Three teachers: Five Thoughts

For my final project, I tapped the shoulders of two of my favorite online colleagues:  Uzay and Michelle.  Uzay is a brilliant DP teacher in Singapore, and Michelle is an incredibly gifted DP teacher in New Jersey.  Between the three of us, we span three continents.  We’ve been connecting through Twitter for the past three years, and I am a better teacher for it.  I recently posted about the influence they have had on my teaching as a reflective ‘Teacher Appreciation’ e-nod to the many educators out there kind enough to share.

Through Google Docs, Twitter, and Facebook, we discussed the direct implications our IBDP subject Language and Literature has for unpacking digital citizenship.  While many schools have policies in place, the reality is, unless classroom teachers make direct connections for their subjects and their students, the policy will remain unread.  Students aren’t interested in policy.  Our job is to make the right values come to life through our planning, presentation, and modeling.

This is something Michelle, Uzay, and many risk-taking teachers do on the daily. We do everything we can to offer our students creative ways to engage in collaborative activities.  We see developing a community of writers and readers as an opportunity.  Ultimately, if we see our students as ‘makers,’ and we enable them to build and show their ideas, we also must teach them to do it ethically.  How did my grade 9 class remix Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” this week? Take a look at their unique approach to building their own resource.

The best way to learn about digital citizenship is by experimenting as a creative learner out there online.  Learning about the ways ideas build on one another means you must engage in the process of creating.

Thank you again to Michelle and Uzay for their insight and their encouragement.

Without further ado, I present:  Five things the #langNlit teacher can do to level up on digital citizenship:
Check out How to Inspire Digital Citizenship in the Classroom. by Tricia Friedman on Snapguide.


Photo by Tricia Friedman
Photo by Tricia Friedman

Wear your passion on your e-sleeve.

A few weeks ago, former colleague, Sonya terBorg and I were chatting.  “I should be able to tell what each of my administrators is passionate about.”  Sonya is right, good leaders proudly wear their passions.

I have been lucky to have worked with a few admin who do make their passions visible.  John McBryde and Karen O’Connell--what aren’t you passionate about?  You are so palpably passionate about your communities, I truly enjoyed every single encounter with you both. Patricia Puia, you taught me to value being a listener and finding perspective.  You model that so well, and I am so lucky to have worked with you in two different countries!  Adrian Watts, you exhibited a tireless passion for student-centered learning. I continually felt reminded to see my teaching through the eyes of the students.

Each one of these leaders has something in common.  John, Karen, Patricia and Adrian you all cultivate a culture of innovation:

YouTube Preview Image

Shouldn’t all schools be aiming to do the same?

This is why I think every educator should consider having a blog.  I’m currently working at my 5th school.  I’ve said goodbye to my fair share of colleagues.  Blogs continue conversations despite geography.  Brian Jackson is incredibly passionate about empathy.  Brian, if you are reading this–I cannot tell you how happy I am to read your blog, and to continue to learn from you.

A good teacher blog exemplifies the jargonesque notion of the life-long learner.  A good teacher blog explores passions.  It also reminds us all that so much thinking, planning, and negotiating goes into our day in, day out endeavors.  No one in the world does this better than Jabiz Raisdana. Jabiz is The Beatles of teacher blogs.  His blog is more than a ‘teacher blog,’ and it deserves to not be pigeonholed.  His prolific musings on this heart form (should have been a cheese trigger warning) are out damn standing. His blog chronicles the inquiry-based, ambiguity-laden realm of teaching.  Connecting with others out there in said realm, is the singular most important PD experience to be had.  And we need to do it more.

4736966521_8083bfd1b3_o                                                Photo Credit: lyzadanger via Compfight cc

We teach in an age where our definition of our ‘staff’ can be flexible.  I have never shared a school with Michelle Lampinen or Uzay Ashton.  Michelle and Uzay have inspired me countless times, across continents.

As teachers, we have to do more to encourage our peers to build bridges, to set up ladders for shared conversations.  Sonya was right–we need to open up to dialogues about our passions.  Monday will be a little less daunting if we do.  Blogs enable us to demonstrate our ambitions to preserve learning, to juggle with ideas, and to collaborate. We ask students to do this every day.  I do not blog nearly enough.  I should be far more reflective about my practice.  The reality is, schools need to consider ways to make time for blogging.  Schools are better places when they are pulsing with passion.  Blogs breed ideas.  When and where are we harvesting a shared sense of excitement for what we do?

Photo Credit: johnnyvintage via Compfight cc

Thank you to those mentioned in this post.  You continue to teach me about the importance of colleagueship.  You inspire me to reflect more on why I do the things I do in the classroom.  Thank you.