Postgraduate Learning Journey

Summarising 32 weeks of Learning

A journey quote

Image: The Journey of 1000 Miles by Jack Standbridge, (2014). Retrieved from http://goo.gl/uWI1Tn 

They say ‘The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step’. Those first steps I took, 32 weeks back, toward enrolling in The Mind Lab by Unitec’s Postgraduate Certification in Applied Practice have certainly led me on a journey.

Putting into few words, 32 weeks of learning and discovery is no easy task. Each week delivered such a breadth of topic that even the PLD post reflecting my thoughts on  ‘Digital & Collaborative Learning’ which I made at 28 weeks in, is miles from where my thinking is now.

The growth I experienced in the programme has been exponential. The following Tagul image shows the responses of our intake when asked what our ideas for 21st Century learning might be.

Tagul

Over the sessions to follow we explored these ideas through critical discussion, research, hands-on experiences and creative pursuits. Developing strong collaborative relationships with our fellow classmates and a deepened understanding of what it is to be a learner in our digital world.

Practicing Teacher Criteria

Throughout the course, each participant is demonstrating and collecting evidence toward the Practicing Teacher Criteria (PTCs) through shifts in practice.

The following resource by the Ministry of Education (2016) via the Enabling E-Learning site, links each of the twelve criteria to examples of e-learning supporting the PTCs.

Professional relationships and professional values

  • Criteria 1: Establish and maintain effective professional relationships focused on the learning and well-being of all ākonga.
  • Criteria 2: Demonstrate commitment to promoting the well-being of ākonga.
  • Criteria 3: Demonstrate commitment to bicultural partnership in Aotearoa / New Zealand.
  • Criteria 4: Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice.
  • Criteria 5: Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning.

Professional knowledge in practice

  • Criteria 6: Conceptualise, plan, and implement an appropriate learning programme.
  • Criteria 7: Promote a collaborative, inclusive, and supportive learning environment.
  • Criteria 8: Demonstrate in practice their knowledge and understanding of how ākonga learn.
  • Criteria 9: Respond effectively to the diverse and cultural experiences and the varied strengths, interests, and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga.
  • Criteria 10: Work effectively within the bicultural context of Aotearoa NZ.
  • Criteria 11: Analyse and appropriately use assessment and information, which has been gathered formally and informally.
  • Criteria 12: Use critical inquiry and problem-solving effectively in their professional practice.

My Three

If I had to choose just three skills that this learning journey had helped me to develop well they would be:

Criteria 4: Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice.Kickstart

The commitment to my own ongoing PLD is obvious. Enrollment in the course and the dedication with which I completed each assignment in a way that really impacted my professional practice can be evidenced by assignment submissions and my teaching as inquiry. However, my interest and enthusiasm for PLD sparked, I then engaged in a huge array of other PLD opportunities from workshops to online events, my professional learning networks grew and my professional discussions broadened beyond my own classroom practice.

Criteria 5: Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning.

Seeing the value that PLD had given my practice I then went on to join the PLD committee at our school, to help lead the e-learning team, to run an e-Learning PLD day for 50 plus staff and eventually to move into a full-time role as a PLD Facilitator.

Criteria 9: Respond effectively to the diverse and cultural experiences and the varied strengths, interests, and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga.

The practical and applicable nature of the programme made it easy to transfer our learnings into practice. Using my Teaching as Inquiry I was able to explore How Gamification might support responsive teaching practice. My literature review of Gamification and GameBased Learning in the New Zealand Education System led me to consider my new role as a facilitator and how I might support my new ākonga being teachers in this way. I c0-developed an inquiry into the Gamification of Teaching  the Adobe Slate version of this is linked to the image below.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.14.55 PM

Next Steps

 

The next steps for me as an e-leader might be better described as leaps. My goal for 2016 is to strengthen my ability to facilitate change through developing the ability to help others have an awareness of their thinking, around the use of digital technologies for learning. I would like to do this by developing mentoring skills such as effective questioning techniques so that schools might develop sustainable shifts toward the effective use of digital technologies for learning. I have identified several enablers that might support me in this goal including:

  • my awareness of the need to develop critical thinking for change
  • an ability to feel comfortable in different situations and environments
  • being well supported in admin and tasks side of my role as a facilitator
  • being well supported by family who enable me to spend time on developing in this role
  • being well connected in local education environment – PLD providers, local educators, local experts, helping with my own critical thinking and as a support network and
  • having strong cultural and family links to my region.

I believe that using my strengths will help me develop my ability to facilitate change. This goal is linked to the Te Toi Tupu -Professional Dimensions for Facilitator Practice, Dimension A2. Facilitators engage in appropriate professional relationships and demonstrate commitment to professional values – Professional Leadership.

I am also working with my mentor to build collaborative practices in my community of learning by designing community collaboration initiatives to increase engagement and collaboration across stakeholders. In achieving this goal I will have created a visualisation of my local PLN with the intent that this will allow me to see connections across my network and make links where beneficial. I will have explored ways of supporting COLs to find common goals and I will have a kete of skills, techniques and tools for working with COLs and other groups toward common goals.

I am excited by the opportunites these next steps bring and the new pathways that open ahead of me as I continue on toward the next 1000 miles.


References

Ministry of Education. (2016). Practising Teacher Criteria and e-learning. Enabling E-Learning. Retrieved 27 March 2016, from http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/Practising-Teacher-Criteria-and-e-learning
Wagner, T.(2016). Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills. Retrieved 27 March 2016, from http://www.tonywagner.com/7-survival-skills

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Responsive or Responsible

A Lens of Our Own

When considering our cultural responsiveness we must first develop a sense of our own cultural positioning. We all view the world through our own cultural lens. This lens is developed over a lifetime and is a product of our experiences. It is therefore mostly imperceivable by us unless we consciously look to understand it. In order to truly respond to our learners in a culturally conscious way, we must acknowledge the barriers that prevent this way from being the norm.

RacialDifferences

Image: Race is not Changeable by Pan-African Alliance, (2016). Retrieved from http://goo.gl/oZu6hx

So how might one go about this journey of self-discovery? How might we begin to understand the culturally appropriate acts we should take when faced with a culture unfamiliar to our own? I recently attended a CORE Breakfast Seminar by Alex Hotere-Barnes (2016) who spoke about what he had coined ‘Pākeha paralysis’. Hotere-Barnes found that those persons who worked effectively in cultures which were not their own had broken free from the ‘paralysis’ of a society permeated by racism. Learning to be clear in their relationships and comfortable in themselves. Dissonance is not always a bad thing, it can create movement and growth, however, unacknowledged dissonance can lead to an uneasy disposition. Indigenous pedagogy models have a lot to offer us as we navigate the complex landscape of a colonized society. I have heard too many times, teachers with the best intentions professing that they do not see colour in their classrooms. Taking pride in their ability to ‘treat all learners as equal’. To deny a person’s culture exists so that we might treat everyone the same is to force our own unconscious bias onto others, those who are disadvantaged most are those whose cultural knowledge differ most from our own. In an oppressor society, these are always the oppressed.

“If the structure does not permit dialogue the structure must be changed” Paulo Freire

Vision and Mission

So what do we do toward becoming more culturally responsive? Most schools have a strong theme of culturally responsive pedagogies outlined in their vision and core values. But for many schools, this understanding stops at the document. Constant effort should be made toward creating awareness and maintaining high expectations of cultural responsiveness from all stakeholders.

Hands Up

Image: Need to Focus on Education in 6th Plan by Financial Tribute, (2015). Retrieved from http://goo.gl/sei4Zg

CORE Education pride themselves as innovators and thought leaders of learning and education. Cultural intelligence and multiculturalism is actively promoted across the organisation. To me, multiculturalism is an awareness and appreciation of all the cultures around us. In this digital age these cultures might be present both virtually and physically. Multiculturalism is embracing the differences that exist across our society and being aware of our own cultural lenses. Having a multicultural disposition in our work means that we are actively aware of multiculturalism. I believe, it is important in our work, that we make genuine effort to engage with and find meaning in with both our own culture(s) and those of others who we engage with in an authentic way. Having a multicultural disposition involves being comfortable in looking to others to guide our understandings of culture with which we are less familiar, and sharing with others the intricacies of those in which we are.

Professional Learning

I have found that professional learning involving learning a language offer much more than vocab and sentence structures. Completing language courses, in Te Reo Māori for example, draw a lot on the tikanga and cultural understandings involved in a Māori world view. Professional learning targeted at developing certain sectors of our society ie. Māori learners, Pasifika learners, may be helpful. However, more depth of knowledge comes from an immersion in that culture, for example attending hui at marae or visiting schools with high population of Pasifika students. I believe that in making an ongoing effort to develop my own sense of culture and identity helps me to build a multicultural disposition. Firstly, an understanding of our personal bias is necessary if we are to address the bias’ and preconceptions honestly. My ideas about multiculturalism continue to evolve as does the multicultural nature of our society. Bringing an awareness of multiculturalism to the way I work and communicate both professionally and personally helps me work towards being more open minded and accepting of all persons.

Reasonable Resourcing

Educators and schools nationwide are working to develop resources responsive to our multicultural and bicultural society. However, there is a long way to go. Presently most of the resources we use in our schools are strongly grounded in the dominant culture, to be truly culturally responsive there are mojor shifts needed in resourcing our education sector at both school and professional development level. It is important that we continue to question the resources we are using in our practice and those we are provided with. There are many educators working to develop culturally relevant resources but more can and should be done. Contributing to this deficit and sharing the culturally located resources we create helps build a culture of critical thinking over compliance.


References

CORE Education. (2016). Multiculturalism: Navigating the spaces between Ethnicity, Identity, and Diversity using Cultural Intelligence. Retrieved 26 March 2016, from http://www.core-ed.org/thought-leadership/blog/multiculturalism-navigating-spaces-between-ethnicity-identity-and-diversity

 

Share, Be Aware!

The Dilemma

On occasion, we come across areas of our practice that conflict in some way with our beliefs, thus we are faced with the ethical dilemma. For me, it is the desire to share. With a common goal and limited time, it makes sense to share any and all resources we have created to save others ‘reinventing the wheel’. If someone out there has done it already, likewise we draw on our connectedness through the wonders of modern technology and make use of that which others are willing to share. Well, yes but we do need to be aware of how and what we share.

ThinkstockPhotos-150853553

Image: Plagiarism by Dane Mark, Thinkstock (2016). Retrieved from http://goo.gl/U1Kj89

As a beginning teacher, I was so enthusiastic I spent hours creating resources and designing learning experiences that I’d then use and refine. Asking others for critique and sharing ideas that worked well was encouraged wasn’t it? These ideas and resources belonged to me, so I could share them out however I liked. Or did they? In my blissful ignorance as a new teacher, I hadn’t stopped to question… “To who do these resources belong?” And “Is it my place to share?”.

Intellectual Property Rights

How many times today have you broken the law? If you’re a teacher who likes to adapt and share resources, the answer might surprise you.” Elizabeth Heritage (2015).

Elizabeth Heritage (2015) writes “There is currently a major problem with copyright in education.” Many of us may be unaware that it is not us but our employers who hold the copyrights to all resources that we create during employment. Without the Board of Trustees express permission, each time we share resources with our teaching colleagues at another school or use those created while working on one job at another, we are breaking the law!

In my second year of teaching, I worked hard to feed the culture of sharing and collaboration across colleagues nationwide. Upon hearing that it was likely, I was breaking the law in doing this; I approached my principal with these concerns. Thankfully, there is some good news. Although the Board did legally own all of those resources I had been tirelessly creating in the wee hours, I was reassured that they would never draw on their ownership in a way that limited my ability to share and adapt the resources I had created. It is up to the owner of any copyright to permit or deny the use of the work. However, not all teachers may feel confident in a vocal arrangement. That is where developing a Creative Commons policy will help.

intellectual-property-2013

Image: Intellectual Property by Raconteur Media Ltd, (2013). Retrieved from http://goo.gl/Elupm8

Creative Commons

A Creative Commons policy can be used in schools to change the default copyright relationship. The policy would shift licensing to enable the sharing, adaptation and reuse of teaching resources. Current Government thinking supports such a change as nationwide collaboration is made increasingly possible through digital technologies. Boards of Trustees are encouraged to consider the Future Focused Learning in Connected Communities report as they develop their Creative Commons policies (Ministry of Education, 2014). 

Video: CC Pukeko from CreativeCommons AotearoaNZ on Vimeo.

 

Tools and resources to help your school get started with their Creative Commons licensing are found at Creative Commons AotearoaNZ.


References

Creative Commons Aotearoa NZ. (2014). Creative Commons in Schools. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://creativecommons.org.nz/ccinschools/
Heritage, E. (2015). How Schools Can Share OERs – Legally – NZ Commons. Creative Commons Aotearoa. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://nzcommons.org.nz/share-oers-legally/
Ministry of Education. (2016). Future-Focused Learning Report Released. Education in New Zealand. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://www.education.govt.nz/news/future-focused-learning-report-released/
Ministry of Education. (2016) Know your copy-rights! Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://www.edgazette.govt.nz/Articles/Article.aspx?ArticleId=9224

 

 

Our Social Appitite

Connected Learners

The digital world creates an opportunity for us to be increasingly globally connected. Our social circles extend far beyond the streets and towns that once bound us. Children are born today into a world of unbridled possibilities, and equally enormous pressures.

social-tools

Image: Monitoring Social Media by Creativebeans (2016), Retrieved from http://goo.gl/S3xDAW

As the digital revolution impacts the lives of our learners, teaching and learning practices must evolve in alignment. While concerns about cyberbullying and unfettered access to information incite caution, as educators we are faced with the challenge of developing teaching experiences which help our learners become safe and socially responsible users in this online space.

Social media provides an avenue for us to connect our students with people and places beyond the classroom walls. Networks such as Facebook and Twitter can be utilised to broaden our discussion groups and audiences. Building global relationships through these tools can enhance empathy, global awareness and lead to increased social good. Curation tools such as Pinterest can be used collaboratively encouraging shared discovery and knowledge creation. Exploring the ideas of others via creative tools such as YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr can also help our students to create, share and critique. Using platforms such as OpenIDEO and Zooniverse we can help learners realise their potential beyond than passive consumerism as they contribute solutions to real world issues.

As e-leaders, we need to encourage reflective learning focused use of social media. Running a workshop on the theme of global connectedness led to a critical discussion of this issue.

Presentation: Napier Girls High School, Global Connectedness Workshop (2016) by Heather McIntyre and Renee Raroa

Connected Educators

As educators, we spend most, if not all of our time giving. We tend to live and breathe our professions, always thinking of the next act we can do or the next resource we might create for our learners. Unless others are around who we can engage in critical discussion with and who feed our inquiring natures, our busy schools and classrooms can be isolating.

Social media is powerful in its ability to connect us with a world of like-minded others and critical friends. Tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin provide forums for discussion and sharing across the globe. National initiatives such as the VLN support our drive to develop, relevant and culturally situated learning experiences for our learners and ourselves.

“It is timely to consider the extent to which online social networks present both challenge and opportunity for educators’ professional learning.” Melhuish (2013).


References

Melhuish, K.(2013) Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrieved on 12 March 2016, from http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/8482/thesis.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y
Twitterforeducation Wikispace. (2016) Educational Uses of Twitter. Retrieved on 12 March 2016, from https://twitterforeducation.wikispaces.com/Educational+Uses+of+Twitter

 


 

 

On Trend

What’s Hot in Education Now?

By analysing trends across the education sector, we can strategically invest our time and energy into relevant themes, identified as worthy of consideration.

Business vision concept vector

Image: Business Vision Concept Businessman Looking to the View with Telescope by Point It Inc, (2016). Retrieved from http://goo.gl/yND3MF

The New Zealand Education Review Office (2012) identifies the following three themes as pressing issues in the New Zealand education system:

  1. Student-centered learning – A shift in the locus of control from teacher to learner.
  2. Responsive and rich curriculum – Providing learning experiences relevant to our students.
  3. Assessment used for students’ learning – Adjusting teaching and learning strategies based on achievement evidence.

To address these issues, we consider what approaches we might employ to most effectively develop our teaching and learning practices in these areas. One efficient solution is to look to emerging trends in digital technologies which support education.

Ten Trends

Each year, for the past decade, CORE Education has pooled its understandings and expertise in education and digital technologies to establish the ‘Ten Trends’ which are expected to impact the New Zealand education sector over the coming year.

These trends are organised around five key areas of change, which highlight the context that these trends are likely to make an impact in (CORE Education Ltd, 2016). These five key areas of change are Structural, Technology, Process, Economic and Cultural.

CORE Ten Trends

Image: Ten Trends 2016 by CORE Education Ltd, (2016). Retrieved from http://goo.gl/66rdN

Using an inquiry approach, we might consider one or two of these trends which relate most to an area of our practice that we are looking to improve. Of 2016’s trends, there are two which stand out as particularly relevant to my practice as an e-leader.

Networked Communities

The trend of Networked Communities comes under the critical area of Structural Change. From leadership to infrastructure New Zealand schools have historically been organised in a typical institutional-style. Heavily dependent on hierarchical authority, repetitive timelines and standardised building design our schools have traditionally been highly dependent on structures for daily operation.

The Networked Communities trend suggests that schools are rethinking their existing frameworks. Where most schools have previously operated as isolated institutions, a shift toward Communities of Schools and Communities of Learning breaks down these campused silos, offering teachers and leaders new roles and providing schools with the opportunity for new positionings within their communities.

In my capacity as a Facilitator of Learning with Digital Technologies and an Advisor of the Connected Learning Advisory, it is imperative that I remain at the forefront of this trend in my community. I aim to do this by being involved as much as possible in the educational community of my region. By working across schools in my area from Ruatoria on the East Coast through to Hastings in the Hawke’s Bay, I can maintain a broad scope of regional understandings and keep my finger on the pulse of the initiatives that emerge from this space. I am also working to develop strong professional relationships with other professional providers in my region to ensure that I understand the strengths and needs of local educators. As a parent, I have recently joined my daughter’s school’s Board of Trustees which provides me yet another perspective of how our local schools are operating. Maintaining connections to the local business sector also broaden my insight and understanding of the communities perception of our education system. Wherever possible we must take the opportunity to promote explicitly Networked Communities, so that our schools do not miss out on the potential benefits that being connected provides.

Change Leadership

Processes are the critical area identified as being impacted by Change Leadership. The processes of our education system are the way in which we carry out tasks and reach our purpose. The New Zealand education system has well-established processes such as curriculum and assessment. However, the processes involved in how a school organises its daily operations, and leadership are becoming more variable across the sector.

The need for the development of Change Leadership highlights the point that many of our schools’ processes are undergoing shifts. Change Leadership is critical to making transitions and progress during times of complex change. At every level of our organisations, professional learning and development (PLD) will play a vital role in equipping leaders to be effective leaders of change.

As an e-leader, it is important that I am developing my leadership practice toward leading complex change. There are many PLD opportunities which can provide Change Leadership development. In my practice, I seek the chance to enrol as many in seminars and workshops of this focus as possible. These might include PLD days such as that run by Jennifer Garvey-Berger; Theory of Change, of Complexity and the Way Adults Grow Over Time, reflected upon in my post Leadership in Complexity and the annual Emerging Leaders Summit run by CORE Education. Being enrolled in the uChoose customised professional learning and mentoring programme also helps me target my PLD through inquiry and coaching toward these specific goals.

“The only thing that is constant is change” – Heraclitus


References

Education Review Office (2012).The three most pressing issues for New Zealand’s education system, revealed in latest ERO report – Education Review Office. Retrieved 5 March 2016, 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
CORE Education (2016). Ten Trend Categories. Retrieved 5 March 2016, from http://www.core-ed.org/thought-leadership/ten-trends-categories
Online Learning Insights (2014). Three Trends That Will Influence Learning and Teaching in 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2016, from https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/three-trends-that-will-influence-learning-and-teaching-in-2015/?blogsub=confirmed#blog_subscription-3
Online Learning Insights (2016).Three Trends that Will Influence Learning and Teaching in 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2016, from https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/three-trends-that-will-influence-learning-and-teaching-in-2016/
Bolstad, R., Gilbert, J., McDowall, S., Bull, A., Boyd, S., & Hipkins, R. (2012).Supporting future-oriented learning & teaching: A New Zealand perspective.Wellington: Ministry of Education. Retrieved 5 May 2015, from https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/schooling/109306

 


 

Crossing Boundaries

Professional Connections

Our education system faces major change. Interdisciplinary practice will play a major role in the complexity of these changes. The ability to collaborate across disciplines and cultures will be essential as we work together to find solutions to new problems and to build new understandings.

Having the opportunity to work across departments in our schools can be very valuable as we learn to remove the silos of understanding embedded particularly well in our high schools. We must work hard to feel comfortable with change, to respons to change with a growth-mindset. Growing up in a multi-cultural environment means that many of us are asked to move between environments, developing an awareness of our own abilities to change at a young age.

As adults, we become more aware of the importance of our connectedness across these environments as our networks grow more and more complex. Entering the interdisciplinary world of education, we can draw connections we had previously not seen. We might also begin to wonder about, and to value, the spaces in-between.

Crossing_Boundaries_My_Professional_Connection_Map (1)

Goals and Connections

Iwi are potentially a very powerful professional connection. The importance of this is evident in a facilitators role as we move from school to school needing to develop relationships within an unnaturally short timeframe. Iwi affiliations can help us to access people and organisations for support, and to find connections with new groups of people with which to engage in critical professional conversations.

We might also take a keen interest in the development potential of online professional learning networks. These network connections can lead to new opportunities, strengthening these could continue to open doors. The sheer vastness of online networks means that there was always someone there to be challenged by and to challenge in return. When we find value in our online professional learning networks the potential for new knowledge and improvement is limitless.

A Tribe Learning to Survive

Defining a Community of Practice

Wenger’s work on communities of practice makes the intreging statement ‘a tribe learning to survive’. In this we are reminded of the importance of good grammar as we considere the possibilities that different puntucation might lead t in this situation.

There is something appealing about the idea of a thinking of a community of practice as ‘a tribe learning to survive’ through change and circumstance. But, we might appreciate even more the implications of adding one small comma. ‘A tribe, learning to survive’, suggesting that survival is dependant on learning, that learning is a neccessity to the survival of a tribe.

“Communities of practice: A tribe, learning to survive” Adapted from Wegner (2015).

All in Good Time

In the post ‘Leadership in Complexity‘ we discusses the many insights shared during a local professional learning and development (PLD) day hosting Jennifer Garvey-Berger. As ‘her tribe’ explored the demands of leadership in complex environments there were regular themes that arose. One of the most predominant was the concept of time. Members of the tribe felt that they had so much to do, that they were not completing tasks to the best of thier abilities because of time contraints.

How might a ‘tribe’ in the traditional sense approach this issue? Images of Māui slowing the sun come to mind.

Thanks to Māui, from Māori legend, we now had 24 hours in the day. How is  it that Māui and his brothers relished in the idea of a 24 hour day, while we proclaim it is not enough. One explanation would be that it is all relative, compare to a 4 hour day, 24 hours was excessive. But, could there be another ‘trick’ that Māui, the trickster, held up his sleave?

Individually, we all have 24 hours in a day – true. But, collectively depending on the number of persons in your tribe there may be hundreds and thousands of hours at the tribes disposal. ‘Working harder, not smarter’ is the key here.

With a united vision and common goals, communities of practice can work collaboratively and in support of each other to reach agreed outcomes much more efficiently. One way a tribe has of doing this is through digitally shared resources and forum discussions.

The Challenge of Change

In the practice of educational leadership there is a constant challenge of change. The complex school and learning systems we work within are pulled to and fro by research and reports, outcomes and goals. The community of practice braving these stormy seas faces an unpredictable future and thus must hold fast to their fellow tribesmen in attempt to stay afloat.

For as long as we can remember, systems have shown, perhaps perplexingly, a resistance to change. But, we can be inspired by the notion that change is the only constant in the universe. Jenifer Garvey-Berger asks us to consider the difference between ‘resistance’ and ‘resilience’. Both are the ability to hold your ground under situations of difficulty. But we tend to call this resilience when we like it and resistance when we don’t (Jennifer Garvey-Berger, 2016). Both of these are acting through the same force but percieved very differently.

When we are conciously aware of our perceptions we can start to understand our misconceptions. This is where again, the tribe can help. Through critical discussion of our challenges with change and the consideration of perspectives outside of our own we can move to understand the intricacies of our challenges and find solutions previously unseen.

Hitting a Moving Target

In the practice of teaching and learning we are forever faced with a moving target. In the education system that target is moving away at a pace more rapid that our current system can keep up with. The education is at one of those cricital moments where a ‘dip into complexity’ is neccessary for survival (Jennifer Garvey-Berger, 2016).

While changes are evident and shifts are being made, we are was conciously aware of scale. Sitting with fellow tribesman as they discuss these issues of change we propose that the movement is not significant enough. All good intentions aside, perhaps the small shifts allowed people to feel that they had done thier part? In this case, do many members of our tribe feel that they are no longer responsable for making the larger jumps needed?

Significant shift in the way our education system operates is needed. How should we go about creating this shift? We may not have the answers yet but with a tribe such as ours we know we will learn, to survive.


References

Good Grammar. [Image]. Source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/70/11/d4/7011d4815e1fd6d2387b6b0711f82c25.jpg
Gossage, Peter. (2009). How Maui slowed the Sun [Video]. Retrieved 24 February 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbM3PwcGi0g
Wenger-trayner.com. (2015). Introduction to communities of practice | Wenger-Trayner. Retrieved from http://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/

Mirror Mirror

A Response to ‘Reflecting on Reflective practice’ (Linda Finlay, 2008)

During our teacher training we are often asked to be thinking about thinking. However, when developing an analytical mindset some of us develop a tendancy to overthink moments in time. The small details of conversations can go round and round in our heads, theorising about the way in which our words may have been misinterpreted, attempting to interpret for ourselves the tiny nuances of our numerous daily encounters. That was of course before the teacher workload!

every cloud has a silver lining

As teachers, we no longer had the luxury of obsessive thoughts. ‘Thinking time’ is a precious commodity to be used efficiently and with purpose.

We have all heard the cries of busy teachers, over worked and always on the job. But, if  we are optomistic we can easily find our silver lining. No longer having time to ‘sweat the small stuff’ can unburden us in quite a life changing way. We are enbled to continue to be analytical and draw on our reflective natures, but in a way that actually affects positive change. Instead of dwelling on the negative and feeling helpless in its shadow, we can learn to consider the extensive research and models of reflective pratice. This means putting our inquiring minds at ease as what we once considered failures now present as learning opportunities.

Linda Finlay (2008) draws on extensive research and numerous models to explore the difficulties of reflective practice, both conceptually and practically.

The New Zealand Teaching as Inquiry cycle can be considered alongside her description of Schon’s idea of reflection-on-action. In practice the artistry of teaching in New Zealand draws also on Schon’s idea of reflection-in-action as more and more we need to be flexible and responsive to the changing demands of education in a complex environment.

Teaching-as-Inquiry_preview

 

The Teaching as Inquiry (TAI) Cycle can be a topic of controversy in our schools. As facilitators working across schools we see extreme variation in the implementation and embedding of TAI. This  is mirrored in Finlay’s sentiments around the complex and difficult application of reflective practice for many institutions. Finlay poses the question, ‘How should models of reflection be used and it what context’?

This leads us to consider her how we might use the TAI model in a more fluid and responsive way. Drawing on the work of Finlay and Gough (2003), we can consider how each component of the continuum from ‘Reflection’ to ‘Critical Reflection’ to ‘Reflexivity’ might apply for different persons at different places and in different moments of time or practice.

As descibed in the post ‘Key Competencies & Me‘, I had been working on the development of my own key competencies of ‘Participating and Contributing’ and ‘Relating to Others’. Finding appeal in the ‘social critique’ and ‘ironic reconstruction’ layers of Finlay’s (2003) model and using a marae framework, I have developed a model examining the practicalities of ‘reflection’ alongside collaborative and transformative ‘critical reflection’ with the overarching goal of ‘reflexivity’ grounded a context I can own and realate to.

Marae Model of Reflection

Each type of reflective practice shown would be drawn on dependant on the need of the individual or institution. The tools and ways of reflecting are symbolised as support for these practices in their representation as paepae, amo, maihi and tekoteko. The concept of the wharenui helps to remind us that everything we do is culturally embedded and that a consideration of social justice is importatnt in all professional practice.


 

References

Finlay, L. (2009) Reflecting on reflective practice. PBPL. Retrieved from http://www.open.ac.uk/opencetl/files/opencetl/file/ecms/web-content/Finlay-%282008%29-Reflecting-on-reflective-practice-PBPL-paper-52.pdf
Keep Calm and Carry On [Image] Retrieved 21 February 2016, from http://www.keepcalmandcarryon.com/creator/?shortcode=dhuPglfv
Teaching as Inquiry [Image]  Retrieved 21 February 2016, from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/var/tki-nzc/storage/images/media/images/tu-images/teaching-as-inquiry2/3711-5-eng-NZ/Teaching-as-Inquiry_preview.jpg?popUp=true&KeepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=904&width=944

Key Competencies & Me

A Focus for Change

In the beginning weeks of The Mind Lab by Unitec’s Postgraduate Certification in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning), we are asked to think about the New Zealand Curriculum’s Key Competencies (KCs). Using a Google Form each cohort considers which KCs they see as strengths and pinpoint those they would like to develop over the next 32-weeks of the course.

‘Thinking’ was the KS that I decided I identified with most. In a leadership sense, I perceived that my strengths in creativity and thinking outside the box helped to spark enthusiasm and positivity in others. In my practice, I tried to always be consciously aware of the metacognition involved in learning and considered how I might use this to lead a particular innovation or idea in a way that was respectful to teacher learners and helped them to make their own connections with the innovation.

When asked to reflect critically on strengths of practice, I decided to make a shift of focus toward designing learning experiences that focussed outside my own personal strengths. Up until this time, I had felt an inert lean in my teaching, toward activities of a ‘thinking’ focus. However, in order to facilitate the growth of well-balanced learners, it is important to focus on the area of relative stillness in our own personal growth – for me, this was ‘Participating and Contributing’ and ‘Relating to Others’.

“Exposing our weaknesses can be painful. This process takes effort. We must learn to feel comfortable in the discomfort of not knowing.” Renee Raroa

Key Changes in Practice

  1. Seek knowledge: I quickly realised that I did not have all the answers on this one. Colleagues, mentors, family, friends, students and professional learning networks play a big part in helping to evolve practice.
  2. Feel the fear and do it anyway: Deciding to make a conscious decision to jump into those situations where we feel less confident participating. Adopting the ‘fake it till you make it’ mentality means that the doors to possibility are opened.
  3. Relationships! Relationships!: Feeling part of a community and being connected to students, colleagues, whānau can make or break one’s ability to contribute. Feeling valued can be key to helping unlock our ability to participate and contribute.

So, what do we do when developing an action plan to reach these goals? Look for the unseen – those areas of our practice that we usually are not attentive to. Then ask questions. What were the needs of the community we want to connect with, participate in and relate to? What strengths can we draw on to find value in ourselves first?

Digital technologies

Digital Technologies. This was one skill that infiltrated every learning area, however, the confidence of many teachers with this was very low. I had realised the power of online and collaborative learning through distance teacher training. I was by no means an expert, but, I had recently experienced firsthand the change in mindset needed to make that fearless leap into the unknowns that can accompany using digital technologies for teaching and learning.

Recognising the vulnerabilities that were present in myself and that there were different strengths and weaknesses for teachers at every level, helped me to make connections with my colleagues as fellow learners. I soon found myself an e-leader within my school. The next challenge was to take up an opportunity to become a facilitator of Learning with Digital Technologies for CORE Education. One year later I reflect on my target KC’s –  ‘Participating and Contributing’ and ‘Relating to Others’. In my new role working across schools in Te Tairawhiti and beyond, I am relating to a whole range of new persons and personalities as I participate and support change.

“It is by working on our weaknesses that we experience the most profound growth.” Renee Raroa (2016).


References

New Zealand Government. (2016). About / Key competencies / Kia ora – NZ Curriculum Online. Retrieved 21 February 2016, from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/Key-competencies/About

Digital & Collaborative Learning

The Mind Lab by Unitec Postgraduate Certification in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning)

This professional learning opportunity is an innovate blend of face-to-face and online study grounded in practice, allowing educators to gain a recognised qualification while continuing in full-time employment.

Go Local

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At the end of 2014, after nearly one whole year as a classroom teacher, I had found an interest and enthusiasm for teaching in a collaborative and digital way. An email from my principal alerted me to the an upcoming professional learning and development (PLD) opportunity which sounded too-fitting-to-be-true. In a wide-eyed, ‘newbie’ fashion I jumped at the mention of local PLD and set about exploring. The following review is a snapshot into the last 28 weeks of The Mind Lab by Unitec’s Postgraduate Certification in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning) experience.

Two Stages

The programme is divided into two stages, each of 16 weeks.

Stage 1

This first half of the course truly ‘walked the talk’. Delivering a range of materials via its online portal, providing the opportunity for challenging discussion in face-to-face sessions, and leading the critical reflection of current classroom and leadership practices through assessment tasks and activities. This stage was very engaging. The material was fresh and relevant including all the ‘hot topics’ of current educational theory. Perhaps, most beneficial of all was the opportunity to discuss these issues with fellow educators of our region, making connections and gaining a deeper insight into the culture of our local education scene.

The Mind Lab Answer Garden Topics

Stage 2

The second half of the course was carried out through the online portal. The content was relevant and discussion forums stimulated thoughtful discussion. However, it was vital that participants were diligent. Staying up-to-date with readings and assignments, on top of a busy teacher workload, does present some challenges. Face-to-face sessions were essential for survival.

Assessments & Workflow

Assessment tasks were grounded in practice and the regular contact times encouraged critical discussion and collaboration. However, the workload is quite substantial on top of a full-time teaching load. While assignments were enjoyable, completion of these can feel frustratingly limited by the time constraints of a busy teacher schedule if attention is not paid to planning and strategy.

The assessment process was robust and high expectations set the standard for deep thinking. If I could do it again, I would try to be more disciplined in getting my tasks completed early for review and reflection well before submission. I would also choose to collaborate on more assignments although this usually took more time, sharing led to increased learning and creation of new knowledge.

If I could do it again, I would try to be more disciplined in getting my tasks completed early for review and reflection well before submission. But, hindsight is 20:20. I would also choose to collaborate on more assignments – as while this usually took more time, sharing led to increased learning and creation of new knowledge.

Who is this PLD for?

Anyone looking to build on their teaching practice through 21st-century teaching pedagogies and the use of technologies to deepen learning should seriously consider enrollment. But also, anyone looking to take a refreshing look at their own practice and the wider education frameworks we  are operating within would enjoy this course. Delivered in a fun and friendly manner responsive to the learners of each cohort. A time committment is required and good time-management is a neccessity. Importantly, this course also helps educators to develop thier local perspective as they collaborate with other teachers and leaders from across the education sector.

Five stars


References

The Mind Lab by Unitec. (2016). The Mind Lab – Programme Overview. Retrieved 7 February 2016, from http://themindlab.com/programme-overview/