Learning2 – Day 3 – Breaking Out of the Mold

This session was lead by David Beaty

This session was fun and would be a good way to help with problem solving in any grade. Basically there was a box with four different types of locks on it and we had to break into it. The idea originally comes from Breakout Edu. There are so many possibilities for how this could be used in a class. There were clues around the room that we had to use to solve small problems. Each clue lead us to another clue or the answer to the password for one lock.

I think that the possibilities are nearly endless on ways that you could use this activity in schools. You could for example make it so that your class leaders could only test the locks, not solve the clues. You could put in rules that for the first 10 min only girls could talk. Or that the clues had to be solved on one side of the room by one set of people and the locks opened by another.

What would be super important is the observations that you as a teacher take of how the room flows. Looking for who is the most involved, lead involved, reaches frustration, etc. Then in further sessions you could design the directions around those personalities.

I think as well a small documented thinking session at the beginning and a long reflection session at the end are crucial. There were different perception from our group as to the level of participation for example that only came to light because of the reflection session. So it would be interesting for students to properly reflect after to see if they notice the same things that you did during your observations.

I think I would try this two ways with the same groups as well. First having them come together and plan, the second where they don’t plan. Not because one is better than the other, but so that they critically consider if this type of task is helped by a plan or if a plan has no effect.

Learning2 – Day 2 Extended Session 1

Leading Systematic Change with John Mikton

Take Away #1:

I am a “piggy in the middle”. I am between the teachers and the admin. The advantages of this are that teachers don’t see me as admin and so they are more open and collaborative with me. Also Admin doesn’t see me as a classroom teacher so they are more open and collaborative with me. I find that I have a good understanding of both how and why decisions are made. Also realistic views of how they can affect classroom teachers. I have been very lucky that in both of the schools that I have worked as an integrationist, the gap between teachers and admin has been very small and so I am not too much in the middle but I can imagine that in some schools the gap is wider and teachers in the integration role can be put more in this role.

I see being the “piggy in the middle” as a huge advantage. I am able to dip into both worlds to gather information and data when thinking about decisions. I am able to dip into both worlds to get feedback on ideas, plans and rollouts. I am able to use one group to support the other. I am able to leverage the knowledge of both groups to make decisions for the school.


Take Away #2:

This take away connects #2 from my first Learning2 Post. John made the point that because change is happening at such an exponentially fast rate, teachers feel out of control. So when they say no to things, like new tech, it is sometimes not because they feel strongly against the new tech, but that the tech becomes a change that they can control. So it’s not that they teacher is saying no to ePortfolios, but that they are saying no to a change, because this change is a change within their control.


Take Away #3

One of the visuals shared with us was Peter Segne’s Creative Tension Model where admin and school leadership curate the vision, teachers live in the current reality and teacher leaders are curators of the creative tension that moves teachers towards the vision.

As leaders we need to know the potential of our teachers, even better than they know themselves. Then we have to provoke them so that they can become their potential. I think that this is the hardest part of my job. When I first began and when I moved to Moscow. Learning my colleagues potential is not only crucial it is difficult, but once learned helps me understand how to direct teachers towards their potential. This is why I live in the creative tension zones because I poke teachers towards their potential by creating safe and challenging activities that give them tension but not frustration.

Take Away #4

Rethinking communication is another takeaway I have had from this. How can we better communicate during, before, after and in-between meetings? I think that the reliance on email has created a communication problem that is difficult to solve. The reality is that we need places where we can have conversations in a similar way to how we do it on social media. One – a group, small group, large group, one – one, etc. The issue with these is whenever you try to set one up, the general response is, but I only want to go to one place.

The going to one place being “I only want to have to check my email”. The problem with that is that email is not an efficient way to have small group or large group conversations. I am not sure what the solution is but I do think that something does need to happen!

Take Away #4

Pencil Metaphore.png

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This image was used by John to help us to think of times when we have been in any of these roles. There is a time and place for each of them. I found this infographic to be a few good visual of the personality types that I see in a school on a daily basis. I think my take away from John’s session on this is that we need to recognize the stage people are in and understand why they are there before we can move them to another stage. Also that in is not my job to always be in the Leaders stage. Sometimes I am needed to be an eraser of bad decisions or be the wood and allow others to be the leaders to help be grow.


Learning2 – Day 3 A Connectivist Approach

This session was run by Madeleine Brookes.

Take Away #1:

And the connections keep on coming. This connection begins with going back to my last post’s take away #2. How powerful it would be for students to take control of their education where teachers become better mentors. Mentors who help you understand your learning, your path, the possibilities and your potential.

I think for high school students this is very easy to imagine. For middle school even, I think that teachers can visualize this. For elementary it becomes harder, yet possible. Of course elementary school students are still building basic skills. For example how can a student tell their teacher how they are going to independently study when they can’t read, write or know how to study.

So this is where idea, examples, brainstorming needs to happen. For example you have a student who has a goal to be better at using technology so you give them time to learn a specific app with a specific focus. Then you facilitate a way for them to teach their classmates. The next time they have a tech goal, they choose the app and they identify the focus and they plan the lesson to students, teachers, or parents. This is a tech example but you could easily do the same with a math or writing concept.

So I see younger elementary students participating in a classroom that looks very different. Teachers working with individuals and small groups while other students are doing a variety of independent learning. Not dissimilar to they way many classrooms do “stations” or “centers”, except the stations are student driven not teacher driven. The reality of this is the management of it. Making sure that all students are conferring with a teacher when needed and enough times to keep them focused and growing. I purposely didn’t say equally because that may not be what is needed.

Also this could be done with a variety of mentors. I think that similarly to the way that the exhibition draws on mentors from a variety of teachers. A key point of this would be that mentors would need to have training. This would help to insure that they would all be working with similar mindsets and expectations of support.

Take Away #2:

This acronym refers to collecting data/content. Aggregate the wanted content. Remix to look for patterns, connections and associations. Repurpose it to create and compose new thoughts. Then Feed Forward by sharing with others.

Feed Forward is the element that Madeleine says gets dropped and I agree. This is the element that teachers value but skip due to time restraints. What if this became the focus not the bit to skip.

What if the importance shifted from the “what” to the “so what?”
What if these questions became the focus?
What did you learn about teaching this to others?
How will you use what you learned when you shared?
What questions were you asked?
How will those questions drive you to change your presentation?
Will those questions drive you to do more research?

Feeding Forward also raises the question of how will you share your knowledge. What is the best media/tool to share it with? Who is your audience? How will you change your message for a change in audience?

Learning2 – Day 2 Help Me Decipher it

This session was a student session run by a lovely student named Julia. Julia told us about her struggles with Dyslexia and the tools that she found to help her in her studies.

Take Away #1:

Julia shared a document that she created with us. This document has some very useful tools for all students not just those with dyslexia. I have already shared these resources with our SEN (Students with Educational Needs) team to help be start the conversation with them around how to better serve their students. I hope that this allows me to continue to build a relationship with them around how the tech we use in school can be best leveraged to help their students.

Take Away #2:

We need to have students teaching each other and teachers more about their passions, dreams, goals, challenges and successes. We need to have more collaborative learning by everyone. How awesome would it be for there to be a forum where students could run lectures, lessons and practicals for anyone and everyone in the school. Think about how powerful it could be for a student to teach a teacher about the latest tech tool and how the student can imagine it being used in the class environment. Or students teaching SEN teachers about which tools work best for them or teachers sharing their passions with students instead of just the standard curriculum.

Learning 2 Pre Conference

Beyond 1:1 Pedagogy Leading Change with Mark Dilworth

Day 1 @ Learning2 was a great start. mark helped lead us in some discussion around how to make/think about/drive changes in a school.

Take away #1:

While the focus of this session sounds like it would be about tech, the reality is that the tech is only a small element.  The driving forces is the question “What educational goals do you want to achieve?” Then long after that is decided, “What tools will help us achieve this?”

Take away #2:

Another take away that I had was how ZIS (Zurich International School) included teachers in this discussion.  We learned about how they made teacher’s input, all teacher’s input, part of the process. This helps answer the question of “who owns these decisions?” I can already see how this technique in my school would help the process. There is already a bit of a history of “…brought in the BYOD” or “… brought in this piece of tech.” Not “We decided that … tech is the best option for our school.” Not including teachers in the decision gives them the permission to “blame” someone else for issues that arise.

Take away #3:

Something that I am not sure was considered, was student’s voice in these decisions. Were student’s voices given any weight? Were students involved in any way? How can they be involved in the future beyond taking a survey?

Take away #4:

How do we measure the success of our programs? How do we know if we are helping students learn? How do we find out what was improved, changed, or not changed?

Take away #5:

A need for a few teachers to have some basic training in how to facilitate these input sessions. So that large groups of teachers stay on task and on topic and work as a functioning unit in helping with these decisions. This will lessen the off task behavior that teachers are really good at during these types of meetings!

Take away #6:

One of the things that ZIS did was begin to use Bloom’s Taxonomy when discussing tech to move the conversation away from “How good is the tech?” and towards “How good is the learning?” This changes the conversation and redirects the focus. I know that this idea is what my principal has been leading me towards and it was something that I was hoping to get out of this session. I think now I can use this idea to move forward towards helping lead teachers away from conversations like “We want you to teach … tech.” and towards “We want to to achieve this type of learning with tech.”

Take away #7:

Something else that came up was the idea that adding tech elements to the teacher appraisal conversation is more about asking teachers how and where they are growing as professionals and less about judgments. This is a great way to focus the conversation around evaluations and one that I realize has been my own personal viewpoint about tech learning for teachers. One of my goals has always been to help teachers grow as professionals when I teach. This is possibly why I have never stressed as much as I see other teachers about evaluations and observations. I am excited about growth. Growth drives me to learn new things and expand my knowledge base. Growth allows me to build my confidence in my ability to learn.