Over the weekend I have been lucky enough to participate in the third Reform Symposium. It is an amazing FREE e-conference that boasts presenters from all around the world. Over 100 countries participated in the conference. You choose the presentations that suit you and spend as much or as little time as you can. Unfortunately I was only able to participate in one day of the conference but I was still able to listen to four sessions.
This was the first year I knew about the symposium, but I will definitely be waiting for the next one! I have learnt so much from people willing to give their time to share resources and ideas, and to simply share something that worked well for them. I have expanded my PLN by making new twitter connections and deepening previous connections. The conference was definitely one of the best professional development opportunities I have had in a long time, and it was FREE!
I thought I would reflect on some of the sessions that I listened to, to help me get my thoughts together and sort out all the information that I have gained.
Techie Brekkies and Teach Meets – Henrietta Miller (@henriettami)
This session was fantastic. It was all about spreading the knowledge about technology. One comment that resonated with me was the idea that people who are passionate about technology should not whinge about those who are not comfortable with it, instead they should go out and offer support and encouragement to help them become comfortable.
Techie Brekkies are sessions held in the morning that help develop ICT skills in teachers. As I am an ICT leader in my school this has become one of my goals for the Term. I am now hoping to run some Techie Brekkies with the staff to encourage them to further their understandings and try out some new tools.
This is where I got really excited. As Henrietta Miller started to describe her experience with teach meets the chat room (part of the conference room) went wild. Teach Meets gather teachers who connect through social networking to a classroom for a chat and catch up session. The idea is that the teachers who connect online would benefit from meeting each other face to face and having a ‘real’ chat. Henrietta started her teach meet in Sydney. As the conference continued the teachers from other states around Australia started discussing the idea of creating teach meets in their state. I am from Melbourne and within minutes a new hashtag #TMmelb was created by someone in the conference. This hashtag has grown into a wiki TeachMeetMelbourne. Hopefully this wiki will enable teachers from all across Victoria to connect and share their experiences.
Why Schools Should Be Like A Family Restaurant – Dr George Couros and Dr Alec Couros (@gcouros and @courosa)
The idea around this presentation was as the title suggests that in many ways schools should follow the lead of family restaurants. The presenters talked about their experiences growing up with their parents running a Greek restaurant and how they make connections with their teaching today. Some of the key ideas I took away were:
- Passion grows passion – if you are passionate about something you can spread the message and help get other people on board.
- If the kids had the choice, would they go to your school? -I hope that my students would still come. I aim to teach in a way that engages every student in my class and provides powerful learning opportunities.
- It’s about reputation – as with restaurants, schools need to maintain a good reputation. This can be achieved my making strong connections with the school community as well as the wider community.
- Leaders must be visible – there is no point walking the corridors, leaders (particulaly principals) need to be in classrooms getting to know their school. They need to know every child by name and make connections with the students on a daily basis
- It is always about relationships – continue to build on these relationships everyday
- We don’t need to do the same things differently , we need to do different things – this speaks for itself
Digital Leaders in the Classroom – Chris Mayoh (@chrismayoh)
Chris Mayoh used this session to share his experience with developing digital leaders. He spoke of the process he went through when first working with the leaders and the wonderful learning opportunities that they gained through the process. His leaders were nine students from years 4 and 5. These leaders were asked what the most important issue with ICT in their school was and the overwhelming response was ‘the teachers’. This led to the students preparing to run a staff meeting to help the teachers develop their skills. The power of this was amazing. The students were effective teachers and the teachers were open to learning from the students.
I have been hoping to develop ICT leaders in my school this year, but am only at the very beginning of the process. Listening to this presentation has given me ideas as well as confidence in moving forward with developing leaders in my school.
Overall this conference has been priceless. It not only provides excellent opportunities for professional development it also grows enthusiasm. I am so excited when I think of all the new things I want to take on board this year. A big thank you needs to go out to all the organisers of RSCON3 and to all the presenters!!