Sunday, 30 October 2016

Learning Transparently

I have to admit that the reason it has been so long since my first post is because I have been avoiding it. I have been at the Eastern Google Summit this weekend. It is a whole weekend of amazing geeky professional development.

Our  keynote speaker yesterday was Jeffery Heil @jheil65. He spoke to us about being transparent with our learning. He asked us to think about what our core beliefs are, our "What ifs," and what would look like if our core beliefs informed our daily activities.

So the night after the first session I went home and brainstormed about my "What ifs." My brainstorming revealed that I have many "What ifs." Two of them that stuck out were: "we are all learners" and that "our true strength lies in taking risks, being vulnerable, and sharing our journey/ process with others."

Jeffery shared a quote:

When you learn transparently you become a teacher.
                                                               -George Siemens 

I thought a lot about this quote after the first day of the Google Summit. When I was a student did I see my teachers learning transparently? What does this look like? Do I see this around me now in my profession as a teacher? The more I reflected on it the more I realized that I am nervous to share my professional reflections with a global audience. Why? I'm not quite sure. What am I nervous about? Judgement? Making mistakes in a very public way? Yes...but isn't this exactly what we ask of our students? We ask our students to take risks every day. I ask them to do that in a second language--French! Imagine the nervousness that they must be feeling.

This thinking got me wondering....although confidence is essential for anyone in a leadership position--perhaps making their learning visible is equally important?! I wonder if part of our job as leaders in the classroom, or at a system professional development level is to share our learning, our mistakes, and our journeys. I have seen leaders do something out of their comfort zone; however, they don't often voice the fear. I wonder how many of us do this as teachers? I wonder why we don't voice it to our colleagues? What would it look like if we were vulnerable learners?  I don't know if that term exists--but maybe it should --"vulnerable learners" meaning that we take the risk of not being perfect, of being afraid, and voicing the fear, and doing it anyways!!

Another quote that Jeffrey shared was:

Fail often. Fail bravely. Fail publicly.

I'll be honest with you. I have been nervous--of sharing my true thoughts about educational philosophy or education in general, and getting judged somehow. My learning journey is always evolving. What I think today may change years from now. In fact, much of how I teach has changed dramatically--as a result of me taking risks. Where would I be if I had not taken risks, been afraid, and done it anyways? I'm not sure, but I'm grateful for all of the learning that I have done thus far...and the journey goes on.

So now I'm thinking: maybe our students need us to voice our fear. Maybe our students need us to share the gritty part of the learning journey, because they think they're all alone in their fear. Maybe it's really our job to remind them! Maybe their mindsets will never change unless we show them what resilience looks like. Ultimately playing it safe doesn't help you grow, but taking risks is uncomfortable.

Maybe bravery/ courage is another one of the competencies for 21st Century learners. Perhaps it is the most important one. The competency that informs all of the other competencies. Perhaps our 21st Century learners won't have a shot at demonstrating other competencies if they aren't brave first.
Maybe bravery is really where it's at for all learners. Courage will look different on different days for different people. But the transparency that Jeffery spoke about is key.

So...even though I'm nervous to be so open and share my journey publicly, I am going to choose to be afraid and do it anyways! I will be an educational blogger who shares the gritty part of my learning. Some may judge and some might not, but I will be learning and sharing my growth along the way. I will show my students that I'm willing to put "my money where my mouth is". I will take risks just like I ask them to take risks. We will all be uncomfortable learners at times, but we will all be learning.
Hopefully seeing me take that leap will give them inspiration to take a leap with their own learning, and I believe that learning will provide them with a competency that no textbook will ever be able to help them hone.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Taking the plunge

So George Couros' book The Innovator's Mindset has finally lured me into creating my own educational blog. I have been contemplating it for years, but there were always excuses, always reasons why it wasn't the right time. After starting this fabulous book, I have come to the conclusion that the fear isn't necessarily going to go away--I just need to take the plunge.

My Superintendent has a quote in her office: "Students will not take risks unless their teachers take risks" (or something very close to that). I have been thinking about that quote lately.  I expect my students to take risks in my Core French classes everyday. I expect them to challenge themselves to speak in another language, risk making mistakes, and have the courage and the confidence to be proud of themselves for trying, for daring to go out on a limb and learn. Given that, I don't have a good excuse to avoid taking risks, especially in a leadership position.

This year I have started a new adventure as a K-12 FSL, ELL, and Literacy Coach as well as being a Core French teacher for 2 classes / day.  Once I took the plunge to apply for this new job--to face the nerves and do it anyways, I've become more comfortable with being nervous and doing something anyways. Being perfect is not a prerequisite for students, teachers, or leaders in general for that matter. 

Learning is the key. That is what it is really all about--not knowing everything, but rather having the nerve to be a real leader--someone who is willing to take a risk and share what real strength is all about. It's not about perfection, but rather about sharing real learning with others. It involves mistakes, being open to changing our perceptions, and taking risks. Learning can be a messy business.

I am grateful for the challenges that this book has already inspired me to do, and I'm really looking forward to delving into this book more, and learning from and with a lot of other people all around the world. 

To be truthful--I'm still working on the first chapter. Perhaps tomorrow I will be able to share more reflections about that.