The Connected Educator – #savmp

When I got the job of an elementary computer lab teacher in Victoria School District 61, my first step was to connect with a few great computer lab teachers in our district. Since the position was part time, I was able to go visit Breafoot Elementary School and talk to Darryl Beck, as well as visit John Weston at Macaulay Elementary during school hours. I asked them all the questions I could think of at the time, observed their classes in action, and took frantic notes. These experiences significantly helped me design and implement how I was going to design the website for the computer lab program at George Jay Elementary. Since then,  I have shared my computer lab program with a number of classroom teachers around the district and computer teachers across the world as a resource, example or template.  (There are now 3 computer lab programs in our district that have used my template to run their own separate computer programs – Northridge Elementary, Craigflower Elementary, and George Jay Elementary ).

My point is that I needed to make connections with other educators to show me the ropes, and to support, challenge, and inspire me. Now in my first week of school, I have reached out to many colleagues within and outside my district to show me the ropes. Connecting with other educators remains at the heart of what I do and it should for all educators as part of their development of their PLN.

#edcamp36

Last week I traveled to Surrey School District 61 #edcamp36 with Dr. Valerie Irvine from Uvic. She has been connecting me with educators, vendors, and leaders in the arena of educational technology integration. I had the pleasure of meeting and asking a million questions of Tia Henrikson (@TiaHenriksen), Victoria Olson (@MsVictoriaOlson) and Hugh Macdonald (@hughtheteacher) in regards to school district leadership in our province. I collected resources, blogs, Twitter handles, ideas, systems, and stories from many other educators at the conference. And as you can see, the Professional Development sessions offered a wide range of topic beyond edtech, integration, and technology.

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But the most valuable piece that I took from the day was the connections I made with a wide variety of educators.

As a door prize winner, I selected the book “The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age” because I recognized many of the reviewers that include Alec Couros (@courosa), Bill Ferriter (@plugusin), and Kathy Schrock (@kathyschrock)Prize Table

The book builds on the premise that educators can be better digital connected, but that most don’t know how to get there. The book is filled with resources, blogs, contact, and tools filled with the why and how to use social media quickly and effectively to build their PLN.

My Goal:

An overaching goal for my position as “Coordinator of Educational Technology” is to design, build, implement, and facilitate new ways that teachers and administrators can connect digitally with each other to build their PLN. The use and growth of my PLN has significantly improved my teaching practice so convincingly that I need others to feel the impact of growth as well.  I plan to design blog systems, social media systems, workshops, sessions, and grants under the need for educators to develop their PLN. It has been the brainstorming of my week.

In order to build the appropriate PLN of teachers in our district I am looking at school districts all over the world for systems and design. I still have so many design questions, I am collecting the most relevant examples (on this public page  – https://daveshortreed.com/pln/school-district-61/), and will be translating these systems to the learning culture that exists in School District 61. It is going to be the challenge of my year.

Please feel free to add any ideas or thoughts below.  Much appreciated.

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Starting Off Right #savmp

As educators, we are in the industry of building relationships and developing functioning levels of mentorship. I love being involved in mentorship at all levels – mentor, colleague, and mentee– for many reasons. But one of the main reasons is the learning relationships that develop surrounding from these mentoring levels.  Any moment I am able to share, discover, or learn something new with someone else is life giving and exciting. Sharing is at the core of why I am an educator.  So why would I hold anything back? Giving time, energy, and resources is an integral piece for me to develop new relationships and it is a part of my everyday life that reaches far beyond my career as an educator.

Give and Take

As my summer read, I was recommended to read the book “Give and Take” by Adam Grant by a good friend of mine,  Jamie Hubick. It has been the best read for me since Malcolm Gladwell‘s or Seth Godin’s written work, and I strongly recommend it. Grant’s book is about a new approach to success which particularly focusses on the impact of how we interact with others. Many of his ideas have reinforced how I think about relationship building and colleague interaction. Grant’s premise, which is based on compelling true stories, his own research, and others research, is that there are three kinds of people in the world: givers, takers, and matchers. Most interestingly, he shows through stories and research that it is the givers who are the least successful and who are also the most successful. Matchers and takers often end up in the middle. To keep this blog post short, I will leave the term ‘successful’ for now including the meaning, description, and definition.  As an example, Grant tells a story of a student who is a giver and helps all his classmates study for a test at the sacrifice of his own knowledge gain. In another example, Grant tells the story of a writer who continually gives credit, elevates, and encourages everyone around him, remains anonymous and continues to be a driving force for the successful cartoon series The Simpsons.

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Teachers interact with students and colleagues in an extension of their identity, motivations, insecurities, and perceptions. Grant proposes that is it how you frame your interactions that is more important than your talent, hard work, passion, and luck. As he writes in his book:

“Every time we interact with a another person at work, we have a choice to make: do we try to claim as much value as we can, or continue value without worrying about what we receive in return.”  

This statement can identify the difference in either being a giver, taker, or matcher as a measure and insight into the motivation of the person in the interaction. I believe in being a giver. I try to continually offer help and support, resources and workshops, expertise and credit to the people around me. As an educator, I want to be a giver because it seems that the more I share,  the more I learn. And I don’t see this slowing down.

So what does it look like to start off right? Be a giver. But it is much more complex than just ‘being a giver’. It all depends on what, when, how and with who to share. And in the balance, also provide space to be a listener. In order to usefully share with colleagues, mentors, and mentees, take the time to listen, collect insight, and ask a lot of questions.  Listening provides space for needs to be identified. And it is in the identification of needs where the problem solving can begis. But at this point, with my new job, I still need to ask where to park my truck. In many ways, I have a long way to go.

Why I am an educator – #savmp

As part of being involved in #savmp, the School Admin Virtual Mentor Program, I have been asked to reflect on one of two questions: Why do I lead? or Why I am an educator?  I have chosen the second question because at this point, being fresh into a leadership position in my school district, I am still in the design stage of the structure and systems surrounding my position.

Introduction:

The last three years I was a computer lab teacher in two elementary schools in Victoria, BC, Canada. My focus began in establishing a computer lab program and website for K-5 students, where I provided a digital space for students to explore, create, and re-create. My position quickly grew to using iPads in literacy classrooms when the school district purchased them for our school. I began sharing a blog, networking with other teachers with a similar position, and sharing my new findings and resources with colleagues. Just recently, I became an employee at the district as an Educational Technology Co-Ordinator. The job change entails even more learning, researching, connecting, and sharing with colleagues and students. I will be focusing on connecting with colleagues and supporting pedagogy and use of new tools in the classroom. Greater Victoria School District 61 has recognized the needs that many of my colleagues in the district were identifying: the need for a greater support regarding the use of technology in the classroom. Hopefully, with my position, I will be heading straight towards this need while problem solving and growing throughout the whole process to find solutions and systems that work.

Curiosity

Why am I an Educator?

I am an educator first and foremost because I love to learn. I am curious about all things and I love to investigate, problem solve, and creatively search for solutions. I am consistently searching out answers to things that I don’t know, or the history of buildings and cities, or natural world, or why people are the way they are.  Even as I write this blog post, a million questions are flying through my mind about this coming year, this position, this blog, and the new people I get to connect with and meet.

I am an educator also because I love people. I love developing new relationships with people and finding out what makes them tick. I love encouraging others to act in their gifting and to help people.  I love being a mentee, and I love being able to mentor and share with others. There is nothing more rich than a relationship that causes insight, reflection, and discovery of who I am as a person. I see how I am personally involved in my professional life, how there is an overlap, and how there is a disconnect. Ultimately, I see how education is based around learning relationships, mentorship, and professional learning network development.

In order to properly answer the original question, I came to reflect on the core values of my educational philosophy. Although this will always be a work in progress. Here are a few values/goals of my educational philosophy:

–       instill and restore a curiosity of the unknown for students

–       create spaces in school for students to imagine, create, and innovate

–       inspire a motivation to learn, explore and challenge

–       motivate to build relationships and engage in the various mentorship levels

–       support in learning and provide insight into who we are

–       prepare students with skills required in our 21st century world

–       challenge how education is shaped and help innovate new directions for schools

In closing, one particular person I want to acknowledge in this blog post is George Couros. I am so thankful for him and how he has set up the #savmp. I recognize how he is responding to a need in education, and the creative pairing of the need with the new ability to connect and mentor online across the world. Also, of the hundreds of educators involved in the mentor/mentee system #savmp, I am feeling thankful, excited, and nervous to be one of the three mentees that mentor George Couros has chosen.

Any thoughts?