Saturday, 19 May 2018

Celebrate the Collective

Earlier this week I attended Renaissance Women Leaders’Network and it was nearly a year ago that I had contacted Dr Kirstin Ferguson to invite her to be our guest presenter. I had watched and followed Kirstin on Twitter @kirstinferguson recognising that she is a woman that is making a difference. The evidence lies with #CelebratingWomen and her new book 'Women Kind', coming in September. At #RWLN, I finally got to meet Kirstin in real life. You connect with people on Twitter and while you may catch a glimpse of their life or personality online, when you meet in person, the connection becomes authentic and personal. Enthusiastic, energetic and empowering are three words I would use to describe Kirstin. While Kirstin is inspiring and her achievements amazing, I’ve been wondering about keynote speakers and their effectiveness in the professional learning realm of education. Upon reflection, Kirstin's presentation provided some clarification for me. Keynotes can inspire and if you are fortunate, they can also provoke questions, promote reflection, and inevitably develop self-awareness. The days following this event, I also focused on the questions posed by Kirstin for #celebratingwomen. 

What did you want to do at school?
In primary school, I wanted to choreograph ballet. In high school, being a teacher was my goal. It wasn't until I had few other careers, that I finally became a teacher.

What are 3 words to describe your life to date
Evolving, Ever-changing, Connected

Who do you hope to inspire, and why? 
While I don’t view myself as inspirational, I do hope my story helps others realise that if you are passionate and dedicated, you can achieve.  And if you are fortunate to have support, embrace it and be appreciative.

How would you describe what it is that you do? 
I create opportunities where educators feel empowered to build their teaching and leadership capacity. 
Part of my role is to organise the placement of practicum students and this week, a very experienced teacher and a first-year student teacher shared with me some activities they had collaboratively created. The experienced teacher had previously implemented sketchnoting into her history classes, after Tracey Ezard introduced it at our professional learning day. She kept me updated on her use of sketchnoting and recently introduced and explained the concept to her student teacher. By the end of the week, both we excited to share their students’ work. Accompanying these sketchnotes were smiles and a sense of satisfaction. We had a conversation about visible learning and the importance of not focusing on artistic talent. While colour and pictures may be aesthetically pleasing, the purpose of sketchnoting is to develop the ability to visually interpret information that may assist with student learning.

Their passion for teaching history and introducing sketchnoting to their students was evident in their speech, facial expressions and actions. The conversation later turned to the tech tools of KahootSocrative and the historical knowledge and experience of the highly accomplished teacher. This was collaboration at its best! Respectful and appreciative for what each other brings to the table, this team has collective efficacy. Collective Teachers' Efficacy (CTE) refers to the staff's shared belief that through their collective action, they can positively influence student outcomes, including those who are disengaged and/or disadvantaged. This reaffirmed that very experienced teachers have much to offer preservice teachers and vice versa. When teachers share their strengths, respect the collaborative process, and focus on a common purpose (improved student outcomes), we all benefit. 

Whether the collective are women, teachers, leaders or students, having a common purpose is central.

 Always learning...

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