On Friday night I frocked up, found the most inappropriately difficult shoes to walk in and attended the Victorian Education Excellence Awards. These awards celebrate the wonderful things our teachers, aides, principals and parents are doing in Victorian schools. After an application, a shortlist, an interview and a huge 2 month build up I waited until the pointy end of the night to hear my name announced as the lucky winner of the Lindsay Thompson Fellowship! (A $50,000 overseas fellowship for up to 10 weeks of research.)
How fortunate I am!
In my application I was required to outline a research project that I would pursue if I were to ‘take home the chocolates’ on the big night. So, what is the project?
I am passionate about improving the professional development of teachers in our schools (particularly for teachers in rural and remote schools). In my work over the last 2.5 years I have seen a huge need for teachers in remote schools to a) increase access to professional learning and b) ensure the professional learning they do access is high quality.
About a year ago Anne (the other half of LIT ladies) and I started to trial the delivery of professional development completely online. We used Blackboard Collaborate (formerly Elluminate) to do this. We worked out that teachers will attend online PD if they find it practical and useful to their work. We also found that people in rural and remote areas signed up to this style of PD quicker than the city counterparts and did so en masse!
Soooo I am putting a call out there to the world… (At the risk of sounding like a singles advert in the newspaper)… I am interested in finding groups of schools doing great things as far as professional learning is concerned. I am also interested in finding great schools using ICT to engage students and overcome issues around the tyranny of distance for students and teachers. If you have any suggestions/ideas I would love to know about them! My original thoughts are Finland, Canada, USA and Singapore (but I need finer details on where in these places) I am open to other suggestions as well!
I am now officially cashed up and ready to discover the world of education outside our fantastic system in Victoria (Australia). I really can’t believe the opportunities I now have available to me! Now, I just need to fold Anne up to stuff her in my suitcase!
Side note: I was actually asked on the radio the other day if I could possibly spend all of that money. (This question was seriously asked to me, a female!) My reply was “I will give it a red hot go!”