Monday, October 12, 2009


The last week or so has shown how valuable 'holidays" are to all learners. An opportunity to delve into new corners and stimulate thinking, to discover and ponder, to deepen understandings through deeper reflection. This is such a glorious luxury and one of the reasons I didn't attend a conference!

We are now in our second year of an ICTPD contract, my third now and while I am delighted at progress I still have a lot of unanswered questions. It is very clear that those who are using ICTs as an add-on in their classrooms, an extra to their teaching and learning practice will not sustain their e-learning practice. A new fad will come along to replace this practice, new developments will not occur and these people will drift like the wind into the next idea.

So what is it that works in changing teacher practice? I see so many seduced by an "add-on" nature of the tools, carried away with the superficial, a focus on the teaching of the skills of ICT... and sadly they are not only classroom teachers. PD providers can also fit into this category.

What is it that changes teacher's concepts away from the superficial to the deep understanding of the "why"?!

We have just over a year left of our present contract. We have come a long way and I realise we need to remember this. Perhaps the contracts are just not long enough? Yet we can afford no excuses. We nee dot make as much difference as we can in the time we have been allotted. We have a year left to get it right! No time to waste! So what do we need to implement, carry out, research, break through, strategise over etc. in preparing for our final year?

Unfortunately add-ons are not sustained. The competitive nature of "I've got a blog/wiki etc" and the extrinsic nature of how many hits I receive will wane. Is this perhaps why so many start blogs but don't continue beyond the "lollipop high', with teachers induced by their initial foray into the use of the tools? The fact that they are an amazing collaborative, reflective learning tool for any 21st C learner just doesn't cut the mustard. Teachers become unmotivated to keep the learning blog engaging.

How can we better get the message across? How ca we ensure that people understand that it isn't the tool that contains the e-learning life force. It is the teacher!! ICT tools sustain the power. It is the teacher that engages it, snares the learning opportunity and directs it to the greatest learning source.

How can we help teachers see this? How can we get them to go beyond their present practice? How will they see ICTs as a powerful e-learning tool, an intrinsic and much needed catalyst for learning?

I work with amazing teachers, dedicated and passionate learners who are learners and teachers. We all need to be this today. Teachers who have not simply been a teacher for 15 - 30 odd years. Teachers who have been teaching for all that time. The people I work with are inspirational. Many have kept their focus throughout the contract so entirely and delightfully on the learner and the learning. So what is the package that has ensured this occurs? Why has this worked for some and not for others. Why do some stand out so brightly while others camouflage themselves so cleverly?

I'd love to capture the essence of the passionate, bottle it and then set it free as a pandemic! I wonder how many would request inoculation?

I am searching for ideas which I will gratefully receive.

We have a year to make a difference for everyone, especially our students! No exceptions.

Have you some ideas? What are the ingredients of a successful recipe?


Tricia said...

Here are some ramblings from someone who thinks that this contract is the best form of PD I have ever had in my 36 years of teaching.
I think my being afraid of all those tools when we started meant that I tended to focus on my and my children's learning first.

But then as I become more comfortable with the tools ,such as blogging (thru things like one -- on- one time with Lorraine, cluster shares, our Rellco wiki, knowing it is OK to ask for support)I began to use them to help with the learning as well.

I have spent a lot of time 'playing' with the tools - in my own time-so that my confidence has improved.

I am really comfortable about learning both alongside and from my 5 year olds- they know a lot about the tools and just expect them to be a natural part of their learning.

Some tools such as easi speak have not worked so well for me but I am ready to have another go at it for our science programme for this term. We will be using it and camera work to record and share our observations.( I like it when the tool is part of the learning plan.)

Inquiry learning has been for me the most important part of our contract. The thinking skills we are expecting from our children is what its all about. If they use the tools to record and share their thinking -fine- but its the thinking that's the main thing.

I love doing my relections of my learning on my own blog.

Lorraine said...
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Lorraine said...
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Lorraine said...
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Jody Hayes said...

Hi Lorraine,
I think that the big decider for me is tools for learning that allow for creativity and flexibility. ICT that allows us to access the ideas of others, test them against our ideas and then reflect are PRICELESS.
A bit like anything - it is important to be able to have a go with new things with a 'light touch' and see how it fits with my teaching philosophy.

Lorraine said...

Hey, thank you Tricia. These a very insightful comments. It would seem that being a learner ourselves is a critical success factor as is a passion and a desire to help children to learn themselves. These two pre-requisites coupled with strong reflective practice really do make a difference.

I wonder if we can assume that it is the same for everyone?

Lorraine said...

Hi Jody. Thank you for your insights. I remember your passion. It was so contagious :-). I wonder if it is this teaching philosophy which also needs to be discussed and shared more overtly between teachers too?

I think we are so incredibly lucky to have so many tools that can facilitate the flexibility and creativity we each need to learn, question and grow. I think these are just going to keep getting better.

I wonder too if anyone will really get left behind? Perhaps it is all just a matter of time and we should be patient or can we hurry them along in some way?

Perhaps asking questions -

- Is your classroom learning programme destined for the redundancy heap?

- Do our classrooms reflect the real world of our students beyond the school gate?

Lorraine said...

Love this quote from teachernz on twitter

"Going 2 school is like flying.U put your trust in a total stranger,sit in rows,& r told to turn off all electronic devices"

Jody Hayes said...

Thank you Lorraine for your kind comments.


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