My Final COETAIL Project- Course 5: Self-Advocacy Presentations

Unit Introduction

  • As we entered the final quarter of the year,  I started our Advocacy presentation unit off with a brainstorming session around their transition to grade 8 and what kinds of things they would want to share with their teachers. It was a group discussion allowing them to start looking for the words to help describe themselves as learners & individuals. Further lessons would then give them more vocabulary around how to speak about themselves in that same way with confidence and expand their self-awareness and demonstrate how to articulate what they need to get the most out of their learning and more importantly, enjoy the process!
  • Check out our Unit Planner linked here with some slight alterations made that will be shared in the video at the bottom of this post.

The Learning Process

  • After our brainstorming sessions, we had numerous SMART skills lessons allowing us to grow in educational vocabulary and reflect on ourselves as learners. I transformed an old pen and paper Executive Functioning survey to being a google doc, and found success with the reflection piece and debriefing the students with their own personal data.
From this... 

to this...


allowing for a greater level of independence and mini lessons on the vocabulary within the survey to add to their personalized Vocabulary journals.


  • From offering choice selections lessons through “bingo boards” (as seen in the final video) to direct instruction reading lessons my EAP (English for Academic Purposes) and LRC (Learning Resource Class) has a fine balance between independent activities and lessons that require active engagement. Allowing them to choose all activities in 1 language domain or complete one activity from each of the 4 domains (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking).
  • Many of which we started the year off completing together as a class and as the year went on similar activities then became some that they could complete independently- such as the Nearpod listening lessons.
  • As we got closer to the final assessment for our project, we dove back into their goals and charts of their progress and continued the reflection process. Partnering up to work on skills in similar areas as well as different partners whose strengths and weaknesses were opposite to them was beneficial. In these partnerships, they were able to discuss strategies and ways they focus on their strengths to help with things that are more challenging for them.
  • Here are a few altered (for confidentiality) screenshots of the final projects showcasing slides of the student’s work and some of their excitement to celebrate not only their growth and success around meeting their goals but to celebrate their differences and truly value the unique individualness of each and every one. Be sure to check out the final video reflection at the end of this post, to see parts of the presentations in action!

ISTE Standards for Students

Empowered Learner

Creative Communicator

Both Images taken by Shalene Huth
  • As an empowered learner my students (1a),  “Articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.” and  (1c) “Use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.”
  • As creative communicators my students (6a), “Choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication” and (6d) “Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.”
  • Allowing students the option of which platform they wanted to use to complete their project authentically embedded the ISTE Standards for students into my content area. It has gotten better as it has become easier to identify which units are using which ISTE standards, and how to go about planning meaningful lessons to help with significantly re-designing the task or to create an entirely new one.

    ISTE Standards for Educators

Image taken by Shalene Huth.      I have deepened my practice of the  educator ISTE standards, by using them in my unit and becoming more reflective in the designing stage, opposed to only at the completion of the unit. Looking at not only the standards I wanted the kids to model, but those designed for educators has allowed me to grow in the planning and implementation of this unit, ensuring that almost each standard is somehow incorporated into this final project.

I also realized that for the future I’d also like to focus on and continue to grow in Standard 3-Digital Citizenship:where "Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibilty partcipate in the digital world."

ISTE Standards I was proud to meet through the implementation of my final project:

    • “Educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning.”
          • Specifically: “Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.”
    • “Educators seek out opportunities for leadership to support student empowerment and success and to improve teaching and learning.”
          • Specifically: “Educators: Shape, advance and accelerate a shared vision for empowered learning with technology by engaging with education stakeholders.” and “Advocate for equitable access to educational technology, digital content and learning opportunities to meet the diverse needs of all students.”
    • “Educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems.”
        • Specifically, “Educators: Collaborate and co-learn with students to discover and use new digital resources and diagnose and troubleshoot technology issues.” and “Demonstrate cultural competency when communicating with students, parents and colleagues and interact with them as co-collaborators in student learning.”
    • “Educators design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability.”
      • Specifically, “Educators: Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.”
    • “Educators facilitate learning with technology to support student achievement of the ISTE Standards for Students.
        • Specifically, “Educators: Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.”
    • “Educators understand and use data to drive their instruction and support students in achieving their learning goals.”
        • Specifically, “Educators: Provide alternative ways for students to demonstrate competency and reflect on their learning using technology.” and “Use assessment data to guide progress and communicate with students, parents, and education stakeholders to build student self-direction.”

Meeting Our Goals

  • The main goal for this unit was to present a video recording about themselves as a learner demonstrating clear English speaking and knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses while reflecting on their goals from this year.
  • For myself and this unit, I wanted to open it up to doing the project, not from a standard template- I’ve provided in the past, with explicit step-by-step instructions, but to give them the end goal and give them choice on how to reach it and bring, what I cherish and value: creativity, into my lessons.
Showing my students first hand, it can be extra rewarding to just "go rogue" as you can see here with a painting class I experienced... where I took the liberties to ask for black paint created my own pink and followed instructions in a different way. 

 

Photos taken by Shalene Huth
  • I think this project has challenged me to rethink traditional approaches, in the sense of breaking away from set graphic organizers and templates to allow more room for student choice. Then once students begin follow up with bringing in sentence starters, prompts, or graphic organizers to aid them.
  • It was also a goal of mine, to explore utilizing my own photos and to begin taking more “abstract” ones that could, later on, be used in blog posts- a goal of which I was thrilled to see come full circle in this post and within the images of my final video.

Adding to Our Toolbelt

  •  Movie Maker
  • Screen Casetify
  • Google forms-surveys
  • Google Docs.
  • Padlet & Flipgrid
  • Nearpod
  • Read & Write assistive tech.
  • Most of my students were familiar with a number of these and it’s great to see more and more teachers using them regularly within their classes. So what may be new to you, more often than not, is not new for our students.
  • Choosing the tool to match the task, is also an easy feat once you have a broader knowledge of what’s available to you.  Being able to start with knowing what you want and select a tech tool to best support it allows the focus to stay on the task with technology simply enhancing the redefinition of what we thought was possible in the many learner objectives and endless opportunities to show demonstrate of the expected outcomes. 

Sharing our Transformation

  • Being that I am the only SEN teacher for my grade level I shared this unit with the transition team and next year’s teachers. Teachers received an e-mail with links to each of the students’ videos for whom they will teach for grade 8. I will initiate collaboration through setting up the transition meetings and holding end-of-year progress meetings and support plan meetings with parents and classroom teachers. During this time, teachers will be able to ask the students directly any clarifying questions on their projects. We have been unable to have any of these meetings yet, due to Covid-19.
  • I will continue to share out my learning experiences with my colleagues as we implement new TTT (Teacher’s Training Teachers) sessions at our weekly Faculty and Dept. meetings (not just the monthly PD days) as well as through engaging them in the transition meetings and student support meetings.  Sharing these types of projects and the lessons leading up to our final outcome will also empower teachers better serve diverse groups of learners.
  • All of this will greatly impact the students I service, by taking these skills of self-awareness, self-advocacy, and empowerment and generalizing them into their general education classrooms and with a larger setting and in a subject that may be more challenging to them.

Learning Outcomes

  • Greater self-awareness, confidence, and advocacy skills!
  • Assessment task: creating a presentation (of any kind) with visuals and demonstrating speaking skills that can reflect on themselves as a learner and how they set goals and worked towards achieving them.
  •  They also learned about collaboration and speaking with their classmates and the classroom teacher is of utmost importance to continue to grow as a learner and to take more control over their education.
  • The enduring understandings that students walked away with were the different tools and vocabulary to utilize in ensuring they are getting the most out of every class lesson.
  • In end, the final transition piece will occur after the results of their WIDA language assessment in 2 weeks’ time. I am confident that all the students I worked with this year will reach a level 4 or 5 in the speaking domain as it has been a joy seeing their confidence grow and have some wonderful discussions, debates, and informal dialogue week after week.
Image taken from: https://view.publitas.com/dr-2/wida-speaking-rubric-writing-rubric-typed-1/page/1

Final Reflection

My COETAIL experience will impact my future practice, with whatever field I go into. As I am unexpectedly leaving my job and home in Moscow and on the search for something new and exciting back in Wisconsin! Everything I have gained through COETAIL, I am confident, has allowed me to take the next steps in whatever is to come.  I don’t know what my role will be in the fall, within education, but the COETAIL experience has given me numerous opportunities to expand my PLN and countless new tips and tricks with innovative tech skills that I am sure I will find success.  I will look for a position that allows me to continue to spread the joys of what it means to be a life long learner, eager to try new things, gather data, and continually reflect and meet the needs of ALL learners, who are eager to take control of their own learning and help make this world a better place

Be sure to check out the video for further reflection on the project itself!

From everything available on Google, Youtube, Twitter, our PLN, and helpful links provided by the COETAIL instructor, the 2 tips I really took with me for the creation of my video were:

“…You have to be able to see the feeling…” & “…just lift your chin up, go forward and don’t worry about nothing…”

Take from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3qlFtZJwP8

Final Project Video Reflection

C4Wk2: Partners in Learning

Technology is just a tool. It’s a powerful tool, but it’s just a tool. Deep human connection is very different. It’s not a tool. It’s not a means to an end. It is the end – the purpose and the result of a meaningful life.

Melinda Gates, Philanthropist, Duke University Commencement Address, 2013

Images take from article: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning 

Deep Learning is quality learning… that sticks!

What really resonated with me this week was the importance of Michael Fullen’s New Pedagogies for Deep Learning with the emphasis on making learning exciting and the importance of building trust. He explained going about that quite simply by:

  1. Name it
  2. Model it
  3. Monitor it

“Trust” by Pro-Zak is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

This leads me more towards looking into the leadership roles within a school:  and how new leaders “figure out how to relate to the group, to change the nature of the work” and even more importantly build collaboration that lasts beyond the leader leaving. Especially in an international school setting where turnover is usually quite high;  a collaborative group continues on after the leader has then left.  These leaders must focus on creating conditions that pull students’ and teachers’ initiative and potential forward; therefore, paving the way for new pedagogies that allow deep learning to take place. Without teacher initiative and recognizing the potential to move forward, it reminds me a lot of effect size and what the many factors are affecting student achievement.  With the teacher as Activator with an effect size of .72 (and as a facilitator at .19) it is crucial that as educators we continue to reflect on our current proven practices. This hold especially true in the field of SEN/SPED when in order to make a years plus growth in one years time, choosing interventions and teaching practices with effect sizes of at least 1 is the most beneficial for our students.  Hattie Ranking: 252 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement is a great reminder of what those include. Specifically, Collective Teacher Efficacy is the highest at 1.57, which is the collective belief of teachers in their ability to positively affect students’ lives in education. This also holds a strong correlation to job satisfaction; and during a pandemic year, one that has greatly been impacted.

Image Taken from Visible Learning: Hattie Ranking: 252 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement

Another aspect I found quite helpful was his mentions of Assessment Literacy: or the ability to be skilled at looking at the data and how to proceed with it. Since now more than ever teachers are bombarded with data and evidence that leads to an overwhelming amount of it, but being able to decipher it and see how we’re doing as educators. I found that the Principal’s Training Center (PCT) course on assessment incredibly helpful towards making progress towards this and attempts at achieving mastery.

Image taken from Pixaby

In order for this deep learning to be possible and to then stick, human connections are even more important than ever… especially in a now Covid plagued world.

Teachers can no longer get away with saying, “I don’t care if they like me, they don’t need to like me, they need to learn.” Hopefully, with more and more research and understandings out there, teachers will begin or continue to acknowledge how important a safe environment and good rapport go hand in hand with student achievement. Especially in the world of SEN/SPED, if a child doesn’t like their teacher, walls go up and it makes any learning even that much harder to obtain.

“If kids know you care about them as human beings,it makes all the difference”-Pauline Roberts

Teachers need to (naturally) gravitate towards new pedagogies that offer a new way of teaching or new tools that sparks engagement and learning.

Photo by Wout Vanacker on Unsplash

As stated in the article, How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning, “Is it any wonder that studies from many countries show that less than 40% of upper secondary students are intellectually engaged at school?” If that number isn’t alarming and cause for a change, I don’t know what other motivation there could be.

Creating the freedom to learn and the freedom to contribute and participate on a global scale is a remarkable task one that wasn’t even in existence a decade ago and will take the continued transformation of technology within the classroom to achieve.

We need to continually push for more exciting lessons:

Image take from Michael Fullen's New Pedagogies for Deep Learning

Learning PartnershipsHandshake, Hands, Laptop, Monitor, Online, Digital

No matter if you call it digital learning, distance learning, or off-campus learning, the partnerships formed are more important now than ever. Not being in the ‘brick n mortar’ model of education where everyone is face to face and one can easily pop in and out of classrooms to bounce ideas off one another and more importantly give that specific regularly and timely feedback only became more and more challenging.

The learning partners must find a balance that will be different to each learning context; from my partnership in the Math 7 classroom with one teacher to my Humanities 7 classroom daily with another, to yet even a 3rd partnership with my instructional assistant in two pull out small group classes; each one offers a unique and specialized approach to collaboration.

Achieving the right balance between structure and independence is something that continually takes hard work, a massive amount of organization and on going communication depending on the subject, the complexity of the task at hand, and even greater impact…. the level of familiarity with the content.  We must be co-learners alongside our kids. Able to model the learning process that is required when answering great open-ended questions after a strong trust is built and engagement flows.

Throughout each learning process, it now becomes the focal point for all individuals to have mutual discovery, creation, and use of knowledge. To even attempt to tie in the frameworks more often than just during the large department’s meetings when establishing the year-long plans.

Fostering Partnerships to Support & Enhance

The ongoing teamwork and collaborative efforts allow for the greatest student achievement as we are able to build on one another strengths.

Learning outcomes are measured by:

  1. Capacities to build new knowledge and to lead their own learning effectively
  2. Proactive dispositions and their abilities to persevere through challenges
  3. The development of citizens who are life-long learners.

And it is through collaborative effective partnerships that we can achieve these learning outcomes and continually push for higher student engagement and deep learning… that STICKS!

Effective partnering is built on principles of equity, transparency, reciprocal accountability and mutual benefit.Through such partnering, teachers not only become learners themselves, but also begin to see learning through the eyes of their students. This ‘visibility’ is essential if teachers are to continuously challenge students to reach for the next step, and if they are to clearly see whether teaching and learning strategies are achieving their intended goals.


Hattie. J. (2009). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. London: Routledge.

Embracing a New Model of Education

Our school has really been a focus on ensuring as much face to face time learning can take place while not compromising the safety and health of our community. Professional development and resources have been increased and extended to help compensate for these changing times, though at times the learning process can be hindered due to last minute changes or frequent change in teaching models at a moments notice (when a certain number of positive Covid cases has been reported) this effects any long term planning or even knowing which days classes will come next.  It has been a true testament to the flexibility and teaching our student to embrace

man using computer inside room spontaneity. A term not many educators are comfortable with, as we plan and have attempted to control every factor within our classrooms that are now on the other side of a screen.

Our school could be more accepting of new pedagogies and models by taking further action after completing a SEN/SPED audit through Next Frontiers: Inclusion.  They offered huge insight into our school’s teaching and inclusionary practices, as well as examples and models of different co-teaching methods: which we’ve found to be very useful and lead us to question the overall program and placement of students who receive specialized educational services.

In order for new pedagogies to spread,  teachers, students, and leaders must implement them and then collaborate to share their experiences. Only then will their experience and energy, help impact these learning practices that are being had on everyone involved.

My goal for deep learning partnerships at our school would be for teachers to embrace their partnerships with students to master the learning process; while continuing to expand their repertoire of teaching strategies in order to enhance the foundation of teacher’s pedagogical capacities.
I want teachers and students to not only master content knowledge, but the process of learning. Most importantly learning how to learn by:
  • Students defining their own learning goals and  success criteria
  • Students monitoring their own learning
  • Students critically examining their own work
  • Students incorporating feedback from anyone including, but not limited to: their peers, teachers, and parents 
  • Students use all of this to deepen their awareness of how they function in the learning process

After all of this happens and students begin to make progress in mastering the learning process, our role as educators can then move from ‘explicit structuring of learning tasks, and spend more time providing feedback, activating next-level learning challenges, and continuously developing the learning environment.’

Let’s Cross the Finish Line Together

Image taken from Toaster Masters International

Last, as we consider the New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning all we need to focus on are the 6 C’. Whether it’s for project-based learning, through direct instruction, or through an inquiry-based mode of learning, having the teacher as an ‘activator’ (higher effect size) as opposed to ‘facilitator’ (lower effect size, even below the hinge point) will allow for deeper learning experiences to take place in our classrooms.

Character Education

Citizenship

Collaboration

Communication

Creativity

Critical Thinking

Nerivill1, Ocean, Women, Sea, Summer, Beach, Woman

Based on this week’s readings, in order to engage and support deeper learning, I will shift my practice to continue to work on my questioning- especially when in the large classroom setting (non pull-out environment) to ensure all learners are achieving their level best. I like to activate my students through the use of greater questioning techniques, holding them accountable, setting clear/high expectations, and helping them set their own goals and monitor their own progress- especially around self-regulatory skills and constant reflection.

 How Do You ‘Activate’ Students?

My practice has deepened since the start of my COETAIL journey as I have gained many new tools to utilize in my classrooms, ended my protest of Twitter, and expanded my PLNs through blogging.  I’ve implemented many “new” technology features to enhance the learning of my students right alongside me.  Modeling every step of the way, that it’s more than okay to make mistakes and try new things while continually reminding one another

“Please be Patient we are learning”- Dr. Brent Mutsch

Week 5: How Learning Happens- Theory to Practice

In this week’s readings, it was said that “Teaching and learning are not synonymous; we can teach, and teach well, without having the students learn.” But in my mind, if learning isn’t actually taking place- can we really even call it teaching? What do you think?

 My favorite excerpt I came across was from “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age (Siemens)” where it stated, “Experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge. Since we cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge. ‘I store my knowledge in my friends’ is an axiom for collecting knowledge through collecting people (undated).”

It reminds me of the quote by Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” It is with both that quote and excerpt above that really allows one to reflect on their goals and surround themselves with people whom one admires. But it’s even bigger than that! We all need to make sure we are in the right surroundings, but if you would like to read more about it, click here.

Similarly, with our students and making good choices when selecting partners or groups to work with (on the off chance they actually get to do their own selecting, but honestly don’t we all prefer to hand-select those we enjoy working with?) It was also said that deeper learning takes place when a there are different opinions being voiced. All this leads me to believe the importance of making sure collaborative work continues even when moving to a digital classroom.

 How do you use the learning theories in your everyday practice to support student learning?

Bloom’s taxonomy and the lower to higher-order thinking skills is something that plays a huge part in the world of SEN. We must constantly be looking at the material presented in the general education classrooms and checking it’s accessibility for the students we work with. Keeping in mind:

  • Before we can understand a concept we have to remember it
  • Before we can apply the concept we must understand it
  • Before we analyze it we must be able to apply it
  • Before we can evaluate its impact we must have analyzed it
  • Before we can create we must have remembered, understood, applied,
    analyzed, and evaluated it

Remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, creating are all things that at times need to be presented sequentially, for those who are English Language Learners, or especially for students with learning differences who struggle with short term memory, recall, or critical thinking skills or may require that additional time, repetition, or framework to move from one skill to the next.

Real-life learning is messy and complex. Classrooms that emulate the “fuzziness” of learning will be more effective in preparing learners for life-long learning.

We need to be sure to check in with our students and have them reflect often to ensure that they are not reaching cognitive overload with all the new learning experiences and feelings of isolation that will accompany digital learning.

Anxiety can be defined as the gap between your perceived ability and the perceived demands of the task; in other words, what you think you are capable of and how demanding you think the task is; the bigger the gap between these two perceptions- the greater the level of anxiety.

 To help manage students’ anxiety in a world where social media and poor sleep habits seem to be growing, having a trusting relationship with an adult such as a teacher or school counselor can be a helpful tool against the negative effects of stress. It is important we teach students about this and have them share their reflections on learning and the process and continually reminding them of their strengths and successes.

Have you begun modifying what you do in your classroom/school?

My SEN Teacher experience in a general education math classroom and overall feel at faculty meetings was the idea behind us wanting a “digital learning drill” in other words, a rehearsal. Can we set something up while we still have our students to ensure that they know how to access things and have the ability to learn digitally, or more importantly- to play nice. Needless to say, of course, our rehearsals went well (probably better than the small group of teachers I was apart of where we trialed Google Meet, that was a good well-timed and needed laugh) from the practice Zoom meeting to a full lesson delivery of “take your laptop and phone somewhere in the building and pretend you are anywhere, see if you can complete today’s lesson” they nailed it. 6th graders, and if they can do it then 7th and 8th should be able to as well.

Gadget, Devices, Technology, Smartphone
Image taken from https://pixabay.com/

I believe what it showed us, was that it all comes back to the educators, the fear or perceived added stress of “going to digital learning” (aka change) may be a steep learning curve and many additional hours for preparation for most, but for our students, it’s just another day where they get to be behind a screen learning how to interact in additional ways. Allowing them to grow and be contributing members to the school community. I think we all need to take a deep breath, model calmness, and show the confidence that moving to digital learning is a new and exciting endeavor, one that won’t change the expected growth of our learners, but give them new learning experiences.

Are you starting to notice different things in your classroom/school?

First off, I am very thankful to be at a well-resourced school where all students have access to the internet at home as well as 1:1 devices. What I am noticing is that whether it’s an iPad, phone, or laptop all kids are engaged and seemingly enjoy the projects they are working on. From video book clubs to podcasts, to filmed talk shows, the learning experiences happening at AASM are engaging.

Back to the ‘How Learning Happens’ we need to remember to always be: “Taking advantage of the incredible opportunity to help children reach their full potential by creating positive relationships, experiences, and environments in which every student can thrive.”

The keyword for me in the above passage was EVERY. Our job as educators is to ensure that the rich experiential learning we provide is accessible to all learners who walk through our doors. Just as Constructivism suggests that “learners create knowledge as they attempt to understand their experiences” (Driscoll, 2000, p. 376), it is the experiences we create for our students that allow them to reach their full potential.

Week 3: Connected Learning in the Digital World

My new learning goal or objective is to transform my classroom to deliver pull out SEN services known as LRC – the Learning Resource Class into one that can be done 100% digital. With “inevitable” campus closure looming on the horizon and the possibility of our school following suit; as many other International schools have done these past few weeks, I want to ensure that I am able to maintain a high level of support to the students in the SEN program, whom I case manage.

Goal: Effectively transform a Learning Resource Class into an online service delivery model.
My Action Plan: Steps I am currently taking to reach my goal
  1. Research what other international school SEN programs are doing with a campus closure (by March 8).
  2. Trial run conference platforms like Zoom and Google Meeting (on March 5 & March 11).
  3. Attend a new SEN software program meeting through Jump Rope (on March 6).
  4. Attend 2 sessions of Teachers Teaching Teachers Professional Development around digital learning (on March 10).
  5. Develop a plan and expectations for myself, parents and my students I case manage (by March 12).
  6. Develop lesson plans along with procedures and “classroom” expectations (by March 13).
  7. Be ready to implement the said plan (TBD).
  8. Actively reflect on how the lessons are going and the levels of student engagement (TBD).
  9. Learn how to video blog and develop a lesson plan around this (by March 13).
  10. Assign a video blog for my students to engage in advocating with their general education classroom teachers around their Individualized Learning Plan Goals along with any accommodations they may require (TBD).

Which do you prefer?

I plan to take advantage of my Professional Learning Networks, by asking questions to help me with my first objective: See what others are doing. Why re-invent the wheel? Build off of what others have already started to learn from. What’s working for them? What isn’t? And how can I take the positives and continue to build and strengthen what already exists in the world of SEN? This learning goal will help me empathize with the learners in my classroom, as online digital learning is something that none of us are familiar with. They will see me learning as we go, just as they are. It will allow even more room for a feeling of a safe space or learning environment. I can model how it’s okay to take risks, try new things, and fail, before hopefully… eventually getting it right.

With all the digital creativity coming at us full steam ahead, something that really caught my attention was the ideas and concepts around “tinkering” or simply “messing around”. I feel as we become adults, there is very litte time in our lives for us to embark on such funtivities. Whereas before diving first into the world of education, and teaching, or really never having left- “Geeking Out” or in other words: following our interests in a self-directed way at a passionate level, is something I find myself doing less and less. I would like to also set a personal goal of getting back to those original things that do get me excited to once again “Geek Out”.

What Passion Projects do you wish you made time for? My list is ever growing….

With all that has been said I also agree that students (even ourselves) are “Immersed in things all the time”; we must make time for reflection.

Reflection is something I don’t think we, as a species, do nearly enough. Along with my own willpower to remove the distractions…… it all just takes practice.

And as I reflect it makes me, even more, want to be a “Connection Builder”; to help students discover their passions and interests. Including individual interests and personal identities to build connections through shared interests for mentoring programs, like school’s advisory programs are an amazing idea, yet one that I’m surprised many schools more than likely do not follow. What a new and fun challenging idea on how to go about building a mentoring program. Wouldn’t any educator get excited over a small class sized group of students who are all passionate about a similar thing and can celebrate the love of learning together? Pros? Cons?

Don’t you hope to be someone’s learning hero?

Last, I really enjoyed a quote I came across in this week’s Ted talk: Forget university? 4 steps to design your own education | Till H. Groß |

I implore you, don’t miss that starting gun.