Hello and yes, I know, it’s been a while as usual! My apologies!
Here we go!
Some time ago i was approached along with a group of other excellent educators, much more skilled than I, and better looking to boot!, by John Thomas, a highly skilled teacher and Department of Education Course Facilitator.
John was coordinating a professional development series of events for Victorian school teachers focusing on Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century and needed the assistance of the aforementioned people, and myself, to help ‘coach’ participants involved. Seeing this as both a wonderful opportunity to be involved in as well as thinking it would benefit my own development caused me to jump at the chance.
Without going in to a great amount of detail, the course involved 2 Face-2-Face days and 6 BlackBoard Collaborate Webinars thrown in the middle of each of those days. The initial F2F day involved all 88 teachers involved developing an understanding of what 21st Century Teaching and Learning looks like as well as how the technology we now have access to can make such a positive difference in our teaching and learning professional lives.
Before I continue I need to add that there we so many applicants for this course that DEECD decided to offer it twice! A testament to teachers throughout Victoria who were and are continually wanting to improve digital teaching practices.
Now, I am wanting this post to be informative yet if I list all details in detail we’ll be here well into the New Year! So i’ll aim to cut it short!
As mentioned, the course was split into 3 parts. A Face-2-Face day, the 6 webinars, and the final F2F day. It must be mentioned that on the first Face-2Face days the amazing Jenny Luca presented 2 awesome Keynote presentations that had all those involved, and even the coaches, engaged in deeper thinking about the positive change that we can all make. The change that needs to be made. You can find Jenny presentation below;
During that initial day members of the course were asked to sit a particular table which was titled a particular ‘verb’. These ranged from;
…I am sure there were others! These verbs were to drive each groups work and progress throughout the next 7 weeks to assist them to either individually or as a group, complete a project based upon that verb. I hope that makes sense!
The webinars that followed were based on a range of things all related to technology, inquiry, and , of course, 21st Century Teaching and Learning.
For a full list of these head to either one of the 2 blogs that listed the program and course in its entirety!
The real learning that took place, from my point of view, were in the form of the 2 final Face-2Face days. The culmination of all that had been achieved by so many shared on one/two, occasions.
It was pleasing to witness first hand teachers who perhaps had some form of trepidation to use and integrate technology participate in what essentially was a huge learning journey for them. Several of the positives that I personally witnessed were;
- Witnessing and being involved in first hand the willingness for the teachers involved to step out of their comfort zones to attempt unfamiliar pedagogies in their classrooms with the focus being on digital teaching and learning.
- To see that teachers had completely integrated GAFE (Google App’s for Education) in their setting/s
- Developed strong PLN’s (Professional Learning Networks) to learn from and collaborate with
- Using online social sites such as Global2, WikiSpaces, Google Sites and Edmodo to engage with their students, and staff
- Undertake ‘Genius Hour’. Something that I myself am keen to engage with! For more information relating to the idea of Genius Hour head to Narissa Leung’s blog here: Putting the G in Genius Hour.
- The willingness of teachers to get up and share their learning in front of others
One of the discussions that popped up on both final Face-2-Face days was the listing of the barriers and challenges that a lot of what we were doing and implementing threw up at us. Having so many teachers attend from a very wide variety of settings did not all seem to matter that much, with the majority of teachers listing the same ‘blocks’ over and over again. These being;
- Time! The time that it can take to learn, create, share, trial, and set up all the great tools etc…!
- The amount of various tools being used by different teachers in the same setting. This for me was an interesting one as in my setting I encourage the use of various online spaces and tools to be used. Teachers can make up their own minds as to which tools they feel best suit their needs and that of their students.
- Internet! With such a heavy reliance on online sites and spaces the need to fast, reliable internet is needed now more than ever. If we’re wanting students to be connected to capture, communicate and collaborate then this is essential.
- Staff reluctance. I am a firm believer that fear is the biggest motivator in teachers not wanting to integrate and trial new technologies and tools. This means that it is up to us to be the drivers of change and innovation and to engage our reluctant colleagues!