Thursday, July 19, 2018

14 alternative ways to top up your professional learning...


Everyone knows that I am a professional learning junky. I love professional learning. I love the feeling of knowing that your practice has truly been transformed and has made a positive difference in the world. What you might not know, is that I get my kicks from far more than just conferences and reading educational books and journals. Next time you are in need of some professional learning or a new perspective, why not try one of these...

#1 Visit the art gallery.
Visiting a well-curated art gallery is a relaxing but cognitively engaging way to gain new perspectives and understanding about many issues in society. For example, my visit to the Auckland Art Gallery this week revealed some new understandings about the way that our 'priority learners.' I was interested to learn about the way that the term Pasifika is used and perceived. It had me wondering about my own inquiry and the language that we use in schools that inadvertently serves to alienate, exclude or include people. Additionally, the gallery also provided some inspiration for my upcoming module about Megastructures! I see some making in our future!

Photo taken at the Auckland Art Gallery, 18 July 2018.
Photo taken at the Auckland Art Gallery, 18 July 2018.

#2 Visit the museum.
Museums can hold many clues about how we got to where we are. At the same time, they can provide inspiration for where we might go next. My most recent visit to the Auckland War Memorial provided inspiration for an upcoming module at school called War Machines. Not only did it help me to plan out my unit, it has provided me with relevant examples from the New Zealand Māori and European context. As my inquiry this year is focussing on how we might draw on and build cultural knowledge (in the science classroom), the inspiration was well received and immediately implemented.
At the end of the museum visit I had to sit down and take a moment to write down all the ideas!

#3 Curate a Twitter list. 
One of the reasons why I keep coming back to Twitter over many other social media platforms is that I have far more control over what I see. There are fewer algorithms prioritising what I see (in my experience at least). Hence, to increase my understanding and awareness of alternate perspectives, I have curated a Twitter list of Māori new sources, influencers and leaders. This provides an ongoing narrative helping me to reframe my thinking about what is going on in our world on a daily basis. I find Twitter an endlessly useful tool for exciting my regular thought bubbles.


#4 Watch a comedy show.
There are some absolutely brilliant comedians that provide a nuanced and critical view on many of the issues that influence our young people and their decisions in school. And, they do this in an entertaining way. Just think about Trevor Noah or Hannah Gadsby.



There are tons of other ways that you are able to top op your learning too. Here are a few of the other ways that I like to supplement my academic reading with:

  1. Interview an expert.
  2. Watch a related documentary.
  3. Listen to a podcast.
  4. Read a novel with a similar theme or context. (Talk to your librarian/English teachers about this!)
  5. Watch a movie with a similar theme or context. (Talk to some media studies teachers about this.)
  6. Complete a MOOC. They are free, fantastic and flexible with time. 
  7. Curate a Pinterestrest board with some visual inspiration. 
  8. Observe a colleague.
  9. Visit a school who has attempted to solve the same problem in a different way.
  10. Check in with your local university about upcoming (and usually free/cheap) seminars and talks.