#10GoodThings

I was challenged by a colleague, Jon Orr (@MrOrr_geek), to reflect on 10 Good Things that happened in 2014.  Here is his blog on the #10GoodThings.

Thanks for the challenge.  It was a good exercise on personal reflection.  So here it is, ENJOY!

  1. Continue to be a Good Human – it is important for students to understand that teachers are humans.  I also believe that teachers should treat students as humans not robots.  This means being flexible, adaptable and understanding of their needs.  This allows me to have a great rapport with students and shows students that I am in this career for the right reasons.
  2. Grant Funding – applied for and was granted $5000 from the Lambton Kent DSB to purchase @VernierST  Labquest 2’s and specialized technology to be used in our science classes at John McGregor SS.  We have been able to enhance the investigations that we perform and continue to engage students with inquiry using this equipment.
  3. Modelled Lifelong Learning – after moving into a new home, I was able to learn how to rewire it.  I was able to gain knowledge from a master electrician, tech teachers at school and YouTube videos which allowed me to successfully update my house.
  4. Student Success Initiative – had the opportunity to meet educators from across the province to discuss student success.  Through this meeting, we are able to adopt and pilot a program which through the “Demonstration of Learning” during the semester students are able to earn an exemption from the exam in Grade 9 and 10 Applied courses.
  5. Provided Learning Opportunities Outside of the Classroom – with the help of Corrine Lally (@LallyPhysics), we were able to organize and run a Senior Science Field Trip to Chicago.  This was able to expose 52 students to great science opportunities outside of the school and provided memories that will last a lifetime for the students.  We are heading to Cleveland and Cedar Point this year.
  6. Facilitated School Growth – continue to work with a dedicated group of teachers within my school to promote the great program and facilities available.  This group continues to foster a positive school environment and the benefits are definitely showing themselves this year.
  7. Expanded my use of Twitter – became active in the teacher Twitter world.  This has opened my eyes to the many great things that are happening in other classrooms around the world and to connect with many great educators.
  8. Returned to Coaching – after taking a year off to spend time with my family, I became the head coach of the Senior Football team at JMSS.  We had a great season (lost in the championship) and I look forward to next season.
  9. Evolving Assessment Strategies – through discussion with other teachers, began to look at assessment strategies in my courses.  I have placed an increased amount of focus on descriptive feedback that I give to my students in class which I think has changed the way that students are starting to learn.  This is an ever evolving area which I want to continue to be involved in.
  10. Facilitating Teacher Collaboration – with the help of Jon Orr (@MrOrr_geek), we have started a weekly “Lunch and Learn” at JMSS.  Teachers come and discuss the things that are working in their classes or bring problems for the group to help solve.  All areas of education are being touched on including technology uses and assessment.  It has been very productive so far and I hope that it continues.

The Evolution of Education – Speeding Up the Process

Yesterday, I wrote The Evolution of Education which generated some great conversation on social media and face to face with peers.

Here is a follow up to that:

Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs of how education should work and what is best in their own classroom but sometimes they are wrong.  The question is how do we convey the message that there might be other ways of doing things.

Most often times this message of changing educational practices is told to teachers and not shown to teachers. When the message is delivered this way, it is not widely accepted.  Why is this?

How can we make this process better and allow for evolution of education?  

Can we speed up the evolution of education to rate where real change can be seen each year?

The answer is yes!  I propose that this process can be sped up by having classroom teachers sharing ideas that have been tested and have proven to work for them.

Those teachers that are changing their practices to allow students to learn better need to share those methods with other teachers in a concrete way.

The teachers that are evolving faster than others are idea generators but in order to allow teachers to evolve faster we cannot just continue to share ideas.  We must share ideas that have be tested and have proven to work in the classroom.

There are definitely places for big ideas in the evolution of education but in order to advance education we must present methods that have been proven to work and which show that students will learn better.

The Evolution of Education

The system of education in which is present today in our schools is one that was developed over time.

The key for us to having a system that will benefit the students that we teach is that we allow the system to continue to evolve and not to become stagnant.

Strong teaching practices will survive.  Weak teaching practices will perish.  This will allow education to evolve.

The problem with an evolving education system is time.  Those who crave to see changes in the way that we teach students want this process to happen very quickly.  Evolution tells us this process will take time.

Should we be taking smaller steps in changing education?  

By doing so, it would allow us to prove along the way that changes we are making are building a better educational model.

This may not be the flashy or exciting methodically for changing education but it might prove to be the more successful model.

Question:

What can you do to facilitate the evolution of education?

Who Should Lead Change?

Many people, from all levels within the education, are realizing that there are certain aspects of education that need to be changed to fit student’s learning styles and to match what is going on in the “real world”.

My question is…”who should lead the change?”

If true change is going to happen, I think that it needs to be classroom teachers that lead the change.

Classroom teachers supporting other classroom teachers is what would drive the change.  Teachers who are not afraid to change things and already have, must help other teachers to do so.

Not everyone is willing to jump in with both feet, but if we have to hold some hands while these teachers dip their toes in the water, maybe it will lead to a pool party at year’s end.  Michael Phelps cannot push teachers in the deep end and tell them to float, even if he knows that they won’t drown, they won’t believe him.

Teachers being flotation devices for other teachers would let them learn to swim (even if it takes some longer than others).  There are needs for coaches along the way to assist and/or speed up the process, but peers should be the driving force.

Small successes will lead to larger successes in the future.  The change will snowball into something positive for everyone involved in education.

Teachers collaborating and supporting each other will lead to great changes in education.

What Change Do Students Want?

After a day filled with using technology in various ways, I am left thinking….”What change do students want?”

Grade 12 Bio students did a brain dissection that involved normal dissection techniques but included the use of BYOD to take pictures of the parts of the brain.  They were then to take the pictures and create a personal organizer to relate structure to function.  This was out of some students comfort zone but the task was well accepted in general.  It required little facilitation from me.

The Grade 9’s used a electricity simulation program called Edison to discover the properties of current electricity.  I had modified a “normal” textbook lab to be used with Edison.  Students were required to discuss their discoveries each step of the way with me.  This allows me to troubleshoot any problems that they have as they are doing the lab.  It allows me to assess their understanding while the lab is being conducted.

These are examples of the types of things that students are doing in my class on a regular basis.  I think they are great ways of doing things but not all students enjoy these types of activities.

I require students to “figure stuff out” sometimes with me facilitating the process.  I hear “Why don’t you just tell me how to use it?” or “You don’t teach us anything”.  It is hard for them to see the big picture sometimes and I think that is part of the struggle that teachers have.

I posed this question on Twitter on Monday, “Should we tap the brakes on implementing technology? Seems like a lot of money is getting invested in iPads, is it the right direction?”

I received the following response from a Grade 12 student at my school, “tap the brakes. I’d rather do textbook work than try and figure out some apps for 70 minutes!”

Here is my question:

How do we know what types of changes students want in education?  More specifically, shouldn’t students wants and needs be considered with regards to how we are going to incorporate technology into the classroom?

Looking forward to hearing input on this.

Ready to Share Some Thoughts

I have been delaying entering the world of blogging for some time now.  I didn’t think it was my style.

My goal is to help education evolve.  Strong ideas will survive, weak ideas will perish.  This will be an ongoing process that will take many shapes.  I am always interested in sharing and supporting others in this evolution of education.

Using technology in the classroom has become the norm for me.  I realize this is not the case for everyone.  I has been easy for me to use technology in the classroom because I am not afraid of failing in front of my students.  I think that it provides valuable life lessons.

I look forward to sharing and collaborating with educators and I hope that this blog will provide me with another vehicle to do that.