Saturday, 8 September 2012

A Learning Commons Teacher: What would THEY do?

I wrote this post after our first day of school last week. I forgot to publish it ~ Take 2!

Today we had our first day. It was great to see our students settle fast into their new classrooms with their teacher for the year.

As it was Tuesday, we also had our first staff Tuesday Staff meeting for the year. Our heads were already spinning from a great first day but we still had it in us to discuss a few things. One of those being my position in the Learning Commons (LC). As it has been undecided, it's important we all get an understanding and also have some input into what I will be focusing on right from the beginning of the year. The discussion went well. This post is some of my my thoughts after the fact. A chance for me to think about what value I can add to learning in our school.

Some of the things that were mentioned were the following:
  • Our school will continue to focus on working and developing Galileo and Inquiry Based Learning principals. We will focus on using the Disciplined based model of inquiry.
  • We will have a full time teacher working out of the LC. We also discussed that the LC is an extension of the classroom.
  • My position would not be solely going into classrooms to teach a particular App or technology based tool. I would more than likely compliment or add something extra to the learning in a project ~ Small group work, displacing a teacher, adding another teacher to a group to enable more diverse grouping, 1-on-1 work with particular students, etc...
  • That my position would not be providing any Non Instructional Time (NIT) for teachers, as originally thought.
  • Teachers could think about how I could be utilised that would work for them and their students.
  • We also talked about the fact of making learning visible. The dream that I have is to showcase the learning happening in our building with the wider community ~ that being within our system/district as well as in the global classroom of Twitter :)
What a great opportunity - To be able to work both students and teachers and be engaged in some amazing learning.

What do I think I can offer the students of our school? What is it that I really specialise in? I am certainly not saying that I'm the only expert in inquiry or technology in our school. As I mentioned in our staff meeting, I actually struggle to always think about the big picture. What I think I can do is think in a digital sense. I can take an idea and thinking how students might be able to present that idea using technology. This ability comes from being aware of Apps and tools available to us and to be able to make a connection between a specific tech tool and the curriculum.

One of my main focuses as the LC teacher will continue to be on student engagement. I enjoy the challenge of trying to get students who sometimes struggle to engage themselves in learning tasks, to take ownership of their learning and express what they know about something in a way that is meaningful to them. I try to find something technology related that may be able to help them. Of course, technology based learning tools aren't always the best answer but I do believe with some creative thought, technology can definitely make learning more accessible for many of our students.

I will be interested to see when my position goes this year. How much teachers will value having someone else to turn to. There will need to be a fair bit of change in the way we think. In my experience teachers often don't like giving up the control in their classroom. I do agree it is hard to see your students walk out and work with someone else. I'm not sure why but with guidance, hearing testaments and seeing it work through modelling, this new way of looking at learning will be more widely accepted and grasped by educators everywhere.

It's not going to be an easy journey but I do believe it will be well worth it.

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