Just how many educators start their teaching career with tech training? How many would happily describe themselves as “geek” or “techie” from the outset?
These are my thoughts at the end of a packed first COETAIL course. Perhaps more accurately, they were my reactions after I shared my blogs with my family and a relative emailed me with, “I didn’t know you were a techie!”
Ah-ha, yes, the inner “techie” in me must be now emerging… and well, if even I’m allowed this label, clearly this is no longer an exclusive club. No longer is this term awarded to the archetypal inventors, technicians and scientists (sorry, Beaker)!
A discovery that both amused and delighted me from the course was that it’s somewhat fashionable to be a geek now (or at least, to be geeking out). What’s more, I knew this all along, but somewhere along the way had forgotten the fun of learning new skills, connecting with fellow educators (okay, fellow geeks) and actually being a risk-taker, rather than just encouraging this attitude in my students.
Along with the enjoyment of experimenting and exploring came the hard work. I found myself immersed in a range of technologies, often feeling unprepared and overwhelmed. I looked at the blogs of colleagues and wondered if I’d ever get close to their level of expertise and confidence.* However, I also realised that these feelings go some way towards understanding the daily struggles of any learner.
At the end of these seven weeks, I can’t quite believe how far the COETAIL course has taken me. I’ve particularly appreciated its practical impact: both my students and my own professional development have benefited. After writing my previous blog post, I continued to develop my final project: a podcast series for Grade 6. The purpose of this year-long project is to not only mark the progression of students’ reading, but also develop their abilities to share their responses to a wider audience than just that of their peers.
One of the most powerful concepts from Reinventing Project Based Learning by Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss is “Students develop a fuller understanding of how the world works and that it does not just revolve around them.” I think this is just as applicable to adults: if more of us start to think and act this way, we will also be better role models to the students. It goes back to the IBO profile of the ‘risk-taker': how can I expect a student to try out and risk new ideas, if I’m not also prepared to be intrepid?
I hope to blog about the Grade 6 ‘Book Broadcasting’ project once its underway in late Autumn. It would be fantastic to see development of the students’ English, technological and social skills. Of course, I probably should have used ‘podcasting’ to name the project, but I just couldn’t resist the alliterative title…