no longer an exclusively vicarious one.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


my hearts going at a hundred beats a minute. i think my hands are shaking. after 5-odd years of occasionally typing along on this thing with nary a comment or any other sign that the anyone at all was out there, imagine my horror when i opened up blogger a few minutes ago and saw 18 extremely detailed responses to my rambling. i can only suppose that it was tagging the damn thing with 'mteach' and 'der' that changed anything, cos the content is pretty much the same as ever - me rambling along when i felt i needed to get something off my chest. although now, it seems i'm rambling about something that Matters.

to begin, i think i should apologise for the way that i must have come off in the previous post. as i said, im still thinking this all through and the idea of myself as an actual teacher i don't think has quite registered with me. this blog is not a place of particularly evaluated opinion - it has always been my reasonably immediate response to the things that i see and hear. i really don't want anyone who comes across this blog (thats the first time i've ever seriously contemplated such a phenomenon) to think that ive closed my mind off to completely recanting from any of the opinions that i spout in all sincerity and in the heat of the moment. i've always looked at this blog as a sort of diary, and not really as a communicative tool - i have had other blogs for that, and i think much more about the things i put up on facebook (to be seen by everyone i know) than things i blabber on anonymously about here. it stuns me that i did seem to 'touch a nerve' and got so many interesting responses to what ive written, with no thought that anyone might read it. what i possibly should have said from the beginning was what i wanted out of this blog. i want it to be a record of the changes in me and my ideas, and for that to work i need to be completely honest with myself. possibly, the proper place for this kind of reflection was some kind of personal diary. on very secure and very private paper. with invisible ink, lol. but yes, i have this resource and even if i still don't really understand it, everyone's responses are shaping my ideas probably a whole lot more than sitting in a lecture, doodling in my notebook.

what didn't come across in the now-infamous last post is that i do Want to change. i Want to get my hands on an IWB and muck around on it. watching youtube clips of them is not the same thing at all. i don't think you really understand how disturbed i am that i have never ever seen one of these 'integral tools of the future' before. i Want to make a website that can help kids learn Shakespeare. while i was typing my 'dullard' and definitely 'wingish' entry yesterday there was a couple of bits of paper beside me with the flow diagram for exactly that hypothetical resource. i spent two hours last night checking out those wraps (thanks mr jones) and realising that i don't know how to use the apostrophe properly. i know there is Stuff out there and that it is Good. ive written past entries espousing web 2.0 and meta-meanings and the use of hypertext. but at the same time i feel so woefully behind that it is scaring the pants off me. wingish, stupid opiniated shock jocks (i should know cos i hate them too) are usually the way they are because they are insecure and terribly frightened of change. i'll be as honest as i was yesterday with all my negativity. im terrified of the idea of me leading a class on IT. how do i show impressionable minds things on their netbooks when ive only had a laptop for 3 years and the most ive ever needed to do is use word and play minesweeper? when i was last in school (5 years ago now), we all dreaded going to the computer labs because it meant sitting 5-to-a-computer (often kneeling on the floor) and wasting time. i remember doing a history assignment in 2003 with a textbook that still said there were 2 germanys - and this was a pretty well-off public school. of course its better now - we make tools to make things easier for ourselves, but right know i am still personally more comfortable in fisher library than i am on jstor. they say we have to draw on our experiences to teach. i hyperventilate because i don't have the right experiences. i am so scared that all this focus on learning how to use apps for shiny presentation is going to erode substance and the idea of just sitting and thinking. i've experienced this in high school and i am hoping that i won't have to mark people down when their ppt is less awesome than someone else because that someone else has used some schwanky expensive video software half their life. i know some kids in school with laptops now, and what they are doing right now isn't really filling me with glee.

now i'm finding myself all self-conscious about what i type, and i really don't want to be. all the talk that we've received from various lecturers about reflection and process and the 'becoming' a teacher has led me to hypothesise that this kind of journal - with all my horrible and horribly wrong thoughts - might be of some interest if not value to me much later on. just writing this entry has made me come to terms with my specific fears for the future. i know they are not going to just throw us out there, but thats how it feels from this side of the course (a perspective thing im sure).

now - the thing i wanted to say when i powered up the laptop tonight was this. at the moment it seems to me that delaying secondary curriculum lessons in the program is not the best way to do things - or at least i don't understand why, and no-one has explained it to me. i am really antsy to learn What i am going to be teaching and not just How. yes, i've looked at the curricula (now after 2 posts i have a reputation to unbuild), but its not the same. the primary people i've talked to seem to have their heads around things a little better than i (obviously... ha). maybe its just me, but how am i sposed to create an ICT resource relating specifically to a curricular lesson plan when we haven't really addressed the nitty-gritty of what is in my curriculum? and i wait, fearfully anticipating getting shot down again.
also, just watched v. i had some things to say about it but now everything else just seems so trivial. i remember when i used this blog for transcribing tripod lyrics. does this mean im growing up?

o - and thankyou everyone for responding. after getting over the emotional catharsis it seems i was due to have, im actually really excited that ive got people interested. as i said a couple of posts ago - these are exciting times in the industry and its exhilarating to think im already getting in amongst it.
to the parents reading this and being frightened (completely understandable). i decided to become a teacher a few months ago. i am sure its what i want to do. the aim is to go rural and really help somewhere. no student is a tabula rasa. i realise i have unlearning to do before i can be of any help to anybody. i tutor and i volunteer at a museum with the kids program and have had a fairly good response. i guess we're addressing some of the hazards of web2.0 right here kids - the safety of avatars. more on that later i guess. got readings to do.


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Blogger Bianca said...

Love it - you have such a great voice, terribly honest and open. It's really important for you as a teacher to keep that.

Now go get on twitter and follow some of those amazing people you just met, they'll help you with all the content and pedagogy stuff you need!


March 11, 2010 12:51 am

Blogger Ant said...

Only saw this after I commented on 'that'post.

Good job!


March 11, 2010 4:07 am

Blogger DolloWSR said...

Great stuff. A teachers life continues. Hard yards, slog, self-realisation and joy. Lifelong learning. Then more slog. We still need your heretical but engaged voice, what teachers face, needs to be made known. You've demonstrated the value of a PLN already.

March 11, 2010 6:38 am

Blogger Simon Borgert said...

Mels - nice post. From what I said on Twitter last night "I reckon she made us all think a bit". I am sure you will be fine with technology- you are blogging after all - I still have teachers in my faculty who don't know how to access their email.

The process of reflecting you are talking about is vital to teaching - and many teachers do not do that - whereas you seem to already be moving down that path - and that is a good thing! :)

I think you can now see what passionate educators are like - we do exist everywhere despite some of the chat you hear around schools.

My suggestion would be to join in the Twitter conversation @simonborgert

Ramblings are good - but a problem when not taken as such.

March 11, 2010 7:22 am

Blogger Barbara Schaffer said...

Glad you have responded so positively to all the feedback you received so unexpectedly. I am always working with student teachers and I know how terrifying
it is to contemplate the huge responsibility you are taking on in leading young people on their learning journey. You know I often think that when you stop being in awe of that responsibility and privilege is when it is time to throw in the proverbial towel. Your voice is truly quite powerful and it is interesting how you had a large number of influential educators waiting with baited breath for your response.
If there is something to learn from all of this I think it is the importance of feedback
kids need feedback
teachers need feedback
parents need feedback
whether 5 or 50 we need it,
we yearn for it
We positively hunger for it!

.......and positive feedback helps us to learn and grow.
Like the effect of water on a plant it has an impressive and dramatic effect.

We have to be careful and honest and receptive and generous with our feedback.

I like you have a few personal blogs in which I reflect and record things for myself alone ..... I guess there is another lesson in that .. although I am not sure what it is !
If you want to see a kindergarten class blogging with year 5 buddies or using an interactive whiteboard you are welcome to visit my classroom.
Must go I have a class of 20 and a couple of student teachers waiting for my attention.

March 11, 2010 8:38 am

Anonymous kmcg2375 said...

I wonder if everyone feels bad today after flaming you last night Mels :( Especially considering your description (and reminder to us) of your blog as a personal, reflective space.

Be rest assured that, despite the avalanche of comments, YOU are actually with the majority. Which goes a long way to explaining the speed and fervour of people's comments last night. I think much of what was posted are things we would desperately love to shout at people every day (while shaking them), but can't. In schools the tech-lovers have to be so freakin nice to everyone, just to make sure no-one gets scared. We have to hold everyone's hands. And while people lament having to spend time learning how to read an email, we keep quiet about the countless hours we spend developing resources to try and coax our colleagues into our world (whilst still doing the same amount of report writing and exam marking as the rest of the world) And for what? So that we can cop mouthloads of scorn and vitriol from teachers (unlike yourself as it turns out) who are stubborn, selfish, and unwilling to change. Our heads know the brick wall well.

Last night I linked to your post on Facebook to get some thoughts from 'ordinary' teachers (i.e. not evangelists from the Twitterverse!) A good friend and very intelligent friend of mine who is an excellent English teacher had this to say:

"In my experience, teachers who are in love with the razzle dazzle of technology are compensating for inadequacies in other areas."
"I seriously think computers etc is a fraud."

*sigh* should I point out to him the number of syllabus outcomes he is willfully ignoring by refusing to use ICT in any way in his classes? No, I think I'll give that a miss today.

Teachers who believe that digital literacy and engagement with ICT are essential to a contemporary progressive, transformative education have to cop this kind of flaming every day. And we have to do it with a non-threatening smile.

So, thank you for letting us vent and for leaving your post and all the comments up. It was really lovely (and cathartic) to engage in the rough and tumble kind of 'reflection' that I remember from Uni rather than the polite don't-tread-on-anyone's-toes reflection that school life demands. And now we have it all of our chest, you know we would love to smile and hold your hand too ;)

(@kmcg2375 on Twitter)

March 11, 2010 12:14 pm

Anonymous Parallel Divergence said...

I think everybody that commented on your post - not just you - learned something over all of this.

That's the power of the PLN.

I wish you every success for your future career in teaching.

March 11, 2010 3:18 pm

Blogger troymartin7 said...

I concur with all the comments above!

Excellent blog, love it.
These might be a couple you look at!


March 11, 2010 8:10 pm

Anonymous malyn said...

have actually responded to 'that' post before reading this. ain't i glad i had a positive slant!

A teacher I look up to at work said learning often involves discomfort (sometimes pain or embarrassment). Or if you prefer student-teacher speak, consider Vygotsky's zone of proximal development. There is wisdom in this.

As in my previous post, I echo the Twitter invitations that have been extended to you. I'm here in your blog because of the people I've followed into here.

btw, a reflective practice is at the core of the NSWIT accreditation process. looking at it that way puts it in a positive light - even if it seems like a lot of administrative effort. i actually hope that my teaching blog can be used as 'evidence'.

one day, you will surface from anonymity.

March 11, 2010 9:32 pm


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