Saturday, November 28, 2015

We Grow When We Are Challenged!

Forgive me dear reader (all two of you), for I have been remiss!  It has been some time since my last posting.  I should feel guilty and I should be berating myself for not publishing, but instead, I am going to be a little kinder on myself.  It is not like I haven't been writing - on the contrary, I have at least 20 draft posts, and numerous notes on my phone with potential gems to wow and impress (well, in my head at any rate).  

I could beat myself up, or I could explain.

It has been busy - so busy that even I am amazed at how hectic my diary looks.  I have also done something that is border line a little crazy - exciting and thought provoking - but definitely borderline crazy.  I have signed myself up for some postgraduate study.  

Great idea, I imagine you are thinking.

You are not wrong, but here is the crazy part.  It is term four.  All Kiwi educators will know what that means, but for those of you offshore, let me explain.  Term four is the final term in the school year, it is the term that is the most busy, with end of year wrap ups, reporting, data, data, and more data, prize givings and all other end of the school year fiascos.  If you think it is busy for a teacher, then imagine how amplified it is for the leader!  Budgets, strategic planning, staffing, appraisal and coaching wrap ups and attendance at every kind of meeting, community event and end of year function you can imagine.  All this plus those things already mentioned, has to squeezed into a bulging diary!  I would say roll on Christmas and the summer holidays but I have too many things to complete first!

When I was initially informed that there was a space on the Mindlab by Unitec Post Graduate Certificate of Applied Practice (Digital and Collaborative Learning) course, and they still had scholarships left, and I could start that very day - in the anticipation of the moment - I jumped at the chance.   Technoman has often bemoaned the fact that he married a woman who seriously underestimates just how much work is involved in any given project.  Renovate the house, how hard can it be?  Build a website (in the old days when you only used HTML), sounds simple enough!  

You name it, and I am likely to believe I am capable of achieving it.  (not that I will apply that same theory to parachuting anytime soon)  Suffice to say, I may have underestimated the amount of hours I need to invest in studying, given how much else is going on.  Oh well, one day at a time, and a long series of lists, seems to be the smart way forward!

Still, as the image on this post states, you don't grow unless you are challenged!  

Initially I thought this postgraduate study was only for teachers, but after hearing that principals' were welcome, I was in!  It makes sense really, as this certificate is all about innovation, contemporary pedagogy and digital technologies - all of which are key underpinnings of our current journey - my participation can only improve my leadership of this at our place.   In addition it allows for early adopters on my staff to consider this as a personalised professional development option for themselves.  

The scholarship is ingenious - it makes it affordable and it provides participants with an additional incentive to study.  I imagine it will be a challenge for some people, as they push the boundaries of peoples assumptions and preconceptions of teaching and learning.  Deep down I am a bit of a futurist so for me it has been an opportunity to reflect on my own wonderings.  I have also been introduced to some very cool techie things that I will need to find time to play with (I think midnight is free). 

The first assignment, due Monday (but thanks to some fancy time management),  has been completed and digital deities willing, submitted.  The upload seemed a bit dodgy so fingers crossed!  

The task was to identify, justify and plan a digital and collaborative innovation, and present it in the form of a video.  When I first saw the assignment I had to smile at the irony, given the innovations I had already put into place this year, but it didn't take long to apply it to a wondering I have been pondering all year.  

The video has been an interesting challenge, but I confess it has also been fun.  It has given me the opportunity to play, experiment and be a little creative.  Time willing, I will post a modified version (academic bits that might bore you all removed) of it here, as I promised some time ago to do a post on my wonderings around professional development   At this time of the year this video could have been the nail that sealed my metaphoric coffin, but instead, it has actually been the part of my day that has bought me joy.  Who knew! 

Thus far it has been really interesting, and more importantly, engaging.  

Here have been my key takeouts so far: 

1. The classes, despite being four hours, are engaging - really engaging.   It is not like going to a dry and boring lecture, something out of the 'olden days'.  Not only are the classes engaging, the environment is stunning.  It is creative, interesting and the choice of seating is original.  They have a Christmas tree up at the moment that is decorated by PAUA SHELLS! How cool is that (note to self - take some pics to share). 

2. Working with teachers from other schools has been both interesting and fascinating.  Each of us comes from a different context, yet we are all linked by the commonalities of what it is to be an educator.   It is quite refreshing to hear the stories of another school, and to be in a room full of educators all keen to participate in something as engaging as this.  Collaborating with people you don't know to make a video is quite the challenge - but the learning that you undergo is real gold! 

3. It has been fun.  So far I have played with making videos, augmented reality and stop motion videos.  How often do we get to play with technology (in context) and have fun in our learning (I know you are all making some connections right now!!!).  I constantly say that FUN is critical in the learning process at our place, so much so, that it is almost a 'thing' about me, but the irony of how little ones own professional learning is fun, is not lost on me.  Mindlab have gone out of their way to engage us in the practical and the fact that is fun, is a real bonus.  Play is how children make sense of the world, and it is no different for us.  

4. I am really enjoying the research side, and applying it to my current context.  It is a little distracting in that I keep finding fascinating articles and I need to set them aside and not be sidetracked from what I really need to be focused on.  

It is early days, and with two weeks and two days of school left before the Summer break, it does feel like I am juggling an awful lot of balls.  However, one can't complain it is boring! 

So remember folks, when you feel like you are about to hit the wall, we don't grow when things are easy, we grow when we are challenged!