started our journey on the eLearning road 3 years ago our BLING group explored the eLPF and put ourselves at the Emerging level for most areas, definitely Pre-emerging at some areas and with pockets of Engaging in terms of individual teachers using and embedding technology in their teaching programmes.

After two years of professional learning focused on exploring how technology can be blended with pedagogy we thought it was timely to look at the eLPF as a whole teaching staff. My motto for this year’s professional learning sessions has been “short and snappy”. Whilst we finish early every Wednesday afternoon to allow time for professional learning we are conscious still that our teachers are under huge pressure.  Last week Junior reports were due the next day and so a short, meaningful, engaging session was called for.

The objectives of this session were:

  • to introduce the eLearning Planning Framework to teachers
  • to examine where we sit as a school within the framework
  • to identify what we need to do next

Snapshot

In cross-curricular groups of four with a facilitator, a recorder and a set of colour-coded descriptor statements from the eLPF, the aim was to choose one statement from each colour that they thought best described where we sat as a school.  This was a quick 5 minute, gut reaction activity to get a very quick snapshot.  The recorder transferred the group’s choices onto a shared Google Doc.

Exploration

After a brief opportunity to share the groups then had 30 minutes to look in more depth at one of the sections of the eLPF.  We had taken out Technology and Infrastructure so the remaining 4 sections were randomly distributed to the 14 groups.  Our Senior Leadership team worked in a group together to nut out the Leadership and Strategic Direction section.  The idea was that we would get a broad idea of  where we sat without having to spend a lot of time going through the whole document.  We asked the groups to consider where we were as a a school but also to reflect where they were on a personal level as they talked.  The discussions that ensued were engaging, at times quite heated, and very robust.  It was fascinating listening to them and joining in as I circulated.  It was also very tempting to let them keep going but, conscious of time, we kept to our schedule.

Human Bar Chart

Time to get up and move around!  The groups were asked to look at the complete page 3 from which the statements for the first activity had been cut.  They reflected on the statements they had originally chosen and then looked at where they had assessed us to be in their particular focus section to see if it was the same.  Then they came with a “label” for their section and stood on our “stair-o-meter” – Pre-emerging at the bottom of the stairs and Empowering at the top.  I think you will agree that the results were fairly unanimous!  We are engaging!

 

teachers standing on stairs indictaing where they syand on the elearning Planning Framework from emerging to empowering

Reading the summaries of the discussions that were shared with us via their Google Docs painted a much more detailed picture.  We think that maybe our teachers are just too hard on themselves!  For many of the aspects within their sections they suggested that there were elements of extending and the examples they gave to justify their viewpoints were robust and very valid.

For those that are interested, here is a copy of the plan for the session.

We followed up this session with a discussion document for the respective faculties to look at in the Learning Area PL slot the following week.

Ulearn13 – a reflection

images from Ulearn13

Another whirlwind three days of stimulation, learning, exploration, interaction, meeting new people, meeting up with old friends, putting faces to twitter handles, sharing ideas and having fun.

This is my fourth Ulearn and I think I an finally getting the hang of it! My first was in Rotorua, the sole representative from my school, and I had never been to such a big conference before.  I was lost figuratively and literally, I knew not a soul and felt quite daunted by booking breakouts, making notes, finding my way around, plucking up courage to speak to people, I really felt like the new kid on the block.  But I was so inspired by the speakers at the keynotes and in the breakouts I went to and went back home with my head full to bursting with ideas.  It took me weeks to process my detailed notes!

In subsequent years I have managed to persuade colleagues to come along too and this year I was one of eight delegates from my school.  The opportunities for sharing what we have learned is going to be huge.

I have always avidly taken notes at every session I have attended. Sometimes I have then diligently transcribed them and created reports that nobody reads. I have blogged about sessions that have particularly inspired me and shared Google docs with colleagues.  Feedback to staff at school has been ad hoc, mainly through the conversations I have with members of my department and others as I support them using technology and during interval and lunch time but also more recently through or PD sessions that this year are focused on blended learning.

This year I decided that I was not going to frantically scribble notes but instead join the rich seam of twitter interactions and use the comments and conversations that ensue to reflect on the sessions.  It was energising!  The key messages were tweeted and re-tweeted, quoted and referenced and have since been Storified or blogged, and tweeted out again for further comment and reflection.  More people were tweeting than ever before and the depth of comments and interactions is getting better and better.  There are still the soundbites but if you can keep up – and I have to confess that I struggle – the replies, favourites and retweets tell a really rich story.  graphic of top tweeters after the first 24 hours at Ulearn13

But the most exciting thing about this year is that I was awarded an e-fellowship. I have to confess that this dominated my experience of this year’s conference.  Wednesday was spent trying not to let the secret out to friends and colleagues whilst bursting with excitement and anticipation on the inside!   On Thursday morning I had to avoid arrangements to meet up with colleagues as we (the e-fellows) were to meet at 8.30am to get instructions about the “announcement”, and Mark Pesce’s excellent keynote was spent in a whirl of congratulatory tweets after we were presented on stage prior to his speech.   I was amazed at how many people came over to me to congratulate me, I had not quite realised how many people I knew or who knew me. Isn’t it strange that you think that people don’t know who you are even though you know that you recognise others.  I tend to think that they are more well known than me and that I am just, well, me!

The next challenge was my own presentation on Friday morning. My first time presenting and on the morning after the night before! “All that glitters” was not really glittering in our presentation room as some delegates wandered in looking decidedly ragged!  The conference dinner was fantastic, the music was great, we danced until our feet were sore and sang until we had no voices – well, some people did. I confess that I reluctantly left at 11pm but not before a good dancing session.

ulearn13 conference dinner delegates - theme "all that glitters"

So, I will share more notes and reflections of the sessions I attended but for a start here is my storified version of Dame Anne Salmond’s closing keynote. It was an inspiring, thought provoking speech that encapsulated many of the themes and ideas of the conference. It is just a shame that so many had to leave to catch planes before they could hear it.  And for those who couldn’t be bothered to stay, you really missed out.

http://storify.com/robeanne/ulearn13

…and the take away from the conference – lifelong learning.   I want this tee-shirt!

 

tee shirt with words "I'll stop learning when I'm dead. ....maybe"

Making connections – more powerful than you know

I watched this Tedtalk back in May and it sent tingles down my spine.  A colleague just shared it with me today and I nearly didn’t watch it because  knew I had seen it before.  However, with only  a few minutes left of my “non-contact” time that had been eroded by dealing with unnecessary emails and admin tasks, I decided to click play.  I am so glad I did, my spine is still tingling as I type.  Rita Pierson is an inspirational, passionate speaker but she cuts to the core of what it is to be an effective teacher.  Which teachers do you remember from your schooldays? I know that I remember the grumpy ones or the ones that were mean, and we all have anecdotes about the teachers that we played tricks on.  But they are not the teachers whose subjects I ended up studying further, they didn’t inspire me to become a teacher, they didn’t encourage a sense of self-esteem or achievement.  The teachers that did that were the ones that cared, the ones that showed an interest in who I was and what I could do, who encouraged me and explained when I didn’t understand their subject, the ones who were kind but also didn’t take any nonsense.

I started to wonder whether being good at a subject is related to how we perceive our teachers .  Do we feel inspired by teachers who teach the subjects we like or do we end up liking the subject because of the teacher?  And does liking a subject mean that you get better at it even if you don’t have a natural talent for it?

In assembly today, the Principal talked about kindness and read out an edited version of George Saunders address to Syracuse University students.  I like this ” If we’re going to become kinder, that process has to include taking ourselves seriously – as doers, as accomplishers, as dreamers.  We have to do that, to be our best selves.”  However, we also have to be careful not to get wrapped up in accomplishing being the end-game as the journey is just as important, and if we rush too fast to the goal we might just forget to be kind on the way.  Saunders also talks about how being kind gets easier as we get older because we become less selfish, less wrapped up in ourselves and who we are and more concerned about others.  The goal shifts from looking out for yourself to looking out for others .

Reflecting on my time in schools, I can relate to that.  I don’t think I was ever really ambitious but I have always enjoyed my work and constantly seek to improve what I do.  I also know that as a young teacher I was probably more focussed on me than on the students.  Having my own children definitely changed my whole outlook on life and watching how they have grown and how they learn has informed how I work with the students in my care.

It is humbling and quite frightening to think of the effect I might have had on a couple of generations of children over my nearly 30 year career as an educator.  I hope that on balance I was more kind than not!  What about you?

P.S.  Being kind is as good for you as it is for the people you are kind to.