An Important Milestone – #RSCON3

The third Reform Symposium e-Conference has broadened my horizons and expanded my PLN.

It is hard to describe the Reform Symposium e-Conference, but the words ‘inspiring’, ‘informative’, and ‘insightful’ come to mind.

#RSCON3 was a wonderful opportunity to connect, learn and share with new and experienced teachers around the world; and it will have tangible impacts on my teaching and professional learning practice in the months to come, particularly when we launch the Global Classroom 2011/12 project later this year.

And presenting at #RSCON3 was an important milestone in my teaching career, as it was my first ever professional presentation. I’m proud that I was able to share my experiences, and “make my voice heard” on a global stage; and I suspect there aren’t many 2nd year teachers who can say they’ve presented at an international conference! (Thanks Shelly!)


My Presentation: “What the heck is a PLN?”

I shared my personal ‘PLN story’ at #RSCON3; exploring how my “Personal Learning Network has reawakened my love of teaching, supported me in tough times, and broadened my horizons.”

With the help of my wonderful moderator (and friend) @JoHart, I was able to lead a lively, interactive online session, attended by 33 teachers from around the world (although, sadly few Western Australians). And I was pleasantly surprised at how well it was received.

worldmap
After exploring the gradual development of my PLN, and discussing some of the online tools / resources I’ve used to build it, I handed over the microphone and whiteboards to my audience, asking them to share how they “connect, learn, share, and collaborate”. They did so with gusto!

connectandcollaborate


Themes and Takeaways

Having a PLN is a rewarding and transformative learning experience, but actually getting “out there”, and building your network isn’t an easy or rapid process. It takes time, patience, and perseverance – but you don’t have to do it alone.

By sharing my story and experiences,  I hoped to demystify the “Personal Learning Network”, and give ‘newbies’ a few ideas about where to start, and who/where to go for help and advice. With the assistance of the my session participants, this message came across ‘loud and clear’.

takeaways


Thankyou

I hope my “What the heck is a PLN?” presentation will inspire and assist new and experienced teachers to take that critical first step on their own PLN journey. If I can make a difference for just one person, I will have succeeded in this goal.

So, thankyou to everyone who attended my presentation, and all those people who will listen to the recordings. I hope you find it helpful, and I look forward to reading your feedback.

Recording Links

Presentation Slides

I get this question a lot, so I’m attending the “What the heck is a PLN?” session with @mgraffin #rscon3” – @teacherjenny6

Following @mgrafin pressentation #rscon3. My first session. This is amazing!!” – @louvre2012

Great job presenting at #rscon3. So happy to be a part of your PLN and have you as part of mine” – @ncarroll24

Quite a warm wonderful mood in the text chat of @mgraffin’s “What the heck is a PLN?” in #rscon3. Could be I’m just a softie though ;-) ” – @harmonygritz

Could confirm in @mgraffin’s workshop the power of Personal / Professional Learning Network! Great workshop Michael!” – @SilvioCamposELT

Well, It’s My Story …

A few weeks ago, I was invited by Edna Sackson (@whatedsaid) to share my story about why I became (and remain) a teacher. Overcoming my reservations, and with Edna’s support, I wrote A Teacher’s Story, which was guest posted on the ‘What Ed Said’ blog on May 28, 2011.

whatedsaid

If you haven’t seen it, you can find it here. (It was also picked up on the ‘Success in the Classroom’ blog here).



An unexpected response

To be honest, I was taken aback by the level of interest in my story. I received some heartfelt comments and supportive feedback from around the world, which I have permission to share here.

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Thankyou

If there is one message that I’d like my readers to take away from A Teacher’s Story, it is this: If new teachers are to remain in the profession, they need to feel supported and fairly treated by their colleagues and employers. Too many new teachers feel isolated, stressed, and alone, and before I discovered my PLN, I was once one of them.

We live, we learn, we grow. Why should we leave?

Thankyou for your feedback and ongoing support.

 

What the heck is a PLN?

I’m a new teacher, returning to relief / substitute teaching after 3 months in (several) classrooms.

My PLN has changed the way I learn, and the way I teach, for the better. Yet, I am still to meet a new teacher in my part of the world who’s ever heard of, or has a PLN.

Perhaps this post will help to change that.

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Why you should begin your own PLNAshley Azzopardi (@ashleyazzopardi)

Defining the Personal Learning Network

As a quick Google search will show, there is a wealth of information already written and shared about Personal Learning Networks available online. So, in writing this post, I’ve drawn upon the collective expertise and thoughts of my own PLN. (A big thankyou goes to @mwedwards and @ashleyazzopardi in particular for your help with this post).

So, what does it mean to have a PLN?

Imagine being able to walk into a room filled with the very best education professionals, selected by YOU, and having a conversation with them!

It can be as long or as short as you want, and as in-depth as you have time for. Perhaps you might discuss ways to teach various concepts, learn about resources that others are using, or maybe even have conversations that challenge the way you think about education and teaching.

This is exactly what a Personal Learning Network (PLN) can bring to you!”

Ann Carnevale in Break Down Walls, Build Up A Community [italics added]


To me, this is the essence of my Personal Learning Network -

Connecting, Mentoring, Sharing and Learning

 



Building a PLN

People go about building or growing their PLN in different ways. I personally started by talking to my real-world colleagues; moved to blogging about my experiences; took the plunge with Twitter; met @clivesir and well, the rest is history!

Your PLN is shaped by YOUR interests, learning needs, technical skills, and ultimately, your contribution. Building a PLN doesn’t happen overnight, but in time, it can fundamentally change your teaching practice (see this excellent post from @InnovativeEdu). Truly, “from little things, big things grow”.

I’ve included a couple of useful videos which may make the PLN building process a little clearer; however, if you have some advice / experiences to share, please leave a comment! Your contributions are most welcome!

How to build a PLN? from Elena Elliniadou on Vimeo.


Ann Carnevale – Personal Learning Networks (shared by @mwedwards)

Sketchy Explanation: Starting a PLN (YouTube)

Coming Up: “The People of my PLN”

Seeking your Contributions!

Dear PLN: The concept of a Personal Learning Network / PLN is not well known in my part of Western Australia, and I’d like to create a PLN VoiceThread to share with prospective employers later this year.

I’m interested in learning more about the “real people” who make up my PLN, and exploring how PLNs influence us as people, and as educators. I’d also love to know if / how my inclusion in your PLN (via blogging and Twitter) has helped or inspired your own teaching and learning.

You can find the “The People of My PLN” Voicethread here (I plan to embed it in a subsequent post).

With your support, I hope to be able to better explain and share the benefits of having a PLN with my colleagues and prospective employers. Thankyou.

 


Further Reading

2010 – My Journey So Far

Well, 2010 has been an incredible year. It was a year in which I passed some significant milestones in my fledgling teaching career, and it was a year of immense, transformational change in my personal and professional life.

As my year draws to a close, I am finally starting to realise my aspiration to become a knowledgeable, connected, and reflective 21st Century educator.

Looking Back

I’ve learnt some valuable lessons this year -

  • Relief Teaching is a professionally and personally rewarding career option.
    • I have the freedom to experiment, develop a collegial network, collect resources, learn from my mistakes, and celebrate my successes.
    • I am now able to teach K-7, and work in a variety of Government, Independent, and Religious schools.
  • In my line of work, experience & a positive reputation mean a lot.
    • As I became a more experienced, and I hope, well-regarded relief (substitute) teacher, I noticed a dramatic increase in my work bookings over the course of the year.
    • This enabled me to actively experiment and improve my teaching practice, as I moved away from my relief ‘time-fillers’ to actually teaching and assessingstudents’ learning.
    • I am extremely grateful to those relief coordinators; (Hans, Deb, Sue, Jane, Cathy, amongst others), whose long-term support helped facilitate this empowering evolution in my teaching practice.
  • Writing merit-select job applications is an incredibly useful way to reflect upon and share your teaching practice with prospective employers.
    • On a personal note, I realised that while I can clearly articulate my practice through written mediums, such as my blog, I need to work on my ability to ‘sell’ myself in interview situations. Practice makes perfect, and I’ll have another go next year.
  • The Personal Learning Network (PLN) – Every teacher should have one
    • I believe the PLN is one of my greatest discoveries of my (short) career. I am an increasingly active member of the OzTeachers network, and have more recently realised the value of educational blogging and Twitter™ as professional learning tools.
    • My forays into this ‘connected’ world of global educators are still in their early days, and I will blog more extensively about this topic in 2011.

Image: ‘Arrival on my Way
http://www.flickr.com/photos/16230215@N08/4722297430

And Looking Forward …

While I don’t really know what 2011 will bring, I hope it will be a better, more productive year.

I enjoy my job. It is a wonderful feeling to walk into a school in the morning, and have students (and staff) greet you by name (or in my case, various derivations of it!). I hope I will have the opportunity to build upon the personal and professional relationships which I have worked so hard to foster during my relief travels in 2010.

I will also be working towards several important professional learning goals, which I have decided to share here -

  1. To continue to build my instructional toolkit; learning how to apply teaching and learning strategies, and reflecting upon my performance.
  2. To further investigate, and hopefully experiment with, the practical implementations of Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom.
  3. To build and contribute to my Personal Learning Network through my blog, Twitter interactions, and the “Blogs I Follow” via my RSS Reader.
  4. To revisit my First Steps™ informed literacy and numeracy planning approach, seeking feedback from experienced educators on my planned literacy block organisation model.
  5. To familiarise myself with the new Australian Curriculum, and rearrange my Curriculum Resource Bank (now containing over 4000 documents!) to reflect its’ structure and organisation
  6. To begin working towards my Accreditation to Teach Religious Education.

A New Year Begins …

Well, that’s it for A Relief Teacher’s Journey in 2010. I have quite a few posts in the pipeline, and I’ll be back to my regular blogging endeavours in January 2011.

I wish to thank all of my readers, around the world, for your readership & support over the past six months. A big thankyou goes to Veronica Chase (Substitutes FTW!) who made the first (and to date, only) comment on A Relief Teacher’s Journey. Also, thankyou to all my new Twitter™ followers – I look forward to talking to you next year.

I’ll be participating in the 2011 Edublogs™ Teacher Challenge, starting on Jan 10.

Happy New Year!

Image: ‘Happy New Year !!!

Reflections on Classroom Management (Index)

My Experiences, Philosophy, & Reflections

  1. My Jigsaw Approach to Classroom Management
  2. The Conscious Competence Ladder (Skill Development)
  3. The Four Stages in My Teaching Practice
  4. Classroom Management – Summing Up

The 3 R’s of Effective Learning Environments

  1. Setting the Scene
  2. Overview of the 3 R’s
  3. Transforming a Year 3 class into a learning community
  4. The Third ‘R’ – Shared Responsibility for the Learning Process
  5. My experiences with the Third ‘R’

‘The Theory of Bumps’ (Bennett & Smilanich, 1994)

  1. The Key Principles
  2. Explanation & Suggested Strategies

The 3 Keys to Working with Challenging Students

  1. Introduction
  2. What is a “problem” or challenging behaviour?
  3. Part 1: Building Positive Relationships
  4. Part 2: The Classroom Learning Environment
  5. Part 3: The Teacher’s Attitude, Actions, & Management Approach
  6. Responding to Anger

Building Positive Relationships

  1. Small Talk: “From little things, big things grow”
  2. Relief Teaching – Chalk & Small Talk!
  3. Get Involved with Breakfast / Lunchtime Clubs
  4. The Importance of Active Listening

Top Tips for Teachers – Behaviour Management (Video)

Cracking the Hard Class

A Brief Interlude

I have had a very busy few weeks, working close to full-time relief and visiting two new schools, bringing my total up to 23. I’ve also started writing my first proper merit-select applications for full-time/part-time employment in 2011, a very slow and painful process.

I recently received some wonderful feedback on A Relief Teacher’s Journey, which I have permission to share:

“I think it’s fabulous, and provides sound evidence of your growing professional knowledge and your capacity for self-reflection focused on improvement … You would be an asset to a school.”

Liz Healy
Manager, Professional Learning and Teacher Development
Professional Learning Institute
Department of Education, WA

“Wow!! Its amazing.  So very impressive.  I’m impressed with your detailed reflection, your actions, and your considered thoughts on your craft. 

This blog could be a fantastic tool for teachers to access.  Not only in terms of reading about your stories, thoughts, learning and outcomes, but also to know they’re not alone in their ventures.

Relief teaching, as well as normal classroom teaching, can at times, be very isolating.  Your honesty is refreshing and your willingness to share your learning and knowledge is just fabulous.”

Jill van de Ruit
Consultant Professional Learning
Department of Education, WA

I’ll be returning to my blogging endeavours shortly, and hope to complete my several thousand word treatise on effective classroom management in a few weeks.

Cheers,

Michael

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Queen Mary II in Fremantle Harbour, WA (March 14, 2010)