Photo Credit- Me Link to Animation
This week’s post has been one of the hardest for me, but not for the reasons you may think. I have plenty to say about the weekly reading and video content. There is a considerable amount of feedback I can give on the existing policies at my school. I’ve compiled a list of considerations for my own media literacy as well as those of my colleagues and students. The relevance and timeliness of this course are huge and have led to some great discussions at work with the leadership and curriculum teams. My practices are already changing to reflect my learning in the course. Connections are being made daily about the role of empathy in teaching and learning, especially when viewed through the lens of technology. And yet, when I sit down to put all of these thoughts on paper Google Doc, I can’t find a way to articulate it, so I will apologize in advance for the scatterbrained nature of this week’s post and just get on with it.
Photo Credit- Me
One of the essential questions this week asked us to think about how we empower students and others to use technology to positively impact the world. This is such a great question because it moves you towards the idea of ‘purpose’, and to me, that is ultimately what it means to be human- finding your purpose. As an educator, one of my main goals is to help students (and colleagues) discover their gifts and then help them find ways to share those gifts with others- most of the time with the help of technology. But despite how rapidly technological advancements are being made, impactful change takes time. So I guess the best way to tackle the really great question of how I empower others to use technology in positively impactful ways is to talk about the small steps I take.
In all of the roles I play at work and all of the different hats I wear, I find that relationship builder is the most important. My current school is relatively small with a teaching staff of less than 50 and just under 450 kids (many of which are in early years). As a tech coach, department coordinator and curriculum chair, I have the opportunity to cast a wide net and build relationships across the school in ways that not everyone can. I have used this access to take a lot of small steps in an effort to create positive change in the school. One of the ways I’ve done this is by sharing my passion, expertise, and support to staff through professional development. This has come in many forms throughout the years and includes facilitating whole-school staff meetings, organizing EdCamp Conferences, running ‘Appy Hour’ workshops and creating Technology newsletters. None of these things have been particularly life-changing (that I know of), collectively they have made a big impact on the school culture in a positive way.
IN THE CLASSROOM
As challenging as the last few months have been stepping back into a homeroom class, it has given me so many opportunities to reconnect with students and build deeper relationships, certainly more than I’m usually able to as a technology coach. Through these daily interactions with my Grade 4 class, I look for ways to get to know each student- their strengths, interests, hobbies, and goals. All of this informal data collection can be considered small steps, but each piece helps me connect with them in the hopes it will lead to the discovery or sharing of gifts. This also drives a lot of the experiences I plan in the classroom because I want the learning to be meaningful and personal for students. Information gleaned from students often surface in provocations, discussion prompts, project options and feedback sessions. And much like the actions discussed in the section above, these small pieces can have such big impacts on the lives of students, even if it isn’t seen right away.
ME, MYSELF & I
This final section might be the hardest of all to articulate because technology has empowered me in so many ways. I’ve been able to stay connected with friends and family over the last decade of living abroad. I’ve taught myself everything from sewing and embroidery to animation through blogs and Youtube tutorials. I’ve recorded myself teaching in order to better reflect on my practice. I’ve attended college and credential programs through virtual platforms. And the list goes on and on.
But in the interest of time, I will focus on one small step I’ve taken recently to make positive changes in my life with the hope that it will lead to positive change in others’ lives and eventually the world. This time last week, I deleted my long-cherished-but-no-longer-relevant-to-my-life Facebook account and replaced it with a more productive habit than mindless scrolling, and most of the motivation for making this decision has come from taking this COETAIL course. This replacement activity is called Morning Pages and the irony of it all is that it’s the antithesis of social media. It’s done longhand in an actual notebook and it’s meant to never be shared. But the interesting thing about it is that making this shift has made what I do online more mindful, efficient and focused. I’m realizing that by doing this small task daily, I’m becoming more self-aware and that’s allowing me to move closer to my purpose. And while deleting a Facebook page and taking up journaling are small steps to take, they are making a big impact on the way I spend my time and how I feel, and that’s a big deal.