Kidsmatter and relationships matter

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This year our school has embarked on the Kidsmatter program.  Kidsmatter is a mental health and well-being framework for primary schools.  It is sponsored by Beyond Blue, Principals Institute of Australia, Australian Psychological Society, Early Childhood Australia and the Federal Government, Dept of Health and Ageing.  This program has been proven to make a difference to children’s lives.   I am fortunate to be a part of our schools’ Kidsmatter Action Team.  As a member of the action team I attend training on how to deliver the components to staff, present PD to our staff, work with the other members of the action team to analyse data related to staff and students well-being and promote the framework within our school and community.

Today, I had the opportunity to attend the Kidsmatter State Conference at  Westlakes.  The focus of this conference was well-being and mental health.  It started with an opening address from Natasha Stott-Despoja who gave an overview of the Kidsmatter project and her support of the Beyond Blue program.

Andrew Fuller presented a session about the Learning Brain and how teachers can use research from neuroscience to increase learning outcomes.  Andrew’s session was entertaining and informative.  He shared a lot of information about the brain and how parts of our brains work and take in information.  He shared and modeled ways that we can enhance our students learning by knowing how the brain works.  Some  examples that he shared included:

  • Use gestures – human beings remember gestures so something as simple as getting kids to point to the main part of something will help them to remember it better
  • Scents – lemon, rosemary and basil all assist with concentration and memory
  • Good verbal feedback is important to everyone.
  • Teach kids how to take good notes.  Notes help kids to organise their thinking and their learning.
  • Use silence to reflect on learning.  He shared an idea called “take a minute” where you give kids one minute of silence to reflect or think about what they have learnt.
  • Relationships are the key – kids need to belong and need to be told that they belong.  Relationships matter to everyone, kids and adults alike.

Professor David Giles, Dean of the school of education at Flinders University then spoke more about relationships and his research into  relational leadership.  He asked:

When is education not relational?
When is learning not relational?
When is pedagogy not relational?
When is leadership not relational?

Everything that we do at schools is relational.  The nature of our schools’ and jobs is relational.

We can not get out of or away from relationships, positive or negative.

In our classrooms we create a mood and as classroom teachers we are the ‘guardians’ of the mood.  The mood of a classroom will be felt, it is the culture, climate, tone and ethos.  “Creating the right mood, atmosphere, vibe is not something that happens by chance”,  (D. Giles).  We need to model and embody careful relationships, we need to talk the talk and walk the walk of relationships and we need to be attuned to the subtleties of the relationships.

Three schools, Cobdogla Primary School, Marymount College and Keith Area School, presented a showcase of the things they are doing with Kidsmatter.  Some of the things  that I would like to take back to our school included a great Kidsmatter bulletin board in the staffroom, welcome packs for new families, having well-being days for students and having a class parent high tea at the start of the year to get to know the families in my class better.  It was great to see what other schools are doing around the Kidsmatter framework and was reassuring to see that at Port Elliot we are on the right track.

The final speaker of the day was Dr Helen Street.  Her talk was titled ‘A is for average’ and reinforced talks I had heard this year from by Dylan Williams and Dan Pink.

She spoke about extrinsic rewards such as stickers and certificates compared with intrinsic rewards such as greater understanding and feeling proud of ourselves.

Research shows that extrinsic rewards tend to demotivate people but intrinsic rewards (gaining understanding, feeling proud) have been proven to motivate people.

Extrinsic rewards focus on the outcome rather than the process to get there and are dependent on someone else making a judgement. They reduce a sense of ownership over what we do.   They create a sense of compliance and control and encourage people to love rewards. For example, the child who is offered an ice cream for cleaning up their room is not cleaning up their room because they want a clean room but because they want the ice cream.

Intrinsic motivation leads to better life satisfaction, a sense of ownership, positive social relationships, a love of learning, persistence and better performance and outcomes.

However, we can not make people motivated but we can create environments that encourage a sense of ownership and motivation. To do this we need environments that create positive relationships, are safe and encourage safe risk taking, allow collaboration, encourages autonomy engages students and celebrates learning.

Overall, the conference reinforced the work that we are doing at Port Elliot and the things that we are doing to support our students.  It also reinforced the importance of relationships in everything that we do.

Finally, this quote from Andrew Fuller sums up the feeling of well-being and Kidsmatter:

“You can’t talk well-being you have to be well-being”

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Posted in kidsmatter, Port Elliot Primary, Standard 1: Know students and how they learn, Standard 2: Know the content and how to teach it, Standard 6: Engage in Professional Learning, Standard 7: Engage Professionally with colleagues | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chilling Out

This term my class and I have embarked on the task of trying to redevelop our classroom space.  As I mentioned in my previous post we had some assistance from a local business man, Hamish McMillan to start us thinking about what we wanted and how we could do it.  The top five changes included a basketball ring over the rubbish bin, new chair designs, a chill out space, arena seating and blocking out our glass windows.ideas2The ideas part was the easy bit – how to make the changes has proven to be a bit more difficult.

Basketball Ring Bin – this is still in progress.  However, the class has now decided that we can throw rubbish into the bin (with the exception of messy yoghurts, etc) but if they miss they need to pick up 10 pieces of rubbish from the classroom or outside.  This is proving to be quite amusing with one boy picking up 50 pieces of rubbish before he decided to just put the paper straight into the bin.

Blocking out the windows – we have decided to look at getting curtains for our windows but are still waiting to see how far our budget will stretch.  For the time being we have stuck colourful artwork on the glass.

Arena and different seating – this was an interesting activity.  We started by investigating the different seats that were available and the students soon discovered that seats cost a lot more than they thought!  We discussed what it was that they meant by arena seating and discovered that it really meant that they wanted to sit in different ways when being given instructions – this has involved  sitting outside, moving tables and sitting on the floor and rearranging seats.

Chill Out Space – this has been were we have made the most progress and had a lot of fun.  We talked about what a chill out space was and what we would want to use it for.  They decided that they wanted a spot that they could choose to work quietly in that was comfortable and different from their desks.  We ended up forming a small committee of students who went and researched what things we could buy and how we could set up the space.  They decided that they wanted beanbags (which kind of addressed the different seating issue) and nice carpet to sit on.  One of the students found a picture of a PVC cube on the internet and shared this with the class.  They all liked the idea of having a set space, like a room in the classroom.  From there we did a bit of maths and had to work out what area of floor space we could spare.  We rearranged all the tables and chairs and then marked out the space on the floor to see if we had the space to create this.

start of chill out space

The students then went to the IKEA website to look at what furniture and carpet we could afford to put in our space.  Eventually, my husband came in helped a group of boys make the cube.  From there we have decorated and furnished the space.

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The class developed a set of rules for the use of the space and seem to really enjoy using it.  It has been used as a space to work on Ipads, for silent reading for completing work and just for ‘chilling’ out.

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This has been a great activity to do with the class.  It was interesting to hear the things that they came up with and then watch them decide what was actually going to work and what might not.  The class have felt a real ownership with this activity.  It is something that they have seen start from a small idea and develop into a space that they can all use.  They now realise that the classroom is their space and that they are able to make changes to it and suggest ways to make it better and that we will listen and take their ideas on-board.  There is still things that we are working on but we are getting there.

Posted in Standard 1: Know students and how they learn, Standard 3: Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning, Standard 4: Create and Maintain Supportive and Safe Learning Environments | Tagged , | Leave a comment

From paper clips to basketball rings – a design in process

Two of the many sessions at Edutech 2013 that made me think about my own teaching environment were Stephen Heppell’s session “What’s the rage for the next year?” and  Stephen Harris’ session “The School of The Future: Change Management Lessons from a Pioneering School”. Both of these speakers talked about creating learning spaces that students wanted to be in.  Spaces that are creative, collaborative and personalised.  Spaces that kids love coming into and feel a part of.

I have struggled with this idea for a number of years.  I have felt that although my class space is a positive, learning environment it is not all that creative.  It is personalised for our class but do the students in my room actually feel like it has been personalised by them.

Hamish McMillan, owner of outdoor design company Vision for Living, and I were discussing my feeling and ideas and the fact that I would like to do something with my classroom but I was not sure were to start.  Hamish is one of those people who can think outside the square and offered to come and work with me and my class to build some ideas about what we could do.

Hamish working with the class

Hamish gave the kids one paper clip and had them list all the things they could make with one paper clip.  He then asked them “What if you had 300?”  “What if it was made of anything you want?”  Once the kids let their imaginations go and realised that there was no right or wrong answer they came up with an amazing list.

This started the kids thinking about what we could do and what could be possible if we think outside the square.

The next step was to ge the kids to think about what they would like to have in their classroom.  What would they change?  How would they like to work?  We collated all of these ideas onto one sheet.  From these ideas we grouped the ideas into large categories and voted.  Hamish organised a voting system based on one blue stick dot for the best ideas, two orange for the next best and three green of the third best idea.  Once the kids had voted we collated all their votes (blue = 6 points, orange – 2 and green = 1).  The top five ideas are the ones that we are going to try to create in our space.

room ideas

1.  Basketball ring for rubbish – how easy is this one and reflects the large numbers of boys I have.  Not sure what the cleaner will think about this but maybe more bin being put in the bin.

2.  Different chairs – I am planning to turn this into a technology unit.  They will need to research chair designs and then design and make a model of their ideal chairs.  We will then look into can we make these chairs or fundraise to get them made.

3.  Arena seating – this was an interesting one.  The class really liked the idea of having tiered seating (a bit like a lecture room).  We discussed that our room isn’t very big and we would want to be able to work in groups, individually and as a whole class.  We will keep discussing this idea – might be resolved in the seating design activities.

4.  A ‘Chill Out’ space- the kids really like the idea of having a space in the classroom where they can sit on comfy chairs and just chill out/work quietly.  I am sure that this will be possible with some creative ‘paper clip’ thinking.  Will just need to look at the size and space and arrangement of room.

5.  Panels over glass windows that can be removed – our classroom has glass windows that look out into a shared learning space with a water trough under the windows.  These windows are always dirty due to water being splashed on them.  The kids also mentioned that it can be distracting when people are out there.  I am sure that we could come up with something that will help with this.

So, now the fun (and the hard) bit happens.  We are now in the process of working out how to make these wishes reality – I will keep you posted with how we go!

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Posted in School, Standard 1: Know students and how they learn, Standard 2: Know the content and how to teach it, Standard 3: Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning, Standard 4: Create and Maintain Supportive and Safe Learning Environments, year 7 | 2 Comments

Edutech Wordle

This a wordle created using my blog post on the Edutech 2013 conference in Brisbane.

Edutech Wordle

Posted in School | 1 Comment

Look out! I’ve been inspired by great speakers!

The mediocre teacher tells,
The good teacher explains,
The superior teacher demonstrates,
The great teacher inspires.
William Arthur Ward

I have been inspired by great speakers!

This week I had the opportunity to attend one of Australia’s largest technology in education conferences, Edu-Tech 2013 in Brisbane. I was privileged to be able to listen to keynotes from Daniel Pink, Ewan Mcintosh, Sal Khan, Alan November, Stephen Heppell, Dr Gary Stager and Sir Ken Robinson as well as a number of workshop sessions.

Daniel Pink – What the Science of Motivation Can Teach Us About High Performance

So, what does motivate me?Dan Pink speaking at Edutech 2013

Dan discussed what motivates people and the idea that an if … then reward system works fine for simple and easy tasks but not so well for complex or long term goals. He has discovered that what does work is autonomy, mastery and purpose. People need to be self driven, be able to master a topic and they need to understand the purpose of what they are doing in order to be motivated to do well. How often do we allow students to really master a topic before we decide the class has to move on? Do we allow students to really own their learning? Do we show or even tell them why they need to know something?

My challenges:
– allow my students more autonomy and chances to master something. They need to be given time to work on something that is of their choosing, something that they are interested in and then be given time to master this topic. They need to be responsible for this time by presenting their activities to the class. Dan called this Fedex Days or 10% time.
– to keep in mind Dan’s challenge of explaining why more, having less conversations about the what and more about the why.

Sal Khan

Sal Khan presenting at Edutech 2013

First key note down and already so much to absorb. Next key note was Sal Khan. Sal is the creator of a website Khan Academy which is a site that includes video of experts explicitly teaching common school topics. I have started to use Khan Academy in my maths class and was excited be able to hear Sal speak.
Sal was an inspiring man who spoke about his journey in setting up this website as a not for profit organisation.
Sal’s goal is to provide a free, world class educate for anyone, anywhere, shouldn’t this be all our goals?

My challenges:
– to look into the teacher accounts and set up my class
– to redesign my weekly maths lessons to include the chance for the students to work at their own pace on a maths topic using Khan and monitor any changes in attitude, understanding and confidence, especially in my ‘high flyers’ and ‘low learners’.

Ewan McIntosh Design Thinking for Genuine Epic-Scale Problem-Based Learning

Twitter Feed at Edutech 2013

I was on such a high after Sal’s inspiring speech and ready for more.
Next up was Ewan Mcintosh. Ewan’s speech complimented the morning address of Dan Pink and built on the idea of motivating students and allowing them to own their learning.
Ewan spoke about the 6 pillars of making learning interesting – the 3 R’s and 3 C’s.

Challenge – learners need to feel challenged. They need to fail and want to keep trying. Look at the way kids play video games. They always fail the first time but keep trying.

Choice – learners need to have a choice. A choice is between 3 and 20.

Collaborative – schools need to allow learners time to collaborate on things. They need to be able to talk through their ideas, gain feedback, problem solve with others and share their learning.

Respect – learners want respect for their ideas and their learning. They expect teachers to show respect for the things they do.

Responsibility – we need to let learners be responsible for their learning.

Real Life – learning needs to be real. They need to know why they are doing something and how it can make a difference to their life or the lives of others.

Ewan then went on to share ways that teachers can incorporate these pillars into their learning. He shared ideas such as making sure the learning is visible by having ‘I found it walls’  and ‘I wonder walls’ driven by the kids. My favourite idea was asking kids to think about questions as Googleable or nongooleable. Is that question a question that can be answered by google?

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I would encourage you to look at his website for more great ideas of ways to build in creativity and project based learning into your program.

My Challenges
– talk to kids about Googleable and nongooleable questions
– make sure I give kids choices
– look at the notosh website for more ideas and use these ideas to plan more creative, challenging learning

Dr Gary StagerThe Creative Technology Revolution You Can’t Afford to Ignore

The Sylvia Show

The Sylvia Show

By the time Gary Stager was due to speak it was 5:00pm and I had attended a number of workshops sessions, had a great lunch, spent time talking to a lot of exhibitors and entered every competition that I could find. After a 4:30am start the day before to catch the plane my body and mind were slowing down and I contemplated sneaking out early to go home. Boy, was I pleased I didn’t.

Gary’s message was let’s get kids creating. He spoke about the increase of Maker Fairs where people come together to make and create things. Adults work along side kids to create all sorts of things. Kids are allowed to be creative. Gary questioned if teachers are allowing this to happen in their classes. He said we need to get back to what use to happen in schools before we became driven by standards and questioned us to ask ourselves ‘How can I make the next 7 hours the best in this kids life’.

He shared with us two websites created by kids about the things that they have made: Look what Joey’s Making and The Sylvia Show. These kids are demonstrating high level, self directed learning but what happens when they go to school? Are they being allowed to continue to build their learning or being confided to the standard that the class is working on.

Gary shared the components of a good creative project:
It needs a good prompt, challenge or problem. The challenge should be short (fit on a post it note), not limited by teacher directions and not directly assessed (it either works or not).
Kids need access to appropriate materials.
They need sufficient time to master the challenge.
They need a supportive community.

Finally, he left us with this thought :

students never remember a spelling lesson but they will remember great projects that they have owned and felt successful completing.

Projects create memories.

My Challenges:
– Although I see this need to add these lessons int schools the reality of meeting the curriculum is always there. How can I incorporate these ideas into my current curriculum areas? One of my focus areas this year is the new Geography curriculum so I am going to see if I can build these ideas and Ewan’s into my geography lesson planning.
– allow more time for the kids to create (even though it is messy!!!!)

Day one ended at 6:10pm. My head was full of ideas, thoughts, questions and challenges.

Stephen Heppell – What’s The Rage For The Next Year?

My Principal should be a little scared!

Stephen Heppell spoke a lot about learning spaces and the need for students to feel like their learning space is a space they want to be in and is a creative space. Learning spaces should be fun and kids should want to be in them. They should feel an ownership of their space.

I loved a picture of a sign an a classroom door that said Welcome to the classroom of the future – currently under construction.

This idea has been bothering me for a while now. I don’t even like my classroom at the moment. It is crowded, cluttered and boring and if I feel this way then what must the kids think. My problem has been how can I change it. I now realise that I need to start with the kids. I am going to let them come up with a plan and see what happens.
A couple of points that Stephen made about budget issues hit home. Let kids design the furniture, make somethings out of cardboard, design and cut out of MBF new table tops and paint them, turn old whiteboards into table tops just to name a few. Can’t wait to talk to kids about this and see what they come out with. Do we really need chairs and tables in the classroom?

I love this picture on twitter posted by Wes Warner

– Engaged readers don’t use these!

Twitter feed by Wes Warner

Twitter feed by Wes Warner

My challenge:
– Let the kids imagine, design and create a learning space that they want to be a part of.

– Empower students, trust them and watch them learn!

Suan Yeo – Head of Education at Google
Quotes and notes from Suan’s address:image

‘You are never too young to change the world’
‘Capture the moment’
‘45% of google search queries are through mobile devices’
Education is not keeping up
‘Have classrooms really changed since 1970s?’
It’s now a five screen world – Google Glasses
Learning has to be anytime, any place.
The web is your school – go and learn!
Are we preparing our students for their future or our past!

Alan November – Implementing the flipped classroom in your school
Slide from Alan November's presentation
Alan spoke about how we should be flipping our classrooms and how flipping is one of the first new pedagogical changes in education. He asked how many schools are just using technology as $1000 pencils and how simply adding a machine does not improve performance or outcomes.
He spoke about the need for children to question more and learn how to ask good questions. He even suggested that the best homework task is to ask a question everyday.
Alan spoke highly of Eric Mazur and discussed the idea of collaborative assessment. Having students complete a test individually, then working in a group to mark and justify their answers. The group has to hand up their combined test for marking. This collaboration and having to support their answers allow students to support each other and learn from each other.
He also spoke about the need to give students the chance to learn about topics that they are interested in and find ways to engage students in what they are learning.

My challenges:
– look into kids creating how to videos to share with other classes, create their own flipped videos
– use Khan Academy more for student learning
– have a look at maths train website for kid created videos

Sir Ken Robinson – Out of Our Mind, Learning to be Creative

Sir Ken Robinson at Edutech 2013
Finally, we came to our last speaker, Sir Ken Robinson. Ken joined use via live stream from England at 2:00am his time.
Unfortunately, I did not take many notes because I was so absorbed in his talk – could have listened to him for ages.
Ken spoke about the purpose of education being economic, cultural, social and personal.
Economic because through gaining an education people are able to gain economic independence and as Ken said ‘we all want our children to be economically independent!’
Cultural because we need a board curriculum that gives weight to all areas.
Social because we need to help students engage with the world around them so that they can be active citizens.
And personal because everyone has their own interests, passions, life, etc.

However, he believes that we need to make education richer. We need to allow creativity to be a part of all students lives. Business is calling for creative people. People who can come up with new ideas, ask creative questions and build new things. He said that why businesses are asking for this education systems are focusing on standards, achieving high test results and an overloaded curriculum.

He spoke about how we can be in our element through doing things we love, being good at the things we love and being passionate.

What an amazing conference. I haven’t even included the great conversations I had on twitter and face to face, the exhibitors I spoke to or the break out sessions that I attended. It was a thought provoking and challenging two days. I have a lot of things that I would like to trial and writing this post is my way of setting the challenge to follow through with these.

For me the key messages of this conference were:
– trust the kids more
– give them a chance to actually master something and be successful
– students have to own, have choice and feel responsible for their learning

Look out on Monday kids!!

Edu-Tech 2013

Posted in ICT, Kathy Turley, professional development, Standard 2: Know the content and how to teach it, Standard 3: Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning, Standard 6: Engage in Professional Learning, Standard 7: Engage Professionally with colleagues | 9 Comments

How cybersmart are we?

Today I attended a professional development session run by ACMA on teaching cyber-safety as part of the Australian Government’s cybersmart program. The day was broken down into 4 modules: booting up, ethical online behaviours, the bottom line and plugging into the curriculum.

Booting Up

We began talking about the digital footprints that we all create and how this generations’ footprints often start before birth through parents announcing the imminent birth of their child on Facebook, sharing ultrasound photos on Instagram and messaging friends and family of the birth.

This led to the discussion about how our role as educators has changed in regards to teaching students about online safety. Five years ago the message was about protecting students from the inappropriate materials that they might see on the Internet. A common message that we all heard was the need to keep the family computer in a place where you could see what your child was doing online. Now kids have access to the Internet anywhere and everywhere, through iPods, iPads, phones and electronic game devices. We now need to assist and teach students how to self manage their behaviour and activities online. They need to learn to be good digital citizens and to take responsibility for the things they do and say online. We need to give students the opportunities to discuss the online challenges they face (formally and informally) and support students to use the different technologies and programs safely and responsibly.

We spoke in detail about the different apps that students of different ages are using, such as Club Penguin, Moshi Monsters, Facebook, KIK, tumblr, snap chat, etc. We discussed the fact that it is not the app that can be the problem but the way that it is used. I really liked this quote from Sarah Darmody on the ABC splash blog:

“You don’t need to know what a passive-aggressive hash tag looks like to ask: What did you intend that person to feel? How did it make you feel? You don’t need to understand the mechanics of a particular game to advise that spending nine hours in a row playing it is not a reasonable or balanced approach to a healthy life. Teaching young people about respect, privacy, responsibility, literacy, care for others and care for the self – that is what adults do. It’s what they’ve always done. Don’t let the pixels fool you.”

My view is that bullying, kids being irresponsible, kids making ‘silly/risky’ choices has always  happened.  The difference now is that it’s more difficult for kids to switch off from this bullying because it can be happening 24 hours a day and the risks and mistakes that young people make can be part of their digital footprints forever.

Ethical Online Behaviours

After the morning break we moved onto the second module:  Ethical Online Behaviours.  During this session we discussed the role of the school in supporting students to make ethical choices and to behave ethically online.  We discussed the need for good policies and one participant mentioned they had changed the name of their school’s Cyber Safety Agreement to a Good Digital Citizen agreement.

This discussion led onto the power of the bystander in any bullying issue.  For a number of years our school’s counselor, Karen Robinson, has talked to students at our school about the power that bystanders have to add to or to stop a bullying situation.  I really liked this video that was made as part of the Back Me Up project run by the Australian Human Rights Commission.  I am looking forward to sharing other videos from this site with my class and seeing what discussions come out of them.

The Bottom Line

After lunch, we moved onto Module 3:  The Bottom Line. During this module we discussed the legal side of cyber safety and the need to keep both students and teachers safe.  There was a lot of discussion around social media and the use of it by teachers.  Teachers need to be aware that we are in a profession were what we do in private and post online can effect our reputation as a professional and our school’s reputation.

This session included a lot of “what ifs…”  We discussed how technology has really blurred the boundaries between our private and professional life.

Plugging into the Curriculum

The final module was Plugging into the Curriculum.  Here we delved into the Australian Curriculum and how cyber safety links into the curriculum.  Cyber safety discussions need to occur when needed as well as part of the planned curriculum.  The Australian Curriculum includes seven general capabilities: literacy, numeracy, information and communication technology, critical and creative thinking, ethical behaviour, personal and social competence and intercultural understanding.  Activities teaching cyber safety and being a positive digital citizen can, and should, easily be built into all of these capabilities.

What a day!  It was an incredibly informative and thought provoking professional development session.  I now have a lot of information that I am keen to share with our staff about teaching and supporting students to become safe, good digital citizens.

Posted in Coordinator, ICT, Kathy Turley, Standard 2: Know the content and how to teach it, Standard 3: Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning, Standard 4: Create and Maintain Supportive and Safe Learning Environments, Standard 6: Engage in Professional Learning, Standard 7: Engage Professionally with colleagues | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why do I blog?

I am going to be presenting a session to teachers over the coming weeks about blogging, using blogs with their classes and using blogs professionally.  One of the topics that I was going to discuss is “Why should you blog?”  So…  why do I blog?

I have been blogging for just under a year now.  Last year I attended the CEGSA State Conference in Adelaide and was fortunate to listen to George Couros passionately talk about being a networked educator.  George has a great blog on which he regularly posts about his thoughts, ideas and questions related to using technology in education, being a digital citizen and supporting teachers and students to engage with technology.   During the conference George conducted a session about how to set up and use a blog.  This session was the push that I needed to embark on the blogging journey.

After the conference I returned home excited about the possibilities of blogging and set up both a class and a ‘professional blog’.  I returned to school eager to show the kids our class blog.

Our class blog has become a great place for the students to share what they have been doing with their families.  I discovered that although the kids ‘liked’ our blog it wasn’t until I handed over the control of the blog to the class that they really began to engage with it.  Once I let the kids be in charge of writing and sharing the posts the ‘ownership’ of the blog went from me to them.  The kids wanted to know if anyone had commented and would ask if they could write something on the blog.  They love looking at the statistics and finding out if anyone from overseas has looked at our blog, whose posts have had the most views and how many people have viewed our page.  After viewing our class statistics one day a young boy in my class commented

“I never thought that someone in England would ever read something that I had written”. 

This boy did not enjoy writing and found literacy difficult but through a blog post he was able to see a purpose for writing and realise that people (other than your teacher) do read things that you write.

My professional blog is an ongoing work in progress.  One of the biggest reasons that I blog is for reflection.  I have always loved the idea of sitting down at the end of the week and writing a journal about what I have done, what worked well and what didn’t but I never made the time to do this.  Since starting this blog I am finding that I am reflecting on my role as a teacher more.  I like working on computers and am a faster (and definitely neater) typer than I am a writer!  I have finally found the medium that works for me and allows me to keep this journal that I always wanted.

Writing a blog post after a professional development session is a great way to reflect on what you have learnt and discussed.  I find that if I reflect on PD that I am more likely to commit to implementing the training that I have attended.  A great example of reflecting on a PD session is this one written by a staff member from Port Elliot after a recent training day on reading.

I use my blog to collect and gather my thoughts.  This post has evolved from me sitting in my office thinking and making notes in my notebook about what I wanted to share with staff into something dynamic that I can easily share.  I had planned to give staff a list of reasons why I blog but now I can direct them here and they can read my personal journey and hopefully get a better understanding of why I blog and use blogs in the class.

Another reason that I blog is for my own professional record.  By blogging I have a permanent record of the training that I attend, reflections on my work, thoughts and questions, conversations that I have via comments and examples of what I do in my job.  To me this is my resume. It is an up to date, dynamic collection of my professional thoughts and views.

Where do I find the time?

I know that this will be the number one reason that people will not engage with blogging.  We are all busy with our professional life and are also trying to juggle our family and home commitments.  However, since making blogging a priority I have managed to find the time.  Usually it is after the kids have gone to bed and there is nothing on tv or even during the ads between tv shows that I am watching.  At times, I blog straight after the kids leave school before I go home.  Since making reflection a part of my job I have managed to find the time!  If it is priority you will find a few minutes.  I don’t think that every blog post needs to be an academic paper, sometimes it might just be a short post about my day, sometimes I might have spelling or typing errors (although I do try to proof read everything I put on line) and sometimes I might just put up a photo or video and reflect on that.  Blog posts are personal and there is no right or wrong – just post!

So why do I blog – for reflection, to gather my thoughts, to ask advice and as a professional record.

Why do you blog?

Posted in Blogging, Cegsa, George Couros, Standard 3: Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning, Standard 5: Provide feedback and Report on student learning, Standard 6: Engage in Professional Learning, Standard 7: Engage Professionally with colleagues | 1 Comment