A Reminder More So Than A Lesson Learned…

It’s be a week now, a solid week in fact, that I have begun 2017 in a new school surrounded by new colleagues and new students. It’s been a week in which I have learnt a ridiculous amount about the way in my new school operates. You’d be forgiven for thinking that schools all run in a similar fashion with similar processes and protocols in place, because, that is not the case. Not always anyway.

I spent last weekend thinking about my first week and reflecting on what impact I had made in my very short time there thus far. The relationships that I had started to forge, the impact that my role as curriculum leader had already had, if any, and what I needed to work towards strategically, technically and just about everything in between. There was and is one thing however that I keep coming back to that has very strongly reminded me why I began working in schools in the first place, and why I am sure i’ll continue to work in schools until the time arrives, which is a very very long way away, until I reach retirement age.

That reminder being: as an educator, for most kids, their teacher is their world. Their teacher is someone who they look up to with great admiration and care. Their teacher is someone who kids love to engage with, share stories with (no matter how personal, albeit innocent, in some cases!), interact with, learn from and learn with. That as teachers, we have a power, a pull to mould, guide and inspire kids to be whatever it is they want to be, no matter their age or the challenges that lie ahead.

All of this is once again, not knew to me. However, being back in a classroom teaching a group of amazing young people has reminded me of this, in a strong way. Seeing also the way in which teachers at my school interact with their students, as just about all teachers do in all settings, proves my point that teachers in their profession are the ones have the greatest impact on a young person’s life, second only to their parents and or guardians.

For me, as a reminder, I find all of that, still, pretty bloody amazing!

Teaching with, alongside, and for one another.

saveourschoolsnz.com

Recently I had shared an article that I had posted via LinkedIn that I had came across in the same space titled Telling another teacher how to teach? It’s a sin, says leading academic“. 

I will refrain from going in to depth about what the main points of the article were yet only to say that Prof. John Hattie basically sums up the importance for teachers, and leaders for that matter, to build professional cultures of trust within the school organisation to ensure that all teachers are learning, growing, and doing the best that they can for their their students. As important as I feel that this message is, and as much as I believe in it, I also firmly believe it is pure common sense. It should not take the likes of Hattie to spread this message. It should just be, ‘the way’, things are.

Unfortunately, it is not.

Too often teachers either work and plan in isolation or are pigeon holed to working with colleagues who only form part of their teaching team/s. And, even then, the importance of building capacity and improving one’s ability to be an outstanding educator by using the collective knowledge of those around is minimal. And we can debate the ‘excuses’ as to why.

The graphic featuring Pasi Sahlberg at the beginning of this post says it all. The Finnish school system is well known to most of us for their outstanding school system and the results they achieve and if this statement from Pasi forms part of their educational mantra then it is easy to see why the Fins and their education system are held in such high regard. The work of Timperley and Fullan for example often talk about the importance of teachers needing to work together. To learn from one another. And make this a culturally common practice is widely discussed. And proven.

Another wonderful paper that places a focus on peer to peer collaboration is the Grattan Institute’s “Turning Around Schools: It Can Be Done(Jensen, 2014) mentions that one of five common steps needed to turn around a poorly performing school is;

Effective teaching with teachers learning from each other. Turnaround schools implement teaching practices that dramatically improve learning. Professional collaboration, such as teacher observation or team teaching, helps teachers to develop new or improved approaches and reinforces change through peer feedback. Working together gives people greater ownership of the dramatic changes occurring in the school.”

If we know from the academic research and literature that has been written and undertaken that teachers teaching teachers works, why is it NOT a core focus the world over. Or is it, and it is not just done purposefully and with intent.

If I am to think about myself professionally here and the impact that I have had on others and others have had on myself I would be looking at a 70/30 split. In a perfect world it would be evenly split however, again, it is not the case. When I think about the professional interactions I have had throughout my career and the opportunities I have had for others to comment on my teaching performance and capabilities, the opportunities to gain purposefully and meaningful feedback have been few and far between. Because of this, it lends me towards thinking that the ideology of all of the above is certainly 2 fold.

On one hand we have have those who give the feedback and offer the assistance and notice the change and improvements needing to happen. These people are also the ones who act on these observations with a “Hey, I noticed in your class today that… Have you tried???”. A comment such as this takes courage to be brought up and passed on. Not all people have the ability to do so. However, if there is a culture of trust, honesty, and sheer willingness for school wide improvement and improvement in oneself, then these comments are much easier to say. Remember, you do not have to be a leader to comment on a colleagues performance. In getting slightly sidetracked, a comment such as “I thought how you did X in your class today was great”! makes a huge difference and inroad to building and sustaining that culture trust, honesty and sheer willingness for school wide improvement.

Now in the other hand we have those on the receiving end of these comments. In all of my years working within schools I have learnt that there is really no other profession that is as interpersonal as what teaching can be. By human nature we are all quick to judge, critise, critique, and, albeit not often, positively reinforce our peers for the work they do. What we all need to realise is that if feedback comes our way it is because someone has noticed something – good, bad or otherwise. And the feedback we receive can either be taken on board, or quickly forgotten about. That’s the beauty of feedback. There is never a need to take any comment personally. It is not an attack on you as an educator or on you as a person. Take it on board from the point of view that someone cares and is looking towards helping you improvement your craft.

As Hattie states in the TES article – “I should be learning something about what impact I had, who I had an impact on,”. If each and everyday we have a greater impact on on our students and settings due to the continual improvement we make individually and collectively, we will without a doubt see our students and education systems flourish.

Goodbye and Hello

I am sitting here at my desk hearing the goodbyes and well wishes from afar. The laughter and banter is thick in the air. The camaraderie amongst staff here at Northern Bay College – Hendy Campus is strong, tight, and collaborative in almost every way, and for those reasons and many more I will miss being part of the NBC Family and in particular The Hendy Campus crew.

The decision to move schools and take up a new Assistant Principal position at Ashby Primary School was extremely difficult and it is something that still does not sit well, however I know in the long run for me personally and for my family, it was the correct move.

My first year as an Assistant Principal and having spent that here at Hendy has seen countless ups, downs and a few turn arounds. The things that I have learnt are astronomical and as I have mentioned to staff and our College principal class team I am a much better person and leader for having spent time at Northern Bay. My new learnings have come in many ways from all manner of people including fellow principals, staff, parents, and of course students.

The opportunity to start fresh with a renewed, purposeful focus is certainly something that I am eagerly anticipating. A continued, and in some instances heavier focus, on innovative practices in curriculum, pedagogy and environment, will lead me to engaging in ‘work’ that drives me as a leader and educator. The work that I have been part of co-leading here at Hendy will hold me in a better position to drive change and innovative practices at my new school, something I am looking forward to getting in to.

So in departing I say thank you yet again to all at Northern Bay College who have helped, assisted, guided, supported, and led me through countless wins, loses, dips and rises. Northern Bay is a unique place and because of that the people within in it are only made stronger through the collaborative practices and processes that they engage in. I sincerely look forward to returning to see first hand the impact that is being made by the outstanding teachers at Hendy Campus in the years to come.

Getting Clinical

Here's me, NOT clinical teaching, in 1999.
Here’s me, NOT clinically teaching, in 1999.

“If you want to lead then you have go to read. “ – Someone, 2015.

I remember hearing someone say this when I was involved in my Principal Preparation Course at the Bastow Institute in 2015. Something at the time that made a lot of sense, especially in relation to the amount of professional reading we were doing as part of that course.

I’ve never been a big ‘professional reader’ and it is safe to say that I’ve dedicated far more time to the Dan Browns and J.K. Rowling’s of the world than the Hattie’s, Fullan’s and Pinks. Although in recent years there has been a considerable shift in that space.

Now recently during one of my leadership meetings we undertook the reading of the attached article below from the Term 3 Edition of School News. The Article, which was a special report, titled ‘Clinical Teaching’ placed a focus on Prof. john Hattie and Dean Field Rickards and their research and work focusing clinical teaching.

In defining clinical teaching; “teachers being able to make evidence based decisions to ensure adjustments and needs of individual learners are made and met.”

Fairly straightforward.

As a leader within a school and after reading an article such as this you begin to make immediate comparisons to your own setting. You celebrate and feel empowered and proud of the work that’s being done and how it links specifically to what is mentioned. On the other hand you also question some practices and think hard about why perhaps certain areas of the curriculum, pedagogy or environment are not at a standard that you (I) believe are where they need to be.

A lot of what Hattie talks about in the article, and it is largely what he is known for, is about teachers having a positive impact and knowing that they are having a positive impact. I’ve embedded a short video below that link to Hattie’s work in this space.

 

I am a firm believer that within the teaching profession there are so many variables that both dictate and constrain what we do. These are things that determine if as educators we are successful, making an impact, or are deemed to be ‘effective’. My issue with this is as I have mentioned in the past is what does it mean to be effective or successful? Is this my wonderful student achievement data, the fact that I create a safe and welcoming environment day in day out, or that my core focus relates to my students and their wellbeing?

I have not come across too many educators that do not develop deeper understandings of their student’s individual needs. The ability to determine what drives, motivates and also inhibits that particular individual to learn and engage with what is in front of them. The work moving forward I feel for most us is being able to build that capacity in self to transfer that knowledge back in to what is planned and for whom.

One particular comment that was made in the article by Dean. Rickards is that “we need to move away from this culture of one teacher one craft, we want teachers working in teams.” I could not agree more.

The emphasis placed on professional learning teams/communities and the Victorian Department of Educations – Communities of Practice model are now driving a lot more of this collaborative practice. And it can only benefit those within the profession. For those wanting to read another great piece by Richard DuFour based on some of this thinking can be found here: What is a Professional learning Community?

Towards the end of the article it states “Clinical Teaching emphasizes the importance of data, theory, and research in informing interventionist teacher practice.” This drove my thinking about these areas and the work and depth to how they are emphasized and focused upon, and of course, where to next.

I was buoyed in some ways about what the article stated and the work that my setting and staff are engaged in. We have worked hard to become ‘clinical teachers’ and will continue to do so by identifying what works and what doesn’t and it is through doing this work that we will see better results for all of our students on all levels.

You can download, the highlighted version (apologies!)… here: clinicalteaching

Deep Learning Lab 2016

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It is always a great opportunity to sit back and soak in the thoughts and Prof. Michael Fullan, as was the case yesterday at the Department for Educatiosn’s ‘Deep Learning Lab 2016′ day.

With the day being hosted and facilitated by Dr. Simon Breakspear and having Joanne Quinn, Joanne McEachen and Prof. Bill Lucas in attendance, I was always confident that the day was going to be very worthwhile.

The focus of this day was for all school ‘leads’ who were driving and implementing the New Pedagogies for deep Learning Framework into their settings to get together in a collaborative space and share their expertise about how we can ‘deepen learning’.

In true ‘Corrie’ blog post fashion, I’ll recount the highlights of the day and share what I personally took away from it, and how this will drive my work as part of the #NPDL program moving forward.

After a very informative Welcome to Country by Ron Jones, Dr. David Howes (Formerly the VCAA Curriculum Executive Director), the Assistant Dep. Sec., Early Childhood and School Education Group, shared his insights in to contemporary practices in curriculum planning and assessment.

I have heard Dr. Howes speak countless times over the years and like the direct nature of what he has to say and share. In his opening there were quite a few references to the recent OECD Data that has been made available and the impact that this data in particular links to the educational system/s in Australia.

Dr. Howes asked the audience what was different now and why should we as leaders have any real optimism that now is any different to years ago? In answering this Dr. Howes shared his 3 key insights.

  • For the first time, and using NPDL as a clear example, we are now seeing real alignment across educational systems internationally who are now collaborating and sharing expertise. the focus is now starting to shift from content and outcomes to capabilities.
  • That as of 2017 we will have a mandated Vic. Curriculum that contains capabilities which are to be assessed. No other state has this and this is very exciting for Victoria.
  • We also now have Government Targets that are committed to assisting students to become more creative and critical thinkers, and again, via the Vic. Curric. Capabilities.

The challenge lending itself from this is how will schools and settings now assess these capabilities? What will this look like? Dr. Howes urged schools and their leaders to build the capacity in their staff to assess the capabilities and to then enact that new learnt knowledge. Fair call. The point was also made in understanding that the capabilities are to be built into all areas of the curriculum and are not to be a stand alone based subjects.

Up next on the big stage was Dr. Simon Breakspear who lead us in discussion around how we can/could better harness our expertise through greater collaborative practices.

As much as it pained me in having to agree with Simon, his comments in his opening statement about term 4 being ridiculously busy, the fact that we could most likely not afford to be there, that we had most likely already had a call from our schools about an issue that morning, and that the emails were already piling up  – rang very true! In saying all of this, Simon’s follow up comment regarding Victorian Teachers and NPDL schools being true pioneers for driving deep learning practices made me feel somewhat more comfortable in being one of the attendees for the day.

Simon shared his 4 core items that would continue to lead and drive the NPDL work within schools and this was the case for those schools who were either flying along in their journey or those who may have hit somewhat of a wall. These being:

  1. Celebrate the impact.
  2. Share lessons.
  3. Be inspired.
  4. Lead together.

For those involved in the NPDL it is the perfect time to be reviewing current happenings and getting set for 2017 and beyond. As Simon put it, there is a seasonality of change that impacts the nature of our work. Depending on the time of year indirectly affects work that is done and to what level of depth.

A highlight of Simon’s session was the ‘collective collisions’ which pitted attendees into groups of 3 to discus NPDL happenings and to investigate and outline some of the work needing to be done moving forward. To do this we used the clinic protocol, which was a great way to ensure that we stayed true to the time given and allowed those in the group time to speak and be heard but also to simply sit and listen. The feedback that I was able to receive from those in my group certainly gave me a greater insight of the work I am needing to do and for that I am thankful.

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The Clinic Protocol Document that was used during the Collective Collisions activity.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, it is always wonderful to hear Michael Fullan share his insights regarding educational change and the educational leadership component that sits alongside it. A lot of what was discussed revolved around Michael’s latest book, Coherence, and what is coherence is and is not and how this affects change in our organisations. If you have not seen or read this text it is well worth the effort.

Overall, several items that resonated with me that Michael spoke about were;

  • As educators and leaders we are stuck with the policies however we are not stuck with the mindset and therefore we have great opportunities to create chaos, good chaos!
  • That is the responsibility of all to re-culture education as we know it and the two main drivers to have in place to ensure that this happens is to built trust amongst peers and build peer collaboration.
  • As educational systems and improve, so do the people within them, these being people who have the capacity and knowledge however do not highlight thing amongst peers as they are frustrated with the state of the systemic practices.
  • That the moral purpose of an educational setting arises from the collaboration that is cultivated within it.
  • If you’re wanting to lead change, poorly, mandate the change you’re wanting. If you’re wanting that change to be (more) successful, be ‘irresistibly pushy’.
  • All schools and settings need people who are will to both challenge the status quo as no improvement was ever made from doing the same thing over and over.
  • Change requires people to be serious about the work being done.
  • That all humans are innately wired to do three things – connect, create, help.

Lastly, Michael also discussed a new term titled ‘Systemness’, meaning, to be a system player. Systemness revolves around the ideology that those within a successful system will inadvertently require that person to act as a collaborative contributor to which they will benefit from, but also willingly contribute too. I feel that in looking at how PLT’s within schools operate there is an expectation that learning is ‘done’ to and for people without always the realisation of those people knowing that there is an importance, as should be the case, for them to be teaching others through contributing their knowledge.

The discussions that stemmed from the above were quite in depth and challenged my own thinking which is what you’re wanting to get from days like yesterday.

From here the day moved to the concurrent workshops, for which I was one of seven presenters, presenting on Change Leadership (yes, I know, presenting on Change Leadership, on a day with Michael Fullan) – I’ll blog about this separately. The workshops were then followed a great 40 min presentation by Professor. Bill Lucas who structured his talk on the global trends in assessing the capabilities. One of the highlights from Prof. Lucas’ session were to hear his thoughts on the academic vocab used to drive the work educational settings are engaged in based on the work of the capabilities. Something else I would like to extend further on in another post. I have not read any of Prof. Bill Lucas’ work which actually surprised me however two of his titles, ‘Educating Ruby: What our children really need to learn‘, and ‘Expansive Education – Teaching learners for the real worldI will certainly be investigating further.

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Preparing to present!

The day concluded with Michael Fullan and Simon Breakspear sharing their thoughts on where to next and by this stage I had developed a pretty watertight case for what I was needing/wanting to do moving forward in relation to NPDL. Time will tell as to how well I go with this! Michael Fulln was very adamant that thjose schools driving NPDL the world over, including now those in ontario and Finland, are heading towards innovation in education which we have not yet seen. To quote him directly it was, “innovation that will blow your socks off!”. Cannot argue with that!

So there you have it. Another long winded post in a stock standard reflective nature however it was the post that had to be written in order for me to get back on to the blogging wagon, and hopefully now, write more with greater purpose and intent and clarity!

Success in Schools Is…

Image courtesy of: http://missionoutdoors.com/product/test-product-16/
Image courtesy of: http://missionoutdoors.com/product/test-product-16/

I have been thinking a lot lately about how schools are deemed to be successful and or seen to be excelling at what they do. What is it that defines a school for it to be successful? Is there a difference between success, expectations or excellence? Should we be differentiating what is expected from some schools as opposed to what we expect from others? Is excellence in teacher practice and what occurs in the classroom what matters most or is the emphasis placed to heavily on outcomes and data, something of which is a little cliché in educational thinking?

In saying the above there are several items or measures of success that spring immediately to mind. These being the Victorian Department of Education’s ‘Effective School’s Model’, the recently released FISO Model (Framework for Improved Student Outcomes), also by the Vic DET and one that I can across last year titled ‘An Effective School Improvement Framework: Using the National School Improvement Tool’. A model developed by ACER. These models can be seen below.

Regardless of which model a school “follows”, will it be effective and or successful if they have implemented and ticked all items depicted? Are there educational settings that have done this? And are they successful? Is their data outstanding? More to the point, are their students happy, engaged and collaborative learners?

FISO Model
FISO Model
ACER National School Improvement Tool
ACER National School Improvement Tool
Effective Schools Model
Effective Schools Model

I have been a member now of the Educational Leader / School Principal Team Club now for 20 weeks and within those 20 weeks it’s fair to say that there have been quite a few challenging yet also equally as many rewarding events that sit parallel.

Within the past 20 weeks I have been fortunate enough to have witnessed and been directly involved in several outstanding examples of what I believe success in a school should, if not, be expected to, look like.

As a school leader I am certainly under no illusions that teaching and working within an education setting can be a difficult gig and for some of us in certain settings, it can be a whole lot more difficult than for others.

Success for myself personally and more so for my staff and my campus in particular has come in many shapes and sizes throughout the first semester of 2016. I am certainly ‘chuffed’ due to the fact that I have witnessed first hand the impact that specific changes and adaptations to practice and culture have had in and on the larger collective. That being all school community members.

Putting the massive emphasis on data aside (and data can be a great thing!), I thought I would share what I feel have been extremely positive shifts towards my campus perusing that ‘successful’ tag. Implementing the things that change a culture, change thinking, and drive continual improvement.

Responding to Change

Change is never easy. It’s not meant to be, it’s change! People by their very nature are largely creatures of comfort and routine and once a cat is thrown amongst the pigeons, well, a propensity for chaos often ensues.

I would not say that there has been change/s taking place on gigantic scales, however what has transpired on Campus has been well received with driving support from staff, with, some slight hesitation, but you’re going to get that.

Michael Fullan talks about all implementation of new change going through a “dip”. In short, things getting worse before they get better. What transpires from here is that desired performance level is reached and said change is in play. Not overnight, but it does happen.

As a school leader this is exciting. To see staff willingly changing practice and having the growth mindset to embrace and or, reluctantly attempt, new initiatives is very encouraging.

Raising the Bar

I have been surprised, more so in awe, of the willingness of staff to be pushed and push each other. To keep having the expectations placed upon them raised for the benefit of our students and wider community.

It is inspiring and although it is easy for me to hold that bias, I believe it is inspiring none the less. There has been a continued growth in the notion of ‘paying it forward’, staff identifying and using each other’s skills and capacity to improve the practice of all as a collective. I liken this to Derek Sivers’ (of ‘The Lone Nut’ fame) video “Obvious To You, Amazing To Others”. A reminder that sometimes what is obvious to us is amazing to others, and in identifying that we can all learn from each other.

I believe that it is important for a professional setting of any description to continually be challenged and challenge those within. If there is no growth then there is stagnation and compliancy. Two things that are evil for any organization, and in particular a school.

The quote and image attributed to Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, also applies to education as well. Having a mindset that is not willing to grow and be challenged is a dangerous thing. And more importantly, it shows, personally, a lack of duty of care to the kids in our settings.

http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/disruption-innovation/dangerous-phrase-education/
http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/disruption-innovation/dangerous-phrase-education/

Inclusive Practice/s

The adjustments that staff are making towards ensuring that they are catering for al l of our learners is outstanding. The capacity that is being built by staff to identify behaviors in learning to ensure students are being catered for is truly remarkable.

The use of the Positive Partnership’s Planning Matrix, albeit develop for students who fall on the ASD spectrum, has been a great tool and welcome addition to better cater for our students and their needs, whether they be social, academic or well being based.

This work is largely what has driven the prior to areas I have mentioned above. This work has been a change for staff to undertake and engage in as well as something that has pushed and challenged.

The conversations amongst staff that have led to adjustments and improvements in teaching and learning practices being made has been visibly evident in making positive differences. Something that cannot be argued against in contributing towards a successful teaching and learning environment.

Collective responsibility

Isn’t it great when all are on the same page. That the collective understand and acknowledge the work that is being done but more so the reason/s for that work needing to be done. Going further again the power lies in seeing the benefits that arise from the work giving those in the organization a concrete belief that they are making a real difference.

The old saying of “it takes a village” really does resonate. Because it does. When there is a greater collective responsibility in educating our students greater progress and growth can be made. Students in an educational setting do not / should not belong to one teacher or another, they belong to all.

When a change process is undertaken, when challenges are laid before staff, when things get difficult, the ideation of collective responsibility makes the work being done more purpose, easier, and clear.

There you have it. Four key areas I feel are imperative for a school to be effective and or successful in meetings its needs, targets and certainly overcoming its challenges.

The last thing I’ll leave with that I have been constantly pondering, just due to the fact that it intrigues me, is Dreyfus’ Model for Skill Acquisition, but more so the idea of those teachers sitting within the Expert (Virtuoso) level who can demonstrate “Enormous breadth
and depth of knowledge and acts appropriately without thought or conscious choice of actions.” This meaning, teachers being unconsciously competent. This is terminology is taken from theory of conscious competence, a theory attributed largely to Maslow.

This is the point when, someone, i.e. a teacher, is demonstrating the necessary skills effortlessly without making conscious effort. That they come naturally. That these skills are taught to others so to that they become, over time, unconsciously competent. We all do this day in day out with some skill we have acquired over time. Much like the way in which Patrick Dangerfield for the Geelong Cats bursts through packs to break the lines and get the ball forward.

It is the development and capacity building in teachers to develop the acquired skills that make the biggest differences to students and their learning that is what we need to focus on. And again, by ensuring we are striving towards being effective and adapting the four points I made earlier that we can look towards achieving this.

#ADE2014

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I first caught wind of a 20th Anniversary ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator) Institute towards the end, if not after, my initial induction in to the ADE world following my the Institute I attended in Bali in April 2013.

After having experienced Bali alongside 300 other educators from all over South East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, I was intrigued as to how another ADE Institute could top what I had experienced thus far. I had heard other ADE’s talk of their experiences in Cork, Ireland, a year beforehand and how that Institute was an experience for the ages!

Now usually my posts rant and rave and 200 words turn into 2000. I promise this will not be the case. 😉 As much difficulty as I am having in attempting to review what certainly was an amazing week, I am wanting to do that week justice but being conscience, to the point, and not ruin it through rambling lines of text.

It was this week in which I had a fellow ADE, Glenn McMahon (@mackas_ict) visit my college with several of his colleagues who were investigating eLearning and technology integration practices among other things. Whilst discussing all things teaching, learning, technology, and other, Glenn asked me what my biggest ‘take-aways’ were from San Diego. A great question, albeit a tough one. I have been thinking about my response to Glenn and additional ‘take-aways’ I had from attending #ade2014 and, briefly, these are outlined below.

1. Teachers as Learners.

There are a few ways in which I can take this however I will look at it from this angle… Being in a role which effectively is responsible for assisting staff in using technology to enhance  teaching and promote student learning outcomes has over the years thrown up a few challenges. One of these being the reluctance at times of teachers ‘stepping back’ and allowing students to lead. The need to control a class and the way it is being run is for the most part shifting as it perhaps once was the near norm. I now often see students leading their peers and also their teachers in learning new methods to create, share, collaborate, connect and innovate within the classroom. In regards to the institute a key focus was the teacher being the learner. Using our own devices to engage and interact with the institute itself via an iTunesU course and a developed app for attendees was terrific. I look forward to seeing the day when students are personalising their own learning to the point where teachers are no longer teachers, where they facilitate learning and work alongside the students and not in front them.

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Teachers as Learners

2. Making it Mobile.

There’s no doubt the one of the greatest strengths of the iPad is it’s mobility. The simple fact that it can be taken anywhere and do just about anything to support teaching and or learning. This i have clearly seen evident when taking 100+ students to both Sovereign Hill and the Melbourne Aquarium where their iPad devices have been fully integrated to support the learning programs taking place. San Diego in a way was also exactly that. Having our own devices out and about and using the suggested app’s given to us, especially also from an iBeacon point of view was fantastic. The point being made is that learning does not need to be restricted to the classroom or even the school grounds. That also yes, connecting with their learning at home is also great however, when students are engaged with technology to assist them to develop specific understandings when in other rich learning environments so much more understanding can be developed. The map below shows several points of reference where I used my own iPad device ‘out in the field’ and for what reasons.

3. I’m not Alone.

One of the, if not the, best part of attending such an event is being situated in a location alongside 400+ like minded people, all of which have the same drive, passion, and desire that you do. People who are having similar successes and triumphs as well as hitting similar walls and barriers. The professional conversations that were mostly held informally over a beer and dinner were amazing. The connections that I was able to make was outstanding and I have every confidence that through meeting these people, and staying in contact with them I will be a better teacher and leader for it. Thanks to social media, primarily Twitter, I can converse with these wonderful people virtually anytime and anywhere.

Clearly not alone...
Clearly not alone…

4. Break the Norm.

Hearing the stories and journeys that educators had embarked on within their own settings that ‘broke the norm’ of how technology was being utilised was outstanding. Again, hearing like minded educators sharing stories about how they have transformed their teaching practices within their settings was great. This was particularly evident during the ADE showcases where ADE’s had 3 minutes to share the AWESOME things that they were doing in their settings. The common theme throughout the showcase sessions was that these were educators who were willing to trial new things and take a risk within their own practice. They were willing to step out of their comfort zone. Hopefully the  recording of these are made public soon so that other teachers the world over can be inspired as I was!

where-the-magic-happens-your-comfort-zone

5. Celebrate the +’s

My last big take away, is that I realised that it is extremely important to celebrate the positives within our settings and with others. Everything from the big wins that we have such as rolling out 1000 iPad devices to perhaps that small win where one particular student has created a marvellous piece of work. To be within an environment that was extremely positive it encourages you to share more of what you do and to celebrate the things you and your setting do well. From this I hope to begin working on developing this positive culture not only throughout my staff but more so my students. Have them share and celebrate the awesome things that they are capable of!

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“Now usually my posts rant and rave and 200 words turns into 2000.” – Corrie Barclay, The beginning of this post!

LASTLY… I have strung together my own 10 favourite shots from the Institute that hopefully depict the learning, collaboration, and sites that were #ADE2014.

A Reflection…

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Term one complete.. Minus the last two weeks of that term I missed due to taking leave… That being said, time for some reflection!

If you have read previous posts from this year you’ll know that I have been placed back in to a classroom for two day per week, teaching year 7 Core subjects. That means basically everything. Math, English, Science, Humanities, Wellbeing, Personal Learning, and other important tidbits. You would also know that I have LOVED being back in the thick of the action. Having a class of students to engage with on a more regular basis rather than just in passing from time to time has given me not so much a renewed passion, but increased it somewhat.

My role as College eLearning Coordinator does allow me to be spread, thinly may I add, but spread none the less across all classes from Prep right through to year 12 and everywhere in between. This makes building relationships with students and staff very easy as I can touch base with all subschools and those situated within as needed. A great part of my job.

In reflecting and being open and honest, throughout term 1 I have had this sense of having done things to a sub par standard. It’s a safe bet to say that I am not anywhere near happy with even ‘par’ as a standard. I ask my students each and every day to impress me beyond the norm of what they are capable of and my own expectations of myself should be the same.

My one aim was to not let my eLearning role interfere with teaching my class and I am fearful it has from time to time. In fact, each role has cancelled each other out in a way causing for one to be done haphazardly and  vice versa. Something I seriously need to both make amends for come term 2 when I return and something I need to get on top of to ensure both roles do not interfere with it’s counter part.

The identification of the problem, like always, is the easy part. The challenge comes from understanding not how to fix the problem but to delve deeper and ascertain why it happens in the first place. After considerable thought I am a little closer to the answer of this riddle yet more thought is needed. This i shall touch more upon no doubt in a blog post down the track!

I can say with certainty it has been brilliant to witness first hand just some of the work that my students have produced throughout the first term. From being involved in Digital Story Development and Creation to working on Genius Hour Projects to the work they produced daily. They continue to surprise me and surprise often and as I keep raising the bar they keep meeting it! In my next post i’ll be sure to share some of this amazing work!

 

 

 

Learning B4 Technology

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http://ihs.wikia.com/wiki/File:Teaching_teachers_forum.jpg

It’s not often that I can get my hands on my staff, (not literally of course), to be able to run large scale Professional Learning to one of our four sub schools, or if I am extremely lucky, our entire (220) staff!

As much as I enjoy the smaller and more personalised approach to coaching and coordinating Professional Learning, especially either one on one or within teaching teams, that ability to deliver key messages to a larger cohort is always is something I find needs to take place. This ensures that same message is coming from one person, and is uniform across all teachers. What helps is having others spread those messages other than myself, which I am happy to say happens often!

With having a quite a few new staff teaching within our Middle Years sub school this year I felt the need to revisit a few key messages to ensure that the ideology behind how we go about integrating technology, effectively, is done so with one major thing in mind, and that being that good teaching comes first and the technology a second.

This is a message that I have been preaching religiously, no pun intended, for quite a while now.  The importance that our number one craft is teaching and that that craft needs to be focused on and honed over time. The absolutely wonderful thing about this profession is that we can all do it in various ways which enrich, engage and foster the meeting of student learning outcomes. We are all charged with delivering a set curriculum however they way in which we as educators can go about that can be extremely varied to cater for our students needs. There are not many professions I feel that allow for differentiation to occur amongst its staff. Teaching is certainly one of those.

Technology Integration, for example, allows for an educator to drastically alter the way they not only deliver the curriculum, but also, and more importantly, the way that students choose to learn that same curriculum.

Way back in… 2009, when I first started at my current setting all students I taught were involved in a 1:1 MacBook Program. The 6 teachers, including myself had never encountered such a thing, that being a 1:1 program of any description. During those first few weeks it is safe to say we used those MacBooks all day every day which in the end turned out to be detrimental to our teaching programs. First lesson learnt, “Just because they have the technology does not mean you need to have them using it”. 

After time we realised that it was the teaching that we need to get back to focusing upon. The way that we planned our curriculum and the ways that we  were deliver the content were more important than the technology itself. The learning and teaching, that was the priority. Not that we felt the consistent need to use the technology because it was there, and it was certainly evident as the year progressed, that through having that technology support the learning and teaching that was taking place, where applicable, made greater inroads to supporting students than what it did at the beginning.

These thoughts have recently been reaffirmed to me in the form of another blog post written by Steve Wheeler, the  ‘Associate Professor of learning technology in the Plymouth Institute of Education at Plymouth University’. Further to this, Steve’s credentials are too many to mention.I have had the pleasure of meeting him once at uLearn12 in Christchurch, New Zealand and have followed his blog and other learnings fairly intensely since then. At the time of writing this, his latest blog post, titled , talks in depth about this notion and the need to place, always place, learning before technology.

Below I have embedded the presentation I showed to my staff as well as a list of just a few of their responses relating to how I could assist them to become greater enablers of technology to support and enhance their programs.

Middle Years Sub School  – Moving Forward with eLearning

  • Classroom management with iPad management.
  • Exploring Flipped Classroom concepts.
  • Use of Social Media for sharing student work
  • Use of ICT when students have limited access/support in the home (no internet/wifi)
  • Improving student outcomes in maths through student led activities
  • Using Edmodo
  • Projecting students work on the Apple TV via their iPad,
  • Classroom iPad management of students
  • App Tutorials
  • Assisting students making appropriate and relevant contributions to online class discussions
  • Storing digital work
  • Flipped Classrooms
  • developing digital individual learning tasks
  • How to manage student use of iPads more effectively.
  • How students can create their own tutorials in different ways.

 

So to completely and utterly agree with Steve, and to once again quote him via his recent post, “If you forget everything else, remember this: Don’t let technology get in the way of good teaching and learning.”

EYSS Professional Learning

Last night I finally got hold of all of my Early Years Teachers in one room and ran through some quick fire PL relating to Technology Integration happenings for 2014. In a college of my size it can be difficult to obtain access to a large cohort of staff so to be able to to get 30+ in one room to spread the word was great.

Only having an hour I wanted this to be informative yet practical and for these teachers to leave with at least 1 idea to take away and think about!

The embedded slideshare below basically covers the majority of what was discussed however i’ll elaborate a little further on a few of the key points that I shared.

 

Next year will see our Early Years sub school expand quite heavily in regards to our BYOD Framework and provisioning and this of course has it’s implications for our staff. Currently there will be approximately 17 1:1 iPad classes in years P, 1 and 2 with classes in years 3 and 4 having upwards of 8-10 MacBooks per class also. From all of this the need for effective PL to be ran for all of these staff is imperative to ensure that the technology available in these areas is being utilised where it is applicable to support student learning.

I ran staff through our newly developed ‘1:1 ipad Implementation Guide’ which is a 60+ page Multi Touch Book that contains policies, interactive keynote presentations and informative videos. This has been created for our college community including our staff, students and parents. Currently I am in the process of developing a similar document for our Seniors Technology Program and making that specific for our students in years 9 – 12.

 

 

I discussed in depth, during the time i could, about our two main models of technology integration. These being the well know SAMR Model developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura which is depicted below in a simple graphic.

SAMR

 

The other Model that we will be focusing upon, and there will more information to come regarding this as it is still in its infancy, are our own College’s ‘5 Key technology Integration Capabilities’. These being:

  • Capture
  • Create
  • Communicate
  • Collaborate
  • Connect

 

The two hands on activities that were coordinated were focused upon looking at our newly developed iPad Application list for 2014. We have cut this back from 60-70 applications to a Core 20 that our students need to have to support their learning. From here i had all staff access a Google Doc which listed the core applications that students would have for 2014 and then list ways in which those applications could support the teaching and learning programs offered! See the screen shot below.

 

From here I aimed to make what we did next more personal and related to all staff, not just those in a 1:1 area. Through accessing a Padlet wall I had created, I asked staff to briefly list ways in which they had used technology in their teaching. Once this was completed staff were re-directed to the SAMR Model of Technology Integration and asked to audit what examples of technology integration were placed on the Padlet. To do this staff were asked to place an S, A, M or R next to each post detailing where they felt that particular use of technology lied on the SAMR model.

This was a challenging activity, but an activity that promoted a lot of discussion and nonetheless, that is what I was hoping for! 😉

 

After this was discussed, and discussed well amongst the staff may i add, I finished off with some parting thoughts, which i’ll leave you all with also… 🙂

When Integrating Technology Effectively, remember…

  • Good Teaching Comes First.
  • Technology Integration Is Not Difficult, It Is Fear That Gets In The Way.
  • Take A Risk. Try something New.
  • Let The Kids Lead The Way.