Today I feel lucky. Very, very fortunate. Why? Because I spent my day learning from teachers that absolutely amaze me.
In March, I got an email inviting me to visit the CEA Office in Toronto to meet with a Swedish Delegation — including politicians, senior bureaucrats, an education journalist (and her young daughter), and a representative from Microsoft Sweden — to discuss technology in education. Heidi Siwak, Stephen Hurley, Brenda Sherry, and I spent a couple of hours this afternoon talking about our use of technology in the classroom: successes, problems, and possible solutions.
We were asked hard questions. (I can’t help but think of our vice principal, Kristi, and her questions that always make me think.) These were questions about meeting curriculum expectations, inappropriate uses of technology, resistance in education, and the “standardized test” dilemma.
The meeting today reminded me that teaching and learning is about so much more than just technology.
- We need to explore real world problems.
- We need to create a culture of inquiry.
- We need the teacher to be a learner too.
- We need engagement — and not engaging with a screen, but engaging with meaningful issues.
- We need solid pedagogy.
- We need to be willing to share and to admit successes and failures.
- We need to start somewhere, and then, we need to move past that.
- We need to bring what’s happening in the individual classrooms out into the open: making the learning visible to others in our school, Board, and around the world.
About five years ago, I started using Twitter, and at first, I was skeptical about why anyone would want or need to use social media. Now I understand. Twitter gave me the support I needed to make changes in the classroom: ones that make me a better teacher, and my students, better off as a result.
Today, I sat in a room with people that inspire me. I listened to talks from incredible educators, and I watched a wonderful group of people from Sweden nod their heads, smile broadly, and really think about where they want to go next. For my 30 Days of Gratitude, I cannot think of something that I’m more grateful for than today: a day to remember that change in education takes time, effort, and support, but it’s totally worth it!
How has technology changed you as an educator, administrator, or parent? How do you help support change in others? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
It was great to be with you today…another opportunity for me to learn from the best!
Thanks Stephen! Felt the same way too. Today was definitely an opportunity for me to learn from so many people that I truly admire.
Aviva (Heidi, Stephen, and Brenda too). You were a well chosen group to represent technology…but really so much more. All of you really represent the passion for getting kids to think deeper…technology is a tool to make it happen if the time is appriopriate and appropriate for the learning style and needs of the students.
Did you have questions (and responses) from the visiting delegation?
Thanks Karen! I absolutely agree with you that technology is a tool, and one that we can use to get students to think deeper and/or share their learning with others. I love that the focus of the discussion today was on so much more than just technology.
As for questions, there were quite a few. Many focused around any problems with technology in the classroom and how technology can fit when there’s also such a focus in Sweden on standardized testing. The answers were more of a discussion than anything else. We looked at the fact that for all of the problems with technology, there are so many more benefits. We also looked at what assistive technology has done for students, and how difficult it would be for these students if technology was not available in the classroom. In terms of standardized testing, we did discuss how a focus on thinking can get students to do better on standardized tests, and then we looked at how we focus on thinking in the classroom. I’m glad that we could dialogue on topics such as these ones!
You always have great things to share, but your bulleted list of “We needs…” really resonated with me this morning. These are the very things I am trying to achieve as teacher. This is an excellent list, and it moves beyond the focus on technology, to our real goals as educators. Technology is a tool, which we use, but how we use it is never as important as why we are using it. Thanks for articulating that so clearly.
Thanks for your comment, Scott! I think that this “why” piece is so important. It’s something that we need to keep thinking about, and then depending on our thoughts, modify our programs accordingly.
Thank you for your blog! Your comments aligned with Stephen Katz’s message on Leading Professional Learning in a Learning Organization shared with all System Leaders in the WRDSB. You are creating a culture of learning in your classroom where your students are active participants. As the leader of your class, you are celebrating your students’ small wins and through your blog, you are also moving educators from having ‘great conversations’ to focused learning conversations. Let’s keep this learning conversation going.
Thanks Andrea! I think that we all need to have these focused learning conversations to help move all of us forward. When we improve, our students benefit.
Hi Aviva! You have written a wonderful post here and I appreciate the timing since today I published the first post on my very own BRAND NEW blog! This year, as a newly hired DECE with WRDSB, I have experimented with using Twitter and share our students’ learning with their families and other educators. It has been so empowering to so easily and quickly document and send a tweet! As I have contributed a to our classroom blog and read many other blogs pertaining to education and early years learning, I felt inspired to create my own! I am feeling gratified as other educators at our school are entering the world of technology and really enjoy supporting as they make these change in their teaching ways.
Congratulations Kristen on your first blog, and thank you for sharing your wonderful story! You have no idea how happy this makes me. It’s good to see and hear about this change in action. You just made me realize something else that I can be grateful for today!