I thought it was fitting that my last post of 2013 happen on the very last day and also fitting, that it be a resolution for the new year. Before we look forward though, I think it appropriate to just look back a bit.
I must say that I have truly enjoyed blogging for the past year. This has easily been the best ongoing PD that I have ever done. Sounds weird to say that something I have done on my own be considered PD but I think that is in line with what I have been reflecting on all year. The educational community has to rethink PD and to move toward development and training that is directed by the participants. I have learned so much about myself and my opinions, plans and ideas about education have been clarified and sharpened by this blog that I can attest to this power of this new form of PD. Since I knew that people were going to read this blog, (especially members of my own staff), I have had to consider what I write and thus seek clarity within myself. This has been amazing. This is the off shoot of PD that I directed. I follow many other blogs now as I want to see how they organize and conduct their professional reflections. I have looked up different widgets and attachments that I think will improve the experience and have even started other blogs on other topics. This has all come about because I was the one directing my PD. If this was run by someone else, perhaps I would not have got as much out of it. This is why I have been, and will continue to, push our board to rethink their delivery of PD and put control into the hands of the participants.
Now while I would think that most educators are nodding their heads and saying that they would agree with the last statement, the nodding may stop with the next: if PD should be in the hands of the participants, shouldn’t school be in the hands of the students? I can feel people jumping off the bandwagon as I type but I think that this is of fundamental importance to students of this generation. We have heard about how they are different for the basic fact that they are no longer simply consumers of media any more. Things like YouTube, Twitter and NetFlix had changed the way all people can interact with media but the greatest fundamental shift comes with young people as they have grown up with these technologies and so their natural instinct is increasingly that of producer as opposed to previous generations who were content with consuming.
With this in mind, and accepting that being creative and critical of media is a positive thing, then we in schools cannot shut our doors and tell students to put creativity aside when it comes to their own education. We have to stop expecting students to “consume” curriculum and look for ways to allow them to create it. I am calling out everyone in education with this post! Teachers, admin, central and ministry alike. We need to lead, but the student voice has to be a key ingredient in school choices.
That leads me to my resolution for 2014. I am going to look for as many ways as possible to collect, reflect on and engage student voice. This is a challenge put forth, at least indirectly by one educational leader that I follow online. Greg Miller writes on his blog titled, Educational Leadership in the 21st Century a post entitled, “Set Yourself Up for Failure in 2014” and it talks about being willing to take risks in your profession and about how that is where real growth can be found. This is what I need to do more of in 2014 and I think risk is a great way to describe the perils that can come from student voice. There is a risk that students will tell you things that you do not wish to hear and that it can lead to more work than if I just dictated. In fact I would argue that it is GUARANTEED that it will lead to more work, but my hope is that it will be better and more rewarding work.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am still very interested in work around 21C skills, The Third Teacher, useful descriptive feedback and the proper use of technology in education but I know that my conversations have to expand to include much more in the way of student voice and input. Looking for practices and formats that allow for this to happen, so would love some input but for now, I still have about 8 hours of 2013 to enjoy!