2012 was my tenth year teaching and seemed to be a watershed year for me. I had many big changes and got involved in lots of new projects.
The first of these was finishing my thesis. I had been working on my Masters in Education for a few years part-time and handed my thesis in at the end of March to complete this. It was on “Using service learning to prompt the emergence of new conceptual understandings” and was a large part in my evolution as a teacher. I have always had a real interest in fieldwork and get frustrated that much of the fieldwork that occurs now is the same as decades earlier. The research in thesis allowed to pursue other forms of field work and in many ways foreshadowed my involvement in other projects later in the year.
A new teaching strategy that I used in 2012 was Philosophical Chairs. I had attended a keynote by Diana Hess about teaching controversial issues in Social Studies and really wanted to enter into more formal conversations in my classes. After searching through many different conversation models I gave this one a try to great success. The class really enjoyed the activity and I found that they really got more out of it than the spontaneous conversations I had facilitated in the past (recording the conversation for my own watching later added to the learning for me and the feedback I could give the students).
The next big development of 2012 for me was joining Twitter (@GeoMouldey). I know this is old ground for many of you who will read this blog but Twitter really has become my learning network. The links and sharing of ideas here are a goldmine and opened the door to many resources and also opportunities.
One of the major finds for me on Twitter was Guerrilla Geography. Reading posts by David Rogers and Daniel Raven-Ellison introduced me to the ideas and I got really excited about it and introduced it to my teaching.
Dan Raven-Ellison explains Guerrilla Geography very thoroughly in the video at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESUIDD6e8KU After trying it a few times and discussing the outcomes with others interested, Dan and I organised Guerrilla Geography Day – an international day of collaborative guerrilla action (see the website for more details). The first of these looked at the No Signs that control our lives and 3 more days are planned for 2013.
Twitter also led to me attending my first Ignite evening where teachers gather and share their amazing ideas. The real appeal of these evenings is the wide spectrum of ideas that come up across all education sectors. If you are in New Zealand I urge you to check out the Emerging Leaders website and attend one in your area this year. Or otherwise for all readers check out some of the amazing talks uploaded to the Emerging Leaders Vimeo Channel.
Finally, yet another highlight of the year – taking a fieldtrip to the Amazon. In the holidays between Term 3 and Term 4 and I was one of 4 adults that took 40 Year 12 and 13 students to South America. We had 2 nights in Rio de Janeiro, 4 nights at a lodge in the Amazon, 2 nights on a boat down the Rio Preto da Eva, Rio Negro and the Amazon, 1 night in Manaus and 2 nights in Santiago, Chile. It was an amazing experience to see what I had dreamed of seeing for so long and proved to be an invaluable experience for the teenagers as well. See the video that one of the students made of his trip here:
Phew! What a great year, but really just a stepping stone into 2013