I am now one and three-quarter days out of Ulearn14 and our final eFellows14 meeting, yet here I am - awake at 2.00 in the morning with the seed of an idea to get this all into a shiny new blog and I cannot go to sleep because the seed is sprouting into life of its own accord.
I have previously blogged under the title E-Learning Best Practice Discoveries which I began while completing my sabbatical last year. It may not yet go the way of the Blogger Graveyard, as I am sure there will be more best practice to share there. However, the aim of this blog is to record my own voice as I develop my thinking, educational ideology, change it, mold it further, put it into practice and change it all over again. These will be my ideas, opinions, strategic wanderings (to steal Bec's term), 'A-Ha!' moments, sometimes ramblings and often-times pondering as I make my way through the wealth of future-focused information and practice that I find myself among.
Completing the data gathering phase of my CORE Education 2014 eFellow project, "Listening to the Voices of the Unheard", I became aware of the need for us to listen to the voices that often get pushed down when we are in a state of change. These are the voices often dismissed as dissenters or just plain not listened to when they are seeking help and/or clarification on why change is tipping their world on its ear.
I discovered there is a lot of worth to be had, and probably time saved, when we park our great plans for change just for a moment and listen to them. They are the voices that will tell you how to get everyone on your train of change, what they need to understand so that, for them, this is not just change for change's sake and that your vision becomes theirs also. More often than not I found they just need a helping hand onto the train of change, while you need to be prepared for them to be a little slower in the technicalities while providing that outstretched hand as they run alongside trying to get on-board. The last thing you should want is to see them give up, puffing and panting from the run to understand yet still left behind, standing alone, beside the tracks. What a desolate image that paints for your colleague.
I have also come to the conclusion thanks to the number of educators who filled the room to hear what I had discovered, as well as my time on the CORE Education eFellowship, that I too have a voice that I should be sharing. I have long thought of myself as 'just another teacher' getting on with the job, doing the same thing as every other teacher around me. This year as an eFellow has taught me that I am not just doing the job. I have a future focus with students set firmly at the center, vision for change that has their methods of engagement at heart, a willingness to be challenged then changed, and a voice that other teachers want to hear.
I have to, at this point, give thanks to the most amazing group of people with whom I have just spent a year completing professional development that is on steroids. A year where lifelong friendships have begun and my professional learning group and confidence have exploded. A year where I have finally found my voice and know it has worth.
Dr John Fenaughty and Dr Louise Taylor as the facilitators for eFellows14 have far outstripped the bog-standard facilitation role for us. They have been encouraging yet challenging, supportive yet pushed the boundaries of our thinking - often breaking them, planned for our master classes yet been prepared to listen and adapt to the needs we had, ready to advise yet never judged our choices or our thinking, ready to guide yet never telling us what to do, ready to catch us when we took our stumbling steps into the world of research and were angst-ridden about presenting our findings. They provided us with access to some amazingly forward thinking and thought provoking CORE personnel and educational literature. They were there when we fell, had moments of celebration, and, without exception, when we just needed our helping hand up. They were like our two parents on Wednesday as we were inducted fully as eFellows, proudly standing with each of us as they shared with the eFellows from throughout the 10 years this programme has been running the year we had had.
Tim Gander, Ben Britton, Bec Power, Rowan Taigel, Marnel van der Spuy and Anne-Louise Robertson - I am just as in awe of each of you still as I was at that first face-to-face meeting we had on March 5th. Along with our a fore mentioned 'parents', these outstanding people became my siblings in our eFellows14 family. We have lived and laughed together (a lot!), shared our anxieties, challenged each other, supported each other and championed each other as we made our way through the year. We all experienced the dazzling brain burst that went with each master class - often awake, as now, in the middle of the night with so many ideas buzzing the brain out of sleep mode that we had no choice other than to process them then and there. This is the second master class in a row where I have had this buzz continue past our time together. We are all now mourning the loss of our organised time together but, like the phoenix rising from its ashes, we are giving birth to ways in which we can continue our adventure together as fledglings leaving the safety of our nest with John and Louise.
Looking back I am not the same person or educator I was when my name was read and I excitedly, if a little anxiously and very humbled to be included in this group, took the stage at Ulearn13 to begin my eFellow year. I recognise the transformation I have been through during not just this year but the five years since my metamorphosis truly began. I am still one of Louise's butterflies - testing my wings as they dry from my cocoon phase before I really take flight.
I am about to tackle the further expansion of my ideology with my enrollment for Post Grad study. I have long thought this was not something I needed to worry about. I had completed my training and my degree at the 'right time' to be on the top pay scale - why bother? Now I know why I need to bother. I know I am ready to take on the challenges I will be given and not just work through it because I feel I have to. I will give each of the papers I choose the same passion, thought and range of lenses I have given this year. I am now prepared to be transformed, just as this past year has transformed me.
So.... let the vocalizing, and the flapping of wings, really begin!