Tag Archives: Reflection

Why Blog?

8 Oct

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It’s the holidays and time to regroup before the final push. I find it a natural time to reevaluate the things I do and ask why? So why blog.

“Blogging is on a thirty-minute deadline.” I found this a daunting piece of advice, yet liberating. This rule brings focus and a deadline. The deadline brings whats on top very quickly.

First Thought, Best Thought.”  You can always explore an idea again later in a new blog entry. Indeed it has occurred with me.

“A blog naturally reflects what you have been doing .” It helps you vent and solve problems.

The number one thing my blog has taught me is you will need to read more than you write. I am a ferocious reader. Anybody who knows me will confirm that. Simply putting your own ideas out there without exploring the views of others and engaging in conversation with them means you are quite possibly a bad listener. The learning comes about through the exchange of ideas. Publishing a blog has allowed me to engage with thoughtful educators all over the world. I have been amazed at the conversations that have come about. I’ve had conversations with a global network of generous and informed educators who are contributing to my professional development in simple yet powerful ways. That “connected educator” concept is real.

Happy blogging.

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A Mid Term Reflection

22 Aug

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I love being a connected educator. I have gained immensely from connections I have with others through Twitter, Facebook, Edchats, podcasts, at EdCamps, and in person. But, I have a confession, sometimes I feel inadequate when speak with some these talented teachers.

Before becoming a connected educator, I operated in a vacuum, in isolation. I would connect with my faculty and staff but our work wasn’t about sharing best practices or what we were doing in our buildings. It was mostly about listening to ministry and making sure we were leading those. Being connected has opened a new world for me, a world in which I see the amazing things educators are doing every day. And that contributes to my feelings of inadequacy. Often, I have thought, “Wow, that is inspiring; I wish I could do that.” I wish I could communicate and reach out more through blogs, podcasts, You Tube channels and other media as prolifically and proficiently as others do. I wish I could spend more time in classrooms, on the playground, and learning with students as much as others do. So some thoughts:

I reach out to my PLC. Through Twitter I can share with groups or individuals. The times I have reached out individually through Twitter have been powerful and cathartic. It’s amazing that I can share through social media with other educators whom I have never met and feel supported and validated. Just being able to share and have another person, or persons, listen makes a huge difference for me.

I remember to take small steps to put things into my practice. I continually look at our annual plan which indicated a need for improved communication. I think start small and make trying new things part of your practice. By learning from others I have explored and used augmented reality, robotics, video production, and coding.

I must use twitter to refuel. I participate in Twitter chats and engage in discussions. Through thought provoking questions and engaged conversations, I glean a lot from others but I also get to share things I’m doing. The feedback and support I receive makes me feel like I am headed in the right direction. I had been contemplating finding a way to positively recognize more students. Last summer a teacher in a Twitter chat stated she made one positive phone call home daily. What a great idea. What are you doing that innovative? Love to hear from you.

Teaching as Inquiry

11 Aug

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The culture of inquiry is so important in our school among all ako. By that I mean students and teachers. As part of our annual plan I have been thinking a great deal about these. For a superb summary of this please click here.  Here some thoughts on the topic:

A Good Question

Questions are an effective way to frame a unit of inquiry. When students struggle to find the answer, it raises the level of inquiry. Questions encourage students to think outside of their class/content area. The inquiry needs to be framed up by this.

Five Benefits of Good Questions:

  1.  Essential Questions establish a learning focus for students.
  2.  The process of identifying Essential Questions helps educators clarify their intended purpose.
  3.  Essential Questions promote critical thinking.
  4.  Essential Questions support integrated instruction (i.e., teaching and learning across disciplines).
  5.  Essential Questions help students see the Big Picture, while allowing each student to connect prior knowledge to new understandings.

Reflection

Reflection is a lost art in classrooms and by teachers. We are constantly battling paper. With the push to cover more content and standards, teachers often make a choice between coverage or pausing for reflection. Reflection comes in many forms: reflective journals, group work, whole class, silent reflection, reviewing yesterday’s work, reflecting on an essential question, or creating a product that shows your thoughts on a previous lesson or understanding.

How often do students feel like the pace of schooling is rushed? Once a unit is finished, the teacher moves to the next unit. Reflection involves slowing down to share what we learned. In the absence of reflection, it is unlikely that a classroom is a Culture of Inquiry. How do students reflect and make meaning out of their experiences?

Learning takes place when inquiry is present. As you meet with your teacher team to develop lessons and assessments, analyse the amount of time students have to question, talk with their peers, and reflect. Career Readiness is not a score on a test or NCEA. Readiness means that students graduate with the skills that provide them with opportunities for success beyond high school. Here’s a thought. Contemplate how the courses in your school foster critical thinking, problem solving, and application of academic knowledge.

 

Term 3 Focus

2 Aug

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As the term begins for us here in New Zealand it is a good time to take stock. What are your goals for the next 100 days of school? Do your goals take priority over learning styles and student needs? Is your professional development (PD) plan a success if all of the teachers complete the face-to-face PD, but do not implement the instructional strategies?

As a teacher, the world may not be second-guessing your decisions or requesting that you explain your school improvement plan on national TV. Impacting the lives of hundreds of students in a school is much more complex than a checklist. This term I will be asking my middle leaders to reflect on the reason they became an educator. Knowing “your why” will help you support teaching and learning. While a teacher’s legacy is the successful transition of children into adults who contribute to society, it is important to focus on the students you have this year and not your legacy.

Here are five focus points for you:

1.  Focus on The Students You Have This Year

2.  Recognize The Importance Of Continuous Improvement

3.  Focus On Goals, But Not At The Expense Of Student Growth

4.  Provide A Culture Where Multiple Perspectives Are Valued

5.  Reflect On The Reasons You Became An Educator

Friday Thought: June 9

10 Jun

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This week I have been thinking about how I can stay on task. That is keep our year long inquiry going. Sometime it can be difficult especially in June, its cold, people are extra busy with reports and coughs and colds are kicking in.

How to Stay focus on your goals then, it could be about the following?

  • Concentration

If you have set many goals, focus on the important one first. Don’t bother yourself with the other goals. It is much better to set 1 goal at the time. 

  • Create a big picture

Cut out pictures that will remind you of your goals- gather them and paste them on a board, wall or poster.

  • Take a break

Feel the air- breath! If you feel you have given too much, then take a break, pause for a while.

Don’t stress yourself so much. Take it easy. You will reach the end. I am sure of that as long as you have started it.

 

Friday Thought: Be Reflective

2 Jun

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I was told this week Andrew you must reflect more on your practice. It was a timely reminder. I have heard a few times recently when discussing the importance or reflection as part of the school improvement process. When digging deeper into what is meant by this, I have found that in some cases there is a lack of understanding as to what it really means to be a reflective teacher. Too often, when we think about being a reflective practitioner, the reflection process is limited to evaluation; what went well and what did not. In some instances, reflection may include what might I do differently next time. A peer tells me often it is about process.

Being reflective is much more than that. Reflection must involve action. True reflection in education cannot happen without the the thoughts of what might be done differently next time actually translating into planning for action and taking action. There is no point saying that all teachers are reflective if there are lots of thoughts but no action. How does that really improve student learning?

Collaboration is an important part of being a reflective teacher. Reflecting on your own can have its limitations in terms of having other people to bounce ideas of, having other people to challenge each others viewpoints, having other people to give us the necessary feedback to critically reflect and, most importantly, other people to share our journey with. I recognize my own PLN here.

The Lost Art of Reflection

6 Dec

The Thinker

Reflection is a lost art in classrooms. With the push to cover more content and standards, teachers often make a choice between coverage or pausing for reflection. Reflection comes in many forms: reflective journals, group work, whole class, silent reflection, reviewing yesterday’s work, reflecting on an essential question, or creating a product that shows your thoughts on a previous lesson or understanding.

How often do students feel like the pace of schooling is rushed? Once a unit is finished, the teacher moves to the next unit. Reflection involves slowing down to share what we learned. In the absence of reflection, it is unlikely that a classroom is a Culture of Inquiry. How do students reflect and make meaning out of their experiences?

Learning takes place when inquiry is present. This year as Faculty’s met every Wednesday to develop lessons and assessments, analyze the amount of time students have to question, talk with their peers, and reflect. This inquiry is a step towards reflection. May it continue in 2017.

Confucius say….

26 Nov

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“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

Learning from experience plays a critical part in combining information and skills in context to create knowledge, and the meaning and form that such experiences can take are as varied as the countless subjects and disciplines themselves that comprise the broad sweep of human activity.

Confucius, rightly, acclaims reflection as the cardinal route to wisdom. We begin to learn by imitating those who know what we also want to know. We learn even more by trying our new knowledge out in the real world in some sense. But we only truly begin to embed that knowledge within us, we only truly begin to ‘know’, when we set out to cast a critical eye over our practice and we question why we do what we do, how we do it, what works, what does not work, and how can we do better.

In teaching, as in other professions, reflection can take many forms, each as valid as the other, but each bringing a different range and kind of insight to our professional practice. Here some ways I am thinking about:

Critical self-reflection – taking the time to go back over our own teaching, either from memory, or from notes taken, or increasingly today from a video of our teaching; we do this with the aim of challenging ourselves on what went well or not, and why;

Collaborative reflection – working with one or more colleagues who join with you in reflecting on your teaching, perhaps having observed your lesson live, or having watched a recorded video of your teaching after the event; of course, this can, and perhaps should, be reciprocal – collegiate reflection can be very powerful indeed.

Coaching and mentoring – working with either a more experienced colleague or an external expert who watches you teach (again either by classroom observation or through the use of video) and is able to offer advice – this can be done live or in retrospect, or both.

I am really excited about reflection like this and even more excited by the reaction of the middle manager group. Lets see what occurs in 2017.

Time to Reflect

28 Oct
I firmly believe in self-reflection as a means toward growth and development. As such, we all would benefit from an intense session of self-reflection. Through self-reflection we will better understand who we are as educators, as well as how our actions are aligning with our beliefs. Here are some thoughts I am considering as I train this week.
1) – How and what are you doing to build strong and enduring relationships with your students and staff?

2) – What are you doing very well? Where are you seeing a lot of success? Do you know why…?

3) – What are you not doing very well? Where are you not seeing a lot of success? Do you know why…?

4) – What are you doing to improve your craft? How are you ensuring that you will be better able to address your students’ and staffs’ needs?

5) – In your absence, can your students and staff continue learning and growing? Do they absolutely need you to continue?

Curriculum Guru

10 Aug

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Curriculum Guru

Curriculum development is an ongoing process which requires collaboration, conflict-resolution and reflection. Too often, schools approach curriculum development as a product to be created. During my current role in 2015 I have developed a real passion for curriculum development.

Curriculum design and review is a continuous, cyclic process. It involves making decisions about how to give effect to the national curriculum in ways that best address the particular needs, interests, and circumstances of the school’s students and community. It requires a clear understanding of the intentions of The New Zealand Curriculum and of the values and expectations of the community. For some reading this is a good place to start.

Here are some thoughts:

Collaboration:

Classroom teachers decide what every student should know and be able to do, then they should be involved in the curriculum development process. Unpacking the standards, curriculum mapping, unit development, writing generalizations, developing essential questions and creating common formative assessments are each opportunities for collaboration.

Conflict Resolution:

Conflict is often avoided when teachers discuss curriculum development. When teachers debate which skills are essential and what content can be omitted, curriculum development becomes a matter of conflict resolution. When teacher teams embrace conflict and encourage conflicting opinions they are supporting student achievement. Open conversation is where professional develoment occurs.

Reflection:

When teacher teams reflect on the written, taught and assessed curricula, they will improve pedagogy and curriculum design. When teachers develop curriculum and fail to assess its effectiveness, it is difficult to know if the curriculum is meeting the needs of each student.

Some Questions For Curriculum Developers:

  1. Does our school have a ‘robust curriculum’?
  2. Is our curriculum aligned?
  3. Do teachers have a tool or method for communicating the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum’?
  4. When teachers develop common formative assessments, do they use the data generated?
  5. Are teachers meeting on a regular basis to reflect on the written, taught, and assessed curricula?

If curriculum drives the work of teacher teams, then schools must create time for teachers to collaborate, engage in conflict and provide time during the school day for reflection and revision. Curriculum development should be a priority in schools, rather than something that is handed to teachers as a top-down product. When teachers collaborate to develop the curriculum, they will have co-workers who support them when they come to a fork in the road in instruction.

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