Selena Woodward
Chief learner, Uni lecturer, Co-founder and mum. Passionate about empowering my students, myself and my colleagues so that we can be the best we can be.

Engaging Now! 7.4

Learning when you’re leading – sometimes it gets super uncomfortable

October 16, 2017 | Focus Areas: | | | | | | | | | | 1 COMMENTS Smita Nair Jain @SmitaNairJain #SmitaNairJain – Version 46 by Smita Nair Jain shared in the public domain

I’m writing this post to reflect on a workshop that I taught today.  Having spent even more time with educators at a recent Microsoft Meetup I felt super inspired to push my OneNote learning a little further. I spent a good two hours prepping my two hour workshop today.  I added in Microsoft forms where there once would have been a note or forum in flo.  I even added a self marking quiz to the end of the One Note to give my students an idea of where they were working by the end of the session. I use sections to attempt to create groups that were restricted to editing only certain sections of the OneNote collaboration space. I did all of this in a brand new, shinny OneNote, specifically for Assignment 3.

Today’s workshop involved:

  • Small Group work – collaborating in One note – Dragging and dropping elements of the continuum along a time line, highlighting key words which showed progression and coming to grips with the structure of the general capability
  • A Form – At the half way mark to check in with the students and see what they are thinking – I’m planning to use this, the statement they made as a pre workshop task and some subsequent short assessments to help them visualise their growth in this area
  • A Quiz – which has short question about some of the key concepts from the workshop
  • A content are full of links, videos, images they can copy and paste and their rubric and assessment documentation.

The workshop was a little slow in starting because the room wasn’t quite ready for us.  No worries. I know what it’s like when you just need to keep answering questions! I ran to get the COW (computers on wheels) and told the students that we all needed to be logged on. I encouraged those who had not done the pre-workshop task to log in and get onto it.  One student then asked me, in a particular tone, whether it was going to work this time.  I cheerfully said that “yes” of course it would work and got the workshop started.

Despite having emailed all of them a week ago, having made a video (which i was told they requested) about assignment 3 and the pre workshop task, despite having told them in our online learning environment that I had made a new notebook for them etc…  Most of them didn’t even have the new notebook ready. They didn’t even know it existed.  Great. Thank goodness for those who did and who helped me to help them to work out why the others couldn’t see what we were looking at.

This sounds whinny I know… just bear with me.  There’s a point to all of this… I promise.

Now, over the past couple of months I’ve been doing what I strongly believe is one of the most important things I can do as a teacher. I’ve been growing and learning and pushing myself.  This has meant that I have spent long hours prepping things and learning how to do them. All of that is important and I love learning; it keeps me passionate about what I do.  Feeling the struggle helps me to stay empathetic to the learners in my own room.

I have a reputation as someone who is an expert in ICT integration and I’ve worked hard to achieve that.  This post is about how, by learning and experimenting with new things – in this case OneNote and 365, I have bad lessons and hard times too.  Today’s workshop was like that. It started with the ‘cheerful’ question about whether this would work this time…  Not a great way to help a teacher who is about to try and take a leap of faith… As I high school teacher I would have had a chat with that person and checked to see why they felt they needed to say that.  Perhaps I should still? I chose not to at the time…  But still.. deep breath… we can do this!

Here’s a list of everything that went wrong today:

  • The groups I’d set up didn’t sync before I turned off my laptop and left for work.  That’s the only explanation I can imagine. I carefully, painstakingly copied and pasted the lists for who was in what group from OneNote’s collaboration settings. I pasted those into PowerPoint and my students arranged themselves accordingly.  Then… when they started… the groups were completely muddled and I looked like an idiot.You see, earlier today, I’d started to group them in one way and then I changed my mind.  I’d saved all of my new groups to One Note Online but, for some reason, that can’t have synced.  So, the surly non-OneNote Believers were encouraged to be even more negative whilst I continued to carry one.It turns out it takes 5 mins for the changes to sync – or at least that’s what I learnt through talking to the one group who I had to give access to everything to again so they could even start the work…  Of course, by the time we’d worked out it wasn’t working, re done the lists and waited 5 minutes… the other groups were done.  Great. :/
  • I muddled up two of my students and said thank you to the wrong one for tweeting to me.  That was met with a rather audible moment from the class which also made me die a little inside. BUT… KEEP GOING
  • My presentation was in prezi.. The link I provided myself with in our onenote, for some reason, wanted me to sign in. I couldn’t remember my password.  In the end, I googled it and found it that way. Looking really smooth now… still dying inside..
  • I had learnt about how you could create a template and then share that to make the one quiz in Forms work with mutilple groups of kids. I set this up and popped them into One Note… But I clearly hadn’t understood that properly, and I discovered that i’d actually shared the template and NOT a form.. so my students completed the quiz and were then unable to to submit it.. Another thing to correct live and on the fly… then they all had copy and paste over their answers…  More points for me! Interestingly, one group of students hasn’t bothered to answer that quiz.. I’ve emailed them tonight to find out why and to encourage them to do it.
  • It turns out that there’s some kind of bug between apple safari and one note right now.  No one with Safari could write anything more than one character.  So we had to work out that it was safari and then download Chrome before they could join in. OneNote… working super well… fabulous

Just look at the cognitive load there and none of it is about the content I’m supposed to be teaching or the students I’m supposed to be helping to learn.  Problem solving after problem solving mostly caused by ICT. At least I’m clearly a learner in the room!

..and here’s what I learnt (and what I’ll do for Wednesday)

  • For Wednesday, I’m not going to bother setting up different editing rights. In hindsight, its not adding any pedagogical value so I can afford to give myself that set up time back.
  • I’m going to smile and nod.. and accept that I haven’t learnt everyone’s names off by heart. I’m trying… and I meant no offence…
  • God knows what Prezi was doing… I need to make sure I have keepass handy at work
  • Now I know what not to do with templates… I need to find out how to turn a template into a new survey
  • I probably should email Microsoft with the new bug we found.
  • When ICT goes wrong like this.. over and over again… it would be so easy to stop.

The thing is… this workshop was tough. I walked away exhausted and I can understand why those with less experience in using 365 and Onenote would throw in the towel and go back to a different methodology.  We can’t do that though. We wouldn’t let our students chuck it all in because it was hard.  We have to keep moving forward and growing. To grow, I have to be allowed to try and fail and try and win.  That’s the only way I can learn.

I did as much learning and prep as I could before my lesson.  That’s all I can ask of myself.  The rest of the workshop, where we talked Creative Commons and moved away from OneNote and it’s features for a bit, went pretty well… even if I was talking about the tricky and sometimes confronting topic of intellectual property and the ICT General Capability.

I am pretty confident that the students who chose to take part, made progress and learnt.  The question is, what other strategies can I use to get Masters students to engage? Behaviour management strategies from High School teaching aren’t always appropriate.  I need them to be 100% with me and 100% free to ask for support if they need it.  Ah well… more learning to be had!

I also wonder what support mechanisms we need to help people who have a tough time when they implement their new learning for the first time.  What would that support look like and do the students realise that their reaction and energy feeds the learning environment? Negativity breeds contempt and makes it harder for me to get better…  Just sayin’



One response to “Learning when you’re leading – sometimes it gets super uncomfortable”

  1. Selena! Thank you so much for sharing this lesson with us. It’s so important for us to all remember that not every lesson goes to plan, IT fails sometimes, resources that were meant to be available aren’t there on the day, or sometimes students just don’t feel it. It happens. It sucks, but it happens. I love the way you’ve reflected on what you can learn from it and what you can change, but I also love the fact that you’ve acknowledged that sometimes the students need to realise their part in the success (or otherwise) of a lesson.
    I’m fascinated by what you’re doing with OneNote in your workshops and can’t wait to read more. Thank you!

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