A Day With George Couros

A Professional Development Day: George Couros – 29th October, 2012 @ Flinders University.
George Couros is a Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning with Parkland School Division, Alberta, Canada.

I just had a fantastic professional development day with George Couros at my old haunt, Flinders University. I always love PD because I get to talk with adults all day,  have civilised lunches in the sunshine, and get inspired to improve my teaching practice.

George Couros was amazing. Not just because he’s tall, dark, and handsome, but because he practices what he preaches and shares his knowledge and resources unconditionally. Eg almost everything he showed us can be accessed through: bit.ly/flindersedu

Keynote: Creating Learning Opportunities through connected, transparent school environments

“The illiterate of the 21st century will … be … those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Alwin Toffler

The question George posed, “What would our school look like if we could start from scratch?” intrigued me, and he linked to an answer he had later to someone’s question about school resistant to change where he answered that staff need to be directed to focus primarily on what is best for students. If we could put all the politics, budgeting, established traditions aside and focused solely on what is best for students what would be the same? What would change? How could we achieve that change?

George mentioned something I am guilty of: “[Teachers] filter then publish, kids publish then filter. We tend to not want to share until things are perfect. We need to change this mindset.” I know that one of the reasons I have not previously had a blog is because I ‘don’t have time’, and I’ve thought that way because I would spend forever proofreading, formatting, and worrying about whether I sound ‘academic’ enough. How many times have I told students to stop worrying and just write?! Time to take my own advice.

George also advised that with new classes a primary focus at first should be to find out what skills the students already have. I’ve had some amazing Media Studies students this year who are YouTube partners and seems to spend every second of their spare time learning animation skills, which further drives home that to educate effectively I need to find out those strengths that students often hide behind shyness and fear of sounding ‘up themselves’. George also included teachers in this, that it’s just as important I discover my own strengths and use them to take risks in learning.

George addressed the resistance of opening up students to twitter, YouTube, etc. Against this resistance he made two particularly powerful points: A) “You can’t just put your kids online end expect amazing things to happen, they have to do great work. But amazing things can’t happen if they’re not in that space.” B) If we don’t educate kids on Web 2.0 tools and teach them to navigate them we are doing them a disservice. We cannot take the ‘we’ve blocked them therefore it’s not our responsibility’ attitude.

Workshop 1: Becoming a Learning Leader (in any role)

“The smartest person in the room is the room.”

George advised that, rather than focusing on barriers to implementation of new ideas and practices, as a leader decide what is worth doing and then work out how to make it happen. He assured us that the time investment is in the beginning. For example establishing a substantial twitter following to then be able to say, “Hey does anyone have x?”

After School Workshop: Blogs as an e-Portfolio

You’re looking at the result of this workshop now. It’s aligned with the AISTL Teacher Standards, an e-Portfolio of my learning and achievements, the beginning of a professional network, improves my digital footprint, a resource bank, a place to consolidate my thoughts, and so much more.

A inspiring day that I hope makes a huge difference to my practice and my students.

Attended with Col.

Couros, G. (2012, October). A Professional Development Day: George Couros. Flinders University.


The Journey Begins

This year in my educational journey has been both encouraging and humbling. Encouraging because my work in my Teacher Librarianship course and the George Couros workshops I attended indicate I’m headed in a direction that will ultimately be of great benefit to student learning. Humbling because with each step forward I take I discover how many strategies, tools, approaches, learnings I don’t know. All I can do is take the advice George Couros presented about two questions that can change your life:

  1. “Work out your sentence.” Find one sentence that encapsulates the core of what you aim to achieve. At present my sentence is: I aim to make students critically engage with texts to become powerful operators within the English language.
  2. “Ask yourself every day: Was I better today than yesterday?”

He also said, “Don’t stress over it. It should be something you enjoy, not lose sleep over.” Here I go!

Couros, G. (2012, October). A Professional Development Day: George Couros. Flinders University.