The book “The Innovator’s Mindset – Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity” by George Couros (@gcouros) was on my shelf for a while before I started reading and devouring this book. Often I had to stop and think, reflect, rethink and honestly, check the hashtag #InnovatorsMindset on Twitter and Instagram (btw. my first Social Reading experience) because I wondered how other readers commented about certain quotes, ideas and thoughts. It is one of those books which you have to read if it is your vision as an educator to innovate the learning experiences of the students.
When I started my current position as an educational technology coach for primary school almost 3 years ago I thought I had an idea of how my work will look like. I had no idea. As coaches we are wearing many different hats and we are constantly learning.
Who would have thought that my colleagues and myself are planning a professional day which follows the principles of participants first, by teachers for teachers and learning as a social act like one of my favourite and mind changing conferences called Learning2? At the same time I’m doing the ISTE U course “An Introduction to Computational Thinking for Every Educator” and suddenly I see a connection between the PD Day and computational thinking.
I couldn’t be more thankful for my learning experience during the course “Microcredential: The Coach” with www.edurolearning.com over the last eight month. The learning was just in time (instead of just in case), meaningful und extremely relevant in the context of my work at GESS (German European School Singapore) as an Educational Technology Coach. I truly feel empowered. The school took a huge step in a new direction by creating an EdTech Plan for the coming years. The goal is to implement the ISTE Standards and to give all stakeholders of the community individualized opportunities to learn. This will enhance and transform the learning of our students. Again, I couldn’t ask for more than being part of this change.
Since the first time I heard about the Techsperts (@TechspertsEDU) at SAIS (Stamford American School Singapore) I really wanted to start this at our school as well. The initiator Craig Kemp (@mrkempnz) wrote in a blog post about his approach and experiences here: ‘Techs-perts – Utilising the skills of Digital Natives’. Another EdTech Coach from Dulwich College Singapore encouraged me so finally that got me sit down and plan.
At our school they are called Tech Tree Team and in secondary they are already in action for a while. So why not initiating this in primary?
Why the Tech Tree Team?
Students get empowered and will drive the change regarding technology use at GESS in order to enhance the learning of parents, teachers and students.
Having connections, being connected, getting new connections – it seems to be something which just pops up everywhere, all the time and in all areas our lives. It became so easy to connect to family and friends who live far away, to connect to other mothers, to connect to people with same interests, to connect to like-minded people around you. Having connections is very much a must for doing businesses in various cultures. Technology, social media and platforms with the purpose to connect make it easier than ever before.
I guess nothing new. New to me that I’m in a (new) not so new position since one year as an Educational Technology Coach and I find it very challenging to understand why educators don’t want to connect more than with educators physically around them. What do they fear? Why they don’t want the benefits and the joy of being connected professionally? Do they feel overwhelmed? is it just something they are not used to? Or do they just don’t know and someone has to open their eyes like it happened to me around 5-6 years ago?
Jeff answers the question: What’s a connected teacher? with “A connected teacher is a teacher that is connected to other educators and education resources on social media through communities and networks.”
Sylvia Duckworth sketchnoted her ideas of a connected educator.
Important for me – being connected online and offline. I love to be connected to other educators around me at school and have face to face conversations. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to find like-minded and like-passionate people in the offline world. You know who you are – thank you for inspiring me so much! I really appreciate that Jay Thompson set up a Singapore edTech Network and I hope we will continue exchanging good practice. Conferences – small or big – are a great chance to connect and I love it.
There are way more opportunities online: Twitter, Twitter chats like #whatisschool, #istechat and so many more, and the education resources on the social media seem to be endless like Commonsense Media, ISTE, seesaw teachers on Facebook, again – and so many more. If you can’t attend a conference somewhere on the world, it’s enough to sneak in on Twitter or Google+ to enjoy the sharing. Any time, anywhere, as long as you want and 100% personalized. All gives you the chance to learn, to share, to inspire, and to get inspired. It can be a starting point to create wonderful relationships and to innovate learning together.
In July 2017 the new ISTE Standards For Educators came out which are defining standards for learning and teaching with technology. What do the ISTE standards say about being connected?
Being a connected learner means:
learning from and with others,
exploring proven and promising practices, and
creating and actively participating in local and global learning networks.
But how can I promote the connected educator and learner at school in order to open the possibilities to benefit student’s learning by connecting students to other students around the world?
I feel like I need to set priorities. Everything at the same time is not possible. Our school started using Seesaw (A student driven portfolio platform) last year and this AY 2016/17 all classes in KIGA, Preschool and Primary School will use Seesaw as the portfolio platform. Learning right in time, not just in case.
Swing by Seesaw – regular get together to share good practices
Setting up an informal meeting for Seesaw teachers within Singapore
Experience the Twitter Chat together, maybe a local one with Seesaw teachers here in the region
Initiating more sharing within the PD Class on Seesaw
… more will come up.
My Goal: If someone experiences how beneficial it is to be connected the next steps to get connected isn’t that far. Maybe somebody then is also open to connect his or her students through the blog on Seesaw to other students around the world.
Somebody using Seesaw in Germany or a German School abroad?
It felt like when I was a child. It felt like Christmas and birthday together because there were so many presents. It felt like never ending exploring and endless surprises. It felt like being a(n) artist creator again.
As I probably mentioned before besides personal and face to face encounters with inspiring people Twitter is my preferable way to get good and very individualised PD. Many Twitter users already shared how they use Twitter to get inspired, to think out of the box, to share, to comment, to communicate, to exchange knowledge, to make other people think, to provoke, to encourage, to stimulate … yes, all those things Twitter can do to you.
Have you ever experienced an educational coach @school?
Last week I started the Eduro Course – Coaching From Theory to Practice. The first readings (amongst others the ISTE Coaching White Paper – great overview & ISTE Standards Coaches) were very interesting read and they gave me a whole new perspective. I have never really experienced a coach at school. Yes, at the last school I worked at there were two educational technology coaches and I’m still thankful that I met them (Thanks Kim and Fred) and I had the chance to ask them all kind of questions. But I didn’t feel I was coached by them. Or coached by somebody else in a different field, f.e. a literacy.
She is now 3 month old almost 4 month old, our little one. It’s a gift and I’m very thankful that I get to experience this journey. On the other hand I definitely miss my work at school and as much the professional input and exchange I always got from my colleagues, my PLN through Coetail, Twitter, etc. It’s time to get into it again at least online. Time will tell whether I can make it regularly but nothing wrong with giving it a try. Here I am again.