Whāinga – goal

In order to set out on a path of transformation, you must have a goal to aspire too. The goal shouldn’t be so far out-of-reach as to be unreasonable, but just far enough to be a real accomplishment.

A few years ago, I initially had one goal, “become a teacher”.

Most of my subsequent goals have been short-term assignment-based goals. Early on in the process of ‘becoming a teacher’ I realized that to keep motivated, I also needed to find a way to make it fun. Which begged the question: how can four years of online learning be made ‘fun’?

My University has a great online learning environment, Moodle, but it is a world away from sitting in a room with 40 other people and having casual chat about the course content. At one stage I did feel isolated and unmotivated, so I set myself the task of transforming my study from an isolated process of learning – to one that was social and supportive. There have been periods over the course of my study where I have been out of contact with other students for weeks (internet malfunctions), and other times when I have been speaking to them almost every day (collaborative projects).

It’s true, I admit it: studying online is not the most social of learning methods.

Adopting a network of study-buddies, from strangers online, takes work, but has been so worthwhile. Over time, my study group has developed from answering questions on the online forum and the occasional emailed query, to Skype messages, lengthy emails and even lengthier Skype calls. Out of a study network, a social and supportive learning community sprouted, a PLN even.

On the outset of final year, I’m still a student, but also on the cusp of joining the teaching family, so this year is the final phase of transformation from student to teacher – and it seems like the right time to actively seek out a teaching support network, people who are willing to share ideas that will ease me out of my student mindset into a teacher mindset. I’m still in Stage 1, but have found some fabulous people already (some who are wonderful enough to comment on my blog and if you click on their names in the comments you can view their fantastic blogs). There are also loads of other people who don’t comment on my blog who I follow on Twitter or via their blogs because they generously share their ideas about teaching and learning with anyone who has internet access – being professional role models from a distance, so to speak.

My goals: to listen, learn, blog, and adopt a ‘balanced’ PLN.

Goal wordle (made by me at tagxedo.com)

8 responses to “Whāinga – goal

  1. I am busy preparing a Learning at School presentation on developing a PLN. So tricky knowing what to put in and what to leave out. How do we get teachers to participate and and share, rather than lurk and take.

    As a newbie what pushed you over the edge to share your journey on line?

    • Hi Allanah,
      Thanks for the great question – it sparked some serious reflection!
      I think the most important part of stepping over the edge (becoming more of a participant than a lurker – eek!) was realising that I wanted to have more conversation about teaching and learning, and that I might possibly have something constructive to contribute to a conversation about teaching and learning.
      The second part was finding a way to have that conversation which fit in with the way I am learning and can easily connect with people (and ideas). Right about the time I was pondering how to connect, I stumbled across Stephanie’s blog – and it fell into place for me. Blogging helps me reflect on ideas, has already brought me into contact with some fabulous folk, and it is easily incorporated into my day. I think I have been lucky so far to have some really good people respond and share their blogs in return – it feels like a conversation that we can have at a time of our convenience and about subjects that matter and, as a bonus, it is recorded in print to look back on, or for other people to peruse and add to.
      This is turning into a rather lengthy reply, but one more idea about participants is that they are willing to risk putting their ideas out there and are ok with their ideas being discussed, questioned, broken down and analysed then possibly stuck back together in some creative way. Participating becomes synergistic – rather than giving and taking (says newbie me ;o).
      If you don’t trust your ideas or don’t like scrutiny – participating will be difficult (much easier to lurk anonymously).
      Thanks again for the excellent question Allanah and I look forward to reading the perspectives from others on the subject. Will you be blogging about your presentation?
      C.

  2. Hi
    I find it curious that you mention that online learning isn’t the most social of study methods. To be honest I felt far more connected to people to help my learning online last year with an active PLN than I did as a campus-based student in my first year at Auckland Uni where I didn’t know anyone and was sitting in those giant lecture halls of students. However blogging and social media did break the isolation.

    Stephanie

    • Hi Stephanie,
      Before I began my studies the most I ever did with a computer was check email – so to commit to four years of online learning was a huge change for me. My maths tutor even suggested back at my pre-enrolment interview that I was far too social for online learning and would need the contact of campus life to keep me going (I took that as a challenge, of course). Some students are even less social and computer savvy than I (some more so, no doubt, they probably knew what a blog was).
      Over the last few years some of the students that I have been studying alongside have dropped out or we have dropped contact because we study at different times or at a different pace. It took me a while to find a consistent study-group (and I lobbied hard to find them too – some online students have no time for chit-chat and never want to speak to anyone but a lecturer, direct).
      I think it’s great that you had the know-how and attitude to get your PLN active and successful last year – it highlights your great skills (and it helped me immensely when I was looking for an alternative to talking my fiancé’s ears off about teaching stuff).
      C.

  3. I love your goals and the wordle adds a great visual representation of them! I’m going to have to check out tagxedo.com. I think through your blogging and building a PLN, you’ll organically ensure that you learning and listening, since those are such important elements of being part of a learning community/network. I’m glad to have you in my PLN.

    • Hi Margaret,
      Thank you! I am so glad to have you too. I’ve just read your most recent post on the power of the blog comment and thought it was excellent (so left a comment saying as much, of course)!

  4. Hi Carolyn,
    I’m on-campus as I was for my undergraduate degree. During my undergrad, I was so lonely because I accelerated so I was always with different people; a bit like how you lost contact with some of your online buddies. But this grad dip ed has been so different. I made a resolution to try extremely hard to make friends and to form a close group of people around me because I knew that would make it more enjoyable and that, at heart, I wasn’t a lone wolf. I am enjoying on-campus all the more for that and, when we do speak about the course, the conversations are really reflective and valuable as much so as blogging.
    It really depends I think on how much your course tends to keep you with the same people plus a bit of luck in finding the right group for you at the start.
    But blogging and being part of a PLN is so valuable as well. Whenever I like I can pull up my twitter or Google reader and there’s just so much there. I think PDs when people come and talk ‘to you’ are so much less value-adding (for me, most of the time) than what we do here.
    Love the wordle in shooting star formation, will definitely be using that site.
    Anna

    • Hi Anna,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience.
      I think this thread has made me realise that the journey is unique for everyone, even if we are all headed to the same place, “Teacher-ville” (something I should know after 3 years of learning about learning, right?) I think you’re right about getting a group together – a mix of effort, some fortuitous grouping and a pinch of luck!
      C.

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