Saturday, 2 February 2013

Personality, Learning and Digital Identity

George Couros { @gcouros | } skyped in to share with our class this week. George is now, as I understand it, a principal of principals and advocates for connected and collaborating educators at all levels.
Some of us were Tweeting George in advance and George used this to talk about how people are more willing to connect with all levels of educators now. New teachers used to be wary, perhaps afraid, of reaching out to the big, scary principal, but the internet and our connected culture has flattened the hierarchy.
George shared two things with us: the qualities he looks for in a teacher and what we can do to make ourselves more employable.

Teacher Qualities
  • Make use of our unprecedented opportunity to tap into the experience of others. Connect, connect, connect and never be afraid to ask for help if we're struggling.
  • Do what we love and share it with our students. We connected with our favourite teachers on a level outside of academia. 
  • Be yourself! We used to be advised to separate our professional and personal selves, but students know when we are being disingenuous. George advises merging our professional and personal selves and we should. I've already met students at the mall and at the movies. When they see me, they see their teacher. If I'm a different person in these circumstances it affects my credibility in the classroom. We need to bring ourselves into our classrooms (I like to wear my geeky ties, shirts and belt buckles) and we need to keep our professionalism outside the classroom. Perhaps we should start calling teaching a perfession and refer to ourselves as prosons?
  • Curriculum follows Connection. Building connections with our students is most important. We don't teach the curriculum. The curriculum is a book. It can't learn anything. We teach kids and kids thrive on relationship.
  • Develop a love of learning.
    • Embody it! Be a life-long learner, even if it is difficult, because if we give up on learning something, we model that for our students. 
    • We need to take feedback and try to improve.
    • Show our learning in our portfolio, not just our work.
    • Don't just teach kids school, help them learn to love to learn.
  • Use learning goals over performance goals. No grades, no awards. George recommended Drive by Daniel H. Pink to our class to learn about motivation.
  • Digital Leadership - use social media, technology to better the lives of others.
  • Be passionate about what we teach. Passion is a virus and is highly contagious.
  • Be school teachers instead of classroom teachers. Many people just work with their group of students and don't interact with any other students in the school. Be part of the community. Treat all the students in the school as if they were in your classroom. Look at duty as a way connect with more students.
  • Strong communication skills. Don't email angry! George shared how he would handle students who came to him for discipline. He'd get them to tell him why they were there and get them to suggest appropriate consequences. He also phoned parents with the student present, which prevented students from giving another story to parents once they went home. 
Helping Ourselves
  • What is out there? Be aware of our digital footprint. Our tweets are public and we will be googled, yahooed, and binged every which way be prospective employers. Who we are online can make or break us. In George's schools students were starting digital portfolios in kindergarten.
  • What am I saying about myself? Proofread my resume and never exagerate or hyperbolize.
  • Put my website, blog, twitter account, etc. inside my resume. Providing my online presence right away shows that we are confident in our digital selves and prevents any misunderstandings over namesakes who may be doing unprofessional, or even illegal, things online.
Awesome thought - Move from problem solvers to problem finders. Don't give "real world" problems but get students to find problems in the world and then work to solve them.


  1. Sounds like I missed a great presentaion! I like the emphasis on communication... my fave element of teaching! All of our individual knowledge is pretty useless if we can't make a connection and pass it along to students and others..

  2. Here you are as a student and I as a principal and I am reading and commenting on your blog. I am glad that I am doing something that I wish I would have had the opportunity to experience as a student teacher.

    Thanks for your posts! I honestly learn even from what you have written about my lecture! Good luck the rest of the way :)