Tag Archives: real world

Don’t Stop Believing

19 Jul

Leadership

One of my mentors often says to me “You have to believe in yourself”.   You cannot accomplish anything if you do not believe in yourself.   However, this statement does not fully apply to education. Educators work in a comprehensive system; therefore, educators can believe in themselves all they want to, but there is a truckload of other factors and people that affect how one teacher can perform.  In other words, if every teacher in the system is to reach the pinnacle of success, it will require beliefs that are much deeper than a tangible belief in ourselves. At this stage, it make want to dance around my lounge to that song by Journey.

Belief in yourself is not the ultimate goal for educators but the first step. If an organization desires to reach the pinnacle of excellence, a bunch of people who believe in themselves is a great goal but if the focus is on kids, individual belief isn’t enough because believing in yourself and no one else can only impact 1 year in a child’s life.   If you don’t believe me that believing in yourself isn’t enough, then watch “Mr. Holland’s Opus” or any other Hollywood movie of a teacher with the ultimate belief.

My role this term will be to believe and empower my team more. Teams that trust in each other believe in each other. They have positive presuppositions about one another’s motives, abilities and contributions. They lean on each other in times of difficulty and hold each other to high standards because of that belief.  A team of individuals who believe in themselves and in one another is a huge step up from any belief in yourself because it takes courage, trust and confidence in something bigger than yourself.  Furthermore, teams that believe in themselves expand a positive influence and impact directly onto more students, but this is not the ultimate belief. The team only impacts one segment of the system, not the entire system. There has to be something bigger to affect all tamariki in every day of their education.

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Digital Passport

30 Apr

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“We must think of coding not as a skill but as a literacy”

Before I begin a big thank you to MINDLAB for their assistance in this PLD.

After attending the ANZAC Day Dawn Service this week, I completed the Digital Passport course which gave me an insight into the new curriculum.  To prepare the next generation for the future, this has answered the call to teach our tamariki code. But many now recognize it’s not enough for students simply to know how to write code. The capacity to build a product or solve a problem requires an entirely different literacy.

The focus of the new digital curriculum is shifting from teaching the specific skill of coding to teaching computational thinking—or the ability to follow a step-by-step process to solve a problem. The future workforce will require a solid grounding in the discipline of thinking computationally. We think of coding not as a skill but as a literacy. I was reading article this week which suggested “We don’t teach reading because we believe everyone will write War and Peace,” therefore  “we don’t teach computer science with the belief that everyone will be a computer scientist. We teach it because it is increasingly a skill we need to operate in and understand the world around us.”

Much like students learn to read and then read to learn, coding and computational thinking are intertwined. Computational thinking will be fundamental to many of today’s students’ careers and interests in the same way that knowing how to read is fundamental to everything they do in school.

Computational thinking is defined as the ability to “develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.” According to Code.org in the United States, there are more than 503,000 open computing jobs nationwide, but only 35 states allow students to count computer science courses toward high school graduation, and fewer than half of U.S. schools teach computer science.

Much like reading, it’s important for students to learn the basics of computational thinking early, especially for girls. As digital technology increasingly becomes integrated across the disciplines and year levels, access will become more equitable. A quick and easy algorithm exercise for young our tamariki is to ask them to tell a partner, step-by-step, how to tie a shoelace without showing them. A bonus in this exercise is that it includes making a loop, which is a coding principle.

Our tamariki can solve a lot of problems when they understand the language and process of computing. Letting those problems be real, and identified by the students themselves, keeps students engaged and trying. An example could be to ask students to identify a problem in their community, research existing technology, and design an innovative app to solve the problem.

If we want our tamariki to be comfortable learners and creators, for their own interest or as part of the workforce, they need a basic understanding of how computational thinking works. If a child can talk about how something is made or built, then when something doesn’t work right, they can debug it or tweak it. Our job as teachers has always been to support our tamariki as they start exploring bigger ideas and provide the tools they need to be able to do that. Now let’s help them take that next step.

 

Connection

10 Apr

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As George Couros says often, “Isolation is a choice that educators make.” There are so many resources available for educators to connect with and learn from one another.  It is easy to get comfortable doing what has always worked.  If you aren’t connected to other educators in your school, district, or globally, you are not exposed to new ideas or pushed to think about better ways of doing things.  It is easy think that the way you have been doing it is the only or best way when you aren’t seeing other models.  To continue learning and developing your practice, it is important for teachers to get out of their classroom, both physically and virtually, to leverage the collective genius of the many educators across the globe

Flipped Learning

12 Feb

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As educators we should ask ourselves “what would we lose if we put all of our lecture notes online, or made them available for students online?” Would we lose interaction? Collaboration? Contribution? If education is more than the transfer of information, what is it? I have been doing a great deal of thinking at present about the change we need to make in teaching.

This week I have been doing some work on Microsoft Teams. This is a great tool and it had lead me to think about the work of Eric Mazur who I was fortunate to listen to last year. Eric Mazur claims we’d lose very little dialogue, very little interaction if we shared our notes with students. I agree with this looking at my evidence this week. I saw an interactivity in learning.

I really enjoyed Mazur’s approach to this in his writings. Mazur’s clever use of the physics problem of what happens to the hole in the middle of a metal plate when it is heated demonstrated very powerfully the way we can increase learning power when we turn on the innate learning curiosity of our learners. The exercise moved from a focus on the fact, to the reasoning – he ignited the fire of the audience curiosity! His point was powerfully made with regards to how we need work with students in our classrooms. Mazur’s use of this approach has been researched to demonstrate the impact of this on student retention – the significance here being the difference between simply transferring information (focus on facts) to the engagement in creating knowledge (emergence of reasoning).

The Flipped Learning environment offers such richness for a learning point of view.  There is more student accountability and agency for gathering information so we can better help them assimilate it.

There is a change the idea of delivering and transferring information for the learner. It puts the learner in charge. There is a transmission of knowledge vs construction of knowledge. We need to allow time for the brain to process the information – not simply ‘remember’ it. Moreover, but involving students in sharing among themselves, the learning is no longer an isolated experience. Education, deep down, is a social experience – not an isolated one (reference here to Vygotsky’s theories here)

 

Friday Reflection: October 20

19 Oct

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Our students need the skills to know when they are being manipulated so they can take control of their learning and their life. They also need to know that if they get a recommendation from a company to purchase something, they don’t have to buy it. They need to be able to spot fake news. They need to be critical thinkers. They need to be sceptical, curious, and critically consider what will be best for them. That’s our job as educators. It’s about encouraging learners to have a voice and choice so they are intrinsically motivated to want to learn.

Let’s help them navigate the new world of what some call “personalization.” But let’s be clear what that means for teaching and learning and fight for our students so they are the ones personalizing their learning experiences with teachers guiding the process not a company that is using their data to tell them that they know best how they learn.

We need students that are not “compliant” following the leads from a company based on clicks. They are so much smarter than we give them credit. We need to encourage learners at a very young age to learn how to learn, to reflect on their learning and to be the ones in control of their learning so they are lifelong, self-directed learners.

Employing Staff

10 Oct

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Selecting new staff can be one tough job. I was recently asked how I do this at a job interview. I often think about where will this person sit in the staff-room. How will they fit into the jigsaw. Here are some of the things I  believe about recruiting good people who are, in a healthy culture, set to become great teachers:

How much time do I spend on the qualifications and experience of candidates? 

Once I know that a teacher is Ill-trained, I am interested primarily in their personality and passion for learning and working with young people. I are looking for a bright individual with the potential and desire to learn and grow … more than an accomplished history. I need subject experts; I also need people experts. Both have (and will need) time to develop these skills.

How interested am I in things like classroom management techniques? 

I want to know what people do for fun. What do they like to read? Have they a passion for music, sports, the arts? Have they skills or interests that are interesting? An engaging person doesn’t need to worry about classroom management.

What are the most vital things I want to know? 

I want to know that prospective teachers have an absolute conviction that all students can learn. That character counts. I want them to assure us that they are learners themselves, therefore I are particularly interested in their technology skills and their willingness to become amazing teachers.

What am I thinking during the interview? 

I tend to visualize teacher candidates sitting with colleagues in our faculty lounge. I think about them at our Christmas lunch. Will they be the ones who help clear up and then stay afterwards, or will they quickly eat and leave? Will they fit in the team? Will they improve the team? Will they inspire students?

Have you any tips for me?

 

Helicopter Institutions

4 Sep

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It is Mock Exam time at our place next week. It is a busy term with a variety on. We are busily running extra sessions for students so it made me question: Does the presence of extra sessions, Study Days, or 24 hour access through the flipped classroom give the message to students that even if you produce minimal work in lessons then there is still time for you to catch up later on? Are we creating a helicopter institution?

I chatted to a knowledgeable student today and posed this exact question about additional catch up sessions.  They came up with a number of reasons in a balanced way justifying their place, and even their removal, from school.  One of the biggest things he said was that the presence of them might be giving students who “can’t be bothered” a reason to choose not to do any work.  The knowledge that they could catch up at a later date might allow them to pick and choose when they wanted to do anything in actual lesson time.

With the creation of additional sessions after school, are we inadvertently creating two schools?  With the school day ending does another one begin?

Are the pressures of teaching being passed onto students?

With the increased levels of accountability and pressure for results, do teachers feel that they are required to run these sessions to fulfil targets?

With this in mind, is the expectation and requirement of students to attend these sessions actually removing the love of learning?   Are additional sessions shifting the responsibility for student’s grades from the student and onto the teacher?  Does it feel like we have to work harder to get students through their NCEA or National Standards?

With workload itself being a national talking point, are we laying more pressure on teachers to not only teach their timetabled lessons, but to also teach additional lessons outside of curriculum time?

Because we want the best for our students, and we want to ensure we have the best results possible for our own professional progress, do we feel that we should be doing these sessions?  Is that part of the problem though?  If they weren’t rolled out in schools would students work harder?  So can we be that little bit better at using catch up classes?

Supporting Your Students

3 Sep

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When students struggle, many of us see the vastness of their struggle and try to solve it all at once. We end up throwing the kitchen sink at them, trying to fill in every gap and meet every challenge they face. But when students struggle in class, they are struggling for a specific reason. Sure, they may have several learning gaps and challenges, but at that moment, their struggle can usually be tied to a very specific learning gap or challenge. Rather than try to fill EVERY need a struggling learner faces, we need to target what they need right now. The better we are at pinpointing their specific source of struggle, the better we will be at solving it. Acceleration helps us target the source of students’ struggle today and quickly get students back on track so that they can be successful immediately. We should always remember that our students are not problems waiting to be solved but gifts and should be treated with dignity.

CONNECT 17

21 Aug

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I had the pleasure last week to be involved in the NASDAP national conference. There were an abundance of great speakers which I will reflect on in the coming weeks. Here are my thoughts as I reflect a week later:

Andrew revisit your Vision as a School Leader:

Take some time out and reflect on the reasons why you stepped into the school leadership role. What was it that you had hoped you could achieve? What was the legacy that you had hoped to leave behind? It takes courage to have a big vision and as a school leader, wanting to make a difference to the lives of future generations, your vision will be bigger than most.

Andrew reflect on your values: 

It is highly likely that with the challenges that have arisen as the result of the new education innovation, that there will have been times when you will have found your values severely tested. When we are under stress we can sometimes find ourselves behaving in ways in which our values are severely compromised, we find our -selves becoming disillusioned and if pushed too far, deciding to jump ship.

Andrew find support:

You can’t do it alone! You are not superhuman and really there is no such thing as a super head! All school leaders feel pain, anger and frustration. The problem is many school leaders seek to hide their true emotions both from themselves and others.

When we ask for help, we may find that we open the door that leads us to becoming a bigger vision of ourselves. 

Bringing Staff Together

31 Jul

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A key test of our  leadership is the degree to which you are able to inspire and motivate others, so that others feel both willing and able to turn your dreams for your school into reality. But …. as  you well know this is a task that is easier said than done. Uniting Hearts and Minds. The reason why so many leaders become exhausted by the whole school development process is because schools are complex organisations to lead and manage. A school is not one homogeneous identity. Far from it. Schools are complex and dynamic structures because they are made up of individuals from a diverse set of backgrounds, cultures, histories and values. It can be argued that much of the process of school improvement is about enabling others to value and respect each other’s perspectives whilst at the same time learning how to bring these differing perspectives into alignment, so that all are united in both heart and mind around achieving the school’s core vision and purpose.

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