Windows of Change: How Connected Educators Are Driving Real Reform


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Keynote presentation at the 2013 e-learning conference in Lafayette, Indiana. Sharing stories and thoughts on how connected educators are using social media and creating the narrative that is driving real education reform.

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  • Thank you to Brett Gruetzmacher for reaching out to this poor Canadian who has never been to Indiana.
  • Typical Canadian – play hockey, sponsored by Molson, grew up in a small logging community, parents were curlers… similar story to many of my friends.Was a high school science, math, PE teacher – then an intermediate teacher and VP – Currently Principal of an elementary school in a small farming community. Father of twin girls 2.5 years old. I also teach a little bit of primary. My story of social media – stories and windows… and growth.Next vid is about when Brett and I met…
  • Differences between Canada and US ed system (testing, provincial, funding, etc)
  • Photos of students and kids – what do I want for MY kids? I want educators to meet my kids where they are and not cram them into some standardized view of schooling. I want them to be seen as a person with a variety of strengths and challenges rather than a score or a letter. I don’t want to be stressed out about them being kindergarten ready – I want kindergarten to be ready for them... And all typical 4-5 year old kids.2 narratives of edreform– competition – NCLB, RTTT (data-driven - punish and reward schools based on test scores) and the other is collaboration (people-driven, educators sharing and improving ideas). I prefer the latter narrative. Sharing to make education better for ALL kids. If there is a great idea at another school, I want my kids, my students to have the opportunity to benefit from this idea.
  • Our education has served its purpose well. But like everything, it needs to evolve. It IS evolving.We are at a very difficult yet exciting time in education. Educators are standing up and demanding change. By doing this, the people who want the old system are becoming very critical – this is ok, this is part of the change process.According to Forbes magazine successful leaders are what they call “Learning-Agile” – which means they know what to do when they don’t know what to do. Are kids becoming better at this? Are we?
  • We hear that change is hard… and I am not going to argue that it is easy. We can change big things through little steps. We don’t need to change for the sake of change… we need to evolve, we need to grow. Many of us areand the best thing we can do is share ideas and growth with each other.
  • One of the things we need to often overcome is our love of romanticizing the past. When we think back to growing up, we often remember the wonder years… but we also need to understand that today is a different time. Embrace effective ideas from the past and build on these. Innovation is not just creating something new – it is building on ideas to do things in new ways. We also need to be careful with the "new is good" old is bad mindset. Just because something is shiny… does not make it better.
  • Social Media is NOT changing education… but the people who are sharing, reflecting, growing ARE changing education.
  • Helping others, sharing ideas – sending them out for people to use and improve upon… and send back
  • Author of Daring greatly – Many people like to work together – Linux, Wikipedia, Mozilla – thousands of open source projectsPeople want to help… especially when there is a relationship.
  • In a connected world, people ask for help. And people whom you have never met will often reach out.
  • A stranger helps… something they will cherish forever.
  • Effective teaching is hard work… we need to connect and work together to support each other, share ideas, and share storiesA connected educator is anyone who works with other educators to grow – professional learning community, personal learning network. Does not HAVE to be online… but being online can expose us to endless ideas to consider, reflect, use, and improve.Fathers Day storySteven Johnson talks about how being connected helps ideas grow… check this out.
  • Top down solutions: school choice, punish and reward based on scores, standardize tests like ISTEP that cause more frustration than learning, teacher proof Real change comes from teachers- teachers reflecting, taking risks, connecting and sharing“We can raise the teaching profession by sharing what works, by taking the best of what we do and hanging it on the virtual wall.“ Will Richardson
  • We have pockets of brilliance that is not being shared? Also, these great ideas cannot grow as well on their own.“It is no longer enough to do powerful work if nobody sees it” – Chris LehmannOPEN WINDOWS to your classrooms and learning environments – let people see in and steal some of the great things you are doing in your class.
  • Often hear – what am I going to share that is worth sharing? Why don’t you find out?
  • WHEN YOU CONNECT – form relationships. Technology is not the answer… it is connections through technology that can lead us to many answers.Educators, parents, students… everyone.
  • We need to model learning – not confined to libraries, offices, classrooms. Embrace it.We want teachers that have a digital portfolio, can lead us with tech, are learners.Next slide – educational philosopher talks about how we can learn from surfers on how connected learners can create even more growth.
  • We are no longer in a world where majority of people hold on to their ideas…. They share them and watch them grow. Ride the wave of learning that tech can provide. Connect with others to help your ideas and thoughts grow.
  • Facebook, blog, twitter… building community, building trust, sharing the positives, sharing ideas. Stacey’s story of building trust and community with Facebook
  • Who is telling the story in your school? District? State? Country? Share your stories of positives in education. Be part of the movement to create positive shifts in education.
  • Sharing the positives – story of Andrew
  • Story of #sd36learn – largest district in BC. Pockets of greatness… past years, PD events and then people go back to their classrooms. Now, this huge district has a community of learners – learning with each other when the time is right for them. Sharing ideas, building on them and sending them back. Pockets of greatness have spread to other schools.(ex. Student blogging, digital portfolios).
  • Technology should enhance or TRANSFORM learning –it should connect us in ways that we could not before. about students and teachers… not devices.  Devices ENHANCE learning and create new options.No about 21st Century Learning… it is about effective teaching.
  • "No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship - Dr. James Comerwe are in an isolated profession - doesn't have to be this wayFor me, it was #cpchat and #bced – formed relationships with key people, these grew into skype sessions and face to face visits with friends.
  • It is far too easy to say all that is wrong with school… how about we do more sharing of what we are doing to make it better?Here are some stories from just a few of the people in my Personal Learning Network that have change education for me and for our students.
  • Bill, Carolina - Today's students don't care about technology.  They care about making contributions. Kiva, #sugarkills“My kids aren't motivated by the bells and whistles that come along with our new blog. They're motivated by the notion that THEIR efforts — THEIR decision to use THEIR voice to raise awareness about the sugars in foods — might just keep other kids from making choices that carry a lifetime's worth of unhealthy consequences.” – Bill Ferriter
  • Neighbouring intermediate teachers in Surrey (just outside of Vancouver) that made their classroom into one… team teach the entire day and have created a community. One of the coolest things they are doing is Genius Hour. Kids are given time each week to come up with a question in an area of their choice and then research and play with it to come up with a solution… then share and demonstrate their learning. (ie. Photography, sports physics, etc)
  • Hugh and many teachers have used this as part of project based learning. Caine’s arcade has gone viral.Social media can change lives.
  • Josh, Illinois - Time for kids to play, explore inquire about an area of interest/passion… now expanding to more than 1 day and in many more schools. (ex. Student showed interest in meteorology so skyped with guy from Discovery Channel’s storm chasers).Jesse McLean in Alberta doing this more regularly and with staff.
  • These dudes make me think and question pretty much everything.John Spencer, Arizona – pause and reflect if this is a fancy tool or something that truly enhances learningDavidWees, Vancouver, NY – students as problem finders
  • Joe is a teacher from Alberta and is like the Canadian version Alfie Kohn… challenges testing, traditional assessments, rewards, punishment. Abolishing grades movement that features educators who have moved away from grades. Says it like it is so watch out.Pernille is from Wisconsin and questions many of the items mentioned with Joe… but the things I like best about her is the works she does with her students around blogging and connecting. I have commented on a few of her students’ posts and I know many other people have too. She has also started the Global Read Aloud – simple idea that has captured the attention of many. Students read one book aloud with their classes over 6 weeks… the same book is read in countries around the world – and then student connect with each other starting with the book – and then expand the conversation to learn about different cultures, countries, and ways of life. Breaking down classroom, school and country walls.
  • A mindset and teaching philosophy of inquiry can create huge shifts in how we teach and how kids learn. These 2 are leaders in my PLN when it comes to Inquiry. Neil is a District Principal of Innovation and Inquiry near Vancouver and Chris is the principal and creator of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. These guys are all about making space for kids to create, connect, explore, learn in areas that are relevant and meaningful to kids. The best part is that they share their ideas and what they see in classrooms. Chris and Neil have both been behind hosting conferences at Inquiry based schools – Neil and George helped organize the Connected Canada conference at the Calgary Science School and Chris hosts EduCon at SLA each year. The highlight of participants of these conferences is always meeting the staff and students
  • NickProvenzano, from Michigan encourages his students to share their learning with the world through video and social media. These high school students have an authentic audience to share with so not only is Nick sharing and creating change… more importantly, his students are too. In addition, Nick and his buddy Tim Gwynn have their own education radio show on the BAM radio network. Brett is an educator from Indiana – director of technology. Although he is doing some great stuff around sharing ideas and practices of technology and projects that enhance learning… my fave is his “dreams of education series” that he did last year. We often hear what is wrong with education but this series, that featured some great educators, shared what is and could be right about education.
  • This one is a bit personal for me as I have seen the impact of this community of kindergarten teachers on our school and our kindergarten program. Sharing ideas and philosophies, questioning traditions… this teachers within this group have changed kindergarten as I knew it. The growth of Stacey has been incredible… she builds on the ideas of others and OUR students benefit.
  • Identity Day, CHOICES, strengths
  • Gentle nudgeLearning partner, do this together.Do something now... Talking is important but doing something with what we talk about is what truly makes a differenceLet’s talk about what we CAN change. We need to teach the students we have... Not the students we WISH we hadAdmin: break down the walls and let teachers collaborate and learn from/with each other
  • Do one thing new. Start small. If you bite of more than you can chew… you often choke. Do this together with someone – don’t go in the woods alone.
  • Which lens do you look through? When you read, hear, see something positive for education… share it!Change the culture… let people in. Create windows that drives REAL reform.
  • when ideas have sex - think of the tools that were used by prehistoric man.... Things like hand axes were around for a million years before anything really changed. Now, something is around for about 5 and tends to become obsolete - because of connected people, connecte ideas. People work to benefit others... Innovate and share.  It's not about how clever a person is in society... It is about how well a society can cooperate and can communicate ideas. It is not just those at the top that have a voice... Through connections - we can all have ideas meet and mate to be more innovative and create REAL reform in education.
  • Windows of Change: How Connected Educators Are Driving Real Reform

    1. 1. How Connected Educators areDriving REAL ReformChris Wejr @chriswejrWindows of Change
    2. 2. About me
    3. 3. So you’re from Canada, eh?
    4. 4. Why Change?
    5. 5. cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Prem Anandh:“In a world of change,the learners shall inheritthe earth…while the learned shallfind themselves perfectlysuited for a world that nolonger exists.”-- EricHoffer
    6. 6. “Nothing is sopainful to thehuman mind asa great andsudden change.”Mary ShelleyFrankenstein
    7. 7. “Nostalgia is a dangerous form of comparison. Thinkabout how often we compare ourselves and our livesto a memory that nostalgia has so completely editedthat it never really existed. “cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo by José Manuel Ríos Valiente:
    8. 8. How social mediais changing education.
    9. 9. LESS about technology.LESS about social media.MORE aboutrelationships, support andsharing stories of teachingand learning.
    10. 10. “Connection is whywe are here.We are hardwired toconnect with others-- Brene Browncc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo by Andrew:
    11. 11. thehelp of others
    12. 12.
    13. 13. What is aConnectedEducator?cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Dimitris Papazimouris:
    14. 14. Chance favours a connected mind Steven Johnson
    15. 15. REAL Education Reform
    16. 16. cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Martin Gommel: of holding an idea in a closed fist…hold it out in your open hand.Nilofer Merchant
    17. 17. What is ordinary to you…Might be extraordinaryto someone elsecc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by akshay moon:
    18. 18. “We have always overestimated the valueof access to information andunderestimated the valueof access to each other.”Clay Shirky
    19. 19. Professional LEARNINGis not an eventIt happensAny Time…Any Place…Image:
    20. 20. John Seely BrownLearning from Surfers
    21. 21. Providing windows into ourlearning environmentscc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by hitzi1000:
    22. 22. What are the stories being toldabout education?Whois tellingthem?cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Alejandro Giacometti:
    23. 23. Sharing stories…changing culture
    24. 24. Innovative Changes fromConnecting the Strengths Within
    25. 25. What role doestechnology play?cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Matthew Clark: /
    26. 26. Reach out.Form relationships.Let people in.Learn.
    27. 27. Stories of TeachersBeing the Change
    28. 28. Bill Ferriter @plugusinStudents Doing Meaningful Work
    29. 29. @gallit_z @hughtheteacher#GeniusHour
    30. 30. @davidweesReal World Math,TechnologyJohn Spencer@edrethinkCritical ReflectionsOf Education
    31. 31. @joe_bowerGrading & Motivation@pernillerippStudent Blogging,Global Read Aloud
    32. 32. Inquiry@chrislehmannChris Lehmann@neilstephensonNeil Stephenson
    33. 33. @thenerdyteacherThe world asthe audience@mr_brett_clarkDreams ofEducation
    34. 34. #kinderchat
    35. 35. Awards in Schoolssharing the story of Kent School
    36. 36. “One of the best parts ofbeing around near thebeginning of this social-media revolution is that, overthe past 11 years, I’vewatched hundreds ofthousands of educators beginto unlearn and relearn theirpractice in some prettyamazing ways.”Will Richardsoncc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Ryan Szepan:
    37. 37. Reflect.Start changewith onething… licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Rita M.:
    38. 38. Try something new. Take a risk. Do it.
    39. 39. Seek the positives.Create licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo by Heather:
    40. 40. When Ideas Meet and MateMatt RidleyFrom:
    41. 41. Thank you!
    42. 42. Connect With
    43. 43. Acknowledgments:George Couros @gcourosAlec Couros @courosaBill Ferriter @plugusinCale Birk @birklearnsAnd so many more in my PLN!