Monday, April 21, 2008

Reflection on Derek Wenmoth's Keynote: Holding a Mirror to our Professional Practice

Reflection has always been hard for me in my own professional practices. I have been trying to use my blog as a tool for this in the past. Time tends to become the biggest obstacle for me. I tend to spend my time looking forward more than looking behind. I just tend to find it a little more murky when trying to reflect in a formal manner. Most of my reflection is done in informal ways. Moving forward may be a bit more efficient if my forward movement is guided by a well planned and executed reflective practice. Placing a mirror to my practices more often would be beneficial.

As a response to this I would like to answer the questions posed by Derek Wenmoth in his K12 Online Conference Keynote, "Holding a Mirror to our Professional Practice".

1. What are the mirrors you hold to your professional practice?

The mirrors I use in my professional practice are mostly done directly after an event. I often will do an internal debrief after I have provided a workshop, taught a class, or presented in front of a group. I find the drive home to be a great quiet time for me to accomplish this. If I have the opportunity to request feedback from colleagues after an event I do that as well. Fortunately, I am part of a great team of Instructional Technology Integrators in the Yarmouth School Department. We always debrief together after we provide a professional development session.

2. Who are the mentors you relate to on a regular basis?
My main mentors would be my district team mates in our technology department. We often provide our district professional development as a team. Alice Barr and Cathy Wolinsky serve as mentors to me in this capacity. Their support helps me improve my work.
3. What professional reading do you do?
I read a lot of blog entries that come into my RSS aggregator as well as through my Twitter timeline. I also read professional books to continually improve myself. This year I have read (links are to Amazon listings of the books):
I am just starting Wikinomics by Don Tapscott

4. What communities of practice do you belong to - online or face to face?
My communities of practice combine online communities and face to face. As I mentioned earlier, Alice Barr and Cathy Wolinsky provide me a tremendous face to face community to provide me feedback and to share our learning. My online community is mainly fostered through Twitter (username: marsenault). I have really found this to be my most powerful and immediate community for information and feedback. I also participate in the Seedlings Ning site. This is an online community started by Alice Barr, Cheryl Oakes, and Bob Sprankle to support educators in their use of technology.
5. Do you have a blog where you record your ideas, thoughts, and reflections?
Yes. I have tried using a few different blog engines. Most of my work has been done in the past at an Edublogs blog I had set up. I didn't find that I used that tool enough. I have tried setting up this blog this year using Google's Blogger engine with a custom domain to use blogging more for reflective purposes.
6. What RSS feeds do you subscribe to in order to keep abreast of current thinking?
I subscribe to many RSS feeds to keep current. Check them out at my public Bloglines page.
7. When did you last visit someone else's classroom to observe and feed back?
This is something I do not typically do. I do find myself in other teachers classrooms from time to time. When I am in the classroom with other teachers I am usually there as a co-teacher. My position does allow me the flexibility to work with many of the teachers within my building. As I work with these professionals I do get to see a variety of teaching styles which influence my teaching.
8. When did you last present in a workshop, to a staff meeting, or a conference?
Due to my job, I present in workshops throughout the year in my district. Since moving to my position in Yarmouth I have not presented at any conferences. I am scheduled to present during two sessions at our state-wide technology conference in the fall. I will be participating in a technology integration round table discussion with Joshua Sturk and Laura Richter. I will also be doing a session geared for the pre-service teachers that attend the conference.

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Image: 'still paddling'

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