This Week in Ontario Edublogs


What a special Friday!

In addition, it’s also a chance to read some of the great writing coming from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.


COVID-19 & Education: Part 14

Shelly Vohra continues her ongoing series of blog posts about COVID and education. In this edition of her post, she takes on some of the Ministry’s plan for resumption of learning in school buildings for the fall.

  • Full return to school (5 days a week/5 hours a day with breaks for lunch and recess) with classrooms at full capacity
  • Masks for students in Grades 4-12 (masks are optional for students in K-3)
  • 1m distancing with masks and hygiene procedures
  • Secondary students will be in cohorts of 15 if their high school is considered higher risk; all other high schools will be back to full capacity and learning in quadmesters. 
  • Staggered entry/hallway/exit times
  • Students will be given a choice between face to face and virtual learning
  • Teachers and students will be self-assessing every morning
  • Extra funding in a variety of areas (e.g., nurse, custodians, mental health, technology, etc)

She takes on each of these bullet points and fleshes out her own thoughts on each. I suspect that most educators and many parents will find themselves in agreement and hopefully will share their support in the comments.

Shelly was also a delightful cohost on This Week in Ontario Edublogs this past Wednesday. She joined Stephen Hurley and me and talked about these things and more.


Slice of Life: Looking Ahead

Writing as on the Slice of Life project, Lisa Corbett takes a look at shopping.

It’s one of the few things that never stopped during all this COVID stuff. Even this week, things are different in grocery shopping around here. Only a limited number of people are allowed in the store, arrows take you everywhere (except where I want to go…), you’re encourage to only touch if you’re buying, credit and debit rule the day, and I think that we all have a sense that there is a bit more of a danger shopping rather than not shopping.

But, you do have to shop.

So, Lisa has tried placing her orders online and is happy with that. I’ve always had this nagging feeling about someone else touching my food and picking my bananas for me but she’s had great success.

As teaching in a school building returns, her new found way of shopping takes at least one worry off her mind. Maybe she doesn’t eat bananas! But, I see her logic; with everyone back to work, attendance at the grocery store won’t be as widely spread throughout the day as it is in the summer.

It’s definitely something to think about.


Single Voices, Global Choices Project

I hadn’t heard about this link but many others have. Lynn Thomas’ post talk about 107 teachers, 95 schools, 46 countries

Projects like this seem to be perfect at this point in time. You can participate whether your classes are face to face, hybrid, or entirely online due to its global nature.

I also like projects like this that attempt to do good by doing good. If nothing else, you need to click through and see if it might fit into your planning.

The leads on the project are:

  • Lesley Fearn
  • Lynn Thomas
  • Barbara Anna Zielonka

Students from Viamonde, a public French school board obtain their Microsoft Certification

I really like this concept. Experiences teachers often get involved in training programs so that they can add to their profile and qualifications. Often, the visible element is a badge indicating the success. I’m a long time fan of badging.

From the Fair Chance Learning blog, principal Nya Njeuga shares this unique opportunity that was made available to students. Students got qualifications in Word, Powerpoint, Excel, and Publisher – all Microsoft products. These aren’t easy qualifications to get so kudos to the students who enjoyed success because of this initiative.

Next Steps? They’re looking at Office 365 and programming. You’ve got to believe that these certifications will help since they will have a step up on others in terms of summer jobs and skills to be successful in the world of work, college, or university.

I’m sure that reaching out to Fair Chance Learning could bring a similar program to your school.


MAKING EDITING FUN

Call me a skeptic here!

I enjoy writing but hate editing. I know that it’s a necessary evil, particularly for me with blogging since I know that there’s an audience that expects something at least readable.

From the TESL Ontario blog, this post by Sherry Hejazi gives some ideas, suggestions, and encouragement to make this important step fun for students and thereby make them better writers and proofreaders. Sherry appears to be a fan of Microsoft Office indicating that it’s available for free at post-secondary schools in the province. Of course, there are other options but good editing will make for a better final product.

She suggests the following:

  • Provide a Writing Piece
  • Share a Student’s Writing Piece
  • Zoom Sessions (yes, you can edit even from a distance)
  • Editing Competition

Of course, she fleshes out each of these ideas.

Now, to go back and proofread this summary. This is not the time to let my guard down.


It’s Too Much: Teacher Anxiety in the Time of School with Covid-19

Of all the Twitter messages I read this past week, this one had so much traction. Deb Weston had tagged me in an announcement of this blog post on the Heart and Art Blog. It resonated with so many and many of the comments indicated that she wrote the post that reached the heartstrings of so many.

She deals with issues that so many educators are wrestling with at this time not that we’re within weeks of school buildings reopening. The Minister of Education will make an announcement later this afternoon but her concerns at her time of writing deal with:

  • Infection Control
  • Adequate Ventilation
  • Social Distancing Seating
  • Social Distancing Hallways
  • Social Distancing Busing
  • Unknowing Before Schools Closed
  • Dealing with Uncertainty and Stress
  • Health & Employment
  • Knowing What to Expect
  • Evaluation and Reporting

It’s a short list; I’m hoping the Minister will address all the topics satisfactorily. In the meantime, this is what is keeping teachers up at night.


I Have This Idea

Personally, I think that Marc Hodgkinson has a great idea here. I’ve long been a proponent for student writing. To me, it’s the ultimate of writing for an audience.

Why not have students writing for a class blog. Like I described above, it’s an activity that will be successful no matter what back to school looks like.

In the post, Marc brainstorms some of the ideas that he has for inspiration for student writing. I’m sure that he’d appreciate additional ideas and maybe even the opportunity to connect with someone who has done this successfully already.

There’s not sense in reinventing the wheel here.

It’s a great idea, Marc. Run with it.


Please do yourself a favour and click through to read all these posts in their original format. There’s great content here.

Then, make sure that you follow these authors on Twitter…

  • Shelly Vohra – @raspberryberet3
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Lynn Thomas – @THOMLYNN101
  • Fair Chance Learning – @FCLEdu
  • TESLOntario – @TESTOntario
  • Deborah Weston – @DrDWestonPhD
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher

This blog post originated at:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


And, it’s another Friday the 13th. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there’s a week-long light at the end of the tunnel.

Enjoy some great thinking from this group of Ontario Edubloggers.


MY ACCEPTANCE SPEECH: ANGELA THACKER MEMORIAL AWARD 2020

Congratulations to Alanna King. She’s one of three winners of the 2020 Angela Thacker Memorial Award.

This award honours teacher-librarians who have made contributions to the profession through publications, productions or professional development activities that deal with topics relevant to teacher-librarianship and/or school library learning commons

If you know Alanna King, you know that she excels in all of the areas of this award descriptor and so most definitely is worthy of recognition in front of her colleagues.

The post is essentially her speech given as she accepted the award. She touches on a number of recent experiences that she’s had – health issues, keynote in Buenos Aires, car accident, LTD not approved and yet she’s as strong and vibrant as ever.

After a career move, she’s not longer in the library but promises to remain a strong advocate.

She’s definitely raised the bar for potential future nominees.


Taking an Equity Stance in Math Class

The word “equity” is used quite frequently in education in many different contexts so I didn’t quite know what to expect when Mark Chubb used it with Mathematics.

This chart is really worth looking at and trying to understand the underlying message to describe classroom practice.

I don’t know why but, particularly with Mathematics, I always look back on my own experiences. I definitely am from the old school where we were all expected to work on the same problems the same way and to end up with the same answers.

If you were having problems with a topic, you got to stay after class and do some more of the same until you “got it”. “It” was the same question for everyone.

It, in no way, was equal to the way that Mark describes equity…

However, if we are aiming for equity then we need to allow more opportunities for our students to show us what ARE good at.


Keeping it fresh.

This post, from Will Gourley, is really a post that I think that all teachers should write.

It’s an inspirational look back at the things that have gone well in his class because of his willingness to embrace new things. Things, in this case, are many different web resources so it’s not like you can’t do them in your own classroom!

There’s a definite tip of the hat for Will using these Ontario resources – Waterloo POTW and CEMC.

If you know Will and his work, it will come as no surprise that TED talks play an important part as well.

Will’s students have access to Wipebooks as well and he talks about their use.

This is but a short summary of everything that’s happening in Mr. Gourley’s class. You should click and head on over to see everything. He also challenges you to share your success via reply. That would be a nice thing to do as well. Bloggers like comments.

I’ll bet that there’s all kinds of things happening across the province and teachers are just too humble to brag about it. Change that!


Record as much as you can

Diana Maliszewski has a student teacher.

I’m almost afraid to see what her recommendations would be – I’d be afraid to read something like “show more excitement in your teaching like I do”!

Just reading the post brought back memories of my own practice teaching. (that always seems like a bad descriptor) We’ve all been through this – you start with one class and then work your way through to a full teaching load – all the while being observed by your associate teacher.

Diana started with Sharpies and graduated to a daily five pages of a Google document for her feedback.

At the end of the post, she gets to the point that really recording your student teacher has so much value. It’s hard to argue with any of that. And, today with a smartphone, it’s so easy.


Applying a Critical Lens on I Read Canadian Day

If you thought that the life of a teacher-librarian just involved checking books in and out, you need to just have a chat with one to get the whole story.

This post, from Beth Lyons, lets you know that she’s not resting on her laurels.

To celebrate “I Read Canadian Day”, she took the opportunity to look through her collection and look at the number and types of Canadian authored books on her shelves and how to draw student attention to them. Even that process had her thinking about how she’s classifying them.

In the process, she has also identified an area where she needs to acquire books.

In Beth’s post, I saw this Maya Angelou post for the third time in the past week. It’s great inspirational advice.


A Thought for International Women’s Day

For International Women’s Day, Sue Dunlop penned this post. Thanks Christine Nicolaides for highlighting it and have it appear in one of my paper.li dailies.

It’s a strong message. Kudos to Sue for penning it.

The first time that I read it, it was clear to me that the intended audience was women who might be interested in advancement to a new position.

The more I mulled over it, I felt that she could be writing that post to parents. As the father of two young ladies, why wouldn’t I be right beside them in support? The traditions that we grew up with are dated; how can they change if everyone isn’t there to challenge the status quo?

I want every woman to know that she can put herself forward at any time and boldly state what she wants and aspires to.


School closures, eLearning, and the Coronavirus

This is a topic at the forefront of so many people’s minds lately. I wrote a post about it last weekend and my news feed is filled with the topic and concept every morning.

Despite what politicians and newspaper opinion writers would have you believe, the solution isn’t simple. John Allan reinforces the message in this post.

He identifies six major issues that stand in the road of making this happen.

The issues, however, are not insurmountable. He offers suggestions and a path to make it happen.

But, like I said what I wrote about it, we need a plan.

Does your school district have a plan?

I didn’t think so.


Please take the time to click through and read all of these posts in their entirety. There’s a great deal of food for thought here.

Then, follow these people on Twitter

  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • Mark Chubb – @MarkChubb3
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Beth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Sue Dunlop – @Dunlop_Sue
  • John Allan – @mrpottz

This post originated from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


First off …

Today marks a day of rotating strike action by ETFO members in the following districts:

  • Bluewater District School Board
  • District School Board Ontario North East

Details here.

Despite the situation in the province with respect to collective bargaining, Ontario Educators continue their professional reflection on their own blogs.


And the journey expands…

Congratulations to Beth Lyons

As I have received news that I was successful in my bid to become the Vice President/ President Elect of the OSLA Council for 2020-2021 years, I think this is a great time to reflect on my journey thus far…

To celebrate, Beth takes the opportunity to reflect on her own professional growth as a teacher-librarian. What impresses me about this look back is just how diverse a background is required for a teacher-librarian in order to carry out the role in the year 2020.

I think that many of us read quite a bit but we’re guided by our own interests and pressures. Beth reinforces the notion that a teacher-librarian must read and understand for everyone in their charge. Follow any teacher-librarian and you’ll notice the same thing.

But learning doesn’t stop there for a contemporary leader. This post touches many bases – podcasting, presenting, action research, and more.


Students’ Research Going Beyond Their Own Classroom With Minecraft EE

On the Fair Chance Learning blog, Ryan Magill shares some work dealing with Minecraft and his students. For those who are concerned that it could be a big free for all, you need to read and understand all of the content of this post.

The focus here was driven by a unit of study dealing with animals and habitats and brought in the notion of zoos and aquariums. What an opportunity – design your own zoo!

I had to smile. This country boy knew all kinds of things about cows at an early age! But, it’s not safe to assume that everyone had that chance. Maybe they do have to do some research and build an exhibit for their zoo!

I think that the big takeaway for all is that you need to avoid boxing yourself into a corner with technology. With a playground like Minecraft, the sky really is the limit.


frozen solid; warmth in the lines

This post, from Heather Swail, could best be described as “prelude to a strike”. It was written just before a work action and is very philosophical about education and the role of the teacher.

In education, the essence of pedagogy, teachers are taught and encouraged to be flexible, to change plans mid-stream when the lesson is just not working, to moderate voice, stance, position when dealing with a nervous or reluctant child, to try to understand behaviour, resistance, background and underlying issues. A good teacher is fluid all of the time. 

Heather launches into a story that reflects the reality for many teachers. I have no doubt that just about any teacher could write and reflect on the same topics; what makes this so powerful comes from the eloquence and passion from Heather.

She closes by indicating that this will likely be the last year of a career for her. It truly is sad that she’s going through this; I think everyone would like to think they’re going to finish a career with the best year ever.


Are we willing to lose a bit of control?

I love this post from Paul McGuire. He was inspired to write as a result of a Dean Shareski blog post “I Don’t Think I’m an EdTech Guy Anymore.” I had read Dean’s post and grew angrier as I read it. I just hope that he had his tongue in cheek as he wrote it.

Substitute any subject area for “EdTech” and you’ll see the folly.

This, coming from someone whose title was, “Computers in the Classroom Teacher Consultant”. The role was framed for me by my first superintendent. I still remember his thoughts.

“I don’t want you to just learn more technical stuff. I can hire someone for half your salary with a better technical background. I need you to help people learn how to teach with technology.”

He was right, of course.

Learning new technical things was, and remains, my little side gig. And, I’ll be honest; I love it. But we’re in the teaching profession and teaching should be at the heart of everything we do.

I probably became more of a nuisance to my Teacher Consultant colleagues as I was expected to learn about good teaching and good learning throughout all curriculum areas and all grades.

Paul’s post illustrates what happens when technology is still viewed as something extra, something special, something so that you can say “I used technology today” …

Earlier this week I observed a student teacher going through a lesson with some grade 9 students. The lesson did have technology – there were Youtube videos and digital media involved in the presentation. What was missing was any level of engagement with the students. The information was conveyed using a very traditional lecture style, the students were the passive receptors of the information.

I still remember the advice from my superintendent which made so much sense to me and still drives my thinking unlike unproven schemes like SAMR.

With technology, you can…

  1. do things differently
  2. do different things

The first step, I would suggest, is where this student teacher is. And, you can’t blame that student since he/she has been in the education system for 16 or 17 years. The challenge for her/him and indeed for the teachers at the Faculty is to move to the second step. It’s not an easy step for some.


All These Certified Teachers

Everyone has a story about how they got into education and became teachers. In this post, Matthew Morris talks about his story. His was a route that I would not have been able to do.

He was good enough as a football player to get a university scholarship and he was thinking NFL. When that didn’t work out…

When I realized the professional athlete route was a wrap, I started to think about “careers”. Teaching was my back up plan. I settled on that path during my senior year of university

My personal first plan was to be independently wealthy and, when that didn’t work out, I went to university. Unlike Matthew, I didn’t have the luxury of staying with my parents but was able to rent a room with a friend for the 8 months at the Faculty. I don’t recall the cost of tuition at the time but I’m positive it wasn’t anywhere close to the six thousand that Matthew quotes.

He offers an interesting proposal for improving the profession and that is “lowering” teacher credentialing. I read it as the cost to become a teacher.

It’s not just the process of becoming a teacher that is expensive after Grade 12. The whole cost of university can be limiting to some. Are people limited in career paths like the story that Matthew shares?


A problem of zero

I love a good mathematics story and there’s a great one in this post from Melissa Dean.

Visit her post to see the graphic there. As she notes, it leads to some interesting discussions about

  • what’s a rational number?
  • what’s an irrational number?
  • Are there ‘fake’ numbers?
  • what are those weird symbols about?
  • Why isn’t zero a natural number?

I had to smile at the observation made as a result of the discussion.

Zero is not a number

How would you handle such an assertion?


4:45

I think Aviva Dunsiger and I are kindred souls. At least in terms of being active in the morning! As you know, my daily blog post appears at 5:00. It’s not that I’m writing at that time but I am connected and reading and it’s nice to get a notification that the post scheduled for that time has indeed gone live. If I ever mess up, Aviva is there to let me know. (and it’s happened more than once)

I can imagine that this would be a difficult post for her to write, first at an emotional level and secondly when you’re putting yourself out there via her popular blog.

As we know, ETFO members are currently involved with a work action and Aviva has had her schedule interrupted as a result. When you’re up at 4:45, it should come as no surprise that she’s into school working at setting things up for the upcoming day.

In the post, she describes a typical day and

I am always at school between 6:45 and 6:50

It’s interesting to picture her setting up for the day. As an Early Years’ teacher, I can only imagine how much preparation goes into making sure that all the areas are ready to go.

There are a couple of lessons here…

  • first of all, to the federations, there is a lesson about how their members are affected when rules are applied to everyone
  • secondly, to parents and the general public, quality learning doesn’t happen by accident. All teachers have their own planning and implementation of lessons each and every day. It doesn’t happen by magic

Aviva has lots of friends and supporters – when you visit the blog post, also make sure that you check out the replies to her post.


Please keep you colleagues who are on strike today in your mind.

And, also think of the professionalism of these bloggers. Follow them on Twitter.

  • @mrslyonslibrary
  • @mrmagill1
  • @hbswail
  • @mcguirp
  • @callmemrmorris
  • @Dean_of_math
  • @avivaloca

This post appeared first at:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


There never seems to be any shortage of good blog pieces from Ontario Edubloggers. Friday is my opportunity to share what I’ve read recently.

Here goes…


Arguments for Teacher Performance Pay in Ontario

This wasn’t the first time that Kyleen Gray has blogged about the merits of Performance pay for teachers. See the older post here. In this post, she argues five areas where she feels how performance pay would improve the profession.

  • Will support retention of effective teachers
  • Improve teacher performance
  • Positively impact student learning
  • Public perception of teacher professionalism
  • Vet poor teachers from the teaching profession

Personally, I have a difficult time seeing how it would play out in the long run.

  • Who would make the judgement about who is effective and who isn’t?
  • What is the baseline against which performance would be judged?
  • Particularly in her fifth point, would there be an opportunity for a “poor teacher”, however that is defined, to improve?
  • Are some subject areas more valuable than others?
  • How do you compare performance across grades, across subject areas, across a school district, indeed across a province so that there is a consistent standard?
  • Do we place higher value on coaching than we do on a person upgrading their qualifications or the experience and wisdom that comes from longevity?

There are so many issues that I just can’t see a solution to with this premise. The value of teacher federations goes beyond pay – it also involves security, benefits, social activism, collegiality, pension … How does that survive?

Stephen Hurley also blogged about the issue here.


Slice is of Life: Who Needs Me?

I would argue that teachers work all year long to get to the point that Lisa Corbett describes in this post.

In a mathematics class, she found herself on the outside looking in. But in a good way!

No student needed her assistance and yet all of them were engaged with whatever activity they were assigned. (See the image with the smiley faces in her post)

My first note on Lisa’s post was “this doesn’t happen by accident”. It’s the result of a great deal of hard work creating the environment, developing the skill set, and finding engaging activities to have the students working in this manner.

I suppose that she could have left and got herself a coffee but she found other equally valuable things to do in the classroom. What’s not to like?


WHEN LAST PLACE FEELS LIKE FIRST PLACE

In the first sentence in this blog post from Mike Washburn, I had to open a tab and find out just what he was talking about when he claims to have finished a race on Zwift.

Then, I was able to read on and put things in context. I had already had my eyes drawn to the spreadsheet-like construct that appeared in the post. So, Zwift allows him to compete against others in a MOOC for cycling and running. He was competing against people from who knows where and who cares where with the goal of pushing himself to do better things.

It’s an interesting concept and he admits that he had some pretty strict competition but it was a fellow competitor by the name of Lisa that kept him going. A lesser person might have just given up.

So, he stuck with it. Then, he turns his eyes towards the classroom. Is there personal learning that he could take from his experience to get the same results from his own students?

It’s an interesting read. I think it is a good reminder that we all need others to support us in our endeavours. As adults, we hopefully can realize this. How can we set the table so that students get the same understanding?


Find A Vision

Joel McLean offers a video well worth the time watching.

We can’t all be visionaries. I think we all know that.

But, how do you work for/with/along with someone who is.

Joel offers three suggestions…

  • Ask questions
  • Put on a different pair of glasses
  • Have faith

And, there’s another piece of advice that a visionary that I worked with told me once which was one of his attributions of success.

Surround yourself with smart people

I think we should all learn that we just might be that smart person that they want with them. If we use Joel’s advice, you just might be able to make them better.


Perseverance, struggle and a little grit: How running a 53km race relates to Education

Seriously? 53km?

Even biking that distance is an edurance. Jonathan So did this race and it took him 06:16:49.

The numbers and the distance just blow me away.

So, what does it mean in education? I like his quote

if we want our students to _____ than we need to show it.

He shows endurance, grit, partnerships, and all those things that we value in education. What a great testimonial about how he undertakes these things in personally.

It would take a brave student to refuse to do a lap of the track or gym in Mr. So’s classroom after this.

And that smile!


Do We Need A Scaffolded Approach To Bullying?

Coming from an educator in Hamilton, Aviva Dunsiger, served to put a great deal of context to her thoughts about bullying, particularly at this time.

On the eve of a bullying prevention assembly, she’s musing about ways to get a suitable message across. It’s NOT an easy topic. If it was, we would have solutions in place already.

Maybe this message is a utopian ideal. Maybe it won’t work in every grade. I wonder though if there needs to be a scaffolded approach to bullying. Would a book like this one be a good start in kindergarten, and what might the impact be as the kids progress along the grades?

I’d love to see a Language teacher or a teacher-librarian take a read of Aviva’s post and provide a continuum of books for students to help the cause.

While we may not have the ultimate answer, I love the fact that teachers are thinking, talking, and through this blog post, advocating for the cause.


New Journeys

This blog post, from Lisa Munro, gives us an insight into education that we don’t always see. She’s a Superintendent of Education and blogging. As she notes:

I have hesitated to blog too much in this system role because, misguided or not, I sometimes feel people expect me to be the expert and that is not a great feeling.  If you have ever blogged you know there is a certain vulnerability in putting your ideas into a public space; a vulnerability and a commitment.

There absolutely is a vulnerability when you’re blogging. It’s something that I think that we all come to wrestle with the concept periodically. In Lisa’s case, she’s only two months into this new role so can be justified to be feeling that way a bit.

I can’t help though, but think that there’s real value in pairing this post with Joel’s post above. Nobody is in the position of being the all-knowing expert. But you can surround yourself with supportive and wise people and what better platform than a blog to make this happen?

Lisa does invite you to converse with her via blog and Twitter. Why not take her up on that?


So, absolutely, there is another wonderful collection of blog post for this week. Please do take the opportunity to read their thoughts in their entirety.

Then, make sure you follow them on Twitter.

  • @TCHevolution
  • @LisaCorbett0261
  • @misterwashburn
  • @jprofnb
  • @MrSoClassroom
  • @avivaloca
  • @LisaMunro11

This post originates from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

You need to learn more


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.