"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Monday, 24 June 2013

Can you keep up with technology?

Image by smikeymikey1 at Big Stock Photos
I don't know about you but there have been some days lately when I wish I had another 5 hours in the day. Whilst we all appear to be screaming down the fast lane of life there is no reason why we can't enjoy the ride. For some people technology is a drag and something that is time consuming and unimportant but I find it fun and refreshing because there is always something new. Today I attended a professional development course to learn how to use the video editing software Adobe Premier Elements 11 and I sat next to a teacher librarian from a rural public school. He has only three years to go until retirement and he is totally immersed in technology. He teaches and encourages his students to be creative and play with technology and to use it to laugh and have fun. He is enthusiastic about his students even after 37 years of teaching and I was totally inspired by his attitude. 

Having spoken with quite a lot of teachers over the past few years face to face and via social media there seems to be 3 common themes that seem to be emerging for me out of these conversations. 

1. You need to use the tools you learn. You build upon skills as each new technology comes out and you adapt and develop the skills. 

2. It's OK to make mistakes. The great thing about computers and apps is that it's very hard to break them. (Unless of course your 7 year old comes out of his room with his doona over his head pretending to be a ghost and knocks your laptop off the table and smashes the screen!!) It's really important to play with new technology. There have been times when I have had students try and use technology and it has been more of a hindrance rather than a help. You have to be flexible enough to know when to quit and try something else. Shared learning experiences between teachers and students is beneficial both ways.  

3. There is a desire to share that has arisen through access to technology and the internet and classrooms are no longer isolated and insular but are part of a greater more global education community.  There will always be someone who takes your ideas and try to claim them as their own. Unfortunately that is the world we live in. The wonderful thing with social media and Professional Learning Networks that has arisen from social media is that there is a lot of sharing and giving of ideas and resources that comes from a selfless attitude and desire to help all students. As a profession teachers have always been generous with their time, intellectual property and experience and this is why teachers in their thousands are joining social media at a fast and growing rate. 
Image by PixelsAway at Big Stock Photos

So the question begs, can you keep up with technology? I think you can. You don't to spend a lot of money on gadgets and things to stay abreast of what is happening with technology and education in Australia and around the world. There are so many free education sites and apps that you would be hard pressed to say it's too hard to find out what's going on with education. We may be a big island in the ocean but Australia is far from isolated in terms of pushing quality teaching and learning. 

Teachers have been getting a rather bad wrap lately but if you look at the wealth and success of the banking industry, mining and tourism industries to name a few we are leading the world in these sectors and driving change and innovation. Our education system has a large part to play in this as the majority of the work force is made up of Australians who have been educated in Australia. We are no dummies and we are hard workers and through dedicated teachers and their desire to engage students in learning we need to celebrate those who drive and strive to adapt and use technology in their classrooms to teach, learn and skill the next generation. 

Image by PixelsAway at Big Stock Photos
For thousands of years teachers have taught students how to instruct, persuade, engage, inform and entertain
those they are communicating with using a variety of methods and skills and this technology generation is no different. After today's post PD thinking I have come to realise that it doesn't matter how old you are but whether or not you have the right attitude to learn and adapt to new technology. Yet again I come home from a Professional Development day fired in the belly to be creative and give my students the tools they need to be life long learners. Technology changes are fast and ever changing and I try and keep up one app, one piece of software or hardware at a time. You don't have to use everything but it never hurts to give it a go. 

Until next week,

Friday, 14 June 2013

Time to be bold and courageous

After a few really hard few weeks I feel I have climbed a mountain and am sitting at the top enjoying a brief moment with the wind in my hair and the crisp air filling my lungs before I trek down the mountain again. I have been so thrilled this week with the standard of work that has been handed to me and I am filled with goosebumps and butterflies for my students as they hand in their final assessments for their courses. I love this time of term when you can see such growth in their learning and I love the new confidence many of them have as a result of studying at TAFE for 6 or 12 months. For some it has been a life changing event and I am so grateful to have shared in their journey. 

Image by ABC radio
On Wednesday night I had the pleasure of attending the Central Coast Friends Association mid year dinner with guest speaker Dr Michael Davey. He was one of the best speakers I have heard in a long time and I could have listened to him for hours. He had the audience in the palm of his hand and inspired us with stories about his life and his teaching experiences. He has written a wonderful book, Journey of Hope that I purchased on the night and hope to read in the coming weeks. It is his life story that highlights his harsh and horrible life in foster homes and then living in a violent family to his incredible life journey as an adult. I came away from the night truly inspired. 

It was during the night I was able to connect with some teachers and educators that were really excited and encouraged about my plans to organise Teach Meet. I was so encouraged and realised that in order to make it happen I need to bold and courageous. I need to make connections and build networks and share my love of learning with others who are like minded. I know there are many teachers out there who also share my love of teaching and passion for learning and I seek to connect and join with them. I have been crippled by the fear of failure in the past but in order to move forward I must be bold and courageous in my attempt to make it happen. 

In the last few weeks my work opportunities have opened up and I'll let you in on them in the coming weeks. A few weeks ago I was a guest presenter on an online course with the Western Institute of TAFE and it was my great pleasure to share with them how I use technology to engage my students in learning. I really enjoy presenting in an online capacity and would really like to do more of this. 

My cup is overflowing with the wonderful blessings God has passed my way and I am very grateful for the life I have. I thank all my wonderful colleagues and friends who encourage me to write on my blog and I hope many of them will come to Teach Meet or help promote it those who can make it. 

Favorite sites for the week:

Coach's Eye- annotate live video. Cool tool

What a great week. Until next week,

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Sharing, A spirit of generosity

There are many things that I love about teaching but one of them is this great spirit of generosity that many teachers possess and they feel they can share their experience and their resources with others. I am pleased to announce the inaugural Central Coast TeachMeet  that will take place on Friday night 26th July. 

Last year I blogged about the first Teach Meet I attended in Sydney. It was the first Teach Meet in Australia and it was amazing. There were many teachers who gave of their time to share what had been happening in their classrooms and schools and encourage other teachers to use their ideas and develop them further. There was not a sniff of snotty intellectualism that sometimes pervades our professional but a shared love of learning and encouraging students to develop in their creativity, confidence and skills. There was a great representation from both the private and the public sector. No wonder it has taken off throughout the rest of the country. I really hope this will be a wonderful night of sharing and celebration of Central Coast teachers and students. 

I am looking for teachers who would like to share a 2 min or 7 min presentation on a topic of their choice.It doesn't have to be how you are using technology in your classroom, it could be how a particular technique you used helped students or how do you help students cope with the fear of failure. You might like to tell us about an event that your school hosted or participated in.

 I am hoping to advertise this event widely but will need the help of all my social media friends and colleagues. I do hope this becomes a buzz event for the Central Coast as we seek to provide quality educational opportunities for the young people of the Central Coast. 

I am very excited about this night and I hope I won't be the only one there. Central Coast Teachers have a lot to give and share and I hope it will be a wonderful night. 

Please contact me if you would like to come or share something that is happening in your Tafe, uni or school classroom:


Register for Central Coast Teach Meet

Until next week,