2016: A Year in Review

I know I’ve been quiet this year, but this post marks 6.5 years of blogging. Quite an achievement that.

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In 2016, I worked alongside teachers, exploring our new digital technologies curriculum; and returned to working with students, establishing our new LEGO Robotics and Maker Monday afterschool programs. There aren’t many jobs where you can say that you get to teach with LEGO and robots!

 

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Scribblebots @ Curtin University Makerspace in Schools workshop

 

Looking back, these are the events and experiences which defined my year:

  • Our award winning makerspace and robotics program began to flourish, with growing interest from our students, parents, and the wider educational community. We even had a Twitter friend visit from the USA!
  • I led the redesign of our library space, purchasing new furniture and robotics technologies with the goal of transforming it into a contemporary makerspace and learning hub.
  • Our research partnership with Curtin University bore fruit. We hosted three in-school makerspace workshops, helping pre-service teachers and researchers explore how hands-on maker activities (e.g. Scribblebots, LED origami) can build students’ deep understandings of science concepts.
  • I co-presented with the Curtin University team at the Primary Science Conference, and co-presented a Makerspace workshop at the Educational Computer Association of WA Conference.
  • I explored the design thinking process through the Studio Curious ‘design thinking accelerator’, prototyping a project for system change in Catholic Education WA. (This was a fantastic learning experience, one I’ll blog about in more detail later).
  • I coached my inaugural FIRST LEGO League season, taking The Robotic Rebels and The MotherBoards to our first ever robotics tournament. It was an incredible learning experience, both for me, and my amazing robotics girls!

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Returning to ISTE

And in a recent development, I’ve just received confirmation that I will be returning to the USA in 2017, presenting at the International Society for Technology Education Conference in San Antonio, TX. I’ll be running a Scratch Game Design workshop; and co-presenting “The FIRST LEGO League Coaches’ Corner” with Louise Morgan and Aaron Maurer. I hope to see you there!

I have no plans to return to the USA for a few years after #ISTE17, so if you’re planning to be at the conference, or live in/near Chicago, Denver, Glenwood Springs, and San Francisco, I’d love to catch up for a coffee and a chat if you have the time.

2015: A Long and Winding Road

2015 was a memorable year, of highs and lows. It was a year of experimentation, exploring possibilities, and learning how to be a coach and change leader. I learned a lot, made plenty of mistakes, and am starting to feel more positive about my future.

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ISTE – Building connections and relationships to last a lifetime

 2015 was the year:

  • I travelled to the United States of America for the ISTE 2015 conference, where I gave three presentations, and met so many wonderful friends and educators from all over the globe.Among renegades, boundary pushers, innovators … I felt at home. ISTE has to be one of the greatest highlights of my professional career so far.
  • I was recognised as an ISTE Emerging Leader, an award I am forever grateful for. Ironically, being only the fifth or sixth Australian to be recognised by ISTE has a significant disadvantage – in that most Australian teachers and school leaders I meet (who aren’t on social media) have absolutely no idea what ISTE is, and what this award stands for.
  • I graduated from Notre Dame University with my Postgraduate Certificate in Religious Education, bringing to an end 1.5 years of part-time postgraduate study.
  • Later in the year, I completed the requirements for my “Accreditation to Teach Religious Education”, which will enable me to continue teaching in the Catholic Education system.
  • In October, after nearly seven years, I became a fully registered teacher in Western Australia. Those currently going through the registration process in line with the Australian Teacher Standards will know just how much work goes into this!
  • I started to explore new learning opportunities in maker education, robotics, and STEM.
  • I learned a great deal about leading change within a school community. Perhaps the most important lesson being that teachers learn in a variety of different ways.

 

What’s been happening with #ipsict?

My new role this year was to work as an ICT integrator / coach, to support teachers’ professional learning with ICT and digital technologies. It was at times exhilarating, surprising, tumultuous, and challenging. Looking back, I see a lot to celebrate, and an opportunity to learn from my mistakes.

Introducing Digital Technologies & the Makerspace

We began exploring new avenues for engaging girls in ICT and digital technologies, with a particular emphasis on coding and robotics. The more I throw at my girls, the more they come back and surprise me.

  • This year, we introduced (i.e. took a deep breath and played with) BeeBots and introductory coding apps in Early Childhood; and started to explore the deeper possibilities of Scratch in upper primary. I was blown away by my students’ enthusiasm, problem solving, collaboration, and learning. One of my more memorable moments was sitting down with a Year 5 girl and basically asking “how on Earth did you do that in Scratch?”
  • The librarian and I started building our makerspace in our library, catching the attention of local university education researchers and the Catholic Education Office of WA. We have big plans for next year – watch this space!
  • I established our Digital Captains leadership positions, working with two Year 6 ‘digital leaders’ to test new robots, lesson ideas, and share our makerspace concept with the community at our Open Night – where they performed a robot fashion show! These two amazing students grew so much over the course of the year, and I look forward to following their progress as they enter high school next year. I have big plans for our next group of Digital Captains – next year will be interesting!

Establishing a new LEGO Robotics Program

In the Term 3 school holidays, I met the Engineering Outreach Coordinator at Curtin University, who roped me into judging the WA FIRST LEGO League Tournament, and generously loaned us two LEGO NXT robots.

In Term 4, we established a lunchtime robotics club with a group of Year 5 students, and applied for – and WON a FIRST Australia / Google robotics grant to set up our own robotics program. Next year, we will be taking at least one team of Year 6 students to compete in the FIRST Lego League competition! This has meant that my role will be evolving next year, as I will be leading the development of our new LEGO robotics extension program.

Looking Forward to 2016

2015 was, in many respects, a challenging year. Yet, I believe we have set a strong foundation for what is to come. As a school community, we’re moving forward … even if it is along a long and winding road.

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2014: “As one door closes, another opens” …

CC-BY-NC Michael Graffin

CC-BY-NC Michael Graffin

 

The 2014 school year did not start particularly well.

As a result of State Government funding cuts to education, and other unrelated factors, I experienced my worst start to the relief teaching year since I graduated six years ago. In addition, I’d returned to postgraduate study, and was struggling to cope with my overly ambitious academic workload. Suffice to say the first half of 2014 was not a pleasant time.

It is ironic then, that I am now glad that my relief phone stopped ringing … as it led to my applying for, and winning an ICT teaching position at a top private girls school in June. I had no idea that I would find myself working for an administration who share my philosophy and vision for the use of ICT to support students’ learning, and who genuinely model pastoral care for their staff. After many years working in an often uncaring, indifferent Government education system (there was a lot I couldn’t share in this post), I have no desire to go back.

2014 was the year:

  • I keynoted the inaugural #OZeLive online conference, which will return in February 2015
  • I returned to postgraduate study at Notre Dame University, with excellent academic results (despite an overwhelming start).
  • I travelled to Sydney, Australia for two amazing conferences – Flat Connections and #Slide2Learn 2014, meeting many wonderful Twitter friends for the first time.
  • My global education work was featured in Neville Bruce’s TEDx Perth presentation on ‘Education for World Futures’.
  • I started working at my new school, one which I am proud to call home for another year.
  • I received the incredible news that I will be presenting two group poster sessions, and an iPad workshop at the #ISTE15 conference in Philadelphia, USA.

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As one door closes, another opens …

In 2014, I’ve finally started my transition out of relief teaching, after five and half years on the road. It has been a mostly positive journey, but the time has come to leave it behind. While I probably stayed in that role for too long (it took a high emotional toll), I am grateful for the opportunity which now presents itself. I’m about to start my first ‘long term’ part-time contract in a Catholic school; a school where I finally feel free to learn, grow, innovate, and push the boundaries of what is possible with ICT.  

2013: “Spreading My Wings”

CC BY-NC-ND by Michael Graffin

Summer’s Night on the Corniche. CC BY-NC-ND by Michael Graffin

It is hard to believe that a wonderful year has come to an end. My thinking, pedagogy, and attitude towards teaching has continued to evolve, and I suspect the full implications of the events and connections of 2013 will only become apparent in the years to come.

Looking Back

Its time to reflect on the defining moments of 2013, a year of exploration, learning, and new opportunities … a year where I “spread my wings”.

Five Years “On the Road” 

Much to the horror and disbelief of some, I’m a relief / casual teacher by choice … It has taken me nearly 5 years to feel like I’m starting to master this very challenging role, yet I’ve already outlasted many of my graduate teacher colleagues. I’ve learnt my lessons through the “school of hard knocks” (literally and physically), and I’m a better teacher, and a better person for it.

I’m so much more than “just a relief teacher” … I’m a presenter, writer, learner, and emerging global education leader … with the true privilege of growing together with an amazing group of online educators around the world.

Proving a Point (#WLPSict)

While I only worked in the #WLPSict role for a few weeks, the experience enabled me to prove to myself (my harshest critic) that I had what it took to be a competent, innovative ICT Integration teacher.

It was only a taste of a role I’d like to explore further, but it gave me the freedom to experiment and learn in a supportive collegial environment. Despite never returning (a painful story), this was a fantastic learning opportunity, one which I look forward to repeating elsewhere in future.

Becoming a Presenter & Keynote Speaker

Mrs Warner, my high school English teacher, once remarked that teaching was an unusual choice of profession for someone with terrible public speaking skills, but I suspect she’d be very proud of me now.

In 2013, I gave over 9 presentations, including my first keynotes (for the CONSTAWA Dinner & iEARN Social Media Panel), first international workshop, and first presentation at a local school development day. It was also the year where I returned to where it all began, at the Reform Symposium eConference, and the year I had the opportunity to co-present a workshop with Kerry Muste, one of our Global Classroom Lead Teachers.

Building on my work with The Global Classroom Project, I contributed my thoughts, stories, and expertise to a wide range of magazine articles and research publications this year, and with another article due for submission in early February, 2014 looks set to be a busy year.

Taking Flight … Literally

This was the year of my first international trip (and plane flight) in over 20 years. Landing in the dusty, hot Doha airport at 5AM local time was the culmination of much planning, and deeply appreciated encouragement from iEARN Australia, an organisation I am proud to be a part of.

As those who followed my #RoadtoDoha posts and photos at the time already know, Qatar was an ideal destination for a first time solo traveler, and a photographer’s dream. I still get slightly emotional thinking about my time in Doha, for it was a truly life changing experience – both for me as a person, and as an educator sharing my story on the world stage.

So, where to from here?

2014 promises to be an interesting year. The experiences, learning, and new friendships of 2013 have helped me glimpse a potential future beyond relief teaching, and I am starting to consider how to implement some exciting new ideas. I’m in no particular hurry, because 2014 marks my return to postgraduate study, as I begin my Post Graduate Certificate in Religious Education at a local university, with a view to starting my Masters in 2015.

In other news, I’m planning to travel to Sydney for the Flat Connections Conference in June 2014, and am looking forward to spending 2 weeks in what I have heard is an amazing city. I am also hoping to attend the ACEC Conference in Adelaide, but am still weighing up the details and costs of that one.

I don’t know what 2014 holds for me, but I’m looking forward to finding out … One step at a time.

 

2012: A Year of Exploring Possibilities

“Bather’s Beach” – By Michael Graffin (2012)

My blog is very much a reflection of my teaching journey over the past few years …

2010 was very much a year of experimentation, of learning, and finding my feet – as a relief teacher & a connected on-line educator.

2011 was a “Year of Change“, but with the benefit of hindsight, the lessons & outcomes of that painful, tumultuous year have more than compensated for the agony I went through.

So, what were my experiences of 2012?

 

2012 was “A Year of Exploring Possibilities” 

Mr Davo Devil checking out the #globalclassroom scrapbook

This has been an interesting year. I’ve had my ups and downs, but overall it was a positive, meaningful year.

Some significant moments include:

This was a year where my skills and expertise were recognised and appreciated locally, as well as internationally. Working with Jenny on the TIPS2012 project was a rich learning experience, and my involvement with iEARN Australia has thrown up some wonderful opportunities for 2013.

A huge thank you also goes to Nigel Mitchell (my ACEC 2012 co-presenter), Kathryn Edwards of Peach MediaKesha Busing of RIC Publicationsand Mal Lee. You’ve helped shape an amazing year, and I hope we have the opportunity to work with each other in the years to come.

 

My favourite posts of 2012

This year, I haven’t blogged as often as I’d have liked; however, there are a few posts of which I’m particularly proud.

Thank You Mr P.

Perhaps my most heart-felt, emotional post of the year, which came as a bit of a shock for Mr P. 

Life, Language, Laughter, Skype

The Hello Little World Skypers and Global Classroom Skype groups have had a profound impact on my personal and professional life. I treasure the relationships and friendships I’ve formed through these groups, and hope to start meeting some of the members f2f over the years to come.  

Teacherpreneurs – Connect, Create & Collaborate

Part of my series of posts from the Flat Classroom Book Club earlier this year, this post was an ‘ah-ha’ moment. My engagement in the book club marked the start of an emerging, and extremely important relationship with Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay of The Flat Classroom Project.

 

Publications / Articles / Podcasts

2012 has been a busy year, marking the first time I’ve had my name in print.

Contributions 

Collaboration in learning: transcending the classroom walls by Mal Lee and Lorraine Ward

I was lucky enough to contribute to the research underpinning this book, and I look forward to its’ release in early 2013. For some detail on the research, and the findings, please have a read of Mal and Lorraine’s research paper.

The Global Classroom Project –  Classroom 2.0 Book Submission

Things have gone quiet about this project; however, the more reads we receive, the more likely we are to be published in the print edition of the Classroom 2.0 Book. Your assistance has been greatly appreciated!

Articles

Teacher Feature 

Education Matters – Primary & Secondary Magazine 2012/13

Education Matters Magazine      Teacher Feature (2012) (PDF)


 

Learning, sharing and collaborating globally in the early years: Stories from the Global Classroom Project

Class Ideas K-3 Magazine (Early 2013 Release)

With contributions from #globalclassroom teachers in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, United Kingdom, and Lebanon, this was the first magazine article I’ve ever written, and I can’t wait to see it in print next year. I’ll post a link to the online version when it becomes available.

 

Podcasts

A World of Difference -The Virtual Staffroom Podcast

This interview with Chris Betcher, Theresa Allen, and Lisa Parisi was a huge confidence booster, and a great way to start the year. I forgot to link to it from my blog at the time; however, I’d highly recommend having a listen. You can find it via the link above, or find it on iTunes. Thanks Chris 🙂

 

Looking Forward to 2013

2013 is going to be an exciting year!

Flickr CC-NC-SA by Lυвαιв

I’ll be presenting at the Science Teachers of Western Australia Conference in May, and travelling to Doha, Qatar for iEARN 2013.

I’m hoping the Qatar trip will be the first of many, as I’d like to do a little travelling & meet a few international friends over the next few years. If that means I relief teach for a few more years, then so be it. It will be worth it.

Let’s see how we go.

Happy New Year.