‘Back To The Future’ Day 2015

Although this is not all related to education, it does relate to relationships, the arts and the elements that make us who we are. I thought I would share…

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I think it was sometime in early 1990 that I saw a poster for the release of Back To The Future III. I was nearly 11 years old. I don’t recall who told me to watch the original film, I’m guessing it was a fellow 10 year old friend. It was on TV and I recorded it on the family VCR. I couldn’t believe how good it was. I was 5 years late in watching it but I felt like I’d just discovered a film that would be mine forever. Mum took me down to the video rental store to hire Back To The Future II and so my preparation for the release of the final film in the trilogy was complete.

 

I remember some other things:

  • daydreaming about going back myself and becoming mates with my younger dad
  • having nightmares about going back myself and having mum hit on me
  • Going to see the third instalment 3 times at the cinema. I guess I was making up for missing the first 2. One of those times was with another school mate and two female classmates. I’d never been to the movies with a girl before!
  • Dressing up as Marty McFly for Book Day at primary school. Mum even found me a life preserver! The same school mate donned the garb and white hair (cotton balls in this case) of Doc Brown. I recall intense discussion in the lead up as to who would be who. Rock, Paper, Scissors was not utilised if I remember rightly. Only a time machine would solve that mystery. We knew the questions would come. ‘Back To The Future’ is not a book! Our respective parents helped us look everywhere for a book version of the first film or perhaps they just looked for us. Although I don’t recall how or where, one was found. I believe we had the book with us all that day just to provide legitimacy to our teachers and peers who quizzed us incessantly.
  • I loved the soundtrack. Marty smashing ‘Johnny B. Goode’ is still one of the greatest triumphs on screen, better than anything Batman or Gandalf accomplished. Huey Lewis became one of my favourite bands for a time (no shame). Although Mum might have felt some for she was angry when, some years later, I used some money I’d saved to buy their ‘Best of’.
  • The ‘Back To The Future’ theme is a classic. The first soundtrack had a mix of pop songs and orchestral pieces on it. The soundtrack to the second film was all orchestra. An Aunty bought me the second soundtrack as a birthday gift around 1990. She said to me, ‘I don’t think you’ll like it. It’s all classical music.’ But here was the soundtrack to my daydreams. I could have it in my headphones any time I wanted.
  • One night at Etihad Stadium, the lights went black and before Coldplay took to the stage, the ‘Back To The Future Main Theme’ blasted across the field and stands. I flew!

 

Above all, the story always came back to friendship and family for me. As a kid, it really annoyed me when Doc chose to stay ‘within time’ with Clara and not go back with Marty. But now I understand. Loyalty, love and care. Being good enough to hug your friends with feeling and cry with them if you needed. Telling your parents how important they are. That’s why today is much more than a bunch of nerds sucking on pop culture. Things like this are part of us.

 

Long live ‘Back To The Future’ Day!

Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine

The ‘2 Regular Teachers’ mini (mini) essay – with more apologies

So…Adam is off on a Year 3/4 camp this week although he is a Year 1 teacher. I arrived home sometime after 6.30pm this evening after coordinating a Year 6 debate after school. We’ve been asked the question more than once this year…how do you find the time to publish an episode of the podcast every week? Only this week have we both realised that perhaps it’s been a stroke of luck that up until this point, we have been able to churn out an episode week after week. Yes, we promised an episode last week on August 20th. Alas, all that week I had been the foolish teacher that acquired a flu and continued to work through it. The end was grim…at best. Therefore, another week passed without an episode. That brings us to this week, another non-episode owing to the reasons I outlined in the opening sentences above.

Adam and I began this little journey with one clear objective in mind. To take the time out of our own jobs to sit, reflect, converse and attempt to dissect this profession we have chosen. Since then, we’ve been lucky enough to add some other reasons to the list, thanks to the listeners that have made contact with us. We now feel some form of obligation not just to ourselves, but other humans out there toiling away on the classroom frontline.

How have we achieved our objective up to a few weeks ago? We make the time and we respect that time as much as we can. One of us drives a healthy distance from their workplace to a little homely venue for the recording. The other stays up a little longer after the show listening, cutting, splicing and bringing it all together for publication. We share topic/segment ideas over the rest of the week via a shared Google document.

This year we have found ourselves falling into the ‘cruising Term 3’ mindset again. Many teachers do. The term where we can all get back to ‘proper’ teaching because there is no big formal assessment to complete or reporting. National testing has come and gone and we are free of most interruptions. Again, we’ve been reminded that this is not the case anymore. There is no such thing as a term like this over the entire year. We tackled this issue in a previous episode published in 2014. Go HERE to take a listen. We also tackled the crowded curriculum in another past episode which, I believe, applies to this ‘Term 3’ issue too.

We feel that we are appreciated in this role as teacher podcasters. I am grateful for the comments that I receive, both verbal and written, from people in and out of the profession that have shown appreciation for the fact that we get together and put it out there. It’s this individual appreciation, so lacking in most schools, that makes us really feel it when we don’t meet our objective each week of the term.

Without any last minute interruptions or flies in the ointment, we intend to be back here with Episode 40 next Thursday evening, 3rd September. Please join us!

Cheers,

Rick (with Adam in spirit)

Getting Busy In Sick

I have been off work for the past five days on sick leave. “I have prescribed some antibiotics for you. Please keep taking the Panadol, drink plenty of fluids, eat some food and rest, rest, REST!” These were almost the exact words from the GP last Tuesday morning. I don’t know what the scientific name for the ugly ‘chest infection’ virus I’ve contracted is but I know how it feels. Many of my symptoms are probably listed on the first website that appears in a Google search when you type in words such as ‘flu’, ‘chest’ or ‘cough’. The way these symptoms make me feel and how my own mind and body deal with them are probably not on that list.

I had the last two days of last term off work for sick leave. I had much of the Queen’s Birthday week in June off due to sick leave. Add these to a few sick days taken in Term 1.  This evidence leads one to conclude that 2014 is a worse year than other years in general well being. Questions start to form, what has changed this year? What am I doing that I was not doing in 2013? Am I sleeping well? Am I exercising enough? Has my work/life balance regime changed? These questions spin involuntarily around one’s mind like a Gravitron and pick up speed more and more as the body sits or lies stationary on the couch.

My job exposes me to bugs and viruses. Some may say a teacher is more susceptible to illness due to the amount of human beings they interact with on a daily basis. Young children are still learning the ropes of how to be hygienic; covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, washing hands with soap after a toilet visit; therefore, perhaps a teacher has it tougher than other professionals to ward off the germs. But aren’t we all exposed to germs on a daily basis? Can we really say that my profession is worse off than others in this area? On a regular day, we all touch a myriad of objects and surfaces and most would admit that total vigilance is difficult to maintain when one is busy. A door knob here, a hand shake there, a table top, a coin, a bus railing…the list goes on. Either way, the truth is that we all catch germs and bugs. The further reality is that our minds and bodies all react differently to these germs. Some of us fight them off without knowing they were there. Others feel a little ‘off’ but get through after a good night’s sleep. Another group come crashing down in a messy heap (like me this week). Most of us encounter all these experiences many times over.

A leader at my school recommended a book recently. The recommendation came not because of my recent run of bad health, but because of their desire to find some answers to their own issues of ‘too much’. My copy of Tony Crabbe’s book is on its way as I write. I have little to go on at this stage save for a few extracts and reflections taken from the author’s website. But Crabbe’s writings analyse the concept of a busy society and how the regular professional has become a slave to the notion of being busy at everything. Crabbe states, “It is difficult to ask anyone ‘How are you doing?’ without hearing the word ‘busy’ at some point in the answer. All around the world I meet people who are over-whelmed; who are exhausted; who feel helpless in the face of the machine.” He goes on to state that these people are not the perennial ‘whiners’. They are the successful workers, the ones that are committed and try their best to further themselves and their organisations. I think this is me and it is most likely you.

world-busyness-256x396

Image from: www.howtoacademy.com

 

I don’t intend to distil the information put down by Crabbe. But I could not help but equate my thinking of being busy with being sick and unwell. Some common threads of thought have recurred to me over the past 24 hours that have kept coming back during each bout of illness this year.

Why is being busy and ‘pushing through’ seen as a badge of honour these days? I can’t speak for all professions but in education, I believe it’s rife. Over the past two years, I have tried really hard to commit to always taking the appropriate amount of time to recover from an illness. Before then, I wouldn’t always do this. The ‘unspoken’ reality around me in the workplace was to push through the illness, keep on working, stick at it and only take a day if you physically could not stand. Don’t get me wrong, I was never pushed to work when unwell by my employer. Never. But I could just feel that underlying sense of ‘stiff upper lip’ from the colleagues around me. A sense that a first or second year graduate picks up very quickly when they hit the frontline.

I overheard a colleague say once, “I’ve had this terrible cold for over two months.” Really? Is this really a plausible scenario? I don’t doubt that this person had been feeling rotten for the best part of 60 days. But why do educators keep working when they are sick? It makes people miserable, unhappy and frustrated. Not to mention, the sniffles and sneezes during staff meetings whilst sitting with colleagues.

Here is another phrase I hear often, “I can’t afford to take a day off at the moment.” Certainly not because of financial concerns. Most of the time it is because the individual making the statement knows that the never ending ‘to do’ list will just get longer if they stop for a day. What kind of nasty consequence hangs over their head if they take a day to rest? I also hear some educators say that they WILL take a day to rest when sick, but will continue to work from home and get lots of those ‘other jobs’ done whilst on the couch. Again, instead of thinking about getting better, why do we believe that we can be just as productive from the couch and/or sick bed?

So within all these scenarios, I believe an underlying culture begins to build that instils ‘survival of the fittest’ mentalities in lots of schools. The one that takes on the most extra curricular jobs whilst still teaching without using much sick leave, is the winner. Consequently, there is an element of guilt or fear for those that do take sick leave for ailments such as flu, gastro etc. I have seen teachers still on contract, push themselves to the limit, seemingly walking around 24/7 with a sniffle. Regaining or retaining one’s position and contract has another criteria to meet, the ‘being on deck no matter the consequences to my well being’ section.

I’ve sat in front of nearly 30 primary students the morning after being awake all night with a raging fever. Not as a graduate but as a classroom teacher with nearly 9 years experience. I couldn’t focus properly. My hands shook a little. I was honest with the students. I told them how I felt and the symptom I had experienced the night before. They were polite and listened. But nothing changed. They were still ready for learning and intent on having their day at school just like any other. For me, the ability to instruct them to move from one section of the room to another became a task of monumental mental proportions. So who was short changed that day? Not me that’s for sure.

As the PDP process in Victorian schools evolves and more schools buy into the collegiate process of teaching and learning, will we see more educators continue to push through because they don’t want to be the one seen to be not pulling their weight because they have missed days? We encourage parents to keep students home if they are clearly unwell, no matter what they might miss in terms of learning. How often do you hear educators encourage one another to take care of themselves? Quite often, we are all in it together. But how often do we project these questions on to ourselves?

I look forward to reading Tony Crabbe’s book in depth. I no longer buy into the notion of teachers working every day, any hour during a term because, ultimately, they get their holiday reward at the end of a term. I spent the last holiday period sick. I didn’t see it as a reward but I was thankful for the opportunity to recover. But is that what those 2 weeks are really for?

Why do we keep pushing through when we are unwell? Why is being busy a badge? Why do some of us feel guilt when we take sick leave for common ailments? Why should my recovery from common illnesses be the same process as the workaholic? Most importantly, will I find myself walking into a busy environment on Monday morning apologising for the past 5 days? ‘No’, you might say. But I bet someone in this profession will be.

The View Of The Sick

The View Of The Sick

 

2 Regular Teachers Podcast Launch & Further Discussion

Last week Adam Lavars (another primary teacher and great friend) and I embarked on a podcasting project. Our aim is to share experiences from the frontline of primary teaching. Sure, we have a passion for ICT in the classroom but we still work in the public system like so many others, and consequently have to complete the myriad of other jobs and roles that come with being a classroom teacher these days. Our weekly podcast will aim to tell how it is through success and failure and everything in between.

We would love you to visit the blog and listen to Episode 1. There are a few ways to follow us on our journey:

Our Global2 Blog 

Subscribe to our Podomatic Feed

Subscribe via iTunes

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During our first episode we discussed the topic of homework. An often polarising topic. We were trying to work towards an understanding that homework should be something that is relevant, creative and an extension of the students’ learning for life. We are frustrated by the process of handing it out, checking when it is returned and the conversations that arise with students; not about their learning but more the admin side of “where is it?”, “why didn’t you complete it?”

Aaron Davis commented and pointed us to this article by Jason Borton in February this year. A great article and it has helped articulate my thoughts a little more. As well as what I have outlined above, below are my responses to Aaron’s comment and my reflections after reading Jason’s article.

 
I think we do mean the ‘flipped classroom’ to some degree. I hear what Sam Irwin was talking about too. Indeed, I’ve given much thought to the fact of students taking in information at home, becoming familiar with a concept, doing a tiny bit of immersion before they attend class the next day. But now I throw back to Jason Borton’s post that you mentioned in the comment. What about equity? Lots of kids have access to digital technology at home but not all. And we still have loads of parents that either don’t care about the continuation of homework each week or want traditional sheets each week.
At my school we send home sheets for maths frequently at this stage. This was a regular practice when I started there last year. I feel a little guilty about this as whilst at school we strive to not have a curriculum that is reliant on sheets and piles of photocopying.
Like Jason stated, we are the professionals and should be setting the standard.
One aspect of Jason’s article I wanted to comment on was the statement that “The last thing kids want to do when they get home from a long day at school is sit down for another dose of school and do homework.” My argument would be that if the school’s policy is to send homework home each week, then let’s make it a type of learning that is engaging and motivating for the students. If we could reach that ideal, then we wouldn’t need to even consider kids being stressed about getting ‘another dose of school’ at home because school is just part of their learning for life. And that is what we were trying to get at it in the discussion during Episode 1.

The IWB Slow Death

Ongoing saga at work for my colleagues (and me to a degree…but I know better) is the trials and tribulations of a rickety old IWB in each learning space. Dirty screens, poor light bulbs, ‘touch’ feature not working, inconsistent sound (if any) and…well..not much else. And two technicians that tend to avoid them at all costs.
I can’t recall the brand of IWB so perhaps I’ll check that tomorrow and add to this post.I think the reason I don’t recall the type and brand is that it doesn’t matter. A piece of technology that is fast becoming unnecessary.

Today I was reminded of  ‘s post last year about IWBs. I’ve posted the link HERE (hope that’s OK Rich!)

It’s worth a read. Not only have I never seen an IWB that is hooked up to a PC work perfectly in any of the classrooms I’ve worked in over 8 years, but I concur with Richard that it encourages old fashioned ‘stand and deliver’ teaching. Through my best intentions in trying to engage students with audio visual delights and a chance to manipulate an object, I’ve been guilty of standing up there on many occasions. But I refuse to say that it hasn’t been on my mind to adapt and find another way to create a lesson.

We have 1:1 Netbooks in the 5/6 unit. Until my arrival at the beginning of the year, they were used sparingly. That’s increased and I think we’ve made inroads.
To  break the consistent routine of waiting for the IWB to turn on, load, sort itself out, I’ve begun to ask the students to make their way through the necessary content and resources for a lesson through their own devices.
This week I’ve tried to move away from the front of the class. Instead of displaying content or working through instructions on a dying IWB, the students have been directed to immediately log in to our Edmodo space (some are still learning to bring their Netbook to every workshop!), access the content needed for the lesson in our Edmodo group; a YouTube clip, a document, a series of questions or a quiz. Students read and digest at their own pace whilst I can begin roving conversations as part of my introduction instead of standing and lecturing.
Alternatively, if I really need that larger display I have the option of wheeling over the Polycom for a sharp, crisp display that will never fade. (Got to get on to that…I can see it gathering dust!)
It may not sound new, but I bet many teachers are still standing, waiting and hoping for that old IWB to be repaired and ‘unleash’ its magic. I think we’ve all been a little fooled.

People have a range of opinions on the use and reliability of IWBs in schools. I’d love to hear yours…

Social Networking Behaviours – when to begin? And who can help?

Two of my grade four students (both 10 years old) have started using Instagram for sharing some of the photos they are taking at home with their own iPod Touch. They told me about it this week. One student said that she had found my username whilst doing a search within the app too.  Both students are allowed some controlled time at home with their devices connected to the family’s WiFi so that they can take a photo and upload it to their account. They are following one another and simply sharing some photos together. Most of the snaps are of their respective pet dogs, incidental items in and around their house such as balls, food and furniture. Yet they have attempted to present some of these everyday items from an interesting perspective; close-up or looking up from below. None of the photographs have their face or anyone else’s in them. It appears they are utilising some positive online etiquette strategies almost as second nature. One parent spoke to me this week about it. She commented on how much they are loving the easiness of snapping a shot and sharing it with just two screen touches. What I found most interesting about this parent’s comments were that they were not negative towards the technology and the experience. They were interested and well aware with what their daughter was actually doing. Often I hear a parent decrying the fact that their son or daughter wants to access learning experiences on the WWW outside of school hours.

So…this little experience got me thinking about social networking and the slightly different guises it comes in. It got me pondering about my students. I had this triumphant feeling that these students were making a statement about young people and the internet. Here I will attempt to articulate what I mean…

I have an Instagram account but am yet to use it regularly. In fact, when my student looked me up this week there were no photos to peruse at all. I am currently completing a ‘365 (366) photo a day’ challenge using the Posterous app on my iPhone. I have shared some of my photography and musings with my students to get them thinking in a lesson, whether it is making inferred meanings about a text or discussing how certain colours in a  photograph make us feel something. I truly believe now that if we want our students to learn how to be a positive digital citizen, they need to see us doing it. They need to see how we conduct ourselves online, not just on a school-oriented website or blog. Students need to see how we behave in other social networking spaces . Thus, my students know that I have a Twitter account and we have watched other teachers and learners respond in a Twitter feed to me and to them. They have seen my Posterous blog and glanced at my professional blog. Finally, they know that I hold a Facebook account although they have not seen it. But I have discussed it with them…I have told them about the strict privacy rules I apply to it and why, they know the main reasons why I have an active account (friendship etc.) and we have discussed the various ways that people should behave and act in a social networking environment.

One of my main passions in guiding primary-aged children with their learning is allowing them to have experiences with social networking in a safe, online learning environment. Edmodo has been the perfect avenue for this. I have written about it in past posts and talked about it at conferences. Edmodo is designed for schools and always just…works! It looks a bit like Facebook in its interface. The buttons are user-friendly and easy to understand. I find that most of its basic use does not require long-winded explanations for young students. They just get it or they learn from their classmate next to them. Students learn how to post appropriately to a space, how to reply to another and to seek replies, how to attach content to a post and share their learning with other students and teachers. Edmodo has been the base where my students have begun their foray into leaving a positive digital footprint. Let’s be honest…regardless what we think or parents think…students are going to be leaving an indelible footprint out there…some have probably even started.

A colleague once delivered a presentation to staff about cyber-safety after attending an in-depth PD. Much of the content and ideas projected back to us were valid and worthy of discussion. One comment stuck with me though and it went something like this… “Why should any of us (teachers) be having any sort of contact with a student on the internet? When you think about it, emailing a student after hours, even about school-related matters, is just weird isn’t it?”  SO…at first I questioned myself. I started to feel ‘weird’ for a small second. Let me clarify: I am NOT emailing my students at night like I would a family member or friend. But my students and I were using Edmodo. They were handing in homework assignments via this platform at 7pm or later on weeknights. Some of them were leaving reminders in our class space for the other students to ‘not forget their runners for P.E. tomorrow’ and some were sending their teacher a direct message to ask if it was OK if they brought in something from home to share with the class in the morning. Most teachers take work home with them. They sit on the couch after dinner and complete jobs; correcting work or planning a lesson for the following day. What is the difference if they respond to a piece of work submitted by a student after hours or respond to a post? What is it telling our students if we flatly say ‘NO, you are not to have any communication with me outside these walls.’ To me this is, again, reiterating how to be a responsible online citizen.

Back to the photography…a group of my students have started to work on telling stories through photography using iPads and the ‘Posterous’ app at school. Our goal is to make the ordinary item look interesting and to explain why we think so. Some of their work from this term can be found HERE . We have discussed how it is easy to simply take a traditional photograph of a person smiling or holding an item. So why not leave the person out of the shot altogether! I don’t expect this strategy to rule my students’ behaviour online forever but it does give them a sense of how to be safe and still make it interesting.

The reason why I include these photography projects in the social networking category takes us back to my opening paragraph. Social networking is about creating a community and/or being a member of a community. It is about seeking an audience. Therefore, my students take their photographs, edit  and write about them with an audience in mind. They know that their work is being created for someone else to look at and read. This is the expectation of anything they produce for posting.

My experiences over the past few years have taught me one important fact. The early years is the age to begin immersing students in these types of experiences. Get them used to it, break down the misconceptions, discuss the positives and negatives out there, invite them to teach their parents about it. Let them see you using it! We have to start now; not when they are fifteen years old. The skills and values that they acquire now will, at least, give them a steady chance to survive and prosper in the ever expanding world of social media and social networking.

What are your experiences with social networking in school? What are the positives and negatives? What are your thoughts? What is missing? What might the future hold?

All About Engagement…and Technology…and it worked!

It’s been bothering me that  the previous post on my blog was a bit of a rant. Not initially, but now that some months have passed it was time to rectify the situation. I just posted the below report on my global2 blog that I keep with my class. I thought it fitting to share the work on my professional blog. This is mainly about the power of Edmodo in a way. Although a homework project, the nice things about the learning below is that my students were sharing updates, achievements, questions and thoughts as they went. This made them unafraid and confident to share their work come presentation day. Please leave a comment if you see fit. The post starts below…

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For the past 3 weeks we have been investigating an ecosystem in our own backyard. We all joined a group space on Edmodo and kept each other up to date with what we were learning and discovering as we completed the project. Some people posted some comments and questions to the space. Others posted photos of the living and non-living things in their chosen patch. We discussed our progress as we went and posted links to some useful websites that contained information about ecosystems, different biomes and animal species.

All our work was due last week. On Thursday 25th August we presented our work to small groups of classmates. We had to make sure that we spoke clearly and made eye contact with our audience. We came really prepared so that the technology would work and we finished off with posting what we had learned to our ‘Ecosystem Project’ space on Edmodo.

Below are some examples from our projects. Everybody had something unique to share! At the bottom of the post there is a question we would like you to answer.

eco_pic_12
Amy used 'Paint' to draw her chosen ecosystem

Amy used 'Paint' to draw her chosen ecosystem

pres_1 pres_2
pres_3
Here we are presenting our projects!

Here we are presenting our projects!

The power of Edmodo!

The power of Edmodo!

Steffi made her movie using her iPod Touch. Bridget wrote a script, rehearsed and filmed her show with a digital video camera.

Brick Walls In The Career…Right Now…Part One.

This evening I began putting some ideas into thought as to why I feel knocked down and somewhat weakened in my chosen profession at the moment. This is my chosen career, my passion…but right now I have big questions and genuine concerns. I have collated my Posterous entry, contribution to the PLP ConnectU Ning and reply from Chad J Evans to start my extraction.

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This is such an important discussion. I’m going through a phase at my school right now where this conversation is relevant…even though the school where I work is doing a lot of pretty cool things here and there.

A take on the response to the idea of ‘unlearning’…    in direct reply to  @willrich45    @kynanr

I really hear what Kynan is talking about.  Writing is the one subject area that makes me wonder. How can we expect kids to be engaged if they are not given ample opportunity to write for a genuine audience? I’ve found this year that I have to change topic, authorial focus, content, etc etc….so much that my students do not get a chance to sink their teeth into some writing that they can work hard on and publish to a place where there is an audience waiting for them. I’ve had glimpses over the years of this but it is never an ongoing.

Practising persuasive texts for the NAPLAN tests was a perfect example. I thought to myself…what a fine opportunity to dig into some ‘meaty’ topics and get the kids passionate about their point of view. Yet I had to keep practising more and more, one text after another. The kids didn’t have a chance to publish to an audience.

Why do we have to cram so much in? This is what we could unlearn? Why can’t we NOT be afraid of lingering on a project or piece of writing for awhile so the kids can lap it up, go over it carefully and surely and get it out there for those to see?

These two examples are some of the only real writing projects that I think went all the way. I’ve been in the job six years and this is what I recall instantly…

http://bit.ly/l7wOqk

http://bit.ly/mpmpwP

Reply from Chad J Evans…

Rick

Why do we have to cram so much in? This is what we could unlearn? Why can’t we NOT be afraid of lingering on a project or piece of writing for awhile so the kids can lap it up, go over it carefully and surely and get it out there for those to see? I see these as really important questions.  I just had a conversation with a colleague this morning surrounding the curricular choices we all make every year and how even though we often feel like we don’t have the flexibility to make those kinds of decisions, we make them often. However, we feel comfortable making the little choices, yet not the big ones regarding student learning and the ability of learners to immerse themselves…

I’m wondering how we go about having those difficult conversations with ourselves, with our colleagues, and with our supervisors and what those conversations might look like and feel like?



Posterous entry  - 18.5.11

Posterous entry - 18.5.11

I realised today that education is always evolving…but really. Yes I can already hear you saying ‘get with it, that’s been the case for at least the last ten years.’ But this evening I’ve been pondering the concept of ‘unlearning.’ It is a theory that’s been discussed but I think this concept may take a new avenue for me soon… maybe others. I only get glimpses of what I could really achieve with my students at the moment. In between, I have to make sure I am planning, thinking and talking about the numbers, the process and the end marker. There is not enough time. It nails us, knocks us down, sows the seeds of doubt. I don’t want to short change my students. Controversial but demoralising.

The Case of the Digital Footprint…

As part of the PLP ConnectU project, I thought I’d share my thoughts on my own digital footprint and what turned up of late. The overall ideas coming through is that a digital footprint is an inevitable step for young users, of course many students would already have quite significant footprints. Our task is to educate and guide them to making the right digital footprint as they move through the early part of their lives. It’s an old saying…you never know who might be watching. And in my opinion, this doesn’t have to be a negative thing.

Here are my reflections on my own footprint as it stands in May 2011…

I have googled myself on occasions in the past. At times I have done it for plain curiosity, to see what the most common sites are where my name appears and to remind myself of places where my name resides (in case I have forgotten that particular little footprint).

Summary: Four of the first five links are to other Nings and education related websites that contain my photo, biography and details of a presentation that I have delivered at a particular conference. I discovered some vodcasts and podcasts of my presentations that have been uploaded to these spaces.

Intriguing: The first link at the top of the Google search was a comment I made on a Facebook page that belongs to a vineyard close to my local town. The comment was positive and innocent, about the prospect of receiving a free hot cross bun over Easter at the vineyard! I have an active Facebook account but do not use it heavily. I filter my Posterous blog through Facebook and keep in touch with overseas friends via email messages most of the time.

Point of Interest: My name appears on a MySpace link to my band’s profile page. This is one of the few band links as we have had a quiet past two years on the gig and recording front.

Minor Concern? : One of the links on the first page is to the Rate My Teacher website. I have been given a rating and the school has been named as my place of work. The rating is positive (5.0) and no comments accompany it. The rating was posted in February 2010. What would you do about this find? Do I try to have it removed?

With a surname that contains a hyphen and is not overly common, it is interesting to see what comes up. I am yet to discover another ‘Rick Kayler-Thomson’. I found it interesting as you scroll past the links containing my complete name, the next ‘hit’ to the search is my younger brother’s name. Although a qualified teacher himself, many of his links are associated with his professional football career.

An interesting task. Overall I am comfortable and happy with my digital footprint. I have a strong professional presence on line that I’ve established over the past few years. My social footprint is appropriate and well controlled it appears.