Email Communication and Students

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I have recently set up classes with email addresses for the purposes of students being able to make contact with outside agencies where necessary for their PBL projects. A couple of students have started to email me. Today I received an email from a child who is off sick today. They just said hello. So I replied hello in return. They then started up a conversation asking if I had any fireworks last night and then I wished him well in getting better and that I would see him next week. Now, the reason I am posting about this is that I would like to sound professional minds out about whether or not this is crossing any lines? I want to keep lines of communication open with my students, but does casual conversation come under that? I want my students to feel comfortable enough with me to be able to communicate freely, but does phatic communion and personal conversation go beyond what a student/teacher relationship should entail? If I saw them on the street, outside of school, I would most likely have a similar conversation.

Please contribute your thoughts on this matter!

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My Postgraduate Learning Journey and My Plan for the Future

Activity 10 (ACP)

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This is the end of the Post Graduate Certificate road for me. One last blog post to rule them all!

There are 12 Practising Teacher Criteria (PTC) in e-learning that I have perused and thoughtfully reflected about which ones I may have met. I will be honest and say that I need to work on ALL of them (being a teacher is evolving and never ending though isn’t it?!) But while they are all a work in progress I will address a couple that I think I am making some progress on and evidence through anecdotally from my experimental practice. I will also plan goals from these criteria to focus on in my immediate teaching future.

Criteria Progress and Future Goals

Criteria 4 – (Professional Relationships and Professional Values) – Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice.

Guiding Question: How do I/can I utilise e-learning to further my professional learning and development?

This course has made me reflect more on my teaching in the past 32 weeks than I have ever reflected in my nine  year teaching career. This in turn has transferred into my teaching in terms of getting the children to also reflect more than they have on their learning. In both instances I believe that it has given the learning more meaning, context, personalisation and ownership over progress. Through this constant reflection I have realized that I want to constantly seek out professional development resources that will assist my current teaching and practices in order to support and quantify what I am currently doing with Project-Based Learning. I see this as an ongoing practice that will not stop. The need for staff meetings are no longer viable or convenient when planning and being in the classroom has more value and differential professional development that is self-directed really is the future and far more appropriate, especially at the speed of change and the immediacy that it can bring to flexible learning environments.

Google+ has been a fantastic tool for connecting with other educators also on the course to share ideas and resources. Currently it has been about the assignments but I can see the potential for furthering these connections beyond the course to supporting each other as we are all at similar places in our future focus journeys. I am yet to figure out how I can connect professionally into circles of people outside of my immediate context/networks that I do not know in person.

I have recently joined Twitter as a platform for connecting with similarly-minded practitioners that share ideas and education chat sessions. I am still navigating my way through it but have successfully made Twitter relationships with a community group that visited our school to help with my Year 4/5 class Project-Based Learning groups Service to the community group. I continue to seek out people/groups on the platform to add to my professional learning on a continual basis. I see this as a valuable learning network with a plethora of potential. The wider educational community is huge and seemingly infinite. I think the value of it is that you can specifically seek out common education interests and professional expertise.

Criteria 6 – (Professional Knowledge in Practice) – Conceptualize, plan, and implement an appropriate learning programme.

Guiding Question: How can e-learning support and extend what I am trying to achieve when planning programmes of work for groups and individuals?

I have yet to incorporate many e-learning tools into my teaching as my goal has been to focus on the pedagogy of Collaboration and Self-Regulation and its role in Project-Based Learning. Therefore my practice is blended learning. When planning for facilitating projects I have tried to make sure that tools available at the school are accessible for students. So far this technology involves computers and surface pros with access to the internet and email services. My future goals are to incorporate the Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy to have students gaining skills in higher order thinking in order to make the learning more meaningful and purposeful. This will come after students are well versed in the 21st Century Learning Skills as through observation, as I have stated in previous posts, these skills are lacking in comprehension and cohesiveness within most classes in the school. Alongside the actual appropriation of the Project Process. In my current practice I can see that higher order thinking skills need to come next as they think very surfacely. To encourage thinking that will lead them to asking more questions and wanting to find out more I have merely enacted the 5Ws to get students at year levels 4 to 8 thinking beyond the obvious. This has proved successful but is only a tiny step in the right direction toward true higher order thinking which will lend itself to better results and more enriched projects driven by the students. Whilst the project ideas are mostly student driven at present there is still much work to be done for students to think more deeply about their own learning contexts and what their experiences can bring to the classroom and their own learning.

Project-Based Learning takes the e-learning strengths based approach where children are able to learn flexibly and collaboratively. Children in my classes are beginning to learn that there is merit in working as a team and that a group is “only as strong as its weakest member”. They are yet to realize the effects they have as an individual (Self-Regulation) and how their participation (or not!) impacts the final product.

The pedagogy of creating an innovative learning approach (of PBL) to nurture in a culturally responsive way has engaged students successfully to varying degrees in my current teaching. I will post student voice on this matter in the future as I collect my own ‘data’ to prove PBL’s worth as an approach in the classroom). There are still students (especially boys) who I am yet to engage 100%, I plan to seek out ways to make this more successful and motivating for these students in my progress. I think that the novelty of having me in their rooms once a week is playing a part in the engagement and enthusiasm but due to the nature of the real life contexts being experienced I think this engagement has longevity, especially when students have mastered the Project Process and are able to carry out Projects with less scaffolding of the mechanics of learning and focusing energies more on the content and impact of their learning. I want to find novel ways of capturing the student voice to present to the Principal/Board and use as an ongoing tool for students to express their reflections and motivations to others and be able to explain their learning and the merit in their lives.



I wanted to address more of the criteria in this blog and where I fit now and future goals leading from them but I have run out of word limit well and truly! I am constantly reflective on all of these criteria and strive to gain greater insight and expertise into all of them during my future focus learning and teaching journey (that will last for the life of my teaching career).

References

Criteria and Guiding Questions from:

Practising Teacher Criteria. Ministry of Education. Retrieved from: http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/Practising-Teacher-Criteria-and-e-learning.

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. Education Origami. Retrieved from: http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/Bloom%27s+Digital+Taxonomy

Cultural Responsiveness in Practice

Activity 9 (ACP)

Here I will share my views on indigenous knowledge and culturally responsive pedagogy and evaluate how cultural responsiveness is addressed in my practice (PBL) and school values.

Culturally responsive teaching takes into account the WHOLE child. Where they have come from and who they are have high priority within the classroom and school reflecting their unique identities. Response to culture is not only validating but imperative to engaging students and whanau to create a true sense of belonging and worth in an educational setting. The child’s purpose is given the most weight when culturally responsive teaching chimes into the needs of the community and individuals within it. True responsivity takes the childs’ needs and translates them into learning that has deeper meaning beyond curriculum and assessment dictation.

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I believe that Project-Based Learning is an incredibly responsive tool to culture and identity. Projects are ‘designed’ with students needs and interests in mind and involve relevant local and community resources. The fact that it takes into consideration all backgrounds and extends the children from the school ‘bubble’ and has the ability to get them more interactive with their local roots is about as responsive as I think teaching can get. For those students who have not had the chance to learn in a responsive classroom, these children now get the chance to experience their own themes in the classroom and have the opportunity to think and interact more within a context that is able to respond to their needs and experiences. As I am at the beginning of this journey with PBL I can see that this teaching approach really encapsulates the cultural pedagogy that the school is beginning to ingrain more thoroughly. Although, as a mainly Pasifika school, culture has always been the back bone of the childrens’ learning, teachers have been constrained in the past with didactic traditional teaching methods that haven’t allowed to fully develop cultural potential.

Robertson Road Schools’ Future 20/20 Vision involves a lot of consultation with the community, especially in regards to Te Ao Maori and Samoan bilingual needs (over 80% of our school role is Samoan and we cater to this community with the availability of bilingual classes). The cultural significance of this responsiveness in the school vision is to reflect our schools unique cultural diversity and using our past and heritage to influence our current/future practices. This vision holds being culturally proud as a reflection of teachers’ high responsibility and accountability for these learners. Through responsively engaging with families, creating strong educational links, all staff being culturally proficient and a strong pedagogy-based leadership driving the future changes – this will reflect our responsiveness to change that will benefit our learners.

Effective and efficient teaching that is responsive to Robertson Road learners is our future.

Robertson

Engaging with students to come up with new core values of Respect, Relationships and Service was our first steps in being more responsive to how our students and their whanau see themselves in a school context.

They want to be responsive to their identities as much as we do!



Watch this video to be inspired by what culturally responsive teaching can do!

References

SCHOOL CHARTER STRATEGIC AND ANNUAL PLAN DRAFT 2015 – 2017. Retrived from: http://www.robertson.school.nz/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Robertsonroad_charter_2015.pdf

Culturally Responsive Teaching. In Time. Integrating New Technologies into the Methods of Education. Retrieved from: http://www.intime.uni.edu/multiculture/curriculum/culture/teaching.htm

Light the Fire – Tangaroa College. Retrieved from: https://vimeo.com/142427283

Legal Contexts and Digital Identities

Activity 8 (ACP)

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Ethical dilemmas are a guaranteed certainty in teaching. The sensitivity and duty of care, that we are teachers and human beings must undertake, makes us all vulnerable to bad decisions and hindsight. With the advent of digital technologies the sense of moral value is complicated further with many ethical and moral decisions that are being faced and evolving with the rapid changes around us.

The Education Council of New Zealand has four principals that govern teachers roles:

  • Autonomy to treat people with rights that are to be honoured and defended
  • Justice to share power and prevent the abuse of power
  • Responsible care to do good and minimise harm to others
  • Truth to be honest with others and self.

I find these principals to be rather vague in terms of professional standards beyond the common sense of being a good human being in general. I will attempt to relate them to a situation that I know of in relation to the use of personal phone cameras in a school context.

Everyone has a smart phone these days. They are able to do all sorts of nifty things that help us with everyday life, besides phone calls and text messaging. We now have cameras and the internet at our finger tips.

Now, there is nothing more convenient than whipping out your phone at the right moment to record a teaching gem, either to show off to our colleagues, to keep for referencing our own professional development or to put on a class blog or website. Why book out a camera from the school stock when you have the convenience of your own phone right there in your pocket?

So here is where it gets fuzzy. There is NO school policy for personal phone use for this purpose.

Enter the story I know of…….

A teacher takes a photo of a student, outside of school hours, but on the school grounds, participating in the after school program. This child is in the teachers’ class. The teacher is taking the photo to use for class use. A family member gets wind that this has happened and is not happy about it.

Now…… how is this problem solved? Should teachers be able to use their personal phones to take photos of students? I have seen part time staff members also use their phones to take photos of other classes during assemblies. The lines really are blurred here.

Parents sign consent for their children to be photographed for educational purposes. So there is the autonomy and truth being addressed. The teachers ethic govern that matters to do with learners are openly discussed and prioritized with family and whanau. But to what degree is actually unsaid. If I put on my own parent hat – how would feel if my childs’ teacher was taking photos of my child on her phone for ‘educational purposes’? I guess I would make the assumption that the school would have school cameras for this job. Would she delete the photos from her phone as soon as she had uploaded them to her work computer? Where could these phone photos end up? I could easily argue for and against it. For – it’s immediate ease of use to be in the teaching moment and not having to plan for spontaneity. Against – it’s personal equipment and I don’t want someone not close to me having photos of my child in their personal possession. Heck, I don’t even post photos of my own child on my own private Facebook page as I don’t believe it’s right (but there are far more people than me who love to plaster their kids all over cyberspace – so it’s a personal choice thing). But you could aslo argue that a teacher could take a school camera home and upload school photos to a personal computer. What then??

Responsible Care would dictate that either school or personal camera options could have the potential to do harm in the wrong hands. But this is why there are blanket ‘rules’ so that the opportunity to have wrong hands does not eventuate, legally.

I actually have NO answers to this ethical dilemma. It does, however, make for a good discussion point, and something that I WILL have to address within my own practice in a timely manner.



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Social Media in Learning and Teaching

Activity 7 (ACP)

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Currently, in my ‘learning’ practice, I am using blogging download (1) as a vehicle to share my new learning (much like what I will expect of students using technology as a presentation platform). I am also using download to connect with other educators that are also on the Mindlab course at varying stages. We are using this to ask questions about assessments and links to valuable resources and to share our own blogs with each other. We are also connecting via download (2) discussion groups in a similar way. With the glut of available Social Media tools, I find these three a manageable number to work with to promote, maintain and extend my own professional learning. I have found connecting with other educators by reading blogs an efficient and easy way to find information on my professional interests (ie: Problem and Project-Based Learning). I tend to keep facebook use for my personal life only but have connected to many personal interest pages and some professional interest pages through this medium. Likewise with download for personal use only. I associate both of these forms of social media more closely with personal than professional use, to be honest. It’s intimate nature has lead me to this conclusion. I have sometimes used download (3) to find personal and professional inspirations. I have had to unblock this site at work as I found it could have some great visual significance in classroom use and future possibilities of sharing from the classroom.

I believe that online forums will have an impact in my future teaching. I currently use it for seeking answers to already asked questions, but obviously it can be used to pose questions and answer others. I see this as a valuable way for students to connect (although with less immediacy than say download (2) or images) with other learners and experts, as an alternative way of researching and using Social Media.

I think that the immediacy of Social Media is its most attractive feature, in a world where the speed of change is so rapid. In the classroom students want to be able to access information in a timely manner. Being so immediately connected is definitely that great leap for man kind beyond physical library access and ‘snail’ mail. Being able to satiate ones need for answers at the time a question arises or is posed helps to speed along learning, so the scope for learning more in a shorter space of time is something of great value.

Using blogs for online portfolios would mean that students work is always retrievable and students have a representative timeline of their learning to access throughout their educational timelines.

In trying to identify challenges with such technology tools in the classroom, the only thing I could think of was etiquette and attention span. That the use of it is always of value and students are only utilising to enhance their learning and gaining of new knowledge and that each use has a point or task attached to it. Monitoring of BYOD if that is used and basic rules of multi tasking with device use in the classroom.

Further learning: Videos that support Social Media use in education:

Connected Educators

Office of Ed Tech

Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1&v=K4Vd4JP_DB8

Using Social Media in the Classroom

 tvoparents

Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riZStaz8Rno

Social Media For Kids® The Social Media Education Experts

SocialMediaForKids

Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2rOekhi20E

Social Media in Education – Teaching Digital Natives

Richard de Meij

Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fes3jcytQCM

Social Media in Education Isn’t a Fad, It’s a Revolution | InstructureCon 2013

CanvasLMS

Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61HsS2T-6Ts



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Contemporary Issues in New Zealand and Internationally

Activity 6 (ACP)

The provocations to be addressed in this activity were separated into New Zealand and International contexts.

NZ – What are contemporary issues of NZ education which you find most relevant to your practice? To what extent does the issue impact on your practice? How would you address these issues?

International – What are current issues or trends of global education in the 21st Century? How would you respond to these issues or trends in your practice? Are there any lessons from other countries that you find particularly inspiring or relevant.

I wasn’t sure what angle I wanted to take so I did what any curious person doing research would do and read up about both New Zealand and International issues/trends. What I discovered was that there were overlaps in issues that education faces globally, so I want to address those overlaps this week. I think it is a good thing to know that the issues we are struggling with and aiming to rectify here are no different than the issues being faced and analysed in overseas schooling. It is comforting to know that where ever you go in the world the expectations of what we want for students is a global phenomenon and we are all working towards the same goal. This highlights the fact that so much is accessible online now that we are able to share our stories and resources to work for that common goal – STUDENTS and LEARNING. The 21st Century affects everyone and with the workplace branching out virtually all students need to be able to function in the global ‘playground’.

Firstly I read through a couple of NZ resources to pick out main themes here, then I aligned those same issues with what came up in international observances.

The Education Review Office (2012)stated in, The three most pressing issues for New Zealand’s education system, revealed in latest ERO report, that there are three major issues that need addressing in New Zealand. These are based around centering learning around the student, creating a flexible (“responsive”) curriculum and how assessment needs using to know about and plan for students. In A Global Perspective: Current Trends and Issues in ICT for 21st Century Education the international issues that aligned with ours were forming new conceptions of formal and informal learning, revising professional development, equitable resourcing and infrastructure of digital technologies, enhancing student learning,

Countries like Canada and Australia appear to have variations in national agendas as they are split into provences and territories, but there seems to be progress in aligning across the countries especially when it comes to assessment and teacher education.

Canadian researcher Michele Jacobsen outlined (in A Global Perspective: Current Trends and Issues in ICT for 21st Century Education) that enhancing student engagement through better resourced environments/increased access to systems and tool decreased inequalities, much like what researcher Niki Davis (from same article) said of the issues being addressed in New Zealand for priority learners.

Norweigan and Turkish educational reforms see  enhancing opportunities and use of technology through greater professional development. The cultural aspects, like with NZ, are relevant to the construction of integration for their learners. The Turkish element does, however, have more of a focus on curriculum that improves the hardware in classrooms, which aligns with what Niki Davis states about improving access, across all areas of the country, to digital technologies.

The Netherlands, like NZ, talk about “personalised learning” where curriculums are flexible and personal to the learner. This is something that is a becoming a trend in NZ in creating new curriculums that align with 21st Century Skills.

What is clear is that worldwide the 21st Century Skills sought to be interwoven into more flexible curriculums are: “Communication, collaboration, digital literacy, social and cultural skills, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity and self regulation – important for living and working in a digital society” (A Global Perspective: Current Trends and Issues in ICT for 21st Century Education) and that education needs to reform itself to cater for the changes constantly being created.

What does all this mean to my own practice?

I am part of developing a more fleixble curriculum in my school, and from seeing what current issues are, this is what needs to be happening. I am readily able to look outside of our school and nationally for inspiration of how others are trying to implement such changes globally. The relevance internationally has actually surprised me, but I see this as meaning more opportunity to cast a wide net for educational connections. Not only are we negotiating these issues here, it proves that all learners, not matter the background or circumstance are the same, and seek the same supports to become confident and connected 21st Century learners. This means that my practice has to evolve with the world.

References

The education debacle: How do we solve this problem?

Retrieved from:  http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11168352

A Global Perspective: Current Trends and Issues in ICT for 21st Century Education

Lynne Schrum West Virginia University, Niki Davis Canterbury University (New Zealand), Michele Jacobsen University of Calgary (Canada), Andreas Lund ProTed, Center for Excellence in Teacher Education, University of Oslo (Norway),  H. Ferhan Odabasi Anadolu University (Turkey), Joke Voogt University of Amsterdam & Windesheim University (The Netherlands), Jennifer Way University of Sydney (Australia)

Retrieved from:

http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jennifer_Way/publication/280218587_A_Global_Perspective_Current_Trends_and_Issues_in_ICT_for_21_st_Century_Education/links/55ade43f08aed9b7dcdafaa7.pdf

Knowledge and Education as International Commodities: The Collapse of the Common Good

Philip G. Altbach

Retrieved from:  http://ejournals.bc.edu/ojs/index.php/ihe/article/viewFile/6657/5878

Taking a “future focus” in education. April 2012. Shifting to 21st Century Thinking in education and Learning. NCER.

Retrieved from: http://www.shiftingthinking.org/?cat=269

Claire Amos. Wednesday, September 16, 2015. “Tech doesn’t improve student results – study” – why news reports like this are damaging (and missing the point). LEARNING LEADING CHANGE. A blog about teaching, learning, e-learning and leading change

Retrieved from: http://www.teachingandelearning.com/

Education Review Office (2012).The three most pressing issues for New Zealand’s education system, revealed in latest ERO report – Education Review Office.

Retrieved from:  http://www.ero.govt.nz/About-Us/News-Media-Releases2/The-three-most-pressing-issues-for-New-Zealand-s-education-system-revealed-in-latest-ERO-report

Professional Connection Map

Activity 5 (ACP)

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Connection Map

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The above map aligns me with many direct and potential connections associated with teaching. My direct day to day links are Robertson Road School, teaching staff, professional development and related agencies (such as Government agencies that oversee education). These are followed by communities that branch out from Mangere, to Auckland and then the wider New Zealand communities. Business and Corporate are an emerging connection with our school and therefore also hold many potential and continual future vision developments. Other schools and media/online resources are also developing and hold many potential leads for future integrative networks.

Professional Communities that are beginning to intersect with my own profession; the impacts and  evaluation in connection to my practice and communities:

The BUSINESS/CORPORATE environment is becoming a need in the professional development of my new role in the future vision of the school. By moving outside of ‘educational’ practices for professional development and support, the needs of 21st Century learners can be more fully addressed by current and future workplaces, which is preparing students for those jobs, entrepreneurs and social enterprises of ‘tomorrow’. Integrating business into school supports makes wise sense, especially in being able to supply the tools needed to develop and use alongside current trends. By looking forward to the future, the partnership with curriculum design on the profession, will take schools up to the next level and even the playing field between education and the real world. Interdisciplinarism relies on the integration of expertise and disciplines and its transference to real life contexts. This impact is somewhat symbiotic in terms of the embracement of 21st Century needs and seamless alignment from each school level to the workplace arena and interweaving corporate and social responsibilities.

The OTHER SCHOOLS professional connection needs to be used more from our school environment. The potential to construct understandings and curriculums between like-minded institutes and share expertise across disciplines would be of great value to personal teacher professional development. 21st Century learning values are the common goals of all educators within each school and by sharing our expertise within similar communities we are able to create and foster future learning environments. Using other schools experiences to expand and extend beyond our own classrooms and schools is of huge benefit to all within the connected communities shown above. Schools can help to guide inquiries into new teaching approaches and support each other with new best practices and emerging models. A larger network of discipline connections beyond the classroom means strong professional content outside the box.

School connections can use the theories, principles and concepts of single disciplines and a model of pedagogical reasoning to enhance a “structure of knowledge” (Teachers’ In-Depth Content Knowledge, n.d). It helps to connect understandings and develop approaches to learning and learner knowledge. Across the connections educators can share curriculum resources, information and knowledge whilst exploring emerging ideas and themes

The benefits and challenges of working within an interdisciplinary environment err more on the side of benefits:

Challenges that may constrain, but not deem impossible, the use of interdisciplinary connections would be time (as making and maintaining professional relationships outside of our immediate day to day connections takes extra time); accountability (who is responsible for the quality of the new knowledge? Is it research and evidence based? Is it being explored? What measures guarantee authenticity? Is any of this actually needed?!); and being able to connect with and across groups.

Benefits are the enrichment of ideas and methods from all other disciplines. “Better collegiality and support between teachers and the wider community of disciplines” (Mathison, 1997, p.20). New curriculum approaches are created that align with the need to move schools towards the future. Sharing expertise across connections means that expertise outside of our immediate connections is far more accessible and viable as development opportunities, therefore, a coherence of integrating disciplines can be achieved across many platforms.

To integrate disciplines is to address the needs of the whole child, which Mathison (1997) says is a cornerstone of the interdisciplinary approach. This therefore means that the ‘whole’ of an educators professional development needs to be catered for to align with meeting the needs of the child as a learner. These skills can then easily transfer between educators and students.

Golding (2009) sees that the collaboration of disciplines and areas of expertise being shared uses “disciplinary depth” which is accessing, understanding, employing and synthesising this knowledge within a learning context of professionals.

References

Golding, C. (2009). Integrating the disciplines: Successful interdisciplinary subjects. Cshe – Centre for the Study of Higher Education. The University of Melbourne. Retrieved from:                                                                                                         http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/resources_teach/curriculum_design/docs/Interdisc_Guide.pdf

Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved from http://www.albany.edu/cela/reports/mathisonlogic12004.pdf

A How-To Guide For School-Business Partnerships. The Council for Corporate and School Partnerships. Retrieved from: http://www.nhscholars.org/School-Business%20How_to_Guide.pdf

Teachers’ Indepth Content Knowledge. N.d. InTime – Integrating New Technologies into the Methods of Education. Retrieved from: http://www.intime.uni.edu/model/teacher/teac2summary.html

Communities of Practice

Activity 4 (ACP)

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Provocations addressed:

What are the core values that underpin your profession and how?

What is the purpose and function of your practice? In what ways do you cater for the community of your practice?

What is your specialist area of practice? How does your specialist area of practice relate to the broader professional context?

What are the challenges that you face in your practice? What are the current issues and trends in your community? How would you/your community address them?

What changes are occurring in the context of your profession at this time? How would you address them?

My Professional Community

Robertson Road School is the general community that I participate in regularly as an educator/classroom teacher. All educators at the school share learning with the common domain of raising student achievement. This community aims to improve teacher practice through such initiatives as Lesson Studies (currently through Bobby Maths) and with open door and learning teaching ethics.

I belong to a Future Vision Team at Robertson Road school as my specialist area of practice. I am a core member of this community. We have a shared competence of studying through the Mind Lab for the Post Grad certificate. We are learning from this and each other to help facilitate the new learning intiative and common domain of 2016 curriculum development around the 21st Century Learning Skills.  We are exploring new techniques and approaches together and develoing shared resources of teaching approaches for the RRS community of practice.

Etienne Wenger talks about a landscape of practice. The general RRS “hill” and the Future Vision Team “hill” coincide on the same landscape as each share core values of the stakeholders of the school (being the students). These core values (as laid out in the school charter) are: Capability, Credibility and Accountability. These values underpin both communities by:capability a                                    credibility baccoutnability c

Challenges that exist within the communities are sustaining the interaction as the development of shared practice across communities is influenced by a new social learning structure. The Future Vision Team has a new agenda of change and, therefore, the RRS community needs to accept a smooth transition of new ideas and experiences and shared learning. This is foreseen as being challenging as new and old ideas meet and possibly oppose. Encouraging educators not to be closed and expand the landscape of practice across communities will be part of each groups shared learning experiences.

Changes occurring in the RRS community are being instigated by the Future Vision community by developing a new curriculum and teaching approaches. Across New Zealand a focus on future learning is beginning to take flight. The implications of this focus is that there is a need for  an integration of systems to review their policies; schools to commit to creating and joining new networks; and teachers to be active in seeking out networks for professional development and use new technologies for class learning (Future-Focused Learning in Connected Communities, p. **). New Zealand is a small country that needs to extend its communities beyond the immediate physical landscapes and teaching now needs to be transformed to meet the challenges of learning happening anywhere and everywhere. We need to develop innovative teaching in order to manage the change and foster students who can collaborate and therefore be instigators of their own change. Currently New Zealands’ school systems lack to meet the needs of our learners in a national and global context. These communities need to be created and nurtured to move NZ forward. The Learning Reference Group cites the Government Educational Priorities as:

  • Opportunities and challenges for the future
  • Effective teaching that makes the best of technologies in education
  • There is equitable access for ALL students across NZ
  • Closing the digital divide will help to close achievement gaps.

These are currently being addressed within both communities.

The purpose and function of my practice within these communities is that of engaging in activities with other community members, sharing my professional competences around my area of exploration (PBL) and interacting/learning together with other community members to raise student achievement. I am using my current research/personal professional development and content knowledge from the Post Grad course to cater to the needs addressed by each community (future focused learning).

References

Wenger- Trayner, B. & Wenger- Trayner, E. (2015) Communities of Practice a Brief Introduction. Retrieved from: http://wenger-trayner.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/07-Brief-introduction-to-communities-of-practice.pdf

Etienne Wenger talks about ‘walking the landscape of practice’. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1&v=qjw0YoqpEq8

Future-Focused Learning in Connected Communities, 2014. A report by the 21st Century Learning Reference Group. Retrieved from:   http://www.education.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Ministry/Initiatives/FutureFocusedLearning30May2014.pdf

My Metacognition – Thinking about my Thinking…………..

Activity 2 (ACP)

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Reflection on learning and practice.


Reflect on the last 25 weeks of study. Provide a critical discussion of at least three things you have learned about yourself as a learner (metacognitive process) and three key changes in your own practice.

My role in the school – how it was before and how it is now. – how it has changed my own practice I have worked at RRS for 8 years. During this time I spent 2 years becoming a BT and the next 5 working on myself as a teacher. I would say my craft, but I think that as someone without a natural leaning for teaching that I was constantly trying to catch up to current practices happening around me in the school in order to apply prescribed instruction in the classroom. When I started out I had all the enthusiasm and creativity of a past arts student (I had a degree in performing arts) but I slowly found myself leaving some of that experience behind in order to focus on the academics of basic instruction for junior school children’s reading writing and maths learning. There was school-wide pd but I never felt like I was really getting a handle on the fundamentals of they WHY of many teaching tools. I was automatically operating on the functions of teaching. I felt I was missing some researched based evidence in my own teaching practice but often fund the workload overwhelming and so didn’t have the extra time to seek this information out myself. Over the past year, as new initiatives have been introduced into the school, I have been given the opportunity to follow a path that excites me and has given me the opportunity to access an alternative and new way of moving forward in the classroom. It has been a transformative process that has awakened a more reflective and reflexive teacher within myself and a new lease of purpose within education and the school that I am working in. I have always had the students’ best interests at heart and this year has added a new dimension to that pledge. I have a somewhat leadership role in terms of the future focus of the school and the scope to explore what others think might be impossible.  With the support of the principal I am excited to know that there is more to education than walking a delineated traditional line of lifelong learning. What I have found though, is that some people find change scary and helping them to understand that it is okay to risk take to find innovative new ways to raise achievement is a challenge. But one that is necessary to take!

Over the past 25 weeks I have been constantly reflecting on my own practice. Where I have come from and how I can vastly improve in my own practice in order to motivate students (and other teachers) with the aim of raising student achievement. The implicit urge to question everything that I have done, everything I am doing and everything I plan to do is actually a very liberating feeling. The research process has given me a more academic angle to my view on how I approach education– how the research process has made me aware of professionally seeking my own information and not relying only on school led professional development and seeking out peer reviewed best practices etc. I want to know why it is a good idea to pursue a certain teaching approach and find the evidence that supports its practice. I want to be engaging in more learning dialogue with colleagues and find out what they are doing and why. I want to see evidence of their practice (and not to criticize their work, but to find a deeper understanding of teaching).  I have found myself to become more observant of students’ skill sets and what needs are common throughout the school and how I can implement successful learning strategies to best enhance these skills within the children through meaningful and culturally relevant contexts.

Traditionally it has been easy to use technology as an add on in the classroom. What with limited resources and the coming and going of an ICT ‘room’ in the school and limited teacher knowledge around technology and effective use. Publishing writing and maths games could only get students so far and was very much an add on rather than enhancement to learning. I don’t actually think calling it learning is appropriate at all. It has been great, therefore, learning to use technology as a platform to showcase and present new learning in creative ways and with greater purpose, rather than using it as learning in itself. Although a lot of children know how to use a computer, some have still needed some basic instruction/exploration around use of programs and cameras, etc. But the rise in student engagement and motivation, through creative technology use, has been evident, from the introduction of movie making skills at the beginning of the year when I was able to take classes from across all levels of the school for CRT.

Using Rolfe’s simple Reflective Model I can look at my learning in the past 25 weeks.

What: I have learned the basics of Digital and Collaborative teaching and learning. I have researched problem/project based learning as a teaching approach that best encapsulates the 21st Century Learning Skills.

So What: I can use this new learning to engage and motivate students through new and forward thinking teaching and learning practices and work around new skill sets necessary for life long learning.

What Next: I will use my new learning and teaching approaches to work hard to improve student achievement and skills.

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