While writing my “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” post, I did a bit of thinking back in time, inspired by the posts that were featured there.
It was my first year of teaching. I was breezing through the Computer Science end of things. I really did have a good background. We had a certain setup at my old high school, I got a chance to study at the University of Waterloo on world class equipment, and then a year at the Faculty of Education at Toronto which got me closer to the reality of the classroom.
Then, I got my first position and the reality of it. The programming in Fortran was easy enough to handle in Grade 11 and 12 and learning and programming in HYPO in Grade 10 was not a big deal either. Essentially, I had the content and the background and I could focus on learning how to teach. Quite honestly, that was harder than any piece of code that I ever had to write.
I still remember vividly my Department Head walking by my desk and dropping off information about a computer conference. His comments were “You need to learn more”.
Uh oh. What had I done wrong?
As it turned out, nothing really. We had a little chat and his point was valid. My background and abilities weren’t going to last the length of a career. He was pushing me to keep tabs on what was on the horizon and to make contacts with other Computer Science/Data Processing teachers. After all, I was “it” in our school. Who do you talk to?
And he would pay for it.
Well, not personally, but the department had an allotment for professional learning. So off I went to Toronto for three days of learning and making connections. I was assured that all I had to do was leave good lesson plans and my students would just continue the learning. (That’s a different story)
I came back so energized. I had learned so much and I knew new names and people. Some of those names remain in my world even today.
The down side? I had to come back to work and the day to day reality. Fortunately, I was able to build on that experience the following year. My Department Head was right. There was more to learn. And more. And more.
I like to think I took that advice and I continue to follow it years later. I still make the time to get to conferences and other educational events to enjoy and learn from the face to face meeting and the structured sessions. That value has only escalated.
But, unlike those years, it’s no longer enough. Learning can’t be done incrementally in annual events. It needs to be done daily and the whole notion of learning courtesy of a networked group of educators provides a complementary approach to continuing to learn. So much more is possible today.
He was right “I do need to learn more”. Thanks to technology, I’m able to do so in different ways with many more people.