The variety of new things I’ve learned and played with in the last few months still amazes me. Perhaps the amazement is not that I’ve learned so much, but that I’ve barely scratched the surface. I had thought I’d be able to try out each thing as it arose and then reflect on the process here in the blog. Right. Immersed in this stimulating environment where there are so many knowledgeable voices posing questions and sharing insights, I have spent time absorbing as much as I can. My fellow staff members at school have had to put up with my constant attempts to share all this new information – the emailed interesting link, a conversation over lunch, discussions of possibilities I think would be neat in their content area, and so on. However, I have not taken the time to reflect in a blog post for any of it in the past six weeks or so. Sharing with others is good – reflecting for yourself is also necessary.
In some measure, I’ve been waiting for a “great idea” or some kind of topic or experience that would make for an insightful post. Somewhere along the way I got a little intimidated by the more in-depth posts of others and forgot that I could just post a little something now and again. As a new semester starts – always on that academic calendar – I renew my intention to reflect on little things as well as perhaps the greater questions as they arise. I’m starting an online course in webcasting this weekend, and I’m sure it will provide fodder as it unfolds. In addition, I’m taking a grad class in distance education – another source for reflection. As I continue learning hand over fist (eyes over ears?) I will try to remember to pause, breathe a moment, and put a few words down about my adventure.
So far my process has been about soaking it all up, taking in as many new things as I can get my hands, eyes and ears on, and trying them out. As it’s only been a couple of weeks focused on this, I’m sure I’ll continue this way for some time yet — there is an unending source of thing to find, so there’s no chance I’ll run out of things to try.
However, I just listened to Derek Wenmoth’s keynote from the K12 online conference, and I’m inspired to do a little reflecting on just how I approach my own learning and professional development as it ties in directly to the classroom. His questions at the end of his presentation gave me some focus with which to examine what it is that I do.
The good news is that I feel like I’ve found some significant communities recently, online communities that are supportive of my efforts and also push my boundaries with tech tools and practices. Cheryl Oakes said something today in a Gizmo conversation about always having a purpose to doing any new project – define the purpose to clarify what needs to be done, what is the forward path, and then also then be able to assess how well it worked. This seems like an “of course” statement, but it’s amazing how frequently I’ll dive into something without first examining my purpose. A moment of reflection to find that purpose will make my next actions that much more fruitful.
Another important realization is that while we do have groups set up for professional reflection at school, we aren’t using them very well. We also keep the group isolated within the structure of staff meetings – one hour a month – with very little mindful interaction outside of that time. I would like to set up a ning or some kind of communal space where the 6 of us can communicate outside of the currently defined time and space parameters. It might also give us the means of posing and addressing questions as they come up rather than waiting for that one meeting a month . . when we are inevitably not at our best after a long day of teaching.
I also want to approach my use of technology in the classroom a little more thoughtfully. How can I use these tools to further the learning I want my students to engage in. If my goal is to have students do thoughtful self reflection on their own creative process, their own techniques in a particular medium, and the resulting worked/didn’t work paradigm of a final product, which tools will work best for that? How do I and they access them? Who do I need to get permission or help from to get them set up? How do I frame the use of the tools to the students? Having the students be aware of their peers process would be great – so a blog seems to be an option, with mandatory reflections and comments posted frequently. I’ll see if I can work to get some of the obstacles overcome . . by next week when I get new kids in my quarter classes. While I really want to start this next week, I may have to come to terms with waiting for the semester in January. Hopefully not.
Filed under k12online, PD