Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Inspirational TED

Day 20 of the Reflect and Renew Blog Challenge from Reflective Teacher @TeachThought 

TED Talks and all their TED-Ex spin-offs have been a source of inspiration for me for many years.  I've used them for professional learning, sharing with colleagues and many times with my students.  I love that there's now a TED-Ed site too.  This is a fantastic resource for supporting you to 'flip your classroom.'  There's always something interesting an inspirational and it's not just the education-focused talks that inspire.  The science, arts, personal experiences and many from the business world also inspire on a daily basis.

I've included links to previous posts as well as including some of my latest favourites.

Sir Ken Robinson - Out of Our Minds - Learning to be Creative - posted 2011

Zoe Weil - Our Students Need to be Solutionaries - fantastic and inspirational from 2011 post.

Simon Sinek - Love Your Work.
This is a very powerful TED Talk to share - all about the 'Why' of what we do.

Adora Svitak - What Adults Can Learn From Kids
I've used this so many times over the years - particularly with students as an exmaple of a powerful speech.  This young lady continues to inspire me today.

Rita Pierson - "Kids Don't Learn From People They Don't Like."

And one more for now - possibly the one that really hit home for me.  From a passionate educator who sadly is no longer with us - Rita Pierson.  I really hope that this continues to be shared as widely as possible.  Great for the start of the year but also as a reminder when things get tough that ultimately, we are there for our students - always.
I've shared this with students too.  Highly recommend doing this as you will be surprised at the insights the students will provide based on this.  "Every kid needs a champion." I will always hold on to this statement, particularly when getting snowed under by all things admin.

Keep our students at the heart of what we do.  Always.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

One Way I Will Mentor / Support My Colleagues This Year.

Day 17 of the Reflect and Renew Blog Challenge from Reflective Teacher @TeachThought 

I'm a huge fan of Critical Friends - if it's set up and well-run.  I've been fortunate to have experienced both extremes.  This is such a powerful tool for creating collaboration and open reflection on practice but it does take time to set up and structure it well so that a community of learners develops along with a strong community of practice.  Trust is absolutely key.

My best experience came from the school in which I was a Deputy Principal a few years ago.  I learned so much from creating knowledge with my colleagues and from observing their teaching and learning processes.  I also learned to be able to coach teachers to be able to reflect deeply on their practice.  The biggest skill I think I learned was to be quiet and actively listen to what they were saying and how they were reflecting on their practice and asking appropriate questions in order to help them in that reflection process.  That is something I really want to continue in 2015.

Critical Friends becomes such an important part of the professional learning cycle / Action Research / Reflective Practice that it's power cannot be underestimated.

I'm also quite heavily involved in supporting and mentoring many people online and in person.  This is powerful for my own learning development as well.  I hope that they get as much out of our conversations and knowledge sharing and creating as I do.  My expectation would be that they'd tell me if this was not the case!  I need to learn from them too.

The link below includes video clips, etc of the Critical Friends process and would be a great resource to share if you're starting off on this journey.  

Critical Friends

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Why On Earth Would You Want to be a Teacher?

Day 14 of the Reflect and Renew Blog Challenge from Reflective Teacher @TeachThought 

Today's prompt is all about what we'd do if a young person was asking for advice about becoming a teacher.  What would we say?  What advice would we give?  I've been incredibly privileged to be in this position many times during my career and have recently seen at least five of my previous students become teachers.  I'm so very proud of them for entering this crazy profession.  I know that if they stay true to themselves and remember why they became teachers in the first place, they will be in it for a very long time.

I've often thought I should perhaps do something else for a career.  I came to teaching quite late compared to others and graduated when I was 31.  I had intended to focus on child psychology and had begun that degree but felt that teaching would give me the experience I needed over a wide range of age groups so off I went.  My intention was to complete my two years post-study and become fully registered and then return to completing my degree in psychology.  A funny thing happened though the moment I started my first posting or placement.  I knew I'd found what I loved.  It was instant and I'd never felt more sure of anything in my life.

Over the years, like any of us, I've wondered if I should / could do anything else, expecially when the workload becomes a challenge or there are other challenges that present themselves.  I've even taken time out of the classroom twice, once to study for my Masters and the second time for health reasons.  There was a chance that I wouldn't be able to return to teaching.  To have something that you love with a passion taken away from you, not by choice, changes your thinking somewhat.

So why on Earth would you want to be a teacher?  Because it's the most rewarding profession on Earth.  Yes, there are so many challenges, yes it's hard and tiring, and at times beyond frustrating.  Don't believe people about 'all the holidays you get' - you'll spend a lot of them preparing learning and teaching for your students.  That's a choice by the way and it's why we do what we do - everything is always for our students.  We have them for a year, two if we're very spoiled and lucky.  That's a long time of learning and teaching that needs to be the best we can offer.  Everything we do matters on a minute-by-minute basis and that can be quite exhausting and all-consuming.  We give so much and that can make it hard to find a balance but it is so very worth it.   The quote below, from Krissy Venosdale, says it all for me.  It's wise advice.  

Source: Venspired.com

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015 Digital Learning Goals: Communities of Practice - Student Version

Day 13 of the Reflect and Renew Blog Challenge from Reflective Teacher @TeachThought 

Creating a Community of Practice for and with my Students

My research over the past couple of years has been around developing Communities of Practice for teacher professional learning.  It's all about making learning connected and relevant for individual teachers and getting rid of the 'one-size-fits-all' professional learning and the 1 or 2 day courses which do very little to encourage sustained change in practice in our profession.  

The more I've researched this, the more relevant I've seen it to be for our students.  I started to implement some changes and some of the ideas before I left my previous school and the impact, in a very short time, was quite a surprise.

Communities of Practice are about sharing, curating and creating new learning.  Everyone in the community learns from each other no matter what their level of experience.  We started out with Google Apps as our platform.  Skills were taught and shared and the ideas behind the CoPs were explained to the students who had many questions and ideas for adaptation which I was very excited about and which made so much sense.  I learn from and with my students and this was a real case in point for me.       

The presentation below details part of the journey I've been on.  I'm at the stage of writing up the first phase of the research which is the final part of my Masters.  My intention is that I will apply the knowledge gained from this research to my teaching practice and my classroom to develop a Community of Practice that is a successful learning tool for my students and myself.  We will continue to use Google Apps for Education as our platform so there's a lot more learning around that for me too.  My expectation is that my students and I will develop this community together as a way to strengthen and grow our learning.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Education Has Changed A Great Deal Since I Began Teaching...Or Has It...?

Day 11 of the Reflect and Renew Blog Challenge from Reflective Teacher @TeachThought 

"How has education changed since you began teaching?"
Now this is an interesting question.  My initial reaction was, of course it has and yes, it has, but has it really changed THAT much and in what ways...

Images like the one below always make me stop and think about how much we've really changed globally.  I think that we're extremely lucky in New Zealand that we have so many forward-thinking, and sometimes 'disruptive' educators involved in our students lives.

Source: Huffington Post 

A key focus over the past ten years in this country has been on the development of Modern Learning Environments or MLEs.  The images below show what's possible and in 2010 I was fortunate enough to be part of developing an MLE in a previous school.

CORE EDUCATION: Blog Post - MLEs, examples
Kamai School 

It's not all about the furniture though.  Unless there's also a shift in the pedagogy of the teachers, and learners, then it's just a very interesting environment with some pretty cool pieces of furniture.   

I began my career in 1999 and from the first day technology played an enormous part in the learning and teaching process.  Even then, however, I was very concerned with the 'why' of the tools I was selecting for the students to use.  At that stage it was very much through teacher selection that tools were availabel for students.  As students became more aware of the tools available and started exploring to find and use their own tools, it became very much a shared process.  We always had to be clear about why we were using a tool, however.  Even back then it had to have a purpose and I think that's even more important today as the number of available tools has grown exponentially.

I've always shared and created the learning with my students so there's not been a lot of difference in that area for me although it was a huge battle in the beginning.  I fought against the use of worksheets for a start and trying to implement some of the digital learning was extremely hard as so many still viewed the technology with suspicion.  This included some teachers as well as some parents.  It was a case of just keeping going and showing what could be possible through evidence from the classroom and the learning.

Now we're in 2014.  I love that so many schools are embracing and promoting change, in learning environments along with the pedagogy to back it up.  I still have concerns that this is not happening fast enough for the benefit of our students.  They are entering a world where they must have the skills necessary in order to cope with the fast pace of change and yet there are still teachers in our profession who refuse to work and learn on a computer...and they get away with it.  For me that's wrong and it's the students who will suffer.

I've experienced seeing queues of teachers on a Monday morning photocopying the week's worksheets.  This is also wrong.  This is possibly one of my real frustrations. 

We've changed a lot in the past 16 years that I've been involved in education but it's not consistent locally or globally.  Some would argue, that the constant testing is a step backwards and that we run the risk of teaching to a test rather than teaching the skills we need our students, and us, to possess to thrive in the 21st Century.  We have a long way to go I think but I'm always positive that change is possible.  One of my education heroes is Sir Ken Robinson whose work I've been following now for many years.  He sums up what's needed, and what is absolutely essential, I believe.  I've included two of my favourite presentations.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Benefits of Connecting with other Educators and What I'm Doing to Continue That in 2015

Day 10 of the Reflect and Renew Blog Challenge from Reflective Teacher @TeachThought 

I've blogged before about the power of being connected with other educators, both locally and globally so I won't repeat too much of it here.

Justine Hughes 16/11/2014

It's all about the power of being able to learn and with others.  I teach and learn the same way with my students. "We are all teachers and we are all learners in our learning environments" - that includes our local and global environments.  That was a quote written by some of my learners a few years ago.  They were 9 and 10 year-olds and very, very wise.  They taught me so much.  My students always do, as do my colleagues.

What am I doing in 2015 to continue my connections?  Much as I've done for the past 10 years or so with a few extras thrown in...

1.  Continue to work with Beth (@bleidolf67) to develop the ReflectiveTeacher @TeachThought online community.

2.  Continue to connect with and learn from the amazing PLN on Twitter, Google, FB, etc.

3.  Attend as many EdCamps as I can around New Zealand.

4.  Connect with as many educators in Auckland as I can in person.  

5.  Carry on in my role with the Global Education Conference as part of the International Advisory Board but increase my presence and support of the initiatives.

6.  Encourage others to connect to the powerful PLNs available locally and globally.

We can be connected through the various forms of social media but, unless we're learning and adapting our practice to meet the needs of our learners, our colleagues and ourselves, are we really 'connected'?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Reflecting on assessment results. My Process and Focus.

Day 8 of the Reflect and Renew Blog Challenge from Reflective Teacher @TeachThought 

Source: Te Kete Ipurangi

Unless assessment is used specifically for learning then I would strongly question its purpose.  If nothing is going to be done with the results to improve students' learning and look for the next steps then does it simply become a 'data collecting' exercise for little purpose other than meeting the requirements of another agenda.

Assessment for Learning (as defined on Te Kete Ipurangi, a learning hub from New Zealand with fantastic professional learning resources).

"Assessment for learning is best described as a process by which assessment information is used by teachers to adjust their teaching strategies, and by students to adjust their learning strategies.

Assessment, teaching and learning are inextricably linked, as each informs the others.

Assessment is a powerful process that can either optimise or inhibit learning, depending on how it’s applied."

1.  Assessment must have a clear purpose which is known to those involved - students and teachers.
2.  Data should always be shared with students and all others involved in the learning process.
3.  Formative assessment gives you more indepth knowledge of your students and their progress. Summative has its place but it has so many variables if it's a one-off test that it needs to always be kept in context.

My Process and Focus in the Assessment Cycle

1.  Set a clear focus for the assessment task.  It's all about the "Why" of what we do.  Often I will set the assessment with the students.  We've planned the learning together so it makes sense that they are involved in every step of the learning process.  How will they know they achieved the Learning Intentions?  How will they be able to demonstrate this and look for the next learning steps?  Focus on what is to be learned / achieved and where you need to go from there.

2.  Focus on the students' individual learning needs and next steps at all times.  Use as variety of assessment tools, tests, self- and peer- assessment, observations, anecdotal evidence, etc.

3.  Use data to inform learning and teaching practice.  This applies for teachers and students.

4.  If the results weren't as expected the first thing I do is look at my teaching and learning.  Have the students missed the point or not achieved the learning because my teaching was unclear in some way?  What do I need to do to rectify this? What is it in my practice that needs to be altered. Feedback from the students in this area is key as well.  A book I can't recommend highly enough is Michael Absolum's Clarity in the Classroom.  (Click the link to our wiki for a review of this book).  

5. Moderation and discussion of data as a teaching team is extremely important.  This helps develop clarity of data analysis along with consistency of judgments made.  It is also fantastic professional learning.  The ideal for moderation is across teams within a school and also with other schools.  The more discussion, the more consistent our assessments across the curriculum will become.

6.  Assessment for learning is a team approach.  I think about what I need to share with parents, etc so that we can work as a team to ensure our students' progress and passion for learning.

We have National Standards in New Zealand and, at this stage, they are only part of the assessment process that completes our Overall Teacher Judgments.  This is shown in the diagram below.  

Source: Assessment Resource Banks: New Zealand Council of Educational Research

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How I Keep My Professional Learning Buzzing

Day 7 of the Reflect and Renew Blog Challenge from Reflective Teacher @TeachThought 

I love learning and am always wanting to know more about how I can be a better teacher and meet the needs of my students.  There are many different things I do to keep that learning going but I've just listed a few below which are my main ones...

My Professional Learning Blog

Blogging helps me to reflect on my practice and also on the ideas of others.  It's the best way of modifying my thinking to meet the needs of my students.  It's also a great way to record my own professional learning.


@cossie29 on Twitter

My Twitter PLN has given me so much over the years.  I had a bit of a break from it in 2012 and really missed the learning that I had gained from it.  It made me realise how powerful it is for connections and challenging thinking.  It also provides me with many great edchats each week.  It's anytime, anywhere learning and the global aspect is very important to me.  My ideas / thinking are constantly challenged.

Virtual Learning Network (VLN)


This is a New Zealand professional learning community and I love the diversity of members and topics from all aspects of education here.  I must admit that I haven't used it as much as I could so one of my goals this year is to participate more often, particularly in curating resources and sharing ideas.

 POND Network 4 Learning (POND N4L)
This is a relatively new professional learning community in New Zealand.  I got involved in the trial stages but, like the VLN, I haven't explored it as much as I would like so this is part of my goals for 2015.


Global Connections

My global connections are many and varied but they are so powerful for my learning.  They challenge my thinking on a daily basis and provide me with a global perspective on issues in education.  It doesn't get any better than that!

University of Otago

This is my University which has provided me with so much learning over the years and continues to do so today as I finish my final Masters paper.  They are a world-leader in education and have really pushed my learning and challenged my thinking.

University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Advice for New/Beginning Teachers

Day 6 of the Reflect and Renew Blog Challenge from Reflective Teacher @TeachThought 

I can clearly remember my very first day in my first classroom - and that was in 1999!  It was so exciting and just a little bit terrifying.  I was now responsible for the learning progress of 28 little people, and also for making sure they had the best year ever!  I was also incredibly lucky to have the most amazing mentor from whom I learnt so much.  My role models and mentors in my final year at university had an impact on me as a teacher that still stands to this day as well.  I'll always be grateful for the start these wonderful teachers gave me.

From the extremely fortunate start I had and what I've learned over the years as I've taken on the role of Mentor Teacher, this is my list of what I believe is important for Beginning Teachers:

1.  Spend time getting to know your students.  This might sound very obvious but it's about knowing them as human beings, not just as the students and their learning needs.  The more you know what drives your students, what their hopes, dreams and passions are, the more you can connect with them, develop strong relationships and really get that learning sparking!

2.  At the start of the year, set up and get one curriculum area running well at a time, e.g. Get your reading programme flying, then maths, etc.  Cross curriculum links and integrated learning happens more effectively if each area is strong.  This was the best advice I've ever received I think.  I'm a terrible one for wanting to have everything perfect all at once.  Not a good way to be.  It just stresses you out and can waste a lot of time.  

3.  Always ask for advice and be open to new learning - no matter how long you've been teaching - but don't be afraid to share your knowledge, passion and excitement for your new profession.  You have a lot to share from your learning and experiences.  

4.  Take time out for you.  We can work every waking moment on our teaching but it's too easy to burn out too quickly.  We don't do ourselves or our students any favours by exhausting ourselves.  (This is the hardest lesson I've had to learn over the years and I'm still a work in progress!)  Exercise is often the first thing to go, but it can be the one thing that can help manage the stress of the job.  Walking is great and excellent for clearing your head.  I'm a runner and I know I'm a pain in the neck if I don't get out at least every second day.

5.  Get support from those around you.  Don't struggle with things on your own.  There is no such thing as a 'dumb question'.  Ask, and if you don't get the support / answers you need, then ask again.  Keep asking.

6.  If things are not working out with your Mentor Teacher and you're not getting the support you need or you've tried to address the issue/s with your Mentor, then talk to someone sooner rather than later.  This could be another teacher you trust, or the Principal or someone else in the Leadership Team.  We're here to support, guide and encourage our BTs.  We don't want to lose them through a lack of support.

7.  Develop your Professional Learning Network - Twitter is great for this or the Virtual Learning Network if you're a New Zealand teacher.

8.  Reflect, reflect, reflect!  This is so important so that you can develop as a teacher and learner.  If you are constantly reflecting on your practice, it helps you clarify your thinking and develop your ideas of best practice.  You are also modelling being a learner to your students.

9.  Have fun!  Teaching is hard and there are so many pressures but it's also the best profession on the planet - in my very humble opinion.  Enjoy it.  Don't lose your sense of fun and don't be afraid to have fun with your students.  They'll thank you for it.

10.  Connect with parents / caregivers.  They're your support team.  Learning is all about teamwork.  Develop those relationships and encourage open communication.

Below are some other resources you might be interested in...

Edutopia - Best Resources for New Teachers

                                                         Education World - Advice for First Year Teachers

                                                         Excellent ABC List!

This is an Australian site which has great advice and resources

Monday, January 5, 2015

Positivity is an Attitude we owe Ourselves and our Students

Day 5 of the Reflect and Renew Blog Challenge from Reflective Teacher @TeachThought 

Staying positive and sharing/encouraging that positivity in my students

When I woke up this morning I did what I normally do. No, not have breakfast, I checked Twitter etc to see what was happening in the world.  I was shocked and saddened to read that there had been another series of large earthquakes in my hometown, Christchurch.  Nearly every comment, however, showed a strong resilience, positive attitude and a sense of humour.  Goodness knows how most accomplish that given all they've been through.  Whenever someone was a bit 'down on it' there was generally someone there to add a lighthearted touch.

Then I started to read from some of my online teaching resources and pages I follow.  For many, today was back to school.  I felt incredibly saddened by some of the comments.  As I read through I noticed that it took only one or two negative comments to turn the tide of any positivity or excitement that was evident.  The threads soon became very negative and, in some cases, extremely concerning.  All I could think about was the students and the fact that some of their teachers were about to enter the classroom with some interesting thoughts in play.  I wondered why they were staying in the profession if they disliked it so much, and worse, if they disliked their students.  I wondered if it was just a case of 'back to work blues' that we all get from time to time.  Maybe, once they got there and saw their students, they'd be fine. Our students have a way of doing that.  I hope so anyway, but it got me thinking about positivity in line with today's prompt.  My thinking was not about judging or criticising, it was about wondering what had caused them to think this way because I'm sure they didn't start out in the profession with that mindset.  What are we doing to our profession that makes so many leave or so reluctant to go back into the classroom following a break or even after a year or two in the classroom?   Of course, this crazy wonderful profession is not for everyone and it does have frustrations and it's natural that some change their idea of what they want to do.  Am I just overthinking it?  Possibly not, as I've let this post circle in my head a while and, after reading some comments from teachers today, know that there is an issue and, if we're truly passionate about what we do, we can fix it but it won't be easy.

There are so many pressures on us as teachers and they vary depending on which country you are in.  Generally though, the paperwork, assessment and government expectations seem to be a consistent source of pressure or stress no matter where you are in the world.  So... how do we counteract that so that we, and our students, are able to maintain a positive mindset?  It's not easy and I'm definitely not positive all the time, even though I'm generally perceived to be.  I get just as frsutrated by many of the issues as the next teacher but I've changed how I think about things by always going back to focus on what my students and my colleagues need from me.

The culture of the school is key here and it comes from strong leadership.  The more you back your teachers, students, and all other staff, show them that they matter and support them no matter what, then the more positive the environment will be.  Given the aforementioned pressures, it is so easy for a negative mindset to creep in but that isn't going to help anyone, least of all our students, or ourselves.

So, here are my thoughts on how we create and maintain positivity in our learning and teaching environments...

1.  Keep students at the heart of what you do, and how you think.  
A great post came through this morning via Edutopia which summed up my thinking around this.

2.  Look for the benefits in what we do.
Yes what we do feels like it has unlimited frustrations at times but our students count on us to be there for them, to encourage and support them to be the best learners - and teachers - they can be.  We have to believe that there are more positives than negatives in this career.  Is that a bit of a Pollyanna approach?  Yes, it is and I know it frustrates people sometimes but I make no apologies.  I have a responsibility to find the good in situations and model that to my students and colleagues.  I'm heading into my 15th year of teaching and I'm still as excited about it as the first day I set foot in a classroom as a student teacher.  Do I have moments of wanting out?  Yes!  Most definitely.  They don't last long though.  I look at my students, even the more challenging ones (especially the more challenging ones??) and know that they have expectations of me as I have of them.  We're all in this together.  (I won't break out into a High School Musical song here, promise!)

3.  It's okay to vent.  In fact it's really healthy, but get into the mindset of having a positive solution or thought to the issue you're venting on.
This isn't easy, particularly if you're really wound up about something but the more you practice this, the easier it gets.  Trust me, I know from personal experience!  Look for positive solutions and ideas.  Ask for them.

4.  Know your colleagues and students as people with hopes, dreams, and interests outside of school.  Also know when they need extra support or a boost.
What we do is all about community.  Knowing that you're valued for your contributions to that community helps to create a positive environment.  Celebrate it!  Drop a positive appreciation note on a desk or table, etc. There are many ways to show this.  Remember to thank people for what they do - don't let contributions, no matter how small, go unnoticed.

5.  Fight the negativity.

6.  Stay true to yourself and remember why you became a teacher.  Try to hold on to that passion.  Set some goals and expectations for yourself.

Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher on Twitter) has written a post about making 2015 an epic year.  When I'm feeling any negativity creeping in I often read her posts.  She has to be one of the most passionate and enthusiastic colleagues on the planet!  

7.  Be open to, expect, and welcome change.
See it as an opportunity for your own, your colleagues and your students learning. We expect this of our students but not always of ourselves.  Seeing change as a learning opportunity and being open to it helps you become more positive about any negative aspects of it.  Often the perceived negative aspects disappear if you change your mindset.

Claire Amos (@ClaireAmosNZ on Twitter) has written a timely blog post on this subject - Reflections and Resolutions.  It appeared in my Twitter feed this morning.  Isn't it funny how, just when you're thinking hard about something the right information or, in this case, blog post comes along.  It's worthwhile reading and sharing with colleagues.

This is by no means an exhaustive list and, like all my thinking, it's bound to change and be adpated over time.  That's what learning's all about.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The One Area of my Learning and Teaching I Want to Develop This Year

Day 4 of the Reflect and Renew Blog Challenge from Reflective Teacher @TeachThought 

It's always hard to focus on just one thing!  I'm in the middle of preparing to go back into a classroom and a leadership position and I have a list.  Not really a surprise as 'everyone' says that a To Do list is a must for getting organised.  That's all well and good and I know that, logically, it's a great idea.  What if you're one of 'those' individuals who gets easily distracted or, even worse, procrastinates?  What if you're both??!!  (I'm even getting distracted as I write this).  

As I started to think about the one area to develop, I came up with about 30.  (Next time I write blog prompts I'll remember that I have to use them too.  They do force me to confront my shortcomings though, which is always a good thing.

I've finally settled on the one main area I want to continue to develop and extend this year - using all things Google in my teaching and learning.  I've been a fan for a long time but have yet to incorporate Google Classroom into what we do.  This is one of the reasons I need to be back in the classroom - so that I can implement all the ideas I've explored over the last year but not been able to fully utilise.

The biggest part of that goal is to apply to participate in the Google Certified Teacher Programme.  I'm keeping an eye out for when applications open and will do everything I can to achieve that goal this year.  I know through my research the benefits of using Google in the classroom using Google Apps for Education (GAFE), and I'd started to use the tools on a daily basis prior to leaving the classroom at the end of 2013.  Time to get back into it!  Have a look at the presentation below to get an idea about what it's all about and the advantages.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

What Do I Need to Work on in my Teaching and Learning? What actions am I going to take to improve?

Day 3 of the Reflect and Renew Blog Challenge from Reflective Teacher @TeachThought 

Learning is my passion and I am completely and unapolegetically geeky about it.  I know that it sometimes drives people crazy and yes, I do have trouble switching of but that's just me.  I try to tame it a little but it always escapes!  Even today, as I'm writing this, most of my friends are out at the beach as it's such a glorious summer's day.  Where am I?  Here, on my laptop, working and learning.  Do I resent this, no.
It's Day 3 of our blog challenge @TeachThought and I'm extremely excited that this time the prompts have not come just from Beth and me, but also from our community.  My final Masters research is around building a living online Community of Practice and I think we're getting somewhere with this.

The prompt today threw me into a bit of a spin really, which is my own fault as this is one of mine!!  What was I thinking??  There are literally hundreds of things I want to work on in my teaching and learning.  Where do I start?  What's the most important?  How do I prioritise?  Woah!! Slow down and focus.  I have such a bad habit of wanting to improve on everything or learn new things...yesterday.  This is not good for one's health.  At all.  It can also mean that deep learning doesn't happen and this is what I'm arguing about in my research on teacher professional learning.  We do too much in bits and pieces and move rapidly from one professional learning project to the next without really implementing concrete changes that can be sustained.  Too often the learners can get lost in this process and by the 'learners', I mean the students AND the teachers.

This year I want to continue to explore more of Carol Dweck's and James Nottingham's work around Growth Mindset which will underpin my teaching and learning.  Curriculum-wise, I want to really focus on developing the science curriculum in our school.  Primary schools tend to not be very strong on Science and it's long been a concern that needs to be addressed urgently.  I will work with the school, the community and, most importantly, the students, to develop a strong science learning focus that has all the cross-curricular links to make it relevant and linked to the world outside the classroom.  

Carol Dweck discusses her research...

James Nottingham on the dangers of labelling our students...

My other focus area will be in leadership as I'm returning to school as a Deputy Principal, a role I've held before but so much has changed in what makes an effective and valuable leader and I want to push myself as far as I can go with this.  I will learn from my previous role and the mistakes made and improve on the leader I was then to be the best I can be now.  This is not only important for me but it's incredibly important for the school - the staff, students and community.  I continue to have so much to learn.  That's the fantastic part.  I always return to Simon Sinek as one of my guides in this area.  He speaks about the 'Why' of what we do and how important it is for everyone to be clear about this, particularly our leaders.