Making change possible means more collaboration

images-94Some things in life are so special that they deserve a REALLY special setting. Like seeing penguins in their own habitat. HOW AMAZING is that (or to use the word of the week – AWESOME!) Please excuse the capitalization – but this is EXCITING!!!!!!

In among the ordinary and the mundane, the extraordinary and the innovative can flourish. At the end of someone’s back garden at Simonstown, there was the most extraordinary thing to see – penguins in their own environment.

Turn around 180 degrees from looking at the sea and you see the houses.  The gardens. “Normal” life. But this is “normal” for these penguins. Just like the innovative projects seen at the worldwide innovative education forum in Cape Town last week – they are at the end of SOMEONE’s back garden. They are someone else’s “NORMAL”.

But to others they may be EXTRAORDINARY, AMAZING, AWESOME.

It depends on your viewpoint. How many things are you doing that you feel are “NORMAL” that would be someone else’s “AWESOME”? And how much do you feel that sharing your normal with others is part of what you need to do as a teacher? Part of your professional responsibility?

In his keynote address, Anthony Salcito mentioned that the theme for the forum was to “Inspire More”.  Making change possible means more collaboration and connection, using tech to make a difference – to develop and extend work. Student-centered learning is seen to be the future of innovative teaching practices.

These need to be incorporated into school leadership . Only then can the education system change in the way that academics such as Papert visualized nearly 20 years ago.

How teachers support student-driven learning dynamics is fundamental to improvements to our education systems. Responsive and interactive learning styles –with learning at the core is important. Extending learning beyond the classroom, using ICT for developing pedagogies is SOOOOO important.

Change often happens despite leadership – I was amazed at the research data that showed only 1.5% of teachers were using wikis or interactive websites. But innovation doesn’t easily flow from one classroom to the next; from one school/neighborhood to next. This is the challenge of our generation, I think.

Salcito used an analogy I particularly liked:  the analogy of a teacher being like a flower – one on its own is pretty but as part of a bouquet it’s truly beautiful – it’s important that teachers are not doing in isolation -need to be linked with others…..

The “normal” in our own back yard is special to others; their “normal” is special to us. Moving practice forward as educators means moving out of our own back yard, even if it does have penguins in it.