Empowering teachers and students to learn and grow

It’sEmpowerment funny to hear what teachers have to say about professional development. Some love it, and some really dislike it, and to those who hate it, you’re doing in wrong! ! I always try to see it from a student’s perspective, many of whom only get choice of which course to take and the content is… well, what it is. I wonder how they feel? I may be optimistic or even naive, but I want students to want to learn, to be intrinsically motivated and vested in what their learning for better reasons than getting good grades. So how about teachers? What’s in it for them? Aside from AQs, there is no monetary value added to keep learning. Perhaps chasing titles is a motivator but what happens when you get to the top? How do we empower educators to want to continue to hone their craft? These are the things that I want to explore more deeply.

Initially I was excited to explore how to engage learners with various pedagogical approaches in order to increase the intrinsic motivation toward learning in my courses.  I also wanted to level up their use of Twitter and Google + so they could actually have conversations and make connections instead of simply sharing their thoughts in the sphere. The problem I was hoping to solve was that many students are so marks driven that if gets in the way of their learning. One of my students actually said this to me! Something that sparked the idea of connecting students with others is the idea of the networked student. This was a video I saw in the 2nd day of the Starter Kit for Connected Educators Month this year.  Video by Wendy Drexler, made in 2008.[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwM4ieFOotA[/youtube]

I was excited because I have grown so much in the last three years of my career directly as a result of my learning network! I figure that the ability to create one, and continue to build it, would be such a valuable skill to have in student’s lifelong learning journey.

I wanted to explore these ideas in my courses! In my new role as a Technology Integrator, I also wanted to create an opportunity for my colleagues and I to engage in discussions around best practices and sharing what is happening in our respective courses.. After much debate and back and forth on Google Hangouts and Twitter Chats with the fine folks at #Cohort21, it appears as though I can explore both! All I need to do is change the language a little. The idea of networked learners; young or old, we’re all learners!

I have always tried to meet students where they are, and in taking on the Tech Integrator role, the approach has been no different. It’s important to understand where learners are coming from. On both the student and staff side, time is an issue.

We learn 6 days a week, and some from both camps feel overwhelmed with the overall pace of change at the school as we move forward. We’ve adopted Macbook Airs in our 1:1 program and the learning curve for some has been steep. People are feeling that they have no time for another new thing and so my Co-Tech Integrator / Cohort21 Coach @brenthurley and I need to take that into consideration for when and how to facilitate our lessons and PD.

The initial problem of time has led us to consider a variety of solutions, and so far we looking to a more personalized approach to PD. Brent and I shared this article about Personalizing PD via our Innovation Diigo group and highlighted that it’s not all about the tools, but instead focuses on empowering teachers to learn and grow. The same can be said on the student side, and if you haven’t read my previous blog post on changing the culture of learning, we are getting there.

Amp_Oct_ProDev_1280One my hats at the school is as a Head of House, I am responsible for a group of 24 young men from Grades 9-12. One responsibility of the senior students is to add an inspirational quote to our board everyday. The timing of this quote was perfect in so many ways. He chose the following quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward”. We’re all in this together, the change is real and in the right direction in my opinion. So let’s find time, or better yet make time, to learn and grow together.

Questions for you:

What have missed? Are there other challenges that present bigger obstacles to these goals? What are others seeing in their schools?

One Reply to “Empowering teachers and students to learn and grow”

  1. Derek, what a great find with that video. It perfectly shows how the Cohort 21 cycle of learning could be experienced by students (or really anyone for that matter).

    I think there is some real juice in the first questions you posed: why do we want to learn? I think if teachers are just interested in raising their AQ (or pay scales), the learning will sadly never be meaningful. I hope that the teachers in our communities are in this profession because the experience of learning is just gratifying for itself (like how reading should be enjoyable because it is reading…not because you can earn a pizza party or something).

    Sad to say, but sometimes there has be some “unlearning” that might have to take place before meaningful connected learning could happen. In which case, some foundational work around growth mindset (moving away from the “performance” and towards the “process” of learning) might be essential before really awesome connected learning can happen.

    Just some of my cents to throw into the mix!

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