Saturday, April 16, 2016

Innovate 2016

"What we learn with pleasure we never forget."
Alfred Mercier

It's amazing how a few days outside of one's normal routine and surroundings can inspire deep learning. I had the amazing opportunity this weekend to meet with my fellow ETFO Additional Qualifications instructors in Toronto for the annual ETFO AQ Innovate conference. For those of you who may not know, Additional Qualification courses are taken by certified teachers who are hoping to become more specialized in an area. I have proudly taught the Kindergarten Part 2 for many years now.

One of the many great things about being an AQ instructor is that I meet superb educators from around our province each semester; they bring their experiences and enthusiasm into our course and I am able to virtually 'see' their practice through the discussions we have together. I have always said that the best form of professional development I have had is my experience as an AQ instructor. I am able to learn more deeply about my own kindergarten practice as I support other individuals in their pursuit of becoming even better teachers. It's an honour and a privilege and one that I take very seriously. Because we each look at the Ontario Full Day Kindergarten program through our own lens and apply it in our own context, there are many unique ways of 'doing' and 'being' in the classroom and I am able to take the ideas brought to our course and use these to evolve my practice every day. This directly benefits the children. When I learn, they learn too!

Those of you who know me, know that I absolutely love Toronto. When I'm in the city I feel free. I feel alive. So it's no surprise then that I was already in a state of 'readiness to learn'. The many guest speakers and presentations I attended supported my work as an AQ instructor, but also motivated me to continue to be the best educator I can be each day. Like ripples in the pond when a stone is thrown, our work as educators touches the lives of many more than we'll ever know. 

The workshop that I believe will have the most transformative effect on me as both an educator and mother was presented by Alec Courosa (@courosa). Alec shared how we can create a new culture of learning for students using the power of technology and social media. He shared both humourous and emotional examples of how we can better connect with students and harness the power of collective exploration and expression. I left his workshop resolute to include more opportunities in my home life for my children to critically explore the potential of technology as both a learning tool, and one that they might use as a form of personal expression. Although we use technology on a regular basis in my kindergarten classroom, I have been challenged to consider how to take these ideas even further and engage the children on deeper, more sophisticated levels, particularly how we might use technology to share our math work with an even wider audience using more diversified media.

So on Monday I will be back in the classroom, reinvigorated to explore and enjoy the remaining few months of school with the children. Like the Mercier quote above, I cannot wait to begin and see where this next chapter in my practice takes me. I am hopeful that my enthusiasm will inspire the children and they, too, will be filled with excitement and wonder at the endless possibilities that await!

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