EC&I 831 – Final Summary Reflection

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The final summary for EC&I831 was a great way to spend some time to reflect on the learning from the past few months and then look forward just a bit.

In the Rearview Mirror


Part of moving forward is being able to critically reflect on what one is learning and hearing. It’s sometimes easy to dismiss things with which we might not agree. I have to admit that I didn’t always critically reflective. I might reflect but it wasn’t with a critical lens. I tend to do that much more now, questioning what I’m reading, viewing, seeing…. where is this person coming from?  what is their background?  how are they presenting their worldview? is this really important? what is the connection to the world? who is not being represented? what does this do to the message?

 Reflection sometimes means you need to do more reading and deeper thinking – like with Dave Cormier’s presentation on Rhizomatic learning, Bonnie Stewart’s presentation on Networked Identities, Alan Levine’s discussion of storytelling and Audrey Waters presentation on gender in edtech. Each of these required longer reflection and with the current events such as what took place in Ferguson and NYC, these presentations continue to resonate and, each in their own way, influence how I view these and events.  As a critically reflective educator, I means that I not only just think about issues but I also have an obligation to do more – to not let the status quo continue.

The Presentations

I found all the presentations interesting and thought provoking.  I was familiar with most of the presenters as I had been following most of them, except for Michael Wacker and Audrey Waters, for a long time and had heard a few of them speak. I have been reading what most of them have been posting off and on for a while as they are part of my RSS Feedly feed. So, although it was great to be part of the discussions about the “tools” I was drawn more to the “Where can this take our students? How can we make this work better in schools? What does this mean for learning and teaching? questions. The tools are indeed cool and there are so many things that we can do with them in schools but I’ve been contemplating how they might reconfigure education for some time – How do we make genius hour or the Maker Movement more integrated in our learning? What would it mean to shift to a cross-curricular approach using google apps for education and how would that reconfigure our traditional view of  school? How could the use of portfolios support learning in classrooms/schools and be powerful learning documents for a outcome–based reporting system that isn’t tied to traditional grading practices? How does social media shift the balance of learning for teachers and students and how can this power be leveraged by a teacher in the classroom?

For me, these are the questions that motivate me. Add to these a more critical lens of citizenship, gender equity, class and race, environmental sustainability and other critical conversations become much more integral to the development of an online critical consciousness on the part of teachers and students and society in general.  We cannot assume that parents will be having discussions about online behaviour and netiquette with their children but we can assume that most of our students and most of their parents will be online and engaged in different activities in some way.

What’s next?

If you get a chance, check out Episode 6 of Learning Leaders.  The comments by the participants are awesome. The one story of a teacher using twitter to communicate the learning and leading of her students is a great example of the positive power of using social media and a great example of how students can be shown how to engage online through positive modelling. Another thing we can do is ask questions – critical questions about what we are doing. I found this recent post by Alan Stange to have some great food for thought

If you’re a teacher and you’re not questioning your methods daily, you might want to consider another profession. Great teachers always think they can do more for students. Outstanding teachers feel like they can be better. The best teachers ask themselves questions every day that begin with, “What if?”

1-What if my homework assignments are a waste of time?
2-What if my students use mobile devices?
3-What if my planned class activity is boring?
4-What if my room is noisy and chaotic?
5-What if I don’t grade this?
6-What if the Common Core is just another bad idea concocted by bureaucrats?

To often we don’t really deeply question our practices or the presentations we see/are given. Just recently I saw a poster of an upcoming tech conference – all male speakers – hmmmm what does this say about education issues? We need to do this much more and share this with our students. Allow them to ask and probe, even if it puts us out a bit.
Having students only ask questions that are comfortable and don’t challenge isn’t deep questioning. Having a question make me unsettled is usually a sign it’s a good, deep question. Brushing it off or dismissing is a lost opportunity of significant learning.
I didn’t use to like those types of questions but I realized it was the type of questions I had always asked and, even as an adult, got me into ‘trouble’ because they made others uncomfortable and asked them to explain their decisions – How was this best for students?  So why would I not allow students to do the same? Why dismiss them?  That’s why the work of many of the presenters in the  class resonated, they ask tough questions and challenge the status quo, the hegemony of the dominant society.
So what will you do? How will you encourage students to question? What questions will you ask?
I’ve included my summary of learning and a video on the art of leadership – the first follower.


The First Follower Leadership Lessons – creating a movement.

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I am a husband, father, son.... I am currently working on my PhD in Education - Curriculum and Instruction. My focus is teacher professional development and social media integration. I have a beautiful, supportive wife who has been my partner for 28 years. We have 8 wonderful children who are amazing individuals. Together, we are exploring the world around us, sharing our stories, and enjoying the journey!


  1. Another great post, Kelly. I really like Alan Stange’s list of “what if” questions. I had the good fortune to be on staff with Alan for five years. He is, indeed, everything he states in that post. I think teachers like Alan should be held in high regard and be pointed to as an example of what a good teacher really does.

    As always you have provided an excellent reflection. I look forward to “connecting” again in the future.

  2. Kelly, it was awesome to meet you, and your summary of learning rocks. I love the ‘What if’ questions also.

    What I appreciate most about your blog, and what your blog tells me about you- is that you want to be better. Everything you write is about improving and honing your practice, and not just yours, but collectively improving teaching with your peers.

    When I read this- I thought about in my theatre practice, and in spoken word- we’re never satisfied, we call it a “divine disatisfaction” as Martha Graham would say. Check out this video:

    So before we perform, and all the time, while we rehearse- we’re asking ourselves “why now?” “why am I speaking?” and from there, I often ask my students to perform from that place, and determine “who are you speaking to?” and all the “what if’s” come to play.

    I think it’s about never settling, and always questioning to see the bigger picture. That’s what we can help to teach. In your post- it’s so clear to see the passion and urgency in your work. That’s bloody inspiring.

    Thanks for an awesome term.



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