Well Sunday is finally here and amidst finishing homework, my parents coming into town to visit and attending a wedding fashion show I am happy to say I was able to attend BOTH of the EduCon conversations that I mentioned on Friday! The entire experience was a little overwhelming but very exciting for me.
As I looked through the conversations list there was two that I thought would be a good fit for my interests: "The Rise of the Introvert" and "From Thinking to Becoming: Being a Risk Taking Educator".
I found the RISE OF THE INTROVERT, presented by Tony Baldasaro, to be really insightful. Prior to this conversation I was not familiar with all the traits that may accompany a student who is introverted. An introvert is not someone that is just simply shy, as some people may believe. Being an introvert, or an extrovert, has to do with where that person gets their energy levels from. Where as an extrovert gets their energy from engagement in social situations and sensory stimulation, an introvert gets their energy from periods of self-reflection and memory stimulation. This is why, as teachers, we may notice that our students who are introverted may not participate in groups discussions as often. Again, it is not because they are shy, it is because they need time to think and reflect silently on a topic where as extroverts often think by talking through a situation. So here is our challenge. How do we, as teachers, address the needs of our students in a 50 minute class if they need more time than this to think about what they are learning? It is not a question that can be answered easily. An important point that kept coming up again and again, however, is that there are elements of our educational systems (curriculum, classroom management strategies, assessment strategies, etc) that favour extroverts, elements that favour introverts, and elements that favour neither. As I have touched on before in my posts, teachers need to know their students and be able to address different learning styles and different intelligences. I am going to spend some time reflecting on the needs of students who are introverted and think of some ways that I could incorporate Whole Brain Teaching strategies positively.
The second conversation I attended was FROM THINKING TO BECOMING: BEING A RISK TAKING EDUCATOR, presented by Philip Cummings, Wendy Eitelijorg and Hadley Ferguson. This session had a lot more group discussions and from listening to all the different experiences from various school divisions in both the United States and Canada I realized that being an educator can be a very big risk in itself. The reason why I say this is because the expectations of us, as educators, are consistently changing depending on who our audience may be. Our administration may expect us to manage our classrooms and conduct our lessons one way but that doesn't mean an administration in another school division or another country would approve of us following those same procedures. The parent's of one student may love our assessment strategies where another parent may think they are too vague. Furthermore, let us not forget about our students, what are their expectations of us? It is definitely a lot to think about, but one of the quotes that I love is that, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Trying different things is a major component of the learning process and learning from our mistakes is an important skill to model for our students. With this in mind, however, we need to think about who that risk is affecting (whether it be the students, the parents, the administration, etc.) I think that by understanding the risk, and who it is going to affect, we can decide how to most appropriately approach it.
All in all, I am very impressed with my first EduCon experience. I hope that some of you out there were able to take part as well because I am definitely coming out of this with a better understanding of these topics. I will continue to reflect on both of these and update you when possible :)