I wish I could claim I was this brilliant on my own, but I am not. I was having a conversation with a colleague ( thank you Jen) and we were evaluating our practice with portfolios. Why do we do it?What's in for us as teachers? Why should it be part of my professional development? Isn't it a student thing? We started discussing how it affects us and our ability to show progress. We know it works great at the end of a course to show how far a student has come with skills, but how was it working for us in our teaching practices?
We talked about it changing the onslaught of mass marking for assignments as students tend to pace themselves differently in this kind of environment. We also talked about how that could cause us to use this tool differently. I am working on showing students their progress on a more micro scale. Yes the big progress will be evident at the end of the course, but how I use portfolios to show little increments of skill building is where I want to focus.
This is when lightening struck!
Jen asked what about reflecting on reflecting? I probably looked like a deer in headlights at the point because I hadn't a clue what she was talking about. She must have sensed by utter confusion, because she continued.
"What if I use a reflection within a reflection with the gr 9"s?
What if they have to examine how they verbalize how they think and reflect on their learning over the course of a semester?"
I was gob smacked! Of course. We evaluate portfolios for skills in a particular course but I haven't been asking students to evaluate how they verbalize their own reflections. How does that change over the course of a semester, a year, a grade, a high school career. How does one's view of your education change as you reflect? Does your reflection have a pattern? Does is cycle? Does it change based on the course? I feel a thesis coming on!
Jen my wonderful friend this place is so lucky to have you!!
We talk about living in the greatest place on Earth. I agree, best country best area all of that, but I never realized just how much geography of a school effects students experience and teachers sense of belonging and value.
Most schools in our area are retrofitted renovated shells of schools built in the hay-day of the industrial era. They are giant boxes or a conglomerate of boxes fused together and partitioned into classrooms. Where you get to live in those boxes is often determined by tradition, legacy and equipment needs. You could spend 20 years in the same classroom, or like me bounce from place to place every year. I am not sure which is better or worse. I have occupied spaces in nearly every nook and cranny of this place. I have attempted to carve out space that felt like mine but it never really is. I don't know that space should be territorial, but its nice to have a place to store your resources, and a place to look after. Spaces often get neglected when they are transient spaces for teacher and students. If no one "owns" the place then it becomes unimportant and neglected. It is someone else's responsibility.
The whereabouts of a space is just as crucial, portables and attached buildings as well as classrooms that are "out of the way" breed inequality. They stop the flow of people, they isolate students and teachers a like. Teachers are looking for a home no less than any student. We are constantly trying to increase attachment because there is no doubt that attachment has an enormous effect on our young people. Sometimes creating that attachment is really difficult based simply on geography. If a teacher is responsible for a space and has claimed "ownership" of it they are somewhat tethered to that space by the mere fact that they feel responsible. I think they should feel responsible I think they should feel pride in the place they spend their time with students. That attitude towards a space transfers to students and promotes a healthy learning environment. If that space is out of the way or not in the general flow of people what happens to the teacher and to the students who are attached to that teacher, or the students who would really benefit from attachment with that individual but don't know they exist because of geography?
There is a saying around the Kootenays that "there is no hope past Hope" our community feels out of the flow of things in our province, our municipalities are banding together to make our voices heard and to create flow in our area. Kudos to those that are solving the problem! How do we transfer that kind of common goal to a school? It just a set of classrooms right? We all teach different subjects. We all have different strengths and weakness, not everyone likes everyone else, nor should they have to, but there has to be a way to make a conglomeration of boxes feel more inclusive and healthy.
I don't have an answer for this. Sometimes 25 stairs really is a geographical mountain to climb. Sometimes its just 4 stairs, and sometimes its just windows. There are so many things that create geographical barriers in a school. We need to find a way to make teachers and students a like feel more included and less marginalized by geography.
Well that was a major blogging hiatus :(
The end of my last semester saw so much activity that I just didn't have time.
I have been thinking a lot about what my semester in digital media arts was like and worked and what didn't
The collaboration with Robyn was stellar and has spun off into a blended learning course proposal for video production. We will see where that goes, it is very exciting,
The flipped format for media arts went surprisingly well. I am still tweaking the balance between how much information students need to have in order to play and explore software on their own with enough challenges to make it worth while, but not be so frustrating they give up. We explored more than I thought we would in some areas and were not nearly as deep as I anticipated in others.
I really hope I get to try it again so that I can change few things and see how it goes
Thank goodness for my students, their expertise and willingness to try things out with me and to really be honest about what sucked and what didn't!
My t-shirt factory was in full swing. Team shirts went out the door in significant numbers. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, to my wonderful students who gave up their lunch hours to weed vinyl, you are all amazing. Thank you to my second set of eyes for keep things straight :)
Yearbook has been quite the learning curve for me. The online software has been really helpful, and luckily I have had access to the lab where the computers actually work :) I can't wait to see the finished product. The extra hours by some of my dedicated students are a testament to their own personal investment in a great product.
The bits of flipping I explored went well. I am now on a mission for full integration! I am grateful for my colleagues whom have been trying it themselves.
What is not working:
Students are not used to this approach to teaching it took me a long time to get them on board with what we were doing. Time management has not been working for me. Anyone who thinks that this approach to teaching is easier or takes less time has not tried it. It might work better but it is not less work.
In all this has been a great learning experience and I am not done. I have so much further to go.
I can't wait.
Striving to explore flip explain in order to engage!