I have been teaching as a special needs teacher since 1991 at my school. My role is to prepare the students with special education needs for life after school whatever that may look like for each individual. This Chinese proverb sums up the teaching philosophy in my classroom.
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." Covey (1992, 14).
This champions the most important concept that Covey shares; we all have to go through the continuum of growth: From Dependence > Independence > Interdependence.
It is through working with these students that I saw how technology could be used to enhance their learning through their use of augmentative communication. Being able to communicate your needs, wants and and more importantly your ideas is empowering. As technology has progressed access to the curriculum has become easier for this population of students. I came to see how technology could benefit all.
My teaching style involves developing adult relationships with my students, allowing them the dignity to risk, the right to failure. Using authentic environments such as doing work experience in the local business community as teaching and learning opportunities. Empowering them to make decisions for themselves and accept responsibility for the consequences. The curriculum is driven by the goals of the students as defined by the dreams they create when answering the question "What would it take for you to have an interesting life where you can get to know people who would become friends and make your contribution to the communities you belong to."
In 2010 I joined the school E-Lead team that is responsible for supporting staff to increase their use of technology in the classroom and beyond. This included me running professional development for staff on Moodle, iPads and the pedagogy around using technology in the classroom. I continue to support staff to incorporate Web 2.0 Tools as support for teaching content or as tools for student presentation and collaboration.
In 2012 I was selected to join the Virtual Professional Learning and Development (VPLD) programme and completed a Teacher Inquiry around e-tools and their effectiveness in enhancing the learning of students with special education needs. I discovered that technology could support students to apply learning beyond the classroom. I have participated regularly in the VPLD online community, undertaken ongoing reflective practice and inquiry, supported colleagues, met my annual goals and aspirations, and led new initiatives.
As E-learning Director since 2014 I wanted to be part of the development of school's learning environment and to support the school in its move towards integrating handheld technology into the classrooms. To facilitate building teacher capacity in using many forms of technology to enhance student learning as well as teaching content and enabling student presentation and collaboration.
For this to happen I saw the Directors role underpinned by the following principals;
1. Cultivating an open culture within the school where best practice and innovative teaching is seen and shared across curriculum areas.
2. Learning is the focus for every classroom; to support the staff to see the relevant use of technology in their classrooms and how it can transform the classroom experience.
3. Digital Citizenship is not taught in isolation but by every teacher as they get the students to use technology to make a difference.
4. Sharpening the focus of the technology teachers’ use, as they are more likely to move to a transformative use of technology in school, while also building capacity amongst staff.
5. To actively promote leadership development within the e-lead team as too many times, we place too much emphasis on the knowledge of one, which causes issues of time for one person to carry out an entire initiative.
6. To bring an understanding of the balance between pressure and support, as teachers are at different points and as long as they move forward, learning is happening.
7. Take risks to create an environment where staff is willing to take risks the same way they often ask students to.
8. To invite parents to become partners as MRGS moves towards connecting parents to the learning in the classroom.
I am an energetic and insightful professional, who actively seeks to keep abreast of important developments in learning and teaching through a combination of self-reflection and formal and informal learning.
Here I am going to regularly blog as I reflect on my professional learnings and developments and share examples of student learning.
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