Collaborative practice is the way to go: Growing as a Teacher Educator

Somehow, since the beginning of my teaching career, I have found myself in collaborative teams:

As a classroom teacher, I found amazing ‘teaching partners’. As a doctoral student, I was an apprentice in Clare’s literacy courses where collaborative practice was modelled. As a beginning teacher educator I looked to my mentors and found support through our strong research groups. Now, as a teacher educator I have developed strong partnerships with colleagues and have invited doctoral students to co-instruct my courses. How wonderful it feels to not only be a mentor but to learn from others while modelling good practice.

This year I am working with a doctoral student who has experience in teaching with technology. Not only am I learning a lot about practical use of technology in classrooms, and the theoretical underpinnings, but my students are benefitting from our partnership.  My course has gone from limited technology to a rich and authentic integration of technology. Let me share some examples:

  1. Developing a sense of Social Media/Digital Citizenship: We now have a class Twitter account and hashtag. We are composing tweets as a class, or as individuals which share what we are learning in the course.  This link helps those who do not know how to use twitter (i.e. me) get started: https://www.smore.com/x97w-the-14-day-twitter-challenge
  2. Improving communication: We now have the class connected with Remind, a communication app that many schools and teachers use to communicate with parents/students.
    1. When we first established this system our students raised the concern about access — what if parents do not have the technology to communicate in this year? What if they do not have the language to do so?  We had thoughtful, critical discussions about access and inclusion
  3. Demonstrating connected learning: My teaching partner is going to blog about the course, as a model for how teachers can do this.  She is walking us through the process of setting up a blog, including asking all the students to sign a permission form as a teacher would ask parents. If not all students sign the form to agree, she will model how to handle this in their future classrooms.
  4. Building our Digital Footprint: We are having students create About.Me or LinkedIn pages so when searched on Google, a professional reference to them, their work, and their values, will appear.  
    1. This experience will link closely to the course content. In our course we explore our Ministry’s Heath curriculum. The curriculum documents looks at teaching children about making good decisions when confronted with online challenges.  We explore how important it is to model good decision making online and to think about ourselves as professionals.
  5. Learning about online tools for teachers: Have one week with a Backchannel discussion tool. https://todaysmeet.com
  6. Connecting to a broader community: Our course looks at teaching the Arts. We are going to have a few students volunteer to look for arts integration projects on the crowdfunding site https://myclassneeds.ca/en/, present them to the class, and then have the class vote on which one we could support. Each person could donate a Loonie, and we could contribute $30 to a classroom in need somewhere near our community, or somewhere in Canada.

I am extremely excited about infusing these elements into my course. I have realized from our beginning classes that it is so much more than the actual doing and integrating of the technology that becomes important. I am learning that the discourses around the infusion is equally, if not more, relevant to developing good pedagogy.  I cannot say enough just how wonderful and beneficial collaborative practice can be.

I will let you know how it all plays out. I am anticipating a heightened program and learning experience for the students and me.

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