Category Archives: Professional Learning/Collaboration

Reflections on #EdCampVic – Connecting Educators

This weekend I had the opportunity to participate in EdCampVictoria – an unconference for educators by educators. While I had never been to an EdCamp before, I was familiar with the concept and was excited to see what might emerge as educators from different schools from all over my city gather to learn from and with each other. The weekend kicked off with a launch event that included guest speaker, George Couros (aka The Principal of Change @gcouros). I was so thrilled to meet one of the first people I had ever followed on Twitter in the flesh. I was not disappointed – George’s human persona is even more impressive than his virtual persona. George gave an engaging presentation that was filled with heart warming, provoking and inspiring messages. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He made us pause. He made us think. His presentation was filled with a myriad of personal stories, images and YouTube clips that helped to illustrate his key points and questions:

  • Adults need to go into the spaces where kids learn – including their virtual spaces. If we don’t show them how to exist in these spaces in positive and meaningful ways, who will?
  • Technology is a powerful tool through which we can share our stories and build meaningful connections.
  • Virtual connections do not replace human connections, but they can help to enhance them.
  • We need to innovate, including with technology – it’s not enough to simply put a $1000 pencil into a child’s hand.
  • It’s not about devices – it’s about culture. What is the culture we are creating in our schools with devices? Today’s kids are born into a world filled with tech.
  • Are kids creating and innovating because of or in spite of school?
  • Inspire curiosity, not compliance.
  • If we only teach the curriculum we have failed kids.
  • And my favorite – the smartest person in the room IS the room.

The bottom line comes down to relationships – how do we cultivate them and nurture them to make a difference in our students’ lives? Even though technology is everywhere (and can be pervasive), we need to deliberately and intentionally explore how to use it to cultivate relationships with our students so they see it as a multi-faceted tool that they can harness to add to the world in positive and powerful ways.

Saturday was all about Ed Camp… A room full of educators is buzzing at 8:30 a.m. There is a table with markers, tape and blank sheets of paper. The invitation is clear – write down a topic for discussion and post it on the wall. Once the first sheet is posted, a couple dozen more emerge. The writing is literally on the wall – every paper that is posted represents something that resonates with someone in the room – whether it’s because they are doing in their school and want to send the bat signal out to other schools to learn from and with them, or because it’s a concept they maybe have heard of and want to explore deeper with other educators. Everyone has three dots to “spend” and as dots are placed on the papers, trends begin to emerge. The organizers remove the patchwork quilt of possibilities and return 20 minutes later with a schedule of topics for the day. Maker Spaces/STEAM, inquiry, Chromebooks, How to bring faculty on board with Technology, Genius Hour, Mindfulness, Grading and Reporting, Flipping Instruction, Indigenous Education, Technology in Nature, Digital Story Telling, Nurturing Creativity, Collaboration and Critical Thinking, and more -the range of options is impressive, but I can only pick three! Who was it that said, “the smartest person in the room IS the room?” This is one smart room!

EdCampVicTopicsOct2015 EdCampWritingsOnTheWallOct2015

We are off and running. The room multiplies into several rooms. There is no facilitator, there is no leader. Just educators in a room willing to talk, ask questions, share and ponder the possibilities together. What strikes me the most is that we are all more connected than we think – even though our schools are different, we are all asking the tough questions and exploring the possibilities for the future of learning. We are all connected by the learners who walk into our buildings each day. We are all united with a desire to give each learner the best possible learning experience that we can with the time, resources and talents that we have. This is my big take away from the day. There is a heart for learning out there in the edusphere and it is beating strong. If it’s beating in my city, then it’s also beating in yours.

I would like to thank all of the people who worked behind the scenes to create a brilliant day of powerful learning. I am already counting the sleeps until the next EdCampVictoria…

The Great Paradox: Education in a Changing World (a reflection)

url

Education is in a constant state of change, yet it can also be stagnant. The system is both a product of its successes and failures. As global education systems evolve, we continue to grow the innovators of tomorrow while also recycling the sins of the past.

Education systems will only be as good as their worst champions, yet change and growth, no matter how slowly, still occurs. The cycle of constant change manifests itself in opposing ways. Early adopters embrace opportunities to try new strategies and reflect on innovative practice, while those who are sceptics of change set up camp in what has always worked for them, what they believe to be tried, tested and true. It is necessary for both of these to coexist. The early adopters keep us moving forward, while the campers slow us down and make us take pause, lest we make a hasty decisionhttp://philstubbsquotes.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/when-the-winds-of-change-blow.jpeg and move forward too quickly.

As educational theorists digest and publish the latest brain research, translate it into pedagogical learning theory and filter it down to the school or practice level, schools shift to keep up with the pace and demands of change; or, they throw their hands in the air and spin in a vicious circle, unsure of which way to go. The more we learn, the more choices we have. Choice can either motivate us or it can paralyse us.

In the midst of all this change and stagnation is the learner – the one constant, yet also the greatest variable of all. Without the learner, our purpose as educators would be lost. We do what we do for the learner. Yet, no two learners are exactly alike, and each learner is constantly going through his/her own change – physical, intellectual, social, cultural and emotional.

The Great Paradox of Education is both exciting and exhausting. Whether we acknowledge we are or not, all educators are agents of change. We respond to the changing nature of the learner and inevitably, as the learner changes in a changing world, the very nature of learning changes too. It is the learners we teach who grow up and enter the world and make their contribution through science, technology, creativity, innovation….the list goes on! These learners, knowingly or not, drive our change as the education system responds to what what they give back or take from the world we help to prepare them for. The noble calling of education is alive and well and I am so grateful to be able to exist in this ever shifting paradigm, navigating the waters of child development,  innovation, pedagogy, reflection…and change. How about you?

Playing With Time: Friend or Foe

Time has a way of marching on in spite of us. In schools, the clock on the wall is either friend or foe. Time can propel us or it can paralyze us. I’ve had a life long love-hate relationship with time. I’ve tried to master it, manage it, conserve it, speed it up, slow it down…the list goes on. A wise mentor used to laugh at me and tell me that I needed to be more playful with time. Play with time? How can you play with something that is always moving, never still? While I couldn’t see it all those years ago, my mentor was right. You really can play with time. It’s in the very forward motion of time that the beauty of time playfulness lies.  At that point in time, he knew something I did not: time is only scarce if we think it is. I used to think of time as my enemy – it grinded me and wore me down as I constantly tried to battle and slay it. There was never enough time, and worse still, there was no way  for me to somehow get more of this fleeting trickster.

In my own inquiry into how to play with time, I discovered a great book by Elizabeth Saunders called, The Three Secrets of Time Investment. While this book is not written specifically for educators, and my motivation to read it was more personal than professional, I still found myself reading the book through my educator lens and thinking about how Saunders’ principles could be applied to teaching and learning. Saunders proposes that time should not be managed. Instead, she challenges the reader to look at time from an investment perspective. Ultimately, we can choose how we invest our time. Instead of spending time, we need to invest our time. When we look at time from a perspective of scarcity, we are in fact hoarding it. If we always think there will never be enough time, there never will be enough time. However, when we look at time from the perspective of abundance then, and only then, can we have a magical play date with time. Here are some of my key applications of Saunders’ time investment “secrets” to an educational setting:

1. Accept the fact that time is finite. Every school day has a definitive beginning and end and there are only so many hours in a school day, and so many days in a school year. You can’t do it ALL. Face it and move on. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a learner, so why do we try to cram everything under the sun into a school day? The more time you spend on one discipline, activity, etc., the less time you can spend on

“If you commit to giving more time than you have to spend, you will constantly be running from time debt collectors.”  ― Elizabeth Saunders
“If you commit to giving more time than you have to spend, you will constantly be running from time debt collectors.”
― Elizabeth Saunders

another. A typical school day is approximately 6 hours long. Factor in recess breaks, lunch and transitions and there are about 4.5 hours of quality learning time in a day. How we play with that time is essential. You know you will see your students for a finite portion of their learning day so you have some choices to make about how that time should be invested. To play with time, focus first on the big picture before you start dialling it down to daily specifics. Think about all of the factors that might pull away your time…relational issues that need resolving after recess, assemblies, accidents, unexpected events like fire drills, absences, etc. Stuff happens in schools – there are a lot of variables that can’t be planned for or controlled. Leave room for these and focus on the time you DO have.

2. Clarify priorities. Knowing your curriculum well is the first step to knowing how to prioritize learning time. If you aren’t sure where you are going, how can you decide where to make curricular time investments? Be realistic when you decide on your curricular priorities. Real is not always ideal, and as Saunders puts it, “reality always wins.” Educators tend to have a bent towards the ideal, and in doing so, we lose sight of what is real. Plan with reality in mind – who are your real students (not the ones you imagine)? How much time do you really have (not how much time do you wish you had )? What is really worth knowing and doing? Decide what is essential – less is more. When we put the less is more principle into practice we can make wise time investments that bring playful learning yields. We leave room for learners to have the time to play, explore and inquire. We model prioritization for our students – a pretty necessary skill in today’s fast paced, time challenged world.

3. Habit Patterns Rule. Establishing routines and systems creates stability and security. When you feel stable and secure, fear is replaced by playfulness. One thing I’ve learned is that kids thrive on routines – not rigid routines, but consistent and predictable routines.  Predictability creates the space to for spontaneity. Spontaneity invites inquiry. Inquiry invites motivation. Motivation invites learning. Learning invites growth…  Habit patterns also enable us to make informed choices when setting priorities. (See #2) How often do we “fly by the seat of our pants” in the classroom? When there is a lack of routine, we lose sight of priorities, and we are right back in the trenches fighting the war against time.

Our relationship with time has significant impacts on how we approach every aspect of teaching and learning, from deciding which learning outcomes will have the highest priority, to how much time learners will need to spend on a task or engage in a learning opportunity, to how much room there is for students to engage in inquiry and reflection. If we are hurried, our students will feel hurried. If we are weary, our students will feel weary. If we are playful, then our students will feel playful. How will you invest your time, so that the learners in your classroom will see the value of how they invest theirs?

For more information on the work of Elizabeth Saunders, visit http://www.reallifee.com/

Connected Educators: Beyond Wires

I Think, Therefore I BLOG - (Being Normal is n...

In honour of Connected Educator’s Month and Canadian Thanksgiving, this blog post celebrates and explores why I am grateful to be a “connected educator“. Being a connected educator means many different things to me. Yes, it means that I am an educator/administrator who appreciates the role technology plays in enhancing learning. That to me is the literal part – connecting to technology with screens, wires, networks, apps, platforms, google searches, etc. But, that literal part is just one small  piece. Being a connected educator means being connected to other educators who are also open to sharing and learning from the wisdom of practise that comes from educators and thought leaders from around the globe. Being a connected educator means I value growing as a professional beyond the literal walls of the school where I work or the physical workshops I attend or the books that I read. As a connected educator I want to take ownership of my own ongoing growth and professional practise by connecting into a limitless pool of learning that comes from other people who share my passion for learning, leadership and personal/professional growth.

In the 18 months since I officially became a connected educator by joining twitter and starting this blog, I’ve “met” so many amazing people. While I have a small sense of what they look like through their posted photo and I know their name or moniker, I’ve never shaken their hand, made eye-contact with them or even exchanged the “how’s the weather?” niceties that come with a first face-to-face meeting or workshop icebreaker activity. All that is done away with in the connected educator world. No getting to you know you period required; that’s what the “about” page is for! The second I made  choice to “follow” or “subscribe” I became connected to another educator because something about their experiences, understanding, philosophy, perspective or practise either resonated with or challenged/provoked me. I may not know how many sugars or how much cream they like in their coffee (I myself am a double-double Canuck coffee drinker), but by reading their words, whether a short and sweet tweet, or a more detailed blog post, I have come to know what motivates them professionally, and I believe, by default also personally because so many of us wear our professional hearts on our sleeves. I know they care deeply about their role in learning because their words move me to act. I know that they challenge my assumptions and provoke my thinking and inspire me to reflect on my own learning journey and areas where I can grow.

Being a connected educator also means you are a risk-taker yourself by giving back to the connected community. Connected educators support each other because we have a deep appreciation for the value of learning and best-practise pedagogy. We know that relationships matter to learning. We know that theory is just theory unless it is put into practise. We try new things in the name of this and we are compelled to reflect as a result. Even though we’ve never “met” we get to know each other so well through the digital window into each other’s classrooms and learning spaces! Receiving a re-tweet, a comment, a new follow, a favourite, a pingback, etc. lets us know that we are making a contribution and that somewhere else in the world someone else connected with what we put out there. It’s not about the numbers or the status – it really is about knowing that you share a commonality with another educator in the name of learning.

Being a connected educator also means you have choice. You can choose how much or how little to engage. I myself stick with twitter, blogs, wikis and the occasional use of Pinterest. That’s what I can comfortably manage without feeling overwhelmed by too much information. I have my own “Twitter Thursdays”, a day of the week where I devote my train commute to school to learning through twitter posts. The connected educator is in control of every last detail of their learning – the who, the when, the where, the how, the what and the why. You can access and/or give as much or as little as you choose – what other PD offers you that?

I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to the educators and thought leaders who continue to inspire me because we are “connected”. My connected community continues to expand, which is a sure sign that I am growing as I learn from others, and hope that others might learn something from me in return.

The Power of Teaching Others

Learning Pyramid
Learning Pyramid (Photo credit: dkuropatwa)

One of my favourite aspects of being an IB educator is being a part of the IB volunteer network. Giving workshops on behalf of IB is by far the best professional development opportunity that I participate in. I am a bit of a PD junky, so giving workshops feeds my addiction on so many levels! I can still remember sitting in my first PYP workshop 10 years ago in complete admiration of the presenters. They inspired me, and as soon as I could pursue the opportunity to become a workshop leader I did. Here are my “Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Being a PYP WSL”:

  1. The amount of involvement and application/transfer of my own understanding and knowledge of PYP framework and philosophy is deepened with each workshop I prepare for and deliver. That pyramid image with the base showing that we retain 90% of what we teach is 100% true!
  2. Collaborating with another colleague whom I only share a common understanding of the PYP with is such a testament to the power of the IB. We communicate prior to the workshop without having met before (in most cases) and share our experiences and stories as we construct shared meaning through the workshop framework. We plan on the fly once we meet in person and together we adapt and adjust once we get to know the participants in our workshop. We learn from each other and take away new strategies and ideas.
  3. While there are common IB objectives, each workshop experience is unique. Each room is different – sometimes there is a considerable range in participants; while other times participants are more homogenous. This can also depend on the level of a workshop. In a level 1 regional workshop the diversity of the group can be huge; while in a level 2 or 3 workshop there is a more shared understanding of the PYP and everyone in the room is there to go deeper to enhance teaching and learning even further.
  4. Being a part of a person’s or school’s “PYP Journey” while not knowing what the end looks like for them is highly motivating for me. I love bumping into people who attended a workshop I led or co-led at a future workshop who share their success stories of how much they’ve grown and changed. I love the ambiguity of “loving them and then setting them free”.
  5. The 2.5 day workshop experience is INTENSE! You enter a room as a stranger and you leave with a new network of PYP friends.
  6. 6.      An IB Workshop is the action cycle in motion.
  7. Reflection! As a WSL every moment is one hinged on reflection – Is this what the group needs most right now? How do I know? How will I change course to ensure that questions and points of tension and moments of wonder are built into the framework of the workshop? Truly differentiation at its best.
  8. Challenge – every participant group poses diverse problems and brings forward new challenges. Exploring solutions and what “that might look like” stretches me and causes me to dig deep in my PYP well to support them.
  9. Seeing shift happen right before your eyes. Change is directly measurable in a workshop – you can literally see it happening right before your eyes. I recently conducted an on-site workshop and witnessed the faculty of a school collectively come to the realization that in order for their school to succeed in their PYP journey that collaboration was going to be essential. The time they spent collaborating in the workshop opened their minds to the impact that the PYP can have not only in the classroom, but on their faculty too.
  10. Every time I return back to my school after giving a workshop I am better for it. Giving workshops changes my practice. I learn IN experience with the participants as we share in experiences to construct meaning. My own perspective shifts and I bring new insights and experiences to my role as a coordinator as I support my own colleagues in their PYP journey.

    My planning map for a recent Level 1: Making the PYP Happen in the Classoom

The Learner Profile in a Changing and Growing (IB) World

On Friday, I had the opportunity to listen to and participate in a Learner Profile focus group with Robert Harrison, a curriculum manager for IB continuum development in the The Hague at the IBSO annual PD day. Robert shared some sound but provocative thinking around the review of the Learner Profile and the challenges the organization is facing as the alignment of the 3 IB programs (PYP, MYP and DP) continues to evolve. The IB Learner Profile, originally called the PYP Student Profile is a set of 10 attributes that describe what humans could/should strive for if they seek to be an internationally minded citizens of the world. The 10 attributes are:

  • Inquirers
  • Thinkers
  • Knowledgeable
  • Communicators
  • Open-Minded
  • Reflective
  • Caring
  • Balanced
  • Principled
  • Risk-Takers

Since it’s inception with the PYP in 1996 the profile itself, while since being adopted by all 3 programs,  has undergone very little change, even though the organization has grown considerably. The profile is the living, breathing manifestation of the IB Mission statement and at the heart of all three IB programs. All teaching and learning in the IB, including knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes and action can in theory be born of the Learner Profile.

As with any review that takes on a truly reflective stance, questions start to arise, such as: is the Learner Profile truly an international set of attributes? Does the profile impose a set of western values on schools in the east? Where should the emphasis of influence lie if the Learner Profile is truly representative of global citizens who are in effect living without borders? Are there attributes that should not be a part of the profile? Are there attributes that are missing? Just how many attributes should define what an internationally minded, globally conscious citizen is striving to be? Is there an end to our growth within the profile? Is the profile in and of itself measurable if there is no end? Should we be measuring it? How? When? …

These are just some of the questions the IB is grappling with as it examines and reflects upon the Learner Profile across the continuum. I admire and commend their work. No, the Learner Profile isn’t perfect. But, it does ensure that how we are educating our students is at the core of what we do. For me, it keeps the calling of education to be something nobler alive. The Learner Profile is not just for students – it is for EVERYONE – we are ALL learners (or at least that is the hope!).

“I think it must be apparent to every thinking mind that the noblest of all professions is that of teaching, and that upon the effectiveness of that teaching hangs the destiny of nations.” ― David O. McKay

Do you have opinions and ideas you would like to share with IB as they continue collecting feedback? Do your students? I encourage you to take action by completing the learner profile global survey and by participating in the virtual focus group. Visit http://sgiz.mobi/s3/LearnerProfileReview before October 31. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to be a part of the evolution of IB!

The Human Factor

It’s just about a full month into the new school year and already the voicemail is alight with parent calls, the email box is pinging, and questions and comments arise in spontaneous, face to face conversations.
Not so long ago, I would have looked at my voicemail, or my email and been filled with a sense of dread or impending doom. “Egad! A parent wants to talk to me? I better run and hide so they can’t find me. Why can’t they just leave me alone and let me do my job?” It’s true, ignorance is bliss. But bliss only lasts so long and ignorance comes back to bite you time and time again. Coming out of the classroom and into a leadership role has given me a very different perspective on the relationship between parents and schools.
Parents are an asset to any school. They are our biggest resource, most important partners, best critical friends…the list could go on and on.
Over the years I’ve had some amazing conversations with parents about learning, children, and the world. I’ve also had some challenging conversations that stretched me in ways that made me feel quite uncomfortable. Conversations that forced me to reflect on my practice and caused me to challenge my own assumptions. I also know that as a parent of three children, my own expectations for accountable schools are quite high.
Listening to the parents who bring their children to our schools is a crucial part of a high quality education system. We need to hear them, respond to them, and above all, show them we care. When a parent makes contact they are showing they care, even when they approach us from a frustrated or angry stance, or are looking for someone to blame when something didn’t work out the way they hoped for their child. Those conversations can be hard in the beginning. However, all conversations are crucial and when we approach them with the mindset that everyone at the table, regardless of how they may express their feelings cares, we find we have more in common than not, and can build partnerships rooted in trust.
I call this the “human factor”. The “human factor” trumps everything we do. It trumps learning, it trumps assessment, it trumps planning. It is the one variable educators can’t control, yet we waste so much energy trying to do just that.
I don’t know who might be on the other end of the line, or what the intended tone of an email may or may not be, or who might be waiting to catch me in the hallway. But what I do know is that I have a responsibility to show I care through how respond to the “human factor”. Now, when I see the voicemail I think, do I have the time to really pause, listen to and respond? When I read that email, I ask myself, is this better responded to in person? When I see a parent approaching, I perk up my ears, smile and get ready to listen. I am as much a part of the “human factor” as they are, and I want them to experience the caring variable…and just maybe they will find that refreshing and that will make all the difference in the world.

Thirteen Tips to Start the School Year Strong

This is an improvement to a previous image. Th...
Back to School!

In these parts, the new school year is upon us. It is a time of excitement, anticipation, and above all, a time when setting the tone can make or break the next 10 months of your life. Starting the school year off “strong” takes a little more effort on the outset, but the benefits in doing so pay off in dividends throughout the school year. Here are my top 13 tips to start the year off strong – tips I’ve learned along the way from great administrators, educators and from my own experiences as a teacher and administrator:

  1. Create a variety of opportunities and engagements that will allow for your students to make meaningful connections with you and their classmates over the first days, and then continue this throughout the year. Send a communication (e-mail or letter) to students sharing some info. about yourself and things you did and learned over the summer. Share your hopes and goals for the school year and let them know you are both excited and nervous for the first day of school, too. Use the morning arrival time as “connection time”. (When I was in the classroom students had to give me a high five, a knuckles or a handshake before they could start the day.) Talk to your students about their lives outside of school. Connecting meaningfully with students builds trust!
  2. Schedule time to explicitly go over expectations, procedures and routines on the first day and over the first few weeks of school. Continue to practice and reinforce these on a regular basis until they are habit. (This may involve lots of “do-overs”.) Consistency with follow through is key to ensuring expectations and procedures are sustained throughout the year! If you are consistent, your students will respect you and strive to be consistent too! Essential agreements are also very effective for establishing classroom norms too (e.g. cooperation and what it looks, sounds, feels like; friendship, etc.).
  3. Give your students a voice by involving them in establishing essential agreements, procedures, routines and even some set up of the room. Ensure expectations and agreements are clear (e.g. We agree to respect each other. Respect looks like.. sounds like…feels like….). Prominently display them in age appropriate and student-driven ways to foster ownership. Plan to make time to review these many times over the year to ensure students understand and uphold them; refer to them regularly for redirection and praise students who diligently put the effort in to put them into action. Modify them as needed throughout the year to honour academic, social and emotional growth.
  4. Be the first to make first contact with parents; introduce yourself to parents before they introduce themselves to you. Send out a welcome e-mail (separate from any communication with students) and be the first to introduce yourself and shake their hand as they arrive with their child over the first days of school. If an issue arises during the school day, contact the parent before they pick their child up if possible so the parent is not blind-sided and can prepare to support their child. Make sure that you share positive news with parents too so that they know that hearing from the teacher isn’t just about the “bad and the ugly” but also about the “good”.
  5. Be responsive! Keep communication with parents, students and colleagues open and honest. Base your communication on what you know to be true and not on what you might assume (facts vs. inferences). Respond to parent contact or concerns in a timely manner, with the goal of response over reaction (do your detective work, or find out what you need to know before responding). If a parent seems frustrated or angry – do not use e-mail to communicate (even if they e-mailed first!). Take the extra bit of time to make human contact – it will help to alleviate the situation and most likely prevent it from escalating. The “human factor” trumps everything!
  6. Make the time for students to play games and have “silly” time in class. Observe how they interact, follow rules, share, take turns, laugh, etc.
  7. Build in time for mindfulness (e.g. deep breathing) or short physical breaks, especially where students are in the same space/with the same teacher for an extended period of time. Activity is not just for PE class! One of my favourites (and of my former students) was body wrestling. (Send me a message and I will describe!)
  8. Establish and commit to holding regular classroom meetings/communication circles. Not only is this a great time for group problem solving and bringing to light social issues or concerns, but also an opportunity to appreciate and celebrate each other.
  9. No matter what grade level, use picture books to support learning, stimulate discussion, enjoy some down time together, be inspired, imagine, wonder, and connect.
  10. Focus on effort, not achievement. Use clear criteria to set students up for success. Use the action cycle as a reflective framework for looking back, being “present” and planning forward.
  11. Be explicit; assume nothing!
  12. Being a teacher is 99% marketing! Sell your curriculum to your students everyday. If you are excited, they will be too! Brand your classroom to create a unique/distinct identify for your community of learners.
  13. Create a culture of inquiry in everything you do. Embrace opportunities to inquire alongside your students. For students to become effective inquirers, they need to see the adults in their world inquire and wonder, too!

What are your tips to start the year “strong?” Feel free to add to this list!

Professional Discourse with Not-So Strangers

Computer-globe
Computer-globe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve spent the last several days sick in bed with the flu. For those of us high strung type A educator types, being away from school for too long is always a challenge. I miss the frenetic pace of the day and that feeling of constantly being here, there and everywhere all at once. It got to the point where I was actually ahead of my digital workload (gasp – this never happens, usually I’m swimming in it!). So, what else is a gal who is ahead of her digital workload to do when relegated to bed with the flu for 4 days straight? Well, I finally fully launched this blog, opened a twitter account and made a PiEd PYPer Facebook page. I’m feeling pretty tech savvy with myself right now (picture my peacock feathers standing tall) even though I must admit, I’m not yet fully comprehending twitter at the moment. (Tips and tricks gratefully accepted, please!) That being said, I finally had the time to explore a ning for IB PYP educators called “PYP Threads” that I joined a little while ago but hadn’t yet had the chance to really dive in and explore. As I toured around the site, I felt the call to begin to engage. Having the opportunity to take part in some very deep professional discourse with colleagues whom I’ve never met face to face was utterly stimulating! I happened upon a post about central ideas and whether or not PYP teachers should post them on the wall during a unit of inquiry. I decided to put my two cents worth of comments in, and the next thing I knew I was engaged in a very deep and pedagogical conversation with a fellow PYP Co-ordinator currently in Japan. How cool is that? I even noticed that the recent conversation thread had made it onto the ning’s twitter feed which brought some others into the dialogue too. One of the best things about being a part of the International Baccalaureate community is just that – that you can have deep and meaningful professional discourse with someone from ANY IB school in the world, and because we all speak “PYP” we can engage deeply and stimulate each other’s thinking and reasoning. We can share perspectives, ideas and practice, and the most beautiful thing of all is that we can remain open-minded and live out that last bit of the IB mission statement, that says… “These programmes encourage students [educators] across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

How do you engage in professional discourse? Leave a comment!