ULearn07 Endnote: Tony Ryan on making it happen
When you go to educational conferences you can feel completely overwhelmed and, despite all the great things you do, you can feel that you'll never be good enough. We mustn't feel this. It eats our souls.
Serendipitous is as measurable as the planned
So, as we head out of this conference Tony Ryan is keen that we find a sustainable way of continuing and building on what we have learned. It's quite a nice round up, taking off from the questions I posed at the end of my keynote, especially regarding sustainable use of our time to develop new projects. Tony seems to think that serendipity is unmeasurable - note to self, and others: it doesn't have to be. It's a question of adapting not just our teaching but our measuring tools as we go: formative and summative.
That said, it's also vital not to let serendipitous activity take over from the need for structure within the period of learning, à la assessment for learning.
Supporting existing practices?
It's also making me think about how new practices might support existing practices or, in fact, start pushing some older practices off the edge of the counter, to be replaced by better ones. There's an assumption in "how is this conference going to support existing great practices" that we're going to continually add to our practice, but this, surely, is what is going to burn us out in the end.
Professional dialogue for student attainment
Here, I really agree with Tony. Professional dialogue is the most important element of improving the education in our classrooms. Tony has an interesting analogy for teachers. Whereas CEOs in the corporate world have their life coaches, what do teachers have? Every teacher, as a top level professional, really does need their own life coache or, in language I would prefer, mentors. As a student teacher I had some great mentors, but now I have none with whom I meet on a regular basis to just talk about what I might do. I'd appreciate it; would you?
This is where educators and policymakers regularly scrap x% of their curriculum or workload with the aim of refreshing it. It's like cutting roses back to nothing in winter to make them flourish in summer. I like the idea, because I do it in my job every year. But would most schools feel comfortable doing this?
Creativity? What about ingenuity?
Tony believes creativity "is 'it', just inspiring, is the colour in your black and white life". Thing is, it's hard to see where the traditional role of a teacher would fit into the creativity we see in a piece of work like this. Serendipity is a pre-requisite, establishing goals is open-ended (what was the lesson objective here?) and creativity isn't enough - we see a kid being truly ingenious.
Ingenuity, not just creativity, is what will lead certain individuals beyond their current capacity. It was Stephen Heppell who got me thinking like this, and plenty more besides. Do you agree?