Changes in my Practice

It seems like I am constantly talking about where I was and where I am going. Looking back over the past few weeks of blogging I can see this very clearly. For example, I seem to say a lot, “I was doing this and now Mindlab has made me see how I can do it better.”

I think the Practising Teacher Criteria (PTC) I have engaged with well over this course is the criteria 4 which is demonstrating commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional practice. I have been looking critically at the content of Mindlab and actively looking at ways to do better what I am doing. I have always been reflective and looked at ways to develop my teaching. Having Mindlab as a coach has helped steer me in the right direction for how education is shaping up in New Zealand. It reminds me of a saying in the yogic tradition of how a yogi without a guru is like a rudderless sailboat sailing aimlessly about in the ocean of life.

Mindlab has helped invigorate my teaching career. For example, becoming a Seesaw Ambassador is a result of implementing ICT into the classroom programme this year. It has helped me teach children how to use ICT and also connect with the parent community. Further on from here I think these online learning journals are going to be more successful at showing parents justifications for national standard results and also show parents how they can help their children. Also tying in with the PTC of demonstrating in practice how akonga learn is when recently I videoed a child who had been struggling with the idea of ‘making a ten’ in mathematics. After a small lesson with me we recorded her working a sum out using the counters provided and it was then sent to her parents. This helped her parents see how she is being taught this and how they can reinforce this learning at home.

Becoming a Seesaw Ambassador will also require me to teach others in the teaching profession how to use this App effectively in the classroom. This links in with the PTC showing leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning. I think this also ties in with the PTC establishing and maintaining effective professional relationships focused on the well being of all akonga. Within teaching we all have the common goal of doing whats best for every child’s learning. To do this we must keep ourselves informed and up to date with any changes in pedagogy, or new regulations or new environments.

I have become critical of how I use social media and how this reflects me to my peers. I have now considered setting up a professional Facebook profile to use for educational learning purposes. I know feel included in a vast collaborative pool of other educators not only in New Zealand but internationally. I feel that my knowledge is more research based not airy fairy and based on an idea I had. It’s given me the opportunity to explore perspectives with others and see where I may need to change. It’s also helped me celebrate my successes.

In the future I want to be able to implement using online journals for each individual child and for this to replace our current reporting system. This would be a great way to teach children the importance of their online identity and provide a clear record to show far they have come in their learning journeys. I would like to see teachers use smarter technology to collect data about each individual child that creates our next steps for that child’s learning more effectively in a way that takes into consideration that child’s interests. I would like to see this replace the hours we spend slogging away being data collecting paper pushers to becoming inspiring educators for children.

I want to continue learning about how to harness technology to help us work smarter so we can spend more time doing the things we enjoy doing in our jobs.

Who am I in a professional context?

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This mind map is all the parts that I think make up me as a classroom educator. I think it is an interesting activity to do. It has helped me examine how I express myself in this teaching arena. As Gozzer (as cited by Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M., 1997) says of discipline – it is the process in which learning finds expression.

If I was to choose two branches that I would like to focus on it would be Professional Development and Year 3 curriculum in particular inquiry.

Professional Development

I am nearly at the end of the postgraduate certificate in Applied Practice run by Mindlab. I have found this course has reshaped, reinvigorated and redefined who I am as a educator. It has developed me in ways that I never would have thought possible. I have tried out new ideas and meet people that have inspired me to do things differently. This has been expressed in my day to day classroom practice. I am know trying to implement ICT in the classroom regularly. For example I may catch myself stopping and thinking, “do the children have to present a poster? Can they not show their learning somehow creatively using the computer and not just making a slideshow?”

A lot of time has been invested into the course at the cost to family time. Mindlab opened up a lot of avenues for me to explore and finding the time to explore these can be very time consuming. I would like to continue with Mindlab to complete the Masters component. My only reservation is weighing up the time spent on my professional development versus my private life.

Year 3 Integrated Curriculum

This is my first year teaching a year 3 class. I have made my way down the primary school levels over the past 5 years. I spent the majority of my time teaching intermediate. In an intermediate classroom we were solely teaching through inquiry. Here is a link to my blog that I ran back then

http://howickintermediatemansfieldroom21.blogspot.co.nz/

You will see that the learning was what I thought at the time to be interdisciplinary. We would begin by brainstorming all that we wanted to learn about and then further narrow it down at the beginning of each inquiry cycle. Then we would discuss all the things we needed to learn about covering the curriculum areas. We then had to have some sort of social action or outcome that served the community from the result of the new knowledge. As a new teacher I was nervous to let the children choose the subjects that they wanted to learn about so I stirred them towards things that I already knew about. As the EnviroSchool cluster was a big support network for me I, more times than not, steered my class towards a Education for Sustainability (EFS) inquiry. I found the children had more meaningful learning experiences. If we were learning about water quality then we would test the local streams in the area, have speakers in, learn about the flora that is ideal around a stream, plant the shrubs and so on.

This year I have found myself conflicted. One school of thought from those I speak to is that year 3’s need to be taught the fundamentals like reading, writing and math everyday in a structured way. I have found it good because I have learnt what it is exactly year 3’s need to know and how they learn. On the other hand my past experience has shown me that inquiry learning (even if directed by me) is fun for the children. I myself enjoy seeing the links between the subjects in the day and find it satisfying.

I agree with Foshay when it is said (as cited by Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M., 1997) that knowledge is ‘something becoming,’ something to construct through active inquiry. Also with Marzano (as cited by Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M., 1997) who says learning is not simply the accumulation of facts but it is believed to induce the restructuring of the learner’s cognitive structure or organisation.

Then at the same time children who cannot read confidently cannot access the rest of the curriculum typically. I have found children in my year 3 class who are more capable with reading and writing are typically thirsty for knowledge. They are normally the children who will read a journal story with me and the next day tell me more facts that they found out about that particular topic. I think by hooking into the individual child’s interests would help drive the inquiry. This is something that I am going to work towards.

References

Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved from http://www.albany.edu/cela/reports/mathisonlogic12004.pdf:

Anywhere and Anytime learning through Social Media Networks

I have found Facebook, Seesaw and Twitter to be a great way to get new ideas and fresh perspectives on my teaching practice. With Facebook I am the most interactive and I find the responses I get are extremely positive. Usually within a day I will have several people giving me support and ideas with my query. I have emailed Facebook and asked that they develop a system where the files that are shared on the page are categorised so they can be accessed through a search function. Currently you have to scroll through literally thousands of files to find what you need as they go up chronologically. I use my personal Facebook account to interact with other teachers through the private groups that I am part of. I have decided today that I will set up a professional Facebook page that will have my colleagues as friends that I can interact through.

I am still learning how to use Twitter so I can get the most out of it. I am what they call a ‘lurker’ more than a participant as such. I have the found the #edchatNZ the one feed that I follow the most regularly. It also led me to start the online edchatNZ MOOC. I must admit I have not completed much of the MOOC but its great how I can grab moments whether sitting in the hairdresser’s chair waiting for my colour to process to go through the course material. I love the whole digital idea of learning anywhere anytime.

Which is interesting is Melhuish (2013) says,

“Future-focused reports predict that personalised, adaptive learning environments, and massive open online courses (MOOCs) will tip into the mainstream in the next two to three years, driven by changing patterns in the way people expect to able to work and learn, and by education paradigms shifting towards more blended approaches.”

Because you can choose what you want to learn. I love this. As said by Bull & Gilbert (as cited by Melhuish 2013) the management of teachers’ professional learning varies considerably across New Zealand, dependent on a range of factors, including the strength of the school’s strategic plan and the effectiveness of the leaders and Boards of Trustees. This year the school I am currently employed at is focusing on Math for the entire year. This is without a doubt very beneficial for me but my focus this year for my own development has been using ICT in the classroom.

This year I implemented Seesaw into my classroom programme. I have been lucky enough to be invited to be a Seesaw ambassador. Tomorrow morning I will take part in a 2 hour webinar to learn about how to go about this. From what I’ve seen on YouTube for other Apps that are similar to Seesaw to be an ambassador is providing support to other users through uploading videos of how you use the App in your classroom.

Becoming a Seesaw ambassador is going to be taking me out of my current comfort zone with my online professional presence. I think it will help me grow immensely and help me walk the talk more.

I have always been driven to inquire into my practice. I’m always wondering if what I’m doing is really effective and worthwhile. The Facebook groups that I am part of are fantastic for new ideas but you have to be driven to follow these up. It’s not so much a space for reflection but more a sharing of resources and ideas which is fantastic.

I am going to end on this final quote from Melhuish (2013) because I think it sums up for me what I enjoy the most about social networked professional development.

“The trend of ‘anytime, anyplace’ learning is increasingly a key enabler for any institution or organisation that wishes to serve its learners who now expect to use mobile technology and 24-7 connectivity.”

 

References

Melhuish, K.(2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrived on 05 May, 2015 from http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/han…