I just watched it last night and felt compelled to blog in reply. At the end of his presentation he asks us a number of questions to help us reflect on our personal growth and professional practice as teachers. Here are my reflections to the mirror that he holds up…
How do I hold a mirror up to my professional practice?
I tend to be my own harshest critic. I set high standards for myself and tend to throw myself into my passions- I believe of the need to teach children how to be get on with each other and to collaborate to learn and actively seek opportunities for them to do so. I try to model this behaviour both personally and on-line.
Who are the mentors that I relate to on a regular basis? Who provides feedback for me on my teaching?
Sadly I feel that we, as teachers, still teach within the four walls of our classrooms. I get regular feedback on my teaching practice from the 25 cherubs who regularly give me feedback on their preferences! Over my teaching career I have been fortunate enough to teach with a couple of exemplary leaders and mentors- Harold Bailey, now retired of Roslyn School and Barry Williams, presently teaching at Huntley Boys. These men believed totally in helping children learn and led their staff with vision and passion.
What professional reading do I do to keep up?
Apart from subject specific reading my professional reading is done on-line through the blogs that I follow that challenge and affirm what I try to do in my classroom- Will Richardson, Miguel Guhlin, Ewan McIntosh, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Greg Carroll. To some degree also these people are the ones that I look up to- they don’t know it but they are the people that lead me to thinking the way that I do because of their brave outlook on the change in pedagogy that is needed for 21st century learners. I am a follower in their wake.
What communities of practice do I participate in?
Apart from the very supportive teachers in my own school and a few other nearby teachers my communities of practice are global- mainly via Twitter, Skype and blogging conversations. I have been invited into a couple of Ning communities but for some reason cannot connect at home and Ning is blocked at school.
What RSS feeds do I follow?
I follow 136 RSS feeds with Bloglines grouped into folders- podcasts, class blogs, children’s blogs, NZ edublogs, UK, USA, Aussie blogs, family blogs and Tech blogs. If you are at all interested you can view my RSS feeds here.
When did I last visit someone else’s classroom and reflect on their practice?
It is sad to say that it has been quite some time since I have been in other teacher’s classrooms while they have been teaching. I do from time to time peer in people’s windows and do what I call ‘industrial espionage’- look for cool ideas that I can see in other people’s rooms. I need to get out more and see what others are doing. Our ICTPD cluster did facilitate a tour of a couple of other schools in Term Two which was great but for me didn’t lead anywhere particularly- probably because I didn’t teach last term and now the momentum has gone.
When did I last share some of my learning with others?
This is something I am proud to say I have done quite a bit of this year- Learning at School, TUANZ, ULearn07 and with our ICTPD cluster. I also try to make myself available to help people on line through email, Skype, Twitter, Hotmail and face-to-face if possible. I will miss this facet of my practice next year as attendance at these conferences will be harder now that we have finished the final year of the contract. Anyone want to sponsor me? I would love to go to NECC!
On re-reading this post it all seems to be about me. Maybe it is but please take the time to listen to Derek’s presentation. It will be time well spent.
I would be interested to read your reflections on the questions that Derek posed…