Thursday, January 26, 2017

Back From My Disappearing Act or Welcome to 2017!

So, I've been a little absent from the online community for the past few months. There have been various reasons for this, but basically life was good and then it wasn't. Both the good and bad events made me think deeply about what was important in my life. Some things were missing (and to a degree still are) and it caused me to ignore a big part of my life - my career.

Without going into details (I want to avoid giving TMI), there were some issues about the people surrounding me in my personal life (though, I should also credit the amazing and supportive people who helped me through this - and continue to support me in many ways). Being a foreigner who moved here along about 5 years ago, I do not have a support network. It has been difficult to deal with the stresses of being a teacher and of being a person in that context.

I think the thing I learned, or rather the thing that was reinforced, is that every educator needs a good support network beside them. Every educator needs to have something beyond their school - a reason for working. Despite many of us viewing our career as a calling, at the end of the day it is a job and we need something beyond that.

That being said, today was my first official day back from the holidays and though I was not in a great headspace I feel in a much better headspace. I can't say I'm quite ready for the new school year, but I'm definitely feeling more ready for it than I was a week ago.

Today we did a lot of different sessions on a lot of different topics. My biggest takeaway from the day was a session we did on collaboration. We were put into groups and given the following task: Work collaboratively to lift one of your team members as high as you can. After some great ideation where we all shared some amazing ideas and built upon each others' ideas we decided to use the elevator to lift one person. When we went downstairs to actually do it, we came up with a variety of other ways in which we could not only lift our person (we lifted her into a chair and then lifted the chair up) but also how we could collaborate (we had a pretty long chain reaction of people that got her into the elevator and pushed the buttons).

Afterwards we discussed the skills involved in collaborating and realized that we need to be cognisant of teaching the specific skills that learners will need when we ask them to collaborate. As adults (who are used to working in teams) we often forget this fact as we have learned this skills over time. When our learners come next week, this will be a good place to start with, as we'll need to get to know each other and do team building activities. I'm looking forward to creating a collaborative habitat this coming year.

Later in the day we discussed one of the unique ways in which OrmPS shows learner achievements and progress: Narrative Assessments. For more information, I'm sure someone will be sharing these at an educamp or Google Summit or uLearn, but to make a long explanation short, they basically show what learning was done, often with pictures and other artefacts and include next steps. They are to make learning more visible and not just ticking boxes. To practice making these, we watched the video (below) and worked in teams to make a narrative assessment of the man in the video.

Going forward I'm going to look at ways in which I can do these narratives in an innovative way, so any ideas are appreciated in the comments (though we do have lots of ideas that we've discussed and tried at OrmPS already).

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