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. Several months ago, thanks to 21st Century Learning, Catherine won a ticket to the Hong Kong 21st Century Learning Conference through #whatisschool as I spoke at this event. Here is part 3 of 3 from Catherine, focussing on her reflection of what was an incredible conference in Hong Kong!
So I’ve attended 21CLHK. Now what?
As is often the case when I attend a conference or any professional development, I find myself leaving the conference with a whole host of feelings. Excitement. Overload. A real need for reflection. Coupled with a 15-hour plane ride, jet lag, and my return to the classroom, it was a lot!
Catch up with Craig face-to-face
I learned so much during my two days at the conference, but the impact of what I learned will become evident in what I actually put into practice and what I continue to chew on and ponder. Here are the 3 biggest questions I’m asking myself right now.
How can I integrate my teaching more?
We talk a lot about teaching in context and making sure that what we do in the classroom is relevant to the real world. Teaching in a kindergarten classroom, I feel like I have even more leeway to do this than I’ve ever had. Having gotten to know my kids a little bit over the last week and having had a chance to see some other classes in action, I’m excited for the possibilities here. I noticed that my students gravitate towards commercialized characters in their play and in their casual conversations, so for the month of March, our big idea will be on creativity and imagination. I’ll be using Antoinette Portis’s book “Not a Box” to open up our discussion, and depending on where it goes with the kids, I may introduce them to “What do you do with an Idea?” by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom. There may be some cardboard box fun times embedded into this exploration. And art. And hands-on activities.
Where is ed-tech moving and how can I use it in deeper, more personal ways?
I love tech, but I also wonder whether we are really using it well in the classroom. After chatting with my ECE, we’re considering looking at technology as a big idea in a future month to push our students to think about how they’re interacting with and using it. And even beyond that, we often think about technology as solely digital technology, but there is so much that can be done even without iPads or Chromebooks or the latest wearable device. There are many options for integrating low-tech into my students’ every day that I would love to explore. As we all know, the pendulum has a habit of swinging from one extreme to the other. Will this happen with ed tech?
What am I doing to care for my students’ mental health?
Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg gave a fantastic keynote on emotional literacy and mental well-being. He challenged us to think critically about our roles as educators, which these days so often includes responsibilities that parents and counsellors traditionally held. More than ever, our students are struggling to make sense of the world, their thoughts and feelings, and the intersection of these things. I’ve noticed that even in my own classroom, there is so much room to teach students about empathy and problem solving – skills that they will need to be successful in the future regardless of where they end up.
It’s exciting to think about what is possible with the new connections that I’ve built and the new tools that I’ve learned. Maybe I’ll record some read-alouds of my favourite books and QR code the links so my kinders can read along with me. Perhaps I’ll participate in a multi-country study of tech use in the early learning classroom. Regardless of what it is, I love what happens when you bring passionate people together to share their learning and to inspire each other to strive for more!
If you were to ask me whether or not I thought this conference was a valuable experience, I’d say absolutely. It’s still unreal to think that all this happened because I took some time on a Thursday to share, listen, and engage with other educators around the globe. This is just a glimpse of the impact that Twitter has had on my learning journey. Now just imagine – what might it do for you?