Raising awareness often means putting yourself out there. Recently I agreed to be in a video to raise awareness around professional development for teachers because my students have directly benefitted from the Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning) with MindLab.
There are some really strong avenues out there to build teacher 21st skills to pass onto our students. There are also many ways a teacher can now receive professional development (PD), but not all are equal. Not all will provide better outcomes for students (or teachers). Over the 10 years that I have been teaching I’ve attended loads of courses. Some good, and some just plain boring. So if the purpose of PD is to make me a better teacher, and therefore make a positive impact on my students, shouldn’t the PD be interesting, interactive and looking to develop my 21st Century skill set?
Click on thislink to watch the video (you will need a Facebook account to watch this).
Quizzes can help students learn because it helps them identify what they know and what they don’t know.
I have found the areas bolded in the text below to be true when I’ve used Kahoot for maths and science. Still early days, but will continue to incorporate into my programme.
The students then have a better idea of how well they are grasping the material, hopefully motivating them to study more and helping them allocate their study time effectively by focusing on the information that still needs more practice.
What’s more, though, in some cases a test can make the next study opportunity more effective. Teachers can help students see what topics they are not grasping by providing feedback after quizzes, and that feedback need not be immediate to be most effective.
1) Quizzes help students learn: Find out what they do/don’t know
2) Quizzes give teachers feedback: End of each slide and stop and discuss if you want to
3) Quizzes increase attendance: Not really relevant in my class
4) Quizzes promote test expectancy: Looking for the right responses
5) Studying is more efficient after a quiz: Identify what needs to be learnt and learn it.
Three areas of the Practising Teacher Criteria I believe I have met well over the past 32 weeks are:
Criteria 5: Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning.
Criteria 6: Conceptualise, plan, and implement an appropriate learning programme.
Criteria 7: Promote a collaborative, inclusive, and supportive learning environment.
Over the past 32 weeks of my learning journey, I know that I have shown leadership that has contributed to effective teaching and learning at my school. I have actively contributed to the professional learning of my learning community by initiating and running professional development sessions for teachers, primarily on and around blogging. I have also shared professional readings/videos and shared ideas from the postgraduate course I am on.
I have introduced staff and students to Carol Dweck and what it means to have a ‘growth mindset’ to be an effective teacher/learner. In my class, each student can tell you where their mindset is and where they want to shift it to. Being able to know our weaknesses and be able to share them with others, is another way I have shown I am able to foster trust and respect among my ākonga/learners.
In recognition of our Maori learners needing to develop their student’s voice, blogging was reintroduced as one tool to help achieve this. With collaboration with professionals, both inside and outside of school, I was able to form the inquiry question:
“Can blogging improve the strength of a student’s voice when given authentic opportunities to identify their interests, direct their own learning and receive feedback from peers and the wider community?” (Hills, 2015)
This inquiry was presented to members of the community for feedback and after review, it was agreed that blogging was to be embedded in our learning programme. This inquiry was also reviewed by an academic who awarded me 92% due to the detailed and structured proposal put forward. With the pedagogy available to support how blogging could support student agency, and a clear implementation plan put forward, they felt I had clearly identified how blogging would engage students, parents and teachers to improve levels of engagement (Hills, 2016).
Throughout the past 32 weeks, I have worked collaboratively with my peers, my students and outside providers, with the one aim, to raise student achievement for all. I have utilised my social media network to help me grow my understanding. I have started a discussion group on the use of Chromebooks on the VLN Network and made many new connections with professionals using Twitter and Facebook, as well as utilising my connections through my postgraduate course with The MindLab in Petone. It has been a fun fuelled year and it does not stop here.
My two main goals for my future development in direct relation to the Practising Teacher Criteria will be to focus on:
Criteria 3: Demonstrate commitment to bicultural partnership in Aotearoa / New Zealand.
Criteria 9: Respond effectively to the diverse and cultural experiences and the varied strengths, interests, and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga.
I feel like I have opened a door and want to walk through it in relation to my commitment to the bicultural partnership between Maori and Pakeha. I want to hold a better understanding in my head about the history of this partnership that goes beyond knowing the three ‘Ps’ (protection, partnership and participation). I want to at every opportunity make connections to similarities and differences, so students know their cultures and what makes them unique, but also how they can work alongside others with empathy and understanding.
I work at a culturally diverse school and feel I am only scratching the surface when it comes to responding effectively to the diverse and cultural experiences and the varied strengths, interests, and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga. I will be asking my school to provide me with professional development that really hones in on implementing teaching approaches, using resources, technologies, and learning and assessment activities that are inclusive and effective for diverse ākonga/learners. I have already shown I am able to modify my teaching approaches, so this type of professional development will really help me move my practice forward, benefiting the students that I teach.
What I have without a doubt learnt over the past 32 weeks of attending my course at The MindLab is the need to continually be looking for ways to improve and refine my practice while keeping an open mind. I have also set a goal to complete a Masters in e-Learning so I am able to earn a specialist qualification in the use of digital technologies for teaching and learning purposes.
“Professional development processes share a common goal: improved practice.”
Ostermand & Kottkamp (1993, p 12)
After completing my postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning) I can honestly say that the professional development has been rigorous and has without a doubt improved my practice.
Hills, C. (2016). Develop a reflective portfolio: Identify and engage with relevant community or communities in the formation of specific research questions. Address the potential impact of findings. Retrieved on 12 March 2016 from https://app.themindlab.com/media/17517/view
My Views On Indigenous Knowledge & Culturally Responsive Pedagogy
My exposure during my upbringing and schooling years to any other culture than my own was minimal. Both my parents worked, and with eight mouths to feed, money was always tight. We went to church on Sundays and in my naivety, I thought people were pretty much all the same, had the same opportunities and values. Turns out I was wrong. It wasn’t until I became a teacher in my early thirties that I was thrown into a cultural whirlpool, doing my best to catch up.
Over the past 11 years, my knowledge around the Treaty of Waitangi and the part I play has become crystal clear, and this knowledge is shared with my students on a daily basis at it weaves it way through my practice. I now know that ‘equity for all’ is my aim, and that this won’t happen by knowing it, I have to design opportunities in my classroom programme for students to reach their milestones. This year has seen me and another teacher team teaching Tikanga and Te Reo on a Wednesday with the support of our student leaders who attend a Te Reo session in the morning with Whaea Claire. It has been awesome being involved in the tuakana-teina taking place, and I know it has definitely improved my understanding of what it means to be Maori and improved my language skills.
I will admit, I have in the past, fallen into deficit thinking about why some of my learners were not moving forward academically. Yes it is a three-way relationship between the student, teacher and parent; and I realise now that my role is to facilitate this connection as highlighted by Davis, (2012). I have learnt the importance of developing stronger relationships with my learners to allow us to walk together towards goal setting and I am working on getting to know their parents. I know these connections are important because Bishop, (2009) believes that teachers who have agency, and who are able to create connections and a context, provides opportunities for Maori themselves to be part of the learning conversations in the classroom. This will often bring about higher levels of engagement, better attendance, which leads to higher achievement.
My awareness around connecting with indigenous cultures was further highlighted by Tauli-Corpuz, (2012) when she raised the point that indigenous cultures have traditions that underpin their society. I need to understand these more so those with this knowledge can play a bigger role in finding ways to celebrating decision making of what goes on for their child’s learning. This year especially I’ve been able to really embrace manaakitanga and whanaungatanga in my class thanks to a schoolwide focus on developing our Maori learners through the initiative of our lead teacher for Maori. Her ability to introduce the tikanga that underpins what we do, has been beneficial to the students, as well as my practice. I liken it to reading a book; you can sound nice when you read it, but if you don’t understand the message or take away meaning, real learning will evade you.
Evaluation Of Cultural Responsiveness In Practice At My School
An area where I think my school does well in, is the way we find ways to develop stronger relationships with our students and whanau. We know that social interactions are important because studies have shown this. Bishop & Berryman, (2010, p.10) highlight that the acquisition of knowledge and skills through social interactions and activities, in formal and informal settings will support student learning. In 2016, we reintroduced classroom blogging as a way to encourage interactions between student, teachers, parents and the wider community. Using blogging in an innovative way gives our students a voice and the opportunity to participate in a different way; thus providing equitable opportunities for sharing learning. For our Year 4-8 students, they will have their own blog by Week 7 of Term 1. My class have been the trial class and they have loved it. I have noticed that given a purpose and the ability to record learning in other ways than just a book, has seen an increased level of student agency.
I think like many schools, even with initiatives set up to support our Maori learners, they are still falling short in achieving the same academic milestones as their peers. Hogan, (2012) raises the point that many schools meet the requirements of the New Zealand curriculum and do things that recognise their Maori learners. So what is missing? We often discuss different ways of connecting with our Maori community and have tried different things but are yet to find true success. Do we really know how our Maori community want to interact with us?
Ostermand & Kottkamp, (1993, p 12) state that before we can adopt new behaviours, before we can begin to introduce reflective practice as a professional development strategy whether in a university classroom, a school, or a school district, it is necessary (a) that we develop an awareness of our habitual actions and the assumptions that shape those actions and (b) that we consider the effectiveness of actions relative to intentions. I wonder what would happen if we brought in someone who was highly skilled in developing ways to connect with whanau? If we were open to this and it worked, we would be in a stronger position to start building a culturally responsive environment that would develop and lead our Maori learners to higher levels of success.
Exciting thought… Watch this space……
To find out more about the Treaty of Waitangi please click this link.
Recently our school has added another tool to support our e-Learning practices and embraced the use of blogging as a way to increase student voice and agency; while at the same time using this to build relationships with our community.
A potential issue I see arising from this is parents and caregivers not understanding why we are moving towards digital tools to record learning. This is moving away from what they know learning to be. Their schooling experience was very different to now. Often the teacher was at the front of the class, and students were expected to write everything down in books. Therefore, I think it is necessary to address the question: ‘Does our community know why their kids are using blogging?’
Everything we do as educators must come back to purpose. Recently I asked ‘What comes first: tools or pedagogy?’ One of the responses to this question was: ‘They hold equal weighting.’ But what I have learned over the past year is that everything should always stem from pedagogy, then it is about applying the best tools to help us secure learning experiences that make the learning purposeful. Jefferies, Carsten-Stahhi & McRobb (2007, p123) believe that if a given technology is not compatible with the underlying pedagogy or if the pedagogy conflicts with ethical ideas, then it is likely that the purpose of the use of technology, namely to educate, is in danger of not being fulfilled. This is important to acknowledge because it highlights how important it is to understand why we as educators are choosing to teach the way we do, and use the tools we are. So then how do we convey all this information to parents when what we really want to be doing is getting on with the teaching? How can we assure parents that what we are doing is the best for their child?
One of the difficulties for schools when wanting to embed digital technologies into a school, is having the time to connect with the community. Often only a small amount of the community will be consulted with, often due to parent availability and tight timeframes. Before blogging was reintroduced to our school, Senior Management were provided with the pedagogy that supported this initiative with an inquiry question to drive it: Can blogging improve the strength of a student’s voice when given authentic opportunities to identify their interests, direct their own learning and receive feedback from peers and the wider community? An implementation plan was established with clear guidelines and timeframes. To address the need for community consultation, this plan included meeting with our community focus groups to find out what they know, and to share why and what we are doing to improve the 21st Century skills of their tamariki; and in doing so building stronger relationships with our community.
When I think of how best to reassure parents that our approach to use blogging as a tool is in the best interest of their child, I look to the Teachers Code of Ethics, particularly point 2: Commitment to Parents/Guardians and family/whānau. It states that professional decisions in regard to learning must always be weighted towards what is judged to be in the best interests of the learners. However, it is crucial to acknowledge and collaborate with parents and caregivers about these decisions. Parents and caregivers trust that we will make sound choices when it comes to their tamariki. But, we must involve them in the decision making process by providing more than one opportunity for them to be part of open, honest and respectful conversations about changes that affect their child’s learning.
Back in 2006 when I set up my very first blog, I had no idea what social media was, or the impact it would end up having on my personal life, or how it would go on to enhance my professional development later. At the time it turns out it was quite innovative, but I just saw it as a way to share with potential employers evidence of my teaching practice, my philosophies and 21st Century skills; not that I called them that then, I only connected with that term in 2015 as part of a Postgraduate course in Applied Teaching. Over the past 10 years I have developed a few online blogs, webpages and opened a twitter account due to business ventures, and wanting to connect with like minded people. Interestingly, it has only been over the past year that I have started to maximise its potential to enhance my teaching practice.
Having been fortunate enough to work in a multitude of roles before becoming a teacher, I have seen how the use of social media and technology has quickly changed the economy. I was reminded of how quickly things change when I watched an interview where educators spoke about the importance of being “connected” in order to be an effective teachers and leaders (Connected Educators Month). Change goes hand in hand with leadership; to stay the same serves no one. I have been asking myself many questions over the past year, and one of them being: “How can I be an effective leader if I am not using social media in most forms in my practice?” The short answer: I can’t. I have to know what it is I am to teach, and to lead, I must be using the tools of the trade, as well as reviewing my pedagogy that underpins my practice.
People who do not use social media as intended, may find it hard to understand how it has enhanced my professional development; is it not just a time waster? When used properly I have found that it provides me with a place to collaborate with like minded people where I can share my understandings of a given topic to deepen my understanding. King, (2011, p44) highlights that sharing my practice with others using online communities will expand my learning network, and give me first-hand contact with experts and colleagues within my specialty area, and possibly additional areas. I have found this to be true and using social media has also allowed me to mingle with passionate educators from multiple backgrounds giving voice to so many different views and experiences, this view is also supported by those interviewed by Connected Educators. Without a doubt I know that the embedding of social media into my practice is essential because it not only demonstrates I am a 21st Century learner myself, but it keeps me connected with those that can grow my mind beyond the four walls of my school; and then I can share this knowledge with those who wish to develop their 21st Century skill set.
The students I teach are surrounded by social media apps, from Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and so many more. As highlighted by Cassidy (2013), children use social media tools at home, so we need to embrace the same technologies at school as a way to provide a connection between their home and school environments. I was given no formal training on how to behave on social media, but I was raised with morals and values which I display with every picture, video or comment I post. Students today live in an environment where they are constantly stimulated and use online tools, often with no training, which makes my experiences valuable to my students. I am able to help them understand how to build a positive digital footprint online, a view shared by Social Media For Kids®.
I have brought my knowledge of blogging and social media skills to my school. I know the importance of connecting with other people, and I believe that students need to be given the same opportunities under guidance to connect with classrooms in other towns and countries. By integrating social media in my classroom programme, I get to learn alongside my students as we reach out and talk with experts on a topic that my students are interested in. My class this year has already established a connection with an international school in Hong Kong and they love it. Social media brought us together to share our learning experiences, and develop empathy of others with different worldviews. Whether you agree with it or not, our world is becoming more and more connected. Teachers and students need to learn in an environment where they can communicate with others from different cultures and countries. Everyone needs to be taught how to act online safely and responsibly.
Ultimately I see myself as a lifelong learner and already know which learning programme I will head to after my postgraduate certificate is completed. Learning should not stop when we get our teachers registration. My mother is a great example of this, having had 8 children and working full time, she always made time for postgraduate study. Our students need us now, we must consistently and constantly be educating ourselves to keep abreast of educational trends, technology and best practice to help our children develop the 21st Century skills they will need to become contributing members of society.