In past posts I have outlined the extensive work George Couros is doing with us in Winnipeg School Divison. On May 9th he returned to lead 2 inspiring sessions that encouraged all to reflect, share and be learners themselves in the area of innovation in education. He shared insight into The Innovator’s Mindset and how each of these characteristics can support positive change in driving learning in our schools. He focused on the importance of relationships, making connections and learning together. He reminded us how innovative teachers and teaching can be transformative in not only engaging our students but empowering them as learners. It was an inspirational time and a momentous occasion for WSD, as all 2500 educators came together over the course of the day.
In the continued work George Couros is also doing with the WSD Innovative Teaching & Learning Leaders (ITLLs) from each school, the week also brought a new initiative. Building on the collaborative reflective blog project they had started in March, this time the ITLL’s began their own own personal, online portfolio. You can read more about that project on George Couros’ blog post, The Power of the Process. The ITLL’s embraced this new challenge and ran with it. You can see the beginnings of their work here on the WSD: Educational Blogs from Our Community site. Framed around the WSD Principles of Learning , these teachers began the important work of representing themselves as learners in their own personal learning portfolio, using this online forum. The ITLLs have used their blogging to explore topics such as; what innovation looks like and could look like in their current reality as a teacher, the use of social media in classrooms and as a professional learning network, student as creator vs. consumer, barriers to innovative practice, flexible seating, personalized learning opportunities and the natural integration of technology into core subject areas to name a few. Each of their reflections is anchored in connections to the Principles of Learning. The digital portfolio is meant to be a place of reflection and the intention if for it to serve as both a growth, and showcase portfolio down the road.
Why? Well, if we are going to ask our students to be reflective and put themselves in a learning stance, we need to model that thinking. If we are going to one day encourage our students to share their work in their own online portfolio, in turn contributing to their positive digital footprint…we as educators, need to intimately understand that process first. We need to lead by example for the students we serve, for our colleagues and for our ourselves as we reflect and continuously push our own thinking and doing, moving forward to do the best we can for our learners.
Peter Drucker said, “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action”. Change can only occur with action. Valuable and effective change can only prevail with thoughtful reflection on that action. For our ITLLs this is an opportunity to take that quiet reflection and give it a voice.
The WSD ITLLs have done an exemplary job throughout both the collaborative blog and portfolio building processes. As their portfolios take shape, each page is as unique and creative as are each of them as individuals. Of course they are dabbling with learning all the practical pieces and how to’s in Edublogs… how to change their themes, how to add pages, how to embed their Twitter feed, how to tag, categorize and insert media. But more importantly they are exploring how to best utilize this platform and their posts to celebrate successes, voice frustrations and challenges, pose questions, collaborate, share their voice and experience learning from a learners’ lens.
Their posts are open, honest and reflective and run a gamut of sentiments (vulnerability, humour, frustration, joy etc.) as they reflect on their own learning moving forward. Not only are the ITLLs expressive and resourceful in the types of topics they share about, but they are also original and creative in how they choose to share. Check out just a few of the many examples listed below:
- Stefane Gautron uses a French song and a heartfelt exploration in his reflection entitled “My Love Affair with Twitter“.
- Veronique Bedard uses a Videoscribe to explore the topic of: Innovation in Education
- Dillon McMahon outlines the recent journey he has embarked on in the way of classroom design and environment.
- Devon King uses a video introduction to welcome us to his portfolio site.
- Leigh Brown explains how one tweet/idea can turn into an inspiring project with students.
- Jeremy Midford takes on the challenge of blogging regularly to explore “The Struggle of Innovation”.
One thing that has become clear throughout this project and our work with George Couros is that there are many, many wonderful and innovative things worth celebrating currently happening in WSD. As more and more educators share their own learning as well as that of their students, whether it be through professional learning opportunities such as this, or through Social Media including Twitter and this blog initiative, we can’t help but be inspired by the continued possibilities moving forward and learn from each other in a networked way. The guiding question of this project, and our work with George has always been… “How do we move from pockets of innovation to a culture of innovation?” As our pockets continue to grow, one can only be hugely inspired by the limitless possibilities ahead, as we work together to improve learning for all students!