This week marks a personal milestone, I move from the comfort zone of a school working environment which has become familiar and has provided wonderful opportunities and move on to an exciting new adventure. Time for reflection, Time for appreciation, time for nerves and above all time for thanks.
In a few short years the technology landscape in schools has changed beyond my wildest imagination. When I started working in my current position, I had never heard of a Chromebook or Google Apps for Education and most definitely knew little about coding. The iPad was not yet invented. I had never blogged or tweeted and my professional learning network was just in foundling form through mailing lists (List-servs). I had never been to an on-line or face to face technology conference, let alone presented at one and I had only experienced the atmosphere of a few schools.
This could be construed as covering decades, but in fact was only eight short years. I now count the blogging and tweeting as commonplace and a regular part of my professional routine. The students in our classes today will never remember the way things were before and in many ways take their connectedness for granted. Watching the Olympics live from their Chromebooks, writing collaborative documents with peers and sharing their work to a potentially global audience are just what they do!
I am glad to have the hindsight as it makes me more grateful of the opportunities around today.
The things that remained constant are the people and the big purpose – to improve student outcomes. I have been blessed to be working with and amongst dedicated teachers who have been willing to try new things, adapt, consider, challenge and in some cases ignore. I have made so many mistakes, had false starts, trials and a few successes but all these were learning moments. My blog is the chronicle of much of that learning and I am grateful to have the evidence of my changing thinking.
As is often the way when I am composing a post or preparing a lesson, Twitter has just alerted me something that just clicks with my thinking. A tweet from Steve Brophy (@stevebrophy3) introduced me to Kelly Sewell’s post discussing a book ‘The Buzz – Creating a thriving and collaborative learning community’ by Tracey Ezard. Whilst reading I realised that there has been a ‘Buzz’ in my school. As Kelly describes “… the ability to apply, synthesise, evaluate, discard or embed. It is a growing intelligence and the most important aspect of learning intelligence is the mindset of curiosity and growth.”
It was this Buzz that made the past eight years amazing in my school for me. Teachers have come and gone and stayed and each of us has taken on what felt relevant and comfortable for them. We have all learned from each other, questioned each other and made our own choices.
The most profound understanding I take from this most recent experience, allbeit eight years, before I embark on another challenge, is the power and importance of relationships. The creation of a story alongside other learners, whether they be younger students or colleagues. If I had tackled these challenges on my own they would have had such smaller impact. This could have been at my own school, within the Teachmeet network (that also spawned in this era) and within the wider teaching network, both local and overseas created through Twitter and Blogs.
I am a different teacher than I was eight years ago, the sum of added years with amazing experiences, failures and successes has given me confidence to move on. I would hope that that attitude was spread to others I have dealt with. I have most certainly come to agree with Seymour Papert (who passed away recently) . This philosophy has driven my interactions with teachers and students and will continue to do so. I know that I don’t know much, I am not really technologically skilful, I am however blessed with a questioning mind and that has allowed for many learning opportunities and it makes the next era very exciting.