Monday, December 14, 2009

What have I learned in 2009?

At the risk of starting a bit like A Tale of Two Cities: It’s been a long year and yet it’s passed very quickly.

Just as a reminder I have very diverse roles in life (it keeps me young thinking, I hope): I am a Deputy Head Teacher in a comprehensive school in an outer London borough (this includes a role as Professional Development manager), I teach on the Masters and EdD programme for the Open University, I study with the Open University for my second MA, I have a family to look after and some writing/research to do.

In January 2009, I was looking forward to enhancing my knowledge of e-Learning with an Open University course H809. Little did I realise that this would lead to blogging and Twittering like – especially as I had only an inkling of what these even were! I had been dabbling with wikis for High School students and teachers for some time but these took off in a big way and I even ended up having a short article published in Education Today about using wiki technology to assist reflective practice for school teachers. I ran a workshop about this at the EdD residential weekend in July and have just been asked to run a workshop on the same topic at a conference at the Institute of Education next February.

I have gone on to study another Open University course which looks predominantly at the use of ePortfolios for teachers at all levels. This has been a challenging course, not least because of the online collaboration we were asked to so. It has helped me to restructure my own Masters level online forum and has led to greater participation levels on that.

That’s mainly about my study opportunities.

I have learned some other truths this year. I’ll call them truths although we all know that truth is elusive and possibly a personal perspective on reality. I have struggled with why some people feel they have little left to learn and with my role in that. On the positive side, I have been thrilled with the people (aged between 11 and 80 approximately) who have taken on new ideas and even run with sharing these with others – especially some of my younger colleagues at school.

I have learned the joy of achievement – even at my age.

At home, I have learned that one’s family do best when not nagged or goaded – actually I’ve learned that before and will probably learn it again.

It’s been a good year.

What have you learned?

Monday, December 7, 2009

reflecting on educational leadership

Just musing here really. Have been thinking a lot about leadership in education recently (see also sustainability of learning post on Janshs blog).

When I first became a Head of Department in 1992 I held an intial department meeting in which I said, "When things go right, I'll make sure the right person gets the credit. When things go wrong, I'll carry the can. I'll be here early every morning if you want to talk."

I don't know what they thought. I do know we were a happy band and I was sorry to leave them 8 years later when I moved 'on' to senior leadership in another school.

Now being a senior leader in those first few months and years was really hard. I didn't have a team to 'lead' as such. I felt de-skilled. As the years have rolled by, I have developed other ways of valuing folks (I hope they really know it's genuine). Saying thank you and how are you are two important ways.

I still like to give credit where it's due. I still carry the can (publicly) when things go wrong. Maybe I'm a bit of soft touch. Maybe that's not so bad.

I'd love to have comments on these musings ...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

taking a collaborative approach

Inspired by the presentation my study group did - (Janshs blog) and the great PD session run at my school with ideas from @vickitoria35 I have decided to change my end of term activity for my GCSE Maths groups in Y10 and 11 (14-16 year olds).

I am going to set up four or five wikis and split class into small groups. They are doing a project on properties of 3D shapes which I usually do as a cut, stick, write, summarise activity on paper. This time I am going to ask them to put their results into a joint presentation using a wiki and maybe other ideas like Voki and Wallwisher as well. I am hoping that all this will take just 2 weeks - we'll see how it goes.

If anyone knows any cartoon strip software that's free (like Dvolver) it would be good to hear about it.

I'm going to mention this on Twitter too so maybe some of my students will get a heads up.