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Curriculum Inquiry: Easter Reflection

18 Apr

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The focus of our HOF Inquiry is curriculum development. If teachers develop a high-quality written curriculum, but fail to implement it then their work is the equivalent of motion masquerading as progress (Parker, 1991).

Curriculum development is much more than an inquiry, unpacking standards, or meeting once a week. If teachers spend their time focusing on the taught curriculum they will be able to greatly impact student achievement.  “When school staff have a more informed conception of curriculum, a teacher’s daily decisions about how to deliver instruction not only affect student achievement in that classroom but also future student achievement, for it is assumed that students will be entering the next classroom prepared to handle a more sophisticated or more expansive level of work” (Zmuda, Kuklis & Kline, 2004, p. 122).

Our inquiry should be about answering questions. “If you want to make discoveries, if you want to disrupt the status quo, if you want to make progress and find new ways of thinking and doing, you need to ask questions” (John Maxwell, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, 2014). Here some key questions for HOFs that I have come across.

  1.  What are the key concepts we will address in this course?
  2.  What are the key skills we will address in this course?
  3.  What are the priority standards for this course? How will we ensure that these standards are emphasized throughout the year?
  4.  If I had a daughter enrolled in this course, would I be satisfied?
  5. How will we implement the 4 Cs (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity) in curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment(s)?
  6. Will we use LwDT to support teaching and learning? How? What are the goals?
  7. Are there opportunities for student-led lessons or is every lesson dictated by the curriculum and teacher-led?
  8. Are there multiple options for personalized learning throughout the course?
  9. Does the course incorporate student-led questions which deepen student understanding?
  10. How will we measure student understanding?
  11. Are we designing authentic tasks for students?
  12. What is the role of formative assessment in measuring the written, taught, and understood curricula?
  13. Do we have a plan for when students don’t learn?
  14. Does our learning space support student understanding of the key skills, concepts, and soft skills that our staff has identified as important?
  15. How often do we meet to discuss teaching and learning?
  16. Do we analyze career readiness indicators? What is my role in supporting college and career readiness?
  17.  Do teachers have the opportunity to provide ongoing feedback regarding the school curriculum?

 

 

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Whakakaha Part 3

2 Dec

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I used this insightful video this week at Whakakaha. What do you think?

Why we should journal as teachers?

7 Sep

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Why should you blog and what should you use? The why is easy. Self-reflection an journaling is vital to continual improvement. I like WordPress because I can include photos, video, slideshows, and hyperlinks. It is a visually interesting digital portfolio that can be commented on and modified when needed. Many posts create a discussion which gives me other things to think about. We are beginning to investigate blogging, using One Note for the purpose of appraisal. It is preferable to filling in lots of paperwork. I have also been involved in facilitating professional development to help people set up their blogs. Blogging naturally reflects your own PTCs.

The act of regularly expressing your thoughts in written form can help sharpen your intellect, organize your ideas and prep you to lead lessons in the classroom more effectively. (Teach.com, 2015)

Putting your ideas into the world is a great way to attract like-minded people to argue with, network with, or get advice from. As we’ve learned from other discussions on personal learning networks (PLN), talking with other educators is a wonderful way to learn and grow as a teacher. (Teach.com, 2015)

Positive or negative, getting reactions from other people in your community is a great way to test out your ideas. It can also be a great motivational tool. (Teach.com, 2015)

Many employers these days will check out a prospective employer’s online presence to find out about who they are as a person and how they represent themselves. A blog will help an employer to understand the values and attitudes of a teacher. It will also give insight into how they teach and reflect on their pedagogy.

A blog will give employers a deeper insight into your teaching practices while signaling that you’re a 21st century teacher. Having a teaching portfolio can be a decisive element at the interview stage of the hiring process. How have you approached the idea of collating your evidence for PTCs?

 

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. 

Equality

14 Jul

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The Pastoral Care systems at our school are simply amazing. I can say this because I see the great care our teachers take with our students. I have been thinking do we at school support the whole child?  There are multiple ways to support the whole child.  Some schools design curriculum maps and the teachers work in professional learning teams to share instructional strategies.  Some schools post a mission statement.” As I approach the holidays I have been focusing on the whole child and factors that impact student understanding.

Wet and Cold

Recently, I drove to work in the dark and in the rain.  I arrive at school each day at 630am. Hey I don’t want a medal it is my job. But some days I have students arrive just behind me. Is this right? I turn on the heaters and let these students in. It got me thinking. What does your school do for students who wait in the rain to catch the bus or arrive ridiculously early?  Do you think it would be difficult to learn if you spent the first part of your day in soaking wet clothes or being at school since 7am two hours before the start time?

Tertiary Knowledge

Some families know how to support tertiary institution readiness.  There are several families who begin this process in primary school.  As an educator Charlotte and I often talk of next steps. Several students enter College without an end in mind.  They may receive counselling from a teacher or counsellor, but this varies from school to school.   Some schools have an advisor/advisee program where students learn how to search for a school, what majors are available, how to complete an application, financial aid options, and how to apply for scholarships.  Some people say that the path to tertiary institutions is a game.  Based on my observations, some students know how to play the game and some don’t. Is this right?

Reading

Most educators would agree that reading is the cornerstone of education.  Some students go home and they have three bookshelves, the newspaper, four laptops, and magazine subscriptions waiting in the mailbox.  Thousands of students go home with their textbook and the book they checked out of the school media centre.  How do we support students who do not go home to the equivalent of the “Teens” section at Whitcoulls?  This is a topic that needs to be addressed in every school.  Some schools have a library program in.  Students receive books that are at their level or high-interest books.   If reading is an essential life skill, then how are schools supporting students who don’t own books?

Access

I my classes with a flipped learning environment in mind but I always check which of my students have access. It must be uncomfortable going home knowing that you will not be able to access the Internet to complete your school assignments.   Some students are able to use Khan Academy to get academic support with their math assignment.  What do the students do when they can’t connect with Khan?  Not only is Khan offline is some homes, the student cannot text, FaceTime, Skype, or share a Doc with her peers.  As schools move to more 1:1 classroom, it will be important for teachers, to consider that students have a different opportunity to learn. What does your school do to support students and to equal the playing field when it comes to access?

 

The Transition for Students

2 Jul

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At present the body of my work is completing scholarship applications for school leavers and advising these school leavers on their next steps. It got me thinking that secondary school dies not prepare a student in any way for university. They are as different as Super Rugby and the Olympic Sevens. I think this for the following reasons.

  • The timetable. No university has any class meets every day; no university schedule requires a student to be in class every hour of the school day. Some classes meet for two or three hours at a time. And the choices, don’t get me started.
  • Online work. In most of today’s university courses, there is a significant online component to the course. It is up to the student to be proactive to use it. It is in most cases it is part of the assessment.
  • Reading. The expectation in all courses in the sciences, history, philosophy, and social sciences is that students will have to do some significant primary-source reading (and writing on it). The anticipation in all courses is that students know how to read analytically and critically.
  • Being organised. Professors will not seek you out if you are doing poorly. The expectation is that you will go for help, find study partners, seek assistance from tutors and special programs, etc. on your own.
  • Homework expectations. It is assumed in most universities, according to most calendars I have read, that for every hour in class a student is expected to work at least an hour outside of class on reading, writing, research – often more.

 

What do you think? Are we really preparing our student for the next stage well?

Pedagogy and Student Achievement

29 May

Vision Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.

More and more teachers are giving students projects to do, whether at school or at home. They often have complete freedom of how to present the final outcome. Common examples include a PowerPoint presentation, report, poster or physical model. A few, may go for a more creative option such as a video. However, digital technology, when used, is often limited to presenting passive information without any interactivity. The type that doesn’t encourage any engagement. We must remember the tool should not drive the presentation just like with teaching.

It must be said that some teachers do encourage students to take advantage of digital technologies. Examples include blogging or other forms of presenting content, e.g. social media, or wikis. Even then though, for those who engage with the content, it‘s still mostly passive (reading/watching). Sometimes it increases a bit to up/down-voting or commenting as the ultimate engagement. Tools like spellasaurus or Mathletics are fine but it is the pedagogy behind it which is key.

Years ago, in an effort to understand the students we served and the role of teachers in creating spaces where learning can happen, we created a list of what we believed these conditions were:

  • Knowing our learners
  • Creating a safe community of learners
  • Having something meaningful for students to learn about
  • As teachers we have to have a deep understanding of the content, the learner and instructional practices
  • The notion of teacher as learner and actually doing the risk taking, being open to make mistakes

We spent some time discussing as a staff what resonated with us most and what caused us the most dissonance. It was an incredible insight into the thinking of our staff in our collective and individual impact on the learners in our care.

I believe that supporting learning at the classroom level is no different than supporting innovation and learning at a staff level.

We need to be able to do what we are asking our teachers to do. We have to create spaces where creativity, innovation, risk-taking in learning, and experimentation are welcome.

Lets Be Connected

22 May

constructivist

Ka rongo, ka wareware

Ka kite, ka mahara

Engari, mā te mahi ka mōhio.

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, but through doing, I know.

 

Last year while on secondment to NCRS I did some presenting to groups and reflecting on teaching practice. Everything I did centred around our teachers raising student achievement. It reminded me about the importance of being a connect educator. I hope I brought this back to my own environment.

Overall a connected educator at Sacred Heart Girl’s College knows how to grow as a professional and to empower each other and their students to build their own personal learning networks to learn using the technologies that are available. Much is learnt from each other, with each other, and with the classes that they teach.

As part of my appraisal, one of my guiding principles is Whangaungatanga or connectedness, Kaitiakitanga or Guardianship and Manaakitanga or Generosity of spirit. These all deal with connectedness.

Kaitiakitanga – Guardianship

Ensuring sensitivity and thoughtfulness of actions in environments both local and distant.

A connected educator at Sacred Heart Girl’s College knows how to build their community of practise that has active participants like guest speakers and where everyone co constructs knowledge. A great example of this is uLearn16 or #edchatnz or subject associations meetings.

Whanaungatanga – Connectedness

Being connected requires learners to develop a secure sense of their own identity and agency to think and work towards where their potential might lie.

Sacred Heart Girl’s College is already a strong learning community that collaboratively constructs knowledge to form a foundation for learning. A connected educator at Sacred Heart Girl’s College knows how to use the managed online tools to find people and how to connect with them. They think carefully about the dynamics of interactions.

Manaakitanga – Generosity of spirit

Developing the ability to walk in others’ shoes which includes seeing issues from others’ perspectives and thinking carefully about the dynamics of interactions.

A connected educator at Sacred Heart Girl’s College knows how to use and take the tools from their kete to move their practice forward. They know how to get the learning needed to improve the craft of teaching. A connected educator at Sacred Heart Girl’s College knows how to use pedagogical eTools.  They know how to bring back what they have found and learnt online and share it with their school community via a reflective educator blog. Personal learning is transparent, visible and accessible by all.

Ka rongo, ka wareware

Ka kite, ka mahara

Engari, mā te mahi ka mōhio.

 

 

 

 

 

Being Creative

19 Jan

dsc00022

Creativity  happens when people take risks with innovation, problem solving, and actions. If creativity is encouraged in schools, then the leader’s job is to create the conditions where it can happen.

The key question is though what are these conditions?

In an effort to understand the students we serve and the role of teachers in creating spaces where learning can happen, we created a list of what we believed these conditions were:

  • Knowing our learners (creating learning plans)
  • Creating a safe community of learners
  • Having something meaningful for students to learn about
  • As teachers we have to have a deep understanding of the content, the learner and instructional practices
  • The notion of teacher as learner and actually doing the risk taking, being open to make mistakes

Can you think of any further?

Reviewing Goals

2 Jan

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I find breaking out of my comfort zone is hugely beneficial to my personal growth and development. Yes it does add a stress but I find “good” stress can be beneficial.

A small amount of stress can actually be good for you, as long as you still feel in control. That’s what breaking out of your comfort zone is all about: pushing your own boundaries and discovering your capabilities. It is similar to training. By doing the same thing all the time you can find the areas you can cheat. Your body gets used to certain workouts. Beyond being more productive, there are a few specific benefits to leaving your comfort zone.

Some of the things that I find with myself and the students I teach that braking out of my comfort zone does is you:

You learn more

You’re more resilient

You break down problems by slowing down

Each year I resolve to take on all the advantages of pushing myself a little. By October each year I realize I get to comfortable. As an educator I am uncomfortable with this.  So at the beginning of the year, I seek out new challenges.

It is  important to do this in small steps or I will burn out. Actually even those small challenges can be a big deal big deal.

Well here is how I went with some of my goals in 2015. These are those I can share without hurtinhg the innocent.

The Big Read

Every year I set myself the goal of reading 104 books. It goes back to my year studying the United States when I read 104 books in the year. I have never reached such dizzying heights since but it is great. This year I reached 76 books. Certainly made me think and completed the criteria of pushing me out of my comfort zone.

This also led me to other form of Professional Development. Some of which you will note here in this blog and in https://twitter.com/hashtag/rechatnz

I Forced Myself Out of My Routine

Once you get stuck in a routine, it’s tough to break your day to day habits. You tell yourself you’ll eat better, exercise more, or take better care of your finances, but it’s easier said than done. One way to set yourself up for success is to set up systems for yourself when motivation is high.

To counteract this, I spent some of this year by chance on secondment. I t was a great opportunity to network, challenge myself, travel and develop a great deal of my skills. The people I worked with were great. I was able to develop an entire different skill set under the pressure of being out of routine.

I was considerably more productive. I worked faster and more efficiently as I was working on the fly. Second, I felt happier. My day seemed longer, and in some ways, fuller, because the it was a different environment and energy from my normal routine.

So not only was I more productive and energized, but I developed skills. Downside: I drove my family insane.

There were a number of other goals which I was successful and unsuccessful with this year. I didn’t complete my Marathon nor did learn to play the ukulele. Perhaps that is some for 2016.

Another funny thing happened when I set my goals this year: the more I completed the more I loved it. Actually that is the case every year.

Being comfortable is nice. However, it’s actually a lot nicer after you’ve challenged yourself and learned from your experiences. It is great to look back and see how well you did. How well did you go last week? Have you thought about how you can push yourself out of the comfort zone in 2016?

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