Dear students - I have read and commented on all of your mid course reflection, even those two or three that just came in the last couple days. I have given fairly extensive comments and am happy to give more. A few students have written for more feedback and I am always happy to give. I do see that only a few of you have gone to the mid-course reflections to open my comments. I encourage you do so.
I generally comment on the reflection itself, and then give some comments about:
- The contents of your reflection
- The contents of your posts
- The content of your replies
- A comment or two on the rubric.
ALso, I have noted to each of you that there is a grade of ~6% for each one for a total of 50%. I am not sure about marking each one separately as that is difficult and not really reflective of an overall effort at this level. If you want a grade to date, I will provide one.
Please be assured that I read every post, and usually about 80% of the replies. I hope you do too! For your information:
- Total Replies (All Forums): 276
- Total Threads (All Forums): 83
That is 359 items for you to read. Below is a table sorted in order of posts read. As you can see, I have read 257 posts and replies, and made 77 replies. I am very impressed with the person who read more than me!
You should have made at least 6 posts by now.
|Posts||Replies||Total items read|
To give you a bit more clarity on the final project, here are some comments aligned with the various elements of the project.
From the course, the following is the assignment description. (I have added comments to offer further explanation or examples).
Leadership in Professional Learning: Designing a Connected Classroom Program
This culminating task will help you to bring together your learning from all five modules in this course. For this final project, you will envision what connected learning could look like in your professional context (Context is important for this assignment – to really do it justice, try to describe the project within your own context as much as possible).
As a culminating task, you will individually design a connected classroom project that you could use with your students (You will find it much more rewarding as well if you can design something that you could actually do. This will allow you to point out issues that may arise and give a practical edge to the work. As it is a project for your students, it needs a beginning, middle and end. There needs to be clearly defined goals for the project.).
You may choose to present this project as a project or unit plan or in another format so that you can share your ideas with your colleagues and inspire others to foster and create connections in their own teaching and learning (Whatever format you use to design your regular lessons might work, as long as it is readable and logical. For example, does your plan show sequence, materials, preparation, and the larger context of the semester or work within which the project is set?)
A successful project or program will include:
- Strong and Authentic connection (to your larger semester or learning context, to your local learning environment e.g. are you in Canada or another country, and to the students own ‘world’)
- Rich learning that uncovers the curriculum (For example, are there identifiable goals that require individual work, group or community work, and reflection? Do the students have a chance to contribute the design of the project?)
- Ongoing learning– not a one-time thing (Are they developing skills as well as demonstrating new learning or knowledge? Are they building on previous work? Are there opportunities to use a product or skill beyond the end of the project?)
- Theoretically-supported pedagogy (Although there are overlaps between some of the approaches you have examined, can we discern a clear adherence to some of the principles throughout the work?)
- Technology-Enhanced opportunities (How are they recording their work, producing their work and preserving it for posterity? How are they sharing with others and interacting with their classmates and / or the community? How does technology help them do something they couldn’t otherwise do?)
- Feasible design (Can YOU and your students actually do the project?)
Output: Connected Classroom Program and Written Rationale (35%):
Along with your connected classroom plan, please write a rationale (600 words MAXIMUM, double-spaced) detailing (Please keep to the word count within 20%. Interestingly, virtually no student ever goes under the word count. Use a proper essay / academic writing format as indicated in the blog post about your case students):
- How the program relates to pedagogical approaches (cite scholarly work)
- How you decided which digital technologies to incorporate
- Who you could share this work with and how you might share it.
- Why you chose this approach and how it shows professional growth from your previous teaching and/or planning.
Both components of this assignment (project plan and rationale) should be shared on the Leadership in Professional Learning Discussion Board.
For those of you who are not actually teaching, here is some feedback I provided to a student who also does not teach.
“I have just read through the assignment again and watched the video (again!), and read your introduction to remind myself of your context, so I have some familiarity with your role. Here are a few thoughts.
Since you are a point of first contact, or at least, first sustained contact with parents, perhaps you could build on your appreciative inquiry work (https://positivechange.org/how-we-work/appreciative-inquiry-ai/ ) from the earlier assignment and try to think (Dream in the 4D model) of what you think parents could do to contribute to the school and their children’s success through your interactions.
Then, build your project around that (the next 2 ‘D’s, with the intent hopefully of attaining the 4th). I think that will easily comply with the requirements and the rubric.
- What do they need from you to keep in touch with teachers?
- How do they find out about the inner workings of the school and not just the parent-day events.
- How can you facilitate communications between parents, and between parents and the school, parents and their teachers, and parents and their own children.
Keep in mind the community aspect and your role at the school. If you use Appreciative Inquiry as your theoretical model for your work and build on the 4D model then you will be inspired to really do something that is real and that you could actually do.
You could even get your colleagues to give you an hour over lunch and work through the 4d model with them in the context of your project. They might give you some great ideas that you can work with.
Capture all your thinking and make it visible. That will help you to design the project part. You might want to use Prezi and think of your project as a process.
The following comments are collected from all student submissions for the case study assignment. I have depersonalized all comments. I have then organized them into three sections. The first are in-text comments that relate to specific instances in the assignments. I selected some that I thought were revealing to the writing itself. The next two sections are from my general comments. I organized them by Positive feedback and constructive feedback. Some are based on the content of the assignment, and some are based on the technical aspects - the writing style and citations.
Although this feedback is for PME 832, students in my other course (PME 851) will be interested in the writing comments.
Great start – could you add just one sentence showing some connection between the two, or why you chose them?
Powerful opening -really does a great job of introducing the case study!
It might be good to just introduce both schools here in one short sentence. You have both in your title, but you need to mention here just what you are doing.
What are some more concrete conclusions you could make from these two studies?
After reading the rest of your paper, I see that you have set up a great focus for your paper but you do not return to it.
Can you combine these two paragraphs and use the case study to highlight the main concepts of networked learning rather than discuss the approach separately and then go to the case study? It would give a greater coherence to your paper.
Careful with value-laden adjectives. This may be unfortunate, but I can make that determination from the facts and organization of your sentence. This sounds like being flexible is a bad thing.
Can you provide a conclusion that ties the two studies together or highlights some general improvements that both styles would benefit from – reflection seems to be a common theme.
Interesting conclusion. I would like to see a strong discussion about the comparisons between the two. I think this is where you could develop your ideas about pedagogic approaches more thoroughly to benefit from a greater context. You were asked to look at two studies in order to provide that wider context.
Great writing – very clear and succinct. The sentences are models of how to offer an idea and then support it with evidence.
Can you blend this with the previous sentences to provide a rich description of how the case study demonstrates place based learning? You writing rather separates the two and make me have to work harder to make the connections.
To be concise, just leave out colloquialisms. This is a different form of writing than a discussion board
I think you can combine this with the unpredictable learning issue more clearly. How will the reflections be assessed? Are these the self-assessments?
Only use tables for numerical data or very short text-based data. This all should be in paragraph form. It is harder to write perhaps, but easier to read.
You need to save these conclusions for later in your argument.
Careful – you are not really establishing an argument here. You need to be clear and concise when making these conclusions. I would expect such a statement to come after a few paragraphs leading me through a clear argument.
You have already talked about this topic a few times. Can you reorganize your paragraphs to bring a more coherent argument?
This is a compelling piece and I can see that you have given a lot of thought to it and you have incorporated a range of literature.
This is a great paper. Although it is much longer than specified (~1800 word compared to 1000 assigned), it was so well written than I didn’t notice the extra words until the end. It might be useful for you to go through and see where you can cut down on your word count without losing any ideas.
You captured the essence of the assignment. Your writing is also a model of efficiency and organization. This contributes so much to the overall readability of the paper and makes what your thoughts and comments so much clearer to the reader. It also helps you to build your own understanding further.
I think you have thoroughly captured the pedagogic approaches demonstrated by each study as well. There could be arguments of other overlapping approaches that they might be modelling, but your arguments in support of the approaches you highlighted clearly support your opinions.
I was also pleased to see how you incorporated the literature. You used quotes and references very well. I would suggest that you could use a few more references to authors, especially when you are making some type of statement or claim.
This was very interesting, especially the HBS section. I thought you captured the essence of the AI and were able to suggest a meaningful way forward supported with a solid example.
I was also impressed with your breakdown of the School Grown case. You did a great job to bring in some of the literature into that section
You have given me a great piece of writing. You stepped out of the assignment box and discussed these two case studies in tandem, which really gave your writing a great focus and a means for you to put your comments into a wider context between the two studies.
You clearly met all the requirements and went well beyond.
This is a very thoughtful and complete paper – almost too complete - 1800 words! I appreciate the effort to piece this together and methodically go through the two projects. You really did cover a lot of ideas and almost every time I had a question, you answered it later in the paper.
You have given an interesting discussion of two solid case studies. However, I would like to see you really dig into the actual content of the courses. If you look at my comments above, you will see that you bring up important elements of the case studies but do not fully explore them.
You also have a tendency to use very colloquial language. Students who use this style often get a bit lost in the discussion and do not get to the point.
Your report is interesting and you have brought in experiences from your own work and tied it to the case studies. However, I did feel that you were jumping between the case studies and your work without a logical connection.
I also note that in some sections, you relied heavily on quotes, especially in the discussion of the learning approaches. When you are discussing the various sections, it is important to keep the approaches fresh in your mind and in the reader’s mind. So, by breaking it into section as you did, the connections between the sections broke down. This makes the overall reading of the report less effective and interesting.
I think you have picked two good projects and given a reasonable overview of them. You have also identified some pedagogic approaches within the projects and given examples to support your discussion.
By using tables as you did, I think you have confused the logic of your discussion for yourself and hence, as you will note in my comments, the flow of your discussion is compromised. This format places the onus on the reader to make sense of your ideas. That is actually your job as the writer.
I think that you would benefit greatly from reorganizing this into a proper essay style piece. If you view each paragraph as a solid and concrete idea, you will find that you can better organize each paragraph and then manipulate the ideas by moving the paragraphs back and forth until you find a logical flow to your ideas. Then, your writing will be much easier to read for yourself first as a useful piece of scholarship, and then for your readers as a demonstration of competency.
It is quite late, but I am generally very flexible with dates as I understand the pressures of being a teacher. I do not usually penalize anyone for lateness.
For the challenges and suggestions, while I truly appreciated your effort to combine the two cases and comment on both at once, you perhaps were a bit general. Try to really think of the context of the two case studies and offer some suggestions that could really work in their particular setting.
I understand that you were not specifically asked to compare the studies but I was hoping to see you draw out some comparisons or contrasts – otherwise there is no real value to having two case studies.
I think the paper is reasonably well written, but try to really focus on being concise. This is not a conversation – it is a one-way communication of ideas and I want to get to your points.
I think you have given a comprehensive coverage of the two case studies. As I noted above, I think some of your comments might need a bit further examination, but overall it was interesting.
Also, as I noted, I think there could be a greater focus on comparing the two studies. There are some similarities and there are distinct differences as you note in the conclusion. How can these two studies, and us, learn from their experiences and learn from each other at a more general level to improve their programs.
I would like to suggest that you write in shorter paragraphs and then try to manipulate those paragraphs as discrete objects and move them around. You might find that you have reiterated and repeated yourself a few times, and that you have left an idea only to return to it a paragraph or two later. This makes your paper much longer than it should be.
Nevertheless, I think you did a great job to really dig onto these case studies and bring out some highly practical issues. I appreciate the comments on social injustice and agree that many of these go unnoticed and hence are perpetuated. Systemic injustice of this nature gets embedded because people in positions of power (parents, teachers) often gloss over them leading students to believe they are not all that important.
I would like to suggest that you try to write in a formal essay style so that your ideas are logical and clearly linked – so that you can better show for example, cause and effect, sequence and relative importance of your ideas. Your somewhat bullet pointed style (without the bullet points) makes reading your work a bit more difficult and quite disjointed. There is no flow and so I found myself jumping back and forth to put your ideas together. You are supposed to put them together for your audience.
I agree with your points and think you have some great comments about bringing the community to help guide the projects in order to get more out of them. However, you did not explicitly state how students could be guided, but alluded to the companies who might hire these students. That is important, but can we be student focused?
I have been suggesting to other students that an extensive and logical next step in this paper might have been to try and compare / contrast the two studies more thoroughly. You were not asked to do so, but otherwise there is no real value to having two case studies. You would just do better to examine one more closely or have two separate papers.
Although writing produces a linear text, you should not approach it that way. Start with smaller paragraphs and then see how you can manipulate and combine ideas to really be concise. That will really bring out your ideas and leave you more words at the end for the conclusion.
If you have clear distinct paragraphs, you can move them around like objects and see the overall coherence of your argument.
I think the paper is reasonably well written, but try to really focus on being concise. This is not a conversation – it is a one-way communication of ideas and I want to get to your points.
I see that you have read widely and given a lot of thought to your work. However, there are a few difficulties with the organization, which cloud the impact of your thoughts.
As for your arguments, you are putting conclusions up front an the discussing them afterwards. This makes your writing much longer as well. It also confuses the reader because you end up repeating yourself.
F2017 PME 851-001 Culture Curriculum and Pedagogy
Module 3: - The Role of Education
Thanks for an interesting post. You had some provocative questions from ______ as well. I hope you answer them!
I wonder what you think about the need for human growth. There is a great book called Pedagogy of Freedom (Freire). How does education set us free? How does that then help us and our well-being?
Great questions! As a proponent of technology in Education, every time there is an article speaking negative about technology in Education, I get it forwarded to me from five different directions! So, is it bad? You ask if being ignorant of something is better? I cannot wait to read some responses!
Well said. That was a great overview and I thought that defining the terms under discussion was a great addition to the post. In many instances, we tend to make assumptions which lead us astray. Clarifying terms is an excellent approach. I would like to pose the same question that ________ has alluded to and that I have asked of another student. How do we maintain the distinction between our curriculum and our wider desire as educators to tend to the well being of our students?
Great post - very thoughtful. I appreciate your focus on being reflective and thoughtful about our world and our place in it. I find your comments about teaching language interesting because the English language does have so many oddities in it in terms of usage, spelling and other illogical aspects. That might be a good way to explore history and the lingering effects of tradition.
One question I have is, where do we as educators draw lines in terms of crossing out of our subject and focus and into wider issues that are not part of our mandate? In your case as an English teacher, when I taught English I was always tempted to bring in culture and other such issues which were outside of the curriculum. How do we balance these often competing needs?
Thanks! You have made some very interesting points. I agree that learning to be responsible is paramount to being, well, a responsible adult! Being accountable... Being fair and equitable...
I would like to know your thoughts around the balance between parental responsibilities and societal responsibilities as represented by schools and education systems? What happens when there is a conflict?
Very interesting discussion. My one concern with knowledge building, although I promote the idea vigorously within my own work, is that there needs to be input into the student's 'knowledge repository' at some point. This is why I am not a fan of discovery learning. Students contribute to, add to build upon and generate new understanding of existing knowledge, but they do need to have that initial input.
How do you accommodate or provide students with some 'grist' for their knowledge mill?
Thanks for your impassioned post. I can feel the drive you have for your students from here!
Two questions pop up for me. One is, when you discuss holistic education, and then focus on Economics and Business, I wonder how well you fit in Arts, culture, and science? I agree with Bill Clinton when he said, "Its the economy, stupid"! However, I once thought that all politicians should be businessmen. I now no longer think that!
My second question is in reference to your refraining from sharing your own opinions. I agree that this is an area fraught with difficulty, however how do you fit this approach with the notion that "It matters who the teacher is" (Keltchermans)? It is a fine balance, but at the end of the day, you do have opinions so...
Wonderful post! I think you have touched on some important points here. I do agree that it is not entirely wrong to fill our students’ brains with knowledge. That is certainly part of the role of education.
In my work with Medical education preparing students to be doctors, we use the term "training to be a doctor". A big part of their education is the sheer volume of content that they need to simply memorize. Of course, they need to be able to make sense of their vast knowledge, but they must learn it all first. How do you balance this in your classrooms?
I agree and have had many a conversation at my last position in Australia about the very topic of the purpose of Education. Now, in a School of Business, they thought that the only purpose was to get a job and their school mission reflected that fact: "Preparing students for enterprise futures" - 'enterprise' meaning businesses.
Many of your classmates are taking this course in order to have better career opportunities and I certainly hoped to get a better position when I embarked on my PhD. So, is there a balance? How do we account for the real goals of education, when "Education" costs so much?
Great stuff! I find that when we draw upon our own experiences, especially as teachers, we have the same goals and vision - to make us better people. I totally agree with you.
However, after my experiences in Australia (read my response to Christa), I have tried very hard to understand those people who get an education simply to get a better job and make more money. There are students that I am working with who are only becoming doctors because they want prestige and a big salary - are they wrong? What do you think? Try hard to see their perspective.
Very interesting post. I take from this that you think the role of education is to provide us with a sense of social responsibility and to help us use our skills to our best ability and in different settings. Interesting thoughts and I wonder if you have read Paulo Freire? He writes extensively about social justice and responsibility and one of my favourite books is "Pedagogy of Freedom". I recommend it to you.
I might suggest that in your future writing and in particular with your assignments, but in the boards as well, that you try to bring more focus to your writing. You post is very interesting, but you have not explicitly stated what you actually think, or given a clear opinion. You might want to structure your writing a bit more thoroughly in order to help the reader understand your train of thought. Also, you should endeavour to incorporate some of the readings into your writing as well so that you can reference what others have said about the topic and give your own thoughts both more weight, and an idea to talk about.
The following are some comments provided to students on the points and issues of the assignment. The assignment was graded out of 4. About half received a 3/4 and the other half 4/4.
851 assignment 1 feedback
Context of assignment:
You have elaborated on a challenging question that includes cultural issues and a specific curriculum. Very interesting! I wonder if there is a bit of confusion over the actual issues here. On the one hand, you mention that as a biology teacher, you feel it is your responsibility to teach students how their bodies work. While I agree, that in itself is a personal or cultural issue and some may feel, for example, that they are too young, or that this is the responsibility of someone else.
On the other hand, the main issue you discuss is _____________. These issues might not be specifically Biology, but perhaps cross over into other subjects. Where do you as a teacher delineate between your specifics responsibilities and the larger curriculum?
Your discussion of getting the students to see each other as individuals and to appreciate the struggles that individuals face is a great way to show the similarities between people. I wonder how you get them to understand the differences as well? I would not want to gloss the differences in favour of the similarities. In terms of Cushner, this would perhaps not really help students adapt as much as they might. The differences will remain and that is part of the adaptation.
I did appreciate your comments on receiving new faculty into the school. However, I would like to read about some more detailed efforts to work with the homogenous body of students. Also, can you reference one of the readings into your work? How would Cushner’s IDI be measured with students in your school?
I think your approach is quite interesting. Have you tried using texts from other western countries as well? How would issues differ between Canada and the US for example? The US and the UK?
I would also be interested to know how the students respond. Do they seem to grasp the complexities? I understand this was a very short assignment, but for next time, a bit more focus on some of these questions would be great.
I appreciate your reference to diversity as individuals, and not being limited to culture. You are correct to assert that culture is merely the most obvious element of diversity.
I appreciate your references to differentiation as well, as a teaching strategy to support diversity and to help students to explore their own understanding of a topic and then have the ability to share that new understanding with their diverse classmates.
I wonder how well your students would rate on the IDI from Cushner’s article? Can you give that some thought? I would also like to see a sentence or two about how you might blend the eastern need for summative assessments with the western desire to talk and interact in groups. There would be some interesting ways of offering the students a progress check on their development that might suffice for a summative assessment. This would then have a good blend of formative feedback as well.
I think you have touched on a couple of very interesting points. Cushner’s point that students think the world is getting worse while their own personal issues are fine indicates that students do not make connections between their own actions and the world. There is a disconnect there. What do you think?
I think your use of the _________ issue is a great focal point for your writing. Well done! I also liked your references to Cushner. You have referenced the article very well and pulled out the most salient issues.
It is clear and you have articulated a solid argument and understanding of Cushner’s article. You note that some issues are not good or bad, just different. This is interesting because it highlights the notion of evaluation versus assessment. We can assess something by noting the elements of the situation. We then assign a value to it once we have the facts. So, in the context of your example on plagiarism, the notion of plagiarism is generally considered to be bad. How do you reconcile this with the notion of being different?
I would ask that you focus on your writing. You have a very conversational style which makes for a more lengthy and wordy text.
Also, try to be a bit less conversational and more concise. This is very much an issue of academic style, which may be western based, but very international nevertheless.
Also, while you included several articles in your references, you did not actually mention them in your text. You will need to refer to them specifically in the body of the text in order to include them in your references.
You should try to reference one or two readings in your work to give you some focus and provide the reader (me) with a context for your writing. This will be much more important in longer pieces of writing.
This is a compelling piece. Very interesting. Your discussion of gender is very timely and I think that gender within culture often gets overlooked and women’s issues are often lost in the larger mix of cultural discussion. For example, that women in Saudi Arabia can now drive is only one small issue in a much larger gender gap in that country.
The other point is that you talk about being more inclusive although you do not use that term. I strongly encourage you to look up the concept of inclusion with regards to technology and in particular, special needs.
You clearly have given a lot of thought to multiculturalism in your career and you have given a clear, concise and highly articulate accounting of your school, environment and the efforts being made within to explore cultural differences and diversity.
Below are excerpts from my feedback to students on their concept maps regarding community and curricular connections.
Comment: You have done a great job in the text to highlight the various connections and to relate the readings to the work you are highlighting. This is a great start to a literature review for a project down the road and I encourage you to keep your written work available in a word doc for easy retrieval. There is no issue with reusing some of this work and building upon it.
With your concept map, I would suggest trying to reduce the amount of text and using what text you do have to highlight the concepts involved and to show the interrelatedness and overlapping nature of the various concepts.
For example, instead of writing "Social action is an important part of the curriculum", which we see in the reading materials, just say 'social action' and then try to show where else in the activities there is an overlap or relation to social action.
Comment: Try to make some of the connections between the elements more explicit. For example, you have one node that highlights 'communicating with others' and another node that shows 'modes of communication'. Can you indicate which modes would be most suitable for which types of communication? This might be an interesting exercise for you and your classmates.
If you look at some of the other areas as well, you might see some efficiencies in your map.
Try to use an online mapping tool that can use collapsible nodes. This makes reading much easier and you will find that you can edit and share much easier.
Comment: Very nice work! I would suggest trying to order the elements to reflect their relationships. Perhaps a more circular design instead of a linear hierarchy might help with showing connections. For example, you have curriculum and then students which is of course a connection. However, the curriculum is often designed by the school, board or community and then enacted by teachers for the students. How might you reflect that connection in your map?
Similarly, the technology has its own node whereas it might be better used as a facilitating tool and be interspersed throughout the map to show where technology can support the great work you are doing. For example, what technology are they using to question and analyse? What tools do they use to collect data, record experiences for reflection and the demonstrate their competency with a particular skill for assessment purposes?
Your text is also well written. I would argue that the point you make in the second paragraph about students wanting to know the purpose of their studies is of paramount importance and that this could be the introductory paragraph. We are talking about "Making Connections"!
Comment: I always wonder about the idea of letting students set the curriculum. Of course, this is tempered with curriculum issues that filter in from society, boards and other ministries that have a stake in what our children learn.
How do you manage the demands of a 'state' curriculum with the needs and desires of the students and maintain a level of robustness and rigour in the learning?
Another question that arises from this is the issue of students meeting those from similar backgrounds. I wonder about the idea of meeting people from different backgrounds so that we can increase and improve our ability to appreciate those that are different from your own experiences? What do you think about that?
Comment: It was interesting to read about the need to be explicit about the concepts and to highlight exactly what they were doing. I think this is essential for everyone and perhaps your students are just being more open about their needs.
There is a concept called "tolerance for ambiguity" that I have examined at length in the past. Language teachers in particular should be familiar with this concept. It speaks about the ability of individuals to function without all relevant information. For example, with language learners, how well can they understand a communication even though they do not understand all of the words and expressions being used.
Comment: This is a wonderful piece of work. You have really captured the range of elements needed to make a curriculum and activities as your outline come to life and work for students.
In reference to your classmate's comment, I would like to ask you to reflect a bit further on the issue of student led curriculum and how that can be aligned with what I am sure is a rigorous curriculum.
How do you maintain rigour in such a curriculum in order to ensure that students meet assessment requirements?
Comment: Perhaps instead of the questions, I wonder if a sequence of actions that highlight your process might smooth the connections and provide a greater ability to make those connections? Maybe not, but I am just thinking 'out loud'.
Then, the extra text around the map might be incorporated into the written accompaniment and that whole thing might be just a bit more concise. Your work is excellent, but I am just trying to find a way to make it more accessible.
I would also suggest bringing out the connection between the content and the application and understanding of the content in a holistic sense. You highlight the issue of getting the parents' buy in in order to lessen the expectations of memorizing content. However you do need to have the content and the activities you are suggesting make the content more relevant. You do capture this in section 3 of the map, but I would argue that this is the central motivation for all of your work. Make it stand out!
The following are excerpts from the feedback I gave to students about their video on "My Growth So Far", as part of their final reflections in the course.
Comments about Trust
You discuss breaking down barriers and I guess that gets to the issue of trust, which has been a big topic of discussion in many module 5 reports. There is no easy way to establish trust, as many of your classmates have commented, but I hope that you find some strategies that will work for you among the many proposed by your classmates.
I thought you also gave some great comments about encouraging risk and inspiring trust among the participants. You have to have a degree of trust before you start to take risks in the community. By risks, I am thinking of perhaps, sharing a new or dissonant idea? Disagreeing with someone? I would like to see some examples of risk.
That was a great video. I liked your comments about social presence as the force to create trust, highlighted by the literal process of reviewing your partners’ social presence online. It’s always interesting to Google yourself!
In your video, you talk about accountability. That is an aspect of trust in that we need to believe that our work is being valued and that we are working with those who will reward our own work. I do not believe that is a selfish issue, but rather one of equity.
I think using the term ‘idiosyncrasy’ with collaborative inquiry is a great adjective. There are so many factors – as many as there are personalities.
I liked the phrase “many and varied complex processes” involved in PLCs. Yes, that about sums them up! When you are dealing with people in the heart of their work, PD, you will get along of emotion and a lot of social interaction.
Comments about Professional development
I was intrigued by your comment that teachers might see their profession as something separate from themselves. That gives rise to a different view of development. We always talk about 'leaving the office at the office', but PD always seems to span the two worlds.
I noted your comments about ‘value-added’ PD. I think that is a crucial element. I have been to so many sessions and activities where the PD was great for the presenter, but not so great for the recipients. I think that is where a PLC is a good answer in that they help to keep the PD relevant to the teachers.
Your comment about vulnerability is also crucial. Another of our students comments similarly that the emotional aspect of being in a PLC is not to be toyed with and that teachers might see the PD as an object or thing separate from themselves. This may help to address issues of seeming or admitting to not already being good enough.
Comments about inquiry within Collaborative Inquiry
I also liked your comments about 'happenstance' versus intentional collaboration. I think opportunistic collaboration is great, but I have found a bit of intention goes a long way.
You have touched on a very important point. Collaboration will be more rewarding if you have some intention (goals, focus, etc) in your interactions. That is what drives any community. Katz (2013) talks about doing the “right work”.
I liked your example at the end about the unfortunate deletion of work. That they came back for more shows that the work itself was intentional and driven by purpose.
You noted that teachers often felt powerless to effect change in their work or professional lives, but that through PLCs they can begin to share and help each other in ways that are responsive to their needs.
I think you are correct to describe it as a fluid activity. There are so many factors to consider, not least of which is leadership as you mention. How do we keep the PLC focused and moving forward with good leadership, but leadership that does not overwhelm or subsume teachers’ own goals?
I think you are spot on when you discuss that many people like to think that collaboration is somehow an organic interaction, whereas in reality you simply don’t get very far organically. A bit of structure and purpose goes a long way.
You are correct to note that established goals need to be negotiated and to ensure understanding. Otherwise, finding out that you have gone off on a tangent is almost more demoralizing than not having a clear goal in the first place.
You comment that it is the inquiry, as opposed to the collaboration, that is the secret to this work. In a community of inquiry for example, as espoused by Garrison and Anderson et. al., the inquiry is what gives guidance and focus to the community.
You commented about being in a PLC as a participant. That highlights the benefits of reading the ‘Facilitator’s’ guide to PLC. From the other side, you can really appreciate the fine balance of keeping people motivated and focused on their work.
You discussed appropriate problems. This speaks to the need to a clear focus on the inquiry aspect of collaboration. You go on to mention intentional choices. That is another form of having a good focus on the inquiry and the process of conducting the inquiry.
Comments about Personal Growth
I was pleased to read your comments about becoming a lifelong learner. I have always felt that one way to be a good teacher is to continue to be a student.
Thanks for your honest appraisal of your work. I was pleased to hear that you feel you have progressed and are able to manage the process and contribute more meaningfully now. Much of facilitation, if not all, is really about process.
Comments about the use of technology
I loved your comment about using technology to help break down some barriers to collaborating. As several people commented in the Module 5 work, working face to face is not without challenges and often some technological intervention can really help a community move along towards common goals.
I liked your comments about using technology to remove barriers. Several of your classmates have noted similar points and I think that is an important element to share with those who might be resistant to collaboration due to similar barriers.
I liked your reflections on using technology. While I think that being in a room together is the best way, I also think that technology opens a world of possibilities that simply are magic to me. The possibilities of social justice in the sense of how many people can benefit through the use of technology to enhance their learning is a great thing.
Have a look at http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/themes/icts/m4ed/ to really be inspired!
As I have mentioned to others, technology is a great tool for social justice. It allows many of us to access education and resources that otherwise would forever be out of reach. Regardless of your location in the world, technology can open so many doors to education and the enrichment of our lives.
Comments about the nature of teaching and learning
As teachers, we still need to know our stuff – the content. But what we really do, is help others interact with that content and do something with it. In our knowledge economy, we are not expected, nor can we be fonts of knowledge anymore.
I thought your discussion of the post-Gutenberg readings were very insightful. I wonder if children really do think in more complex ways. I think they do because the tools at their disposal give them the chance to access information and combine and recombine it in ways that we never could before through reading. I think of the British term for doing an under-graduate. They would say that someone was ‘reading at Oxford’ to say that they were doing their degree there. That is no longer the case.
I thought your reference to your classmates’ work was very revealing that your valued their input and learned from them. I hope they know that!
Your comments about cognitive dissonance were very much appreciated. I think that the comments from some of the readings which state that we work best with like-minded individuals are true. However, I also think that this is not a setting that will encourage growth because there will be less cognitive dissonance. That is good when you just want to get something done, but not so good when you want to develop your skills and knowledge.