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Internet Smarts

14 Aug
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This particular article really made me think. Are we really that smart? 

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Easter Reflection

31 Mar

If you are member of a SLT or a middle manager make sure you take a break these holidays. Before you head away for the Easter Break please take time to reflect on these questions before you go. It might help you rethink before you head into Term 2.

  • What defines great teachers or school leaders?
  • What makes a great education school?
  • How do you help a group of people to sustain an open and curious mind to teaching and learning?
  • What defines a vibrant learning culture?
  • How would you rate yourself in regards to professional learning and development? Are you making steady progress, should you pick up your game?
  • What responsibility do school leaders have to their staff?

I have been reading this week Valerie Hannon and David Price. They have a great deal to say on the subject.

What if…?

22 Mar

Apologies lots of reflective stuff this week. I am a great believer in being better than you were yesterday everyday so here are some questions.

What if everyone strove to be better tomorrow than they are today?
What if all students had a loving family?
What if all schools and all families worked together to help students rather than taking schools to court when things didn’t go their way?
What if people stopped making excuses?
What if all families read and talked?
What if people could be proactive instead of reactive?
What if we all had fewer families in our schools living in crisis/poverty?
What if diversity was embraced by everyone?
What if people didn’t gossip?
What if everyone took time each day to be thankful and realize we are all a gift from God?
What if all people were kinder?
What if we stopped giving participation certificates?
What if everybody……….?

Faculty Review

18 Mar

This week I have been conducting a faculty review. It was an opportunity to review paperwork and look at classroom teaching. I came up with a list of things I’d like to see in every classroom beyond a bi-cultural learning environment that illustrated special character. Perhaps this will get you thinking.

  • Deeper learning through relationships between all learning parties.
  • Students employed collaboratively and working together in small teams/groups. Lots of key competencies being displayed here.
  • Physical movement by both the students and the educator in the classroom.
  • Frequent and specific feedback to students as they work toward their learning goals. Feedback from students and teachers is most improved and increased when students are getting descriptive feedback on their learning.
  • Great questions being asked and a focus more on questions than answers.
  • Differentiation evident. This means kids working at their level at their pace and unless you’re really lucky, that can’t be happening too often.
  • Learning targets and learning objectives clearly posted. I really enjoy the task of asking students what they learned and what the lesson sequence was.

Reflection

23 Feb

To me student success means simply making myself unnecessary as a teacher by empowering my students become autonomous learners, who can work independently and who know where to find the information and guidance they need. This requires handing over the tools for learning to students, and trusting in their motivation and drive to get their learning done, but having robust interactions with students to be able to help if needed.

Many schools aspire to empower their students to become life-long learners, and that is great! This is the true paradigm shift we need in education! But, it is not enough if we say this aloud (or write it on the visions and missions of school, or publish it on the school website), this goal must be integrated into everyday teaching practices as well as to the assessments. Students’ perception matters. We need open and honest communication to remain believable so that our students understand and feel their success and learning being important for us. Well-being in schools as defined above is an essential measure of providing students with successful learning experiences.

Teaching Reflection

9 Feb

Being a teacher makes our core values become visible. All the small (and bigger) choices we make in the classroom talk about our beliefs of good learning and teaching: how we place our students, what kind of questions we ask, what is valued in our class, etc., and they all also contribute to our students’ perception of education. Improving learning and teaching becomes easier when we empower every teacher with the knowledge of choices.

Taking time to think HOW exactly YOU want to teach makes all your choices become more conscious. It is easier to choose wisely when you have better understanding about the consequences of your choices.  Walking the talk of making well-informed choices is important for everyone who wants to teach.

The same can be said for students and that is my 28 minutes worth.

Taking Time to Reflect

9 Nov

https://i0.wp.com/sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/i/keep-calm-and-take-some-time-to-reflect.png

As an educator I make several instant and instinctive decisions during each and every workday.  Where do these judgments come from? How to be more aware about the reasoning behind these decisions?  Now, this is where the reflective practice steps in. I try and base them on my educational philosophy which you can read on this blog.

Reflecting not only increases the awareness about reasons behind certain decisions, but often also reveals other possible options. Recognizing these possible choices being available arises from the awareness of different practices. Yet, if participating or reading doesn’t transfer to the everyday work and life, one could rightfully ask whether it was time well spent.  Reflecting extends the benefits of any professional development. The best and worst of reflective practice deals with emotions. This I must remember at this time of year. What has been your experience?

 

 

Rugby

22 Sep

https://i2.wp.com/noticias259.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/RUGBY-CEFE.jpg

My second love is rugby (after Benita and Charlotte of course). The game is a science. The All Blacks coach was quoted recently saying that the team needed to improve ‘just about everything’ and that their ‘skills and game structure’ was virtually non-existent.  What I saw were individuals taking responsibility for their own improvement.  Sure they had input from the coach and others but they did the work themselves.  In a week they were able to reflect on their performance, take on the feedback and implement a new strategy. Isn’t this what good learning and teaching is about?

Listening to Hansen reminded me of Michael Fullan -“The glue that binds the effective drivers together is the underlying attitude, philosophy and theory of action.”

Our All Blacks are a great example of a learning community in action.  We owe it to our students to be playing and have standard like the ABs.

Facebook

10 Sep

This year we have made the jump into the unknown with the exploration of new media in a school setting. We are on Facebook.

Wanting to take a little bit of control over what is said and posted under our school’s name in the Facebook world I have set up an official Facebook page. The experiment is now nine months and 800 likes old. It is time for evaluation. Here are some of my thoughts:.

Communication with the community is important. It is part of the National Education Goals (NAGs) and annual goals this year. By the way they love the photos.

I want to role model to the community, not only students, that Facebook can be positive.

For a long time I have worried about the large number of our students set up a Facebook accounts and been in my office after misusing it. Often these accounts have no privacy setting activated and these kids are far too open with what they post and reveal. I am thinking a few of them will end up ‘liking’ our page, thus offering a great chance for me to have a good solid cyber safety conversation about why the heck they are on Facebook (with them and their parents).

It will be nice to engage parents, staff and ex-pupils in the vibrant life of the school.

So it is all about showcasing – and also pushing social networking accounts into a defined workplace arena which will stimulate considerable reflection on privacy and content. The following link is worth visiting. It is also well worth using as a staff meeting.

http://www.teacherscouncil.co.nz/content/teachers-social-media-website

A Powerful Lesson

3 Sep

Thanks to http://www.justintarte.com/ for this great piece I found this week.

One day, three blind men happened to meet each other and gossiped a long time about many things. Suddenly one of them recalled, “I heard that an elephant is a strange animal. Too bad we’re blind and can’t see it.”

“Ah, yes, truly too bad we don’t have the good fortune to see the strange ani­mal,” another one sighed.

The third one, quite annoyed, joined in and said, “See? Forget it! Just to feel it would be great.”

“Well, that’s true. If only there were some way of touching the elephant, we’d be able to know,” they all agreed.

It so happened that a merchant with a herd of elephants was passing, and overheard their conversation. “You fellows, do you really want to feel an elephant? Then follow me; I will show you,” he said.

The three men were surprised and happy. Taking one anothers hand, they quickly formed a line and followed while the merchant led the way. Each one began to contemplate how he would feel the animal, and tried to figure how he would form an image.

After reaching their destination, the merchant asked them to sit on the ground to wait. In a few minutes he led the first blind man to feel the elephant. With outstretched hand, he touched first the left foreleg and then the right. After that he felt the two legs from the top to the bottom, and with a beaming face, turned to say, “So, the strange animal is just like that.” Then he slowly returned to the group. Thereupon the second blind man was led to the rear of the elephant. He touched the tail which wagged a few times, and he exclaimed with satisfac­tion, “Ha! Truly a strange animal! Truly odd! I know now. I know.” He hur­riedly stepped aside.

The third blind man’s turn came, and he touched the elephant’s trunk which moved back and forth turning and twisting and he thought, “That’s it! I’ve learned.”

The three blind men thanked the merchant and went their way. Each one was secretly excited over the experience and had a lot to say, yet all walked rap­idly without saying a word.

“Let’s sit down and have a discussion about this strange animal,” the second blind man said, breaking the silence.

“A very good idea. Very good.” the other two agreed for they also had this in mind. Without waiting for anyone to be properly seated, the second one blurted out, “This strange animal is like our straw fans swinging back and forth to give us a breeze. However, it’s not so big or well made. The main portion is rather wispy.”

“No, no!” the first blind man shouted in disagreement. “This strange animal resembles two big trees without any branches.”

“You’re both wrong.” the third man replied. “This strange animal is similar to a snake; it’s long and round, and very strong.”

How they argued! Each one insisted that he alone was correct. Of course, there was no conclusion for not one had thoroughly examined the whole elephant. How can anyone describe the whole until he has learned the total of the parts…?

Expectations

I have been reflecting about having high expectations of our students. This article spoke to me.

  • It is important to have high expectations for our students. Expectations are different from standards. The standard is the bar and the expectation is our belief about whether students will ever reach the bar.
  • Expectations are based on our beliefs and values. We can only have high expectations of our students if we believe it is possible to help our students and if we believe that it is important to do so.
  • We also need to examine our expectations of ourselves. If we believe that we can reach a student we do everything that we can to ensure that the student is successful. However, if we tell ourselves that there is no way to help a student, we stop trying. If we are not confident in our ability to help students, we lower our expectations to goals that we feel we can comfortably achieve.
  • It can be disheartening when students arrive in our classes without the basic skills that they need to succeed but instead of focusing on what the students can’t do, develop ways that you can teach them the skills they need as well as get through the curriculum.
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