Teacher = Learner =Teacher

I have recently had the opportunity to participate in a teaching partnership with a colleague in my school board who I had never met. We were introduced through a pilot project where teachers who have some experience and comfort level working with computer technology are partnered with an individual who wants to learn more about including ed tech in his/her teaching practice.

My partner has been teaching for longer than I have, in a discipline where I have no experience teaching.  He is in a rural school where mine is more urban. On paper, we look like an unlikely pair. Enter the magic of collaboration and conversation.

Sgt Peppers – The Beatles INNOVATION

We talked about teaching. Our thoughts on education reform. The necessity of coffee. We engaged in my favourite pedagogical conversation, “If I could design my own school, it would look like…” We talked about innovation. And technology in education. We talked about music.  And the influence of new technology on music. (Neither of us teach music, but we both love it, and share a particular affinity for music from the 1960’s.)

Formally, in the ITIP (Innovative Teacher Integration Project), I am the mentor and Mr. D is the mentee. I think those labels are misleading, as the best teaching is learning, and vice versa. The most important element to in this entire process is time. We had a morning (which isn’t much – but it was something!) to meet, to discuss, to come to an understanding, to help one another. Giving teachers time to collaborate with one another produces great ideas and better opportunities for student learning.

Through our conversations, I came to understand Mr. D’s goals. He wants to reach the students where they are, giving them a tool with which to record their art work for posterity (and assessment. Because school.) It needed to be phone-friendly – as pretty much all students have a cell phone at the ready, and it had to be easy – so that they would use it.

We talked over some options and decided to try setting up a class Edublog – the students could take pictures of the artwork they created and upload it to their personal blogs. Edublogs has a handy app that is free in both iOs and android. Students will create a digital portfolio of their work and a have place to reflect on the learning process. Photos of the work in different stages will help in understanding how the learning happens- and any text included will enrich the understanding of both the student (metacognition) and the teacher. As part of the triangulation process, the discussions between teacher and student can now be real and virtual, and the product is recorded forever – so students can take their work home and hang it on the fridge. 🙂

The transition from traditional ways to new ways needs to be purposeful. How will this transition enrich the learning process in Mr D’s class?  Will his students embrace it?  Will the conversations be richer?  Will they be able to discuss their work on a deeper level than before? I’m interested to see.  I have lots left to learn.

 

“List of images on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Apr. 2017. Web. 02 May 2017.

Blogging – Gah!

So this semi-annual blog post business is a bit ridiculous. I really need to be documenting my thoughts and my work more effectively.  It is one of those situations where I feel “It’s been so long since I’ve posted something, what’s the point?”  But that self-defeatist attitude and negative self-talk never got anyone anywhere. So here I go again.

I had the privilege to attend the OLA Super Conference last week, and on Wednesday afternoon, had the pleasure of hearing Sunni Brown speak as the hour-long keynote. Her book is called “The Doodle Revolution”

 http://sunnibrown.com/the-doodle-revolution

 

and in it, she explores creative thinking and the power of doodling to allow our brains to work differently. Chapters include Doodling is Thinking in Disguise, The Doodle’s Radical Contributions, Doodle University and Taking the InfoDoodle to Work.  The premise of her book and her talk boiled down to this: in order to be successful lifelong learners, we need to be willing to Learn, Un-Learn, and Re-Learn – and we need to be willing to do this pretty much constantly. As a teacher, and a champion of the library learning commons, this philosophy made so much sense. I know, however, that if it is difficult for me (a person who is a pretty significant risk-taker) that it will be extremely difficult for many of my colleagues and students.

In order to demonstrate her philosophy, Sunni had the audience of 3000+ librarians do a couple of exercises which challenged our collective approach to thinking, problem solving and creativity. The first was spontaneous idea creation – which I found fun, but a bit stressful. The second activity required reflection on something each of us has personal negative feelings about – particularly in the area of teaching and learning. This exercise was meant to address the negative self-talk that we all participate in, and – in the words of Elsa – “Let it go.”  I really enjoyed the reminder to acknowledge and validate (and then set free) the little voice inside my head that tells me “You’re not good enough.” and  “You can’t do that.”  I tend to be an optimist, but even so, this gentle reminder was a welcome one. Those little voices need to be soothed.

My intention (in addition to regular blogging) is to find ways to implement the ideas in Sunni Brown’s book into my teaching and learning in the BCI Library Learning Commons.

The Best Job Ever

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As a Teacher-Librarian in 2016, you need to be a lot of things. On any given day in my amazing school library learning commons, I am called upon to assist in many tasks, including but not limited to:

  • curator
  • IT specialist
  • reader’s advisory
  • detective
  • therapist
  • literacy expert
  • citation goddess
  • archivist
  • barista
  • nurse
  • collection development specialist
  • editor
  • collaborator
  • curriculum adviser
  • scientist
  • event planner
  • facilitator
  • other duties as assigned…

I believe my most important role is facilitator. Collaboration with students, teachers, the community and other teacher-librarians makes this job the most rewarding I have ever had. Each day I look forward to working in a bustling, active-learning space, where students and teachers feel comfortable coming to learn, to hang out, and to try new things; be they a genre of novel they’ve never read or taking apart an old tablet for the first time in our #hackerspace.

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Education is about trying things, figuring stuff out, testing theories, learning from our mistakes, and reflecting on our experiences. The Learning Commons philosophy tells us that we are all learners -from the cradle to the grave – and by extension, that everyone has value. The collective contribution of students, teachers and others in our community to the learning environment at BCI is what makes our school and our learning experiences great. It is exciting to contribute to that energy.

My intention is to share awesome, amazing and sometimes even mundane thoughts and events with the wider learning community through this blog. There will be photos of the BCI Library Learning Commons, and links to resources and other stuff I find interesting. I’m hoping that this will be an effective collaboration tool for professional learning, as well – so please feel free to comment or share ideas with me. I’m always open to new adventures!

 

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