'Lifelong learning' is another 'buzz' term that has been floating around for a while. It's a great theory, and something we want for all of our students. It is not until recently that I have really felt like a life long learner. Being a part of a worldwide learning community through blogging, has introduced me to a range of people who motivate me to learn and be a better teacher. Some of these people are the fantastic teachers I've had the chance to collaborate with, and some of these people are my own students.
Since being involved with blogging I have learned about dozens of new web 2.0 tools that have made my teaching life richer. In the past, I have found that biting off too many new things has left me feeling overwhelmed, but seeing the fantastic ways that teachers around the world are using these tools gives me a drive to try out anything that comes to my attention and then share them with anyone who'll listen (and even some who won't).
It's not the tools that have inspired me though. It's the experiences I've witnessed kids having because of them, and it's the inspiring teaching (and teachers) that I see that go with these experiences. It has already been a great year of professional learning for me and I would like to take an opportunity here to reflect on, and acknowledge, some of the people and experiences that have contributed to my new learning.
Myles Webb, is a teacher from New Zealand. I was introduced to his 2008 class blog (Tamaki Today) at the end of last year, and was blown away with what I saw. I felt like I was visiting his classroom and could see the excitement and love for learning that his students were getting through blogging. Myles and the sharing he does through his blog, have given me the resources, confidence and drive to recognise and better meet the cultural learning needs of students in my class.
Bill Chamberlain is a teacher from Missouri, USA. Bill's class was my first introduction to collaboration online. We were both reading HOLES by Louis Sachar with our classes at the same time. I'd noticed this and thought it was pretty cool that 2 classes on opposite sides of the world were having a similar experience. I shared this with my students, we marveled at the coolness and that was that. A couple of weeks down the track, Bill had his students comment on the reflection questions I had posted for my kids to answer and we then responded to his task the next week. It seems simple thinking back, but as a new blogger, this was my real introduction to what blogging with students was all about. This made me realise that our classroom walls were no longer holding us in, and that the blog was not just between my class and I. Bill is constantly thinking and pushing us all to step out of our comfort zone as we expect our students to do.
Joe McClung, also from Noel, Missouri, is my most recent collaborator. During our recent school holidays here in Australia, I had an opportunity to SKYPE into Joe's class and talk with his students. They are a great bunch of kids who asked some really good questions about our class and school life in Australia. Thanks to a terrible answer about Aussie Rules football, this chat has spawned a lot of learning for both classes, and has been a really rewarding experience for me as a teacher and is still providing in my classroom. Seeing photos of Joe's kids with the footy we sent over and reading their presentations on AFL, really slammed home the idea of a global learning community. For those of you that have read earlier posts on this site, it's obvious that Joe loves being a teacher and consistently reminds us that learning does not have to
be dull, and that there is definitely room for fun in the classroom.
These three fellas (official Aussie spelling) are just a few of the teachers that have motivated and inspired a lot of my classroom learning this year. The conversations I've had with Michael Fawcett, Pam Thompson, Paul Luke, John Strange and many others, and the comments left on this site have all contributed to my professional learning. It's a great thing to be a part of and I encourage EVERYONE to find something that keeps YOU on your toes and makes you want to do better.