I was nervous to begin this course and the journey into the UBC Teacher Librarian Diploma. I had just wrapped up a gruelling two year process of completing my Masters (including researching, writing and defending a thesis) and I wasn’t sure I or my family could handle another period of the “Absent-Mom Syndrome”. The first two weeks of September were incredibly stressful as I started back to full-time teaching, changed grade level, started this diploma program and helped my own children adjust to their new grade levels. I seriously debated dropping the course and questioned my ability to manage all of my responsibilities.
During the first week, I felt like a “technical newbie” as I set up my Twitter account and a new website for blogging. I was also accustomed to the online network of Canvas from SFU and needed to learn the Blackboard Connect system of UBC. The stress did ease off, however, as I adjusted to my own routines, found a way to navigate through my responsibilities and became used to the new digital tools required for participation in this course.
During my last two semesters of Graduate School at SFU, I was a TA for a third year online education course. As I was in charge of the ‘day to day’ operations of the course, I became quite proficient at navigating the Canvas system. This was my first foray into distance learning and it was a great experience to welcome 48 students each semester to an online learning community. LIBE 477, however, was my first time participating in an online course as a student.
I loved the format that Aaron used throughout the semester. The early weeks of posting on the discussion board was a great way to begin. This forum for the weekly discussions based on the readings was an effective way to “meet” my classmates. I then appreciated the stretch into blogging and sharing with a smaller group of colleagues. I gleaned so many fabulous ideas as I read the weekly posts and kept a ‘journal’ of great ideas to pursue in the future. The blog posts in the weeks leading up to our final vision project helped to narrow my focus. I also really appreciated the weekly Sunday video updates earlier in the semester as I found these were a source of encouragement that I was on the right track. The weekly Google Hangouts were a great addition to the course. This was my first time participating in Hangouts and I found it much easier to use than I expected. I loved connecting the faces and voices to the authors of the blog posts I had read earlier.
When I reflect on my own growth this semester, it seems that my learning falls into two categories: skills and knowledge.
- digital tools: wow! I feel my awareness of digital tools in education has expanded exponentially. I enjoyed exploring new tools and reading the suggestions of my classmates.
- website navigation: I now feel much more confident in setting up and operating my own website
- social media: although I haven’t had too much time to dedicate to Twitter, I am proud that I have set up an account and tweeted several times about major events happening in my professional life and in my classroom. My eyes have been opened as to the potential of Twitter for professional development and connecting with colleagues.
- Technology does not replace great teaching: The readings and discussions throughout the course continued to confirm my beliefs that technology is a learning tool and cannot or should not replace quality teaching. As I mentioned in my inquiry blog post #5 (November 2 2015), “technology without excellent teaching only creates a consumer mentality of ingesting information or consuming games as quickly as possible”.
- Technology Can Build Bridges Between Educators: Teaching does not need to be the isolated career it once was. There are so many ways to share ideas and resources through the use of technology.
So, what now? Where to next?
(image retrieved from https://pixabay.com/p-718660/?no_redirect)
As an experienced teacher, I feel that it is my calling to nurture and to guide my fellow educators. I have been enriched by the wisdom of so many fellow colleagues and it is my privilege to now continue that process. When I first began my teaching career, I taught in my old high school building. I felt unsure of my place at that first staff Christmas party as I faced my old Social Studies teacher and he insisted I use his first name. Do I dare?
Then, for the last fifteen years, I have had the blessing of teaching at my old elementary school. Do you want to hear how my career seems to have come “full circle”? Up until last year, my own grade five teacher was one of my colleagues and she even taught my own daughter in grade five! To continue the cycle, I am now teaching alongside two of my own former students: one from a grade three class and one from a grade six class. So cool!
One of the main reasons I was intrigued by a Teacher-Librarian position is the ongoing opportunity to support teachers and colleagues. I love to learn and I seek to inspire others to learn; both students and educators. One area of continued need for training is that of integrating technology effectively into our curriculum. This is where my final vision project fits in. I know the struggles and frustrations of trying to learn new technological skills, but I also know the rewards of using technology to fully engage the students.
I wanted to create a website that would be a ‘one stop shop‘, so to speak, for my colleagues as they delve into the world of technology as a pedagogical tool. (image retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcemarc/2385398717)
On my website, I started with the following main components:
- Collaboration with Colleagues: this is a space for staff to share ideas and resources with each other
- Relevant Articles and Research: as articles come to my attention, I can post them here for easier access
- Tech Tools: I will use this space to highlight digital tools through tutorials and resources. I will also offer suggestions for integrating them into one’s classroom through example lessons. Although I began with a detailed exploration of the Explain Everything app, I plan to move on to demonstrations and suggestions for other digital tools and apps. This will motivate me to continue my own learning and to take risks in my own classroom as I encourage my students to create through technology.
- Digital Citizenship: Purposefully teaching our students how to be wise and cautious digital citizens is paramount. In this space, I will share resources and articles related to digital safety.
LIBE 477 Final Vision Project Submission: Yvonne’s Final Vision Project
As my website expands and develops, I would love to create space to support my colleagues in the use of their SMART Boards. I envision an additional category dedicated to resources and lesson ideas directly related to the integration of SMART Boards into the classroom.