Time to Learn

I have always been one to study and work on the really important stuff late as night when the world around me has gone to bed. I’m talking between the hours of 10PM and 3AM. Is this as crazy as my colleagues and peers think?

I love this quote from an unknown author:

Looking at the night horizon brings you closer to reaching the stars.


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Maria Hadden

I have been discussing this with many educators this week, so I thought I’d put my keyboard to work and reflect upon this in a professional and educational context.

Firstly, my personal experiences: During the years when I studied my Masters degree I was working full time with a growing family (child #5 was on his way). The course I selected was not only due to the courses available, but also it’s delivery format (Online), and thus the ability to learn when I had the time rather than attending university lectures (and “zoning out” during the lecture) only to miss key information while wondering about the family I had to leave to attend the classes. This was an experience I had too often when completing my undergraduate course (with only one child at home).

The delivery method and the ability to interact, collaborate and get the perspective from students from across the world was a great draw card also. When I got into the course I initially found the format foreign and difficult to navigate, both due to the new format for me, and the family distractions. I soon found my optimum time to think, study and learn was late at night. I was able to sustain this with great support from my extended family, and my untold ability to fully function on 6-8 hours sleep is a bonus.

Today I attended a CEGSA organised day full of workshops related to the Moodle environment for secondary school curriculum delivery. This once again aroused the discussion amongst educators about the flipped classroom, and 24/7 access to learning and resources. I again explained to the group that personally, my optimum time for productive work is late night and repeated my reasoning and examples. This then evolved into a rigorous discussion around the big question;

When do learners learn best? And is this always between during conventional school times?

I would suggest for many students even in the conventional school system, that the majority of their true learning happens in the quiet of their home without the distractions of others.

The only problem with this conventional model means that the teacher is not available to assist students outside of the school times…so what do these students do? They turn to the places they know their friends will be and ask them for help – Facebook or other social networks of choice.

In reality the students have flipped the classroom themselves, and providing the opportunity for students to review and reflect the information at their “optimum learning” time is not a bad thing at all. We must recognise this and rethink our professional practices, the availability of teachers when they are required the most for the learners.

Sometimes when the world around you is asleep and you are awake you can look into the dark and see the future – Unknown

The biggest barrier we face in education is to change what it means to be a ‘teacher’, how we ‘teach’ and genuinely cater for all students in the class. I would love to hear your ideas on my remaining big questions:

What will our education system look like if we cater for learners learning at their “Optimal learning time”

How will the conventional school system integrate this new mode of curriculum delivery?

Professional Portfolio

Recently, I attended a CEGSA workshop presented by George Couros where we learnt about the features and power of blogging. This in it self was not anything new to me. I know and understand the value of blogging and more importantly professionally reflecting is extremely important in every teacher’s practice.

For the workshop we were accompanied by a range of teachers from across the state and with varying skill levels. The great part of the day is that although this was focussed upon the initial set up and development of professional blogs George very generously catered for the whole room. We developed/improved our blogs and developed a great number of new skills including a few embedding codes. And in addition, those who so willingly gave up their Saturday in the middle of the term were all interested in improving their professionalism as well as those who came with the goal of not only personal blogging but to also become so adept with this process that they will also introduce their students in the process of reflection as a learner.

This was significant in that many of these teachers, prior to the session had never blogged, let alone made connections with their experiences and the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Making these standards important in the everyday practices of teachers makes them more meaningful. Historically, I believe, these standards have been shelved as words on a page that we acknowledge around professional review time where teachers seek student works and professional planning documents to support the argument that they can prove these are addressed in teaching practices.

With regular professional blogging where every blog is categorised into one of the seven standards, the hard work is done upon professional review time. The learning in the classroom is enhanced through reflection by the teacher and students.

As Jarrod Lamshed tweeted following the same workshop:

There is always something new to learn and new tools or ideas to add to the tool kit.

I am still trying to apply my own words and the advice of George in the regular time and blogging snippets of our life (both professional and personal) to develop and share the continued learning.

Well here I go again on my endeavour to blog frequently, and if you would like to become a supporter or be supported “Blogging Buddy” tweet with the #BlogBud tag and include @rachbath

As we know, support is always the best way to change or establish new behaviour.

I look forward to reciprocating support for professional blogging.

Getting Connected

Last week I was privileged enough to attend the CEGSA 2012 conference and Masterclass. This conference was significant to me for  a number of reasons, firstly I made a conscious decision before I arrived that I would make myself get out there and meet people and make connections.

…I need to give some background on myself here. I moved to South Australia in October 2010, from Victoria. Since moving over I have had aspirations to step into a role where I could implement my knowledge and skills in innovative education and technology. Unfortunately, due to some significant differences with procedures and protocols between states I felt my impact had been stifled.

Even with this perception I remained determined. Through my Education Technology network I received word about the CEGSA 2012 conference, here in Adelaide. When I read more about the conference I found out there was to be an additional exclusive Masterclass day as a prelude to the conference proper. The presenter was George Couros @gcouros of “Principal of Change” fame in the Education Technology world. I was approved by my school to attend – even though I’m not employed as a teacher this year.

When I arrived at The Networked Educator Masterclass I felt under-prepared as I still didn’t know who the keynote presenter really was. Upon introduction George gave out his twitter and email contact details and we began connecting. I have been on twitter intermittently for the past few years and I was comfortable there, making comment and asking questions. By the end of the first day I felt I needed to do more to connect.

Still determined to connect with people I walked into the conference on day two and continued the conversation with others in the sign-in queue, and introduce myself. I was making connections! As the days progressed I felt I was comfortable talking, sharing and approaching strangers to chat. This is a significant key to my experiences of the conference as I don’t talk to strangers naturally and comfortably. I can connect online but when I get face-to-face I seem to get tongue-tired and unable to talk naturally. The breakout courses were another significant feature where I could sit with new people and introduce myself and share experiences.

As the conference progressed I made more significant connections with colleagues. My professional network expanded rapidly. I discussed numerous opportunities including trips to both Sydney, to meet with Summer Howarth (EduSum) on Twitter, and ACEC 2012 in Perth to further expand my network, and applying for Google Teacher Certification,  with Steve Knipe (@nipper72) on Twitter These are all priorities of mine as I progress professionally. At this point I must thank Tina Photakis (@tina_p) on Twitter and Michelle Westphalen (@office_michelle) on Twitter for the great conference, drinks and dinner and the best experiences I have had professionally for many years.

All of this reaffirms my passion for Education Technology, Innovative Education. The connections and discussions throughout the conference has sparked my interest in supporting the wonderful organisation that is the CEGSA board, and supporting teachers across this state, country and the world.

The outcome of these most inspirational three days is that I am now back blogging, tweeting and social networking with colleagues and counterparts across the world. I have also managed to act upon several classroom journey’s with social networking which are exciting. I will write about these in future posts  as we are in initial planning stages.

What has been your affirmation? and How has this changed the direction of your career?