The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is a knowledge of our own ignorance

– Ben Franklin

This week saw us launch into the second of eleven portion-sized teaching and learning experiences for this Term. Now I don’t know about your school, but so far it’s felt like each week has been packed full of several weeks’ worth of conversations, preparations, learnings, challenges and obstacles in just five days. Typical school life right?

I am loving my new position as it gives me the chance to sit down with staff – as I have done more frequently this week – and talk about pedagogy, learning and how technology can support both. We’ve chatted about online collaboration, we’ve debated the battle of ICT infrastructure v innovation in the classroom, we’ve talked about possibilities and growth. It’s challenging, but stimulating.

In amongst the eLearning side, I’ve started to develop better relationships with my classes. Admittedly I only have a small teaching load because of the other role, but still it’s a struggle to learn names quickly and really get to know the kids as people as well as students. I don’t often see my classes two days in a row because we run on a 7 period timetable (1×45 followed by three ‘doubles’ of 1.5 hrs) so with all the craziness that happens between them – and no photo class lists to go by…. though I did mean to get a Yearbook. Job for Monday….I must learn better strategies to remember names.

Having said that my students have basically now taken me on as part of the school’s furniture. More questions and discussions are offered, more help requested. I take that as a sign that they are getting comfortable with me as Collaborator in Chief. I’m even reducing the amount I talk in each lesson. (Though I have to say, 1.5 hour lessons has a wide chasm of temptation for lecture-loving educators!)

Inspired by a colleague who set up fantastic Edmodo groups in her classes, we started using Edmodo this week in Year 10 and Year 12 as a way to connect without needing to use our Portal which is a bit haphazard (don’t worry, I’m on it) especially since they all have smartphones and that means we can start to play with mobile learning possibilities. I’m just now imagining that we could actually record a class discussion or have them submit feedback on an exhibition while we’re still there…hm…

Also this week saw some TeachMeet ( related achievements with Alice Leung from Merrylands HS in Sydney organising to meet at Taronga Zoo for an Australian Curriculum (AC) Science focused TeachMeet. We’ll be meeting with the Education team and seeing which date is best. So far we’ve organised an AC History TeachMeet at the State Library of NSW and AC English TeachMeet with the Sydney Theatre Company (yet to sort out dates for that one). Maths is yet to be organised. We’re just trying to get a whole bunch of teachers together to nut out and share many ideas on how to redesign what we do as the new curriculum rolls in to NSW. I think it’s a great opportunity to talk about what is possible rather than what we can pull out from old folders and reuse.

I also had confirmation that I am accepted into a Master of Research (replacing the Honours year at Macquarie University and similar to a Master of Philosophy degree) in which I will hopefully learn the research skills necessary to undertake a study of models (or lack thereof) of ICT implementation in secondary schools in Australia and around the world. I’d love to be able to see if there are any patterns of success or if basically every school must start from scratch and how exactly to help them do so.

A board meeting with the ICT Educators of NSW led to interesting discussions and planning for 2013 and will bear fruit in the near future if I’m able to assist in developing the association above and beyond what they do. We’ve already started making connections to other associations such as the History Teachers’ Association of NSW, with whom we are intending to facilitate an ICT-focus stream of workshops in tandem with their always valuable content, skill and pedagogical workshops.

The highlight of the week though was taking a group of 20 students on a historical walking tour of the city of Sydney. We walked from St Mary’s Cathedral down Macquarie Street (via several historical landmarks) and through the busy CBD up to the Rocks beneath the Harbour Bridge and back to Circular Quay. A great day was had, beautiful weather prevailed and the kids even reluctantly admitted they learned something.

It was actually great to have students walking through the streets with the time to observe and think about what had been built and preserved in their own city. So often we walk briskly past history without having the time to absorb it. Also, it was fantastic that those girls who had already been to some of the sites could share their knowledge with the others. I might have been the tour guide for the day, but it was a shared learning experience all the same.

A view from one stop on our walking tour of Sydney.
A view from one stop on our walking tour of Sydney.

So I hope I have partly achieved my overarching professional goal of connecting teachers (and students) with great ideas, great colleagues and great ways to develop their use of ICT in the classroom and valuable learning more generally. Every day I’m learning that there is an exponential amount more to learn and that I will never catch up, only do my best to surf the wake of time.

Our Year 12s chose ‘Wisdom’ as their central theme for the year, and I think it’d a noble aim for all of us.