Thank you Twitter for connecting me to inspirational educators, that I would not otherwise have ‘met’, who continue to inspire and challenge me. Much of the buzz these days is on virtual professional development, allowing us all to learn the content that we require, at a time that works for our busy schedules and at a pace that suits us best. In this digital world, we are learning how to learn. And really, isn’t this exactly what we want for our students?
As I was going on my nightly ‘learning journey’ via Twitter, one of the blogs that jumped out at me was Peter Cameron’s SharesEase where he was taking up a challenge put out by Colleen Rose on her blog post called Draw a Line for Me. This post challenges educators to draw one line that reflects their personal learning journey in education. Sounds easy enough, right? What I thought would take 20 minutes of my time, turned into a day long reflection on where I’ve been and where I’m going. I considered what and who my greatest influences have been, reasons why my learning became stagnant at certain points and what helped to accelerate my passion for learning and teaching.
What I noticed from this exercise is that in the beginning of my career (and for the next 14 years), the majority of my learning was done on someone else’s time. Usually this meant content and initiatives that were mandated from the Ministry, our board, or our school and were completed at staff meetings, after school workshops or professional development days. Like most teachers, I did take occasional courses throughout the school year or in the summer but these were a ‘once a year’ thing due to cost. Informal collaborative learning with my wonderful colleagues was probably my most rewarding learning at the time (and still continues to be a large influence in my learning).
My learning curve increased in 2009 when I made a grade switch from Intermediate to Kindergarten, just to shake things up. A grade change will always bring a fresh perspective and a new enthusiasm for learning and teaching! With a new grade, I turned to the internet for resources and ideas and hooked into Facebook as my first social media platform. Over the next two years, online learning became a huge influence in my teaching and I harnessed the idea of 6 C’s as a pillar for my philosophy of education. I began to see the importance of digital literacy and the urgent need to teach these skills to our students.
In September of 2012 a family relocation forced me out of my ‘comfort zone’ called Norfolk County. And then the flood gates opened. I had to establish myself in a new Board of Education, and took this time to follow my interest around digital learning. I began my M.Ed., put myself into the world of Twitter, and began a Ministry TLLP project, all of which allowed me to connect, learn and grow from other like-minded educators. By putting myself ‘out there’ and taking risks in my own learning, I realized the importance of being open to new challenges. I did not have all the answers, nor did I know all the best solutions but I did believe that hard work, a positive attitude and a genuine passion for learning would work to my advantage. This mindset opened many doors for me. In the past year, I have worked as our system K-12 Connected Technology Teacher, become an Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, consulted with and presented to school boards throughout Canada, been a guest lecturer numerous times at Queen’s Faculty of Education and St. Lawrence College, and become a Vice-Principal of a large elementary school. Every new experience is an opportunity to learn something new. Talk about a learning curve!
The learning I have done over the past few years is largely in part to my ability to connect with others at anytime and from anyplace via social media. The digital world has changed the way that I learn and has caused my learning line to become a bit of a learning tornado. I have never felt so invigorated and passionate about education and the opportunities that are available to us, should we decide to grab on. My hope is to instill this same love of learning in my own children, and the children I work with on a daily basis, and help them see that anything is possible.
Join my PLN @JBorgesEdu and learn along with me!