Last week I attended a two day ‘conference’ at Ravenswood school in Sydney.  The dynamic Summer Charlesworth (@edusum) had arranged for Alec and George Couros to be part of the school Travelling Inspiring Educators Program.   There were many ‘take-aways’ from this feast of ideas and challenges.  I have struggled to synthesise it since, so will use elements of the Tweet stream to help me.  This was made all the easier by taking advantage of Tweetdoc – a wonderful tool that records Twitter Streams – and in this case, the participants had very generously shared their tweets at great regularity and with great insights.

Therefore, these are snippets from the days, which recorded quotes, ideas and thoughts and are in no particular order.  I am a believer in short blog posts, so I will only choose a few and perhaps a few more in another post.

This struck a chord with me as I have occasionally reviewed my own blog posts and marvelled at the documented journey it portrays.  Reviewing our own thinking and seeing growth, or even just being reminded of what was important at a different stage is a great process.  The use of blogging as a digital portfolio was discussed and encouraged.  Wouldn’t you love your students (or children) to have a progressive record of their thinking and learning?

Our need to look at the potential benefits of connecting via social media rather than focus on the slight possibility of the not so nice.   Alec and George produced a beautiful array of examples of how these connections can enhance our existence.

I love Twitter and Blogging but the benefit of meeting people face to face cannot be underestimated.  Much of George and Alec’s message revolved around the importance of relationships and it reinforced my belief that participating in gatherings such as Ravoties and Teachmeets is powerful and important.

We know the internet is full of tools to help us connect: each comes with idiosyncracies that mean we need to be aware of their features and choose the right one for the job at hand.  Collaborative tools mean we can harness the value of connecting and produce amazing learning opportunities that are no way hindered by physical restrictions.

The concept of the teacher and leaders in schools demonstrating that they are the ‘lead learners’ was widely discussed.   “Live your messages” being a mantra to live and work by.

I loved this discussion.  I have often thought about who we classify as successful students and note that in general, our system rewards those who ‘play the game’ – they fit inside the boxes that our system requires and their success is applauded.  The more divergent thinkers – or the one’s not so willing or capable of complying – are deemed less successful.  Our attention to the individuals in our schools is obviously vital. 

I have seen the benefit of using our networks to connect our students and value the strength of a strong network.  A lovely exchange between a US educator and myself over Twitter evolved into a great learning experience for our students (See this post) and this is one of a multitude of examples. Accepting that our students can and often do learn better from people other than their teachers is vital and exposing them to strategies that expand their horizons is exciting.

It was a wonderful experience that I will continue to mull over and I echo Tom Whitby’s thoughts

I am a connected educator. It has had a profound effect on what I do, and how I do it. It has taken me to places that I could not get to without being connected. It has taken me to discussions with the leading authors and educators of today. My connectedness has made me a better educator.

Or at least I hope it is getting me there!


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