This year I was privileged to be one of Core Education’s eFellows. This eFellowship would have to be one of the greatest professional learning experiences that I have ever been a part of. I have had major brain hurt, had my views challenged, laughed until it hurt and made some brilliant friends along the way.
We had an initial hui in Auckland to plan our inquiries and have those plans challenged; then met in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland again spread out over Terms 1-3. Each time we met up there were sessions on our specific inquiries to help them move along.
Aside from this though, were other great experiences. We had wonderful Core staff run workshops with us that challenged our thinking on different aspects of education. We got to visit schools and early childhood centres to see transformational practice in action. But most importantly we had time together to unpack what we had seen and what it all meant for each of us in our different contexts. On top of this we stayed together in each city so that when the day was over we could continue our conversations over food and “reflection juice”.
The amazing part of all of this, is that each time we were discussing and inquiring into “transformational” practices – whilst the transformations were also occurring within each of us. So what enables the eFellowship to have such a massive impact on us, the efellows (or ewhara as we refer to ourselves – thanks Dee)?
My reflections have boiled this down to 3 really important elements:
We all came from very different contexts – sector, location, size of school, school culture etc. This meant that when we were discussing what we had seen, what a workshop was focusing on or just education in general there was a wide range of voices represented. This diversity also came through in the schools visited and workshops undertaken.
The 3 day, live in hui were very intense times. The focus on transformation and the close relationships built up by the shared experiences meant that they were very inward focused. The discussions about education over those 3 days were full on and produced pages of notes, oodles of tweets, hundreds of photos and tsunamis of post its.
Selected in October last year, we started to get to know each other, but the year really went from January to October 2015. This 10 months, and especially the time in between our hui, were crucial not just for completing our inquiries but also for continuing to unpack the ideas discussed. This time also allowed our relationships with each other to deepen which of course allowed us to both enjoy our time and critique each other far deeper as we approached ULearn and the presentation of our research.
The Diversity, Intensity and Longevity within this eFellowship combined to create a wonderful professional development programme. These 3 elements were also there forGTASYD last year which had 50 teachers from across NZ and Australia combine for an intense 2 day experience, followed by a team structure that supported our actions afterwards.
So, planning a conference or planning a professional development programme for your school? I urge you to think how you can add these elements of Diversity, Intensity and Longevity to your plans!
p.s. If you were one of the unlucky many that didn’t see our Research Strand presentations at ULearn you can catch our Hangout Tuesday 27th October at 8pm NZ time.