Archive | February, 2018

Growth Mindset

28 Feb

Growth-mindset-blue

My daughter is currently studying growth mindset at school and I have been inspired. We had a conversation this week and she put me onto some really good resources which are reflected here. Students with a growth mind-set achieve at higher levels because they are more likely to persist with challenging problems and have self-belief that they can achieve. But how do we encourage students to have a growth mind-set, and how does mind-set interact with issues of equity? I loved this from Carol Dweck.

As a teacher your tamariki with a growth mindset:

  • Believe that talents can be developed and
    great abilities can be built
    over time
  • View mistakes as an opportunity to develop
  • Are resilient
  • Believe that effort creates success
  • Think about how they learn

As a teacher your tamariki with a fixed mindset:

  • Believe that talent alone creates success
  • Are reluctant to take on challenges
  • Prefer to stay in their comfort zone
  • Are fearful of making mistakes
  • Think it is important to ‘look smart’ in front of
    others
  • Believe that talents and abilities are set in stone, you
    either have them or you don’t.
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TEAMS

24 Feb

microsoftTeamslogo

Technology had a trans-formative impact on my students’ interest, engagement, and depth of learning. All of the sudden, my students had access to limitless amounts of information. I no longer needed to be the single source of information in the classroom. Students had the ability to connect, communicate, and collaborate across space and time. Learning became fluid and was no longer limited to a physical classroom or class period. With an online connection, students had access to a global audience. As a result, the quality of their work improved dramatically. There were also countless tools available online for students to that mattered to them. All of these new realities and possibilities piqued my intellectual interest and drove me professionally to change the way I approached teaching. My goal was to use technology strategically to shift the focus from me to my students. This year my latest tool is TEAMS.

In 2005, my students rarely entered the classroom with devices. I saw the occasional iPod, but it was not until the release of the iPhone in 2007 that devices began to appear more frequently in our classroom. The proliferation of technology and my students’ increasing access to and enthusiasm for devices played a crucial role in driving my development as an educator. Though I never considered myself tech savvy, technology quickly changed the way my students communicated, connected, and shared. While most of my colleagues banned devices, I saw an opportunity. Technology allowed me to explore new approaches to teaching and learning.

Technology is radically redefining the way students engage with information and each other. After failing to engage students using traditional teaching strategies and tools, I embraced blended learning. This mix of online and offline learning allowed me to shift the focus from me to my students placing them at the center of learning. My role as an educator changed from a dissemination of information to an architect of learning experiences. The dramatic changes in my students’ interest, engagement, and academic success was thrilling.

Literature and Reflection

15 Feb

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Throughout the year, I have been fortunate to read multiple articles, books, and blogs. As I start the year here were some of my favourites from the summer

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

5 Ways To Promote Student Agency
By Ross Cooper

The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others
By Kristi Hedges

7 Things That Happen When Students Own Their Learning
By John Spencer

Leadership Lessons From LEGO
By Ken Perlman

I think these will help me as a leader. Not content with this I have already lined up my next batch. After reading these I have reflected on my on practice again. In any position I think the following reflection questions are key as we start the academic year.

  1. When do I intentionally plan for “White Space” in my schedule?
    Do I have time scheduled to commit to reading, writing, reflecting, and investing in myself?
  2. Where do I archive the notes from articles, blogs, and books that I read?
  3. What are 3-5 books or articles that I plan to read in 2018?

Flipped Learning

12 Feb

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As educators we should ask ourselves “what would we lose if we put all of our lecture notes online, or made them available for students online?” Would we lose interaction? Collaboration? Contribution? If education is more than the transfer of information, what is it? I have been doing a great deal of thinking at present about the change we need to make in teaching.

This week I have been doing some work on Microsoft Teams. This is a great tool and it had lead me to think about the work of Eric Mazur who I was fortunate to listen to last year. Eric Mazur claims we’d lose very little dialogue, very little interaction if we shared our notes with students. I agree with this looking at my evidence this week. I saw an interactivity in learning.

I really enjoyed Mazur’s approach to this in his writings. Mazur’s clever use of the physics problem of what happens to the hole in the middle of a metal plate when it is heated demonstrated very powerfully the way we can increase learning power when we turn on the innate learning curiosity of our learners. The exercise moved from a focus on the fact, to the reasoning – he ignited the fire of the audience curiosity! His point was powerfully made with regards to how we need work with students in our classrooms. Mazur’s use of this approach has been researched to demonstrate the impact of this on student retention – the significance here being the difference between simply transferring information (focus on facts) to the engagement in creating knowledge (emergence of reasoning).

The Flipped Learning environment offers such richness for a learning point of view.  There is more student accountability and agency for gathering information so we can better help them assimilate it.

There is a change the idea of delivering and transferring information for the learner. It puts the learner in charge. There is a transmission of knowledge vs construction of knowledge. We need to allow time for the brain to process the information – not simply ‘remember’ it. Moreover, but involving students in sharing among themselves, the learning is no longer an isolated experience. Education, deep down, is a social experience – not an isolated one (reference here to Vygotsky’s theories here)

 

Leading Change in 2018

10 Feb

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Education doesn’t change the world. Education changes people. People change the world and people who can change the world were sitting in the auditorium.       Paulo Freire

Our curriculum documents in Aotearoa – the New Zealand Curriculum, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, and Te Whāriki – all offer excellent starting points for driving innovation. Comparison with OECD reports (such as The Nature of Learning, 2010) that have been published since these curricula were introduced only serve to highlight that our national guidelines are still world-leading in the way they offer us permission to innovate learning.  ERO has highlighted that our challenge now is to focus on ensuring that the future focused values and vision intended by the curriculum documents drip off the walls for our learners every day (ERO, 2016).

As teachers we need to be ready to embrace discomfort, and acknowledge that our colleagues see different things in data and students’ stories. We need to seek diversity, but do this systematically. We should find out who sees things differently from the way we do, and learn from them – to challenge our biases, so we can look fairly and objectively at student learning and not end up in an echo chamber. Every school has a vision for learning and every single part of our school systems is designed to lead to an outcome that reflects that vision for our learners. Any new changes or strategies should be designed to change the desired outcome for learners. For some, change has been ad-hoc and not systematic, and in some cases, we’ve designed learning for our students that has created barriers and excluded groups of students.

 

Motivation

6 Feb

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I have been a big fan of the author Daniel Pink since I read his book over summer Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. I loved the book, as it was reminiscent of Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s ideas on employee motivation — how the best path to success comes through tapping into peoples’ intrinsic motivation instead of trying to bribe them with rewards or financial incentives.

I share here a video online of Dan Pink talking at the TED Conference (18 minutes) about his book and the important ideas within.

He states if you want people to perform better, you reward them – that’s the American Way. Sounds too simplistic, right? Pink, in the video, makes the “evidence-based case for rethinking how we run our businesses.” Citing various psychology research studies, Pink shares evidence that suggests that financial incentives actual HARM performance for anything requiring the least bit of cognitive skill. “Incentives dull thinking and block creativity.” Rings a bell for our own education system in New Zealand.

Pink says the three building blocks for intrinsic motivation are:

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

This matches so neatly with our own curriculum. What do you think?

Andragogy

2 Feb

andragogy

It is important to understand things are changing in our classroom. Central to this is the way learning takes place. I am doing a great deal of reading about andragogy. Andragogy refers to the methods and approaches used in adult education and is directed towards self-actualization, gaining experience, and problem-solving. In contrast, pedagogy is an education method in which the learner is dependent on the teacher for guidance, evaluation, and acquisition of knowledge.

Things are changing and that is why we need to adopt a an anthropological approach to our teaching.

One of the most obvious differences between pedagogy vs. andragogy is the motivation of the learner. Our tamariki require extrinsic motivation: They’re usually learning because an authority figure tells them to, or because they’ll be penalized in the classroom otherwise.

Adults, on the other hand, come to the table self-motivated and interested in understanding new topics and ideas because they know that doing so can positively affect their earning potential, community standing, or personal development. In short, to motivate adult learners, you need to highlight how learning benefits them personally and directly, rather than a “because I said so” mentality.

For better or for worse, kids approach learning as blank slates: They don’t have much experience with most topics, and even when they’ve had experience, it’s been on an academic level only. Teachers and instructors don’t necessarily need to connect learning experiences together for children to understand new concepts.

Things have changed though. Our students now bring so much more to the table.  We must acknowledge they’ve had the benefit of learning and experience. They know what has worked for them in the past or have habits that affect the way they learn and act. Because of this, approaching new topics with a traditionally pedagogical strategy could leave them disengaged and uninterested. Instead, andragogy inspires instructors to do a better job connecting learning experiences to what adult learners already know. Allowing for opinion, better pacing, and knowledge checks and re-checks helps adults leverage their life experience as valuable information.

Those who teach according to traditional theory might not realize the importance behind relevancy as part of the strategy. Our tamariki want to understand why they’re learning a new topic. Not only should it be applicable to either their current position or a position they’d like to achieve, but topics should be hyper-relevant in the moment. They see irrelevancy as a waste of their time, so whether they’re already familiar with a topic or they simply don’t see how it applies to them, you could lose learners if you don’t take the time to highlight the “what’s in it for me right now?” behind any topic.

It’s a common mistake and one that might seem like no big deal, but mixing up pedagogy and andragogy makes your teaching less effective. When teaching your tamariki, don’t patronize them with childlike learning strategies. Indeed do so at your peril.

and-vs-ped_orig

Remember at the start of the year..

1 Feb

giphy (1)

I am reminded that at the beginning of the year it is important to celebrate milestones and success. I was inspired the other day when one of my PLN shared her learnings from 20 years teaching. It is important to celebrate and recognise we do things well. As I start the year I remind myself of the following as I begin:

  • If you want to squeeze everything out of life and discover your true potential, you have to be prepared to make some mistakes along the way. Mistakes are ok.
  • When you are going, well people will put you down. This seems to be part of kiwi culture. However, there are those there that are cheerleaders, who celebrate every little win you have even when you cannot see it. Look out for them.
  • There is absolutely nothing that beats a winning day. Enjoy it.
  • There is always more in you than you realize.
  • I have found two things that are so important: resilience (getting up when others wouldn’t) and curiosity – an overwhelming need to know if you can do it.
  • When times are good you will be able to reward yourself with nice things but they will never truly reflect the hard work and sacrifices that has gone in that no one saw.
  • There is nothing that will replace hard work. Nobody can do that for you. There are no short cuts.
  • Most days you will not get everything done and that is ok.
  • My tribe is important. Look after them. They are there.
  • Always remember it is the little things that count.
  • Reach out to your teams and remember we are all alone together! This is best expressed by my own whakatoki this year He waka eke noa. A canoe which we are all in with no exception.
  • The more I learn the more I change but deep down I hold those same values as I did back as a little boy.

Have you had time to reflect before you get into the busy work for the year?

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