Beyond Blogging

I am offering a PD session based on the recent #BeyondBlogging workshop I attended in Yokohama, extremely capably run by Rebekah Madrid (@ndbekah) & Jabiz Raisdana (@intrepidteacher).

I have wanted to take the time to pen my thoughts from the workshop, and preparing for tomorrow’s session gives me the perfect incentive.

My main challenges:

  • condensing a 2-day workshop into a 45-minute session, and
  • transforming a rich experience that left a range of questions for me into a clear linear set of “answers”.

Obviously I do not intend to provide a set of answers.  Impossible.  However, I feel that I have made some progress in that the workshop has left me with my own essential questions.  For me, these questions fit our school’s context and where I am right now in my sense of online sharing in education.

    • How do we elicit creativity in our students?
    • How do we foster a culture of sharing, collaboration and connectivity in our community of learners?

For me, the response to the first question involves mostly choice for the students.   Not just with format or topic, but in terms of time and space.  Easy to say, much less easy to do.  Jabiz’s video provides more answers to this question.  (I will be showing the video at tomorrow’s PD session.)

The second question is neither easy to say nor easy to do.  I think we have a rather conservative teaching and learning community at CA (#canacad), and need to nurture a culture of idea sharing, both online and in person.  That is our school’s project coming out of the workshop.  I am very proud of the ideas my colleagues came up with, and hopeful we can do something great with a range of approaches.

So, here is my presentation for tomorrow.  I hope Jabiz & Rebekah don’t mind I have used the same tuning in exercise, as well as the video mentioned above.  I also hope that I will be able to meet the first “challenge” I listed above.

We often read or hear that questions are more important than answers.  I think all of us, including the workshop leaders left with lots of questions, with maybe one or two answers.  Perhaps that is the mark of an excellent workshop, then.

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Takeaways from Beyond Blogging Day 1

  • Give students choice:  how they express themselves, the medium
  • Model – creativity, sharing
  • Remind students that they have choice in how they present their thoughts
  • Get out of the kids’ way
  • Once you use a new platform, app in class, the students will find it less enticing
  • Having kids produce, create is key
  • failures are important, too
  • have kids categorise with Learner Profile, AtLs etc after they have posted, eg in prep for student lead conferences
  • making your workplace a dynamic interactive sharing environment needs a multi-prongued approach and is ongoing.
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Take-aways from the #yourturnchallenge

Today is day 7 of the week-long Your Turn Challenge, started by @winniekao.  The prompt for this final post is “What are you taking away from this challenge?”

I am taking a few things away:

  • It is not hard to blog each day if you just set aside a few minutes.
  • Having a prompt question is a great way to get bloggers started.
  • I need to work on my writing style:  I continue to be envious of those who are more pithy in their wording and more agile with sentence structure.
  • Blogging is a fabulous reflection tool, and helps solidify my thoughts.  I already knew this, but Your Turn Challenge provided a useful reminder.
  • I need to think what I want my blog to be: currently it is named “What I learned today.”  I need to decide if that is what I want to focus on or on something else.

So, thanks @winniekao, #yourturnchallenge has given me a great deal to think about.  I wish we could continue.  🙂

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Surprising myself

Today’s task for the #yourturnchallenge is to relate a time that I surprised myself.

There have been a few times that I have surprised myself, but most of them were not sudden, they happened over a period of time.  Two such examples that spring to mind are:

  • Running a marathon when I was 40. Earlier in my life I never would have imagined that I could be disciplined enough to train for a marathon.  But I did it.  The timing was good; I took a year’s extended maternity leave after my 2nd child was born and used some of the time to train.
  • Applying for and being appointed as an associate principal.  I was happy being a teacher, and not particularly ambitious to move beyond the classroom.  But I took a risk, and it paid off.  Furthermore, 18 months into the job, I feel like it has been a successful move.

But probably the most influential surprises, albeit not a huge surprise, was when I spoke at my father’s funeral.  I have always been a reasonable public speaker, but because I really believed in what I was saying, I was able to move the audience and received very positive feedback afterwards.

This experience made me realize, that, if I really believed in my message, I can be a powerful public speaker.  Strongly believing that I have a message that others need to hear, the thought of speaking in front of an audience is less daunting, too.

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Stuck on Unstuck

Today’s question for the @winniekao #yourturnchallenge is “What advice would you give for getting unstuck?”

I must confess I needed to look up “unstuck”.  I also need to look at other #yourturnchallenge posts, such as this one,  by Maria Aldrey – @Kirisima.  She suggested several links for people wanting to get “unstuck”.  I clicked on the link that lead to a website named “Unstuck” and also skimmed their twitter feed.  I became immersed in the wealth of tips for getting “unstuck”, for a wide range of situations.

The advice is certainly helpful, and as I read it, I reflected on what I wanted to be unstuck from, and how I would get “unstuck”.  I would add to all the advice for getting unstuck, by urging those who are “stuck” to clearly articulate their desired outcome.

If you don’t like your job and are considering a career move, a desired outcome might be, “I want a job where I am able to use my talents, enjoy my day to day role, and regularly feel rewarded by the results I achieve.”  From there, you can start to consider your talent, and what careers might match them, then move forward, and hopefully become “unstuck”.

If there is a relationship in your life (family, friends, work) that has gone sour, the desired outcome might be, “I want to have a positive and respectful working relationship with X.”  From there, possibly with help, you may be able to craft a conversation that moves the relationship back to a more productive state.

If you are “stuck”, in a rut, wondering how to successfully resolve a situation, visit Unstuck and clarify your desired outcome.

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People person

Today’s question for the @winniekao #yourturnchallenge is to talk about something you are good at.

This is a challenge. I don’t like blogging about what I am good at.  I like blogging about what I learned, and how I might have improved, but not what I am good at.

I think some of the things I have been good at in my life, such as mathematics and foreign language, I do not really use in my career any more.

I do like working with people, though, and I enjoy coaching students and faculty through challenging situations.  I enjoy solving other people’s problems, seeing them go forward in a positive way, and appreciating my input.  Very satisfying.

So, for now, that is what I want to say I am good at.

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Day 3 of the #yourturnchallenge asks us to blog about something that we think should be improved.

For me, it’s communication.

Without good quality communication, misunderstandings and conflict occur.

So, what is good communication.  Some may say expressing your thoughts and feelings.  Yes. But, for me, the most important part of communication is listening.  Not listening and thinking about what point you are going to make next, but  r e a l l y   l i s t e n i n g.  Setting aside thoughts on:

  • what I am going to say next
  • how this relates to something to do with me (autobiographical thoughts)
  • how to solve this person’s problem

By just listening we are able to build empathy for the speaker.  Empathy leads to better understanding, and less conflict.  I think active listening would help our relationships on a local level, and also improve global issues as well.  To quote one of my facebook friends, who just posted this today, “much of the world’s problem today is that the decision has been made that it is easier to fight against those who believe differently than we do rather than try to understand and accept them.”

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