Tag Archives: Professional Reading

Quick Thought

17 Apr


The growth of any craft depends on shared practice and honest dialogue among the people who do it. We grow by private trial and error, to be sure — but our willingness to try, and fail, as individuals is severely limited when we are not supported by a community that encourages such risks.                                 

The Courage to Teach; Palmer, 1998, p. 144

Experience is a truly remarkable thing. It’s a gift we give ourselves each day. It’s a hard teacher, and often plans lessons we don’t want to learn. But it makes us look at things differently with each turn. Experience makes us evaluate where we have been, and what we are headed into next. It makes us collaborate with others on the journey too. In order to experience, you need to take chances and live. It’s risky, it’s terrifying, it’s pretty awesome. If we don’t experience we don’t grow.

Learning is not an ‘add on,’ to be done when we have some free time or at training sessions. Some of the most significant innovations have been in infrastructures and day-to-day practices, allowing teams and intact work groups to integrate working and learning.

— “The Academy As Learning Community: Contradiction in Terms or Realizable Future?” Senge, in Leading Academic Change: Essential Roles for Department Chairs, Lucas, A. F. & Associates, 2000, pp. 280-281

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


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. 

Professional Reading

14 Jun



Pedro A. Noguera writes , “…ways to include students, on a regular basis, in discussions about their school experiences. Such discussions can occur in formal settings, such as on established committees or decision-making bodies, and they can occur informally at classroom level. The main thing is that they occur regularly and that adults respond respectfully to what they hear. Students can tell if adults are genuinely interested in their opinions, and if they discern that no one is listening when they share their perspectives they will quickly lose interest in a meaningless exercise.”

More Summer Reading

15 Jan


This piece was all about How Thinking in 3D Can Improve Math and Science Skills by Jedd Barlett.

‘All of us, children included, live in a three-dimensional universe—but too often parents and teachers act as if the physical world is as flat as a worksheet or the page of a book. We call kids’ attention to numbers and letters, but we neglect to remark upon the spatial properties of the objects around us: how tall or short they are, how round or pointy, how close or far. Growing evidence suggests that a focus on these characteristics of the material world can help children hone their spatial thinking skills—and that such skills, in turn, support achievement in subjects like science and math.’


Summer Reading

13 Jan


I have been reading a great deal over summer as part of our continued great television turn off. Here is a piece that you might be interested in.

Give childhood back to children by by Peter Gray

“The most important skills that children everywhere must learn in order to live happy, productive, moral lives are skills that cannot be taught in school. Such skills cannot be taught at all. They are learned and practised by children in play. These include the abilities to think creatively, to get along with other people and cooperate effectively, and to control their own impulses and emotions.”



PD or PL that is the question?

28 Jun

Is there a fundamental difference between professional development and professional learning? We often define professional development as a one-off activity that takes place outside of classrooms.

The appearance of professional development is shifting. No longer is effective PD going to a course and listening to a speaker. The 21st century learner (the teacher in this case) demands more. At present we have in many cases we have a remnant of the 20th century when perfecting routines and tasks (productivity) were more important than collaboration and innovation (creativity).

I believe that tooling teachers does not necessarily transform teachers. Effective teachers are life-long learners. Ministry documents emphasize this time and again. Our goal this year is addressing this. I have written here about a desire to create Professional Learning Network in schools. This is a desire for creating a better teaching and learning environment. This point was made in my professional reading by Fullen last week.

“Leaders who are most effective in their own organizations and beyond are

those who can connect to the bigger picture.”

In moving from professional development to professional learning, teachers will inevitably take greater responsibility for their own and their students’ learning. School leaders take greater responsibility for teacher-learning and systems provide the necessary support and condition to enable this to happen systematically.

Evaluating performance, seeking feedback and asking questions of students and colleagues happens on the job – as part of the process of improving teaching. This itself is professional development.

The final point for me is that professional learning demands reflection. How well we reflect on our learning is a crucial question which influences how we move forward?


Professional Reading:

Fullen – 8 Forces for Leaders of Change

“This is an extremely useful reading, and links in very well to developments within New Zealand regarding leading change in schools. It would be helpful to use at the beginning of a change phase within a school, and to share with staff so that they come to understand the various stages in the process of implementing change in a school.”

I highly recommend this.

From Good to Great

22 Mar



The work of Jim Collins Good to Great (2011) has often inspired me when reviewing systems. It is a book that as an educator I have read half a dozen times. It is with theme in mind I reflect on the following this week as we try to make ourselves simply better.

‘From Good to Outstanding’: Tips for Teachers
Based on extracts from an extended interview with the series’ Inspector, Clare Gillies (CG)

Planning For Individual Learning – Contributed by Dr Alan Davison, Pivotal Behaviour Management Trainer

Curriculum planning is the point at which educational philosophy meets practical teaching and learning.

So… what is your philosophy?

Do you see your learners as empty bottles waiting to be filled up with your knowledge, beliefs and perceptions? Or are they active bundles of potential awaiting the opportunity to burst into learning and develop dormant skills?

Is pedagogy dead?

Things have changed so much that we no longer hear school masters mutter, “If you can’t beat pupils, why teach?” as they look back on cheerier days the world has left behind.

There are now very different values woven into our educational structures, many given shape and meaning through “Every child matters”. The elements “be happy”, “enjoy and achieve”, and, “make a positive contribution”, are reflected in what have become key learning targets.

1. Teach learners as individuals, and enable them to become independent learners.

2. Enable learners to develop their awareness and management of their social and emotional skills.

3. Enable learners to internalise positive reinforcements and motivation through a growing sense of belonging and purpose.

4. Ensuring all learners have a voice in planning and evaluating their learning opportunities and the issues based on their own safety and well being.

5. Develop a form of independence that encourages learners to know when and how to do things for themselves, and when, how and where to find support and help when they need it.

Curriculum planning which both incorporates these elements and supports a teacher training programme which ensures staff understand how to achieve these aims, will prove effective for school, college, teachers, but most of all, in meeting the aspirations of the learners.

© Pivotal Education Ltd 2001-10

eLearning tools to think about…

15 Mar


In April our College is hosting an eLearning in-service day for the surrounding schools. So this week I thought I would share tools that I have found useful.  Digistore has been created by the NZ Ministry of Education and is a storehouse of digital content to support learning across the curriculum, from early childhood through to senior secondary. You need an Education Sector login to be able to access the resources. The site tells you how to get one if you haven’t already.

How to use digistore: On the digistore wiki (http://digistore.wikispaces.com/) there are examples of how you can use the digital content in your classroom.

http://digistore.wikispaces.com/Science+Snaphot1 – Teachers and students at MRGS have explored how an online learning environment can enhance learning opportunities. Teacher Alison Cook created learning paths to support her Yr 9 science students and shares how she has integrated digital content to support learning. Useful tips for teachers exploring using learning paths with their school’s learning management system.

A Secondary English example: Using a learning path to support the teaching and learning for close reading of a visual text – This learning path is designed to be used to prepare students for the new Level One NCEA English Achievement Standard 1.11 Show understanding of visual and/or oral text(s) through close viewing and/or listening, using supporting evidence.

There are also examples for The Arts, Careers, Health and PE, Languages, Maori, Mathematics and Statistics, Social Sciences and Technology. A great way to share resources. A reminder about the VLN (Virtual Learning Network) that I have found very useful).


Professional Readings

I have been reading the rich document Tu Rangatira (2010) this week. It presents a model of leadership that reflects some of the key leadership roles and practices that contribute to high-quality educational outcomes for Māori learners. It focuses on leadership practices, providing insights into how effective professional development programmes can work towards strengthening leaders’ capabilities, growing capacity and sustaining exemplary leadership in the Māori medium education sector. I found it more holistic than the Kiwi Leadership for Principals and Leading from the Middle: educational leadership for middle and senior leaders documents which in my opinion are at times  a little dry. The values and metaphors of the document relate to the special character of Catholic schools. Worth a read if you are involved at education at any level. This is best to be read alongside School Leadership Best Evidence Synthesis which I will discuss in depth in a later blog.

Teaching Strategy – Asking Questions

8 Mar


During my class this week I took time to reflect on my own pedagogy. I found I often ask, “Does anyone have any questions?” and get no questions. I got to thinking, does this mean that students probably don’t know or understand enough to ask a question?

So, I thought to myself ask questions that will tell you if there is understanding. Just remember that just because one student gives the answer it does NOT mean anyone else knows the answer.

Ask more than one student to give the answer to the same question…
Tell me more.
Say it in a different way.
How would you say it?
Say it again.
Then ask the question in a different way and check for understanding.


Professional Readings

Are we over technology?
Jose Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts, HAS DECIDED TO THROW ALL TECHNOLOGY OUT of the classroom (shock horror) . His goal? To axe boring PowerPoints from the lives of students and reinvigorate their learning with engaging, human-to-human contact. http://chronicle.com/article/Teach-Naked-Effort-Strips/47398/. This is worth a read and made me think about how I use technology.

NCEA and Student Motivation
I spent time doing some post graduate study in motivation and coaching at UNSW. This piece really grabbed me. I thought this particular quote “We also found that whether or not students believe that their teachers care about them and their learning is related to their motivation to achieve” was worth thinking about. http://www.edgazette.govt.nz/Articles/Article.aspx?ArticleId=7885


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