Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Aspiring to Work Smarter Not Harder

I work with an amazing team at the International School of Bangkok. We are always willing to work together to try new things to enrich the learning of our first graders. After reading the comment that Kim made on Vu's blog post, Digital Blooms in the Primary Years - Part 2, (Vu is one of my fab team members) I realize that sometimes even though we are trying to do what we feel is the best for our students we need to stop and refine what we are already doing or at least take smaller jumps when we are trying something new. An example of this is that we wanted to do electronic portfolios with our students this year. We were all very excited about using video clips, voice threads, work samples, and student input to show the progress and learning that takes place during first grade. We set up an very ambitious plan with time lines, schedules, and expectations. It all sounded good and looked manageable on paper. Well we are now in the home stretch, only 13 Mondays left as one of my team members pointed out this week, and I can't speak for anyone else but my visualization of the electronic portfolios isn't even close to what they actually are at this point. I do have lots of pictures of kids and learning in action, some videos, and digital work sample for every child in all of the subject areas. But nothing is organized very well and the thought of having it all put together in less than 3 months makes my head spin. I had a conversation with Kim after one of our face to face sessions and she wisely recognized that my team tends to jump in with both feet before testing the water. After our conversation I realized that instead of trying to do electronic portfolios for every child in every subject we should have each field tested electonic portfolios in different subject areas. I did bring the idea up at a team meeting when we were all sharing our stresses over the whole thing and I think we may take a step back next year and each specialize in one subject area so that we can guide the others. So long rambling short I have a new motto - Work Smarter Not Harder. I know it's not original but it is a good aspiration to have. Hopefully I will be able to remember this as I'm working to become a 21st Century Teacher and meet the needs of my 21st Century Learners. (Kim's blog has a great overview of both that she used in Qatar last week, just follow the links in the previous sentence.)

1 comment:

  1. Yes! You have hit the nail on the head Cindy! It's almost always better to start small and see how something grows than to take on too much. Unfortunately, sometimes it's hard to tell what "starting small" actually means and you can unintentionally get in over your head. Ideally, this is where your tech facilitator would give you some ideas about how difficult and time consuming your planned project/task might be.

    I think your team has done absolutely amazing things this year and you should all be so proud of what you've accomplished! This is an absolutely perfect opportunity for you guys to step back, look at what you've done and refine for next year. Please let me know if you would like my help :)