Monday, October 29, 2007

Holding a Mirror to our Professional Practice

Holding a Mirror to our Professional Practice the K12 Online Conference keynote by Derek Wenmoth is a thought-provoking presentation. He says that "mirrors provide a reflection of ourselves" and that we need to provide a reflection of the way we behave.

He talks about how we need to change our practice - and need to reflect - but we need enough teachers to do this to get change. It is only through reflecting that we can see if our espoused theory is actually being put into practice. In New Zealand they began a cluster-based PD program. They had money for PD activities and schools had apply in clusters. Teachers tried to get ICT into their program -
questions: What is effective integration of technology
How can we ensure it has educational value?
What is educational value?
People picked up many new technology uses - but is it making a difference?
We need to reflect to see if what we are intending to happen is happening and is it working.
He and his colleagues have developed a tool to assess teaching and learning with ICT in classrooms and results are reported as a map.
He talks about examining why you are introducing tools - what are the educational intentions and then reflecting on whether or not those educational intentions are being met. He says that reflection requires time, challenge and mentors for it to be truly helpful. Then it is important that teachers share what they have discovered. New Zealand's e-fellows - teachers released for close to a year to reflect on their practice, to share with the other e-fellows and thus expand on their thinking allows them to grow and then go back to their schools and help others grow. The teachers involved talked about how important the interacting with other teachers was for them. "The collaboration with others that really has broadened my depth of knowledge and taken me out of my comfort zone." one of the teachers said. This reinforces the idea that learning is social. We need to transfer that idea to the classroom.

They talked about how using ICT in the classroom and how their pedagogy changed - that the classroom was more collaborative. Sharing ideas is valuable for reflection on practice. Technology allows for this kind of sharing.

He asks
What are the mirrors you are holding to your professional practice?
I have started to blog - though sporadically. I am getting braver and am publicizing when I post. I keep saying to teachers - that we need to model risk-taking and this has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone.

Who are the mentors that you relate to?
I have to say that my online community is growing, especially through being part of Webcast Academy. I can twitter questions, write in my blog and share it, skype my professional colleagues. I am fortunate to be part of an organization with people who want to share and reflect.

What is the professional reading that you do?
I read a number of blogs - though inconsistently. I appreciate recommendations from my online community and have been directed to some powerful posts. I have been "reading" the K12 Online conference - slowly but attentively.

What communities of practice do you belong to (online or f2f)

Where do you record your ideas and reflections - blog?

What RSS feeds do you subscribe to and with whom do discuss them?

When did you last visit another classroom?

When did you last present a workshop (to a staff meeting or conference) expose your practice

I won't answer all the questions here - but will come back to them for myself. How can we inspire teachers to reflect on their practice and see themselves as lifelong learners?

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