Saturday, January 19, 2013

The year that was...

I asked the class to give a round up of their year - and thought it only fitting that I do the same as this has been such an action-packed year!  From helping to deploy over 100 iPads in the school to attending workshops run by my own students, iLearn is an understatement!

Here are some of the highlights from 2012 and what I have learnt:

This is no easy feat and here are some tid bits from my year:

Train before implementation 
At the GAFE summit in Auckland, Mike Reading suggested train before you implement and make sure your training leaves your staff wanting more.  We started our training when the iPads landed.  Some staff had their own personal devices (ipods/ ipads/ iphones), but many had only seen pictures of these.  Pre-training for these people would have been invaluable and given them some prior-knowledge when we came to starting out.

Buy-in From Senior Management - Top-down approach rather than pushing up from the bottom
This may sound obvious, but it has been a hurdle this year.  This was the direction the school had chosen to take and getting all team and planning leaders onboard would have strengthened the concepts we were trying to implement.  When we started the year, a self-selected group was formed to take on the e-learning focus for the year.  Each year group was represented, however there was a major oversight in that no senior staff were on this team, so when ideas were shared, they had no idea of the background involved.

Buy-in from Parents
Getting not only buy-in, but actively involved parents makes your job so much easier!  We ran parent workshops on Twitter, Wikispaces and Blogger so our parents could not only see why we were using these tools, but how they could add to their child's learning environment.  I had heard too many times parents say "she comes home and says I'm doing my homework online, I have no idea how to help so I leave her to it".  I wanted parents to be able to see what they were doing and to have the tools to be able to help out.  This was also a great way to strengthen relationships with parents and the community.

Let Go - you don't need to know everything - teach explorers!
This probably the hardest concept to get across to adults.  Many teachers felt we were adding to their ever increasing workload.  They felt they needed to know everything before the students - when training to be a teacher, I remember being told to always be prepared - be over-prepared for anything.  I think letting go and exploring with the kids is one of the great benefits of the digital world.  Letting kids become the experts and modelling this sharing of knowledge - teaching kids how to impart their knowledge of the world, is a great real-world experience.  I am proud that my students are explorers and don't reply on me to be their main source of information.  They know where to go and if all else fails - google it! 

TWITTER - do it!
Twitter continues to be my single biggest source of professional development. I am constantly amazed by the resources and ideas that come my way.  Over the last term, I have also been regularly involved in twitter chats.  #edchatnz on Thursday 9 - 10pm.  Moderated by @MissDSciTecher, 'PD in your PJ's' is a great source of motivation, inspiration and sharing.  From #edchatnz, #kidsedchatnz has been born. This is a great opportunity for kids to be active, engaged and connected learners.  This is a weekly event (during the term), 2pm - 2.30pm with kids moderting (check out the archive of #kidsedchatnz.

Get Involved
Attend UNconferences, twitters chats, ignite evenings - it is a great way to meet other educators!  This will help cement your PLN.

Do it now - don't wait to be an expert!