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) ~

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Supporting change as Learning Facilitator

One of the highlights working as a Learning Facilitator at Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru (NPeW) this year [for me] was the connections I made with teachers and working alongside them in their PL & D. Seeing how teachers were active participants in learning new skills and how they made learning real for themselves to enable them to reach the desired outcome was a great experience.

The Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru Learning Team often went in to schools in a group of 3 - 4 to support teachers as they pursued their objectives. Our role was to create an environment where every participant had the opportunity to collaborate, innovate and excel. We achieved some great outcomes and I am so exited and delighted about the changes that are starting to take place.

~ "All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end." - Anonymous ~

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Supporting Junior school teachers as Learning Facilitator

As a Learning Facilitator for Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru, I was in the fortunate position to visit teachers in the Community of Practice for Junior teachers that I started. I realised that there were some great learning already happening, which could be further enhanced with the use of technology. Therefore, I also started working alongside teachers in giving pedagogical support and also on their journey in using technology as a tool to support learning.

As one of the focus areas of NPeW is on Learner Agency, I have been looking at working closely with those teachers in promoting Learner Agency in the junior school, creating more opportunities for learners to input into their learning. I am aware that learners in the Junior school need more support and scaffolding, but the importance in taking a greater responsibility in their own learning can be achieved.

~ "The biggest enemy to learning is the talking teacher" - John Holt ~

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Being a Connected Leader: Why? How?

As part of Connected Educator Aotearoa NZ (#CENZ16), the Connected Learning Advisory ran an interactive WEBINAR on 19 October where the role of the connected leader was discussed. The webinar included questions like:
- Why should we be connected? 
- How can we connect as leaders? 
And is, as David Weinberger claims, the smartest person in the room, the room?..

Bede Gilmore (Winchester School) and Steph Thompson (Beach Haven Primary School), shared their journeys as connected leaders and the Twitter chat they have developed: #ldrchatNZ.

The main messages that came through from Bede and Steph were:
- "Leadership can be lonely"
- "21st century learning is about collaboration and connection and we as leaders should be      the role models for that."

Then ... a taster of #ldrchatNZ:
Q1: What benefits do you see to being a connected educator?
"#ldrchatNZ A1 benefits are instant high quality targetted filtered info and PD free online 24/7
" - Tony 
"A1 Meeting like minds #ldrchatNZ" - Steph
"#ldrchatNZ A1 no cost no travel no accomodation any device any time reviewable" - Tony
"A1 accessing people I wouldn't ordinarily have access to #ldrchatnz" - Bede
"A1 Sharing ideas and wonderings - getting support #ldrchatnz" - Steph
"A1: like that idea of ubiquitous professional learning #ldrchatNZ " - Philippa
"A1 Always someone who's been there, many ideas, collaboration #ldredchatNZ" - Wendy
"A1 - support from a wider area than I have access to" - Catriona
"A1: like the idea of multiple perspectives, hearing others' voices. Challening our own assumptions #ldrchatNZ" - Philippa
"A1 other voices - Karen Spencer reminded us at uLearn16 to lsiten to people we dont agree with too #ldrchatNZ" - Catriona
"A1 A problem shared is a problem cut down to size #lfrchatnz" - Steph
"A1 you get to 'meet" new people. Steph and I have never met yet we run #ldrchatnz" - Bede

Q2: How do you connect with other educators to grow your PLN (Personal or Professional Learning Network)?
"A2 I look for whats happening by searching #'s eg #agileleadership, #educationalleaders " - Steph
"A2: Follow key people/leaders on twitter etc... then follow who they follow #lrdchatNZ" - Nathaniel
"A2 I've fund taking part in the chats via edchatnz the best way to build up my network" - Bede
"A2 you have to be prepared to put yourself out there though #ldrchatnz" - Bede
"A2 if I meet in real life at a conference I might ask if that person is on twitter #ldrchatnz" - Bede
"A2: I agree Bede - Richard Wells discovered this idea of teachers' identity when looking into how to become connected on twitter #ldrchatNZ" - Philippa
"A2 get involved in conversations, be accessible online and look for people with whom you have connections #ldrchatNZ" - Catriona
"A2 some of the most amazing, cut edge people hang out  on twitter - resource at your fingertips! #ldrchatnz" - Steph
"A2 if I read something or watch a video and want more I look for those people on twitter #ldrchatNZ" - Catriona

Links to resources:

Getting started as a connected educator:

Getting started on Twitter - advice from #edcchatNZ:

Watch / listen to the recording: Being a Connected Leader - 19 Oct 2016

~ "From confusion comes understanding, From understanding comes unity. We are interwoven, we are interconnected. Together as one!" ~ cla_nz

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru Cross-Check Hui

The NEXT Foundation, NPeW trustees, Principals, BOT members and many other stakeholders attended this most successful event.

Frances Valintine discussed 'The Need for Change in the Education Sector' She started by challenging us to think about how many students finish school without knowing their potential...
She went further and talked about 2020 Education and beyond and 10 Essential technologies.
Some realities:
- Students are starting to look how to make the world a better place
- Today's 5 year old will never drive a car
- Skills required today is not being taught in today's schools
- There is a move to having no entry criteria / age to do a degree. It is the outcome that will
   be measured at the end
- Very little of the following are being taught in schools...

- Employers are starting to look at skills, not the degree

- Robots are used as Teacher Aide's

The Mind Lab remind teachers:
- that is okay not to know everything
- that learning is a life long pursuit
- that sometimes students really do know more than we give them credit for
- that we began to change an educational system from the inside

What should we do?
- Tell kids they can learn they way they want to learn. Give them a problem, technology
   and let them go
- Teach kids how to think, to work collaboratively, to be creative and to discover
- Teach them the benefits of failure and trying

Sue Winters gave a stellar presentation on 'Why we need Future Focused Learning Environments'
She asked the audience to take on the challenge to meet the needs of our learners.

- Principals / Teachers were the agents of change, but with Learner Agency it is the learners
- We should have effective teaching approaches which include:
  * Cultural Responsiveness
  * Integration
  * Evidence-based decision making
  * Reflective Practice
  * Inquiry
  * Co-construction
  * Reciprocity
- We need our teachers to have adaptive confidence and trial things another way and to
   learn from their learners
- 6 Global Competencies that links to Learner Agency. Maybe we need to access on
  these 6 competencies...!

- If we have effective teaching, the more likely we'll have Learner Agency
- Humans are innately wired to connect, wired to create and wired to help
  humanity (Fullan, uLearn 1016)

What next?
Think about what does this all mean for leaders...

Bill Kermode on the 'Philosophy and Role of the NEXT Foundation'. They look at projects that can make a difference. Projects include the Environment and Education. The Next Foundation has been established with a vision “to create a legacy of environmental and educational excellence for the benefit of future generations of New Zealanders”.

- By supporting and investing in aspirational education projects, their aim is to empower
  young people today and the leaders of tomorrow.
- NEXT Foundation support Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru and believe the project can make a
  contribution to the National level in education
- NEXT Foundation also support the Government's goal to have New Zealand predator free
  by 2050

~ "Education needs to be radically rethought partly to stop the boredom, but mostly to blow the lid off learning, whereby students and teachers as active partners become captivated by education." - Michael Fullan & Maria Langworthy in Towards a New End: Pedagogies for Deep Learning ~