Sunday, 30 October 2011

10 Things To Do To Improve As An Educator...should we bother?

cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by John Morton

My good friend and colleague Jodie Reik is an avid user of digital technology and is constantly looking for ways to shake up people’s thoughts about education and the general systems that we live in.  Yesterday her latest blog post came across my stream and it was titled 10 Things You Can Do To Improve Yourself As An Educator.  Since she is such an inspiration to me, I thought I would give her the justice of responding to her blog with a blog. 

Jodie outlined ten simple things that you could do as an educator to improve.  Those ten things were: reflect, review, re-boot, read, respond, recall, respect, receive, reconnect and reach.  On a first glance, I thought “Yep I do a lot of those” but upon further thought, I could do much better. I am not going to analyise each and every one of her ten tips but I am going to touch upon a few of them. 

I am constantly looking for ways to reflect on my practice.  I internalise a lot of my reflections and attempt to share them with the wider community through various mediums such as this blog and Twitter.  We ask our kids to ‘reflect’ a lot upon what they do but my question is Do we actually do this enough as educators?  I agree with Jodie’s statement when she said that reflection is the key to personal and professional growth.  How can we change and improve when we don’t even think about what we are doing?  It is easy to always do what you have always done.  But it is difficult to try and change and improve. 

One of the most difficult aspects of living in a Web 2.0 world is responding and building upon the work of others.  As Jodie said “Educators need to have their say and they need to be heard. We also need to hear from other educators”  I wrote a blog post about the difficulties of blog commenting in the modern world.  If every blog had a ‘like’ button, I could provide the author with feedback automatically.  Sometimes that would just be enough to let the blogger know that I agree with their opinion. I truly think that responding to peoples ideas and work helps you reflect as an educator on your practice.  Many a time I have read a blog post and went ‘That person is 100% right and I am 100% wrong’ and there have been other times where my thought process has gone ‘That person has no clue about what they are talking about because of……’  This justification process assists me and challenges me to be a better ‘chalkie’ for my kids. 

My core business is relationships.  When I was a kid, you walked into your classroom and automatically gave your teacher respect.  This was just the ‘done’ thing.  Your teacher said ‘Jump!’ and your response was ‘How High?’  Those days have now past.  I am not going to debate if it is a good thing or a bad thing that those days have gone but I will say that by earning the students respect, it actually means a lot more.  On day one of each year, my learners are saying to themselves ‘Does this fool know what he is talking about?  Does he understand me?  Does he want to know me?’  I feel that if I have a productive and fruitful relationship with my students, they are more likely to take risks, ask questions, think creatively and solve complex problems.  They are willing to ‘fall on their faces’ and know that I will be there to pick them up.  This then allows my core business to shift from relationships to learning.  If you have a good relationship with your students based on a culture of respect and trust, your students can achieve some extraordinary things. 

So there is my quick response to Jodie’s thoughts.  I would love to hear if you agree with me.  This has been a bit of incoherent rubble of a post but I thought it was important to get my thoughts down on paper.  I must say that it was a pretty good effort over a lunchtime! 

Blog 5 of 33 DONE! 

1 comment:

  1. I admit Ashley it's not a bad effort for a lunch time response! :) I love that you wrote your core business is relationships. I agree that learning is all about this - you can not learn effectively unless you have a connection / relationship which is drawing you to the learning and making it meaningful. I did however want to jump through this blog when I read the term "chalky" I REALLY dislike that term, as it is such an inaccurate description of what educators do. Keep up the great blogs Ashley.