Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Update on eLearning at Heights

It's been a while... and when it's been a while you can tell that there has to be things going on that's either stressful, exciting or has higher priority than blogging.

One of my key forms of release is writing - this blog particularly keeps me focussed and assured of next steps in my own learning and that of my students.

Since that eLearning workshop and to be honest even preparing for it - it's taken a huge part of my focus and time and energy. Staff members are coming up to me, asking questions and booking time to have one-on-one tutorials with me.

I've finally spent a bit of time on myself and got my head sorted in that sense... but know that I needed to blog it out, stay focussed and think about my next steps.

So far I've connected with the Connected Learning Advisory, we (Donella and I) have signed our school up with the eLPF framework and I've also begun the Netsafe kit process towards digital citizenship and thereby making necessary policies around our safety and security prior to going BYOD.

I've made log sheets up for one-on-one tutorials, time spent on eLearning coaching and development, a two-pronged action plan that is now prioritised and organised as well as the beginnings of an eLearning plan that I want to turn into a strategic plan for staff to have more self-directed learning and what Steve Wheeler calls 'desire lines' or selected pathways of interest.

The eLearning hub is slowly being built too.

My coaching session with Carolyn was so so useful that I now have clear steps of what needs to happen but the main thing that came out of it - was that I know what I need to do, the how and also they why. I just have to remind myself that I can do this and more importantly that I know what I'm doing. The fact that I try for myself first and then ask others for help when needed shows that I'm practising what I 'preach'.

The issue with reports at the moment has put a standstill on the learning which is annoying. I'd hoped for follow on sessions sooner than later - but it looks like we need to book in for term three instead.

I've discussed the need for a student eLearning group as well who will help the transition and I've got a few takers interested. Biggest issue though is digi cit skills and self-management. I think we need to be teaching more around the competencies.

Next steps:

- get surveys for digi cit done by staff, students and community
- begin building strategic plan for eLearning PLD
- begin creating workshops and breakout choices for upcoming sessions
- share online booking form for 1:1 tutorials
- ask eLearning team what they're prepared to help with - strategic and logisitcs or workshop pld - and begin delegating to the team so it's not just me and Donella...
- email CLA back with more details
- show the feedback we've already had and go from there :)
- collect names and ideas for eLearning student group

Reminder needed to keep blogging to stay close to ground and focus on priority - students come first - staff and PLD second. I just wish that I could teach my students the way that I want to - with more time and energy put into resources and lessons.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

First Coaching Session

In addition to the one-on-one eLearning session with our staff, I've started getting coached by a registered education coach.

Our session yesterday showed me that I know what I'm doing and more importantly that I know what I want to do and where to go.

Surprisingly I know how I want to get there too.

The questions she asked were increasingly probing and there were only a couple of times that I went off on a tangent or answered the question in a less direct way.

She repeated back what I'd said nearly every time in differing words - clarifying and simplifying what I'd said into clear and strong points. Taking the true essence of what I thought and said and delivering it in a way that I'd hear that I knew that I was on the right track.

She went through a couple of scenarios where I had to imagine another teacher who had already achieved basically eveything I wanted.. the first thing I said was that I'd be jealous of her but surprisngly - discussing what her steps would be helped me to define what mine will be. Loved that.

When we finished the session, she repeated back everything I'd said and I wrote down what was pivotal to me. She'd said that from what I said there were two clearly pronged action plans, one for me and one for the staff.

My next steps are all there in what I'd said.

Totally worth it and am looking forward to my next session next term.

One-on-One eLearning Sessions

Rather than being a simplified run-down on what we've done - I'll embed the Google Doc for my sign up sheet to have one-on-one eLearning sessions.


Thursday, 4 June 2015

Social Studies: Sustainability

Most of my students have been working hard with their work around sustainability. Some are finding it difficult - I think this is partly because I'm still finding my way around teaching it. I need to spend more time writing up good resources for this unit and thinking it through.

I also think that we shouldn't have spent so much time on our sustainability assessment - it was meant to be a three day presentation and we've dragged it on too long. As a result - quite a few students have finished and are getting bored.

The good part of this I suppose is that they have been helping to improve what our focus is and they've been showing leadership within the class.

I really like that they've been developing their mindsets around their effort levels in class.

It's a large class and the space is difficult to organise to make the most of the learning opportunities.

I'm hoping to spend more time creating indepth resources that actually help - rather than seem pointless.

Social Studies Student Reflections

Spent a good portion of yesterday's lesson asking my students for their feedback over the last two units as well as their feedback of what they enjoyed and struggled with. Got a range of responses which was awesome.

Just need to spend more time on developing resources now!! :)

Staff uptake and questions

This will be an ongoing post:

- SD created a Google + community for her chem class and realised she had the privacy settings too strict - at the moment our students don't have domain email accounts. She'd wanted to create a classroom but that wouldn't have worked either. She asked for help - we sat down and went through basics of posting on G+ and using Drive. Uploaded her first ppt file and converted it to a Slides file so we could add the link to her G+ post. She too was annoyed that we can't let students into the one she originally created yet - but agreed it would be a great place for the future to use it when they do have the emails. She said she was too eager. Love this. :) She's now created another community with easier privacy settings and has invited me to the group. Awesome!

- questioned about being a teacher but adding self as student when we created the classroom for TOD. JS came to me after going to the IT guys and CS and I couldn't fix the problem as I didn't have access to the admin console. Emailed the IT guys and said that I didn't have access and sent them the link to get it done. Then all of a sudden I had access to the Google Groups for Classroom admin and also JS was a teacher again. :)

- questioned about notifications from G+. Made a screencast for staff. Sent it out in last email with G form for feedback. Hopefully they get it :) It all comes down to how they organise their gmail accs though. So hopefully they fix it.

- questioned about one on one tutorial. Offered but we got our times mixed up.


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Mid-Year Self Reassessment

The last few days I've been thinking about that dreaded word: burnout.

To burn out as a teacher means to have nothing left of yourself. You've given all that there is to give and you've basicallt got nothing to carry on with.

My biggest worry always is that I do too much. I do a lot because I have the time, the passion and the interest.

There is the illusion of more time because PI is over for the year. Girls Rugby has been cancelled for the year. There is no conference to organise. No immediate stress.

However, on a daily basis I help out with different things.

Offering to do one on one tech support sessions
Offering to present at upcoming conferences and PLD sessions
Sharing my ideas online
Making worksheets and infosheets for those who need them
Preparing eLearning workshops
Sharing ideas at school in meetings and f2f
Moderating twitter chats
Promoting chats and what I'm doing online
Upkeep of my portfolio, class site, eLearning hub, twitter, G+, FB, blog
Developing new collaborative and co-constructed ideas

Then of course there's my actual job of being a teacher - where I'd much rather spend all my time looking at developing my own teaching style, incorporating my ideas about tech into my class and ensuring that it is actually helping my students. All of this is burdened by the many different initiatives and admin we are required to do also.

I feel like this is the time to reassess. Is what I'm doing outside of class actually helping my students in my own classes? Surely. But I need to spend more time on me with planning, and learning how to be the best teacher I can be. I've set up easier planning with G Calendar so that's not the issue. It's not even the marking because that's doable too. It is difficult at times because I don't have access to my class except during intervals and lunch but then students come in then for help or just to talk.

What can I be doing better or at the very least differently that would make my student's outcomes better?

Ensuring more focussed assessment tasks for my juniors. Developing a method of collecting in, marking, handing back, moderating and marks being added onto KAMAR in a much more timely manner. Improving my class environment so that it's interesting and not messy. Yes - working spaces and all that - but it's still not setup how I want it. I need more time to do this. The desks have stayed in the same structure for ages now. Perhaps they need altering too.

When it comes down to it - I love teaching. I love teaching my students and my new passion is teaching other teachers and coaching them through their eLearning journey.

I just need to make it manageable. Strip it back to the bare essentials and focus on what I actually need to do and what can be organised and facilitated.

Big concerns:
Figuring out how to deliver PLD properly to the staff. Apparently it was going too fast still. And I seriously thought I was going slowly. I need stronger and more specific feedback and feedforward of what they need.
Ensuring staff know how to turn off G+ notifications and organise their Gmail so that they don't get overloaded.
Developing a shared plan in moving forward for PLD
Catching up on Interlead reflections. School wide.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Digital Citizenship Rant

It won't be a rant here... but it definitely was at 4th period in my Y11 English class today.

Obviously I'd been stewing all weekend over the issue with some silly students accessing a Teacher's password and sharing it around school. They'd discussed it on Yik Yak even. And this was early last month. I just didn't get the screenshots til this weekend when one of my amazing students shared them with me.

I knew there was an issue and I'd discussed it quite openly last month. The fact that there is NO WIFI PASSWORD obviously is not getting into my student's heads. There are only teacher's individual passwords for their logins which is also used to access their internet.

As one student pointed out today - their login password can't access the internet on their devices. Not yet anyway.

I reiterated the point that their stupidity in handing out teacher's passwords could possibly cause the hard work we've been doing around moving towards BYOD to go down the drain.

I talked extensively about the need to have a positive digital footprint. That everything is searchable. That you can be accountable for everything you post, share, like etc.

I talked so long that we only had about 30 minutes left of the session.

I think they get it now though. Hopefully.

And that was only one class.

I told them I didn't want to know who had been passing out passwords or sharing them around school. That eventually I'd find out and that I'm fully aware of what they write on Yik Yak. They now know that not only did I Geofence our school - that I also monitor what's written there. Especially when it says #WHHSProblems.

That - is negative school branding.

Makes me so so frustrated. Gah.

Silly silly behaviours.

Teach digital citizenship. Show students your digital footprint. Be open. Tell them and share your mistakes so that they are more likely to make better decisions after and before they make their mistakes too. It's all learning. But at least we can teach them how to be safe while learning.

Monday, 1 June 2015

The Process of Delivering SchoolWide PLD on eLearning

Have been thinking all weekend about the best way to approach schoolwide PLD on eLearning. I think now though that I'm overthinking it all. Maybe I just need to wait til tomorrow's eLearning Committee meeting and debrief properly. One of the big issues is that we didn't have enough time to go through everything. It won't be as linear as I want it to be either - it needs to have those ups and downs and the time to play and learn and question. We probably won't ever have enough time... until we set up the process of delivering schoolwide PLD that will work best for our school.

I keep coming back to the idea that it needs to be self-directed. By being self-directed there is a greater sense of self-autonomy. More so there is built up interest and relevance in what they're learning about. Staff know where they feel comfortable or not so - their confidence levels will rise when they see success.

Although I am very much against levels and labels - and think it's condescending if I group people myself or even as a committee - I think it would be beneficial for staff to have differing groups and areas that they personally can choose - all on one particular platform where staff can search out information when and where they want development.

One of the main areas of focus we'd set up for Friday was to do a staff continuum on where people felt confident in using tech in class. After that we'd planned to then share in small groups about what they're already doing and what they'd like to do given the access and more ability to do so.

What I need is some feedback from that session and more importantly - some feedforward on these particular areas:
- staff confidence with tech
- areas they would like to improve on
- what they learnt from the session
- what they're currently doing and what they'd like to develop (could be anything - not just tech related)
- who they tend to ask help from
- whether they have a fixed or growth mindset towards all of this (though it may be obvious depending on their answers...)
- how we as a committee can help them develop more confidence
- what they'd like to see in the next eLearning session
- where they see us as a school in the next 3-5 years
- what PLD they've done in the past year that has changed or developed their teaching style
- what PLD they would like so that we can help them find the right learning for them individually
- what they see as a possible future for our 21st century students
- what skills they think our students may need for that future
- what skills do we need to develop in order to upskill our students etc...

I'm hoping that after tomorrow's session I will feel a bit more relaxed and not so stressed out. I think I'm stressing myself out but there really is no need to be...

Probably the biggest concern at the moment is once we've got that feedback - how to move forward?

Do we want to have whole school PLD? Do we need to have a more unconference breakout style PLD where staff can choose different sessions purely on their own interests?

How do we plan for this? Do we have a shared space like the eLearning Hub that Donella and I created?

Do we have smaller breakout sessions where they define what they want to learn and learn from each other like we do at Educamps?

Do we ensure that everyone has learnt the "basics" before moving on?

Do we encourage badge systems for achieving differing levels? Should I gamify their learning?

Getting our staff to understand the WHY is also very important. I see this as part of the "basics" and then where they move onto is up to them.

At the very least -  our eLearning committee will be a sounding board and help others and lead them to where we want to head towards. A PLN colleague once called such teachers as Lighthouse teachers - leading the way forward.

At the moment - I'm still trying to figure it all out - and I must remember I'm not a "lone nut" anymore. We have an amazing group of educators who are forward thinking and incredibly interested in helping our staff move forward.

I just want to do it as a team - to work together and collaborate. Focus on key areas and move forward in one direction. It's hard when everyone has their own perspectives and ideas where we are heading.

So I'm looking forward to tomorrow's eLearning Committee and developing that shared vision together. I want their feedback first and foremost and a possible yay or nay as to moving forward with the one collaborated space platform for eLearning or other options and opinions.

With it all I need to remember to maintain a growth mindset and be happy that others are getting on the waka. We just need to remember to work together and move steadily forward as a team.