I am currently preparing to go back to the classroom after a three-year stint as a literacy coach. My preparations are not so much about tweaking and adjusting my practice as they are about reinventing myself. Don’t get me wrong, I am loving the process of taking what I have learned and applying it in my own classroom. Penny Kittle’s Book Love, Kelly Gallagher’s Write Like This, Harvey and Daniels’ thinking on student inquiry, Alan November’s take on meaningful, authentic work, and Allan Luke’s views on critical literacy all influence my thinking and planning. I have heard the message about student voice and choice, independence and stamina, reading and writing together, and the empowerment students’ can sense and gain through critical literacy.
Do you hear the “but” coming?
But, all of this reading and learning and discussing and coaching is not what is driving the reinvention of Julie Balen and Room 121. It is the experience of having participated in ETMOOC that has fundamentally changed the way I think about teaching and learning. Sure I have experienced a-ha moments in my own learning, but they were more … accidental, as in the learning I did experience was not the intended learning as set out by an instructor or course. The same can be said of my own teaching. The lessons that remain with me because of the powerful student engagement I witnessed were not the lessons that I had intended to teach that day. What exists for both the learner and the teacher is the tension between what learning is intended ( i.e. planned for) and that which is real/authentic/meaningful.
Learning through ETMOOC
ETMOOC presented me with all kinds of interesting content (digital literacy, digital storytelling, and content curation) that was relevant to my work in K-12 classrooms, and that’s what a course, massive or not, should do, right? Well…not entirely.
As an educator, I am accustomed to viewing all of the learning, that which I choose to do or that which is provided to me, through the lens of ‘how is this relevant to my work?’. Although this lens has clearly changed as a result of my work as a coach (a topic for another day), ETMOOC’s connectivist approach opened my eyes and mind to learning that is open, participatory, collaborative, AND accessible to all. Connectivist learning is about self-direction and collaboration. It’s about making connections and independent work. It’s about creating and sharing content.
Teaching from ETMOOC
While ETMOOC was the most engaging learning that I have ever experienced, it also made me think about my teaching. In ETMOOC, I watched my fellow participants play at their learning. I listened to them negotiate their learning publicly on a whole host of platforms. I followed along their learning paths. I engaged in conversations across time zones and educational rooms. I contributed alongside them on collaborative projects. I witnessed the power of a connectivist framework to let learners get on with their learning. I need to find ways to help my students get on with their learning too. Christina Hendricks identifies a couple of slogans she would want on her ETMOOC t-shirt that focuses on coping with the flow of information and activity around a mooc (“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t do everything — only feel guilty if you don’t do anything” and “drinking when thirsty”). My t-shirt would read: “No right way, no single path” (Dave Cormier).
Open Online Experience 2013 is a professional learning opportunity for K to 16 educators that have emerged out of ETMOOC. For me, OOE is the space where my learning and my teaching will meet. As a co-creator, I have been privileged to work alongside knowledgeable and passionate educators who are my teachers. As a teacher leader in my school system, I am sharing this opportunity with my colleagues who I will support throughout the year. As a classroom teacher, this experience will inform and transform my practice so that I do meet the needs of all students. As Will Richardson says, “Instead of helping our students become ‘college ready,’ we might be better off making them ‘learning ready,’ prepared for any opportunity that might present itself down the road. That’s an ecological shift in thinking.”
And that is what OOE2013 offers all of us.
Some of my fellow co-creators have blogged about their take on OOE2013. Have a look and share your thoughts.
How Educators Can Make Time for Professional & Personal Development by Debbie Morrison
Open Online Experience 2013 by Janet Webster
Joining another connectivist Mooc by Fredrik Graver