Wow, I can’t believe that I am finishing up this final post for the course. There are lots of things I have been thinking about and I hope that I can touch on a few of them here. Reflection to me is a very personal thing. Reflection is part of the path to understanding – something which I differentiate from knowledge or skills. If you acquire knowledge, develop and practice skills, add in time and genuine reflection, then maybe . . . just maybe you have understanding. That is how I see it anyway.
I need to set a little context before I can go into more detail. I have been teaching for 16 years, my parents are teachers, my sister is a teacher, my wife is a teacher. Education is an important part of my life. It is not and has never been just a job. I’m not trying to sound pious, it is just that this course has had a profound effect on the way that I think about things and for me to say that means a lot. Last year I went to hear Will Richardson talk and he was inspiring. He relit a fire that had been smoldering in me and to cut a long story short it resulted in me signing up to do my M.E.T. I stepped down from my leadership role at school – going from Head of the Upper Elementary to class teacher so that I would have time to study, be a dad, be a husband and an effective teacher. I was daunted at first, I had not studied at this level since I completed my teaching qualification. Things are working out ok though.
Times are changing in education. Social media and the tools available today to educational professionals are beyond anything we could imagine 15 years ago. If we embrace them and use them then we really can change the status quo. What I have learned in this course is huge. I have new knowledge on a variety of topics, I have new skills in a wide range of online tools which are impacting my pupils as I use them in class. Glogster, Edmodo, Kidblog – all being used by my pupils now. Directly as a result of what I have learned on this course. But more importantly I think I have come to some real understanding on a few key things.
Social media is not going away. It might change form but humans are social creatures and the easier it is to connect the more we do it. Social media in education has the possibility to achieve very powerful things – it can bring people together and connect them. Maybe teachers, maybe pupils – those of different faiths, religions, ideologies, background and cultures can come together. Not easy but the only way change happens is if people worth together. This course has helped me to understand that I should not look to blame when things don’t work out for me but look for someone to help. E.M. Forster wrote about the theme of connecting in his book, ‘A Room with a View’. I read it in High School and it has stuck with me for 20 years -‘only connect.’
Connecting as a professional educator is easier, quicker and more manageable than it has ever been. I have learned about how to do it safely and effectively and have begun to know how to teach my pupils about it. I have enjoyed my course. It has been hard at times – real life goes on in the background, but I am proud of my efforts. I have blogged with my heart on my sleeve and tried to be critical of my performance and honest about my learning. I am not sure how much has been read by anyone else. . . but that almost doesn’t matter. There was a cathartic effect to writing and blogging. So what next?
I will keep blogging, tweeting, and finding webinars. I will strive to encourage my colleagues to do the same. I will connect with others and expand my PLN. I will continue to curate and share. If it was a poker game. . . I’m all in.
I have connected with some of the people on the course. I am confident Matt and I will be friends for a long time to come. We have learned together. Thanks to all of you who have shared, read and commented and I wish you all the best going forward. I have a lot of learning to do but this was a great start.
Grading myself on my blog performance: Hmmm not easy. Someone told me once that the definition of a good teacher was someone who was constantly dissatisfied with their own performance. It stuck. I have written and reflected to the best of my ability, listening to myself and others and being honest with my thoughts so I would give myself 74.5. Not perfect but it rounds up to 75.