• Created by: Veronica Tawn Hoffman Creative Commons Public Domain License.
final reflection you say? I can’t do it!
Nothing feels final because so much of what we did and are doing in this project is fluid. I’ve been on this technology innovation journey officially in some project or course since 1997. I’ve learned and relearned so much, and that is also true of this project. There is nothing new, yet everything is new. So I’ve been dragging (dragon?) my heels and putting off blogging about it. I’ve so much to say, but everything seems to turn into a reflective journal.
I considered writing the top ten things I learned, but that didn’t work. I learned more than ten things, and critical thinking aside, it seemed wrong to rank them. So that morphed into the top ten things I’m thinking about, which looked something like:
- Which are the best apps to use with my students to enhance their learning?
- How can I find the time to look at all the apps I’ve discovered?
- Where will I get ideas for these apps?
- Is it all about Shareski – sharing, and expressing, and creating?
- Has my involvement in this project made a difference in someone’s learning? (Has one particular colleague, MA, taken the plunge and tweeted without worrying about being perfect? You can do it!)
- How can I express how great it is to be a part of such a vibrant and caring learning community?
- What is good pedagogy?
- How can I get my students more access to technology and keep it meaningful?
- Am I having fun?
- What else should I be doing with this time?
There are more questions than answers it seems, but all somehow relate with critical literacies and critical thinking, and effectiveness. Still, I abandoned this because I felt it turning into an essay, so the question became: How can I turn all this into 140 characters or less and Tweet it? I can’t!
So I decided I would become a lurker and read what others blogged. What fun! After all, isn’t one of our most important learnings from the project that shared learning is better learning? Perhaps it is really that we can’t know everything, someone has probably said it before and there is wisdom to be gained but just sitting back and listening. By “listening”, I learned that I share these thoughts (to cite a few) with other Learning Leaders in the project:
- Marcie: One of the best parts of the project was “Time to collaborate and learn from each other.” Absolutely! Our conversations in person and online always leaving me thinking, “Wow! That is so cool!”
- Jonysko: It was definitely about getting “Excited about learning again” – and allowing that excitement to be shared.
- Leanne: Social networking and new apps allow us to “Experience life as a creator” –in ways we never dreamed about before. After all, the calculator, electric typewriter, and cassette recorder were innovative when I was in high school. Much has been created since then and we have benefited from creativity and collaboration to inspire creations. I love that I can still dream and sometimes dreams come true, and don’t turn into nightmares.
- Shoplay: “Students want to share with their teachers” – and definitely will share their “natural” use of technologies with us if we just step aside at times. One of our most important roles is to let them lead and show us the way. I learned to turn them on to learning, sometimes the best thing to do is to turn them loose.
- Kanderson: “To learn or not to learn, that is the question.” I am constantly reminded that although my role is constantly evolving, what always remains steadfast is my need to keep asking the question: How can this improve the learning of my students? Is this the best technology for this situation? I’ve certainly explored this throughout the year (and throughout my teaching/mentoring experiences). Might I suggest that “What have I learned?” is also a valid question?
- Kwilliamson: “There is a lot more to learn” – ALWAYS!
- Msmith: “Are they able to buy in ?” Yes! Different people buy in at different rates and with different levels of enthusiasm, but they only have to take the risk and one small step can start them on a worthwhile journey. It is true of students and teachers! I love that I can play a role in this if I just keep opening a door or gazing out a window. (Mixed metaphor, I know) This was an exciting part of this project. Soooooo many of my colleagues and I shared experiences and took steps together to try something new. Soooo many of my students cared enough to share. I read a lot of tweets that proved there are more and more people buying in. As learner and mentor, I’ve loved it.
- Madenet: “Old dogs new trick? … does anyone else feel overwhelmed” I’m not sure I like thinking of myself as an old dog, but I can definitely relate to this. Overwhelmed? At times, but it passes. You can set aside an hour or two a week and read your GWhizz Reader feed, Zite or Flipboard. I’ve learned to take babysteps and jog a bit when the opportunity presents itself. I’ve re-learned that there is a digital divide. There are generational differences between teachers and how we learn. “Old dogs” and “young pups” approach technology differently. We learn differently. Thanks to all those who have helped me to cross this divide and share the ease with which you infuse technology into your lifestyle, and by extension, into your teaching. It seems so natural for you, and joining you makes me feel like a young pup.
- Howard: “Sometimes it is necessary to just hold the nose, close the eyes, and jump off the edge” It is worth the risk. By risking new learning, we grow. Isn’t that what it is all about?
Finally, what keeps coming to mind is my previous blog about this being the year of the dragon. http://www.chinesezodiac.com/dragon.php
“Dragons symbolize such character traits as dominance and ambition”
I certainly began with ambition. I wanted to transform my classroom with apps and iPads and ensure that everyone was filled with inspiration and passion. I would “flip” my classroom on its ear! Oh, wait! That could be painful. Perhaps I would just enter a “flipped” learning journey. However, the Learning Leader Project was just one of many fabulous, risking and wonderful projects my students, colleagues and I took on this year. I was We were always doing something, but it felt more like checking in, checking up and stumbling upon creative and effective things to do. For example, our letter to Robert Munsch took on a whole new look with the iPad. Our librarian had the idea to contact Robert Munsch and ask him to visit our school. But, the question became: What can you do with a blog, Youtube, an iPad and desire to connect with an author when you only have a day or two to pull something together? Collaboration and spontaneous learning and sharing were unleashed by the ease of the technology – the iPad camera. http://www.psdblogs.ca/mrogers/. I’ve learned to temper my ambitions and allow myself to wait for good things to happen.
“Dragons prefer to live by their own rules and if left on their own, are usually successful.”
I We achieved success. But, did we live by our own rules? Not exactly! I discovered the rules sometimes applied, sometimes bent, but there were always rules. Perhaps we are creating them as we go. I did learn the rules for Twitter and usually get the difference between an @ and # right, but not always. Mostly I rediscovered that if you know the rules, things go much more smoothly and that the rules as the students see them are different than the rules as I see them. We certainly dialogued about appropriateness – appropriateness of an app, appropriateness of what to put “out there”, appropriate amount of time spent, appropriateness of playing games as learning – you get the picture.
“(Dragons are) driven, unafraid of challenges, and willing to take risks.”
This is scary stuff because we are always risking something. We put our professional and private selves out there when we get involved with social media. Common Craft gives me their take on the “Importance of social media – Social Networking http://tinyurl.com/3gnj4z2”, but they don’t discuss what teachers have to think about. It is a good thing that as Learning Leaders we are continually dialoguing about this and thinking about ethical parameters not as barriers but as guides to creating caring communities. There is a risk in sharing. We are moving into an age where we build on each others’ experiences and put ideas “out there” but we also receive things back. Lurk or participate that is the question, but the answer is we all have something to offer and are stronger together. There is also a risk to students, too! What used to be private has now gone public. How much is too much? We need to ask the question because once on the Internet it never goes away. Hmmm!
“(Dragons are) passionate in all they do and they do things in grand fashion”
Yes, I’ve felt that passion this year. AND it is growing.
“Unfortunately, this passion and enthusiasm can leave Dragons feeling exhausted and interestingly, unfulfilled.”
We can’t do it all. But we can do something. Then we rest and take the summer off to relax, rejuvenate and explore what we couldn’t do doing the school year. We are unfulfilled because we are dragons who seek more … more learning …more sharing … more apps … more exploration of all that is out there and how it can improve my our learning. In the year of the Dragon, being a part of the Learning Leader project has reminded me that there are many dragons out there and our passion cannot be chained.
We will be back next year….