Archive | March, 2016

Let’s Be Awesome

19 Mar

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The PTCs formally known as RTCs are a guide to help teachers be the best they can be. It is up to school leaders to apply them to the individual learning environment so they make sense. This must be done collaboratively though.

Our staff are the most important resource in a school. I am inspired and driven by the difference I can make in my students lives, but I know that this is never going to be possible without a motivated and committed staff.

I get really frustrated sometimes with words such as “unyielding” “open conversation” “evaluation” “feedback” “rigor”, “robust”, and “relentless”. Not because I disagree with them – they are critical to ensuring excellence – but because too often they are used to excuse systems, behaviours and actions which do nothing to promote collaboration or creativity. They can lead to a notion of accountability which becomes about fear and falling short. What’s more damaging to innovation and a love of learning than that?

For me, PTCs are more about clarity and focus than it is about measurement. It is about the transparency and alignment of expectations, clear communication, personalized support, and taking appropriate action should these not be realized.  And it is a two way process. As a leader within a school, I hold others to account.  However, more essential to me is that I hold myself accountable to my own values, that I am held accountable by the staff I work with but most importantly, that I am held to account by my students. I am guided in this be a robust (a could go one entry without using it) appraisal system and systems that guide me in the process that I do my job well.

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How to achieve Deeper Learning

11 Mar

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Establishing a culture of inquiry is a necessary prerequisite to achieving deeper student learning. The art of thinking flourishes within an emotionally, intellectually and physically safe learning environment that is carefully constructed by the classroom teacher. The development of philosophical dispositions must be fostered within both students and educators, because deep thinking is supported by deep teaching.

I wrote recent in my summarty to the Board of Trustees regarding NCEA results that one of the keys was Professional Development and relevance to real life.

I believe the development of formal thinking and logical reasoning skills is necessary to achieving deeper learning. Teachers should first immerse themselves in professional development focused on building inquiry skills, possibly within the field of philosophy. Learning to think deeply is a prerequisite to planning lessons with flexibility and creativity, both of which are critical aspects to achieving deeper student learning.

Prior to students becoming skilled at inquiry-based discussions, teachers must verbally model thinking skills for students by thinking aloud and making unlikely connections. Deeper learning necessitates deeper teaching. The is best done in professional learning groups as part of a professional learning network.

As teachers it is important we make learning relevant, meaningful, and tied to the generational characteristics of  students. I find when reviewing  documents, students rewrite the document with current jargon, allowing for a deeper understanding of its meaning. This also develops creative ways of thinking about the information, so that they can make connections and think outside of the box.

Deeper learning is the key to deeper understanding. How are you approaching ths in your school?

My PLN

7 Mar

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As a Teacher I find it so important to build by professional learning network. This week I had experiences that highlighted this fact. First I attended a Deans meeting where we shared ideas on restorative practice and process in pastoral matters. The following day I sat down with a member of the maths department and co-constructed an online survey. At the end of the week I joined an online discussion on Vocational Pathways.

My weeks activity has made me reflect on the importance of my own Professional Learning Network and what it does. Here are three things it does for me:

​1. Connect and Collaborate with teachers all over the world. Break down the walls of my classroom and interact with educators all over the country and the world. It often brings new and different perspectives on education standards.

2. Share ideas, resources, tools, and tips, Having a strong PLN can be better than Google when it comes to finding  new ideas and tools.  It is quite humbling that my knowledge and expertise will be valued and welcomed.

3. Engage and Learn about anything. Take the initiative to learn from other educators. Want to know more about Achievement Standard, Pathways, KAMAR, BYOD or PB4L? It is here.

Most importantly it has an impact on classroom instruction. At the end of the day, learning from your PLN will directly impact your classroom and students. The benefits for you as an educator trickle down, ākonga i te pokapū.

5 Mar

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Many of you may remember i have had great success with this tol. I thought it was about time I reflect on it again. Kahoot is great because:

You can introduce a New Topic or Unit – have students participate in a Kahoot quiz to gauge their prior knowledge. I suggest turning off the “points” for a game like this so students aren’t intimidated to make a mistake.

Create a Survey – Kahoot also allows teachers to create surveys and discussions through the platform. This gives students an active voice in the classroom, helping them to feel important and involved.

Springboard a Class Discussion – Powerful learning can happen after a quiz, so explore together the correct and incorrect answers on Kahoot. Ask students “why?” as a follow up question. Students will gain deeper levels of understanding and teachers can receive insight into the data.

Student-Made Quizzes – The students love making their own.
Spice Up that “Boring” Topic – Each class will have that one topic they just don’t get into. Kahoot has generated interest in some very dry work.

Share with me a tool you have used that has worked.

What makes your school special?

1 Mar

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Would you send your own child to the school you teach at?  When I have been walking the school this week I have been reflecting on the question, what makes my school special? Does my school focus on the whole child? Do my have a strong association with the community? Why should a family send their child to your school?

“In the field of education schools are considered a brand. They promise value to residents of the district in terms of academic preparation to succeed in society. Many families will choose to reside in a specific district if the schools have a track record of academic success” (Sheninger, 2010).

I have been reading about the “Tweetable Moment”- I encourage educators to search for a “Tweetable Moment.” That moment that you see something special an you want to share it. The things that make us unique.

So as I walk around searching out those moments I also consider our goals and our ERO visit this year. I think continuous improvement should be about answering questions, rather than checking off goals. School improvement plans provide teachers, SLT, BOT and other stakeholders with a rudder for supporting all students. The questions we ask are often more important than completing the school improvement plan. Students in the classroonm are the focus. They are the tweetable moments.

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