leading schools in a digital age

I’m sitting on the train on my way home from the final session in this Bastow course which has taken me on a journey over the last 15 weeks, so this seems a fitting time to sum up what I’ve got out of it.

It’s quite simple and quite profound – I’ve gained a renewed passion for teaching. That sounds like a big statement but it’s definitely true. Prior to this course, I was certainly doing my job, and doing it as well as I could, but I felt like I was missing something. I thought it was student contact – I’ve been out of the classroom for over 2 years and thought that could be the missing piece. I love what I do and get a buzz from helping and learning with my colleagues, just like I did with my students so I didn’t think that was it. However re-exploring lots of the ideas about learning and what it should look like have made realise what was missing – I felt like there was something fundamentally wrong not with my setting or even my system but with education itself and didn’t feel like I had much power to do anything about it.

So, most of all, I’m finishing the course feeling empowered. And I am very much looking forward to seeing where that feeling takes me.

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what is learning for?

I attended an event at Bastow this week titled ‘What is learning for?’ with Valerie Hannon of the UK-based Innovation unit. It was another great opportunity to have my brain stretched in different ways, with some aspects resonating and others making me question my own thoughts and beliefs.

Valerie spoke about the sort of future our learners will face – one with environmental challenges, diverse populations and change in concept about employment being amongst the issues. And how well are educational systems and society as a whole preparing learners for life in this world?

These are all things I think about a lot, particularly doing the Bastow course ‘Leading Schools in the Digital Age’. However I’ve never thought about a very large idea Valerie introduced – that the future will not just be of a different degree to change we’ve experienced in the past but of a completely different kind. This is an idea referred to in Al Gore’s ‘The Future‘ which is very much on my reading list after attending this event.

Valerie presented 4 levels of learning challenges for our educational systems and, indeed, for society:

  • planetary/global: with obvious implications around access to and management of resources as well as global citizenship
  • national/local: reinventing democracy, lifelong learning for all & sharing workplaces with robot workers
  • interpersonal: developing empathy, caring for those beyond our families, developing positive sexual identities
  • intrapersonal: responsibility for self including our health, fitness, mental wellbeing and self-knowledge

As part of our final Bastow assignment, a team from our school are considering change that we can implement in our school and I really like the framework of these 4 levels to help guide some of our thinking.

I’m sure I’ll have more blog posts to follow on this – just wanted to get out my initial thoughts before it got lost in the general fog!

What is my moral purpose?

As part of the Bastow course that I’m currently doing, we were asked today to articulate our moral purpose. The reason we get out of bed and go to work each day. And, surprisingly, I actually found this really hard to do.

I say often enough that I have 3 passions in life – teaching, travelling and running – and am lucky enough that the first pays for the other two. Why do I teach? I’ve certainly done lots of other jobs and know that there are easier ways to make a living so why do I stick with this one? Having come to teaching later in life, it was definitely a conscious choice so I would have thought I would clearly know why I do it.

imageThis was my first attempt today and it’s definitely a work in progress. The word ‘connect’ is very important to me as it speaks volumes about the relationships which I believe are so crucial to learning. ‘Making a difference’ sounds so cliched and it’s not exactly what I want to say – it’s more about wanting to help learners achieve their dreams and encourage them to dream bigger. The last part – ‘all learners’ – was trying to encapsulate the fact that, while I don’t have a class of my own, I interact with a wide group of learners each day. My purpose is to build relationships with and help all of those learners develop, regardless of whether they are staff or student.

So, as I said, it’s a work in progress. However I think this is something I really need to be able to articulate and have as my mantra so it is worth the work. Any thoughts to help me on my way?

Still here

I have been a very sporadic blog author, particularly during the last 12 months. At least, I’ve been sporadic on this blog. My running blog has been coming along very well, if you’re interested 🙂

I started this blog to be a reflective space as well as an area for discussion and debate and it has variously been both of those. Initially, while teaching ICT, it helped me get out into the virtual world and mingle although took a backseat to the sheer volume of work required when I came out of the classroom and into my Leading Teacher role. This year is no different. While I’m still very passionate about both Literacy and 21st Century Learning, I’m also a little shell shocked at the moment with the general ‘aaaargh’ that hits at the start of the year. Perhaps when I feel more on top of things, I’ll blog more? At least that’s a positive way of looking at it – I believe there will come a point when I do actually feel more on top of things.

Also, having just been accepted into the Bastow ‘Leading schools in a digital age’ course, I’m hoping that will be the thing to kick me back to blogging/sharing/participating in the online ed. tech world which I have enjoyed and gained so much from in the past. Here’s to new adventures!