The Only Danger Is…


Yesterday I had the pleasure once again of attending a session hosted by Stephen Heppell. Having heard Stephen talk on several occasions before I knew that seeing him speak, or more so listening to him speak, was yet an another opportunity that I could not pass up.

As an educator I have quickly learnt in my short career that hearing people such as Stephen talk can give you a greater insight in to how as an educator you can develop your practices to become a more effective teacher.

Hearing what was discussed throughout the session certainly got me thinking yet once again about how i could challenge myself, my students and others.

Below I have written 5 quotes from Stephen that resonated with me from the session, one’s that may hopefully get you thinking about your own practices and or thoughts in education and learning…

1. “What would the best school in the world look like?”. Hmmm. Ripping question! I have absolutely no idea. It might have a water slide and a pool and be very play and inquiry focused. We’d be trying to solves the planets problems and that of of humanity as well. Learning by being involved in authentic tasks that are risk and purposeful. The layout would be open and spacious, colourful, as well as challenging. You might have to walk through a maze to get to a particular class or scale a giant cargo net to get to the canteen! It may look a little like a Google Head Office! Kids would go from one floor to the one below via a fireman’s pole or twisting slide! There would be technology available to those who want it, and other tools to assist learning to cater for those with varied learning styles. There would be outside areas where students could work. Places that fostered creativity and imagination. The learning would be challenging. The teachers would take risks and push boundaries.

2. “Doing things differently is the only way forward”. Who really wants to be doing the same thing day in day out? One of the greatest aspects of teaching is that each and every day is different. Presenting new challenges and bringing with those varied emotions. The greatest part of my role currently is that with all of the IT that i manage, i still have 3 year 9 classes that I teach to use as Guinea Pigs! I can do things with them that i would do with other classes and push those boundaries and do things differently. In saying this, the best people at doing things differently and finding new ways of doing particular things are the students. Hence… the next quote…

3. “Let Kids Go. Let’s see how far they can get”. I have often thought that we place a huge amount of time assisting those student to learn who need it. Those students who may not quite be at their expected level. And, of course we should, it is our job, that’s what we do. However… how much time do we spend on the other students who are flying along? Those who complete their work with 40 mins left. Those who can, and could, if left alone push the boundaries of their learning. Why should we hold kids back. Those kids who want to learn and develop their own knowledge will. Let’s get out of their way.

4. “Focus on the process”. I think that we are too focused on the content that we teach. The end result. We place little focus on the skills that it actually takes to get to that result. This got me thinking in regards to my teaching. Obviously teaching film creation via stop animation and claymation techniques, it is generally the final product that i look at. Until recently i have not placed a great focus on what it took to get to that end product. The hours of editing. The management of tools and resources needed. The IT skills to create the stop motion and tie it all together. Embedding music that is not breaching copyright. The ability to upload to the internet to a hosting site such as You Tube. And so on… I know that instead of focusing on the end result, i can develop a greater understanding of my students via carefully watching the process unfold.

5. “The only risk is to take no risk”. I love this saying. Might get it tattooed on my back! Or maybe not. It’s been great to see the young and enthusiastic staff we have here at our college push the boundaries and take risks in their teaching. To attempt new things and to get kids working out of their comfort zones. Being judgmental about the way that they are teaching and reflecting on their own practice. I think this saying resonates deeply with all of the others above. As a teacher i perhaps can take more risks. Push the boundaries of learning more often. Not be afraid of getting caught out or crossing the line. I believe as long as students are engaged, learning, and enthralled in what they are doing, then, basically, who cares.

Lastly, as the title of this post begins, and as Stephen quoted, “The only danger is not being brave enough”

A lot to think about!


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