On Wednesday, I headed to the neighbouring district of Maple Ridge to do an after school presentation to about 45 grade 8-12 teachers.
This is what my presentation entailed:
- A 3 Minute Conversation Starter
- 7 Ways to Transform Your Classroom
- A chance to contribute to a 7 Ways Google Document. (The document is open, feel free to add to it.)
- The student-presented slides from the ‘Inquiry Hub – Rethink Learning‘ Information Session that we had presented the day before. (Slides 27-46, skipping over a few slides)
- A video of some students talking about their inquiries, related to a grant that one student applied for and spoke about in the Information Session slides.
That’s what happened. That was the process. But what were my key messages? What did I want to accomplish? What did I hope the teachers in the room would take away with them?
1. That as Chris Kennedy says in his TEDx talk: Technology doesn’t make teaching easier, but rather that it makes teaching different. It can be frustrating, especially when presenters come in and tell you how perfect technology can make things, but you lack the appropriate support, training or infrastructure to truly make things better. I openly shared some of my own imperfect experiences with embracing technology and inquiry learning. I also noted that as fast as you embrace a new tool, there is someone telling you about the next great tool. And sometimes using technology seems more about the tool, than about better pedagogy.
Different should mean leveraging technology to do things in new ways, which creates opportunities to share, engage, and transform learning in meaningful and compelling ways. It’s not the tool, but how you use it that matters.
2. Model collaborative learning. Stop trying to learn on your own. Leverage a network in some way. Although I shared how my Twitter network helps me, I didn’t tell them ‘you have to get on Twitter’. The fact is that not everyone embraces this tool, and not everyone is ready to try. So, I encouraged them to at the very least, connect with one colleague to work with… Across the hall, across the district, across the world. In addition to this I suggested leveraging the knowledge and leadership of their students.
I also emphasized designating the time to be learners. There is a difference between meeting to share resources and actually setting up times to collaboratively learn. And we need to remember that we are in the business of learning.
3. Pick ONE way to (continue to) transform your classroom. In talking to 45 teachers who chose to come to an hour-and-a-half after school session with only the draw of a free meal afterwards, I knew I was talking to teachers that are already on a path of improving their practice. So, yes, I suggested ‘7 ways to transform your classroom’, but my request was that they just choose one. That was what the Google Document was for. It gave everyone a chance to expand on any of the 7 ways such that they chose a specific action that they could follow through with. They could also build on each others’ ideas, or find someone to collaborate with.
Model inquiry learning.
If it involves technology, ensure that the technology enhances or transforms the pedagogy.
Find others to learn with and collaborate with.
Change comes from action, so pick ONE!