On November 25th I attended my first #edtechchat, which is pretty unbelievable knowing my addiction to education, technology and chattiness, but still entirely true. I felt like a kid in a candy-shop, which provides two insights into my addled brain-ball.
1) Twitter makes me feel like a kid. I have all these choices and connections; it is pure heaven for someone whose brain is on speed-dial.
2) I may think of candy all the time.
Sometimes a perfect trifecta of information triggers something in that same brain-ball, and what happens, is a tsunami of learning.
Trust me, 140 characters CAN hit home. Hard.
Jeff @JeffHoffart and I defined the ethos of our company ED-ucation Publishing, as one that works to build community and celebrates the teachers and learners within that community. And although my EdD focuses on the ReBranding of education, the research will be 8 looooong years in the making, Mr. Couros and Mr. Hernick made me realize I wasn’t doing nearly enough to celebrate and promote the amazing teachers I had the pleasure of working with over my 14 years in international teaching RIGHT NOW.
But, what the what? Why wait?
Inspired, I put out a call on Facebook for teachers to share their practice with me to share on Twitter and my blogs. This would provide two things:
1) Promotion through self-branding, as many of the teachers I work with are new to, or don’t use Twitter, blogs, or websites to brand themselves, or create a PLN (I am the crazy bird-lady on staff).
2) Celebration of innovative or unshared practice. Every teacher knows a classroom CAN become insular, unless you work hard to embody collaboration.
So, here (with many more to follow, I hope) is the first teacher I would like to share and promote:
James Wex @Wex85 PYPC & Teacher: Barbados
“In my first year of full time IB teaching, I did something, which made my colleagues wince...
It was in my second unit of inquiry with 9-10 year olds, How we organize ourselves, under the Central Idea of - Rule and order protect our human rights. One of the lines of inquiry was 'The attributes of a leader'.
My goal was to create a learning engagement for students to appreciate leaders, show empathy for the challenges that leaders face and understand that leaders change according to situations. Throughout this line of inquiry we looked at different leaders, their similarities and differences and why we need different leaders to function in different areas of society.
It was a Tuesday at 0750, I entered my room and wrote a message on the board-
Mr. James will not be here today, but he's left you with two rules;
1) stick together as a group at all times
2) no electronics
From that point on, I shadowed the class up until lunchtime. The students initially had varied reactions, some seeming lost and confused decided to sit in the corner and read. Other students, clearly happy with a sense of freedom this situation provided started singing, dancing, and parading around to celebrate their ‘independence’.
Quite soon though, the students started to tire of the situation, started to crave something more than this complete lack of direction. This is when the class started to descend into chaos.
Shouts of, 'let's go to the library', 'I want to go do art’; 'let's play foursquare!' rang out.
Eventually the louder voices won and as a group they were all forced to go to the library, where another teacher turned them away. Then they spent 10 minutes on the stairs trying to decide what next!
The dead-end adventures continued throughout the morning, but the learning happening was anything but dead-end. By 11.45 the students were screaming at a non-responsive Mr James, 'TEACH US!!', 'DO SOMETHING!!'. There were; tears of frustration as some couldn't get themselves heard, shouts of anger as decisions were unattainable, and still those that wanted to slink away and find escape in a book.
As a learning community the reflections generated from this experience were rich. Sure, never have I felt more valued as a teacher, but to allow my class to descend into chaos and just watch, was such a difficult challenge.
Two days later, in order to juxtapose roles in leadership, Strict Mr James showed up, and for some students, this surprisingly seemed better. No independence, no decisions, no freedom, and the expectations were clear: sit, work and test. No speaking, no moving, no asking, (some could say) no learning.
Never, have I shouted so much in one morning!
To show these students two extremes and for them to see the pros and cons themselves was really a worthwhile engagement. The students went on to make connections between this and how the governments in our world vary.
*As important side note to any teachers who wish to try this out be sure to warn your fellow faculty and staff before attempting, take my word for it!”
Many thanks to James for his openness and for sharing his practice! I am so grateful for the people I am connected to, each and every day!