Connected

connected learning by catherinecronin is shared under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Firstly, I want to say a big thank you to all those of you who have chosen to connect with us via Twitter, Facebook (or one of our other social media tools).  It’s been exactly one week since we launched the new website and invited you all to join us as we create something awesome for teacher learning.  It’s great to see the list of teachers, educators and education professionals who would like to be involved in the project, steadily growing.   I’ve sat and emailed everyone on that list today. I wanted to make sure that I connected with you before the end of term and that well deserved Christmas (and in some cases Summer) break.

Connection is a vital part of this project.  Through my work on Teacher Technologies, I’ve talked a lot about the importance of being connected as an educator and I’ve tried very hard to get all of the pre-service teachers I work with with to connect with the world of networks available to them out there.  Being connected to others usually provides opportunities for richer learning and deeper engagement; one of our core principals.  However, when it comes to being connected to Reflect Growth, I want to delve far beyond that.

Let’s explore what “Connected” means when it comes to learning and teaching

ConnectAitslConnected learning needs to be about far more than just those valuable connections to other people.  Our learning also needs to be connected to our world:  With what we do every day: With what matters to us.   When talking about the importance of being “connected”, in relation to student learning, the learning frontiers document (Aitsl et al. 2014) got me thinking.  That’s exactly what we should expect for ourselves, especially within our professional context.  It’s very easy to understand what “product or services” we might be creating for our students.  Hopefully, they would be resources or pedagogical practices to help improve student outcomes.

Having had a few chats with some of our co-creators already, I get the sense that, when we request time or money for Professional Development (PD), we are encouraged (if that’s the right word) to justify how the outcomes of that PD might help our current and future cohort of students.  Perhaps it is also important to ask ourselves how that professional development connects to our own “passions and needs” too.  How do we find those passions and needs? How do we start to feel connected to the work we’re trying to do?

I run a fair few professional development courses myself.  A few years ago I was frequently sent out to train teachers in the use of IWBs (one of my passions). More often that not I was greeted with enthusiastic teachers who were keen to use ‘new technologies’ in their classroom.  They were excited to discover how the IWB would help them to teach their subject.  However, on a few occasions, I was met with fierce resistance.  That resistance wasn’t personal to me, nor was it about my training methodologies.   The resistance was to the idea that they were being presented with.

When sent to a training course to use technology that they didn’t understand, and, in some cases, didn’t really want, they reacted negatively.  It was very evident that they had not been given the opportunity to find connections between the professional development that they were about to undertake and their own good practice. They had seen the word “Interactive Whiteboard Training – The Basics” and seen “your methodologies are out dated.  What you’re doing is wrong.  You need to learn something completely new and change what you’re doing.”  It was then my job to show that that I was saying,  “Here’s an opportunity to grow your practice to include a new technology.   This isn’t about replacing your current methods, it’s about enhancing them. We’re not telling you you’re out of date and you need to change, we want to connect with what you already know and let you show us how you can apply this in this new mode so we can all learn from each other.”  In situations where we are being asked to learn something that is outside of our current “passions and needs”,  it is vital that teachers are given the opportunity to reflect on their current practices and to connect with what they already know.  We need to understand where our new learning will take use and why – what’s the benefit to us and our students? We need to understand the big picture. Where are the gaps in our practice and how do we connect to what we already know? How do we build on that and make sure that we can grow our teaching.

connectlearningsmithAlistair Smith’s work on the Accelerated Learning Cycle highlights this as key to creating a successful climate to learning.  If we’re choosing professional development courses (or having them selected for us) and we are attempting to learn something new.  It makes a lot of sense that we should also have a space to connect with what we already know.  Have our skills and experience acknowledged and use it to allow ourselves to focus on learning and growing our skills.

“Connected” in relation to Reflect Growth means just that.  A space in which we can:

  • Connect with other educators to share good practice and support growth
  • Create opportunities to create ideas
  • Connect with and identify our interests, passions and needs
  • Reflect on what we already know, where we are going and how we’re going to get there
  • Making learning the focus of our learning.

How connected have you felt to your professional development plan this year?


Attribution:
connected learning by catherinecronin is shared under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic connected learning by catherinecronin is shared under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
Bibliography:
Aitsl, Learning Frontiers, and Innovation Unit, (2014) Learning Frontiers Professional practices to increase student engagement in l. 1st ed [online]. Available from: http://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/professional_practices_increase_student_engagement_learning.pdf [Accessed 4 December 2014]
Smith, A., Wise, D. and Lovatt, M. (2003) Accelerated learning. Sydney: Software Publications

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