Discussing Personal Learning Networks with Pearson’s ‘In Conversation’ series – Part two!

Screenshot 2015-06-17 20.03.22

Part two of the interview I had with Pearson’s ‘In Conversation’ series is now available. Click here to gain access.

Screenshot 2015-06-17 19.25.22

Like I said in my previous post, this interview was conducted over the phone. It’s difficult to think on your feet in situations like that, and I don’t think what I said has translated well in reference to Project Based Learning and what happens when students find themselves not succeeding. Here’s what is in the post;

I’ve had fantastic feedback from students involved in project based learning, but it’s not easy as it puts the onus on them to take responsibility for their learning. When they learn via this method, students have a sense of pride in what they’ve accomplished.

I’ve observed that that’s what they respond to best, because they want permission and the responsibility to take charge of their own learning. Through this process, they may eventually encounter and experience failure which is positive feedback. Analysing failure is something we don’t do enough of in school.

When these same students who didn’t do well finished a project, they were then able to articulate and identify where they’ve gone wrong. These same children also went on to perform better in subsequent activities because they were working through the process and ultimately learning how to fail successfully.

Hmmnn…not quite what I wanted to say! I don’t see failure as positive feedback, but it can lead to positive outcomes. In the case of the students I was referencing, they learnt from failure and went on to be very successful in subsequent PBL tasks.

Wish I’d had a rewind button so I could have fixed that up before it went to print!

I do like the quotes they have selected to place in images accompanying the interview, so I going to share them here (nice little bit of archiving for me!)

Screenshot 2015-06-17 20.01.04

 

Screenshot 2015-06-17 20.02.10

 

Thank you Pearson Australia for asking me to be involved in your ‘In Conversation’ series. I enjoyed the experience and am really pleased that you have identified the strength of Personal Learning Networks to support the professional development of our teaching profession.

Discussing Personal Learning Networks with Pearson’s ‘In Conversation’ series

A few week’s ago I was interviewed for Pearson’s ‘In Conversation’ series. Here’s the premise behind the series and this interview;

In Conversation is a monthly series where we chat with some of the leading thinkers and thought leaders in the education space.
In this month’s interview, we tackled the topic of Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) to uncover the benefits and how they may impact the teaching strategies of educators.

I was very flattered to be considered a ‘thought leader’ in the education space, and even more flattered to see that they have decided to make it a two part report. It was a phone interview and it can be difficult to shape your words when you’re thinking on the spot, but I think what was relayed did justice to the work of educators worldwide who are sharing their practice and supporting their peers in social spaces.

You can read part one by clicking this link. Part two will be available mid June. I’ll be interested to read it, because it’s hard to remember exactly what I said! Here’s a nice grab of what’s to come;

Screenshot 2015-06-14 20.06.43

The Pearson team did a great job creating an infographic with some of my and their recommendations of people to follow on Twitter. I suggest you follow all of them and if you’re not already a Twitter user, then get to it and sign up. You’ll need a good month to get your head around how Twitter works, but stick with it. It’s where my best learning happens.

Screenshot 2015-06-14 19.33.30

Looking forward…

On January 1st this year I wrote a post entitled ‘Looking Back…‘. In it, I speculated on what 2015 would bring.

Fast forward to today, and I’m about to head into a staff briefing where I will be farewelled from Toorak College.

At the start of Term 3, I will begin a new job at Wesley College in Melbourne, where I will take on the position of Head of Digital Learning and Practice.

Did I even contemplate on January 1st this year that this was the course I would find myself on?

Not for one minute.

But it’s happening, and I need to find a way to extricate myself from a place that has made such a significant impact on my life. It feels like a bit of a ‘To Sir with Love’ moment, because how do you thank a school community that has helped you realise your potential and enabled you to become something you never thought you would be?

In 2005, I was working at Monterey Secondary College, a school that also had a significant impact on my life and gave me such good grounding as a teacher. It was a school I loved and the memories I have of it are dear to me. But in 2005, I was teaching a Year 8 class that was making me question my ability as a teacher. I was a parent of young children, I was stressed and I was contemplating leaving the profession and doing something completely different. I saw an ad in the local paper for a part time Teacher Librarian position at Toorak College and it sat on my kitchen bench for over a week before I decided to apply. I felt traitorous to the public education system because I’d been such a strong advocate for free education for all, but I needed change – I needed to reclaim myself and my place in a profession that mattered to me.

I got the job, and in doing so, I unwrapped the gift that was Toorak College.

This gift unveiled opportunity, growth and insight. It helped me realise that the skills I’d developed in the public system were founded in good practice and could be applied in different contexts. The gift revealed new colleagues, new friends, and professional development opportunities that I’d not been able to explore in my previous job. I embraced all it offered and ran, hurtling into the unknown and discovering a significant part of my life’s purpose in the process.

The gift introduced me to classes of students hungry for knowledge. This is perhaps the richest part of the gift – the opportunity to form meaningful relationships with students and the deep satisfaction I have had working in classrooms where we have shared learning moments that are etched in my memory. The gift enabled me to travel with students to destinations like China, Italy, Laos, Borneo, the Kimberley region and on OEG trips to the Murray River and various camp destinations. My happiest moments have been in classrooms and on trips where we have immersed ourselves wholeheartedly into whatever presented itself to us, and we have laughed and learnt alongside one another.

The gift has seen me through the best of times and the worst of times. It was in the worst of times that the gift unveiled true friends, and I am forever indebted to Megan Davies, Lee-Anne Marsh and Mae-Louise McGuinness who held out lifelines that helped me work through challenges that have also been growth opportunities.

The gift has taught me an enormous amount about leadership and what it takes to bring people with you. I am grateful to Noel Thomas, former Principal, who didn’t stall me in my evolution as a teacher who shares their practice publicly. Allowing me to write this blog and being transparent about my place of work was a very generous gift indeed. Current Principal, Helen Carmody, has also been instrumental in my growth and has taught me so much about what it means to lead an organisation through change processes. If I can be half the leader Helen is, I will be doing my next job well.

Like all gifts, you can choose to put them on the shelf and glance at them, or you can make them part of the fabric of your life. Toorak College has been a rich tapestry in my life. I am grateful for the gift it has been and the experiences I have had as a result of gracing its walkways. I am grateful for the people in it who have helped shape my life. I will hold it dear and use what it has taught me in the next stage of my career. I will reflect on it, glance back, learn from it and relive fond memories. I’m proud of what I have brought to it – I am leaving it with gifts that I think will help it grow.

A new gift awaits. There is an excitement surrounding it, and some apprehensiveness too. What will it unveil? What will it teach me? What impact can I make on it? It will reveal itself, in time. I welcome it into my life, and hope that I can be a gift to it.

School’s out Friday

After a seriously busy week, a bit of Improv Everywhere spontaneity is a nice way to nice way to finish it up.

I’ve presented at two schools this week, been to a two day Dylan Wiliam workshop at Frankston High School and attended a LawSense seminar in the city. I’m not really sure why it is I’m still up late on a Friday night typing these words. If I was paying attention to the signals, I’d be in bed catching up on some lost hours of sleep.

Enjoy your weekend. Hopefully it will be a quiet one here – I need to slow down the pace!

Australian Learning Lecture: Sir Michael Barber on ‘Joy and Data’.

On Thursday May 21st, the inaugural Australian Learning Lecture was delivered by Sir Michael Barber on the topic of ‘Joy and Data‘. The event was attended by many leading educationalists and has been initiated as a joint project of the Koshland Innovation Fund and the State Library of Victoria. Their aim is “to bring big ideas in education to national attention. The decade long project is designed to strengthen the importance of learning in Australia for all Australians.”

Here’s what Sir Michael said was the intention of his lecture:

“It is very clear that the longer the 21st century goes on, the more education matters,” says Sir Michael. “The debate I’d like the lecture to provoke is about how data, joy and learning combined could lead to much higher performance in education systems. All too often people, especially critics, create a false dichotomy between data and joy. I argue that they go together and – indeed – that only if they go together can we ensure success in future.”
The lecture was recorded and you can view it below. I’ve set the video to start 22mins 16 seconds in, because there’s a lot of waiting on this video before anything happens!
A storify of my tweets and some from others has been collated and can be viewed here: https://storify.com/jennyluca/all-australian-lecture-michael-barber
Michael highlighted what he considered as four misconceptions about data during his lecture.
Screenshot 2015-05-24 12.57.18
Screenshot 2015-05-24 12.59.08
Screenshot 2015-05-24 13.00.00
Screenshot 2015-05-24 13.01.06
I think what Sir Michael did was help us understand how important it is to be informed by the data, but also how we need to apply human judgement to our evaluation. The following tweets (derived from Michael’s words) kind of summed it up for me.
Screenshot 2015-05-24 13.03.44
I think in education there are some who fear data and the evaluations being drawn from it. Provided human judgement is a factor and we do the right thing with the data we have collected, there should be no reason for fear. In education, we are focused on children’s lives – if we keep our compasses set right, then data provides us with the ability to see where to next. And where to next could be the very thing that enables a child to find the joy that learning can bring.
Thank you Ellen Koshland and the State Library of Victoria for your vision and philanthropic generosity to make education an important talking point in Australian society. I truly hope this vision is realised and that this series will elevate discussion around education and its critical importance to the future development of this country.

School’s out Friday

My students are currently enmeshed in the John Green component of our ‘Language of our Times’ class. In the past couple of weeks they have been working in teams and collating research about John, trying to ascertain how he uses the Internet to build community and thus increase his audience.

His success at doing this, in an entirely authentic way, has changed his life. He’s incredibly successful, has had two of his novels made into feature length films and has had YouTube approach him and his brother to host ‘Crash Course‘ – a range of fun educational videos about science, history and literature. But as this video suggests, it’s also changed his life in ways he probably never anticipated. He’s become a recognisable Internet ‘star’ and and this means a life of constant attention. The price you pay for fame I guess.

John says in the end stages of the video that he thinks that some kind of loss is inherent to change. I think he’s right.

I’ll leave you with that, and wish you the best of weekends. Melbourne is promising an almost balmy 19 degrees C this Sunday. If the sun is shining, I’ll be basking in it. Whatever you’re doing, enjoy it. :)

Where do you find the time for you?

I read an article in an education leadership journal today that talked about the need for teachers, and especially those who hold demanding leadership positions, to take time out of each day to step away from the job and do something just for you.

It brought back to me a moment recently that really did make an impact.

The family had been bugging me – nagging me quite frankly – to sign up to Netflix. So after 90 minutes on the phone one evening renegotiating a contract with Telstra and extricating us from some pretty banal Foxtel content, out came the computer and Netflix entered our lives.

Screenshot 2015-05-04 22.46.45

(And yes, I have shamelessly grabbed this image off Google image search – link here –  because it is perfect for this post and none of the CC pics for my search ‘Netflix monster’ pulled in anything worth using. And yes, it is 10.49pm at night, and I’m too tired to spend hours finding a CC image that’s worthy. Sorry Lawrence Lessig.)

You would have thought the Messiah had entered the room, such was their delight when the realisation struck that I had signed up for the four screens deal and everyone could be viewing different content at the same time. Yes, it was that kind of moment – open mouths, devices switched on and the hunt for the perfect program was on.

Now, I’m no longer a television watcher – there’s no time for that. I’m present, but my mind is elsewhere, either tackling work for school or watching the twitter stream with it’s endless links to interesting content roll by. I can keep my head around some reality television offerings, because you can dip in and out and there’s a part of me that likes prying. But for the most part, television represents too big a commitment. I’m too busy to invest in a space that requires me to tune in at specific times and stay the course.

But I did wonder about this Netflix thing, so into the world I entered.

I could feel the pull as soon as the personalised suggestions started scrolling across the screen. There was ‘Rainman’ a film I haven’t seen for more than 20 years, but one I’d really enjoyed and have wanted to see again. In the next view, a bunch of series I’ve heard people talk about were tempting me, drawing me in, promising me hours of quality immersion into worlds far removed from mine. I succumbed.

I watched the first episode of ‘Call the Midwife’, and I knew this was a relationship I needed to sever. I had to cut the umbilical cord connecting me to Netflix and the temptations within. You see, I really don’t think I can let myself loose in a space like that, where entertainment flows at the command of your fingertips. It comes at a cost, and the cost to me is time spent learning, time spent feeding the information junkie part of me that is sustained on a diet of content that feeds my mind and sets the synapses into overdrive. ‘Call the Midwife’ would entertain me, but would it feed my soul and set the synapses spinning?

Somehow, I think maybe I need to find the nice middle ground in all of this, and the article I referred to earlier made that pretty clear. Netflix isn’t the answer, as I discovered when my husband tuned into ‘The Killing’ and I lost four hours one afternoon before I threw my hands in the air and declared that I really couldn’t do this. He could, and devoted large swathes of his life over the next week to unravelling plot twists until he finally declared freedom from Netflix’s tangled web when all four seasons had been consumed.

Maybe it’s walking, maybe it’s reading novels, maybe it’s writing. Maybe it’s none of this, and maybe I need to come to terms with the fact that maybe it doesn’t matter, because I enjoy immersion in spaces that other people think replicate work.

Maybe I just need to be at peace with me.