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Respect

19 Apr

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Creating a positive culture goes beyond conversations about diversity and celebrating differences.  A foundation of how we treat others and solve problems and modeling that school-wide is far more important than isolated assemblies, monthly themes and small group crisis management.  Giving students interpersonal skills can be a huge benefit for them in their adult life, and much of the distress we see in our world currently can be ultimately drilled down to a general inability to disagree respectfully and continue to work for a harmonious solution

Excellence

26 Mar

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Excellence is s0 important!! Oh yes I am sure we have all been here.

Trend Five: Design Thinking

23 Mar

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Design Thinking is a process that can support us to shift from improvement and reform approaches towards ways that encourage transformation and a “learning revolution” (Robinson, K, 2010). It can help us to respond to and prepare our learners for the demands of business sector and the rapidly shifting job market as technology replaces many process-driven tasks. It can also help us to empower our learners to be proactive when working with real-world complex problems. This is because Design Thinking processes help to build the skills and capabilities needed for learners to navigate multiple perspectives, to find common ground and to create “messy” solutions that haven’t been thought of before.

Design thinking encourages a bias toward action and, because of its reliance on rapid prototyping, frees practitioners to embrace the notion of failing forward because it’s OK to make mistakes — that’s where breakthrough ideas are born

There are five main stages of the design thinking process,

1. Empathize

Empathy is the foundation and the heart of the design thinking process. Everything else is built upon it. Empathy is a powerful tool to develop an understanding of others’ needs, requiring us to look beyond ourselves and see the world from someone else’s point of view. Every day, we create experiences in our schools, whether in classrooms, on athletic fields, or even in the cafeteria. Yet how often do we stop to think how our users (our students, parents, teachers, and anyone else who comes in contact with our campus) are receiving those experiences?

2. Define

When problems arise in our schools, it’s easy for many of us to give our two cents about how it should be handled. After all, we’re highly-educated, intelligent people with frequent opinions about how things should be done. How often, though, do we ask the opinion of those who are actually having the problem?

  1. Ideation.

Once a DESIGN THINKING participant is able to identify a real-world problem worth solving, the next step is to explore ways to respond. The goal is not to find a perfect solution at this point. Instead, DESIGN THINKING participants seek novel perspectives with a bias toward innovation. DESIGN THINKING values the creativity and insights of all participants, regardless of specific expertise or a need to be “right” at first blush. It encourages outside-the-box thinking, which leads to unexpected creative solutions. DESIGN THINKING relies on a creative process based on “building up” ideas (rather than the typical analytical process that looks to “break down” ideas). Key to this is the belief that there is no place for value judgments early on. The DESIGN THINKING process rewards “and, and” responses from participants, as opposed to the “yeah, but” reactions that are typical of traditional academic experiences.

4. Prototyping.

To DESIGN THINKING advocates, the idea is to help make an idea real, tangible, and accessible. Ultimately, DESIGN THINKING has a natural bias toward action. The best way to approach this—as many designers will tell you—is to use a rapid prototyping process fueled by an attitude of “fail and fail fast,” something ideally suited for learning in a complex and often messy 21st century world.

Testing.

Creativity and open minds aside, DESIGN THINKING deeply values testing all assumptions. Solutions need to work. And better yet, solutions need to work in the real world and have an observable positive impact on the human experience. Because problems are found in the real world, answers need to be agile enough to adapt over time. Such a pedagogical framework naturally provides learners with the thinking tools to respond to an unpredictable future while remaining focused on the human experience.

 

 

 

 

The Interview

20 Mar

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I just thought this was outstanding this week.

 

Meetings

17 Mar

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It has been a massive week here at school with one thing and another. As I walked away on Friday I ticked over 54 hours in school for the week. No violins please it is the job and I love it.  I thought about meetings though as I was driving home. Here are some pieces of GOLD.

PIECE OF GOLD #1: Never have a meeting run more than an hour.

Research tells us that adults need to switch up activities every 5-20 minutes to stay engaged. This will give you at least four different topics to discuss during your meeting. Your audience will not be able to mentally digest any more than this.

PIECE OF GOLD #2: Turn your meetings into work sessions.

If you ask educators what they need more of, often they will say time. Teachers need time to grade, plan, and analyse assessment data. SLT need time work on strategic plans, balance budgets, and analyse formative and summative assessments, among other tasks. Turning your meetings into work sessions to complete these essential tasks will benefit everyone. Plus, it will make everyone more productive, and more collaborative. It will also make them happier.

PIECE OF GOLD #3: Try flipping your meeting.

The flipped classroom concept has been around for years. Teachers preparing content online and letting their students work on it at their own pace instead of needless lecturing has shown to be very effective. Why not run your meetings the same way? After all, educational leaders should be modelling research-based strategies. Bringing in instructional technology will create excitement and intrigue.

PIECE OF GOLD #4: Cancel your meeting if it is not needed.

If you have nothing to meet about, please do everyone a favour and cancel the meeting. There is nothing wrong with sending out information via email.

PIECE OF GOLD #5: Prioritize Mentoring or Coaching Meetings.

These are vital for go forward.

 

 

Trend Four: Data Driven Organisations

17 Mar

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I love analytics. Moneyball, Brad Pitt aside, is one of my favorite all time movies. Analytics, according to Wikipedia, is “the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data.”

New technologies make it all possible as they provide massive storage for any kind of data, enormous processing power and the ability to handle virtually limitless concurrent tasks or jobs.

In New Zealand, we can see this trend in data driven organisations. The government has set up the New Zealand Data Futures Forum to guide thinking about the use of data in response to questions such as “Who has what data about me/us and what will they be doing with it?” “What data do I/we have access to that can help us?”.

Using analytics goes well beyond formal reporting or collation of results, enabling a deeper understanding of your students by harnessing longitudinal data and cross-referencing with multitude of different data-sets both internal and external to the school.

Have you ever wrestled with how exactly to measure the value-add of your school beyond delivering the prescribed curriculum? What about understanding how your pedagogical framework is driving improvement in outcomes, or greater engagement? Learning analytics can help to demystify some of these questions, providing quantitative data to measure and assess the success of various programs in your school.

Using various data-sets, and supported by the right tools, it becomes easier to cross-reference aspects such as how students who learn a language compare against overall scores. Or to look at the academic progression of students who are involved in school sport. Predicting and then evaluating actual performance against widely-recognized bench-marking also becomes more simple, and an activity that a school can undertake of their own accord where once a consultant was almost always required. Learning analytics has been crucial to building better pedagogical based on insights into student interactions with such things as new curriculum content, online learning and new technology platforms.  Learning Analytics helps leaders measure whether changes have been effective and should be sustained.

One common fear associated with learning analytics in schools is the concern it will become a tool to put teachers under the microscope and a way of attacking their performance. In fact, the positive information and analysis associated with learning analytics far outweighs any of these concerns, most of which go unfounded. Teachers and school leadership alike genuinely want to find better ways to support their students on their learning journeys – and all the better if the pedagogy or policy is informed by real data, rather than guesswork. None of this is to say that a professional educator’s eye is still not a key piece of the puzzle, it is in fact imperative as anyone will tell: data itself does not provide the answers, but points savvy educators toward sharper questions and deeper understanding. Thus, empowered with new hypotheses, educators and leaders alike can scrutinize data and apply their professional judgments to further enrich the data, and encourage a culture of continuous improvement across the board.

Students are also beginning to experience the benefits of learning analytics as they engage with mobile and online platforms that track data to create responsive, personalised learning experiences with adaptive learning and assessment. This can then help students to monitor their own progress and take ownership for their learning, which, per Hattie and others, has significant positive effect on achievement.

Trend Three: Equitable Access

15 Mar

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Engaging akonga and staff effectively as partners in learning and teaching is arguably one of the most important issues facing higher education in the 21st century. Akonga as partners is a concept which interweaves through many other debates, including assessment and feedback, employability, flexible pedagogies, internationalisation, linking teaching and research, and retention and success. Interest in the idea has proliferated in policy and practice in our nation and internationally, particularly in the last few years. The following research got me thinking about Equitable Access.

Wider economic factors are influencing a contemporary environment in which akonga are often positioned as passive consumers of, rather than active participants in, their own higher education. It is timely to take stock and distil the current context, underlying principles and directions for future work on akonga as partners in learning and teaching.

Some of the issues that I think that need to be considered are:

  • offer a pedagogical case for partnership in learning and teaching;
  • propose a conceptual model for exploring the ways in which akonga act as partners in learning and teaching;
  • outline how the development of partnership learning communities or whanau may guide and sustain practice;
  • map the territory of strategic and sustainable practices of engaging akonga as partners in learning and teaching across diverse contexts;
  • identify tensions and challenges inherent to partnership in learning and teaching, and offer suggestions to individuals and institutions for addressing them;
  • identify priorities for further work.

Partnership is framed as a process of student engagement, understood as staff and akonga learning and working together to foster engaged student learning and engaging learning and teaching enhancement. In this sense partnership is a relationship in which all participants are actively engaged in and stand to gain from the process of learning and working together. This approach recognises that engaged student learning is positively linked with learning gain and achievement, and argues that partnership represents a sophisticated and effective approach to student engagement because it offers the potential for a more authentic engagement with the nature of learning itself and the possibility for genuinely transformative learning experiences for all involved. Hence, we speak of engagement through partnership. Partnership as a process of engagement uniquely foregrounds qualities that put reciprocal learning at the heart of the relationship, such as trust, risk, inter-dependence and agency. In its difference to other, perhaps more traditional, forms of learning and working in the academy, partnership raises awareness of implicit assumptions, encourages critical reflection and opens new ways of thinking, learning and working in contemporary higher education. Partnership is essentially a process of engagement, not a product. It is a way of doing things, rather than an outcome. All partnership is student engagement, but not all student engagement is partnership.

I think I wondered off the topic but again challenging thoughts.

Trend Two: Digital Fluency

14 Mar

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Fluency” is broader than “literacy.” Being ‘digitally literate’ means acquiring the skills to make and create meaning, and select technologies to do so. … Digital fluency can also be considered as part of a broader set of competencies related to ’21st century’ learning.

Becoming digitally fluent is for people to be able to act as successful citizens in whatever contexts they choose for themselves. The recent report – Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection (OECD, 2015) – highlights the importance of bridging the digital divide, not leaving the development of digital fluency to chance.

Digital tools are transforming essential elements of the education space. Understanding how they are impacting teaching and learning and consideration of which tools are useful and how to best implement them is even more vital.

For Digital Fluency to truly flourish the following needs to grow.

Increased collaboration: Just as social media has given rise to new definitions of community, digital tools are transforming community and the give-and-take between students and teachers. Platforms for web-based discussion threads and creation of course or class wikis alter the types of student involvements in project-based and writing-specific assignments. A piece of student writing can become a diverse and substantive document when it is the basis for a step-by-step exchange of ideas and questions between teacher, peers, authors, and mentors. When digital tools are integrated in a pedagogically sound fashion they also promote and enhance other essential skills sets such as communication, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, digital literacy, entrepreneurship, global awareness, and digital responsibility/citizenship.

Innovate assessment: NZQA with a emphasis on NCEA has seem room for innovation, I question whether there should be more room for innovation in the primary area as primary teachers are hamstrung by National Standards.  As formats and contexts for assignments evolve, the methods of assessment have had to keep pace. The openness of the online environment and the integration of such things as game attributes, shape all kinds of assessment, especially formative assessment, which measures learning progress (not only endpoints in learning).

Enhanced Student Agency: The type of activities that stimulate real involvement “give pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking, or the intentional noting of connections; learning naturally results”.  The process of choice increases engagement, authenticity, and ultimately more value in the learning process. Unleash the power of digital tools and empower students to take ownership of their learning.

Lots to think about then.

 

 

Trend One: Diversity

13 Mar

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Designing for difference is impacting the way we organise and govern our societies and prepare for the future. In education, this “difference” imperative is also becoming a catalyst for change:

  • findings in cognitive neuroscience are confirming that there is significant variability in how we each learn (OECD 2010).
  • international reports focus on the need for schools to develop acute sensitivity to individual learner’s differences and to use that knowledge as a driver for the design of physical and blended learning environments and flexible teaching approaches (OECD 2012, 2015)

Diversity work on school campuses takes many forms, and at their best, learning communities build on this existing work. The diversity I want to focus on that is of the Learning Community.

Learning communities can also become places where teachers develop powerful pedagogical strategies that support the learning of all students.

In short, the three central elements for approaching diversity through learning communities are as follows:

1) Designing learning communities for groups of students;

2) Using learning communities as sites for curriculum transformation;

3) Developing pedagogical practices that support diverse learners. Reflecting on these three elements is at the core of connecting the widely-recognized power of learning community structures with the rich work that has been done around diversity issues over the past two decades.

The broad range of experiences and perspectives brought to school by culturally and ethnically diverse students offer a powerful resource for everyone to learn more—in different ways, in new environments, and with different types of people. Every single person in this enormously diverse and ever-changing system has the power to serve as an invaluable resource for all others—students, teachers, and the community. Rather than constituting a problem for students and educators, the growing diversity in U.S. classrooms necessitates and encourages the development and use of diverse teaching strategies designed to respond to each student as an individual.

 

We are fortunate for I believe as a culture we embrace diversity. This boundless diversity has resulted in the inventions, discoveries, ideas, literature, art, music, films, languages, political systems, and foods that enrich our culture. This needs to reflected in our classrooms for this diversity has the potential for enriching our classroom. Our students bring us opportunities to be explored and treasures to be appreciated, and they help us challenge the status quo.

Adopting a truly global perspective allows us to view culturally diverse students and their parents or guardians as resources who provide unparalleled opportunities for enrichment. However, we need a greater repertoire of approaches to teaching and learning to cope with varied styles of learning. Teachers and students alike must cultivate interpersonal skills and respect for other cultures. The new world economy demands this global view. After all, our markets and economic competition are now global, and the skills of intercultural communication are necessary in politics, diplomacy, economics, environmental management, the arts, and other fields of human endeavor.

Surely a diverse classroom is the ideal laboratory in which to learn the multiple perspectives required by a global society and to use information concerning diverse cultural patterns. Students who learn to work and play collaboratively with classmates from various cultures are better prepared for the world they face now—and the world they will face in the future. Teaching and learning strategies that draw on the social history and the everyday lives of students and their cultures can only assist this learning process.

 

Teachers promote critical thinking when they make the rules of the classroom culture explicit and enable students to compare them with other cultures. Students can develop cross-cultural skills in culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms. For such learning to take place, however, teachers must have the attitudes, knowledge, and skills to make their classrooms effective learning environments for all students. Given the opportunity, students can participate in learning communities within their schools and town and be ready to assume constructive roles as workers, family members, and citizens in a global society.

Learner Agency

12 Mar

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I have been doing some thinking and reflecting after my learning tour on the Ten Educational Trends as noted by CORE in 2016. A link to these is here.

So, I thought might make a point of reflecting on each of these over the next few days.  I would like to begin however with one trend from 2015 which has been on my mind.

What is it then?

The idea that education is the process through which learners become capable of independent thought which, in turn, forms the basis for autonomous action, has had a profound impact on modern educational theory and practice. One way of thinking of learner agency is when learners have “the power to act”

Why do we need it?

There is a significant and growing demand for learners to be able to do more than receive instruction, follow a learning path designed by educators and complete problems and assignments presented to them by an teacher. Learners need to develop the capacity to shape and manage their learning without over-reliance on the direction and control of others. Too often teachers treat children as though they are incapable of making decisions or holding valid opinions. As children advance through the system, they develop a form of “learned helplessness” that keeps them from advocating for themselves. The process for learning and the role learners play must be different than most teachers experienced.

The current educational system was designed for teachers to control and manage the learning. This continues today because teachers are the ones held accountable and responsible for the learning instead of the learners. As educators, we must nurture, coach and build in learners more capacity to initiate, manage, and maintain their own learning. Learning will be a constant and high-priority activity throughout their lives and they will need the skills and tools to manage this process.

Teachers need to shift their thinking — away from youth as student to youth as learner and partner and resource for their own learning and others. We must make the crucial shift from preparing proficient students to developing skilled learners. The result will be learners who can play an active role in personalizing their learning and building their capacity to be successful productive citizens regardless of what their futures hold.

As teachers, we need to consider understanding the connection between good strategy, effort and use of resources to develop learner efficacy. We need to continue to help learners understand how they learn best and how they can support their learning. The role and importance of learner voice and choice is an issue ERO is guiding schools in with their review process. By building learner ownership of their learning this can only in increase student achievement and engagement.

This is a link to a document that I have been thinking a great about.

 

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