I’m sure a collective sigh of relief graced the classrooms of many schools around the country a week ago as the third term (aka the term that ends in a whirlwind of reports, assessments, deadlines and in our case, preparation for a major rebuild) stormed to an abrupt close.
So really, you’d think the last thing on anyone’s mind is … school but that’s where educators constantly amaze me. Not only have I found myself drawn into a virtual vortex of professional learning and development (reflective journal anyone?) this week but despite my initial misgivings, I have found the launch of Connected Educator Month and its associated smorgasbord of seminars to be rejuvenating in many ways. And the best thing is, I can take part from home!
So far I’ve listened via a webinar to a wonderful collection of stories from New Zealand educators about our success in using technology to enhance learning opportunities across the board. Through this, I heard more about the e-learning planning framework straight from the Ministry and been introduced to NetNZ via Trevor Storr. Amazing to hear what others are doing at the chalkface as well as getting the big picture view.
I’m currently listening to the launch of #blogsync, a project inviting New Zealand educators to share posts throughout the month on a range of topics including Diversity and Inclusive Practice and Student Agency and Voice. #blogsync enables members to blog on an elected topic each month on their own platforms but publishes links to all others educators blogging on the same topic. The aim to to encourage deeper level analysis than 140 characters in a tweet allows. Posts are shared allowing a long form conversation to develop. And in a first, I’m doing so using google hangouts – fantastic! What a great way to present online conversations, run revision sessions with students, share information and connect with others.
Tomorrow I’m logging into a session run out of the States on using technology in quick writes and next week, I’m going to hear more about NZQA’s plans to carry out assessments digitally. I’ve also signed up to find out how to become a social ninja? My kids are quite intrigued by that one. The schedule is exhaustive (literally and metaphorically I’m sure) but rest assured, once you sign up, regular reminders keep you organised. Possibly picking one or two sessions a week is more realistic for most of us.
And why? When the sun is shining and the kids are home and there are essays to mark and lessons to plan would I add another thing to the to do list? Because I know this will inform my teaching next term and beyond. Because I owe it to my students to discover new ways to teach and learn and because teaching can be extremely isolating. Teachers work so hard and there are such huge demands on our time meeting everyone’s needs that sometimes, it’s easy to forget to set time aside to critically reflect on why we’re doing what we do.
As I type this post, Christpher Waugh (ex Mt Aspiring College) is presenting the #blogsync launch. He’s reiterated the importance of using technology to connect with colleagues and learners. Maybe he’s preaching to the converted but even the converted need inspiration.
So my advice is get online, give it a go and get connected.