Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Procedures and Ideas for Professional Development.

Sullivan Heights continues to think and learn with new ideas procedures for professional development. We'll continue to make Individual Learning Goals our goals.  Most of the school's goals last year were in regards to learning new technology or new methods of assessment using apps, Web 2.0 tools online and growing with learning networks online using Twitter.  Below is a slide show from Jane Hart (excellent blog to follow) on the impact of social media on the workplace (and relevant to the educational field of learning).

It's true, our school has been crazy with learning last year.  Everyone wanted to try something new, learn something new, do something new.  We've explored numerous areas of learning with technology, but we've also examined new ways of teaching and/or assessing with our students in regards to this technology.  With all the learning last year, this coming school year our school needs to look more closer at the impact of this learning on both our teaching styles, our new manners of assessment, the learning done by the students and ask ourselves if these changes that have developed are actually helping our students.  

Change is good but it can also be stressful, the handling of the impact and  logistics of change.  Change can sometimes be uncomfortable because it forces us out of comfort zone; even when the change is good. Not everyone embraced the learning, but some recognized that they needed to change with their fellow colleagues.  The difficulty has to do with the rippling effects of change in the school. It forces teachers to create new routines, new ways of thinking or believing and new perceptions of the world around them. With any sort of change one needs to sit back and reflect on these changes:  Has it made a difference to me, to my students, and/or even to parents?  Has it improved my/student's situation in the school or even outside of school? Has it been beneficial?  

The changes in our school with Twitter was like a tiny pebble thrown lightly in a pond, the ripple effects went farther then anyone really thought it would, in our school and outside to PLNs most of my colleagues at school have made.The only way to recognize this effect was to stop for a moment, take account of events and the situation around you, reflect and document what you have learned, to actually take the time to assess the change in the students and in your environment, and note what has come about with the change.  

This is where we need to go for this next year.  We need to reflect on the effects and affects of our learning.  We need to assess our learning and the learning of our students:  is it worth the change?  We also need to realize that this change may be affecting our students as well, in ways we should look at.

With all this change happening in our school, we need to ask the questions:
  • Why are we doing this?
  • Why are we making this effort to change?
Because the world is changing, the students are thinking differently (their experiences in today's world have taught them to think differently), and working in today's world is a lot different as well.  Thus we need to understand what changes we as a school need to make as well, and you as a teacher need to consider.

There is a  deeper issue at work here that Sir Kenneth Robinson so eloquently underscores in his book "Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative?" At the heart of most schools Sir Robinson believes is our obsessive preoccupation with academic ability and the confusion of academic ability with intelligence. To Robinson there is "much more to intelligence than academic ability and much more to education than developing it." John Bareell agrees with him in "Developing More Curious Minds".  Both point out the truth, that it is not so much the academic ability to memorize and recite what is learned as much as the importance of teaching students to be creative and to be curious about learning, to develop further the love of learning, and instilling in students a curiosity to continuously learn or want to learn.  That's what this change is about, to change and help students become more creative in exploring new information on the information highway, to collaborate and learn form each other, and to question what they learn, be it questioning the sources, question the books, the Internet, even the teacher.  This means different ways of teaching (backward planning, project based, differentiating, collaborate group work, etc), assessing differently (no marks, skill sets, rubrics, etc) and grabbing students curiosity (through the internet, web tools, blogging, critical thinkings, etc).

That's a lot to ask for.

As my mother once said to me and I have repeated numerous times to my students "There is no such thing as a stupid question, it's just stupid not to question". 

so that's what I hope our school continues to do, not just change but to question our change and see if it not only develops a curious and creative mind in our students but to show the students that the teacher as well is curious and creative.

Let the questions continue.... with the learning ;) and the assessing of our learning.

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