Sitting before silent kids in year 11 study hall, I wonder at time slowing down. It always happens at this time of year. Senior students finish classes and get caught up in the hurly burly of exams, and the frantic pace of past weeks seems strangely distant. It isn’t as though there isn’t plenty of work to do- piles of exams to mark and reports to write- but the work becomes methodical, rather than exhilarating.
I am looking forward to next semester already. I am looking forward to teaching Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, in a world that has changed so much in the short time that I last explored this text with students. I am looking forward to teaching The Crucible for similar reasons.
I am looking forward to extending the work that I have begun this term in my new role as ‘ICT Consultant’ (dumb, corporate-sounding name; interesting work). The ‘ICT Arvo Series’ that we launched this term has started out so well, and I am keen for it to continue to gain momentum next term. Basically, the ICT Arvo Series is exactly what it sounds like- a series of afternoon workshops for interested staff to have a play and a chat about using technology for student learning in the classroom. The thing that I like most about it, and I think what the attendees have liked about it as well, is that the workshops are run by staff working within the school, rather than external ‘experts’. This has made such a difference: staff feel more encouraged to ‘have a go’, ask questions, share ideas, and, most importantly, are able to build professional learning relationships with their colleagues. While I knew theoretically, and from my own professional learning experiences, that this would be the case, it is really nice to see it play out for others.
And, of course, some of the richest learning has happened before ‘ICT arvos’ or between them. For example, the two sessions that we have run in the latter part of this term have focused on getting staff to use the interactive whiteboards more productively, with student involvement (which is kind of the point). I asked two different staff members to run each session because of the interesting work that they had been doing in this area in their own classrooms, and we all met one afternoon at a café to plan the sessions together. Between the five of us, we had four faculties represented: English, SOSE, LOTE and Science. This ‘planning session’ quickly became a professional learning session itself, as we all shared our own ideas and experiences with the IWBs in the classroom. The software had just been upgraded to version 3, and so at first there was a flurry of conversation and questions about what new ‘tools’ we had come across in the new version, but the discussion quickly extended beyond the use of technology to more intensive thinking and talking about pedagogy. As a consequence (I think so, anyway) the conversations that occurred later, during the actual workshops, followed a similar trajectory. It was nice to see, nicer to be part of, and even nicer to feel partly responsible for.
But this is just the beginning…