Share IT

1. I want to encourage you to share your practice and the learning events that happen in your classroom.

2. This photo is of my mother on her second day of school. In those days the children were sent to school and the teacher got on with it and if the child failed the child got the blame for it.

3. When I went to school the teachers were held in very high regard and they were never questioned. They just taught in the same way as they themselves had been taught. This is my school report from those days- ‘Has made good progress with her swimming.’ Hardly inspiring feedback on a year’s work.

4. I tried to find an image of a New Zealand class as of when I started teaching- couldn’t find one! I think people weren’t invited in to the classroom to share the learning in those days either! I taught for twenty years in my own classroom with my class of thirty children. My world was corralled by my classroom walls. I rarely got out of my teaching space.

5. Now and again another teacher or parent would walk through my class and give us some feedback and encouragement on our classroom displays but this was rare and random. The children wrote for an audience of one! Maybe 30 if their writing was shared in class, more if it was read out at assembly.

6. In 2005 I went to a course with Mark Treadwell and he put a photo on the internet really quickly and told me that he had used Blogger to do it. I nodded knowingly and then went home and Googled the word Blogger and worked out how to put my own photos on the internet. My tiny window to the world had suddenly got a lot more open. I first started a family blog, then a classroom blog and was encouraged by the feedback of others in my own school and local schools.

7. The isolation of my classroom was being chipped away.

I felt a connection with others outside my school and I started learning from them and then with them. With other teachers in jobs like mine with similar frustrations and joys- just like mine. This is wiki three of us put together- classroom teachers in Dunedin, Auckland and Nelson who all happened to be studying the Rocky Shore at the same time. My isolation was gone forever.

8. After some encouragement I started a grown up Education Blog. Now- as well as sharing what I was doing in the classroom I began to share my professional thinking. I could share the things I had learnt, I could reflect on my own progress as a learner. I record the professional development opportunities I had been given. I could model the things that I want the children in my class to be- confident, connected, actively involved, life long learners.

9. Now we can use the Virtual Learning Network to meet other teachers with similar class levels and interests as our own and share and learn from them and make connections that enrich our classroom practice.

10. I have found Twitter to be a great way of making connections with teachers from outside New Zealand- like a rather large global virtual staffroom of educators sharing their learning and being better for having done so.

11. We encourage our children to work together and share what they are learning and I encourage you to do the same.

I believe we, as teachers, have what Dean Shareski from Canada calls a ‘moral imperative’ to share our practice with others.

12. If you go on a course to learn something thing new it is cost effective to share it with others. An average day long course costs a small fortune- reliever, cost of salary and course fees. We owe it to the people around us to share our practice, our experiences, our teaching.

13. In my classroom I have found that children really ‘get’ a concept if they are given the opportunity to teach it to others. The same applies to teachers when they share. By sharing my classroom and professional learning through blogging, tweeting and developing on line connections I have put aside the time to reflect and make my new learning stick.

14. When you share your learning by taking the time to put it on line you acquire the self discipline and presence of mind to frame your thoughts in a more coherent, sensible way- clarifying and defining your own perspective. Learning from other teachers is most powerful. We can learn from each other and with each other.

15. If you share what you do you develop a network of people that will support you even when things go wrong. You can and should learn from your mistakes and what might work for one person or class may not work for another.This is where the power of the Educamp or Unconference comes to play.

16. I encourage you to make plans to come and encourage other to come to the West Coast Educamp on Saturday June 13 to learn and share your practice.

We are better together than we are on our own, when we share our lives and learning.