Hi. I’d like to share my Saturday morning with you on September 24, 2016. Usually I try to get a little extra sleep on a Saturday morning especially when the weather is blustery. But this morning I was excited to get up as I had a great morning of professional development planned.
First up at 8:00 AM was a live YouTube stream from the Innovator’s Mindset #IMMOOC that I am currently participating in (and you can too by going to http://immooc.org/). This learning opportunity is based on the book “The Innovator’s Mindset” by George Couros (a read I highly recommend). The video started off with an interview of two passionate educators (names) whose underlying theme was that you can take risks and be innovative and still meet curricular objectives. They both agreed that both the students and educators need to do things that are both new and better. The live stream continued with the host George Couros (@gcouros) and Katie Martin(@KatieMTLC) reviewing some of the book’s opening themes of seeing ‘change as an opportunity to do something amazing’ and ‘if students leave school, less curious than when they started, we have failed them.’ Both statements are powerful and poignant. During the presentation on could also reach out to other educators through an interactive chat feature, twitter, and facebook. All of this made for a rich, engaging, and thought provoking experience. I’d encourage anyone reading to join in on the conversation (never too late – follow #immooc).
At 9:00 AM I switched over to a great live webinar with plenty of interactivity called Hack The Classroom hosted by Microsoft. It was an event that was open to and attended by educators all over the world. The first keynote was John Kao (@johnkao check out edgemakers.com) who gave another passionate speech about innovation in education and the opportunity to ‘take wicked problems and turn them into wicked opportunities’. This resonated with me as this what education should be about and we owe it to our students to teach with this mindset. He also talked about finding the ‘sweet spot’ in implementing innovation in education. He stressed the need to find a balance between a fixed mind set and going too far in that only a few might understand what you are trying to do and that this requires practice. The webinar went on to highlight the tools of One Note, Skype, and Minecraft but for me the underlying meaning was to increase a student’s ability to read, communicate, and create (check out #hacktheclassroom to find what was trending). There were great stories of educators like you and me providing transformation and redefined opportunities for their students. They also highlight STEM activities that could be done like creating a wind reader with basic supplies and hooking them up to devices to create a connected and real-life experience (even compared wind strength from locations around the world). Again there were educators from all walks of life sharing and discussing how to make their classrooms new and better. And after all shouldn’t that be the goal of all educators … our students deserve this!
It was a great Saturday morning! Check out my storyify for my tweets / retweets from the morning https://storify.com/vendi55/my-saturday-morning. These are only a couple opportunities out there to learn, share, and grow. Thanks for allowing me to share and taking the time to read this. I truly hope it inspires someone to try something new and better. Good luck. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow my blog at deanvendramin.weebly.com, or connect on twitter @vendi55.
“Change is an opportunity to do something amazing.” How are you embracing change to spur innovation in your own c… http://sumo.ly/p1vQ
I totally agree with this statement in fact it has been the mantra for my entire teaching career. Change for the sake of change is not what I'm talking about here ... I'm talking about change as an opportunity to evolve and grow. If I thought that I had teaching all figured out ... I'd go do something else. We expect the students to learn and grow ... should we as teachers not model and embrace this as well. I'm not saying abandon best practice or things that have worked nor to drop everything and start anew ... I'm saying seek out opportunities to grow that push you a bit out of your comfort zone and take a bit of a risk. Not everything that I have tried to change has worked but each time I learned something and have always tried to maintain a growth mindset. I know at my school this year I am living up to my mantra by being a part of a #rcsdconnect program that connects educators in my division and has given devices to utilize as tools with my class everyday. I am taking coding in my math class up a notch (game my students an integer program made in scratch and told them to just PLAY with what they see) and integrating Minecraft into my class more to (making roller coasters right now to teach slope)I am also excited about this #IMMOOC opportunity to promote change and innovation . I am fortunate to have a great young intern to work with this semester and I feel I need to model a growth and innovative mindset to help him and his future students as innovation in education will continue to move forward.
Great start to what promises to be a great year full of learning, risk taking, and relationship building. I really believe that it is important to establish relationships, a positive class culture, and expectations of the entire class including the teacher. I have enjoyed the absence of a traditional desk already and know that it will continue to provide more learning opportunities in our classroom. I'm enjoying working with my intern ... he's a good person and I feel he will blossom as the semester rolls on. We have had many good discussions about the art of teaching and relationship building. Technology has had a few hiccups at the start but I'm looking forward to getting that rolling with my students and making transformation and redefining changes in the classroom. I was playing around with Minecraft and have come up with a new idea for a project to demonstrate slope by building roller coasters. Looking forward to continuing my professional development through my participation in #rcsdconnect and in the #IMOOC exploring the Innovator's Mindset. Lots on the go and looking forward to the adventure. Follow me on twitter @vendi55
Well another new school year is up and running. The first week was busy but good. Many meetings discussing start up and discussion centered around our division's grading / assessment guidelines (which I'm excited about how this hopefully help us all re-examine our current grading practices and look at ways to make them more meaningful and engaging for students) We also had a great opening liturgy followed by two very good speakers that focused on mercy something we can all focus on giving and receiving. There is much to look forward too this year. I plan on doing weekly reflections on the #rcsdconnect program I'm part of (see https://flipgrid.com/8d3171d2 for the goals of the group members), working with my intern and reflecting on our practice, issues and challenges that will come up, and more. Should be a great year!
I had the good fortune of presenting at stemfestnl in St. John's Newfoundland recently. My presentation topics were on Coding in the Classroom and Minecraft in the Classroom. I see both of these as important initiatives to increase student engagement and understanding in my math classes. I am still earlier in my journey incorporating these learning opportunities in my classes and there is much to learn, share, and experiment with. The conference gave me an excellent opportunity to reflect and research. I enjoyed sharing my experiences and insights and the attendees were passionate and engaged educators who inspired and energized me. I was able to grow my personal learning community, my commitment to create more engaging and meaningful experiences for my students, and understanding of coding and Minecraft. I am excited and enthused to continue implementing these experiences for my students and share my findings along the way. The conference was well organized and offered a variety of STEM related topics. The attendees were warm, friendly, and appreciative. We had some great conversations and hands on experiences. The city of St John's was also excellent and hope to make my way back there again. For my presentation notes go to deanvendramin.weebly.com/eportfolio
Sharing is caring. I feel it is vital that educators follow this motto in their relationships with staff, students, and parents. It is through this motto that we grow, learn, and collaborate. Sharing can come in many forms and it can be as simple as sharing a smile to sharing a unit to sharing an idea. Sharing allows good ideas and good practice to spread and flourish. Sharing can come in many sizes too. It does not have to be a 390 page report ... it can be a quick thought as even a mighty oak comes from a small seed. As educators we need to be role models for our students and sharing is definitely something to demonstrate and encourage. That's why creating and posting to a blog is a great place to start. Blogging is a great way to share ideas, materials, experiences, and reflections. Your sharing can inspire, assist, and affirm others. You never know when something you share will make a difference but if you don't share it will remain still and lose that opportunity to become bigger than you can imagine.
How do I view change? Well I feel pretty lucky. Go through the 'Strength Finders' process one of my strength is that I am a Futurist. I am constantly looking for that next project to try, next tool to test, and new strategy to employ. I feel that change has been one constant through my teacher career and it has kept me engaged, motivated, and humble. I feel that one of the great benefits of the teaching profession is that there is always more to learn, explore, and evolve into. I'm not saying that I have don't have may habits or dismiss good practice that has happened in the past, but if we expect students to change especially in these interesting and exciting times than so should we. Change requires and open mind, but positive and beneficial change require reflection and a strong sense of self. Change can and does involve risks, can be messy, and sometimes results in failures, but these are the events that allow you to grow, challenge your mindset, and come to new and wonderful understandings. Change can be tough if it is thrust upon us and we don't have much say but if you have never initiated change or have tried to find the positives in change then this type of change will be more difficult to accept and learn from. Our students are going through a lot of change in their lives and some more than others and some more difficult than others. If we as teachers recognize this and internalize this we can better understand our students and be able to provide them the guidance or bridge that they may need as well. As with most things we have a choice in how we deal with, accept, and move on from change ... one's attitude can make all the difference.
This week's topic is another thought provoking topic. So time to reflect upon and share in my not so private diary. I will concentrate my blog on how I view teachers provide support for our students. As teachers, I feel it is our job not so much a support that if the support is not there that student may fall, but more of a bridge or guide that hopefully helps one be able to get to where they want to be on their own two feet. This guidance can come in many forms, but ultimately you want a student to make their own choices and become independent. There can be many pitfalls on this journey and that's why bridges need to be formed to help one get to where they need to be. Students can get too reliant or expect support too much that they forget they need to be the drivers of change and feel that things are owed to them. Teachers need to realize that each student's journey is different and helping them can and does require a number of strategies and approaches. Teachers need to keep open minds, be empathetic and build relationships with their students in order to provide the guidance or bridges students may need. However a teacher can't demand a student to be where they need to be nor let the student lean on the teacher to get them through. It is a huge privilege to be in a position where somebody looks to you to help them grow and succeed. It is important that we see ourselves as role models and as such we should always be working on ourselves to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. It is also a tremendous responsibility that teachers need to reflect on and try to provide the best advice, suggestions, understanding, and decisions we can. Mistakes will be made in the process of provide each student with the tools and abilities to get where they need to go, but that is one of the great joys of teaching when we can back away and watch a student stand on their own two feet full of pride and a sense of accomplishment.
I have looked at, read, commented on, and have typed up blogs since they have become available. I have submitted articles for various publications but the frequency has been spread out and been a little more formal. I have had students blog in my classroom and have met with a wide range of success in this area. I have reflected on the questions Why Blog? Why Write? I recently read a great blog on this subject http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/4793. In this blog, it basically lays out 4 reasons why people don't blog and ideas to change their minds. The reasons outlined were 1) Blogging is Useless, 2) I have no time, 3)I'm a private person and 4) No one cares what I have to say. It was an interesting read for me. I think sharing ideas and resources is important and very useful, we need to make the time and we can, and as teachers we need to reach out to each other but the one reason reason that holds me up sometimes is that does anybody really care what I have to say. I know that sometimes at school I feel a bit like an island unto myself and when I share ideas or resources they don't go to far as many people are doing what they are doing and I don't want to fault them for that or be 'that' guy. So unfortunately, this experience has kept me from sharing thoughts and ideas online as much as I'd like. But when I have gone to conferences with passionate educators or dive into the sea of reflection and sharing that I find on Twitter, I know there is hope and there are a lot of islands out there that together form a powerful mass of passion, growth mindset, and innovation. I want to be part of the growth and advancement of education! When I saw the blogging challenge, as I lurked on Twitter and follow a great bunch of educators on #saskedchat, I kind of hemmed and hawed about accepting this challenge. But I felt this was an opportunity to share, reflect, and gain from ... so here I am (if anybody cares).
Dean Vendramin. Educator for over 20 years. Currently Education Leader for Math/Science at Archbishop M.C. O'Neill Catholic High School. Have a passion for all things in education with emphasis on technology integration, assessment, professional development, and 21 Century Education. Posts are articles he has written for the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation monthly newsletter The Bulletin, Saskatchewan Math Teachers' Society The Variable, blog requests from memberships he is a part of, and his own thoughts.