Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, never regrets.
~ Leonardo Da Vinci
When I started the journey that this course has been for me, my focus was on looking back at the last few months, with COVID-19 and the impact it was having on everyone’s lives at the forefront, and thinking it would help build my skills in technology. However, while I built on my Google skills and met Feedly, it turns out I just needed my eyes opened to all the things I have already learned, beyond this time period. It turns out, what I was really reflecting on, in terms of the COVID-19 timeframe, was my confidence to share my knowledge to help others.
The PLNs we established in this course, with the sharing and discussion around experiences and understanding, were instrumental in me taking on my final project of a virtual learning commons. Comments and resources offered by others expanded my views and made my journey richer. Comparatively, it is similar to the experiences I had during the last term of school this year – with both my colleagues and the parent community. Nearing the end of April, the groove of remote learning had not set in yet, and I was starting to hear rumblings about the load teachers were feeling, trying to ‘teach’ parents as well as students. It was a lot! Not being in the classroom, I put out there that if teachers had parents that needed help, forward them to me. I then dealt one on one to get them up and running. This did a number of things – connected me to what the classroom teachers were doing (allowing me to support them) and at the same time creating connections with parents that I do not usually have. It was a win for me, the teachers, and the parents. The collaboration around common goals and knowledge sharing was infectious!
When I started in my role as TL in a brand new school two years ago – building a physical school library learning commons that was welcoming and engaging for all ages with a focus on MakerEd, digital creation, SEL and reading – I knew I had landed my dream job! The journey with staff, students and families has been a labour of love, yet, I operated with a mindset structured within the walls of the LC. I feel that working towards my final product, I am literally breaking down the walls, reaching out to share knowledge in the virtual world of the LC, but also as contributor to PD, parent workshops and collaborative planning in the classroom. It turns out that I am very energized by possible connections and working together to move forward to make our ‘space’ better for everyone.
While the whirlwind that this course has been is undeniable, having it start in July with the school year behind me, was perfect. I was required to think about what mattered to me, what was important in my practice and my role and the context of my work ‘place’. I appreciate greatly the focused time to go deeper into my interests in a free inquiry format, and produce a tool that is practical. Having taken courses on how to develop inquiry projects and work with students on inquiry, there really is nothing that solidifies the process more than going through it yourself. It was a pleasure to partake in a well-designed professional inquiry learning experience that injected ideas around reading culture, PD for myself and my colleagues, and equitable access to literacy resources.
I have learned through this process that, as usual, I have overreached in terms of what I can accomplish in a mere six weeks. However, as my end product is meant to be usable, I am content knowing that I can settle in to developing my virtual learning commons over time. I’ll get there! This project has helped me synthesize the work I have already done, and has created a base for me to continue moving forward with colleagues in the coming months. I am excited to continue this journey of developing the VLC site over the coming years. I hope to grow it intentionally to increase student engagement, allow for the differentiation of instruction, showcase tools that allow for personalized learning assessment, and increase positive parent communication with the school. I’ve grown wings and have taken flight!