Me as Teacher

Ronald Reagan once said, “Information is the oxygen of the modern age”. However, twenty years ago, if you wanted to learn how to service your car, you could watch a mechanic or go to the library and read some books. Where do we go now? Just last week my husband decided to service our Ford Territory. He’s never done this before. However, he got on YouTube and completed the process step by step with a qualified mechanic on his phone telling him exactly what to do!

There’s an episode of a sit-com Modern Family where Claire Dunphy (the mum), challenges her family to a week long technology fast. See the video below. It was hilariously impossible. Alex, the middle daughter (a top student) receives a very poor mark on her assignment as she was forced to use an encyclopaedia to research for her assignment. Finally, she yells in frustration, “I need technology!”

It’s amazing how our schools are still however stuck 20 years back! My role as teacher needs to be changing. I should no longer be the encyclopaedia of all knowledge for my primary school students. I need to be teaching them how to access good information. How to think critically about this information and what to do with this quality information.

Currently, I teach 27 beautiful year three students. We are currently a very traditional school. Currently, I am in the process of setting up Moodle for our year level. But really, NGL plays a very limited role in our school.

NGL should play a pivotal role in modern day schooling. With information at the ready 24/7, devices to access this information available and a curriculum that supports the use of modern technologies, NGL is becoming vital.

NGL will give us access to experts, access to quality information. It will allow our students to think and think critically. NGL provides a platform for all learners to engage and be apart of a broader community of collaborators willing to learn. I’m hoping this course will provide me with a robust rationale for using NGL in our schools for transformational learning.

However, this comes with many difficulties. People are scared. Privacy and security are huge issues. Infrastructure to support NGL is often lacking at schools and access to devices to use NGL are also often scarce. Despite these issues, I’m hoping that I will be able to devise a robust plan and rationale to argue that NGL is not only worthwhile, but imperative today.

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Me as Learner

Before becoming a Primary School Teacher, I was a musician. I was accepted to study at the Conservatorium of Music on scholarship when I was 16. So, Im not the most practical person! I quite enjoy reading research, analysing primary maths programs and evaluating programs. I am not someone who can easily use my hands to do anything!

My husband recently bought a sewing machine for me to use. Needless to say, I have not touched it. It remains, as it was given me, tightly secured inside a box in the storage room of my house. I am not a sewer. If buttons need re-attaching or hems need doing, my darling husband attends to these deeds! 

But, I feel it is time. I’m sure my big, brave, cop of a husband would greatly appreciate it if his wife were behind the sewing machine when his mates arrive, and not him!

Through NGL I hope to learn to use this piece of machinery to produce a costume or two for my boys.

I feel this task is suited to learning via NGL as there are so many online tools for teaching how to sew. YouTube has many channels dedicated to the craft of sewing. And I have found quite a few that will show me everything from how to turn it on, threading the thing, and pattern using (as you can see the metalanguage is still quite new to me!). Additionally, there are forums where lots of sewers congregate, collaborate and instruct each other. They share patterns online, share tips and sell their produce to non-sewers like me. I hope to join this community of learners and experts! 

Some of the barriers however, I feel are quite huge. I will be a student with little cultural capital to draw on to allow me the vocabulary or means to communicate without looking like a fool. Missing those “bottom rungs” will be quite a challenge!!! Another barrier I feel could inhibit me quite a bit, is the quality of my machinery. I assume people in these collaborative communities are quite passionate about their craft, so will have machines that are quite fancy. Mine was very cheap. Very very cheap. We’ll see! Another barrier is time. As a mum of three little ones, a worker and a wife to a shift worker, along with my two uni courses this semester, I am feeling a tad overloaded. 

However, for me, learning is about having an idea, that idea being challenged, me reforming that idea, and repeat, repeat, repeat. I feel that whilst this is a huge learning curve for me, and I am starting VERY low on the ladder of knowledge,  the processes involved will certainly be worthwhile (even if at the end of this I can only sew a hem!)

Me as a Student

Here I am, yet again, running behind schedule for my uni work. Gah!

I teach them at school. The ones that stagger through the door, untied shoes, no workbooks, only one pen (which is doubling as a hair accessory), half a sandwich (the other half eaten on the way to school as there was no time for breakfast), and a good story. #studentlyf they tell me and #yolo.

That’s me.

I am the mother of Spiderman (3), Ironman (5) and Toothless (2); three little boys who happen to take on new identities each time they wake up. The wife of a cop. Primary school teacher. Student.

Even though my ability to stay on top of all work deadlines may wain, I am loving studying. I love learning. I love the feeling of being TOTALLY overwhelmed by things I have no idea about and setting myself a challenge to overcome. Thankfully in this program, successfully.

This course (NGL) will be my sixth course as part of my M.Ed. I like gaining a deep understanding of topics I perhaps otherwise wouldn’t think about. I like presenting my findings and new found knowledge in different ways. I LOVE that we are no longer confined to the rigid requirements of academic writing to show our course understanding.

I do not like ongoing assessment! lol, should have looked at that before I signed up! Even though I totally believe in ongoing assessment, and as a teacher I use ongoing formative assessments as a rule. It makes sense. BUT as a student, I do not like it! Instead, I love meeting big deadlines and the adrenaline that starts pumping a couple of days before an assessment piece is due. I love the pressure. Three days of pressure. Twice a semester. Three times a year. Ongoing assessment is a struggle. So much pressure, all the time!

However, there is a part of me that is excited by the notion of ongoing learning. Not just learning for six days. My understanding of NGL at the moment, is informed by my previous coursework and my day to day living and teaching. The idea that we are constantly learning, have access to information 24/7 through various devices and can pretty much learn anything, at anytime through MOOCS and YouTube (to name just two) both excites and scares me. We can network with, follow and subscribe to experts in every field and chat to people in other continents easier than it is to sometimes chat to those living under our own roof! Crazy times!

“Globalisation” as a catchphrase of 21st Century living. But how does this effect my teaching and learning. How do I ensure I am up to date with the latest educational trends and research. Does NGL in schools entail more than just Twitter and Blogs?

As a student, (even if I do exhibit poor student habits) I am excited by the prospect of a course that (excuse the cliché) “practices what it preaches”. So many courses I have undertaken as part of my Masters advocate “transformational learning” through constructivist pedagogies. However, all but a few have managed to teach in such a way.

I look forward to not only taking the content of this course away, but also the pedagogies, frameworks and tools utilised in the teaching of this course, to inform and “transform” my practise as a teacher and as a learner.