Watershed Moments

Our Queens E-Learning AQ course ended off with two last readings – One about documenting student learning (featured in my previous posting) and this last one – reflecting on an edu-bloggers posting about Watershed Moments in his career [link].
At first, I thought that writing this article would be a little boring – but as I wrote it, I really reminisced about what have been some key events that have shaped my views in life and in pedagogy. I find that its hard to narrow down which PD activity or which Presentation inspired me the most but – for what its worth – here is my list:
The WECDSB school board had a great PD session last year called WEC-TECH and basically – there was about 10-15 different edu-tech courses you could choose from and you were able to choose whatever you were interested in attending.
I attended a video-editing workshop for the whole day – which was pretty fun. I know other staff that attended sessions on Mindomo, Kahoot and other edu-tech offerings. I look forward to perhaps trying new sessions this year if they offer this great PD again.
There have been so many great presentations that I’ve attended – but one that really stood out was a visiting guest speaker during one of our PD days. The man was a principal from New Jersey ( I forget his name) who famously turned a failing school district around. I remember him explaining a simple but great point at the end of his presentation. It went something like this:
If a kid takes a physics course and fails the unit 1 test. What happens?  We all move on to unit 2. Unit 2 might build on unit 1’s concepts – so the student is doomed to continue failing. Basically – if a student fails anything – she/he should be given more opportunity to go back and fix their mis-understanding (or lack of learning skills). Students should thus always be given another chance to demonstrate an improved understanding. To this day – years later, I took that lesson to heart. Any work that a student fails, whether it be a quiz/test/assignment/project — I would always invite a student to go back and make it right-correct their understanding. Fixing mistakes and failures is how humans learn! 
Other presentations that were watershed:
-Differentiated Instruction
-Importance of Learning Goals
I’m not a big book reader – perhaps because I’ve been in night school for the last 6-7 years completing my third degree – a BComm. Here are three books I’ve read that left a lasting impression on me though:
(Business/ Self Improvement) I really enjoyed reading Stephen Covey’s -“7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Challenged me to be more productive, and smarter with my time. It also talked about getting involved within your workplace/organization and expand your circle of influence. One last memorable concept was the concept of “sharpening the saw”. Imagine a man trying to cut a tree down with a dull saw. You could approach him and say “take a break and sharpen your saw” — manypeople in this situation might say — I don’t have time! and continue at their task in an in-efficient manner. (I need to go back and read it).
(HISTORY) Howard Zinn’s A people’s history of the United States of America- Gave me non-European a historical perspective of North Americas’ history since european settlement. This history was amazing because it was written from the perspective of the Native American Indian, the African Slave, the Women who tried to form labour unions in the textile mills of  Mass. This book really helped me have more compassion for native peoples and minorities that helped shape our country.
(Personal Finance) Robert Kiyosaki’s “Unfair Advantage: The Power of Financial Education: What Schools Will Never Teach You About Money” – I picked up this book because I thought the title was thought provoking. I wanted to see if I could learn more about personal finance and bring some lessons back to my students. This book lets you peak into the world of entrepreneurs that own revenue producing assets like apartments and golf  courses.
Google Docs – a couple of years ago, I had a few days to close up the school year in June and I forced myself to do all my work in Google Docs instead of MS Office. Its hard to break old habits but that week gave me enough experience in google docs to make the switch. When I collaborate and comment on student work (in google docs)- its just so efficient and painless – and then I get an email the next day that all the issues I pointed out have been “resolved”…. wow…amazing!
Google Sites, Blogger and WordPress are also awesome brilliant tools! Believe it or not, I was a late adopter of youtube. I didn’t get how amazing it was until a few years ago. What an amazing tool for learning!
I can’t really think of a single watershed person that has influenced me. I have a few co-workers that I have worked with who had great energy and passion for education. My friend’s dad was a teacher when I was growing up and was such a smart and talented person – I think I wanted to follow his footsteps of being an intellectual and having a great work-life balance. Some of my heroes are as follows:
Jesus Christ – Taught through parables and had a message of compassion, hope and social justice for the world.
Dr Martin Luther King- Changed the world without looting, violence or killing a single person.
Nicola Tesla – Pretty well created our modern AC electrical system, and radio communication.
MC Escher- Brilliant artist
Steve Jobs / Linus Torvalds- Innovators
John Locke- Freedom of thought
Alan Turing – Created the foundation for the modern computer, broke German encryption during the war. Criminalized for his lifestyle choice and (sadly) committed suicide.
I’m sure there are others that I’m forgetting right now.
In conclusion – it is a thought-provoking activity to go through this list of influencing people/events/books/tools in your teaching life.  Like one of our classmates (Julie’s) – blog subtitle states: What we learn becomes a part of who we are … an amazing thought.

One thought on “Watershed Moments”

  1. Hi Dwayne,

    Great post! Thanks for sharing all those great watershed moments of your career! You made a great point, “I took that lesson to heart.” The lesson that you were given that day to take back to your class you took to heart! Those are strong words definitely watershed moment words, where a light bulb goes on, then you take what you learned and actually apply it! Great Job!

    Thanks, Julie


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