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Value Teachers

4 Dec

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To attract the highest-quality teachers, we also need to hold teachers in high esteem.

Teaching is arguably the most challenging profession of all, yet unlike Finland – where teachers accrue similar respect to doctors – we don’t recognize that teaching deserves the same respect and trust as the medical profession. Finland also demands graduate teaching qualifications.Graduate students bring real-world experience, including deep disciplinary knowledge, analytical thinking and personal maturity.

To do this we would have to look across the Tasman for guidance. This would follow in the footsteps of the South Australia government, which intends to require all teachers to have completed a graduate-level teaching degree. The state will also require government schools to preference the employment of graduates with master’s or double-degree teaching qualifications.

To attract the best candidates, prospective teachers need to see a career progression. Using the current lead teacher and accomplished teacher categories but linked with an appropriate pay level progression would be a good start.

Teachers have a crucial role in improving student outcomes. We need not only to lift course and graduate standards, but also to ensure teachers are well supported so they can contribute fully as highly developed experts in a widely respected profession.

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Pathways

6 Oct

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This seems to be the new buzzword in the media these days. But whether or not the choice is good or bad, I am still very much in favour of people having a choice!

As educators, we at times are concerned about our students, faculty and staff not staying the course and making choices that are neither scripted nor a part of the “this is what we have always done” philosophy. But when these same entities (students, faculty & staff) are given the opportunity to create new ideas and when they are provided with the ownership to implement these ideas, our students, faculty and staff often become the beneficiaries of these “good choices.”

For example, when students are offered the chance to choose one of three essay questions to complete, the choice of a book to read or the choice of a research paper topic, we know they will be more fully engaged. I understand many educators feel the need to control the conversations and the intended outcomes, but it really doesn’t take much more effort to offer our students a choice of which of the 25 of the 40 math questions they choose to work/answer.

As a school leader I am a firm believer in offering their staff the choice/opportunity of choosing new methods, like using 365, Slides, kahoot, etc., as a more efficient way to share information with others?

Leaders should be encouraging their teachers to choose a different way to deliver their content either by truly integrating technology or by “flipping” the instruction

Teaching Our History

1 Aug

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I was trained as a History teacher back in 1992. We all teach the fundamentals of the Treaty of Waitangi in schools. I thoughts this might be a useful resource. 

Our Language

23 Jul

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Lots to think about here this week. Here are the pātai for the Thursday 7 July #ldrchatnz . It was it useful to take a look at Tū Rangatira before the chat. It got me thinking about some other resources.

Treaty of Waitangi

  • Waitangi 175This TKI website has been set up with projects, teaching resources and links.
  • TREATY 2 Utells the story of New Zealand’s founding document: the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • Te Ara: The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand provides a good background and images on the treaty.
  • NZ Historyprovides information on the treaty, Waitangi Day and a timeline of events

Māori Online Resources

How to set up Māori macrons on your keyboard

Instructions to enable typing with Māori macrons on your computer for a range of operating systems are available at: Typing Māori easily / Te māmā hoki o te patopato  or for PC http://kupu.maori.nz/macrons/keyboard-setup

 

Technology Rant

6 Jul

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For the purposes of schooling, the technology (the device) needs to support the pedagogy (teaching and learning methods), not the other way around. The device needs to support our intentions for our pedagogy to be more and more student-centred; that means, providing students with greater choice of subject matter and pace of study. It also requires teachers to involve students in more decision‐making processes which result in memorable experiences where students ‘learn by doing’ with relevance to the real world. Examples of this approach would see students:

  • CREATE podcasts, video documentaries and websites;
  • COLLABORATE via wikis, blogs and Google share documents; and,
  • CRTICALLY ANALYSE the work of their peers using chat options and online media.

My desire is for my students and staff to more and more engage in activities that result in them Creating, Collaborating and Critiquing. They collectively need to move away from pre‐occupation of computer work being just “Word and PowerPoint”; and it is great to see that some are already doing this! The Microsoft suite of applications is one option which supports “creating, collaborating and critiquing”. Watch this space.

Excellence

6 Jun

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I have been reading Becoming Steve Jobs this week and it got me thinking a great deal about excellence. As you may have picked up I love reading about those who excel. I really enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell’s works.

Excellence is not a gift, nor is it a talent. Learning to strive for excellence is a skill and this skill is undeniably necessary in the 21st Century classroom. Excellence requires increased student engagement and motivation.

Over the years I learned this: If students can master one thing, they have a greater likelihood of developing mastery in other areas of their lives. So, as a result, I spend a great deal of time scaffolding meta-cognition self-regulatory skills.

A Vision A Memo

11 May

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Integrating meaningful learning experiences that promote critical thinking skills is essential in cultivating a classroom of 21st Century learners. One way we do this is by actively involving the students in their learning through collaborative work. This helps the students take ownership of the learning and think critically about issues. Yes collaboration is key.

This month I have been thinking and have had time to think. My vision in schools then would be this. In our perfect school our student-centered learning environments are varied and flexible to accommodate the needs of learners and provide ongoing opportunities to build a collaborative community of students and staff. Our environments promote collaborative, individual, small and large group learning.

Students learn in collaborative flexible groups based on need. When students collaborate together they learn how to communicate with others effectively, work as a team, practice self-discipline, and improve social and interpersonal skills. Through collaboration, students are able to have a better understanding of what they are learning and improve critical thinking skills. This reality is not far away

Vocational Pathways

1 May

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How do you define University and Career Readiness? Vocational Pathways is going some way to helping guide schools in this. Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert, shares how education has changed over the past century.  Visit Changing Education Paradigms.  I have been reflecting if Robinson’s view of the changing role of education reflect the vision of educators at my school?

As a teacher we must reflect on the following:

1)  How do I support Vocational Pathways and my students being career ready?

2)  How does the role of a guidance counselor and mentor teacher change when we view every student as a “Vocational Pathways Graduate?”

3)  Does Vocational Pathways begin at primary school?  What does it look like at each level?

4)  How do we assist parents and community members in seeing that Vocational Pathways is for every student?

5)  How does Vocational Pathways change curriculum, instruction, and assessment?

Our Government has set clear and challenging Better Public Service targets. 98% of children who start school in 2016 will have participated in early childhood education, and 85% of 18 year olds will have achieved NCEA Level 2 or equivalent in 2017. To ensure the connections across the system, I have set an additional target of 85% of primary school students meeting national standards in 2017. These are ambitious targets, but we are on track to meet them.

When politicians make a speech, it may come across as political rhetoric.  However, teachers can begin having a conversation about what it means to understand Vocational Pathways and have students career ready.  The changes will not come from speeches, new standards, new assessments, or hoping that more students will achieve.  Change will come when educators define Vocational Pathways and then begin to ask, “What is my role?”

 

The Habits of Stephen Covey

1 Apr

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I have been rereading one of my favorite books recently. The First Three Habits surround moving from dependence to independence (self-mastery).
1. Be Proactive: Work from the centre of your influence and constantly work to expand it.
2. Begin with the End in Mind: Envision what you want in the future so you can work and plan towards it.
Here she challenged us with “What are you doing to ensure that you are going to achieve what you have identified as your end in mind?”
3. Put First Things First: This is about the difference between Leadership and Management. Leadership in the outside world begins with personal vision and personal leadership. Think about what is important and what is urgent

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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