Monday, May 23, 2011

It's All About Effectiveness - so what is it - what's the key?

Keys To Effective Teaching
We're busy reading and discussing some pretty interesting ideas and issues at the moment in my study.  Effectiveness has sparked some really interesting debate, and don't even let me get started on 'authentic' - I will save that for another post.

Our latest discussion has centered around what makes an effective teacher.  We've read a lot, discussed and debated our thinking, challenged ideas and beliefs.

'Effectiveness' of a teacher is still something I am always arguing with myself about. Is it becoming all about test scores and meeting standards? Is it deeper than that? Is an effective teacher one who can inspire and motivate students who may not have been inspired or motivated? What if these students don't meet the standards, or don't pass an exam / test, but love school and learning for the first time through the encouragement and support of a teacher? Isn't that being 'effective'? 

What, to you, makes an 'effective' teacher?

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Spinning Head Phenomenon

For the past two weeks since my last blog post my head has been spinning with ideas about what to reflect on next.  It's been spinning so fast in fact, that I haven't had time to blog - absolutely a poor excuse for not having done so, however!  It has not meant I haven't been reflecting on my learning - that has been a constant of the past 2 weeks.

So what's been happening during this time - I've decided that I need to reflect back on what's been happening in terms of my learning and compare it with the last time I studied full-time.  Should be a few differences???

The Ancient Past - well 16 years ago.
Studied through Massey Uni - everything in books, on paper.  Assignments written to correct format and then posted by snail mail - did I post it in time???  Feedback arrives - written - later on, again by snail mail. Ordering books - send the request by mail / some email, just beginning.
Teachers College - three years, beginning to use computers as a medium for communication.  Studied Computers in Education through Otago 1998.
No Twitter, no blogging, no Facebook.
Reflection - yes, but often individual and perhaps recorded in a book / journal.

Current Position / Lay of the Land (Covering the first 10 or so weeks of the year)
Full-time study through Otago Uni - termed the "Oldest Scarfie" by people who have a sense of humour.  Hmm.
Everything is online through Moodle.
Log on and introduce yourself to the others taking the same papers.
Begin reading - again, everything can be accessed online.  No hefty 'coursebooks', etc this time round.
Order the course ebook for one of the papers.
Access all the journals online - we could do this back in the old days but had limited access.  Thank goodness for ERIC back then!
Request books from the library - automatic online - arrive within the week.
First assignment for one paper - group is formed online, have never met, everything for this assignment completed through using Google docs, Moodle discussion forums, email, iChat, and presented on a blog!  (Much more interesting than on paper methinks!)
Final write-up is completed as a group - let's not count the number of emails that have gone back and forward!

It has been one of the most rewarding experiences to date - the amount of growth through collaboration and reflection has been incredibly powerful.  Debates have been had over the changes in communication over time - online vs face-to-face.  Are we changing how we communicate and 'read' each other because of the different environments?  Is the old argument about not being able to read body language, tone of voice, etc becoming outdated and redundant?

Reflection - constant through blogging, Facebook and Twitter PLN connections.  You have the opportunity to challenge your thinking, have your thinking challenged by others and create new knowledge through inspiring discussion.

How else has my knowledge been built over the past 10 weeks - has it been just through coursework and study / reading from required texts?  Yes it has but it's also been through the following:
Twitter - PLN - recommendations, links to other sites, # chats, online forums, invitations to join online discussion groups and much more
Facebook - linking with other educators - more discussion
Web 2.0 Tools - trialling, critiquing, sharing with others what works, and doesn't work for them
Blogs - reading, thinking and responding
Skype - I've been able to talk to people to discuss my learning, clarify thinking and forming links with other educators

Hmm.  Enough for now.  The head is still happily spinning with the challenges and the learning.  (There is also an interesting assignment due tomorrow!)

I would love to hear about changes others have noticed over the time they've been studying.