Sunday, November 13, 2011

Moving Forward

Yesterday I was reading Edna Sackson's first blog post, Disturbing the Calm.  She started writing her learning blog in October 2009, about a month before I started writing mine.  Although we live half a world away from each other, we both work in PYP schools and are both focused on learning and inquiry.  Although I have never met Edna, I feel she is a kindred spirit.  She starts her first blog post with:
‘ A teacher’s job is to calm the disturbed and to disturb the calm’ (unknown author)
Disturbing the calm is definitely my preference! 
My current goal is to disturb the  status quo of classroom teaching.
Now as it happened, this weekend I also read another blog post by Scott Belsky, the author of Making Ideas Happen, where he was also writing about questioning the norm.  He was describing a new type of 21st century professional that he dubbed the "free radical".  He described how, in the past, these people would either have been freelancers, working for themselves, or if they were working for organisations, would probably have been regarded as mavericks as they were not prepared to "surrender to the friction of the status quo".  Belsky listed the characteristics of these free radicals, and several of these brought to mind members of my PLN - teachers who are pushing for change.  For example:
  • We are all doing our job because it is intrinsically rewarding - we do our job because we love it.   We see education as a way of making a lasting impact in the lives of children and in the world, we know we are making a difference.  
  • We want to experiment and try out new ways of doing things - we are not satisfied with the old "factory model" of schooling and so are involved in action research to develop the new skills that are needed in the 21st century. We are blogging about the new things we are doing, sharing our ideas, getting feedback and moving forward.
  • Because of this we only thrive in schools that are looking to the future and encouraging us to try things out, make mistakes and learn from them.  It's interesting to me that many of the members of my PLN have actually moved into new positions in their schools, moved to new schools or moved out of schools altogether in the past 2 years.  If we feel we are not in an organisation which values us, or if we are in an environment where we are not learning, then we leave.  We are not satisfied with being mediocre, with not being able to do our best.
  • We believe in contributing to the "collective knowledge", of sharing our ideas with others rather than keeping them to ourselves.  We know that information is not like "things".  If you give an apple to someone else, it's still the same apple.  If you give an idea to someone else and work on it together, you both end up with a better idea.
For the past year or more I've been mulling over what I want to do next.  Belsky says "we believe in meritocracy and the power of online networks and peer communities to advance our ability to do what we love".  So I'm open to suggestions from my PLN, but this is what I know:
  • I want to work with teachers and help them to grow in confidence in how they use technology to transform teaching and learning.  I called this blog Tech Transformation 2 years ago because I passionately believe technology can transform learning as long as teachers empower their students to use it.
  • I want to work in a school that inspires me with its vision of the future and one that is committed to the learner in us all:  teachers as well as students.  A culture of learning is very important to me so I want to work in an atmosphere that encourages me to grow beyond where I am now in my thinking and understanding.  I want to be the best I can be.
  • I want to work in a school where relationships are important, where it's OK to ask questions and to try different things, where teachers are trusted to do a good job and where their contribution is valued.
Photo Credit:  Warm Sand by Mr eNil AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works 


  1. Wow,Maggie, I am just catching up on my reader (never going to happen) and discovered this post.
    I wish you were coming to work at my school next. Whatever you do, wherever you go though, this is what I have discovered (in regard to your 3 points at the end) You can rattle the cage (even quietly) and make a difference wherever you are. You can help create a culture of learning, even if the whole school doesn't have a uniform vision. Relationships and trust are key, I agree, but we do have power to create and build our own. Good luck and I really hope to meet you some day (although it feels as if we have met already).

  2. Maggie, we too have never met but there must be something about 30 years of work that creates kindred spirits. I too am dabbling in the uncertainty of: what's next. What do I want to do.

    I hope you will continue to post as you make your way through. You may well be a guide I need about now.


  3. Wonderful post, Maggie. You echo so many of my own thoughts, and I find that so encouraging. I'm a big fan of Edna's too!

    I work with a number of homeroom teachers who are open to trying new things, and we learn together from our mistakes and successes.

    I know I annoy & pester in collaborative planning meetings because I've been thanked by open minded colleagues for doing just that. Some days I find the struggle disheartening, but most days there is hope when I see individual teachers moving away from their usual approach to try something new. I try to be there to support them, since those are the times that I love my job the most.

    When you find that school, I want to come work there too! In the meantime, I will continue to work with teachers who want to create that school one classroom at a time.


  4. Edna and Mary Ann, it's a pleasure to connect with the two of you. I truly believe it is the fact that I have been blogging, putting down my thoughts and so on that has led me to this point in my life. I know that I have made and am making a difference in my school and with our teachers, but I also know that I need to grow more myself and I cannot do this where I am now. I'm in a scary place right now as I'm really stepping out of my comfort zone, but I hope that new opportunities will come along. I can stay safe and unfulfilled, or I can actually do something about this feeling and change something and hope for something better. This is the first time in many years, with our daughter leaving home and going to university next summer, that I will be able to make a choice for myself. In some ways this is very liberating, in others terrifying! Edna, I too feel that although we have never met, I know you (and your school) very well. This is the power of technology I guess,and it's exciting to see the transformation that it is bringing to our lives.

  5. Eileen and Edna, I've thought more about these comments and I definitely agree. It's important to do whatever we can to create a culture of learning wherever we are, and I can see many teachers creating this culture in their own classrooms.