Like many I’m sure, was nervous for the first day of cohort 21. Almost like those first day of school jitters when you don’t know where you’ll sit, or who you’ll meet. I had no idea what to expect, but it blew my expectations out of the water. Given that I’m a math teacher by trade, lists and organization are the way my mind works, so here we go…
4 reasons that joining cohort 21 was the best decision I’ve made all year.
1. The positive people and environment
We’ve all seen those people, and been those people who have negative thoughts and question things. The ‘buts’, the ‘I don’t knows’, the ‘I already know this’ are frequently heard anywhere, even from our students. This is not what I experienced at cohort. Everyone was keen to learn new things or new features of something they already knew. There was only ‘wows’ and ‘how abouts’. People were willing to share their experiences and their understanding of things, without questioning the use of any of the tech tools. After this realization, I knew it was the right decision.
2. Time to set aside
We as teachers don’t often have time to set aside to reflect on our practice, and just play with new tools that have potential in our classroom. Just time to share with others, see and hear what others are using in their classroom, or to explore. Given that this is a professional development opportunity, I cannot wait to reflect on my practice, gain from others, and they hopefully in turn make me a better educator as we move forward through this year.
3. New Learning – even in the ‘in-betweens’
I, having had twitter for a number of years, was unsure what I could possibly learn from a twitter session. I approached it with an open mind, and who knew that twitter deck existed? Or that twitter chats are actually much more simple than I had anticipated? We got to participate in a twitter chat using Hashtags, something I hadn’t done before. My negative thoughts were quickly thrown out the window when I realized that I, too can learn something.
The ‘in-betweens’ were my favourite though. Amongst all of the learning of the specific tools: Diigo, Twitter, WordPress and Google Hangouts, there was more… as there often is. In passing, Tim Rollwagen mentioned that he had used ThingLink in his classroom (see his blog entry on this here). Given our growth mindsets, and our eagerness to ask questions we were all instantly wondering what it was. After spending my break playing around with it, it is officially my new favourite ‘find’. I quickly thought of how I could use it in the math classroom, and everything it could be used for. More on this later, since I have a feeling I will be incorporating it into my action plan.
4. It is the best part of my day.. All Day long
You know those parts of the days where you say ‘oh cool’ or ‘I wonder how I could use this because it’s super neat’ or ‘I might be able to use this this way’. The entire day was like this. It was overwhelming in the best way possible. It was exciting, scary, and just plain awesome. I loved being able to set aside time in my day to explore and become excited about something new that I thought had potential in my classroom. I can’t wait for more opportunities like this. As someone who has a pretty good handle on the technology and is not really afraid to take risks in the classroom, this is my… shall we say… coolaid. I love new tech pieces that make things better and really enhance what I’m trying to build in my classroom. I also love hearing other ideas and while I’m listening I find myself thinking of how I can improve what I am doing. To me, the most amazing part about this profession is when we share our ideas and our practice with each other.
Looking forward to even more ideas and learning in the coming Face to Face sessions and the ‘in-betweens’.