So how’s Instagram going?

instagramaccountAnother one of those technology experiences where I am now wondering why I did not do this earlier. Like B-Pay. The whole world was using B-Pay before I got onto it. Instagram has been going since the end of 2010 so 6 years later I am onto it! I am not an earlier adopter of all things technology. The last and only time I have blogged about Instagram I explained I had set my account to private as was recommended by friends and had 6 followers. Since then I have changed the setting to public and have 46 followers and pick up followers every day. Instagram is filling the art, design, graphics gap in my online world. The UX (user experience) accounts I follow are teaching me a lot about design and presentation of graphics. There are Russian women I engage with through textile art and craft and their skills are really impressive and again , I have learned a lot. The language barrier is overcome through image sharing. There is so much colour and creativity on Instagram and so I find it a really good place to go for 5 or 10 minutes when I need a brain boost. By then I am full of creative inspiration and my thoughts have taken off again. Instagram really does bring you back to the moment and valuing the things by which you are surrounded which are fuel for creative endeavour. I have also been pleased to note that the women of Instagram have some very effective and well thought out ways of dealing with what can be considered gross misrepresentation of women in the world of graphics. They are commenting on these images in such a way that the company using the images would have to rethink what on earth they were thinking. Oddly enough, or maybe even paradoxically, even though Instagram is image based there is more being done to set right stereo types and gender profiling on that platform than on any other. Firm but fair stuff. Instagram is also the place where people find their niche. There are car and tram enthusiasts, train lovers, coffee connoisseurs, cat adorers. If you love something and are enthusiastic about it you can share your images and then find those who are like you. I would never have thought Instagram would be so positive. For businesses and organisations you get to see inside the offices and what’s on people’s desks and the views they have. You can see a meeting in progress or how they are processing their thoughts and action plans. It is really great and always gets enthusiastic feedback. And that’s the thing. Any image will immediately get effective feedback which is short , sweet and to the point but, in my experience, never rude or impolite. Suggestions for improvement are always offered in a spirit of well thought out ideas. My first 6 months on Instagram has been a real voyage of discovery. From here on in I can capitalise on that.

Why should teachers blog?

Why teachers should blogI have to say I find it very odd coming here to tell you why teachers should blog when I have seriously blogged as a teacher for 8 years and cannot believe how much it has added to me and my classroom. I have had teachers tell me they wouldn’t blog because their things are their things and they wouldn’t want to share them. I have never known what to say other than I see it quite differently and I do. I do because I blog. Everything I think and do with regard to teaching is blogged. I laugh when I find myself going through a school day and wondering if something is blogworthy or not. I walk around school with a whole global network behind me and  know  that while I am teaching this network is busy connecting with what I have said or done so I can move to the next stage. My blogs have been an invaluable safeguard in a technological approach to ensure my work is backed up and preserved. I can’t always rely on my device or computer to come up with the goods. I also know if I ever left everything at home my resources are there on the net and I just have to borrow a device or do without and get students to use theirs. I am not lugging folders around, I am not searching through endless bits of paper and filing cabinets to find the thing for my lesson. It has been part of my plan to create a paperless classroom because I am so sick of clutter and killing trees. When I share everything I say or do I get a lot of reaction and feedback. Facebook is one of the places which shares my blog posts the most and yet I do not connect my Facebook account to my blogs. I advertise my blogs through Twitter always and LinkedIn and Pinterest sometimes. I discovered Pinterest because of blogging. How could I have missed it? It is a brilliant classroom resource. I blog about content and know that so much better because I have been blogging. I have a much deeper appreciation of my subject matter because others have come in and joined me and offered me pathways and resources.One of my blogs started initially because a student teacher told me there was nowhere to find good resources for French like the ones I had. My French blog is for me , my students and equally serves the purpose of getting others to find good quality resources for teaching French.  I  also blog about what I am required to do by way of professional standards and requirements. I look at these things in blog posts. I understand what the requirements and expectations are far better because I have deconstructed them in blog posts and used them as teaching challenges. There is this constant flow of energy and ideas because I blog. One thing leads to another. One link leads to another. One visitor leads to another. It grows exponentially and my journey goes and grows so that I constantly find myself enthused and  invigorated. I am never at a loss. Never thwarted . Never frustrated. I can blog all about it and writing is very therapeutic. When you are aware there is a global audience it forces you to be less flouncy and more pragmatic in your approach and I have found the web has always resolved my issues when I find I cannot push through them myself. I share and get so much more back. It means , as a teacher, I am constantly refreshed and enthused. I am connected with other teachers, professionals and experts from all over the world and the richness of their thoughts and ideas comes to me because I blog. I can then take all of that magic into my classroom. Why wouldn’t you blog?

5 inspiring tips to start the school year

aitsl Image: aitsl CEO blog

Look upon it as a challenge. I did. As soon as the aitsl CEO blog popped up on my Facebook feed with the 5 inspiring tips I read it and wondered if I had inspired myself into the new school year. It’s term 1 week 5 so a good time to sit for a minute and take stock. Why not? The new school year has blossomed and grown but has it been inspiring? I took the aitsl challenge and this is the result:

1. Inspiration number one: do something professionally that you haven’t done before. This year our faculty set up participation a global competition in Languages . It is an online site like Mathletics which we wanted to engage with. We did the trials last year and the students really liked it , so we have moved on to enrolling our classes this year. This has taken time and effort on the part of the teachers and the organisation we are dealing with. It’s a first. It’s new and it’s all learning for everyone. It is now a classroom and home resource which we are happily discovering. It has been a real positive in our lives at the beginning of the year even though there has been a lot for us all to learn.

2. Inspiration number two: join or start a group or better still a movement

My Twitter and Facebook PLN never fail to bring me inspiration. These social media engagements are a source of ideas, thinking, sharing and give me a real sense of participating in something dynamic. I am never short of information, never allowed to stay in a rut and the information which comes my way keeps me buoyed up and moving forward. Our office has also been a fantastic hotbed of ideas and sharing in terms of technology and approaches. We have really skilled each other up and been keen to learn whatever we can with technology.

3. Inspiration number three: ask questions about your professional values.

This often happens spontaneously in our office or in the staff room over recess and lunch. I think it is the direct result of the lean start up we had at school this year and then aitsl got on the ball pretty quickly by bringing us thoughtful videos and encouraging us to participate in our development as teachers. Without technology and those virtual connections to be made you can be left feeling swamped with expectations and demands. This way the information is grown into organic learning which can be shared , discussed and implemented.

4. Inspiration number four: focus on knowing how you make a difference to students and their learning.

I use Twiducate with my junior students and blogging with my senior students. This way I can see clearly where the learning gaps are and I can also see very clearly the impact of what we have done in class. When you ask for feedback or you ask them to grow your lesson in their own way on their blog it becomes encouraging far more often than disheartening. In fact, it’s rarely disheartening. Our students like technology and they feel at home so they value being able to respond and then I can be rewarded for my behind the scenes work.

5. Inspiration five: find a way to make sure that every student succeeds.

“If our education system is to be truly successful, we need to find ways to ensure that every individual in every school achieves success. Success will look different for each young person and as teachers and school leaders we are key to that success. Make sure everyone in your school knows what it feels like to be successful.”

This is clearly stated on the CEO blog and it sums it all up. It is about allowing everyone in the teaching/learning environment to show and grow. No-one can know everything. Teachers can create the learning memes and help students work through the thinking, content and grappling with ideas. Students then provide feedback and have input into each other’s learning and the capacity of the teacher to teach better. Leadership in education has to further guide and support teachers in a productive, positive way by sharing , challenging and engaging with those in classrooms so they are constantly able to have a sense of vision and a real capability to teach effectively. It’s not automatic. It is a complex undertaking but the results can be far reaching and so the foundation and preparation of a teacher has to be unequivocal each and every day.

Blogspiration

inpiration Image : WriteRight Successful blogging requires regular posts. Posting regularly is a habit. It is not every day that you feel inspired and some days you just don’t know what to write. On those days you can put up a video clip or an image with a short comment and leave it at that. There are things that work, though, to help you create good content on a regular basis.

1. Share experience. Oddly enough it shows up really easily on the web if the person writing the content is not experienced at or has not experienced what they are sharing. There is a hollow ring in cyberspace. Make your posts real. Share what you are really doing or really thinking. Use your daily experiences as a means to help you create good posts.

2. Look around the web. No, not so you can copy other people’s ideas but so their ideas and content will drive you to write something of your own. We have all read the same content a dozen times. Replicating content serves no useful purpose. It is nice to read something fresh and genuine. As you browse the internet, something will occur to you. You might even experience that excitement of being truly inspired and that will keep you going for a while. Look at things you wouldn’t ordinarily look at. Force your mind to take on new thoughts and ideas and then you will come back to the familiar ground on your blog with your own, revamped way of looking at things.

3. Explore around content. Using a mind map , graphic organiser or thesaurus will help you expand content you are dealing with. Maybe I have written a blog post about slide presentations. That can be reworked in lots of different ways from the technical aspects of making them look really good to the graphic design to how to set up a really good slide. Anything can branch out into other ideas and posts.

4. Listen to others. I often write blog posts on this blog because others don’t know something or they don’t know how to do something. I can also get feedback on posts which suggests something else I can look at or someone will read a post and remind me there is something else I could consider. Others can offer a wealth of inspiration just because they are there and they are part of your life.

5. Write your ideas down. It also means bookmarking the sites which have given you lift off. I sometimes forget something really good I could have written about because I don’t do the obvious thing of making at note. It’s the reason for this post now. I have lost a really good idea because I didn’t bookmark the site which had inspired me to think about something to do with technology quite differently. My loss. Blog post and note to self now complete!

Brekkie – my favourite iPad app

brekkie app Brekkie is my favourite iPad app. It would be great if they brought it out for other devices, too. So great. Would make a great app even better. It is one of those apps which you can take for granted. It’s there. It doesn’t play up, it doesn’t take ages to get started, it doesn’t stop for push notifications, it doesn’t freeze. You just tap on it and get a few minutes of inspiration. I don’t use it at breakfast. I am more likely to use it at dinner time. Everyday it brings  an image, an article, a quote and a video. They all work together to uplift you and to get you feeling inspired. If you want to find out more about Brekkie you can go to their web site.

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