Catherine is a passionate educator in Kingston, Ontario and I have been honoured enough to get to know her through her contributions at#whatisschool – I have asked Catherine to put together a series of 3 blog posts to follow her journey. A couple of months ago, thanks to 21st Century Learning, Catherine won a ticket to the Hong Kong 21st Century Learning Conference through #whatisschool as I will be speaking at this event. Here is part 2 of 3 from Catherine, focussing on her journey over the past few months as she prepares to travel to Hong Kong in 3 weeks time.
For the last ten months, instead of spending my time teaching a class of 27 seventh graders, my focus and attention has centered around a single child under the age of one – my own. Come the end of February, this arrangement will see a dramatic change as I embrace my return to work, in a classroom of 25 kindergarteners.
Back in August, I wrote a guest post about how twitter changed my understanding of global collaboration, and I shared my excitement over winning a free ticket to the 8th annual 21stCL conference in Hong Kong this February by participating in a #whatisschool chat. The conference, scheduled to end the Saturday before my return to work, is now less than a month away.
As I peruse the workshop options and the keynotes, I find myself thinking about the purpose and importance of professional development. As educators, why is it so crucial that we commit to growth and learning? How does this affect how we teach, what we teach, and why we teach?
One of the things that I’ve learned in life is that a large part of any learning journey is meeting others who offer different perspectives, and who can challenge me to think critically about what I do. Yes, we can read books, complete online courses, and listen to podcasts, but there’s nothing quite like face to face conversation – and that’s one thing that I’m really looking forward to.
I have no doubt that February 19-20 will be jam-packed with a lot of learning, and so, I find myself posing this question, “How can I best approach this conference to maximize my learning?”. Here are four things that I’m making the commitment to do to get the most out of this conference experience.
Be in the moment
Have you ever missed something important because you were trying to craft the perfect tweet or pick the perfect filter for your Instagram photo? I have. This isn’t to say that I won’t be on social media during the conference, but I am planning to give experience the priority, not documentation.
I mentioned earlier how wonderful it is to actually dialogue in person – to ask questions, to listen, to engage. And I plan on doing all of that. But I don’t want these conversations to stop when the conference ends. It’s important to continue to build on these new relationships and to collaborate and learn with others wherever we are.
Try something different
There is so much in education with which I am unfamiliar – coding, flipping the classroom, and Genius Hour to name a few. Part of growth is extending my learning and trying new things, and this is a great opportunity to do that.
In order to have any lasting effect, professional development must be followed up with reflection and implementation. My plan is to jot down my ideas, let them simmer, and then engage in the process of deciding what to keep, what to let go of, and how to make some wonderful things happen in my school.
One of the best things about teaching is realizing that you’re also learning at the same time. Attending this conference is just one part of my continued learning journey, but it’s a part that I’m really excited for. Hong Kong, here I come!