I invited the two staff members from my school who attended #edchatNZ to contribute their reflections on the conference to my blog. Here are one of those teacher’s thoughts.
Words by Me:
I have dabbled in twitter (and Edchats) a wee bit – dropped into a few of the Thursday evening conversations about education and the recently formed English teacher’s edchat. Most of the time I’m a lurker on twitter. I appreciate that it works both ways, you need to share ideas as well as absorb them, but I’m still working on sharing the ideas I have and trying to be confident enough to let them go out to the world for anyone to see in a permanent marker. I like that twitter has links to all sorts of useful ideas for lessons and good quality thoughts on education, but sometimes it’s a little overwhelming sifting through the material; following links and having to read whole blogs in search of the gold that you are after. However, it is awesome when you do find something you can implement in class. It was hunting in twitterland that got me reading articles and finding out what Project Based Learning was, which gave me the inspiration to try something different with my Y10 class when they were studying a film last term. I’ve only tweeted a few times, I still feel rather new to it all, but the great ideas coming through on the #edchatnz ‘stream’ (is that the right word?), and Philippa’s enthusiasm, got me excited about the conference. It certainly did meet my expectations – the buzz that exudes from online chats was there; there was tangible excitement and an energy amongst the attendees. It was great to be in an environment where people were all speaking the same language, asking questions about learning and weren’t doing it because they were supposed to, rather because they wanted to be there.
The conference was also like a twitter ‘feed’ in that it was stacked full of useful ideas and thoughts and suggestions for teaching and learning, but instead of scrolling down or searching for something using a hashtag, you looked at the program on the wall which told you where the next interesting session would be, or you talked to someone after or during their session. You also immediately had in-depth conversations about education in general, or the future of education with other teachers. There was very little small talk. In the car ride to conference each day, my friend and I, quite naturally, found ourselves discussing our positions on this idea of change in education and considering our views on what a teacher’s role is, in quite philosophical ways. For me, this doesn’t often happen in staffroom conversations or with other teaching friends. Because the content of the conference was stimulating, it prompted big picture discussions and got me thinking again about my own beliefs when it comes to the purpose of education.
I came away inspired. This was by a number of things; by the style and layout of Hobsonville Point School, by ideas that make lessons appealing and relevant for students, by the responsibility we have to teach students the skills that will best equip them for their jobs and adult life – I’m sure they will be working with stuff that I can’t imagine (even when I’m trying to be super random). When I turned up on Friday, I was unsure about whether we needed to change in our thinking about how we approach education, but after seeing a 3D printer in action (it was creating a chocolate treat) and being gob-smacked about how it seems like only a few years ago they were something that only scientists had access to, it reinforced my idea that the time ahead of us is going to continue to be mind-blowing and weird, when it comes to the impact technology will have on our lives. Our students are going to be the ones who know how to go, “Okay, cool, we can try and figure this out and make it work.” Rather than, “What? Really? That’s epic! What will they think of next?” (My default phrase). I even found myself questioning the role of exams. I love exams. But I also understand that a lot of knowledge is available online (and many other places) and that if you are learning about something that you are passionate about, can see the relevance in, and personally invested in, you probably don’t need an exam to force you to learn about it or remember it (yes, I know,…in theory). It’s cool that we get to decide how this education thing will roll out for us. I’m taking teensy baby steps, but they are getting more bouncy thanks to edchatNZ’s inaugural (used deliberately here) conference.