Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Building Teacher & Student Capability in GSuite

I just love working alongside teachers and students as part of my role as Learning Facilitator with Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru.

After meeting with the two teachers, it became clear that there was a need to provide teacher and student coaching in the use of a shared learning space online - Google Drive / GSuite.

I firstly worked with the year 6 students, showing how to create folders, change colour (if they choose), name the folder for the appropriate items/docs to be added into it. We also discussed how to make a copy if something is shared with them, add it to their drive and rename it. I also showed them how to share the document with their teachers and parents. The doc the teacher shared with the students beforehand, was to record their goals, date accomplished and evidence… I showed how they can add a link from their blog / doc (mentioned that they need to ensure that it is shared with the teacher, to enable her to view it) or how they can upload a photo.

I did all of the above with the Year 4/5 students as well, but after some questions, also showed them how to embed from a video into their individual blogs.

Both sessions went really well, with students having hand on experiences and ended up being engaged in adding learning into their folders.

Reciprocity:  The students continue to support each other throughout the sessions.

Feedback from the teachers:

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A small but select group

I have been part of organising yet another EducampRotovegas. This year we were a small but select group and the conversations were rich and meaningful.

At times we followed the slides, however it was great to have had the opportunity to have impromptu discussions not even added to the slides.

~ "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead ~

Monday, February 6, 2017

Becoming an Apple Teacher

I signed up for the Apple Teacher learning program, which was a fun and easy way to build my skills and be rewarded for the work I do every day.

What I liked about the program was that you start your own self-paced journey and when you are ready, you can test yourself by taking interactive quizzes in the Apple Teacher Learning Center. Each time you pass a quiz, you earn a new badge and once you collected all eight badges, you are recognized with an official Apple Teacher logo (see right panel on my blog) to share with the world.

Message received: 

Thank you Apple for this opportunity. It is an honour to be recognized as an Apple Teacher!

~ "Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching" - Anonymous ~ 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Brave, Resilient learners & Change

Our school was fortunate to secure Anne Robertson for one of our Teaching Only Days. After posing the Key Question for this session: "How do we challenge the way that professional learning has traditionally been structured and make it more consistent with modern learning practice, that is collaborative, creative, daring and challenging and meets the needs of all teachers in your school?" we introduced ourselves and discussed what motivates us to learn. One interesting thing that came to the front was that learning styles can change and develop. Therefore, Professional Learning has to be meaningful, relevant and focused on how it is going to support our learners.

The first rule of learning is that people learn what they need to learn, not what someone else thinks they should learn” Peter M Senge: The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation

An exercise we had to complete was to think about three people on staff, think about their needs and put ourselves in their shoes when thinking about learning. It is vital that teachers should be considered in the same way we think about planning for our learners. We have to allow for different ways for teachers to engage in PL&D. One size does not fit all! Ownership and agency is essential if teachers are to engage positively.

Consider Knowles’ 6 principles of adult learning...
- Adults are internally motivated and self-directed
- Adults bring life experiences and knowledge to learning experiences
- Adults are goal oriented
- Adults are relevancy oriented
- Adults are practical
- Adult learners like to be respected

This can be easily applied to students as well, although not all of them might be motivated to learn, because they have to be in class / at school. What happens at home in the morning, might very well impact on how they learn...
Think UDL and cater for all learning needs in class, this however needs to be the same for teachers.

Image credit: Anne Robertson @robeanne 2016

Each of us had to think about our three teachers again while imagining one came across this small cave entrance with our three teachers... consider... What is my first instinct? What is their first instinct How would you feel if someone said to you - right we are all going to go into this cave now? Think about why your reaction is as is. What is it based on?
It might be hard for some to go in, having a fear of the unknown. This might be the same for people when having to learn new things. It might be easier to motivate kids, rather than motivate adults. Getting people out of their comfort zone. Tip for whānau engagement... think about cultural situations, think about that acting in a different culture could be quite scary.

We bring a whole lot of baggage with us when it comes to making decisions about what we do. Our Mental Model is shaped by the unspoken, unacknowledged, unrecognised assumptions we have just beneath the surface that guide our actions - positively and negatively.  Our prior experience plays a huge part as does our situation and context - age, gender, family situation, school setting. And mental models often resist change.
It is important to remember that we all see thing from different perspective, due to our experiences. This underpins our values/virtues and beliefs.

Enablers and Blockers challenge... 
What do we see as the ENABLERS to engagement in professional Learning at our school and what are the things that BLOCK people from engaging?

Sheryl Nussbaum talks about schools being “Future Ready” - there are 4 elements to being future ready. However, it is very important to consider as we develop Professional Learning programmes, that teachers are learners too.

An environment where the message is always ‘we are not good enough’ can be demoralising and counterproductive for all stakeholders. George Couros #Innovatorsmindset

ln the book “The Innovator’s Mindset” George Couros talks about the need for leaders to trust, to allow a positive space for people to grow and develop their skills, to focus on strengths not weaknesses. 
Something to ponder... Do we look at strengths of people or do we always look at the negative? Finding people's strengths is so important.

"When we build on our strengths and daily successes - instead of focusing on failures - we simply learn more” Tom Rath

Simon Sinek talks of how 'why' should be first, even before the 'how' and the 'what'. This seems a deceptively simple idea... But teachers also need a sort of personalised why… e.g. why should I adopt new practice. It has to be contextual to the way they teach and learn, to the students in their classes and the way that they are as teachers and learners themselves.
It is possible for the ‘why’ to evolve too and it doesn’t have to be static. However, you can’t just change the ‘why’ without a moral purpose or reflecting on it and considering why it might have changed.  Which is where Spirals of Inquiry come in…

Anne talked about an analogy that she heard of recently... consider a fire - what does it need to keep burning? (fuel and oxygen and space between the sticks for the fire to develop). If more sticks are being piled up on the fire, it collapses and has no space for the oxygen to keep fanning the flames so it suffocates and dies out. This is the same with teachers... they need to have space and time to keep motivated to learn and care should be taken not to overload them. 

One thing that came through strongly though was the idea of time for reflection and consolidation which is represented in the Poutama - the Maori representation of steps that symbolise levels of learning and that after each step there is an opportunity to consolidate, to take a breather (rekindle the fire) and assimilate skills learned before moving onward and upwards.

Key idea: We need to provide space for people to have inspiration. Don't keep on piling up... What can we take away... Allow teachers to take a step, and then have time to get an understanding and put learning into practice, before taking the next step.

Engagement in PL&D isn’t an option but leaders need to model good practice, be sensitive and respectful of the learners’ needs and be warm but demanding just as we are with the students in our classes…

Image Credit:

Building on the Poutama steps of knowledge acquisition with time for assimilation and consolidation of skills discussed earlier - and the spiral of inquiry - this idea of a spiral staircase that can provide space for teachers to focus on their practice and the needs of their learners, that encourages constant, ongoing reflection, and further inquiry is very powerful. A never ending spiral staircase of learning...

~ "You are never too old to learn. At no time ever say, 'It's too late to learn,' not until the day you die." - Kimani Ng'ang'a ~

Monday, January 16, 2017

Possibilities, Options and a Course of Action

I contemplated my one word for this year, as there are so many things twirling around in my head. As I am certain that I would [also] like to 'stand firm' mentally and emotionally, no matter where opportunities / challenges lead, my word will be...
prudent (adj) 'acting with or showing care and thought for the future'

Nathan Lang, Ed.D. wrote "Best practices change and adapt, because we change and adapt. They aren't an excuse to keep doing what we've been doing." Therefore, I do not want to be/stay comfortable of what I achieved thus far. I am planning to examine new possibilities and to further innovate to empower my students. I will be ready for challenges / bumps in the road and am prepared to change things to suit different conditions. Having a 'learning partnership' between and among students and colleagues will [undoubtedly] play a crucial part in transforming outcomes.

At uLearn16, Fullan explained that humans are innately wired to connect, create and to help humanity and stated that life and education can either amplify these innate characteristics or suppress and eradicate them. 'New Pedagogies for Deep Learning' (image above) emerged from his years of research and experience...

"The new pedagogies require students to create new knowledge and connect it to the world by using the power of digital tools" (Fullan & Longworthy, 2014)

My aim for this year is to keep Fullan's Six C's in mind:
"Character education — honesty, self-regulation and responsibility, hard work, perseverance, empathy for contributing to the safety and benefit of others, self-confidence, personal health and well-being, career and life skills.
Citizenship — global knowledge, sensitivity to and respect for other cultures, active involvement in addressing issues of human and environmental sustainability.
Communication — communicate effectively orally, in writing and with a variety of digital tools; listening skills.
Critical thinking and problem solving — think critically to design and manage
projects, solve problems, make effective decisions using a variety of digital tools and resources.
Collaboration — work in teams, learn from and contribute to the learning of others, social networking skills, empathy in working with diverse others.
Creativity and imagination — economic and social entrepreneurialism, considering and pursuing novel ideas, and leadership for action" (Fullan  & Longworthy, 2014. p.22)

How am I planning to accomplish my aim?
- Model good practice and continuous self-improvement.
- Respect and value diversity and continue to grow my awareness of our global interconnectedness
- Effectively using my PLN (Twitter, VLN, EduCampNZ, TeachMeetNZ) and colleagues to create productive working relationships by learning from others, asking questions to find out the thoughts of others and to reflect understanding. Communication is a two way street - we have to give as well as gather
- Using my knowledge to look at all angles to make the best possible choice, then test, revise and apply. Be open minded and always ask how something can be done better and apply what I learn to new situations
- Work collaboratively with colleagues in transparent ways
- Trust my efforts as a leader and learner and those of the team to achieve our goals

According to Zig Ziglar, F-E-A-R has two meanings: "Forget Everything and Run" or "Face Everything and Rise."
The choice is mine / yours...

Fullan, M., Longworthy, M. (January 2014). A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning. Retrieved from 

~ "Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later." - Og Mandino ~

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A year in reflection

This year I had again choose one word to focus on... 'Fierce' the word that gave me the possibility of doing things deliberately this year.

Highlights (accomplishments, best memories)
  • Completing my Post Grad Study in Applied Practice (Digital and Collaborative Learning). I did not find this to always be easy, especially while full-time teaching, but what a positive journey this experience was overall.
  • Sharing my skills and knowledge with colleagues in the district as part of my role as Learning Facilitator at Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru (NPeW). Two post to demonstrate: Supporting Junior school teachers as Learning Facilitator and Supporting change as Learning Facilitator.
  • I have been kinder to myself and therefore was able to finally work towards achieving a work-life balance
Game changers (unexpected events that shifted my priorities)
  • I have been fierce in re-connecting with myself, knowing who I am and what I am capable of. Therefore, I voiced my perceptions 'bravely' on numerous occasions when necessary and appropriate
Things I focused on (what I put the most of my time into)
  • Trying to understand that not everyone is ready for change and that I see things differently than my colleagues
  • As a leader, to trust and allow a positive space for people to grow and develop their skills, to focus on strengths not weaknesses 
Things I forgot (didn't get around too)
  • Partake in as many twitter chats as I would have like to and connecting with my Twitter PLN on a regular basis

At times it was [still] easy to forget that reaction is human... no matter how good the intentions. I will need to keep this in mind, as 2017 will surely bring [many] challenges of its own. I will be in a position of leading / supporting change in many purposeful ways. Most importantly, I will be a learner myself.

~ “The first rule of learning is that people learn what they need to learn, not what someone else thinks they should learn” - Peter M Senge: The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation ~

Friday, December 16, 2016

What have I learnt this year?

Teaching as Inquiry and Appraisal is a process to help improve teaching practice and to prove that you are meeting the obligations and requirements of being a professional. Our school’s appraisal process integrates the two of these into a process that is based upon evidence, mutual trust and respect.
“...effective pedagogy requires that teachers inquire into the impact of their
teaching on their students.” NZ Curriculum, p35

This year I 'connected' this with our eLearning Plan and focused on Digital Citizenship (to make students aware of the ‘dangers’ and to increase knowledge of how to keep themselves safe online) and Digital Competency - Literacy (enable students to create digital content and adding media).

Baseline date compiled, showed a “current state” where my Year 1 students lack confidence in Digital Competency - Literacy. Although only a limited number of students were interviewed, my inquiry had a whole class focus and was not limited to specific students.

My Focus Questions were:
How can I  use eLearning tools (digital resources/ iPads /ePortfolios to support the class) to:
- Teach students about digital literacy and citizenship
- Support students to be engaged with what they are doing to improve learning outcomes
- Use eLearning to enable students to become thinkers and risk takers and reduce          dependence on teacher

eLearning tools and learning opportunities I trialed [with success] were:
- Easy blogger Jr
- Explain Everything
- Write About This NZ
- Quiver (Augmented Reality)
- KidsedchatNZ

I made sure that eLearning tools served a purpose when digital content was created to enhance learning as I strongly believe that the tool should be used to support learning.

We worked hard together to achieve the desired 'outcome' and getting positive feedback along the way sure helped and served as motivation.

Through consistent reflection it became evident when I had to revisit or changed what (and how) I do and where I needed to change direction and start again.

What have I learnt?
- I had to learn to ‘let go’ to enable students to become thinkers and risk takers to reduce dependence on teacher
- Things don’t always pan out in the best way possible and I had to consider theories about why something might be happening, which helped in my critiquing.

Reflection / Next Steps:
I feel that in many cases, the 'task' set contributed to students' critical thinking as they had to think what's needed to focus on for the learning outcome. I'd also hoped that students would 'integrate' / use technology naturally to explain their work. However, many times I still had to ask [them] if they would like to share their work on their blogs, using one of the apps. I don't think they see / understand the possibility of an iPad as tool to create / explain learning yet. Therefore, something I will need to work on next year is to make them aware of the potential this holds for learning.


~ “To be digitally literate is to have access to a broad range of practices and cultural resources that you are able to apply to digital tools. It is the ability to make and share meaning in different modes and formats; to create, collaborate and communicate effectively and to understand how and when digital technologies can best be used to support these processes.” - (Hague & Payton, 2010) ~