I always come away from a big conference with a mixture of big ideas, cynicism, idealism and genuine tiredness, mostly in equal measures. In a big conference (5000+) like EduTech you can get lost in the streams and the conversations and never come to anything at the end. So, some final reflections from my Qantas flight home.
The various strands work well, but they probably too broad. Ed-Leaders? I’d like to see some more specialised strands: PD, LMS integration, maker-spaces, these are all potential conferences within the conference
Some of the keynotes seem short and a bit rushed
It’s driven by the makers of tech ..we’re along for the ride. If we aren’t the product, we are being actively marketed as the buyer of it. Most speakers had something to sell, some more obviously than others.
Besides the games which sort of worked, a bit more interactivity wold be good at times, but sometimes that ‘stand up and talk to the person next to you’ is just a bit tokenistic and annoying.
STEM is everywhere. That, and making, scratching, coding, playing and building. ‘How many of you are planning a maker-space?’, one speaker asked. Lots of hands shot up. There were drones and robots in equal measure; I was waiting for them to fight each other.
The interactive white board thing is done.
The flipped classroom thing is hanging in there.
I’ve got to think again about what good PD looks like; I was ashamed at myself for not doing more to respect teacher prior knowledge and individual pathways, even if they follow school-wide goals. This is my new goal.
I wanted to explore more feedback options (apps and devices) and there were plenty that I hadn’t seen before, and want to explore with my own class before I try them with teachers.
LMS proliferation continues, but our choice of Schoolbox seems to be more than holding its own in this space. Major competitors seemed to be Firefly (UK) and Canvas (USA) but I saw nothing startling out there that justified a major re-examination. One problem is that some of the textbook makers also pretend to be an LMS. To me, the future LMS will integrate beautifully with the full range of learning tools; you want Office Mix, OneNote, Yammer, but you also want Google Forms, collaborative Docs and to be able to embed YouTube and ClickView.
Teachers are pretty dedicated. They get up, they do their best. They want to learn, they want to help their students. For many of them, getting away for a couple of days with peers like this, is pretty special, and very valued.
Teaching is an odd profession in some ways isn’t it? I think I’ve said this before! The timetabled unstoppability of it, the emotional investment (and roller-coaster) that’s part’s of working closely with young people who come to you at all stages of their learning journey. The four-term (I could graph this) rises and lows of energy, workload and feedback. And, at the end you say goodbye and start again. Some keep in touch. Others you never see again.
Last week I went into work and picked up my Lit class results and sat and thought for a little while about all the stories in those scores. Every year some students delight and surprise you, others don’t go as well as you hoped or expected. How can you predict that? What can you do better? Every year I ask myself if there’s something I could (should?) have done for that student who was just off the radar a little, or who didn’t know how to ask you the right questions or didn’t how how to think differently.
So, the ‘down-time’, the summer holidays is a place to start again, to think again, to walk down to the beach and plunge yourself into a different world. After a week of holidays I’m already sleeping better and feeling fitter. And, I’m starting to think about next year, and what to do different.
To all those teachers (and students) who have followed these musings this year, and maybe even have responded, thanks. And enjoy the holiday season.
We’ve all had ’em I console myself. Those lessons that just don’t quite go right. Where you get out at the end and say to yourself, ‘well that was pretty ordinary’.
I had one last week, a gloomy perfect storm of missed opportunities and mis-chances I tell myself. A room change due to exams putting us up in a weird little room of different layout and logistics and throwing the old tried and true relationship seating upside down, the last lesson or so before their exams and a while off to our next coursework assessment, so no real urgency maybe about the lesson and no end in sight. Combine that with an 18th birthday party to plan in the back corner and me with a sore back from a frozen bike ride on the weekend and not mobile enough to get around and check things out, and you’ve got a lesson that never got really started, half-baked discussion that never got thought about, and half the class who never got involved at all.
Back under the cold harsh fluorescent light back in my office I take more responsibility. It wasn’t ever going to be a great lesson, pretty passive and lacking an explanation of the purpose or learning that might have happened.
We’ve all had them. It’s often our fault. You’ve got to think about and do something different next time. We have, in a year together, so few of these times. These lessons are valuable, they should matter, we should make them count.