Preparing For A New Year? Technology or Innovation or Do What We Did Last Year

Leadership
How will you start the new year? Will you provide the same learning experience as last year or do you have some new initiatives to experiment with?
Seymour Papert in 1993 was quoted as saying “Nothing is more absurd than an experiment to place computers in classrooms where nothing else has changed”.
Technology has certainly evolved in the proceeding years with the influence of smart phones, interactive software and the connectivity and accessibility of the internet enabling teachers to be more creativity and innovative in the delivery of learning. At their fingertips, teachers are providing blended learning experiences, offering opportunities to both consolidate as well as extending students’ (and their own) learning. Providing a more personalized and targeted learning experience is now being seen as an important strategy for the effective teacher.
There has been many changes to the resources at our fingertips to value add to the learning experience which brings me back to Seymour’s quote. Simply providing new resources, technology will not in itself make sustained improvement in student learning. As George Couros’ recent tweet ponders, is simply placing the latest technology in the classroom innovative practice?
There needs to be a change in pedagogy, the way the teacher delivers the learning. Instructing the same way, doing the same thing, albeit with different resources, will not have the required impact. Simply replacing traditional classroom furniture with contemporary furniture may look different but if the teacher is still standing and delivering content, not much will change for the student. However, the adoption of an inquiry pedagogy with a collaborative expectation, peer to peer engagement and an engaging assessment approach will.
There will be plenty of teachers trying not to reinvent the wheel by utilizing last years units of work. While this is a useful beginning point, how they meet the needs of their new students will be the focus of the effective teacher.
How will you prepare for the new year? What are you going to do differently this year to improve your teaching and make sustained learning gains for your students?

Teachers Transitioning to a New School

Instruction, Leadership, Staffing, Teaching

Across the globe there are many teachers preparing to move schools. While there are many reasons teachers change schools (eg looking for a different set of experiences or career move), when you walk through the doors of your new school it can be  a daunting process. It is a time that can be filled with excitement about the prospects ahead, yet at the same time it can bring about anxiety and feelings of uncertainty.

While the summer break offers you time to relax and recharge, it is also time to plan your new beginning. If you are in this boat here are some thoughts to ponder on as you prepare to meet new colleagues and new opportunities.

  1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: Understanding how your new school operates will increase as you experience the day to day happenings. However, the more research you can do prior to walking through the school gate the better prepared you are to make a difference. Once there, quickly ensure you are familiar with the staff handbook, school policies and procedures.
  2. Begin as You Mean to Finish: First impressions are lasting impressions. Meeting new colleagues can be daunting and it takes time to settle into a new environment however, there is an opportunity to present yourself to your new world. How do you want your colleagues to see you? This will be evident in how you communicate, interact and even how you arrange and organise your classroom.
  3. Put Your Best Foot Forward: You were chosen for this new position. Put your best foot forward and let them know they made a great decision. Whether you are a classroom teacher or a newly appointed middle leader, take the opportunity to shine.
  4. Build Relationships: Schools are social entities and comprise of various stakeholders (students, staff, parents, wider community). Connecting early with your parents, getting to know your students and fostering strong communication practices will enhance your place in the school.
  5. New Beginnings, New Opportunities: Sometimes things don’t go to plan. There may have been some disappointments or even frustrations about your previous school year. Changing schools is an opportunity to start from scratch, to begin a fresh and to put the past behind you.

Remember, you were chosen specifically for your new school. Your principal wants you to be the best teacher you can be and will help you achieve that goal. It is up to you to run with it. Enjoy!

Arriving in Dubai

Leadership

My arrival into Dubai has been quite a whirlwind with many of the great hallmarks of “misadventure”, beginning with the initial packing of bags and deciding what to bring. Being a reflective fellow I thoughtfully laid out my clothes on the bed and was feeling confident that I had covered all bases. I then began to ponder about my new life overseas. Can this suitcase of clothes define my future? Given that I was moving overseas, was this all I needed to live my new life?

packing pageWith a suitcase that weighed 27.8 kgs I embarked on the journey to Dubai. Having noted my seat was close to an exit, giving me more leg room, I was feeling confident about the 15 hour flight. Until the young couple with their 15 month old baby came and sat next to me. I took a closer look around and saw that I was sitting in the middle of a number of couples with their babies. With flight attendants scurrying around finding bassinets to hang on the wall and parents wielding large bags of baby gear, it was at that point I felt the rising panic and I wasn’t disappointed. The little one used his lungs to awaken his colleagues around me. And that continued well into the flight.

Having survived the flight and profound lack of sleep, albeit a little battled scarred, I was fortunate to be collected from the airport and taken to my accommodation. Besides the fact that for me, everyone was driving on the other side of the road, the sudden braking and accelerating that continued for the next 20 minutes as the car fought with other cars for positions in the lanes, certainly ensured the sleep deprivation was instantly cast aside. I was totally awake. (For the record, my first driving experience when I was behind the wheel is a story for another time).

The initial experiences of getting to Dubai was extremely interesting but, by necessity, needed to take back seat when focusing on the reason I was here. My first few days at school made the initial trip all worthwhile beginning with the induction of new staff.

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