#IMMOOC 4. Brewing The Magic Potion

Image Sourced From: www.quirkbooks.com

Image Sourced From: www.quirkbooks.com

For nearly five years now I’ve been responsible for creating and delivering professional development sessions for colleagues. Of course, I’ve also attended a large number of such “learning opportunities” which have varied from the woeful to the inspirational. There are some great presenters out there but often it’s more performance than substance.

I know the “fire hose method” doesn’t work … you know those one-off occasions where you blast the 75 people in the room with frantic content delivery in the hope that at least someone is knocked off their feet. Earlier this year I was asked by Australian Teacher Magazine to write a Help Desk article on running great technology PD sessions.  I’m utterly convinced that “fixing the current PD model” is akin to brewing a magic potion.

“Am I about to give you the ultimate secret to success? No, if I had that, I would be bottling and selling it.” (You can find the full article in Volume 14, Issue 7, July 2016)

I did identify five key considerations for developing worthwhile PD … terminology, scheduling, content, engagement and alternatives. Part III of The Innovator’s Mindset identifies the need to provide teachers with personalised, targeted and engaging professional learning. This learning has to be (… and I love this idea, thanks George) about moving each individual from ” … their Point A to their Point B.” This, I’m convinced, has been the missing ingredient in my magic potion. I also believe that I am my own worse enemy and I admitted this in the ATM article.

“There is no value in you rushing on to the next “cool tool” when participants are still creating an account for the previous one. In my passion for technology and sharing what I have learned, I too often forget that others won’t necessarily keep up with me.”

And for now … time to get back to the cauldron! One day I’m going to be a very rich man.

PS: And remember … If you haven’t yet seen my #IMMOOC meme

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#IMMOOC 3. What If …

This will be a brief, ultra concise, exact blog post. (Probably didn’t need to say that!) Despite being on a well deserved term break, the weather has largely been vile and so I’ve been doing my best to keep up with the latest from George et. al. I particularly enjoyed Episode 3 featuring the hyped-up-hard-to-ignore Kaleb Rashad. My educational bucket list certainly includes a visit to a Hi-Tech High campus (hint, hint Kaleb.)

Image Sourced From: http://www.neonmfg.com/dream-big/

Image Sourced From: http://www.neonmfg.com/dream-big/

I have long proclaimed the importance of mindset before skill set … and yet there are those who continue to “teach as they were taught” (in the 1970s no less) The homework for this week was to dive into George Couros’ What If “process” which aims to

“… dream big and to figure out what is important for you and your educational organisation as you move forward.” (The Innovator’s Mindset, p. 117)

My response takes the form of a Haiku Deck; it’s always great to visit an old favourite. Why not try a little What If – ing of your own. Or, leave a comment on my attempt. (I always respond)


What Ifs – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

#IMMOOC 2. It’s Time to Starbucks Your School

When I was a teenager (just after the last Ice Age) I attended a well established all boys college in Hobart, Tasmania. I’ll pause briefly whilst some of you look Hobart up on Google Earth. That school has now entered its second century and it remains little changed in appearance or, I suspect, pedagogy. By contrast, the school where I’m currently employed is about to embark on a million dollar refurbishment of its oldest classrooms. As the eLearning Manager I’ve been involved in the design process. Come 2017 I will have the opportunity to teach in tech-ed up, glass enclosed, re-configurable learning spaces. Yes, we will have 85 inch interactive panels on the walls, funky “learniture” and numerous writable surfaces. Yes, some of you are envious. Will it all lead to innovation and improved student learning? Unfortunately, there are no guarantees.

As George Couros rightly points out in Part One of The Innovator’s Mindset, innovation is certainly not specifically about technology or stuff in general. I’ve long accepted that the most significant tool in any teacher’s kitbag is in fact their mindset. If my colleagues go into those new learning spaces next year with an old, fixed mindset then the school might as well have just saved the money. Indeed, some of you might still be wondering about the cost effectiveness of a million dollar refurbishment. George, as en pointe as ever, notes that Starbucks embraced the need to change and survived whilst Blockbuster didn’t and, well … went bust. We do live in an era of education where “innovate or die” has to be our unshakeable motto.

Image Sourced from www.brandextenders.com

Image Sourced from www.brandextenders.com

It would seem that the Starbucks “lesson” is gaining wider acceptance as an analogy for the current situation in education.  I recently read two excellent online posts which I’ve hyperlinked immediately below.

http://www.focus2achieve.com/blog/2016/6/2/starbucks-my-classroom-project-the-master-plan (by Oskar Cymerman @focus2achieve)

https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-10-01-why-the-21st-century-classroom-may-remind-you-of-starbucks (by edsurge.com columnist Kayla Delzer)

I enjoy a good coffee, like all teachers it runs through my veins, but I’m also keen to lead a move to Starbucks My School. For me, Part One of The Innovators Mindset has one resounding key word … empathy. That particular trait is all about building relationships, about “knowing who you serve.” When a customer walks into a Starbucks, the counter assistant never says “I don’t care what you want to order, you’re being given a half-double-decaffeinated-half-caff.” (Nods to Steve Martin in LA Story.) So, finally I arrive at this week’s prompt … what sort of school would I build? I would build the school that my customers demand.

Image "borrowed" from www.pinterest.com

Image “borrowed” from www.pinterest.com

PS: A song for this week … “You Can Foam Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Macchiato

#IMMOOC 1. Est ad docendum , ad novationem

I’m guessing many of you may have become lost somewhere in the midst of my title. So, I best explain. The hashtag will be used for George Couros’ MOOC based on his exceptional text The Innovator’s Mindset. (Surely there’s nothing wrong with massaging the ego of the man who will be handing out prizes!) As for the Latin; I studied it at school and still use it in my daytime job as a teacher of Ancient Studies. (At night I’m a ninja; really!)

How Many Selfies Would Narcissus Take? Sourced from Pinterest; originally pinned by www.debbiecharles.com

How Many Selfies Would Narcissus Take?
Sourced from Pinterest; originally pinned by www.debbiecharles.com

Est ad docendum, ad novationem (if you believe Google Translate) means To teach is to innovate. I do know that the Latin word innovare had a distinctly different meaning; to renew, alter or make new again. We all think of innovation as something wholly new but surely in education the renewal idea is just as significant. When I started teaching in 1981 (yep, that long ago) innovation took the astonishing form of Post It Notes and the Commodore 64 computer … Sweet! Thirty years later the very first iPad was released and a teaching career that was close to ending was renewed. In the years since I’ve learned how and why to innovate. Yes, I’m often still teaching about Caesar, Alexander or the pyramids (nothing new there) but in new ways … the learning experiences I design aim to realise the “Mantra of the Innovative Educator.”

So, I must have acquired a whole lot of new skills. Yes, I’m now a Digital Learning Leader and I can “wield a mean iPad” but the true change has been in my mindset. As George says early in his text, it’s all about “ … a way of thinking that creates something new and better.” (p. 19) The mindset of the teacher is the most significant tool in any classroom. #IMMOOC starts this coming weekend so it’s not too late for you to register at immooc.org