Monday, 12 December 2011

Shifting Practice?

Today, I had a lengthy conversation with a parent from the high school in Lytton who had asked me for a general rundown on Connected Classrooms.  We talked first about the classroom set up: what it looks like, the technology and tools our classrooms have to learn with, and scheduling/curriculum.

 She then asked me a question I’ve sometimes thought about, and have talked about informally with my other CC teachers.

 Then, she asked me if I was a different teacher because of it.

 The answer, in many ways, is yes.

 It brought me back to my first three years of teaching. I remember feeling like an island in my room, and I recall many days of survival mode. It’s pretty scary as a new teacher and without a structured mentorship program in BC, sometimes it was hard to know if I was making progress. I had never really spent much time in other teacher’s classrooms, beyond the limited breadth of my teaching practicum. I wasn’t completely sure what good practice looked like, and really lacked feedback. There were little gem moments, but most feedback came after a crisis point. As I am still a relatively new teacher(this is my sixth class), maybe I don't have a lot of experience for comparison's sake, as I've been on the ECC team for half of my short career, but I've experience notable shifting.

For me, I think the best part of teaching in Connected Classrooms has been having a window into the classrooms of my teaching colleagues. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing how they work, strategies they use, and how they respond to classroom challenges. I love watching how they plan and implement lessons, and I love finding out what inspires them.  It’s sort of like free, daily professional development. I’ve also come to realize that teachers love to collaborate, but most schools don’t have formal collaboration structures. I love that we get to plan our year together in Connected Classrooms. It’s been fantastic to have three different brains to sculpt our scope and sequence of the year, and to have multiple sets of ears to bounce feedback from. I also love that my teaching partners have been so flexible, and are able to roll with the frequent changes that exist in an elementary school.  Finally, we’ve been lucky to have had multiple opportunities to attend professional development as a team, which has left me energized and enthusiastic.

I think that ECC has opened up my room and my teaching practice in ways I never imagined, and I’m glad that I’ve had amazing teaching colleagues on the journey. I think that my growth as a teacher has far more dramatic than if I had never had the opportunity of this project, and the learning curve has been steep and fulfilling. It would hard to go back to teaching now without the team!

So, yes, I think the project has definitely changed me as a teacher, and quite possibly as a person. I think our project has served to break down walls, and has made me more willing to take risks and change what I do. I think that when we put ourselves out there to ninety students on the videoconference screen, we are in a vulnerable place. At the same time, I think this is a place where deep learning can happen.

 More thoughts to come….


  1. Hi Brooke,
    Yes, I absolutely agree. Teaching in the ECC, with the transformative way in which technology is integrated into the learning and the strong, collaborative style in which the program runs, is a very different environment which continues to shift my practice, too.

    If someone were to ask me that same question, I would say yes too. I would say that it allows me to teach in a way that I think students should be exposed to (strong tech presence allows for an emphasis on digital citizenship). I'd also talk about the positive influence my ECC colleagues have on my practice and on my student's learning and how much I enjoy, appreciate and learn from the collaborative aspects of the program. I'd talk about my research and how the data collection turned into an ever-evolving spiral of new ways to code the rich ECC data. I'd talk about how one of the biggest shifts for me is realizing that I am a digital teacher and that the role has a shifting set of responsibilities, skills and attitudes that are very innovative, cutting edge and unique. I'd probably also mention that my university profs called us 'pioneers' exploring a new learning landscape that is, for the most part, unexplored.

    I could go on and on. That question you were asked was one I asked myself constantly during my inquiry research last year. I never really could pinpoint an answer, because the more I thought about it, the more I could speak to, and, even now, I still feel that way. The ECC is an extremely rich way to teach and learn and deconstructing it is extremely complicated. Suffice it to say that I'm thankful for the ECC infusion at this point in my career!

  2. I get what you mean, Errin. I could ramble on for days! It's been the coolest teaching opportunity I've had yet!