Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Monday, 14 July 2014

The Gift of Perspective

          In a previous post, "Through A Parent's Eyes" I reflected on how profoundly my son has impacted my educational philosophy. Ultimately, I view my students not through the eyes of an educator, but through the eyes of a parent. http://www.teachergarr.blogspot.ca/2013/11/through-parents-eyes.html This perspective continues to inform not only my teaching practice, but functioned as a valuable foundation during my temporary role as Acting Vice Principal this past year. With this in mind, my intention is always to interact with students in a manner that is transparent, respectful and caring, regardless of the situation or context. Foremost in my mind is always, how would I want my son to be treated in this situation?
          This past Friday, I was once again reminded of the power that a change in perspective can provide. I had the opportunity to share at the SFU Education Summer Institute on Professional Learning Communities.
http://www.sfu.ca/education/gs/current-students/conf-events/summer-institute.html My session, "Creating a Culture of Collaboration" focusses on the issue of teacher isolation as a barrier to collaboration, and suggests various platforms to facilitate both global and local connections, allowing educators to move beyond the confines of their classrooms. http://www.slideshare.net/teachergarr/creating-a-culture-of-collaboration-sfu-summer-institute-2014
          Amongst other topics, I discuss the impact that Twitter and Blogging has had on my own professional learning and growth. I was also able to share some of the innovative initiatives that I have been privileged to participate in, such as iTunes U course development and the Sullivan Heights Learning Partners program. My session was attended by a diverse range of individuals, including teachers from several districts, SFU Education students, school board members, administrators and university faculty.
          For the past several years, I've had the opportunity to happily immerse myself in these professional passions, and have spent innumerable hours exploring and investigating the topics that I discussed with session participants, and as such, I felt relatively competent, and comfortable, sharing my learning and professional experiences with others. And yet, it is exactly in this "comfortable" spot that I would suggest our growth and learning tends to stagnate. However, it is through the reciprocal, interactive process of sharing with others, that we can extend and deepen our own learning and understanding.
          By responding to the thought provoking questions and comments of session participants, I was able to add their unique and diverse perspectives to my own, to view topics that I have become somewhat familiar with, through a fresh perspective. It is akin to a kind of double vision, suddenly being able to view familiar content through multiple new lenses. By the end of the session, as various participants approached me with additional comments and questions, I came once again to this understanding: The transformative impact of collaboration is not just as a result of shared content and skills, it is as a result of the layering of additional perspectives onto our own, the blending and extending of others' views with our own.
          And so as I reflect on this past year, one filled with challenges and opportunities, my most profound and impactful "learning" has not been as a result of a particular session that I've attended, or an article that I've read, it has resulted from remarkable individuals gifting me with own unique and diverse perspectives, or lenses, allowing me to extend and expand my own "vision".

A new perspective, a new lens, a new understanding.




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