Expanding the boundaries #expbound

I’m sitting in the room at Expanding Our Boundaries (#expbound)  in Toronto.  The 2 day event, co-hosting by OTF and ECOO, is facilitated by Will Richardson.  Gearing up for the event, I connected with some of the other attendees through various blogs, the Expanding our Boundaries wiki and twitter.  Discovering our common interests, besides the conference, almost every attendee with whom I connected was reading Ken Robinson’s The Element.  Not a huge surprise, but a happy coincidence.  And, promising.

What is the element and where do I get one?

Ken Robinson explains his use of the term the Element: 

I use the term the Element to describe the place where the things we love to do and the things we are good at come together.  I believe it is essential that each of us find his or her Element, not simply because it will make us more fulfilled but because, as the world evolves, the very future of our communities and institutions will depend on it. (xiii)

Reflecting on this, I ask myself questions like, “In what ways am I in my Element?” and “Is my classroom a place where every single student in the room is able to be in his or her Element?” and “Are my colleagues in their Elements?”

Are you in your element?

This morning, Will Richardson blogged about Robinson’s book.  It is a great blog post that you can check out here.  Reading it got me thinking:  How many educators are reading Robinson’s The Element ?  I wonder about this because I think that Robinson’s text asks us to find that space within which both our talents and our passions connect – and get there. (You can check out WordPress blogs with the tag Ken Robinson to get a sense of the numbers of people out there who are reading and synthesizing the text)  If we are teachers and the element isn’t the learning environment within which we work with kids from day to day, then something is dreadfullly wrong.  In his post this morning, Richardson says, 

Teachers are learners. If they’re not, they shouldn’t be teachers. In a world where we can engage in our passions through the affordances of connective technologies online, we need to be thinking about how to personalize the learning of the adults in the room as well as the kids. This is not the easy route, by any stretch, but it’s the best route if we’re serious about moving the education of our kids to a different place.

Teachers need to be learners.  Absolutely.  And personalized learning is essential.  I agree on all of those points.  The question that I have is:  What are the roles in terms of ensuring that personalized professional development is available to us?  As an educator, I need to ensure that I am seeking out opportunities to extend my own learning and keep me in my Element.  These past 2 days at #expbound saw a room full of educators, all at different points along the web 2.0/social networking/collaborating continuum, come together to learn with Richardson.  Although I know that the sessions were overwhelming for many of the attendees, but I also witnessed 

Transformation in Education

I’m optimistic that change is happening.  But it feels slow and I am not sure that it is nearing the level of transformation – what Robinson advocates for in The Element.  I find myself wondering how I can go beyond my own learning to work towards that transformation within my district?  Big questions after these 2 days.  Thoughts in process, for sure.

3 thoughts on “Expanding the boundaries #expbound

  1. Interesting post. Thought provoking.

    I think that type of open introspection is critical to innovation and progress. You’re thinking about it. You’re talking about it. You’re sharing it. It may seem like a pebble in a pond, but thoughts become things. Energy equates to action.

    Far too many go through their day just trying to get through the day. But keep thinking about how you can make your day better, and these connections more meaningful, and you will.

    I’m not familiar with The Element but I’ll pick it up. I will say this, your thoughts on being in (or finding) your element mirror my own. In fact, my very first blog post was about that very thing. Should time permit, you might want to check it out.

    The link is: http://smart1to1.blogspot.com/2009/02/from-corporate-counsel-to-education_05.html

    I’m not quite sure how I found you on Twitter (still figuring out how to navigate through this) but I’m glad I did. You certainly made me think.

  2. Hi Shannon, I love your blog. I am so inspired! I am going to order The Element, but I found your comments very insightful without having yet read it. I am glad we met and I look forward to reading more. I am going to make my own blog (not the project one!) today… bye anne

  3. Pingback: toward the ideal classroom - conversations | shannon smith

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