Many times over the thirty years of my teaching experience, I have set to initiate challenges in my professional development to better suit the needs of my students and school, as well as maintaining a spark of energy in my attitude to my profession. It was with my first placement with my current school almost 17 years ago that I was introduced to the internet, with a student in a Technology class showing be how to surf the net. I was hooked and several years later, after seeking training in media technologies, I was delivering a courses for senior students teaching them how to use technology for their studies.
My current school is a small Reception to Year 12 school, nestled in a rural area south of Adelaide. It has undergone some significant changes over the last few years and has been affected by the introduction of bus runs from the small local town to three private schools approximately 30 km away. Although the school is successful in enabling students to achieve rewarding goals when they complete their studies, the school is often seen as struggling to cater for the education needs of the community. It is within this context that I am working towards helping to develop a school that can enable our students to be digitally literate, globally connected and can use technology to meet their learning needs. With this the school will meet the progressive needs of the education system, the academic needs of the students and the respect of the local community.
To do this I need to immerse myself into the same sphere as the students. I need to experience the technology, appreciate its power and understand its potential. I need to develop as a connected educator and leader, and learn the skills needed for directing collaborative learning with both my professional peers and students. I need to understand how I can move the school forward into the 21st century in an environment of limited resources and the occasional resistant barriers. As Helen Haste argues in her presentation Technology and Youth: Five Competencies there will be a need to be confident in five essential competencies that encompass information ambiguity, responsibility and agency, sustainability, emotion management and technological change.
Taking on the Knowledge Network and Digital Innovation course will likely be the most challenging professional development I will undertake as an educator. My main aim is to help my school continue its move towards meeting the needs of the students to become digital citizens and connected learners. I am also looking to develop skills that will enable me to eventually move beyond the school environment and help facilitate the development of teachers and principals to manage the technological change that is coming to education.
The challenges I have set myself will certainly push me out of my comfort zone. Although a proactive teacher and school member, I will need to develop the skills, confidence and knowledge that will enable me to work with leadership, and school community, to help initiate the changes necessary for the schools future. I will need to ensure that I am worthy of the title ‘Master of Education’.