Friday, December 3, 2010

21st Century? Let's Just Call it Contemporary Teaching and Learning...

I don't write a lot about technology in education, but it is a prominent aspect of my professional development. I learned some years ago that the best way to learn in the context of professional development is to do the background work required to provide professional development for others. I did just that at the recent Alberta Technology Leaders in Education Conference (ATLE) 2010 in November. It's hard to believe I hadn't heard about this conference, and right in my backyard. Anyway, when I did hear about it via Twitter, I jumped at the opportunity to propose a session- Insights on Initiating a Technology Integration Game Plan from the Ground-Up.

My session was very-well attended and I was pleased with the dialog that it generated. I formatted my presentation in the form of a workspace; a style I'm using more and more often. I appreciate the collaborative element work spaces provide, and I think of this sort of presentation as an "open source" offering... when I'm done with my rant, those who attended can do whatever they want with it. The link is theirs to use however they want. They can even do the presentation themselves if that's what works for them. I'm learning that to be truly collaborative, (and my experience at ATLE 2010 confirmed this for me once again,) I have to let go of what I believe is a natural tendency of teachers to protect "their" stuff. If what I have to say helps a colleague advance their practice, I encourage them to leverage my message in their own way for their own purpose.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend much of the rest of the conference as a result of other responsibilities and commitments, so my learning was limited to what I discovered while preparing my presentation. My school is on a technology integration learning curve funded through the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI). Near half-way through our technology integration action research project, we've learned a great deal as a staff, and I've learned a tremendous amount personally as a leader within the project, mostly by making mistakes.

One of my larger epiphanies has surrounded the term 21st Century Learning. I'm not fond of this term. I have thought about this a great deal, and I've come to the conclusion that contemporary kids don't need to be told they are learning in the 21st Century... they just are. To me learning in the 21st Century, when boiled down to a core element is really just about change; not change as in a desired change of state from what is not good to what is, but rather change as a constant. This is how I've learned to frame change in contemporary teaching and learning. The world is shrinking and growing at the same time. This bit of irony continues to fascinate me. Technology creates accessibility among people around the globe, connecting them in affordable and efficient ways never before possible; our world is shrinking. At the same time, these networks and connections allow us exposure to new cultures, ideas and knowledge previously inaccessible; our world is expanding. This is an awesome shift.

As I stood and spoke with my audience during ATLE 2010, it struck me that much of the professional development we do in education fits the "change as moving to a desired outcome or state" paradigm. My session was contextualized as a primer for building a technology integration plan from scratch, and when I asked participants where they were at on the tech integration spectrum, most indicated they  arrived at a place where technology integration was evident. There was one lady though who asked me before I started who the target audience was. I explained that my initial plan for the session was to provide some insights for colleagues who were just getting started, but as I worked to prepare the session in the weeks leading up to ATLE 2010, I realized that the process of change, (in this case, change in the way we approach and utilize technology in schools,) is perpetual. Authentic change doesn't end because once we get to the state we desire, it's time to change again; that's just the nature of change within contemporary teaching and learning.

I told the lady that my session was for anyone who had an open-mind and a willingness to think deeply about the role of technology in schools, and more importantly, how teachers should be continuously upgrading and refining their technology skills and perspectives. She stayed, and participated in the back channel too. She engaged, and that made me happy.

So in retrospect maybe I should have called my session "Approaching Technological Change in Contemporary Teaching and Learning" instead, because that's what it ended up being. Imagine that, my approach changed to fit the context of my learning and what I wanted to share with my colleagues... maybe I am becoming a contemporary teacher and learner.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Take a pass on yelling uncle..."

I came across this awesome Nike ad while attending the Alberta Lacrosse Association Annual General Meeting this fall. Kyle Miller, a world champion field lacrosse player, showed it at the beginning of his keynote presentation to the AGM. Kyle's resiliency story is one of character, perseverance and courage, and it was an honor to hear him tell it. After learning about Kyle's story, it was very clear why he chose this particular video as an opener. Resilience is something Kyle Miller understands implicitly, and this ad isn't about anything if it's not about resiliency.

"Only the strong will survive" ... the theory of evolution indeed. The theory of competition... "The strong aren't immune to getting their asses kicked." Every athlete knows this. I've been talking a lot lately with anyone interested about change as continuous improvement as opposed to a finite change of state. Athletes know implicitly that the variables affecting their performance on any given day are infinite. They know that there are two sides to every competition and they line up to play the game to find out which side will be stronger... and both have to believe in their hearts that they will be the one. They do whatever they can to prepare for that game to the best of their ability, but without really knowing what the outcome will be. They have a challenge, and they prepare for it as thoroughly and professionally as possible considering the infinite variables at play. When they lose, the harder these gamers fall, the faster they bounce back to play again after dusting themselves off and adjusting their game plan. They "take a pass on uncle," and teachers should too. Teachers can learn so much  in attempting to understand and adopt the athlete's perspective toward challenge.

Take some time to reflect on that. Passion, dedication, fortitude, commitment to purpose; all critical elements of a resilient person. If we intend to nurture resilient students, teachers must strive to possess these qualities so we can reflect them back toward our students. In doing so we become alternate mirrors reflecting positive and encouraging images about what the future has to offer; one where things never stop getting better and better as long as we are committed to the principle of change as continuous efforts to improve, as much as possible, despite the odds stacked against us. Change will happen despite what we do to try and control it... we need to embrace it and work with it; never say uncle on behalf of our students.

A new day is a new game and an opportunity to adjust our game plan to reflect what we think should be done to make that day better than the one before it... continuous improvement.

Teachers... get in the game.
Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog


learning (49) teaching (45) education reform (29) authentic learning (24) students (23) effective teaching (18) school (18) EduKare (15) educational leadership (13) resiliency (13) creative teaching (11) education (11) educational change (11) perspective (11) 21st Century Learning (10) Glendale School (10) change (10) collaboration (10) school climate (10) school culture (10) support (10) creativity (9) assessment (8) caring (8) culture (8) leadership (8) teachers (8) hope (7) inquiry-based learning (7) learning circles (7) learning stories (7) professional development (7) student success (7) technology (7) technology integration (7) #edchat (6) at-risk kids (6) collaborative teaching (6) empathy (6) pre-service teachers (6) purpose (6) responsive teaching (6) #EduKare (5) Alberta Education (5) Sean Grainger (5) Twitter (5) at-risk (5) engaging (5) integrative thinking (5) mentor teachers (5) public schools (5) teach (5) teacher training (5) Bell Curve (4) beliefs (4) belonging (4) bullying (4) children (4) diversity (4) empathy reboot (4) high-stakes testing (4) learn (4) possibility (4) relationships (4) resilience (4) school leadership (4) student (4) LCU (3) action research (3) child development (3) choice (3) classroom (3) communication (3) community (3) counseling (3) debate (3) dreams (3) duty to care (3) ed reform (3) educators (3) failure (3) fun (3) growboys (3) inclusion (3) inquiry (3) interculturalism (3) kids (3) life-long learning (3) mindfulness (3) nemetics (3) pedagogy (3) professionalism (3) reflection (3) thinking differently (3) transformational leadership (3) understanding (3) #cpchat (2) #ecosys (2) #redcamp13 (2) Bloom's Taxonomy (2) Control (2) Google (2) Innovative Voices in Education- Engaging Diverse Communities (2) Moore's Law (2) PD (2) alternative teaching (2) audience (2) balance (2) behavior (2) behaviorism (2) best educational practice (2) blogging (2) boys (2) bully (2) bully prevention (2) challenge (2) change agent (2) character (2) circles (2) classroom management (2) commitment (2) competition (2) connecting with kids (2) creative (2) development (2) dialog (2) digital technology (2) disagreement (2) edcamp (2) edkare (2) education change (2) effective classrooms (2) etmooc (2) facts (2) feelings (2) formative assessment (2) future (2) goals (2) groupthink (2) growth (2) hope wheel (2) ideas (2) independent thinking (2) interdependence (2) journey (2) listening (2) mastery (2) mindful (2) morphic resonance (2) multiculturalism (2) new teachers (2) opinions (2) opportunity (2) passion (2) personal learning network (2) phenomenological (2) philosophy (2) project-based learning (2) question (2) resilient (2) resolution (2) responsibility (2) self-esteem (2) self-organized learning environments (2) servant leadership (2) share (2) social-media (2) special education (2) standardized tests (2) struggling schools (2) success (2) sympathy (2) teacher (2) teacher welfare (2) trust (2) unconditional love (2) unconference (2) university (2) values (2) vision (2) voice (2) words (2) #LCU (1) #ccunesco2014 (1) #nemetics (1) #speakchat (1) 40 Developmental Assets (1) ATLE 2010 (1) Africa (1) Black Swan (1) Brokenleg (1) Calgary Science School (1) Circle of Courage (1) ConnectED (1) Curate (1) Daniel Durant (1) Dry Island Buffalo Jump (1) FBA (1) Fouth Way (1) Geoffrey Canada (1) Grow Boys (1) Howard Gardner (1) Impact (1) Instructional leadership (1) John Dewey (1) Kathryn Schultz (1) Lao Tzu (1) MIT (1) Michael Josefowicz (1) Nunavut (1) Occam;s |Razor (1) PBL (1) PLN (1) Phoebe Prince (1) Piaget (1) Red Deer (1) SBL (1) SOLE (1) Search Institute (1) Second Way (1) Shankardass (1) TED (1) Tao Teh Ching (1) Vygotsky (1) Wangler (1) aboriginal (1) accountability (1) achievement (1) action (1) actions (1) adversity (1) anger (1) answer (1) applied behavior (1) applied research (1) apprenticeship (1) aptitude (1) aquaintances (1) at risk (1) athletics (1) authentic (1) autonomy (1) badges (1) being wrong (1) believing (1) benchmark (1) blended learning (1) blog (1) borders (1) brain research (1) budget (1) business (1) cdnedchat (1) chaos (1) character education (1) charity (1) child-development (1) clarity (1) collaborate (1) communciation (1) communicate (1) conference (1) confidence (1) conflict (1) connect (1) consciousness (1) conversation (1) cooperation (1) coordinated children's services (1) critical thinking (1) curiosity (1) curriculum (1) democracy (1) destiny (1) developmental (1) differentiated learning (1) differentiation (1) digital citizen (1) digital immigrant (1) diigo (1) dissonance (1) dyslexia (1) education innovation (1) effort (1) emotions (1) enabling (1) endogenous (1) engaged (1) engagement (1) equity (1) ethics (1) evaluation (1) excellence (1) fail (1) faith (1) fate (1) fear (1) feedback (1) feminine (1) finding voice (1) focus (1) friends (1) gender differences (1) gender identity (1) global education (1) goal setting (1) governing body (1) happy (1) hardware (1) healthy (1) heuristic (1) high school (1) higher education (1) homework (1) honesty (1) hop (1) humility (1) iconoclastic (1) imagery (1) imagination (1) improbable (1) inclusive (1) inclusive education (1) indigenous knowledge (1) innovation (1) inspiration (1) instinctual (1) interdependent (1) internalize (1) internship (1) interpersonal (1) intuitive (1) knowledge (1) lacrosse (1) leading (1) leaps of faith (1) learning circle (1) learning disabilities (1) learning disorders (1) learning from place (1) learning goals (1) learning spaces (1) learning story (1) learning styles (1) learning tools (1) lecture (1) library (1) lifelong-learning (1) limits (1) literacy (1) lobby (1) management (1) masculine (1) math (1) medicine wheel (1) men (1) mentorship (1) micro-blogging (1) mindfullness (1) mission (1) mistakes (1) morals (1) motivation (1) navigate (1) negative reinforcement (1) network (1) networking (1) new year resolution (1) objective (1) open education (1) open-source (1) operant conditioning (1) outcomes (1) overcome (1) pass (1) patience (1) polarity (1) positive (1) positive reinforcement (1) positivity (1) positve dissonance (1) postmodern (1) poverty (1) power point (1) practice (1) pride (1) private logic (1) productivity (1) professional organization (1) progression (1) questioning. Socrates (1) rally (1) rationalization (1) rdcrd (1) rdpsd (1) re-frame (1) re-tool (1) reality (1) receive (1) reclaim (1) redcamp15 (1) relative (1) relevance (1) research (1) rest (1) revolution (1) ritual (1) routine (1) scholar (1) scholarship (1) sciences (1) scrutiny (1) self-determination (1) self-help (1) significance (1) silence (1) simple (1) sincerity (1) skate park (1) skateboard (1) smile (1) socialize (1) society (1) software (1) solution-focused (1) speaking (1) sport (1) standards-based learning (1) stories (1) strangers (1) strengths (1) stress (1) student engagement (1) sustainability (1) synergy (1) taking risk (1) talking (1) tangibility (1) targets (1) teaching. learning (1) textbooks (1) thinking skills (1) thought (1) thoughts (1) trans-species (1) transference (1) tribes (1) unconditioned response (1) unconditioned stimulus (1) universal (1) urban gardening (1) urban schools (1) victim (1) visceral (1) wellness (1) wisdom (1) work (1) work week (1) worksheets (1) writing (1)