Connected Learning

Jarrod Lamshed


Weekly Round Up

This year, in my new role, there has been a big focus on supporting the professional learning of others. Being new at this, this has meant that I have let my own professional development slip. This is obviously not ok, so I’ve made a renewed commitment to put aside some time to get this back on track. I’ve missed it. Professional reading, listening, viewing…. engaging, is what keeps me inspired and and striving for improvement in my own practice. This weekly round up (who am I kidding, more like semi weekly) is to reflect on and share what I’ve been looking at.

Teacher Education Review Podcast: Interview with Richard Gerver
Richard Gerver is a new find for me. He isn’t someone that I had come across before in my professional learning. It seems I’ve been missing out. This interview covers thoughts on innovative change, project based learning, and effective leadership. It’s well worth a listen. Following up from this, I’m now reading Richard’s book “Creating Tomorrow’s Schools Today”. It’s an interesting read, especially looking at it from a leadership viewpoint as well as a teacher headset.

Techlandia Podcast: Interview with George Couros
I’ve listened to George (@gcouros) MANY times before and every time, I still get something out of it. This time around, I was particularly interested in the way that George has used social media to set up an authentic communication and sharing space for his district. Wouldn’t it be great to this happening here? As a new leader, I can see the benefits. A chance to create the narrative for not only our school, but our partnership. A chance to create a positive and powerful online presence and open up real communication between our schools, parents and students. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to affect this type of change from my level of leadership? I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m just saying it needs some more thought. I think creating some momentum at a district level (Education Director?) is needed. Food for thought.

Both of these podcast episodes are worth listening to. Both have achieved some critical thinking and ideas for change.


Failing Professional Development

There is no doubt that professional development is an important part of our job as teachers. If I’m honest, I love it (I can hear you scoffing). Being able to earn a living and continue learning new things is a wonderful part of being a teacher. When you attend a great PD, you come away feeling inspired and it improves the way you do your job. It improves learning.

After having attended some fantastic PD, my expectations are high. If I am taking a day out of the classroom I really want it to be worthwhile. Today, I attended a training session for a program that our school is involved in. Although the program is a worthwhile one, the training left a lot to be desired.

Being connected is a big part of how I learn. Rather than work in isolation, I have become accustomed to sharing and learning from others in digital spaces. We all know the drill. We know that Twitter and other networks have a valuable role in our learning. Along side this is the fact that ICTs and digital technologies are a big part of our Australian Curriculum and of our Professional Standards for Teachers.

The first thing I saw when I arrived at today’s session was this:











It sucked the enthusiasm right out of me. In my opinion, ANY professional development sanctioned by our department NEEDS to embrace connected learning. If my child was to go into a classroom where technology was banned, I wouldn’t be happy. I think we need to have the same standards for our teachers.


Capturing the Moment

This term, I’ve been feeling flat. A feeling of being over committed, and frustrated with time restraints has been a little overwhelming. A ‘not so inspiring’ professional development session last Monday certainly didn’t help. With this on top of all the usual frustrations of a teacher’s life I have not been at my enthusiastic best.  This is not to say that everything has been bad. I am working with a great team of teachers on some innovative and exciting stuff, it’s just been lost in the ‘muddle’ for the last few weeks.

With this lacklustre state of mind I wandered off to my first CEGSA (Computers in Education Group of South Australia) committee meeting on Thursday night and went through the motions of beginning my newest commitment. I can’t say I was feeling enthusiastic at the thought of an after hours meeting, but I had committed so I went along and joined the conversation. After the committee meeting I had the opportunity to attend a ‘spotlight’ session with George Couros. It was the beginning of the rejuvenating process.

George’s session, titled ‘What to Look for in Today’s Classroom’ was energising. As the session progressed and the tweeting began, I began to feel the fog lift. I began to refocus on the exciting parts of the job and recommit to my ongoing list of goals. By the end of the session I had re-established some important connections with people but had also re-established a connection with my job.

Thursday’s session was followed by a full day ‘master class’ with George. At this event I attended as a support person. My role was to support participants as they worked with George to set up their own online professional portfolios linked with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Even though I was there as a troubleshooter, the learning for me was huge and once again I came out inspired with a new list of goals for my teaching and learning as well as that of my students.


Now,  I have seen George present on several occasions before (maybe not quite to the extent of a stalker), and each time there is a feeling of excitement in the room. Over both sessions this week, it was clear that this would be no different. I had many conversations with participants at both sessions who ‘got it’. Comments about the quality of the PD sessions were overwhelmingly positive. All of the people I spoke to felt that this was the best and most relevant training session that they had been to in a long time. As I did, people had come away with a drive to take action and make positive change in their classroom and school. 

This week, twitter has been alive with conversation about George’s sessions. Apart from the usual discussion from classroom teachers it has been great to see the discussion from our leaders in DECD head office. It is obvious from the conversation they also ‘get it’ as is evident in this post by Karen Butler of the Digital Learning team in DECD.

All too often, the positivity generated by good professional learning fizzles out because of a focus change in the school or from the department. The ongoing positive change that is being generated here needs to be harnessed. It’s time to capture the moment and give access to this learning to as many people in our schools and department as we can.  There is a movement beginning and with ongoing support and co-operation from supporting organisations like DECD and CEGSA, there is no reason that this learning can’t be ongoing and long lasting.

The learning that George is bringing to us creates connections. Connections that are essential to ongoing improvement and learning in our classrooms and our department. As a new member of the CEGSA committee I feel like I am now part of a group that can work to support this important learning and help to effect much needed change in our schools. Working together, with all parties involved, it’s time to ride the wave and create the movement and change that we need. It provides us a chance to open up learning in our schools and look at new ways to move forward and prepare our students for the skills they need now.

After a rejuvenating week, I’m looking forward to the challenge and to seeing what can be achieved. I hope that others are also inspired and are ready to join me in the conversation.


Natural Maths – Ann Baker

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”  Alvin Toffler

I like this quote. The idea of unlearning and relearning is important. If we aren’t prepared to do this we are doing ourselves and our students a huge disservice. If we continue to do things purely because it’s ‘the way we’ve always done it’, we are missing out on learning opportunities for ourselves and taking away the same opportunities for our students.

This week, I was faced with some new learning that challenged everything I knew about teaching and learning maths. The session, run by Ann Baker, unpacked her ‘secret code’ and showed me a whole new way of thinking that just made sense. Using the strategies she showed, allows students (and perhaps we teachers) to see HOW and WHY numbers work. It clearly shows the relationships between numbers while challenging the deeply ingrained processes that we all grew up with. It’s not to say that the ‘old’ processes are completely wrong, but they are not the only way, and they don’t show us the all important HOW and WHY.

As teachers, we know that professional development can be a bit ‘hit and miss’. I walked away from Friday’s session feeling completely challenged, wondering how I had gotten this far without knowing this stuff. I walked away wondering how we get this information to teachers before they hit the classroom. I walked away wondering where to start in helping my students to ‘unlearn’ and ‘relearn’. I also walked away with a new set of tools, feeling ready to start making changes.

As a teacher, it a horrible feeling to come to a realisation that your ‘best practice’ isn’t really good enough, but surely it’s worse to not realise it and continue to think that you have nothing to learn?

Ann and Johnny Baker – Natural Maths


Getting Comfortable











I saw this quote somewhere today and it got me thinking.

I’m a firm believer that teaching is not a job in which you should ever feel completely comfortable. I think, as teachers, that we should always be challenging ourselves and striving to provide a better learning environment tomorrow than the one we provided today.

Thinking critically about my classroom, I believe that we do generally challenge ourselves and we do generally step out of our comfort zones. I use the word ‘we’ because it is a team effort in our classroom. As the teacher I need to challenge myself but also need to take my students on that journey with me. I use the word generally because there is always room for improvement and there are always those that come on the journey begrudgingly.

Teaching students to challenge themselves is not an easy thing to do! For many, encouraging curiosity and linking learning to their passions is enough to motivate, but how do you get to those students that avoid thinking? How do you switch them on and get them excited? With so many great tools available to us and providing an environment for differentiated learning, more and more student are ‘coming out of the dark’, but I don’t know that I will reach all of them before the year ends.

It is here where my thoughts start to scare me a bit. For the most part, I have a good amount of control over how my classroom runs and the type of learning environment I provide. I believe (as do most of us) that I am providing a learning environment that meets the needs of my students as best as I know how to do. I feel as though I am continually engaging myself in new learning that enables me to strengthen and add to my skills as an educator.  Unfortunately, a child’s education doesn’t get neatly packaged into one year chunks (as discussed in this post by @gcouros), and as students move from class to class they are not always provided with environments that are challenging and motivating. I don’t say this to belittle the work that teacher’s do. Many, many teachers to brilliant things in their classrooms, but we have all seen or heard of examples where they don’t.

I was visited by a former student a few weeks ago who said that he felt ‘let down’ by what was happening at his new school. He said (and these are his words) that the school doesn’t provide for kids with different learning styles. He said that the main goal for teachers seemed to be to have everyone quiet. His belief was that the focus of teachers was on classroom management rather than learning. I have had regular visits this year from former students who tell similar horror stories of ‘learning’ in their current classrooms at high school. One student told of the math class where the teacher tells them to get their text book out so ‘they look busy in case someone comes in’ and then leaves the room and doesn’t come back for half an hour.

Hearing of this level of ‘teaching’ infuriates me. As a classroom teacher, I have very little control over what happens in other classrooms, but continually jump up and down complaining that someone needs to do something about it. But who is this mystery person? Whose responsibility is it?  I love the classroom and state regularly that school leadership is not the place for me, but am I taking the easy way out? Am I just comfortable in the classroom? Should I be pushing myself into a new challenge? Should I push myself into working toward a position in the system where I can have some control over these things? I don’t know.

Food for thought.

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