Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Reflect Growth

One of our most basic human needs is belonging. It's not the most basic - that would be wi-fi these days - but it's right up there. Belonging to someone or something bigger than ourselves is a constant driver for (most) people. It's why we check Facebook umpteen times a day, it's why we join book clubs and it's why we buy cats! Cats aside, or maybe not, it's really about a need for community.

This year I've found myself part of a new online community. I know that there are hordes of people out there (assuredly not reading this blog) who claim that social networks and online communities are Bad. Yes, capital B Bad.  You know what I think?  I think they were wrong about video killing the radio star and they're wrong about this too.

I even did a little research on the topic and found that I'm not alone. In fact:
"Despite the opinion of some, real community and sense of belonging can be found and nurtured online through participation, collaboration, storytelling and exchange of information." 
May 16, 2015, Do Re Media
This year, I've found myself part of a new and exciting online community of educators called Reflect Growth.  We are are an online community of educators working together to share professional practices and co-create a piece of software.  I'll get to the software in a moment, because it's a bit exciting, but for me the delight has been in finding a community of (mostly local) teachers who share my goal of active professional growth and reflection. Meeting these educators, in person and online, has been refreshing and inspiring.  It's met some of my need for belonging to a community.

And a community it is. We share, amongst other things like coffee and cake,  inspirations, frustrations and goals. We challenge each other's thinking and explore ideas. We've been taking apart the AITSL Professional Standards for Teachers to work out what they really mean, and have hypothesised whether the introduction of them is the precursor of Ofsted style inspections like in the UK. We've talked about the TfEL framework and how it links with our understanding of effective teaching and learning. Pedagogy, padagogy, Blooms, Gardner... You name it, and we've been there. Even if only briefly.

It's been a very busy little community. Much more so than any I've been in before, which begs the question of why?  I have an inkling.  A couple actually.

  1. Strong and active foundational members
  2. A driving purpose

The couple who launched the Reflect Growth community are originally from the UK, but moved to Australia - presumably for the weather - a few years back. Since arriving, Selena has taken the education world of South Australia by storm and is well known as a mover and shaker. When she speaks, people listen. Her voice demands to be heard (which is actually doubly true when you consider her operatic training) and she put the call out for teachers to get involved with driving their own professional development.  The other half of this (actually very quietly spoken) duo is Matt. Full of ideas and technological know how he is a man with a mission.  Together these two are a force to be reckoned with! They hold us together as a community and, it seems, genuinely care.

I'll come back to the software I mentioned earlier. Still in the early stages of development the app is being designed to support teachers in driving their own professional development. It will help identify areas for growth and collect evidence to support it. Today, I've been privileged to spend some time playing with the prototype. I can't speak highly enough of it!

Next up for the community looks to be teacher challenges that will see us share our practice in an open setting. A version of a virtual classroom visit, sort of, with the opportunity for/expectation of feedback from other community members. Eeek! New ideas and feedback!  Can you see why I enjoy this community so much?

Come join our community at! The more the merrier.

(Incidentally, you can check it out on Facebook during your umpteen checks here. Or Twitter here.)

This relates to the following Australian Professional Standards for Teachers...
Standard 6 Engage in professional learning
Standard 7 Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community

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