Name: Errin Gregory (@erringreg | Just a Thought blog)
Organization: Gold Trail School District (#74) in British Columbia, Canada
Current title: Grade 4/5 Elementary Connected Classrooms Teacher
Selected accolades: Virtual Schools Conference 2011 presenter, BCTF New Teachers Conference presenter
What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?
It’s important for students to be able to explore topics that are of interest to them. Let’s make things relevant, at a personal level, so they can understand why they’re spending time learning about it.
Visual literacy and visual arts are vitally important. What is a culture or a society without art, without that appreciation for information communicated through imagery? We are bombarded everyday with advertisements, websites, logos, photographs – children need to learn how to read and how to communicate with images.
Digital citizenship involves a set of skills that are crucial learning for children. In the past, citizenship involved being a responsible and dutiful person at a local, national and global level. Now, with the online spaces in which people apply for jobs, conduct business, socialize and much more, there is a component of digital citizenship which in a way, transgresses or blends local, national and global responsibilities.
- Students need to be literate with technology.
- Students should learn to behave appropriately and productively online.
- Students should understand the meaning and impact of a digital footprint and be able to have the skills to build a positive digital footprint to prepare for their future.
- Students should have critical awareness so that they are able to evaluate information found online.
- Students need to have skills concerning the reusing and remixing of online content (copyright, creative commons, etc.).
- Students need to be aware of what growing up in a world with the internet and the world wide web means in their lives.
Feed readers: video embedded. View Errin in action at The Connected Classroom.
What is the best part of your job?
To be in a place of continuous learning is a dream come true for me! I love spending my day in an environment full of learning and I enjoy the positive, upbeat energy that children bring to a space. I also love having a job that matters and that makes a difference.
Why do you blog? Would you journal you educational experience if you weren’t connected to a world-wide audience?
As a teacher, I write to clarify my thoughts and solidify ideas.
I spent two years commuting hundreds of kilometers on the weekends and during summer break to Vancouver, BC, to study about teaching and learning in an environment full of technology. At the end of that time, I wanted to find a way to hold onto the academic community I had enjoyed so much. Living in a small town can be isolating, and, at the time, I was the only full time art teacher in the entire school district. My professor suggested I start blogging as a way to keep in touch with my personal learning network and with the constant stream of ideas and inspiration online. Blogging fit nicely with my love of writing and I found that my learning momentum after the graduate diploma never really slowed. That momentum has continued in my career, with the last year of MEd studies intensifying the personal and profession learning exponentially.
I would journal even if I wasn’t connected to the world through the world wide web. I have written journals that I keep and never share, too. I do write differently though, more carefully, more clearly, more sensitively, when I write on my blog. I am aware of that audience and of the purpose for which I write in that space. I like that the audience forces me to think and write more clearly. I like that the process is more difficult for me and I enjoy the challenge of making the words sound just right. When I write in my private journals at home with pen and paper, it’s more of a freewrite, less polished, less focused, usually much more raw. I enjoy both types of writing and find that both serve their own purpose for me. During the MEd studies last year, I learned about Laurel Richardson and her thoughts on writing as a method of inquiry to learn more about yourself or the subjects your write about. Her thinking strengthened my resolve to take the time to write to improve my practice.
From where do you draw professional inspiration?
I draw inspiration from my mother. She taught primary grades for over 20 years. She was magical with young children, all children, but young children especially. There is a Mother’s Day post on my blog in honor of her that has more information on her influence on my teaching.
I also draw inspiration from the students themselves. Kids are so smart and they inspire me to do the best job that I can in the classroom. If we force them to come to school (which we do, in a way), then we should make it a place they enjoy coming to. I try to find the good and the strengths in every student; the goodness, the special qualities that make each student unique, that inspires me.
What was your path to your current teaching position?
I have taught all grades from Kindergarten to Grade Twelve. I was a full time art/photography teacher at the local high school for seven years. My graduate diploma focused on teaching and learning in a information technology-rich environment and my Masters in Education in Educational Practice continued that work. My MEd EP, which I completed in July 2011, involved qualitative research on visual literacy and arts based methods, (digital) citizenship, and Metis/Cree epistemologies.