Monday, August 1, 2011

What's at the Heart of Your Teaching and Learning?

I've started to blog about the ILoveTeaching Conference held last week but, over the past three days, have also attended the RSCON3 - The Reform Symposium online conference.  This conference has involved over 75 presentations and 12 keynotes covering a diverse range of areas but they've all had one thing in common - teaching and learning with passion in the 21st Century.

There's been a bit of a theme happening here then over the last few weeks.  Interestingly, the theme of many of my readings for my Masters has also been around this!  Passion in teaching and learning has always been key for me since I began studying to become a teacher 15 years ago.  It just seems to make sense.  Commonsense.  If the teachers don't have the passion for what they do then how can they expect the students to show any enthusiasm?  

I've been reflecting on this an enormous amount, particularly over the past three days.  A presentation by @ShellTerrell (Shelly Terrell): The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators: How Will You Be Inspired - has really hit a nerve - in a very good way.  Shelly is a passionate educator with so much enthusiasm for what she does that it can't fail to rub off on you - or affirm your beliefs.  Shelly's bio on the Reform Symposium site sums up what she has achieved so far a great deal better than I could.  I recommend that you check it out, follow her on Twitter and also read her blog.  Be inspired. I certainly was and will participate in the 30 Day Challenge.

When I took a break from teaching at the end of the first term, I knew that I wanted to study and gain my Masters, knew what it was going to be in and what my focus would be, but I wasn't 100% sure about where I wanted it to head from there.  Was it research?  Was it educating other teachers?  Was it going back into the classroom?  I think it's all of these but I really want to find a way to help teachers connect to and with their students, learn together and be passionate about what they do on a daily basis.  

One of the Keynotes this afternoon carried on this theme and stated out loud what is often in our heads - "If you're not having fun you shouldn't be there... because you are dealing with their future."  This is in relation to being a teacher and it is so true. The presentation was by the Couros brothers: @courosa, (Dr Alec Couros), and @gcouros, (George Couros).  These inspirational teachers have clear messages that were also in line with the ILoveTeachingConference: We need to change what we do, not do more of the same, just with different tools.  We risk taking the passion away from our learners, and from ourselves if we do this.

Links to George Couros can be found here:

Links to Dr Alec Couros can be found here:

Both are recommended reading.

There were so many other inspirational speakers: Kelly Tenkely, Lisa Nielsen, John Davitt, Chuck Sandy, Dr Pam Burnard, Edna Sackson, Josh Stumpenhorst, Kathleen Morris, Brad Patterson, Tom Whitby, to name a very few at this stage.  I will reflect on their ideas over the next few days.  In the meantime, I'm off to catch the next great sessions.  The conference finishes at 9.00am tomorrow morning with a Keynote from Steve Wheeler - also known as @timbuckteeth on Twitter.  If you're not reading and reflecting on his blog, then you probably should be if you're a teacher and learner who is passionate about his / her work.

All of the sessions have been recorded and I'll post links as soon as they're available.

In the meantime:  Keep fighting to retain creativity and passion in teaching and learning so that we have engaged, motivated and passionate learners.  We're all teachers and we're all learners.  (A motto from my last group of fantastic learners!)
Trust is the key to developing passionate, creative, engaged and motivated learners... and teachers!  Passion and creativity are non-negotiables in teaching and learning.


  1. Justine, I agree completely, passion and creativity are non negotiables. You have mentioned trust several times in response to #rscon3, and that is such an important point. Could we assert that passion leads to trust? It could be true for both students in my classroom and colleagues in my school. Sharing your passion, living your passion, is a demonstration to others of how you commit. These are the kind of people I chose to trust, like many of the presenters at #rscon3.
    I so appreciate your thoughts and views and look forward to more discussion and hopefully collaboration!

  2. Hi Sara

    Thanks for your comments and kind words and I absolutely agree - trust leads to passion in learning. You've summed it up well. :-)

    I think RSCON3 has been so powerful for connecting like minds and being able to share the passion for what we do with others. We'll make a change yet!

    Look forward to collaborating with you. See you on Twitter! :-)