This week has been my first full week at my new school (well…including a public holiday on Monday..which I think should be instituted for every first week of school term).
It will take me much longer than four days to adjust to new policies and processes, new faces and personalities, but it stuns me how very quickly I have come to settle in my new school. There are a few reasons that I can draw upon to explain this but I wish to talk about enthusiasm and the people who generate it.
First and foremost is the enthusiasm and warm welcome from my new colleagues. They have been very kind and very patient with me, often coming into my office for a chat or a vent or just to see how I’m going. There is no real way to measure how essential this must be to all new people – to make connections with their peers as soon as possible. The same thing goes for my students. Though I don’t yet know all their names for sure, the young women at St Scholastica’s seem to walk in the school gates and simply accept that daily contract whereby they are at the place to engage and learn. Not always in a feverish or overwhelmingly active way, but enough to give you the chance to lay the path for learning with them.
My new colleagues have already bombarded me with various ICT-related questions from why particular equipment (that I haven’t used before or even seen) doesn’t work all the way through to strategic questions on the vision for ICT at the school. I’ve had conversations about pedagogy. I’ve had conversations about student engagement. I’ve had conversations about professional development and the workings and nature of groups such as AITSL and the Institute of Teachers. I’ve had conversations about tech-supported alternatives to traditional forms of teaching and learning. So far, these conversations have been constructive and based on a genuine desire to engage with technology.
There will be stumbling blocks, as there are in any school, to the effective and ubiquitous use of technology to enhance and support teaching and learning. However, I firmly believe that:
a) most schools who develop and enact a plan of ICT implementation – with appropriate funding and urgency – will succeed in opening up opportunities for teachers and students to engage in contemporary learning experiences; and
b) most teachers are absolutely keen on trying out technology if someone they trust can demonstrate the potential value of such technology to their students’ learning.
My school will be undergoing great chance in this area in the next few years, but already some teachers – our early adopters – are taking on the challenge to utilise the amazing array of pedagogical tools and strategies available online. One particular enthusiast is now obsessed with Edmodo, and her class seems to enjoy and be utilising it to great effect. Now I can’t claim much kudos for getting that idea going as she had already looked into it, I just gave her a nudge. But, in a few weeks, if the process is paying off we might be able to demonstrate that success to others and start that very effective type of growth: from within, based on the power of enthusiasm.
For my colleagues at other schools, I hope your first week was not only stressful and a bit haphazard as everything settles down, but also rewarding and a reflection of why you choose to do what you do.