Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Applied Practice - Week 28 - Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness in my practice - (Activity 4)

Have just been looking at the Unitec's framework for embedding Te Tiriti o Waitangi into their courses. Absolutely beautiful use of a Poutama. I don't think I've ever seen anyone use it like that before. 
The poutama is a three way progression to step towards the stars, enlightenment, the end journey. 
As a reflective practitioner my journey as a teacher always seems to have a series of lessons, new learning, challenges and opportunities to show my learning. I like it purely because I'm learning from myself, my own decisions and choices and constantly think about the kind of teacher I want to be and the kind of person I want to be for my students - and for myself at the end of the day. 
Within the Unitec Poutama was the consistent use and embedding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Absolutely beautiful. I wonder whether other tertiary institutes have thought about this in as much depth as Unitec has. 
I studied at Waikato - through the courses I chose, the networks I worked in as the history and Ingarihi Kaiawhina for Te Aka Matua in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the friends I met - I was able to be tuturu Maori. The campus itself had bilingual signs - something many universities in NZ didn't have apparently. Being able to ask for help from Maori was crucial. Seeing Maori in positions of authority and power - as senior lecturers and head of departments was vital in my belief that I too could be who I was in a world dominated by a colonised worldview. 
I was lucky at Waikato to be taught by Jeanette Graham in my first two years at uni while studying my BA in History and English. Like my history teacher at high school, she showed both perspectives - from a Maori worldview, and Pakeha. What I loved the most about her was her purposeful talk about WHY we had to discuss these things - and more importantly how the 'loser' of the war was often silenced - and as such - it is always vital to hear their side of the story. 
The power dynamics in NZ are still the same. Maori are still fighting to be recognised for the effects on us as a whole as a result of colonisation. Pakeha continue to forget that we have white privilege and that we are consistently in the role of power. There is no shared power. Not truly. There is ongoing racism and disgusting examples of prejudice and pre-positioned perspectives particularly in regards to our justice system. Maori are constantly on the backfoot. 
For all the talks about how far we've come - and bloody hell have we what - we haven't gone far enough yet. 
For many people who come to NZ as tourists, they absolutely adore our Maori culture. They embrace the reo. They are quick to learn and follow simple tikanga and are overwhelmingly interested in the dynamics between Maori and Pakeha. 
Having studied four years of Maori and Pakeha issues, histories, stories, perspectives and knowledge around the disproportionate effects on Maori as a result of the interaction between Maori and Pakeha -  having lived my life as both Maori and Pakeha - having taught in both bilingual units and mainstream - there is a massive difference. 
For those who can't see it - I call them blissfully ignorant. There are many Pakeha in NZ who empathise and support Maori in this battle. There are many more - who do not. And those people are very very vocal. 
I've talked previously about the importance of being culturally responsive - here, here, here, here and here - so I will refrain from doing that in this post (even though that's the point in this particular post - but it's an issue close to my heart that needs years and years of reflective posts and discussions that one post just can't do enough credit...).
Instead - I will discuss how we as a school are culturally responsive:
At Western Heights High School we have roughly 70% Maori students. The other 30% are Pakeha, Polynesian, Asian or classed as other. 
It is imperative - in any high school but particularly at ours - to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi in all that we do. 
Our new principal Jim Gemmell is a matakite - I'm calling it now because I already see a clear vision in what he is trying to do at Heights.
In a few weeks we are introducing a trial for an extended house tutor group class. Our HTG's are vertical forms - so within this each class has a handful of each year level and the idea was to create a community. Not all HTGs are like this however. Mine is. I was VERY careful about creating this sense of community and whanau from the very beginning - I was lucky in that I started at Heights the year that they brought HTGs in. Prior to that it was horizontal form classes that apparently had become quite chaotic and in some classes cases a bit toxic. 
From the get go I focussed on manaakitanga and supporting my students the best way I could. Over the last four years though - the amount of paperwork, pastoral care, attendance issues, academic tracking, academic counselling etc has gotten a much bigger job than the 15 or so minutes we see our students each morning. 
So - we are heading into our new trial of a 40 minute extended house tutor group. I am absolutely excited about this. My own HTG KAL (Kowhai House, My initials) understand why we are doing this. They know that I can only just get through the notices each HTG. They know that I barely have any time to actually ask them how they're going, let alone check ongoing attendance issues, do the roll, sort out uniform issues, have individual conversations with students to check in to see how they're going - both hinengaro and tinana -wise. They get it and for KAL - they look forward to it - mostly because they know that ever second Wednesday I get paid and we can have a bit of a shared kai before that interval haha. 
For other students that I teach - their questions begin at the WHY - which they then understand once I explain from my perspective about actually being able to do my job as a house tutor teacher better, and then their questions turn to statements about how boring their classes will be for that 40 minutes. Something I just don't understand as the point of thesr HTGs was to create a sense of community. I know I'm not the only teacher at Heights who has made our students feel comfortable and safe. I worry though that the teachers who aren't going to use this time effectively, may be the ones that aren't being culturally responsive in the classroom. 
The next very cool new initiative that our principal has initiated is the goal setting and interviews for senior students on the 27th June. 
The idea is that students identify the areas of strength and weakness, we discuss how they're doing academically at school and talk about setting realistic goals with them and their whanau. 
What this means for us is that we need to ring each whanau, make contact with them and book an appointment. Our interview day goes from 8.30 am to 5.30pm. Doing this will allow whanau time after school and before school to come and see us. Students must be there - for their interview so it is a shared decision and building on success. Creating achievable goals and identifying areas of improvement.
Lastly - at Heights we have just launched our new WHHS app - available on the app store for both Android and iOS. This is a key mode for communication and connecting with whanau. 
At Heights - we have many teachers who aren't Maori - this can be an issue for many students who are trying to find strong Maori role models in their lives. It wasn't til I went to University that I found these role models. For our Heights students - having strong role models is absolutely key to their success. Whether they are Maori or not - having strong role models can make or break a student. As such, going through our Kia Eke Panuku training has shown us the many ways we all need to up our game and improve our modes of being transparently culturally responsive as well as being aware of when we AREN'T being culturally responsive and how to change this. 
One particular area of focus for myself is creating more opportunities for shared decision making in class - more co-construction in the learning and more opportunities to make the learning relevant. 
We had a discussion in social studies the oher day about the importance of saying names correctly. It is my biggest bugbear when people say names incorrectly. Names hold mana. They are incredibly important and we should do our absolute best to learn how to say them correctly. I always tell my students to tell me off if I've said a name wrong when I first meet them. 
I try my best to learn their names as fast as possible and as correctly as possible. It irritates me beyond belief when a student asks a teacher to say their name correctly and the teacher refuses. It is absolutely different if the teacher is actually trying to say it correctly. 
However - the inherent and institutionalised racism in NZ shows through time and time again. Under the Treaty of Waitangi it is absolutely critical that we learn names - as they hold mana - it shows shared power and tino rangatiratanga.

Update (20th June): Today I talked more with the kaiako I had been told who refuses to say Maori names correctly. I actually don't know how to deal with this. The issue around collegiality and professionalism is having serious discordant issues with my need to assert that student's mana and tautoko her. Seeing her with her students - it was interesting today. To say the least. 

Class Notes
Further Reading:
Bishop, R, Berryman, M., Cavanagh, T. & Teddy, L. (2009). Te Kotahitanga: Addressing educational disparities facing Māori students in New Zealand. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(5)734–742.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Kia Eke Panuku and Cultural Responsiveness and Relational Pedagogy

For a long time I've been meaning to talk about Te Kotahitanga and the way in which it opened my mind and heart to the way I knew was right as a teacher, gave names to the ways of teaching that I was already doing and helped me focus on areas that I needee to improve. The best part of Te Kotahitanga was the way we co-constructed and shared about what worked for us with our shared students and what we did to improve the learning.

Now that Kia Eke Panuku has begun to roll out to the staff at WHHS I feel that same feeling I had at Massey when I was introduced to Te Kotahitanga.

It's a feeling of rightness. Tika. Just at this point in time everything is as it should be. Because we're working together to change it. To stop that growing gap between Maori and Pakeha in achievement data. To enable our students to feel comfortable succeeding as Maori. Being Maori and knowing that it's okay to be Maori.

Our Kia Eke Panuku hui yesterday was awesome. We discussed the culturally responsive principles:
We learnt how to unpack the Kia Eke Panuku observation tool and how we would use it to observe other teachers and their pedagogy.

We observed our first teacher - writing down only what we heard and saw. No judgements. No perspectives.

We discussed the issues we had - not hearing everything clearly, needing to move around and listen in on conversations.

We delved deeper into unpacking the ob tool and the grey tickbox column and the far right white columns too - dialogic, cultural toolkit, co-construction, ...., culturally responsive principles.

We observed our second teacher of the day and again - that moment of tika. Watching my friend move around the room, helping her students, being herself, absolutely in that moment in time, comfortable with her students and relaxing with them.

We observed the interactions, the dialogues that were taking place. We assessed students cognitive focus and ... focus.

We shared our thoughts when we got back before lunch.

Over lunch we talked more about the need to have this done and the issues around it not having done so already. We agreed that this had been really good for us all.

In the last session we discussed shadow coaching and how we'd go about discussing those gnarly questions or queries through the use of a time out.

One of our DPs, who is Kia Eke Panuku trained, was observed by the other group in our session and was used as an example for shadow coaching also. We watched as our colleague and mate D discuss the issues and bring them up in a cool, reflective manner and allowed the observed kaiako talk us through the issues, the strategies and what might be done next time. There were plenty of time outs used to bring up other issues and the shadow coaching continued. If only all conversations could go as smoothly. Unfortunately there is a kneejerk reaction to become defensive of oneself as we are so used to being in our single cell classrooms. We need to become more used to having someone in class observing us.

I welcome obs. I'm so excited. I want to be a better teacher and the only way that can happen is with regular observations, student voice and hard work to believe I can be a better teacher and make some serious changes.

The discussion around a critical lens is still floating in my mind too.

Having a lens that is critically looking at certain areas - not being critical - but critically looking to identify areas with what is happening in the classroom using a snapshot in time of an observation.

The whakatauki used at the end was likewise beautiful.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

MindLab: Applied Practice - Week 27 - Trends and Issues in Education (Activity 3)

A definition of a trend...

My first thoughts are the trends set out by Core Education and the development of them over the years. Some of the main trends include gamification, collaborative learning environments/innovative learning environments/modern learning environments, learner agency, equitable access etc

Below are the Ten Trends collated by Core found here: http://www.core-ed.org/thought-leadership/ten-trends 

Trends seem to be aspects of education that we need to be developing over a period of time. Networked communities, equitable access and digital fluency are aspects in education that can't be fixed overnight. They need time, strategies and problem-solving to find the best solutions that help each individual school develop stronger awareness around these issues. 

Issues on the other hand are problems that we might not necessarily be able to fix but ones in which we could find strategies to help become less problematic for those in our school communities. 

Issues such as poverty impacting on the ability to have equitable access, resistance to change impacting the need to create more evolved ways of assessing students through design thinking and cross-curricular assessment. There are MANY issues in schools that can't be solved by individual teachers and need to be a collaborative, joint approach where we work together to find possible solutions to help lessen the impact of the issues in order to try keep ahead with possible trends. 

Visser and Gagnon (2005) state that a term is something that "refers to the statistically ovservalble change or general orientation of a general movement."

Wilson (2012) says that an issues "point to unresolved concern, questions and tensions that arouse...."

Trend Analysis

Global trends: The world is changing faster than at any time in human history (Youtube Video)


Collaborative Task:

Issue One: 'Shifting the focus to student-centred learning'

"In the most successful schools, the trustees, leaders and teachers have an uncompromising focus on fostering students‟ interests and strengths, and on addressing their learning needs. They understand that their role is to serve students. Their philosophies about how students should experience education are lived out in rich learning programmes, thoughtful management of the curriculum, positive school cultures, and in effective leadership and governance practices. A synergy and coherence exists between these aspects that contribute positively to the whole experience of being a learner. Importantly, there is an ethic of care for students‟ current and future success." (ERO, 2012, p. 7)

“Importantly, leaders cultivate teaching communities that are focused on improving student success. They do this through an intensive focus on understanding the connection between teaching actions/decisions and students‟ engagement and learning. Leaders support teachers to share “collective responsibility and accountability for students‟ achievement and wellbeing” (p.120). Students are at the heart of school business.”  (ERO, 2012, p. 10)

Individual task:

Contemporary issues or trends in NZ or internationally

Trends in NZ:

  • Makerspaces
      • The development of spaces inside classrooms that provide the ability for students to use design thinking, imagination and maker skills to create something new and consistently evolving.
      • The need to create more student centred spaces that allow students to feel comfortable, engaged, interested and flexibility to make choices as to where they sit and learn best. 
      • The mindset of modern learning environment/innovative learning environments whereby kaiako are developing stronger awareness around their pedagogy and the changes needed to ensure stronger perspectives around ....?

Issues in NZ:

  • Assessment
      • The need for more open perspectives within how we assess for our students. 
  • Equity
      • The need to be more aware of the inequity in NZ with students and their access of digital tools to enhance their learning. 

There are HEAPS of really cool blogs out there - check out the NZ educator blogroll on www.edblognz.blogpost.co.nz

Loved this example: https://riharinz.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/change-for-my-teaching/

Further reading:
Education Review Office. (2012). Evaluation at a Glance: Priority Learners in New Zealand Schools. Retrieved 18 May 2016, from http://www.ero.govt.nz/About-Us/News-Media-Releases2/The-three-most-pressing-issues-for-N
KPMG International. (2014). Future state 2030: the global megatrends shaping governments”. KPMG International Cooperative: USA. Retrieved fromhttp://www.kpmg.com/Global/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/future-state-government/Documents/future-state-2030-v3.pdf
National intelligence council.(2012). Global trends: Alternative Worlds. National Intelligence Council: US. Retrieved fromhttps://globaltrends2030.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/global-trends-2030-november2012.pdf

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Classroom Environments and Organisation

Back when I was at Massey High in my first two years of teaching, we were in Professional Learning Communities where we chose the learning area we wanted to focus on as a collective. The five of us English teachers decided we wanted to focus on seeing whether a change in classroom environment could affect student engagement and attention in class.

We planned a little about needing fabric to cover the bare walls and creating cool posters for our students to reference for their learning. Rushing off to Spotlight with my mentor and buddy teachers was easily one of my best memories as a first year teacher. Am definitely a fabric geek. Haha.

We found heaps of cool stuff there, including a roll of black fabric with shiny silver stars. I still have the remains in my back cupboard now.

So we worked in each others classrooms, helping each other fix and make better our environments we worked in each day. True collaboration and what I loved about my colleagues at MHS.

By the time we got to my class - we were knackered but we managed to get quite a bit done and created strips of the black and silver starred fabric for one part of my wall. Sometime later I created my 'Dreams are Free' wall letters. I still have these too, they're on top of a pile of resources which are constantly waiting to be put up around the room.

Under that phrase I got students to make shapes where the wrote their goals and hopes for their lives. Each class did that and stapled them on the wall - it was a beautiful way to create student ownership in the space. It helped to motivate them too with little help from myself.

In that room there was a lino floor. It was awesome for kids on a wet day to slide on.... lol but more importantly I loved the click of my high heels on it. I wear flats now... The lino floor was great because we could move the desks out of the way easily, change the environment for different modes of learning quickly and did heaps of debates, role playing from the novels we read and dramatic readings of poems students wrote.

I was hardly ever sitting at my desk. You could barely see my desk at the time... I was still figuring out my organisational system...

Which is my next focus.

As my fifth year of teaching concludes and I move into my sixth - it feels good to have finally controlled or lets say begun to tame the monster that is paper at high school.

On my desk after the day you might find piles of student work, a bit of rubbish or student texts to read. But it's a quick five minute tidy now as I finally have things organised - not just so that I'm the only one who can find anything... haha

On my desk lays my teachers planner, my laptop, stationary, timetable and a bowl for my keys. On the table beside mine sits the projector. I've resigned myself finally to the fact that it remains a stationary object and probably won't get put on the roof as my class is one of the classes that could be pulled down if the MOE declare we have too many buildings.

On my left is a 8 box bookcase laying on its side. On top sits two purple tray organisers (three really because I needed six trays) - that are labelled for each class and my HTG. In these trays go my student's unfinished work.

In the eight boxes of the bookcase sit students folders for portfolios or workbooks after marking. In one of the boxes I have teaching resources and another for my readings to do and learn about.

Behind me is the whiteboard and the back cupboard. It is an awesome space but needs an absolute overhaul. When I had to move from my previous class I moved everything out, made it absolutely tidy for the new person to move in and chucked the stuff from 1980... When I moved into my current class - it was an absolute mess. I couldn't put my stuff anywhere so I ended up smushing it in with everything else and even after a small tidy a couple months ago to fit the PI drums in and organise the beanbags - it is still a massive mess. I would love to use that space more effectively but I need a bit of time to sort it.

The bookshelf in the corner by the cupboard door is probably my favourite item in the class. I found it on Neighbourly last year - a neighbour was giving it away. It's beyond cool. Towers over me but has been organised in such a way that all of my students have a space for their assessments to be held, extra shelving for who knows what just yet and above on the top shelf sits photos and other knickknacks brought in to brighten the class up, engage students like the lightbox or the Class Dojo 'Mojo' toy.

Last but not least is the bookcase at the back of the class. I spent a solid hour yesterday, with the help of one of my students, fixing it up and resorting it so that it looked better. Much more organised and hopefully students might stop putting their rubbish in there... :( In the bookshelf are a lot of books, novels, poetry, autobiographies - things I've picked up over the year at book sales and when our school library does a run through any texts that they don't want or haven't been read in a while. They're all labeled for my class library and organised beautifully - at the moment.

The one thing I guess I haven't mentioned yet is that my class is bare at the moment - excepting some QR codes and the back wall noticeboard half covered in blackboard paint and the other side covered in black paper. One more Cambridge exam and then I can put some things back up. But not everything - because it's too much of a mission pulling everything down again for exams three times a year.

At MHS they used our classes for exams too so it's not that I'm not used to it - but at MHS I had the fabric on the walls so could just pull the fabric off and everything came down.

A man came into class the other day - and he had a measuring beam tool that he placed in two spots in class to gauge the space. I straight away thought it was for the routers - why I don't know. But he said he was there to do the composite. The carpet on the wall. Yay! Because then I can put things on the wall! And pull them down easily!! :)

I just need to make sure that they take the beautiful mural in class down first before they do any carpeting over it. :)

My students didn't really get why I was so excited about carpet on the wall. But it will seriously (hopefully) brighten the place up. Which it definitely needs.

The tables - I think I've written before about the tables in our class. They're the old metal frames with new tops on. They're the kind of desks I had in primary school. I tried making them marginally better last year by putting whiteboard film on them. Which the students actually really liked because we could learn in ways they hadn't been able to do so previously. Brainstorming, planning, writing, drawing etc etc etc.

I took it all off before end of year and Cambridge exams last year. I need to buy some more. It was a really cool tool and I have to thank Alyx Gillet for the idea. :)

The issue with the tables is that they're bulky and difficult to organise into groups. They don't smoothly move around the class either but are easy enough to lift and shift and pack away.

I have some awesome trapezoidal shaped tables though. Just need one or three more to make a proper shape. Or series of shaped tables. Then I could get rid of the tables. But then they're needed for the exams. Hmm.

That's where the beanbags come in though. Beautiful for students to find their own space, outside, inside, to do their work.

I need more student input to make the class better. More time to fix it up. More funds saved to go and do so. :) All in good time.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

MindLab: Applied Practice Week 26 - Professional Communities of Practice (Activity 2)

For this blog post we'll be discussing professional communities of practice. A community of practice to me means a group of people working together towards a shared goal. In this case, our November Mindlab intake cohort, colleagues and students at Heights, the whanau of #EngChatNZ and #edchatnz, PPTA whanau and those in my professional learning network. 

The questions below were posed to us this week around professional communities and while I'm only meant to write about two - I think a little bit of an overview is needed before diving in wholeheartedly on two particular ones. 
  1. What is the organisational culture (collective values/principles) that underpins your practice? How would you contribute to fostering a positive professional environment in your community of practice?
  2. What are the current issues in your community of practice? How would your community of practice address them?
  3. What are the challenges that you face in your community of practice? How would your community of practice address them?
  4. What changes are occurring in the context of your profession? How would your community of practices address them?

1. The organisational culture - collective values and principles - that underpin my practice focus are on the aspects of manaakitanga and ensuring that everyone in the class feels safe and respected. I contribute to fostering a positive professional environment in our community of practice in a similar way - by listening, being interested in what my colleagues are sharing, discussing with them on a sometimes surface and then deeper level about issues that are important to me and pushing them to find the talking points that most engage them as well. In essence, I like to develop conversations by being patient and waiting for the right moment to ask certain questions to see whether I can flip the conversation into more unsafe waters to test my colleagues' adaptive confidence and see where their confidence lies in certain areas - particularly around tech in class. 

2. The current issues in our community of practice include building confidence, being more trustworthy of each other, sharing resources and not being scared that someone will 'steal' it, encouraging a high trust model rather than a low trust model. Our community of practice are learning to work together, collaborate more often and build on their shared knowledge in many areas. 

3. The challenges we face in our community of practice include being unsure of how to ask for help and not wanting to be seen as not looking as if they're not the expert, being scared of standing up for what's right, being scared to stand up to those who are workplace bullies, being unsure about how to create leadership opportunities when being a leader and having a leadership position seem to mean a different thing. Our community of practice deals with these challenges in a variety of ways. The old way seemed to be to ignore all of this and attempt the 'fake it til you make it' idea. Some of that previous whakaaro is still around and it's slowly being chipped away at. Our community of practice is incredibly supportive, we support each other, be collegiate and professional all the while being there for each other. Schools can be very catty and toxic places - particularly being around teenage drama all of the time - adults sometimes forget how to stay cool in certain situations. We're lucky at Heights in that even though it's quite clique-y - there are clique jumpers who support and understand differing perspectives and will help provide those bridges to ensure more happier and calmer staff members in difficult situations. 

4. The changes in teaching at the moment is the introduction of technology. I say this with a heavy heart because I've been fighting a very long battle since I was 8 and now - we're finally here - where we can teach across borders, without walls and yet - people still want walls. People still want traditional. People are still scared of the new. This inability to be adaptive to change scares me. I've talked a lot about being 8 and playing the Encarta games and being a teenager and dealing with difficult situations. We had 21st century tools when I was at high school. That is teetering on ten years ago now. Ten years. We're still here. Arguing about wifi and infrastructure and cost and impact on student learning. Studies upon studies and studies and studies. Yet. Still. We're at this crossroads. Such a long long walk to where we are now. Still so much further to go. 

I really really liked the Stoll goals - displayed below. Very very cool. Reminds me of Lichtman's Pathway to Success progression. 


Further reading:
Stoll (1998). School Culture. School Improvement Network’s Bulletin 9. Institute of Education, University of London. Retrieved fromhttp://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Culture/Understanding-school-cultures/School-Culture

Monday, 16 May 2016

Y12 - Party in the Car Assessment

Last night we received some pretty horrendous news. One of our ex-students passed away. We don't have full details yet but the ones that we do have so far made it difficult to teach today's lesson around driving and changing our behaviour in and around cars.

Last week was messy - we had students away on PE camp up in the Kauaeranga Valley - two trips meaning some were here when we looked at videos, some were here when we looked at techniques, some were here when we played the Film Technique game on Quizlet Live. Despite students coming and going, I felt truly positive about the direction we were all going in.

Until this morning. When I had the full class back. Today was messy. But... it worked. Somehow.

I started them all off with the Introduction I'd written on Google Classroom last night, got those who weren't here to play a couple games to learn Film Techniques on Quizlet Live, and the remainder who were here to continue with developing their brainstorms, filling in their introductions and thinking about the techniques and how they were used to 'effectively change the behaviour of (target audience) in and around cars'.

Homework today was simply to finish their brainstorms so that we could get started writing paragraphs on Wednesday. Hopefully they will do so and not write anything further so that we can use their reports for their writing portfolio assessment too.


My Y12 EngA (Yellow) class started this assessment last term but only just finishing up their reports now. They've also had the gamification aspect of Quizlet. They actually chose for the Pink class which one worked better for them out of Quizlet and Kahoot.

It's interesting that juniors seem to love Kahoot and seniors like Quizlet better.


Today I felt like I was doing blended learning right. Students were accessing their devices for the benefit of their learning and gaining knowledge on a just in time basis whereas previous to this the devices were used in a more structured way where I told them where to go and what to do. Seeing the students accessing the information needed, when they needed it was VERY VERY cool.

What did I actually do to make this work??

* I set up Quizlet a LOT faster than previously by telling students to get onto quizlet.live while I was opening Quizlet myself - students were waiting and asking for the passcode before I had it up on the projector.
* I had the introduction example on Classroom up on the projector in another tab.
* The game went faster than previous times as there were a smaller number of participants. They were able to play a couple of games and then got into what everyone else was doing
* I had the NZTA playlist from my channel as a link on Google Classroom which students were accessing as needed or using YouTube from their phones/devices
* I'd added the digital version of the film techniques on Classroom as well in a Resources post- which students were accessing as needed too
* Constant monitoring, helping, guiding, supporting and suggesting possible techniques for their chosen ads
* Printed copies of the report scaffold available for students

What might have helped to make this lesson smoother?

* Students checking Google Classroom prior to coming to class
* More teaching around using Google Classroom as a tool to find information
* Printed copies of all resources available for students
* Re-work the screenshots resource I made for the Yellow class?
* Re-work the Party in the Car resource booklet with clearer steps?

Overall thoughts -

This is one of my most favourite assessments in the Y12 programme and easily the best section of learning we do in the year. Because we discuss prior knowledge, learn together and from each other, collaborate and learn from shared experiences and discuss how target audiences are manipulated by Public Service Announcements like driving ads by the NZTA to change behaviours.


Moe mai ra e tama. Fly high. Rest easy e tama. We all miss you. Watch over the rest of us.

New Zealand Read Aloud - Year 10: Speed Freak by Fleur Beale

The first thing you need to know about the NZRA... is that it's incredibly powerful. To have six classes throughout our beautiful country all reading the same novel - about the same time - sharing their learning, ideas and thoughts on a shared learning platform has been refreshing and exciting.

At first when Kerri and her NZRA crew brought this programme to life last year within the primary school, I was hopeful it would evolve towards the junior school in High School too. This year is the first year we've been doing NZRA for Y9 and 10 students and although I can only speak for this term - it's been collaborative, challenging and overwhelmingly engaging.

Last term with my Y10 English class we studied Romeo and Juliet. They absolutely NAILED the Shakespearean verse. I was so so proud of them all. We didn't read the entire thing but we managed to cover some of the more important scenes - the balcony scene, deaths of Mercutio, Paris, Romeo and Juliet etc. Some of my students were even able to go up to Auckland for the Shakespeare in Schools programme at the Pop Up Globe. When I went on the last day of the school holidays - I left feeling touched by Shakespeare - in all senses of the word. I honestly feel that the Pop-Up Globe brought Shakespeare to life the way it was meant to and I wish that all of my students could have been able to feel that wairua the same way I did. I swear I cried through most of it - to my 15 year old sisters embarrassment and equally shared happiness.

I digress - the point I suppose of sharing the success of our study of the Bard is to say that I just KNEW that my Y10 class would absolutely smash out the novel despite not having read it yet myself. And they're doing remarkably well. We as a collective (NZRA) are currently into Week 3 of 'Speed Freak' and the students that didn't quite connect with Shakespeare or the poetic phrases have settled easily into this style of prose.

This week I've written up the tasks for 'Speed Freak' and I felt the biggest amount of responsibility I've ever had in teaching (excluding EOTC trips!!) because I was in charge of setting up the learning for a LOT of students. My own students are used to my relaxed nature and flexibility when it comes to our learning based on their needs or wants in each lesson - but to be in charge of the next week of lessons for a range of amazing colleagues - that's serious responsibility. I hope that the students enjoy it this week. A fair bit of analysis of relationships - some deeper discussions around the issues in the novel might be needed but I left those up to the discretion of the teacher.

Chapters 14-18 - probably the most vertical part of the novel so far in terms of rising action where the novel's characters develop, learn more about each other and make some pretty serious decisions.

I await the discussion of their learning on Edmodo in their small groups.

My students will need to push themselves through the next few lessons as we've been having to catch up on chapters each reading room session - and have only three lessons more to read five chapters.

We'll see how we go. We might have to rejig the reading and chapters a little or figure out pacing a bit better. At least the chapters are all only a few pages each so it's not too strenuous but allowing time for all students to have a go at reading, monitoring their progress and improved reading over time does take up extra time. The tasks are well structured - the last two weeks it has been a series of different ones each chapter which I've chosen a couple from that have been really effective.

Working in this way, collaborating with other teachers across the country shows me just how much effort goes into true collaboration - sure it's a bit challenging - but overall it's incredibly rewarding and has improved my practice in terms of more focussed literacy tasks and developed my thinking and perspectives around collaborative teaching and learning.

This aspect of blended learning - using traditional and digital tools to enhance and evolve the students learning has been really cool to be a part of. Thanks to Karen Wilson for her ongoing support and commitment to this NZRA programme and for getting us this far :) Looking forward to the next few weeks!!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

MindLab: Applied Practice in Context - Reintroduction and Welcome (Activity 1)

The next few weeks I'll be making a VERY concerted effort to keep up with the learning as finally we're being asked to blog about our experiences. I was doing well in the first few weeks of Mind Lab and then got bogged down with everything else I needed to do. So now that I'm finally at the edge of this last paper with the MindLab I can get back into it... so here goes.

For those of you new to blogging and new to my blog - nau mai haere mai! We would LOVE for you all to keep blogging about your learning as teachers and share your perspectives over time. A really cool place to share your learning after you've created a post is on Twitter and edblognz.blogspot.co.nz

To define my practice:

What is my practice?

A seemingly simple question... however if I were to truly answer this I would say my entire teaching practice is focussed around building student relationships in order to make significant changes to developing improved student achievement. Also, a main focus continues to be the way in which I teach: relaxed, supportive, encouraging and overwhelmingly full of laughter and humour.

Developing more of a focus around what it means to be culturally responsive and ensuring that all students in my class feel safe, comfortable, engaged and interested in the learning and the environment.

Motivating myself to be more efficient with paperwork, more organised with student resources - both paper and digital, more targeted with student academic tracking and ensuring that I'm keeping a consistent record of these.

What is my professional context?

I am an English and Social Sciences teacher at a local Rotorua High School.

Who are my Community of Practice?

Essentially that is the edblognz, edchatnz, EngChatNZ whanau and the many many members within my PLN that I follow on Twitter or discuss issues with online in differing modes (English List Serve, emails, community groups etc). Also, my CoP includes those kaiako in my departments who support me to be the best teacher I can be. Along with this are the Establishing Teachers Committee and ICT Advisory Group within the PPTA that help guide me forward to where I'd like to be in a few more years time. Added to this list now include the fantastic members of the November Intake of the Mind Lab :)

What is the purpose and function of my practice? 
The purpose of my practice is to be the best teacher I can be to my students. In order to do this, I have to function well within the modes of more traditional systems which often restrict me from enabling myself to be the teacher I want to be, for the benefits of my students.

In what ways do I contribute to the community of my practice?
I contribute daily to my community practice through social media, communication (email and face to face), in class and outside it. I share and portray good practice. I learn from others about what best practice looks like. I learn from and teach other colleagues about the importance of finding relevant professional development.

What are the core values that underpin my profession?
The core values that underpin my profession are:
* Loyalty
* Respect
* Honour
* Wisdom
* Manaakitanga
* Accountability
* Honesty
* Awhi
* Reliability
* Good Communication

In regards to my own practice, I think that I exhibit these values well in my classroom with students, with my colleagues and within the community. I'm considerably loyal to my students, my principal and my colleagues and particularly our school. Our school holds a lot of mana in the community and I'm very proud of being a teacher here at Heights. Whenever I'm out in the community there is always an ex-student, family member or current member of the Heights whanau that has a conversation with me about Heights - it's changed reputation from previous years and how it's now known as 'The School of Choice' with a rapidly growing roll.

I'm an incredibly trusting person - I will usually believe a student from the get go - causing some issues as I'm also very gullible haha - but will try to find positive solutions for students that allow them to feel safe, respected and cared for in my classroom. I try to be as wise as possible but acknowledge that I'm not the only person in the room with the information and we try to share our knowledge as much as possible in class. I don't ever want to be the sage on the stage or do chalk and talk. I want to be the teacher that students can turn to for advice, get help with assessments, trust in and will be honest with. In order to do that I need to create a classroom environment where students feel safe to do that - a space where power is shared in the classroom is the ultimate way to do this.

Lastly, the main value is good communication. These last six months or so I've noticed more stuttering and an inability to get my words out clearly. I think them clearly but for some reason just can't get them out clearly. I don't know why. But I will find out. Though I suppose the good thing about this is that I'm able to reword things several times which helps students understand the message in multiple differing ways. Also - being able to be aware of this, knowing that I have no control over it - helps me control it - if that makes sense as I have a bit of power over the issue rather than becoming more agitated because I can't get my words out as clearly as I need to. I've always said that my written language is better than my oral language. Heoi ano....

I was thinking about some of the 21st century values that we need in the profession:

21st Century Values:
* Adaptive Confidence
*Clear and Responsive Communication
* Innovative Learning Experiences
* Real World Learning Opportunities

What is my specialist area of practice?
Technically - I have my Bachelor of Arts (dissertation to finish for my Hons) with a double major in History and English. I have my PostGrad Diploma in Secondary Teaching (with the ability to teach English (Y7-13) and Social Studies (Y7-10) and History (11-13). I also have my Te Ara Reo Maori Level 5 Diploma in Te Reo Maori.

Currently - I teach English (Y10, 11 and two Y12 classes) and Social Studies (Y10).

Though I suppose my specialist area of practice centres around the needs of my students and I will try and bring in as many different areas to engage them if need be. Was just thinking about the other day when we were talking about doing a Coverflip in English and I brought up that another student was thinking about doing 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' and how it would be cool to do a series of Coverflips for different audiences. The group of students who were getting help with this particular assessment asked me a few questions which snowballed into a mini history lesson around WW2 and the Nazi use and abuse of the rights of the Jewish people.

How does my specialist area of practice relate to the broader professional context?
My specialist areas of practice relate to the broader professional context through the ongoing development and evolution that is English and Social Sciences. There are constantly new forms of media and learning and historical artefacts being created and found on a daily basis.

The broader professional context therefore, is connected with my specialist areas of practice as teaching continues to change and develop. We are ever changing, evolving as teachers, professionals and we need to ensure that we are keeping up with the ever changing world around us. We can do this by being connected, feeling the pulse of the education world and changing along with it, rather than staying stagnant and refusing to change or improve professional practice.

What are the key theories that underpin my practice?
Key theories that underpin my practice:
*Cultural responsive and relational pedagogy
* Growth mindset and the impact of self-belief and motivation on our lives
* Reflective practice
* Teaching as Inquiry

Class Notes

Want to know more about what I read?

Further Reading:
Finlayson, A.(2015). Reflective practice: has it really changed over time?. Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 16(6), 717-730.