January 31, 2020
Not unprecented, educators today are being expected to set goals, project plans for meeting their goals, and then reflect upon their progress to demonstrate their learning. More than checking a box, it’s that last part about reflection that’s got me wondering…
Are we focused on growing the plant so much that we forgot about the seed?
After all, it’s the seed–before the conditions in which it matures–that ultimately drives our professional health, progress, and growth. You can’t have a strong, healthy, growing plant without a seed packed with a ton of potential.
Before we can feature our teaching and learning journeys as educators, we have to go back to the roots of why we’re doing what we’re doing.
Before our learning products process into fruition, we have to ask ourselves real questions about the origins of our practice.
Before we showcase the end-in-mind, we have to begin with purpose.
I think on these things, often.
I want to add value and efficiency to the instructional practices of educators already stretched too thin, required to do more with less every day. Simply put, educators are expected to work miracles.
Fertilizing the analogy, I’m also wondering how this branches out into our many spaces:
- Are we rushing into digital portfolio creation before defining the very artifacts that compose them?
Educators strive to facilitate meaningful learning experiences. Therefore, the portfolio process is simply a matter of curating past processes and products. And, lesson planning with the end portfolio in mind will enhance our beginning and current practices. Right?
- Are we creating experiences worthy of reflection in the first place?
Educators are constantly improving their instruction and practice. But when we constantly question and reflect upon on what we’re doing, eventual cognitive dissonance inspires improvement and change.
- Do we know what artifacts add meaning to our reflection?
The portolio-building process has inspired educators to research, seeking exactly what’s being taught and learned. Once again, student standards are being unpacked like a holiday celebration. In addition, I see educators hearkening back to their NC Professional Teaching Standards to rediscover exactly what’s expected of them as professionals, and how they can demonstrate their journey in portfolios, for example.
- Do we know what we want in a meaningful artifact?
An artifact can take the shape of an image, video, link, or resource, captioned with text. An artifact can be a showcased product reflecting on what was learned. And, my favorite of all, an artifact can be a process, reflecting on what was learned any and all stages.
- Are we intentionally capturing images, videos, links, and resources to archive for future reflection?
If you captured a moment, resource, or learning experience, how have you planned to archive it in the moment in order to make it quickly accessible and shareable in the future? The moment you word, hashtag, or categorize your artifacts with intention is the moment you transform your posts into meaningful artifacts.
- Are we intentionally using key words and hashtags to archive our digital artifacts so that we can easily access them in the future?
I love seeing educators post their amazing learning experiences. For a moment, that post can really shine. But it absolutely breaks my heart to think that one week, one month, or one year from now, that post will never be seen again, simply because it cannot be easily searched and accessed, as it was never posted with that intention; it was never worded, hashtagged, or categorized to be part of a meaningful archive. The moment you tell your posts who they are, where to go, and how they’ll be accessed in the future is the moment you transform your artifacts into a meaningful archive.
- Are we leveraging social media spaces to improve teaching and learning for our professional learning networks, teams, and communities?
While it’s true that you could build your own meaningful archive and keep it private, we are designed to live and interact in communities. Now, more than ever, educators need each other. And we can find each other in free, social spaces and use these opportunities to do good things for our profession. Simply put, if you consume and take, then are you not also obligated to create and give? We’re all in this together. The moment you post your artifact with the intentions of sharing it with others is the moment your archive transforms into a team-building resource.
What’s Working for Me
For me, I prefer to use Twitter as my primary space to archive my artifacts and reflections. In my Tweets, I hashtag the standard being learned or referenced. This way, I can operationalize standards so that I can see what they look like in action, preview and review learning experiences, and share my ideas with others in hopes of their feedback to help me become a better educator for others.
What’s Working for You?
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) November 30, 2016
"If we want to be values-driven, we have to operationalize our values into behaviors and skills that are teachable and observable. And we have to do the difficult work of holding ourselves and others accountable… aligned with those values (Brown, 2018, p. 216). #daretolead
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) July 21, 2019
Diving into digital portfolios? Reflection matters. It's in these moments when I deep-process my experiences–both glows and grows–in hopes of learning how to #becomebetter as an educator and a person. #Hashtag180 #cpchat #ecumsa #HamstraHighlights: https://t.co/YaKplObW3v pic.twitter.com/TnL5gPGLh6
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) September 20, 2019