Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Job Fueled By Passion!

It is rare when you have a job in your life that you really love based on the daily unique human connections which make you reflect and learn. In an environment where you continue to grow your learning while facing unpredictable obstacles, growing through discomfort and taking risks, It is not considered just a job!

The most rewarding part about being an educator is going through the challenges and the obstacles of caring expectations and compassions. That means creating new perspectives, acquiring new skills and pushing boundaries. Yes, and sometimes empathy putting ourselves in the students' positions.

As educators, we shouldn't always be in our comfort zone. At times, we should challenge our thinking skills, be open and continue to learn new experiences. These discomfort experiences will guide us to continue to learn and progress. Our personal growth will depend on the challenges and the activities that we will encounter throughout the year. We need to give ourselves the time and act beyond the usual. The great part is knowing that you are not alone in this rewarding and at times exhausting journey! You have a community of supportive experienced colleagues around you and online to reach for feedback.

As we shift our mindset, we also shift and grow with our learners' mindset. We focus on the causes and effects of learning and how the learning process is chaotic.

It is important to accept the chaos as learning! The discomfort is also the unlearning for students to make room for learning. We need to listen to what the learners are saying. Think of ourselves in their shoes and make changes based on conversations through feedback or better of, feedforward as we determine next steps with our learning.

It is a job in a learning environment where we can observe, engage and be motivated to learn with the students. These are opportunities for us to converse and learn more about their thinking. Sometimes listening carefully for empathizing and figuring our students' emotions and obstacles for learning.

We often make assumptions based on our observations while conversations with the learners based on observation data, guide us on how the learners need to move forward. We learn most when our assumptions are challenged. We need to assess the effectiveness of the learner's learning and reasons for difficulties and successes.

The mastery of learning with the learners is not just about achievement or grades it is about developing mental, social and emotional skills. We also need to practice what we would like our students to achieve.  We need to create self-learning environments through leading by example. We need to embrace the challenges and we should take the challenges as learning steps with a positive attitude rather than negative uncertainties. Valuing our own journey and creating positive interactions with our learners is more than a job, it is a journey fueled by the passion for learning!

As I begin reflecting on my new year, with changes from 2 groups of Grade 6s to 4 groups of Grade 7 students, I am reflecting on:

  • How will I take the time to personally learn about every student's aspiration, interest, background, and particular learning needs?
  • Finding ways to motivate students to see the value of themselves when learning and impacts of their imagination and creativity to the learning process.
  • Providing a safe place for inquiries, explorations of thoughts, building a community and wonderings about local, national and global changes.
  • Giving opportunities for students to be courageous, accept failure, document their personal journey, reflect on their compassions and how they are making a difference in their lives and in others.
  • How will I be creating meaningful and purposeful learning opportunities for the learners to be empowered and be in control of their process?
  • How will the learning environment support collaborative, communication of thinking skills and flexibility for critical thinking, creativity, and integration of interdisciplinary for making and designing through many tools?  

It is not easy to change mindsets!  As educators how will we model compassion, take time with learners to build a safe motivating and innovating culture for all while honoring reality? Will we take the time to get advice from our learners before we give them advice?

A video to reflect on: What if We Didn't Have Teachers? By Trevor Muir

Monday, August 7, 2017

Divergent Interactions!

I owe this blog post to my Grade 6 learners, after going through their electronic folders of evidence, reflecting and capturing the learning. As They are owners of all of their creations I wanted to save evidence of learning for future references.

Throughout the year, all learning is focused on how the learners develop their thinking of the learning process. As educators, we are focused on shifting our learning with our “students” learning. It is about meeting our learners where they are, believing in them as they believe in themselves for the potential of achieving.

As educators, we get attached to control and it becomes hard to accept letting go of students' ownership and responsibilities. It is finding ways to have our learners take full ownership, reflect and capture their process of learning. I find that when teachers feel they lose control they become more controlling. I always hear that “students” do not have enough experience to develop empathy. How do students grapple with issues and getting students to create while others are in mind?

The Grade 6 learners explored water as a local, national and global focus during Water Week February 17th. We focused on interdisciplinary learning and problem solving throughout the year about UN Sustainable Global Goals and Canada's interactions with the goals.

The Grade 6 learners were provoked through online discussions: Dr. Fox about Environmental Threat to Canadian Waterways, CBC documentary on FNMI communities and water pollution, read texts about Muskrat falls (Les Chutes de Muskrat), Is Water  Safe To Drink In Canada? (Est-ce que l'eau est potable au Canada?) La crise de l'eau, UN articles about water pollution at FNMI communities and Danielle Taillon an engineer from the University of Ottawa who shared her experiences with FNMI youth and provoking students with Engineering Discussions on a sustainable solution for water from Water Wind Design. Through their curiosities, some learners found the corruption over the history of unsustainable infrastructure of water plants.

All learners documented their research on water and the process of designing the water filters. It goes beyond the creation of the water filters. It is about the collaboration, critical thinking, developing character, citizenship and communicating the process of being innovators and creators.

The learners always take notes and document their own learning. When listening to English Hangouts with experts they type in French their new learning.  It is amazing how they take full accountability and responsibility at developing their thinking when listening to experts. Below is a sample of students documentation of her learning.

A Padlet of curation about the water crisis in Canada and the government's' investments over the years

Made with Padlet

Two samples of their researching in teams on FlipGrid, They all had a chance to respond and learn from each other I closed the others due to privacy

Please view the slides of Grade 6 Learners designs, documentations, feedbacks from experts engineers. Iterations, prototyping, testing, and reflections focusing on the competencies throughout the process.

Experiential learning of collaborative innovation has been the foundation throughout the year for the learners by interacting with several problem-solving projects during the year.

The learners persevered with their own challenges and inquiries to seek solutions. They have proven the mindsets to take risks, to be innovative by reflecting on the collaborative ideas and valuing each other's thinking during the process. They combined their thoughts and added values to each other's discoveries and learning.

The major inspiration is about the social and emotional development of skills, accepting feedback, determining next steps and understanding the ‘how’ of learning. The Grade 6 learners developed a sense of meaning and a purpose to persevere. It is about the equity in thinking and how they collaborated, encouraged each other, challenged the assumptions, encouraged ideas generations and group discussions. Learning is about the human divergent interactions and the emotional level to inspire momentum and qualities of building the confidence to problem solve as students invest in the process of learning. They built the trust and commitment to innovation, creativity, critical thinking and communication.

The learners grew empathetic as they became explorers & innovators by creating and always ready to take creative risks. They became divergent thinkers, respecting each other's thinking by embracing challenges and accepting failures. It is letting the students bring their ideas to life based on real applications, real feelings and building a culture to understand and experience others' feeling. It is abandoning their ego (Post on the Unlearning), having genuine concerns and the sense for building to nurture and help by being proactive and reactive.

Everything that we do in the classroom or learning environment has an impact on students' life not only in the classroom, also to their future. It is not only a shift of mindset of the students, also a shift of mindset for us as educators to take risks and accept failure as part of the process. (Blog Post on End of Year reflections)

What could we do to facilitate the human aspect to learning? Is to give every learner a voice, a choice, respect to them and to each other, valuing all contributions for a communal process of learning.

Are we allowing learners to question things why they as they are? How are we impacting learners’/students' learning journey and how are we impacted by them?