What happened in Vietnam?
Today was the first debating club of this term. I’m pretty new to this activity and am still working out the best ways to do it. As ever, one of my questions is: How amenable is this activity to doing something new? So far, I’ve invented one game called Speed-debating, but today I wanted to generate a number of good topics for future debates. Then I remembered Rebecca Stockley’s activity last week in Saigon called ’35’. Each kid wrote an idea for a debating topic on a piece of paper, swapped them with each other and then in pairs ranked two ideas against each other. This is repeated a few times and at the end every idea has a score. The rating isn’t the main thing, though, the point is that everyone is swiftly exposed to around ten different ideas and has given them all a bit of thought. So that’s a very practical idea I’ve taken away from the ADE Institute (and nothing to do with computers; it would be very cumbersome even with iPads).
So I’ve been back from the ADE workshop for over a week now. I see that many of the cohort have got their feelings down in various places and I’m aware that the experience is receding for me, so I also want to reflect.
No doubt it was one of the most memorable PD experiences I have had in international schools. These were my favourite type of educators, whose starting point is always: how can we improve teaching? Everyone was willing to share and help and accepting that we all come from different directions. There is no pre-determined skill-set to be an ADE, it’s an attitude to education and workin with colleagues. I know it helped that there had been a hurdle we had all overcome to get there, which was the self-promoting video. Thus, there was a common element of commitment and a sense of meritocracy. The initial hierarchy I perceived between 2011 ADEs and the alumni evaporated as soon as we got to know each other, though they remained a great source of insight.
The branding exercise was salutary. The questions: What do I do? or What am I good at? are very interesting to pose. I found myself initially focusing on things I thought I should be doing (others said the same) before I realised that I have to make the effort to recognise the value in what I already do. That’s a harder question: What can I offer to other educators right now? I often feel that I don’t do the sort of collaborative and open-ended activities that I hear and read about. “When I get the time”, I tell myself, “I’ll push those boundaries”. Of course we can all develop, but I’ve also acknowledged that as a secondary school teacher of Physics, there are particular demands to teach very specific content for which expression of opinion is not appropriate (at least in any foreseeable assessment scheme). In that respect, the humanities subjects have a different relationship with technology.
So what I think I do is …ahem… Resource Mining. There’s so much stuff on the Net which makes Science comprehensible and I dig it out and find ways to make it serve the purposes of Physics teaching. In that sense I’m an author, fashioning other people’s ideas into my own whole. And, if I say so myself, I have developed a lot of very useful Physics teaching resources which my students use as well as up to 1000 daily users of my wiki (whoever they are). Anyway, enough about me for now,
On the way back, though very tired, I heard an amazing talk on my iPod which I wished I could have shared with my ADE friends. If anyone sees this blog post, here it is: Jane McGonigal has written ‘Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World’ which I haven’t read, but this hour long session is brimming with amazing thoughts. Listen to it next time you go to the gym, cook, wash up, whatever. Highly recommended!
Finally, here’s the Steves