Tuesday, 18 November 2014

From 'newbie' to connected: How I learned to navigate the world of technology

I have a confession.

I have never used a SMARTboard. I didn’t use email, or even a computer until university. I’m still a bit taken aback when people refer to me as being “good with technology” because it doesn’t fit the image I had of myself for most of my life.

As a school administrator with a strong belief in not asking staff to do things that you aren’t comfortable doing yourself, I began to explore different digital tools that I hoped would support student learning, as well as my own professional growth. During the beginning of this phase I definitely lived the motto, “fake it till you make it”. However, the more I dabbled, the more I discovered that with technology, there is something newer and “better” around every corner. The fact that it’s impossible to keep up with the rate of change is a deterrent for so many educators who are beginning this journey.

After struggling with this for a while, I decided that I needed to be more specific in choosing a focus, and then go deeper into exploring how I could use it to improve my practice. That leads me to about a year ago when joined Twitter.

I had no idea how to use it at the time, but I knew that I wanted to be purposeful about using it to connect with and learn from other educators. It was at this point that I think I really began my journey into using technology as an accelerator to transform my own learning. It has challenged my thinking, caused me to become more reflective about my practice and it has connected me with people and opportunities that I never would have otherwise experienced.

Fast forward to today. I recently returned from Bring IT Together, my first “Ed Tech” conference, hosted by The Educational Computing Organization of Ontario. Had you asked me five years ago, this is certainly not an event that I would have either been interested in or pictured myself attending. I am pleased to say that I’m leaving the conference with a renewed sense of possibility, passion and pride in my chosen field of education.

My next step is to challenge myself by leading an online book study via Twitter. I have led a number of successful book studies with school staff, but leading one online is new territory for me.

How the idea came to fruition…first, I received feedback from staff members at my school that they were interested in reading the book Mindset, The New Psychology of Success by Dr. Carol S Dweck.

Typically, when I lead a book study, I ask that teachers commit their time outside of school hours in exchange for a copy of the book that they can keep. I was so pleased with the response that 17 staff from my school had committed to participate, that I posted about it on Twitter. Here’s where my planning took a change in course.

Donna Miller Fry (@fryed), an educator from Thunder Bay who I had never met, commented on my post asking me if I planned on connecting with others outside of my school community for the book study. This planted the seed in my mind that perhaps I could organize an online learning community for this purpose, but I still wasn’t sure that I had the skill or connections to effectively do this.

After attending the conference and meeting Donna in person during a session on Becoming Connected Learners, I took the next step and committed to give it my best shot, posting information on Twitter inviting others to join our book study.

“Join some of the staff from Alliston Union school in Ontario Canada while we learn together and connect with our global professional learning network. Beginning Tuesday November 18, we will be meeting once a week, Tuesdays at 3:30 EST. We will discuss one chapter a week. A group of us will be meeting face to face, and I will post our questions and discussion on Twitter for others to join. I will be posting from @A_J_Golding and using the hashtag #mindsetbook”

I have no idea whether people will join online or not, but I can guarantee that it will be a learning experience, which is the most important part!

My goal is to continue to put myself out there and stretch my comfort level with the use of technology in my practice and I encourage other educators to do the same. Change isn’t always easy. The fear of embarrassment is a powerful deterrent, but we ask our students to take risks every day so we need to be models of risk taking in our own learning.

Start by choosing just one technological tool that you are interested in exploring and jump in. Don’t go fast, but really take the time to explore how to go deep with it and use it effectively. When in doubt, get your students to help and learn together. Then, I encourage you to share your experience with others as it is often through those rich discussions with colleagues that we learn the most!

“The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.” (Robert John Meehan)

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Mindset Book Study

Mindset The New Psychology of Success
Book Study
Book by Carol S Dweck, Ph D

Join some of the staff at Alliston Union school in Ontario Canada  while we learn together and connect with our global professional learning network.  Beginning Tuesday November 18, we will be meeting once a  week, Tuesdays at 3:30 EST.  We will discuss one chapter a week.  A group of us will be meeting face to face, and I will post our questions and discussion on Twitter for others to join.  I will be posting from @A_J_Golding and using the hashtag #mindsetbook.  Please share and join us if you can, the more the merrier!

Dates and Chapters
Tues Nov 18 Chapter 1- ‘The Mindsets’
Tues Nov 25 Chapter 2- ‘Inside the Mindsets’
Tues Dec 2 Chapter 3- ‘The Truth About Ability and Accomplishment’
Tues Dec 9 Chapter 5- ‘Business: Mindset and Leadership
We  will also touch on Chapter 4- ‘The Mindset of a Champion’
Tues Dec 16 Chapter 7- ‘Parents, Teachers and Coaches- Where do Mindsets Come From?’  
Tues Dec 23 Chapter 8- ‘Changing Mindsets’  
  • Chapter 6- ‘Relationships Mindsets in Love’, will not be one of the weekly discussion topic

Chapter 1. The Mindsets

Q1- What are you hoping to get out of this book study?
Q2- Share an experience where your students have demonstrated a fixed mindset.
Q3- Share an experience where your students have demonstrated a growth mindset.
Q4- What practices do some schools/educators have that promote fixed mindset?
Q5- What practices have you seen in schools that promote a culture of growth mindset?
Q6- How can you begin to embed growth mindset in your practice right away?

Chapter 2. Inside the Mindsets

Q1- How can we help make students’ struggles into experiences that foster resilience?
Q2- Use growth mindset to discuss ways to nurture feelings of confidence & self worth in our students.
Q3- How do our assessment practices foster growth or fixed mindsets?  
Q4- How can we use growth mindset to encourage students to take responsibility for problems and “failures”?
Q5- How can we nurture the concept of “yet” discussed in this chapter with our students?  
Q6- With a fixed mindset, we are afraid to take risks & expose deficiencies, creating what Barber calls “non-learners”.  How can we help staff & students to take risks in their learning?
Chapter 3. The Truth About Ability and Accomplishment

Q1- How do our “learning skills and work habits” correlate with fixed or growth mindsets?
Q2- A  culture of fixed mindsets around math are something that many schools are trying to change.  When have you seen students, teachers or parents reinforce a fixed mindset in math?
Q3- How have you seen schools work to combat a culture of fixed mindsets in the area of math?
Q4- When we use labels such as ADD, OCD, Gifted, LD, how are they helpful, harmful or neutral?
Q5- How can we use the information in this book to support practices of equity and gap closing in education?
Chapter 4. Sports: The Mindset of a Champion

Q1- How would a coach or educator with a growth mindset approach situations like losing a game or making cuts from a team?

Chapter 5. Business and Leadership-

Q1- How can you support a co-worker who has a fixed mindset?
Q2- In what ways does your current workplace demonstrate a culture of growth or fixed mindset?
Q3- What unique qualities might you see in a school with leaders who have a growth mindset?
Q4- How can you use students who already demonstrate a growth mindset to support their peers?

Chapter 7. Parents, Teachers, and Coaches: Where Do Mindsets Come From?

Q1- What did your teachers/parents do that fostered a fixed or growth mindset in you?
Q2- What praise statements do you make when students do well that may reflect a fixed mindset?  
What’s the hidden message?  How could you change the statements to reflect a growth mindset.  
Q3- We should all set high expectations, but sometimes the resulting messages make others afraid of disappointing you. How can we set high expectations while still inspiring learning?
Q4- Think of times you’ve been cautious about how you've spoken about failure because you were concerned about its effect on a child's self esteem. How could you have approached the situation to inspire growth mindset.
Q5- Have you used discipline to “teach your child a lesson”? What was the message you were hoping to convey? What was the message you did convey? How would you handle it now?

Chapter 8. Changing Mindsets-

Q1- What implications did this study this have for my practice?
Q2- How can we work with families & community partners to foster growth mindset in students?
Q3- What can we do to foster a school wide culture of growth mindset in our staff/students
Q4- What are some challenges that you may face in trying to change a culture with a fixed mindset?
Q5- How may these challenges be remedied?