Teacher Resume & Interview Resources

The new year always brings with it increased anxiety about securing a job after graduating from a teacher education program. Below are a few resources that can be used to prepare for the next step and help alleviate the anxiety.

One of the best resources is to connect with recent graduates who have recently gone through the same thing. Facebook groups is a great way to connect with and interact with other teachers. The Ontario Teacher - Resource and Idea Sharing Group includes a number of discussions about interview questions, hiring opportunities, the challenges of getting on a substitute/LTO list and what its like to be an occasional teacher http://www.facebook.com/groups/17782097216/


Design Thinking for Educators

Having taught a traditional 'Challenges of Educational Leadership' course in the past, I've been thinking about creating a blended M.Ed course that using a design studio approach to explore solutions to current educational challenges.

The two most important lessons from the design studio approach that educators need to implement are creating a culture of critical collaboration and seeking interdisciplinary input during the problem solving process. 

Design Studio Lessons 
1. A culture of critical collaboration*
2. Interdisciplinary problem solving, every day*
3. Tinkering with solutions and reclaiming failure
4. The shared power of the pencil and pixel

John Seely Brown highlights the importance of open critique to further learning. 

"A culture of healthy critique, full of mature and multidirectional insights, inspires confident, analytical learners."

Design Thinking for Educators: http://www.designthinkingforeducators.com/

  • I have a challenge.
  • How do I approach it?
  • Discovery builds a solid foundation for ideas.
  • Creating meaningful solutions for people begins with a deep understanding for their needs. Discovery means opening up to new opportunities, and getting inspired for new ideas.
  • I learned something.
  • How do I interpret it?
  • Interpretation transforms stories to meaningful insights. Observations, field visits, or just a simple conversation can be great inspiration—but finding meaning in that and turning it into actionable opportunities for design is not an easy task. It involves storytelling, sorting and condensing thoughts, until a compelling point of view and clear direction for ideation emerge.

  • I see an opportunity.
  • What do I create?
  • Ideation means generating lots of ideas. Brainstorming encourages expansive thinking without constraints. Often it’s the wild ideas that spark the thought for something visionary. With careful preparation and a set of rules to follow, a brainstorm session can yield hundreds of fresh ideas.

  • I have an idea.
  • How do I build it?
  • Experimentation brings ideas to life. Building prototypes means making ideas tangible, learning while building them, and sharing them with other people. Even early and rough prototypes can evoke a direct response and help learn how to further improve and refine an idea.
  • I tried something.
  • How do I evolve it?
  • Evolution is the development of a concept over time. It involves planning next steps, communicating the idea to people who can help realize it, and documenting the process. Change often happens
  • over time, and reminders of even subtle signs of progress are important.

At the Intersection of Education and Technological Innovation

Flickr photo by Isobel T
The new year brings with it predictions of what is to come. Thus, I thought this would be a great opportunity to peek around the corner to see what may be appearing on the EdTech landscape in the near future.

Firstly, lets get past the obvious predictions of whether the education market will anoint Apple or Android as the tablet of choice. You don't need a crystal ball to realize that the future of education will be platform and device agnostic. Whether students bring their own device or the school provides one to them, students should be able to access learning resources from anywhere and on any device. The key to making it big in the education market will be devices that are actually made for learning and understand the difference between a consumer device that can be used in the classroom and a learning resource that consumers will also use outside of the classroom. It is clear that the dominant tech companies have no desire to create products specifically for the low-margin education sector, leaving it up to smaller education-friendly entrepreneurs to fill the gap. I look forward to affordable devices that come pre-loaded with a variety of educational apps and make it easy for students and teachers to access their school's learning resources.

Flickr photo by Canned Tuna
Regardless of what is used in the classroom, making it easy for students to connect to academic content, connect to their peers and connect to teachers on  mobile phones will have a greater impact than any classroom-based educational technology. One needs only to see how the developing world is leap-frogging the developed world when it comes to using basic mobile phones and SMS to support formal and informal learning. Reading about the mobile learning opportunities on South Africa's MXit Network that don't require a smartphone provides an introduction into what is possible when you don't obsess about how to acquire the latest high-end EdTech tools and focus instead on what students are already using.

While the developing world often looks to the G8 countries for educational innovation, this relationship could be turned on it head in the near future.
This is where my predications become bold. 
The following two articles piqued my interest into what could take place at the intersection of education and technological innovation.

The New York Times article, Many of India's Poor Turn to Private Schools, outlines the growing demand for quality education in India, despite the government's recent education spending spree. While the article reveals the dismal current reality, it also highlights the almost insatiable demand of education consumers in India. With a growing middle class and half of its billion people population under the age of 25, India has the insurmountable challenge of finding a way to equitably  provide educational opportunities to its young people if its economy is continue to grow. More dire than economic stagnation, the world's largest democracy could be in jeopardy if this mass of future citizens are not provided with the educational opportunities they desire. The solution to this dilemma - technological innovation.

The Globe and Mail article, How a Montreal Company Won the Race to Build the World's Cheapest Tablet, reveals how the Indian government has rightfully surmised that educational technology can help it to address its growing educational delmina. With the goal of providing students with an affordable mobile device that can access the internet via wifi or cellular connection, the Aakash UbiSlate, puts a host of learning resources into the hands of students for only $52 (US). It is not surprising that the tech giants passed on the chance to create an innovative learning opportunity for millions of students because of the low profit margins, but anyone interested in changing the face of education should have jumped at this opportunity get their product into the hands of hords of education hungry young people. 

Now that the technology community has made their contribution to overcoming the technological challenges, what will be the education community's response? 
Will we continue to stand on the middle class sidelines happy with the current level of glacial progress, while the developing world pushes the boundaries of mobile learning, or will we begin to seek out opportunities to learn from those that start with less and capitalize on the advantages we have?

While the exploits of the Hole in the Wall computer have been recounted at TED, I relay this story to highlight what those with next to no educational resources can do with a simple computer. It leads me to question why the education community in the developed world hasn't accomplished more with all that we have.

Exploring the state of education and technological innovation in India led me to question why so many in the higher education community, including my own institution, continue to focus on China as the primary source of  international  students instead of looking to India as well. The New York Times revealed the supply and demand imbalance of the Indian higher education market in the article,  Squeezed Out of India, Students Turn to the U.S.  While the focus of the article is on the response of American colleges, Canadian institutions could  play a greater role in addressing this imbalance by increasing our Indian recruitment efforts, and by also partnering with Indian institutions to provide blended and online learning experiences on both continents. The article also provided an interesting contrast to the Chronicle of Higher Education's story about The China Conundrum: American colleges find the Chinese student boom a tricky fit. In the long run, expanding the educational relationship between Canada and India may provide some interesting insight into what can take place at the intersection of education and technology.