It's quite terrifying when I think about the fact that we are about to embark on Term 4 Week 6 2010. Where did the year go? What have I achieved?
2010 - The year of the eFellowship.
If anyone is considering applying for one of these ... DO IT!
Having the fellowship on my mind enabled me to really think about how I use the eTools in my classroom and compelled me to deepen the learning associated with the use of these tools. Specifically, my use of cameras went from one of recording information and events to one of insightful reflection and self-monitoring. Through the use of our blog, the oral language progress of my children can be reflected on. When left to their own devices the children will look back on their older posts and be in awe about how far they and their friends have come. This kind of reflection is now normalised in my classroom. I think that is awesome (even if I do say so myself).
BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE
Being able to work with like-minded people has given me the opportunity to take some extra steps. Florence Lyons enabled me to 'get brave' and start my kids video conferencing with other children. We have started this process. As Florence puts it, this expands their horizons. How wonderful that my kids can talk to others kids in Australia about AFL, home and away, the issues surrounding school litter. This is where we are headed in teaching. Our kids are getting overseas experiences in the comfort of their classrooms. They are hearing new accents, reflecting on them, and realising that people are people. Yeah we're different but we often think about the same stuff. How wonderful that my kids can present themselves as intelligent, digi savy, friendly, beautiful Maori and Pacific Island children from Otara to people from all over the world and (possibly more importantly) all over the country. That they can tell the "many" stories of Otara and not just the ones presented via the television media.
The fellowship has also enabled me to visit something that I gave-up on many years ago. My academic career started not in Education but in Commerce. I was drawn into the world of the theories behind collective bargaining, business ethics and the philosophies of organisational theory. I became very passionate about swimming against the tide. I challenged capitalism, questioned the ethics of business and I developed a general, but informed, cynicism for big business. In my 4th year I wrote a dissertation on the injustice of a family who discovered that their family home had been built on an abandoned gas-works site. The family had been eating out of their garden for years and had started to suffer from serious health problems. I dropped the ball on this one, lost my mind, got caught up in the injustice, and forgot about the theory, the criteria, and the general rules that must be followed when writing a dissertation. As they would say in twitterland #fail.
It's not good for an A average student to get a C- their final dissertation. It really messes with the grade average. Scholarship dreams come crashing around your ears, PHD dreams fly away. Tears rolled, tantrums thrown, and a major lesson in picking yourself up, building a bridge, and getting over it, was had. I ran away from business ethics and directly into the arms of Gender studies. It's a nice world in there. It's a collective world. It's a world where assumptions are challenged and insights are made. If only there was a way to combine these two worlds.
As an educator, opportunities have come up where I have been able to have a wee poke in the ribs of business and government policy. For example my class study on eWaste was a good learning adventure, I encourage my class to hassle and question government policy, and currently our study on "where is it from?" is making me smile. But these adventures are always slotted around the sides of the curriculum. I sneak it all in around reading crappy school readers, meaningless numeracy project maths at 'maths' time, and writing to the "genre" of the term. Its very hard to justify writing a 'report' on something when it is the term of the 'narrative'. If only there was a way around this.
Then I discovered that there are educators that feel the same way. And not only do they feel the same way, they are well on their journey, and they are willing to share. Nathan Parker's insights and practices around envirethical education are reminiscent of what I was trying to achieve in that commerce building but there is grounding behind it, proven experience, and a general maturity and depth around the issues.
I've got the big business bug again. But this time I have experience, grounding, context, and most importantly, support. My class and I are going to have a play with Ubuntu (OS and Philosophy), question the government's decisions around the blatantly uninformed usage and funding of Microsoft's products, attempt a paradigm shift (Sir Ken Robinson) in my teaching practice, as well as drawing on the research of Dr Sugata Mitra where we will address the issues surrounding remoteness in education. See here
So yeah, what a year! Bring on the next one - 2011 will the last year of slotting the good stuff in around the sides...