Sunday, 13 April 2014

Broadening our Perceptions, Building our Connections.

My US school provided complementary food for all the staff, which included a soup & salad bar, hot lunch and dessert. With this came a school tradition: Gain 20 lbs (approx. 10 kg) in your first year educating there. But the dining hall provided more than just free food... something way more valuable. It was free PD! Because it was a Pre-K - 12 school, the faculty and staff were diverse yet we all had a common bond. The love of learning! The learning of the students and our own learning that took place collaboratively and independently. I find myself drawn to others who are passionate learners whether they are middle school history teachers, high school math teachers or Pre-K art teachers. I remember sitting with the Head of School, chatting about linguistics one day. The conversations that took place over lunch with the faculty members were valuable and memorable.

I have previously blogged about my experience with the California Beginning Teacher Support & Assessment program. My allocated and paid mentor was Chris, an experienced teacher, mentor, coach and consultant. I was a beginning teacher, whereas Chris had years of experience. I was teaching at a private school, she had more than 20 years in the public system. Chris never saw me as a private school teacher, or herself as a public school teacher. We were both educators wanting the best for our students.

So what have these two experiences got to do with broadening our perceptions and building up connections? The lunchtime context enabled teachers to share their learning. My mentor, Chris, viewed us not as public or private school teachers but as educators with a common goal. And here it is: my aspiration is for all educators to learn from each other, no matter your title, your position, your experience, your system or even your country of residence. Education is changing and we need to be involved and part of that change.


Last week I watched an AITSL clip, System Leadership, Collaboration & Innovation which supports the intention of this blog. As a co-moderator of #satchatoc I connect with insightful educators. David Price, Julie Lindsay, Dave Burgess and all our other guests have been so generous with their time and knowledge. Recently on Twitter, educators expressed their disappointment about not being able to attend various PDs. So I wondered how could I make it possible for all educators to receive the PD they desire. So I emailed two educators I respect and admire. To be honest, I wasn’t optimistic but I was encouraged to 'shoot for the stars'.

This week I've learnt that educators are approachable and generous with their time and knowledge. From the pre-service teachers who run Twitter chat groups to Stephen Heppell and Yong Zhao who have agreed to be guest moderators on #SatChatOC in May. This enables others to have the opportunity to connect, collaborate and communicate with those who inspire. Broadening your perceptions means exactly that. View people first as an educator and learn from each other, regardless of title, position, experience, system or residing country. Twitter has enabled me to do just this. Build your connections by attending a TeachMeet, recommend Twitter to colleagues or organise a dinner with some of your educator friends.

Please don't limit yourself to your inner circle. Look for diversity, be the change and embrace change!