"Wisdom begins with wonder!" ~Socrates
This is how I teach, this is the frame of mind I want my students in. This is how I try to view the world when planning lessons and working with students. This is why I love professional development opportunities, because in order for me to grow as an educator I need to be immersed in what I wonder about; I need to be a student.
Approximately ½ a year ago, I jumped at the opportunity to travel to the AMLE (Association of Middle Level Educators) Annual Conference, with other educators from Langley. I was excited by the opportunity to attend a conference of this magnitude with other motivated, excited Langley educators. Being around so many educators from across North America was incredible, some of the most valuable professional developing arising out of the conversations with strangers and colleagues before and after workshops.
Before I left Langley, I was uncertain of the path my learning would take during the three days. The sheer number of presenters and topics was overwhelming! Assessment, Culture, Teaming, Reading, Technology, Inquiry – where to go and what to do! My passions are technology, inquiry and student engagement so I tried to digest as much as possible, deepen my wisdom and try to answer some of my questions. In addition I was drawn to the opportunity to see some ‘big’ name draws in Education including Ruby Payne, Rick Stiggins, Rick Wormeli, Jack Berckemeyer, and Dr. Jeffrey Wilhem.
In the end, no matter the presenter, one of the biggest themes that emerged was that educators need the right mindset in all we do for our students. Modern educators need to think with modern pedagogy when planning educational experiences for kids. Neil Stephenson at our last Engaging the Digital learning presentation said “It’s tough to teach in an inquiry-based classroom if you don’t live an inquiry-based life.” Presenter after presenter at the conference stressed the need to see everything you do through the right lens. Rick Wormeli stated loud and clear “MINDSET MATTERS”! You don’t need fancy tools or gadgets, 21 Century learning requires us to shift how we help students learn and how we assess their knowledge and learning. We cannot teach and assess with a “Gotcha” approach. Students are not parrots, they are human beings that are capable of creating critical, deep, thoughtful work. Facilitators of learning get results, not dictators of learning! Those teachers not willing to look through a new lens will be left behind. Inquiry, essential questions, and meaningful, relevant assessment – these need to be done to help students achieve their potential.
In the midst of all of my learning, one big shift occurred, something, to be quite honest I did not believe possible – I tweeted and I tweeted a lot! I have had a twitter account for 2 years; I have been a ‘lurker’, but I have been reluctant / hesitant to tweet out. It was less about whether I had any thing of value to say but more of a mindset that “if you tweet in the forest will anyone hear”. Something happened, though, during my second session as I was following the twitter feed for the conference. I felt this need to share ideas in the moment, to document those words and phrases that resonated with me; ultimately, to interact with those who were also there. It was exciting to join a secondary conversation about the presenter, to engage in the presentation at another level. I started to see value in that moments and I thought to myself, ‘the tweet is not echoing in the forest,’ instead it is being added to the other tweets creating a dialogue of its own. In addition, I began to get reactions from colleagues at the conference who were not at the same session, and before you know it, people at home, learning along side of me, not there, but being exposed so the sound bites and kernels of knowledge that I was able to share. I will give credit at this point to Shawn Davids @sdavids51 and Sean Oliver @seano3ca for playing a role in helping me feel that there was someone in the next forest who will hear if I tweet. I am not sure if I will continue to on a daily or weekly basis, but I have now caught a bit of the twitter bug! The conference setting made it a safe, comfortable place to begin. Being part of a greater conversation enriched my understanding of the topics and allowed me to reflect in the moment and add to the discussion. For those of you ‘tweetering on the edge’, I encourage you to take a leap at the next Engaging the Digital Learner dinner. Your tweet will be heard, and it will add to the richness of the presentation and the learning of all of us!