Saturday, September 8, 2007

Knowing a Change in Mindset

I have just finished being at a senior management conference over the last two days, in which the highlight was today with Tony Ryan ( - he is an inspirational person, who really affirms that we (as teachers) really do make a difference. His message was that great schools create a neuroscience-based learning environment for their teachers as well as their students. This is effectively done by being respectful of all people, collaboration, and solution-focussed rather than being problem focussed. It really made me think of my own practice as a leader of learning (for both teachers and students) and that change starts with me and spreads (the ripple effect, which he has written a book on).
However, I am compelled to record an entry to my blog to also reflect how far I have come as a learner and the changes in my thinking over the use of ICT in school. Over the lunch break I sat next to a teacher who firmly believed that having a computer lab, as opposed to computers in the classroom was much better so that he could teach the children computer SKILLS. In the recent past I too had the view that we needed to teach children skills (and at each year level you needed to do x, y, z so that by the time they got to the next year level you could just get on with it). How my thinking has changed!!! I couldn't believe how I had once agreed with this!
I now firmly believe that we need to use computers (and other ICTs) in purposeful authentic contexts which are curriculum driven not skill based driven. I know that my class does have a set of computer skills, however these have been taught when they have needed them, not "incase" they need them. I know that by the time they reach the next year level they will not be limited by the skill set "dictated" or restricted by the year level I teach, but in the practical use of ICT from the curriculum driving the use of ICT as a tool and not the reverse.
The discussion about computers in classrooms as opposed to the lab situations was interesting too, the teacher liked the fact that the children could be all doing the same activity and discuss this at a particular time and that he could "control" the situation. I guess it comes down to classroom management and the coaching model that can happen when computers are effectively used and integrated seamlessly into the classroom programme. I also believe it comes down to the vision of ICT use in your school. At my school the ICT vision is: "to improve learner achievement through the connected and creative use of ICTs". Therefore it is the learner in their achievement of the curriculum that is driving the use of ICT not here are the ICTs you will need to know how to use these and this is how...
I found it really interesting to reflect how my teaching philosophy in ICT has changed over the last few years (thankfully from now being on my second ICTPD cluster and these key principals are being firmly embedded). I am really pleased that I can identify my change in mindset and am open to the new thinking of effective use of ICT.