Reflective Blogging | Toronto Teacher Mom

Reflective Blogging

Thursday, July 07, 2016

According to George Couros, a well-known Innovative Teaching, Learning, and Leadership consultant and school principal from Alberta, reflection is part of your work as a teacher. His blog post entitled, "Another Reason to Blog; Proactive Through Reflection" underlines the importance of making the time to thoughtfully reflect on our teaching practices and narrowing our focus. As I begin on another journey by way of a second additional qualification course on Integration of Information and Computer Technology, I am tasked with sharing my own reflections through blogging. 

While I am no stranger to blogging, I have to admit that I haven't written many blogs that reflect upon my own teaching practices. With that said, I welcome this opportunity to share open reflection on my learning throughout this course. I completely agree with Couros that reflection is an essential part of our role as a teacher. In this way, we can model to our students the how and the why of self-reflection.

If there is one thing I have learned from blogging throughout the past ten years, it is that you can only get better with practice. You see, English class was one of my least favourite subjects. As a student, reading and writing proved to be more difficult than I cared to admit. In fact, I hated writing. I struggled with organizing my thoughts on paper and always wrote the bare minimum. While my English grammar improved thanks to my extensive undergraduate studies in French, Spanish and Italian, it wasn't until I made a regular habit of blogging that I finally felt confident in my writing skills, which, by no means, are perfect. My personal goal, therefore, is to embark on a journey of reflective blogging as I continue my professional learning in the years to come.

Learning Experience #1: Program Development

During our first learning experience in the course, it was interesting to see how different schools set up their technology differently, whether it be using a centralized model where technology is stored in one location such as a computer lab or whether they follow a model of technology integration. One observation that keeps standing out in my mind is the varying degrees of access to technology and the types of technology that have been made available in some schools. It has inspired me to better advocate for the need to supplement the current ICT resources in our own school so that all students have an equal opportunity to put their 21C skills into practice.

This first learning experience was also a great way to connect with other like-minded educators who understand the need, and the benefits, of pursuing professional development in the area of information and computer technology. In particular, as a blogger of ten years, it was really nice to see so many fellow educators taking the leap into blogging. I know how overwhelming it can be at first but imagine how empowering it will be for students to learn from someone who has experience in blogging and customizing their own site! Well done!

Learning Experience #2: Special Needs and Technology - Part 1

Necessary for some, good for all.

If there is one thing I've learned over the past year, it is that technology that has been designed to assist those with special needs can indeed benefit others as well. Take, for instance, the voice typing tool in Google Docs. For those who are unable to physically type on a keyboard, this tool is indispensable. However, for my FSL students who may be reluctant to write in French, they can easily change the language and dictate their responses directly into the document. What I love about this is that the tool automatically adds accents when needed and the students don't have to worry as much about spelling. They can simply focus on getting their thoughts and ideas recorded in writing.

Learning Experience #2: Special Needs and Technology - Part 2

In the video highlighting Westfield Technology College, headteacher Andrew Penman states that his staff is very skilled at "making the right interventions, supportive, proactive, able to take the child forward but without doing the work for them." This quote has struck a chord with me because, as much as I hate to say it, I have seen special needs students struggle with a task so much so that the educational assistant or the teacher intervenes to do most of the work. This is why it is important to question how we can best service these students and how, as teachers, we can best accommodate with the help of ICT and modify as needed so that all students can take ownership over their own work. One other quote that stood out was, ICT is seen as "a liberating and motivating tool that helps pupils achieve their maximum potential." If we can make these tools more accessible and provide students with the necessary training, we can grant them greater opportunities to enhance their learning skills and 21C competencies, and help them take a more active role in their learning while taking pride in their work.

Comic Life 3 - review

One task that I enjoyed in the second learning experience involved selecting a software program and creating a brochure summarizing what the program can do for students and how you could use this program within the classroom. I selected Comic Life 3, a program I have yet to use but I found intriguing in the ways it could benefit students with special needs and engage all students in general.

As we mark the halfway point of the course, I have been able to learn so much from my colleagues by way of course discussion forums and through Twitter as well. It is inspiring to work with fellow members of the Ontario College of Teachers who are dedicated to students and student learning, as well as demonstrate a drive to be current in their professional knowledge in order to best determine appropriate pedagogy, assessment and evaluation, resources and technology in planning for and responding to the needs of individual students. I look forward to continuing on in this journey and the possibility of pursuing an IICT specialist.

Self-reflection is the school of wisdom. - B. Gracian

Learning Experience #3: Supporting Staff IT Development

As much as I am very eager to support my staff as they begin to explore Google Apps for Education and ways they can begin to implement these tools in the classroom, I find I often struggle with how I can possibly succeed in doing so in a way that will be effective and yet won't require a huge time commitment outside of school hours. The short of the matter is, there likely isn't. The thing with professional development is that, in order for it to be truly effective, it should self-directed and ongoing. How many times do we sign up for an ICT workshop and learn so many great ideas but, as Mary Ann Wolf points out, our interest wanes when we return to the classroom and "the reality of the thousands of other things that ha[ve] to be done"?

Over the past year and a half, I have dedicated endless hours delving into the wonderful world of Google by working through modules in the Google for Education online training centre, participating in GAFE-related workshops, attending a GAFE Summit, completing GAFE trainer exams, implementing GAFE in my FSL classes, working with an amazing group of TCDSB21C Innovators, creating tutorials, preparing an introduction to GAFE presentation for my staff during a Professional Activity Day, exploring the benefits of HyperDocs, and obtaining a certificate as a Certified Google Educator: Level 2. While I may not have followed through with two thirds of the amazing ideas I have come across, I have chosen to continue exploring and revisiting these ideas by seeking out further professional development, learning from my Professional Learning Communities and setting goals for implementing ICT in the classroom.

No one asked me to this. I wanted to do this.

While most of my self-directed learning took place outside of the work day, I have no regrets because I honestly believe in the necessity to integrate information and computer technology in the classroom in order that our students will be better prepared for the future. What I have recently come to terms with is that, as much as I am fluent in how to use Google Apps for Education, the greater challenge I must face is not in how to disseminate this knowledge to my colleagues but rather, how to be a catalyst for change and inspire them to transform their lessons and grant their students as many opportunities as possible to enhance their 21st century competencies. This, my friends, is why I continue to teach.

Learning Experience #4: School Wide Instruction

During the final learning experience, I was able to explore the qualities of a good leader and, for the first time, I actually see myself as a potential leader in the years to come. I am fairly certain that pursuing the possibility of being a leader in an administrative one is not an option I am quite open to but rather, I see myself as a technology leader and/or trainer. I know my strengths and weaknesses, what my limits are, and I can adapt easily to change, so I'm already halfway there, right? Plus, through participation in the discussion forums, I realized that I have ideas and knowledge to contribute, though not quite visionary, but I am willing to continue growing with and learning from my professional learning communities that offer endless wisdom and inspiration in our shared goal of empowering our students to excel in the 21st century. 

Thank you to our course instructor, fellow participants and everyone in my learning networks for your amazing support and mentorship in this fantastic journey!

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  1. so now I'm curious as to how many languages you can speak? (not necessarily fluent in)

    1. LOL I can speak five: English, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. :)

  2. I am setting the same goal as you! I would love to continue to reflect on my teaching through blogging and connect with others. I am very new to blogging but I feel like this is going to be a great way to keep my mind fresh and new ideas flowing!

    1. Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging, Kim! I look forward to following your journey.

  3. I really enjoyed figuring your blog out! I first went into the Tech link. It was nice to see your educational journey evolve online! It is amazing that you have done this for over 10 years. I also enjoyed looking at your creative sites. Kudos on all of the awards and credentials as well! It's great to see the different aspects of your life on here and you just never know who comes across your blog based on the the broad nature of it. Keep up the great work!

  4. P.s. the unknown is Gurpreet Singh from the online AQ as well, sorry I only have a Gmail account I registered when my son was born!

  5. WOW! I love this blog. So amazing.
    I am in the same boat. I have tweeted, posted, and pinned about things I am excited about or things I would love to do. But I am new to the whole blogging and reflecting about things I have done and my professional journey throughout this course. It will be exciting to think, share, and reflect all the progress we will be making.

  6. I always enjoy your blogs. They are very informative and makes you think about things in a different way

  7. I view life as a long term learning assignment, lol

  8. I love this idea! Looking forward to reading more about your pedagogical philosophies!


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