Is Teacher Training Broken?

If the evaluative lecturer that came into our school today is a sign of teacher training at the moment, then Teacher Training is broken in our country.

Old School Teacher inked for me by Tom Morgan-Jones

Old School Teacher inked for me by Tom Morgan-Jones

 

Clearly confused by Google Docs he was asking questions like:

How will you know what they have completed? Who prepares the software resources and saves them to Google Docs? How can they refer to previous work? Are all the devices relying on batteries?

Good to know that he liked the carpeted floors and nice open/light teaching space though… Continue reading

#nextpractice Webinar

Last night I was part of a Google for Education webinar on the use of technology to aid learning. The aim was:

How do we identify #nextpractice in the use of technology in learning? Can we take the SAMR model to look at both best practice and #nextpractice using Google Apps for Education? Well, we think so! This webinar will provide some wonderful examples of educators who are working on a daily basis in best practice and innovating next practice. By the end of the webinar you will have seen numerous examples of using GAFE to augment, modify and redefine learning in schools.

Facilitated by the amazing Chris Harte, there were short presentations by Chris Mann (John Monash Science School), Kimberley Hall (EdTech Team) and myself. Chris spoke on how they use Google Docs, Slides etc. to augment learning in class, Kimberley shared some great add-ons that modify the learning occurring and I spoke on how technology underpins our attempt to redefine secondary schooling at HPSS. We then answered questions from those who were watching live. There is a follow up webinar to this on the 17th of June and in the next week a form will be available for people to vote on what they want to hear more about.

Enjoy:

And the slides are here.

Why do we find it so hard to switch off?

I have noticed recently (in myself and in many others) that we as teachers seem to find it extremely difficult to switch off from our jobs.

It’s the weekend at the end of our first week back and many of my PLN are currently at Edu Camp Auckland. Others who aren’t there are sending tweets that pretty much apologise for not being there but promising to check in on the hashtag throughout the day. The recent holidays saw lots of conferences occurring where similar situations happened each time.

Twitter chats bring on the same type of comments. Those heavily involved sharing their ideas throughout the hour, supplemented by those apologising for not being able to make it or for only being able to pop into the chat briefly.

 

Other teachers in the last break were going on overseas holidays excited at the chance to catch up on educational readings – those books that look like they will help us improve but there was just no time during term. Do other professions take their professional development reading with them on break???

I know my connections online are all extremely committed professionals who not only want to improve their practice but want to help others do the same. I’m also certain that there are thousands of other educators around New Zealand (and possibly millions around the world) who are doing the same things we are.

I am currently looking at taking up some more opportunities to get involved further in the education system and talked last night with my partner about the implications of this for our family. Her response: “it’s what you do.”

Why is it that as educators we find it so hard to switch off from learning, discussing, reflecting etc.?

 

This post is Day 26 of My Questioning Quest. It was prompted by observations of myself and my PLN plus this awesome post by Brie Jessen-Vaughan on switching off from twitter for 6 weeks and is feeling so refreshed because of it.

How Might We create the learning experience of a conference more regularly?

Since my post on overcoming the conference to classroom chasm I have been wondering about maintaining the intense learning atmosphere of a conference when we are no longer all together.

Now, twitter is great for continually accessing information, ideas and resources but there is something all together different about the learning and networking that occurs at a conference. The Network for Learning Pond may be aiming to provide this for New Zealand teachers but at the moment is just a search engine, I look forward to seeing what the Communities function looks like when it is released.

Last year as we designed how Hobsonville Point Secondary School would operate we often talked about how it was exhausting even though we had no students. We realised it was because we were effectively living in a conference 24/7. We were given time to rethink education and were encouraged to read as much as possible (see here for readings that influenced us in our first term).

I still am privileged to work at HPSS and get access to amazing PD and rich learning conversations daily. We have, however, stopped sharing our reading as much as we used to and I miss those amazing conversations that developed as we shared and critiqued things we had read.

Then today, a great conversation erupted on twitter with @AKeenReader @chasingalyx @beechEdesignz @mattynicoll @shiftingthinkng @MissDtheTeacher and @mrs_hyde about sharing some of our edu-nerd reading we are doing. End outcome is that we are meeting/holding a workshop at the #EdChatNZ conference to organise a book chat to happen once a term where we read the same Edu book then meet up online (twitter or GHO) to discuss how we found it.

So now, I have my daily conversations, regular school PD, twitter chats, the odd Google Hangout (with long term critical friend Michael Harcourt or with new US critical friends Grant Lichtman, Bo Adams and Thomas Steele-Maley)  a new Edu-Nerd book club plus 2 conferences in this next term. Think I’m good for maintaining that conference feel, how are you going to keep the learning going?

 

This post is Day 19 of My Questioning Quest.

Educational Exploring and Seizing the Opportunities

We have an awesome opportunity at Hobsonville Point Secondary School to be part of a team looking to redefine secondary schooling. And I really mean awesome – in all senses of reverence, admiration, fear etc.

It is an opportunity to do something completely out of the ordinary which sounds great but at times can be scary, uncomfortable and unsettling. Now, for me, I see this more on the excitement level of awesomeness but I’m also someone who is scared of heights but absolutely loved the Sky Dive I did a couple of years ago.

As teachers we expect students to be ok with being uncomfortable, learning new things every week and embracing the opportunities that exist. But, at times, we aren’t ok with being constantly in that situation ourselves. This post is essentially about encouraging teachers to embrace those challenges and be ok with being uncomfortable whilst you do so. Continue reading

Warm and Demanding

Last year we started using the phrase “warm and demanding” to describe our approach (Maurie and Lea to blame for bringing this phrase into common usage). I remembered this from Restorative Practice workshops and quickly saw how it could apply across much of what we were planning. Initially I viewed this as being a phrase for our students, now I realise it describes how things are for staff at Hobsonville Point as well.

Continue reading

Creativity as Disobedient Thought

Today we were lucky enough to have Professor Welby Ings speak to us as an end of year inspiration. This post will try to (briefly) cover the hour and a half master class on Creativity that we were treated to. (For an 18 minute version see Welby Ings’ TedxAuckland Talk here).

Learning outside school is not within traditional houses of thought (subjects) that schools put in place. For example when learning to drive we are not taught completely separate aspects of this without thought to the connections that exist. The hierarchies of disciplines that exist in schools are bollocks but unfortunately embedded in people’s minds.

Too often in schools we require students to Continue reading

Designing and Causing Learning

Wednesday morning as a staff we focused on what the learning will look like at Hobsonville Point Secondary School.

I shared a blog post by Grant Wiggins entitled Beyond teacher egocentrism: design thinking which is absolutely brilliant and provokes teachers to think of themselves as just one element that influences learning. This had really struck a chord for me and so I was rapt to see the rest of our staff enjoying the reading as well.

There are lots of good points in this blog but one line that sticks out for me and was mentioned by others in our discussions was:

we are in the business of designing and causing learning instead of merely in the business of teaching

Our activity focused on what Grant sees as the conditions necessary for optimal engagement and active learning to occur. Staff were broken into pairs or 3s to think about what that condition will look like for our specific context of HPSS. Below are the conditions and what we believe they look like for us: Continue reading

Curiosity and my brain

Today we were lucky enough to have Julia Atkin spend the day with us at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. First of all working on articulating our core learning values and then discussing our results in the Hermann Brain model.

This diagram shows the model that we used with Julia to develop a clearer articulation of our educational values:

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Working through this model gave me a clearer picture of why I have seen value in Guerrilla Geography over the last 12 months. Initially I thought this looks really interesting and a fun way to engage students with their learning but I intuitively knew there was more to it. Today I finally drilled down to what is underneath this idea that gives it such value for me.
Continue reading