Global Classroom 2013-14 Launch Webinars – Nov 22 and 23/24

2013-14 LAUNCH PRESENTATION

It is hard to believe, but Global Classroom 2013-14 is upon us. When I co-founded our first project in March 2011 with Deb Frazier, I never dreamt that I’d be here, two and half years later, announcing the launch of our fourth instalment … building on some amazing years of global connections, conversations, and collaborations.

But, here we are. 

Our project launch webinars will be happening on Friday Nov 22, and Saturday Nov 23/ Sunday Nov 24 (morning), marking the beginning of the next chapter in our #globalclassroom journey. If you come along, or watch the recordings, you’ll have the opportunity to meet some of inspirational leaders, engage in global conversations, and start to explore the amazing possibilities presented by breaking down your classroom walls.

This year, we’ve set up a Google Plus invitation to enable people to check when the sessions run in their time-zone, and to add a reminder to their calendars by RSVP’ing their attendance. If you have any questions, please get in touch 🙂

As usual, these webinars will be held on online using BlackBoard Collaborate. We recommend checking you have the latest version of Java installed on your computer (or download the Blackboard Collaborate app for iOS), and log in at least 10 minutes prior to the start of the session. Thanks!

 

Session 1 –  Friday, November 22(#GlobalEd13)

 

Session 2 – Saturday Nov 23 / Sunday November 24

Please note, the repeat webinar on Saturday takes place in a different BlackBoard Collaborate room, courtesy of Warwick University. Please make sure you use the correct room link!

Meeting My “First Year Self”

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working with a group of student teachers and a few new relief (substitute / casual) teachers, and been given ample opportunity to reflect on my early career experiences. I still have vivid (painful) memories of my student teaching practical experiences, and remember how I graduated from university in 2008 with high hopes and a completely unrealistic sense of my readiness to teach.

It is hard for my current colleagues to believe that the eccentric relief teacher that they see now was the epitome of the ‘angry young man’ just a few short years ago. Nevertheless, it’s true. It took me years to accept that my university had not properly prepared me for the profession, and that teaching was a much harder, more savage profession than I’d ever imagined.

This is my fifth year ‘on the road’, although I’m only just entering my fourth year of teaching (in terms of days worked). I’ve yet to have a class of my own, despite spending three months in a school (an unpleasant story with unexpectedly positive outcomes). It has been an interesting journey, but despite all the setbacks and disappointments, I’m actually a better person for it. And besides, with most graduates quitting within three years, I’m one of the survivors.

I’ve come a long way

I am a different person, a different teacher than I was just a few short years ago.

It has taken me over four years to feel competent, to feel like that I actually know what I’m doing. Yes, I make my mistakes, but I’m making fewer of them … Yes, I still struggle to manage some classes, but I have a better classroom management toolkit and approach to help me get through the difficult situations. And perhaps most importantly, with an extensive national and international education network, I no longer feel angry, isolated, and alone.

So, as I reflect on my pre-service and early career teaching experiences, I found myself mentally composing the advice I wish I’d been given all those years ago. For those of you about to graduate your teacher training, and those starting out in our profession, this is for you.

 

First Year Teaching is Hell Hard.

 
cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by wakingphotolife:

Please don’t enter this profession with rose coloured glasses. Please don’t expect to easily get a teaching position in a good school, in a good class. Don’t expect to be the perfect, well organised competent classroom teacher from Day One …

Teaching is not an easy profession, and your first year will be, to put it mildly, hard slog. It is a matter of survival, resilience, and perseverance. The meetings, the dealings with parents (who can be difficult), the planning, the extracurricular activities, the classroom management challenges … and the list goes on.

It is easy to be disillusioned, isolated, and alone as a new teacher, particularly when you’re a relief teacher or new graduate in a ‘horror’ class. Research shows that virtually all new teachers go through a process of survival, disillusionment, and rejuvenation, although some people take longer to go through a phase than others.

Image via http://www.weac.org/professional_resources/new_teacher_resources/beg_handbook/phases.aspx

(Image source:  http://www.weac.org/professional_resources/new_teacher_resources/beg_handbook/phases.aspx. BTW, I highly recommend the Survival Guide at this link)

As a relief teacher, I didn’t have the support network that most new teachers have when they’re posted to a school. I was lucky that I had a few schools which were willing to forgive my horrific management mistakes, and give me the teaching experience I so desperately needed.

I am indebted to those relief coordinators who gave me a chance to learn and improve, who didn’t ‘spit me out’ after one or two days in their school. I went through some very traumatic experiences, yet I was one of the luckier ones, as I wasn’t stuck in a horrible class or supportive school for my first year of teaching.

It isn’t really possible to adequately prepare for the challenges of first year teaching, but there are some strategies and resources you can access to help ease the transition.

 

Develop your PLN / support network BEFORE you graduate from your teacher training course!



cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Alec Couros

If I could go back in time and change one thing about my university teacher training, I would have started building my online support network as a first year teacher. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest teacher trainers should provide some information about online education networks and support communities as part of the first year teacher curriculum and graduate teacher programmes, as this would make a significant difference for many early career teachers.

My online support network has helped make me the teacher I am today. From providing emotional support behind the scenes through some of the most traumatic episodes of my career, to giving me the empowering chance to present at my first online conference, and to the ongoing collaboration that I contribute to, my online network has stood by me, and helped me grow over the past few years.

And remember, if you’re employed in a school community, don’t forget to develop your local support network as well. You’re not expected to know everything (although we often think we should), and don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues (teacher next door) for help and advice. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, as you can’t survive in this profession if you try to go it alone. You’re working to create a learning community in your classroom and school, so don’t be afraid to practice what you preach!

 

Engage in State/Union Graduate Teacher Professional Development opportunities. 

In Western Australia, I was lucky enough to be one of the few relief teachers to progress through the Education Department’s teacher induction programme. It is called different things in different states (see here for details) and different countries, but early career mentoring and professional development programmes are truly invaluable. You’d be truly mad not to participate if you’re eligible, and I was certainly glad I did so.

 

Try and maintain your health

This is vitally important, and something that I probably should have paid more attention to in my first few years. Eating healthily, aiming for regular exercise, and maintaining an outdoor hobby are critical to surviving first year teaching.

I must confess that while I became a skilled ballroom dancer during this time (it was my only social outlet), ignoring chronic stress-related health problems saw me end up in hospital. I know for a fact that I wasn’t the only first year teacher who went through this experience, and I can only stress that setting some time aside to look after yourself, however hard, is critical when you’re starting out in this very stressful, and time-consuming profession.

 

Document the Journey

As you progress in your career, there will be times where you will want to look back, and see how you thought and acted in your early years. In fact, I’m doing that now …

A private journal or blog is an essential medium for first year teachers. Believe it or not, it really, really helps to just take a moment to write down what you are doing, how you are feeling, and what you’re planning to work on. In my first year, I took a few hours each school holidays to sit and write, and what I wrote makes for interesting, if admittedly painful, reading.

In more recent years, this blog has replaced my journal, although I have always maintained a separation between the raw emotion of the journals & the more professional tone I use here. I’m not sure I could have publicly blogged my first year experiences, although I do know, and greatly respect those teachers who do so.

Keep hold of your dreams, passions, and reasons for entering teaching.

Each person comes into teaching for different reasons, and there will be times in your early career where you’d will be wondering if it is all worth it, whether you’re actually achieving anything, or making a difference.

Don’t let go of your dreams, find something to cling on to – through the good and the bad. If you’re lucky enough to discover a passion for something, hold on to it with both hands. Having a sense of purpose and direction makes a huge difference when you’re going through the rough times, and will help you stay in what is, at the end of the day, a wonderful profession.

Remember, you’re never alone. And you ARE making a difference.

 

Enjoy the ride

First year teaching will be a challenge, but it is just the beginning of what we hope will turn out to be an amazing journey. As I enter my fourth year of teaching, the painful memories and traumatic experiences have faded, replaced by the triumphs, successes, and positive learning experiences of the past two years.

They say “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”, and that seems to have defined my teaching journey. For all the highs and lows, I’m a better person, and a better teacher. I’m looking forward to an exciting future in my chosen profession, and can’t wait to discover where it will take me.

Yes, I may not have (yet) had my own class, or a school to truly call home. Yet, I’m a teacher, and I’m proud of it.

All that remains is to wish my student-teacher and first year colleagues ‘good luck’ for your future. You have the potential to become great teachers, and I look forward to working with you in the years to come. Welcome to teaching.

 

Science, ICT, and the Global Classroom (#CONSTAWA33 Keynote)

Last weekend, I presented the Dinner Keynote at the Science Teachers’ of Western Australia conference, exploring the topic: Science, ICT, and the Global Classroom: Exploring the Possibilities. 

Our Challenge: Engaging Students in Science

As a primary school teacher & global education specialist, being asked to present to secondary science teachers was an interesting experience 🙂

The central theme of the presentation focussed on the use of technology to enable teachers and students Engage, Connect, Communicate, and Collaborate in secondary Science – via connections with external organisations, experts, and science educators around Australia, and around the world.

Building Bridges with REAL Science

My most memorable science teachers were those who were passionate about their subject, and who went out of their way to CONNECT their students to REAL science. As was posited to me on the night, these connections should, and indeed MUST begin, in the primary school classroom, but I was interested in exploring the possibilities at the secondary level.

You DON”T have to be an Expert (when you’re part of a community)

I was also very keen to point out that teachers don’t have to be ICT experts to engage & connect their students in Science. The keys to success lie in keeping an open mind, and and being willing to learn and collaborate with colleagues and experts beyond your classroom walls through engaging in online communities, such as the Scootle Community and Twitter.

I finished up by sharing a crowd-sourced Google Doc, containing links and ideas for Secondary Science teachers interested in exploring the possibilities of ICT and global connections in their teaching. You can access (and contribute) to that document via the short link: http://bit.ly/CONSTAWA2013.

 

Post Conference Reflections

I was rather pleased with the reception I received at the CONSTAWA Conference. It was rather challenging to walk into an unfamiliar conference audience, but the feedback was very positive.

I’ve learnt a great deal through the experience … not just about how much work and preparation goes into these kind of presentations, but how I can personally integrate ICT and global connections into my own Science teaching in the future. The connections I’ve made … the lessons I’ve learned … will help me a great deal when I eventually find my own space and own classroom – one day.

Thank you to the long list of teachers, scientists, and experts who helped make this presentation possible. I am indebted to you – for your support … and inspiring example of what is possible when you ‘explore the possibilities’ of Science, ICT, and the Global Classroom.

Life is full of surprises

Over the course of this year, I’ve made some amazing connections through this blog, including some unexpected connections with local Western Australian relief (substitute) teachers.

Relief teaching can be a lonely profession. To the best of my knowledge, there are only a handful of relief / substitute teacher bloggers, yet I’ve discovered that there are quite a few reading my blog.

Flickr CC-NC-SA Image by Todd Berman

 

I know my content has evolved significantly over the past (nearly two) years,, a reflection perhaps of the “Journey” mentioned in the title, yet my musings on relief teaching and classroom management continue to drive most of my blog traffic.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I was contacted by several relief teachers, and one recently graduated teacher, working right here in Western Australia. We’ve corresponded via email and Twitter; swapping ideas, sharing experiences, and supporting each-other behind the scenes.

It’s a beginning

We may work in a lonely profession, but there is a wonderful opportunity for us relief and substitute teachers to share, connect, and collaborate virtually, and maybe later, face-to-face. We all have a story to tell, and it is time we started sharing them.

It has taken several years for my work to start attracting attention here in Western Australia, and while my work is well known internationally, these local connections are something I particularly treasure. I know I’m not alone, and I look forward to becoming further involved in the growth of my local education networks.

We live in interesting times.

The Power of Connections & Conversation

It is hard to believe that #ACEC2012 has been and gone. Yet, I will carry its legacy for many years to come.

For me the conference was not about the presentations or the keynotes, although they had their place. It was about the connections, the conversations, … and the food … (only partly kidding!)

Photo by @anouk_ratna, Student Photographer @ #ACEC2012

During the conference, I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful, inspiring educators – some of whom I have known and worked with online for years. Some highlights included meeting @rgesthuizen, @ackygirl, @brettelockyer, @HenriettaMi, @losiath, @murcha, @tasteach, @alupton, @smadsenau, @melcashen, and frankly, the list goes on …

 

I took a great deal of confidence and affirmation away from #ACEC2012. 

Making my presentation debut at Australia’s national ICT conference was a personal milestone, one which I will remember for many years to come. The fact that I had a full house, and received such wonderful feedback on the ‘passion’ of my presentation, was a welcome recognition that my work is valued beyond the emotional roller-coaster of my day-to-day teaching practice.

I knew that my work in global education was respected by educators around the world, but I really appreciated the opportunity to sit down and talk to people whose teaching practice and educational outlook are being transformed through their engagement in the #globalclassroom community.

I’m a teacher. I may not have my own class, but I’m making an impact.

And I’m already looking forward to attending #ACEC2014 in Adelaide!

 

Skyping with @SAVSchool at #ACEC2012

Rock the World! (#flatclass Book Club Reflections – Part 9)

Several months after it began, my #flatclass reflections series has finally come to an end. I really enjoyed attending the official Book Club, and I hope my blogged reflections will help inspire and guide other teachers interested in exploring this amazing field.

Perhaps too, they will help provide some feedback to the book’s amazing authors, who inspired my first steps into the wonderful world of global collaboration.


Chapter 11: Challenge Based Professional Learning

If there is one thing the Flat Classroom community particularly excels, it is their model of challenge-based PD for teachers.

For now at least, my attendance at a Flat Classroom Conference remains a distant dream; however, this chapter provides an impressive overview of #flatclass PD. Frankly, most of the theory and PD framework in this chapter went over my head, but if this area interests you, I’m sure you’ll find it a fascinating read.

Chapter 12: Rock the World

This chapter was short and sweet, and can be simply summarized in a few lines

  • Make connections which count
  • Learn YOUR way
  • Be prepared to help and share
  • Set some goals – take that first step!
  • Share your story, and "Rock the World"

This chapter is a fitting conclusion to Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds; and it reflects my own learning journey over the past few years.

Every journey starts with a single step … and its time to "Rock the World". Care to join me?

An Australian Teacher’s #GlobalEd Update

It is hard to believe that I am only a few months away from celebrating the second year of my first professional blog. As time has gone by, the topics have changed, and my readership has fluctuated, but I’m still here. I personally think that’s quite an achievement, considering all that has gone on behind the scenes …

In light of what has been a very busy to start to the year, I thought I’d share my first (occasional) Global Education Update

 
cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by woodleywonderworks

 

Global Classroom 2011-12 is coming to an end

Nine months after the official launch of the Global Classroom Project (2011-12), we are planning its conclusion. There are feedback surveys to prepare, a few VoiceThreads to create, a wiki showcase to work on, and the final webinar(s) to organise …

Yet, as I look back, I’m happy. This project, and the people I work with, have helped me through the ups and downs of the past year, and led to some amazing new opportunities and connections. It has been a wonderful experience, and I’m certainly looking forward to taking a few months break!

We are currently working on the final project, building a commerative wiki (http://globalclassroommementos.wikispaces.com), and sending several #globalclassroom scrapbooks around the world. It is time to celebrate our teachers’ & students’ achievements in Global Classroom 2011-12.

 

The May #globalclassroom Twitter chats start this weekend (in a few hours)

This month marks the first time our newly-formed chats team have organised the monthly #globalclassroom chats.

I’d like to thank Jennifer Fenton (@jennysfen), for organising this month’s chat, and to Andrew Thompson (@1AndrewT63), who bravely put his hand up to help out, and is on the list for next month 🙂

This month’s topic is: Getting a global project started … Where do you begin, and how do you make it meaningful and sustainable?, contributed by Laurie Renton (@RentonL).

I hope you will take a moment to explore (and bookmark) our new Global Classroom Twitter Chats wiki, which you will find at http://theglobalclassroomchats.wikispaces.com

The chats start today, Saturday, May 12, and run until Monday / Tuesday next week. Please see the wiki to find out when they run in your timezone. I hope to see you there!

 

Exploring new opportunities with iEARN Australia 

And finally, in what was one of the most satisfying moments of the year to date, I’ve joined the iEARN Australia management team, where I’ll help run the Australian branch of the world’s largest and longest established global collaboration community.

Drawing on my experience running Global Classroom, I am looking forward to helping grow the iEARN Australia network, raising awareness about the benefits of global education and collaboration within the wider Australian educational community. I’m determined to make the most of this very special opportunity, so stay tuned! 🙂