IT TAKES A VILLAGE: Communication From A .COMmunity

The term “lifelong learner” has become such common parlance in education that it had lost it’s impact for me. However, the clarity of mind that a weekend can lend, has really reminded me of how inevitable for me being a lifelong learner really is.  The more time I spend interacting with my ever growing digital PLN on Twitter, the more I realise how much I still need to learn.

The mass wealth of knowledge and experience, #edchats that take place across the world and the willingness of the community to support those looking to learn is overwhelming…but in a good way, no scratch that, in a GREAT way!

So when seeking to support for my colleagues, fellow lifelong learners and those new to the profession, I reached out to my PLN and asked for their advice. I built a simple questionnaire in Google Forms, designed to elicit targeted responses on edtech, professional learning, and leadership. I then set to sharing it with people who I felt were educational innovators, the kind of people I get pumped from just listening to. The kind that when you come away from a conference with them, you feel invigorated and ready to do great things. It didn’t take long, and those kind of people started to respond. The following is their shared wisdom.

Meet Our AMAZING Panel of Educators

Pernille Ripp @Pernilleripp
Intermediate Teacher, Creator of the
Global Read Aloud, Author and Speaker

Marylee Ang-Sadecki @MaryleeAng
Instructional Media and Edtech Consultant for
The Calgary Catholic School District

Connie Hamilton @ConnieHamilton
Principal, Classroom Questioning Trainer/Consultant
and Curriculum Director at Saranac Community Schools

Tom D’Amico @TDOttawa
Teacher, Administrator and Associate Director of Education of
Ottawa Catholic School Board

Please tell me a little bit about your experience in Education?

Pernille: It has been one of incredible highs and lows. From teaching 4th grade and taking risks in the way I taught to teaching 7th graders and having to re-think everything, there has not been a dull moment.

Marylee: I have been an educator since 2006. I have taught various subjects: Social Studies, English Language Arts, Computers and Art in Junior High and High School. I recently completed my Masters in Educational Technology which transitioned my teaching position to a consultancy in Instructional Media Educational Technology.

Connie: I have taught early elementary, 8th grade ELA, and Title I. As an administrator, I’ve been MS asst. principal, MS principal, Elementary principal, and curriculum director.

Tom: I have been with the Ottawa Catholic School Board for 25 years. I began as a physical education teacher and then became the department head of business and computer studies. I was a vice-principal, principal, superintendent of learning technology, superintendent of human resources, and am currently the Associate Director of Education.

How do you view the role of technology in education?

Pernille: As something that can bring our students’ voices and thoughts into the world. It should be used to deepen a lesson, not as an add-on
Marylee: I think it is important to embrace the role that technology can bring in education. It has the power to transform learning with teachers and students. However, I also believe it is even more important to put pedagogy before the tool. It needs to be meaningful, and move from consumption to creation.
Connie: Technology is a tool that educators can use to provide innovative ways to support student learning
Tom: I view technology as an important tool that can be leveraged to help engage students and to provide opportunities for deeper learning and global connections.

What is one edtech tool you would always want in your toolbox and why?

Pernille: Twitter, because it keeps me connected and in tune with what is happening in the (ed) world
Marylee: I have always been a fan of Twitter. For educators especially, it allows a more personalised approach to personalising their professional development.
Connie: Google Apps. Google Apps provide a variety communication/organisation tools for both students and adults.
Tom: The suite of Google Apps for Education has had a major impact on teaching and learning in our school Board. Our District supports over 40,000 students and the introduction of Google Apps for Education in 2010 has fostered collaboration and creativity throughout our district. The use of real-time collaboration features, along with google communities, google hangouts, and the many other tools in the Google Suite has opened up our classrooms to a much larger community for learning and teaching.

What is an important lesson you have learned through utilising technology in educating?

Pernille: That it is not about quantity of tools but rather what you choose to use.
Marylee: I have always used instructional design when incorporating technology in lessons. Understanding what the objective is, and working backwards. If the technology fits, then that is a bonus. Lessons should never be around technology, rather needs to be engaging, personal and relevant to students.
Connie: It doesn’t always work the first time and there’s always someone else who knows how to do it… just ask.
Tom: The most important lesson that I have learned is that good teachers and good pedagogy are the key to implementing successful technology initiatives. If a teacher uses a SmartBoard/LCD projector to project static notes and students use their iPads or Chromebooks to copy notes, we have not had any impact in the use of technology. We promote the SAMR model to look at leveraging technology to create new knowledge that was not possible without the current technological innovations.

 

How has technology influenced your professional learning?

Pernille: Immensely so, everything is at my fingertips and I can learn when I want to rather than wait for opportunities in my district
Marylee: Especially with Twitter, and attending many conferences, the backchannel has broadened my professional and personal learning. I learn best by what other educators are sharing and how it can better my practise.
Connie: Without tech I wouldn’t be a connected educator. I wouldn’t be able to share/collaborate with the ease I have now.
Tom: Technology has allowed me to participate in global learning communities and to learn and share with a broad range of educators. Examples include: @TDOttawa twitter account to share resources and to follow other; iGeneration Scoop-IT account to curate resources, and many webinars via organizations such as EdWeb.

What advice do you have for aspiring leaders in education?

Pernille: To ask the students how you can be a better teacher.
Marylee: Find your passion in education and never lose sight. At the heart of it – it is always about the students and that should never be forgotten.
Connie: Be connected. Your PLN is critical. It’s a matter of not only what you know, but who you know.
Tom: Focus on pedagogy first and then leverage technology to engage your students and make global connections. Use technology for assessment for learning so that you continually monitor and modify your teaching strategies to meet the unique needs of each learner in your class. Have fun, make mistakes, learn from your mistakes, and realise the impact you are having on a great generation of learners.

In Conclusion…

Firstly, I feel so very thankful to have received the responses that I did. The kindness of the contributors was overwhelming and we are fortunate to be learning from their experience. The Panel was created from various areas within education and their different roles came through in their fantastic responses. While varied in their position and experience within education, there were some powerful commonalities amongst their responses.
  • Technology can be a powerful too for engaging, empowering and supporting our students
  • Pedagogy before Technology
  • Community is one of our greatest gifts. Get connected.

Thank you again to the contributors, those who messaged me and to my PLN.  Through our supportive community, great things are happening.

Part of the transaction between writer and reader is the pleasure of building a community and encouraging people to play along.  -John Hodgman

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