Connection to External Sources

While my Field Study was only part of my educational adventure this year, it is somewhat ironical that it was a Gary Mason opinion piece in the Globe and Mail that inspired me to begin my Field Study. Ironical because very few people would call Gary Mason a friend of public education or somebody you turn to for inspiration in education.

However, Mason quotes his sister (a school teacher), “If a child isn’t doing well in school or in a particular class, a report card may be the first time a parent learns about this. Report cards can also still be great motivators for kids.”

Wow. I thought, how is it possible for a report card, six weeks or more into a school year to be the first indicator to a parent of their child not doing well at school? And then I realized that my children go to school (a Strong Start program) twice a week and I have no idea what their teacher’s names are.

Other than the wonderful artwork they bring home and the words to my favourite song that they sing “Its clean-up time”, my connection to my children’s school is completely broken. That got me to wondering, do other parents feel this way about their children’s education? When I wonder, I read and I research.

My wondering took me to the SFU online library. Hello ERIC. Hello Hosin Sirvani, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas. Although his article was published in 2007 I have no doubt that his findings would be applicable to today’s students. In short, his findings were that students who’s parents received twice weekly updates on their child’s academic progress out-performed the other students in the same class.

The above mentioned published pieces are what inspired my research this term.

Of course once I got into the topic I needed to learn more. How was I to make the walls of my classroom more transparent? I have already decided that will be the theme for my next year of study.

Then there were other readings, many other readings, to help me understand what others have done before me. Readings included Patrick Beesons’ piece on “Bringing Blogs into the Classroom”, Frances Page Glascoe’s piece “Communicating with Parents” and Hiroshi Nakayama on how to increase communication between parent groups and the school. All food for thought.

As well as readings, the new way to learn (for me, anyway) viewing TED Talks also made my year interesting and provided some very interesting and thoughtful discussions in my classroom. Gary Kovacs on Collusion, and of course Brene Brown’s talk on vulnerability…life changing for me. Allowed me to change the way I teach. I realized I did not have to be the all-knowing sage on the stage.

And finally, the theories of learning and teaching that are related to new learning and thinking. The group I worked with researched and presented on the theory of Cognitivism. Regardless of what we researched, the way that our group was able to work together was amazing.

We decided to do a “Power Point” but, seeing as we all have busy lives and do not live near each other we needed somehow to cooperate without “being together” geographically. Enter Google Drive (nee Docs). We were working together without having to be in the same room. Brilliant. Connectivism at work.

Connectivism is the theory that all the knowledge already exists in the world and we only have to connect to it, or access it. Never mind that pesky learning stuff routine, focus instead on the learning how to access info and how to analyse info for veracity.

This is perhaps the most important aspect of this year of learning, the connections I made to the world of academia. Reaching out to find important and useful readings. Readings and viewings. Brilliant stuff.

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