Tuesday, 28 June 2016

MindLab: Applied Practice - Week 32 - Changes in Practice (Activity 8)

This post is the last for my Mindlab journey. And has it been a journey!!

At first I was so incredibly ecstatic to be involved with the Mindlab. The course looked great. Exciting and so much potential to teach me new things that I hadn't already taught myself. The digital and collaborative paper, the research and community paper, the leadership paper!! And this last applied practice paper. So much learning.

I loved that I was able to share my learning during classes when we learnt about Twitter or blogging or something else I was extremely passionate about. Being able to share the power in the room by enabling each other to share our strengths and learn from each other was awesome. I appreciated the opportunity so much as this is something I want to be able to facilitate at Heights.

I blogged a lot in those first few weeks... about augmented reality which I fell in love with!! And more in depth about gamification and the impact that understanding learning has on a learner. That process of knowing the next steps and how this is absolutely critical.

As time went on and I began to get bogged down by the assessments and the reading, my natural passion and ability to reflect and blog about my learning dissipated. I found this concerning. I struggled a lot because I couldn't for the life of me understand why the two things I love the most in the world - learning and reflecting on my learning - were at such loggerheads. At first I thought my blogging mojo had been stopped because I was just learning so much, reading so much, busy too much to try keep up with school stuff and assessments and students etc, or the stresses of normal life... but I've since come to realise it's definitely part of all this but also... the fact that usually I learn what I want to learn.

I struggled for weeks in figuring out how to say what I needed to say in this post. Because this isn't just for Mindlab. This is for my overall learning and reflection. This blog has been going since I first started teaching five years ago and it needs to still be tuturu and more importantly relevant to my own perspective and whakaaro - both the negatives and postives.

The majority of feedback I got from assessments was great. The first couple of assessments I got back bit into my own confidence levels but as a growth mindset person, I bounced back and realised that was just because I need to be more clear and concise and develop my own thoughts more deeply. I need to be able to try new things and craft my own skills in videoing more effectively and I need to sort out my time-management. All things I already knew and know but were reinforced by an outside marker. Which was a good thing because I am naturally a cocky person when it comes to my own ability and I needed to remember that even though I have a lot of ideas, I definitely don't have the practice.

I absolutely enjoyed learning collaboratively with the colleagues from around the country but also in Rotorua. It was so cool to meet people, other teachers from Rotorua who were as keen as I was. I missed our group the most once we stopped doing the F2F korero sessions. It felt like I'd moved away from home and was missing the whanau.

The wide range of people was very realistic to how it is at Heights too which must have been tricky to navigate as there was such a wide range of knowledge on the room. A lot of these teachers had never been to a Connected Rotorua meeting too and so didn't come with the foundation of knowledge some of us already had. Hopefully they will come to more of our hui and share their ongoing learning now that Mindlab is over. :)

What I've struggled with the programme is how it has been so incredibly structured. For those that know me well they would understand easily what I mean... I'm all about the organised chaos. I am a learning sponge. I soak up what is relevant and what is needed when I need it and release the knowedge when it is no longer needed.

I easily could have gone through the whole course and learnt at my own pace but I felt restricted to stick week by week according to the course structure, assessments etc. And I think that that is more of a traditional model rather than one that I would like to have seen in Mindlab where the 21st century learner is at the centre and is able to completely focus their entire learning and interests around certain areas.

The majority of my learning for the past four or so years has been focussed on identifying HOW to enable my colleagues to build confidence in using elearning and every single one of my assessments reflect this passion. What I needed more of was guidance through more targeted feedback to help me figure out what I actually needed to do next in order to be better, understand more clearly and enable myself to be a better leader.

Even with the Mindlab certificate, I know the reality will still be real for me. Even with certification that I know how to work collaboratively, digitally, with the ability to reflect and research to ensure my knowledge is founded in hard facts and solid previous research and studies - I know that it still won't make a difference overall to my ability to help my colleagues. I am still at the same place as I was back in November - scared to open a dialogue with my principal about going for a Management Unit in order to be able to target staff by having an allocation of time to help support them where needed.

My colleagues still trust me. They still find me approachable. Which is awesome. But since starting the Mindlab, perhaps I've become even more intimidating.

I've learnt the kupu for the things that I do. I understand the why and the how and the what more clearly... but still don't have the access to effectively practice my ideas. I thought that by this time this year things might have changed in that regard... and while they are changing... it's not fast enough for me to be able to implement my learning from the Mindlab effectively.

I implore everyone I ever meet in teaching to do this Mindlab course. I just feel that it needed to be more differentiated, to allow those of us who knew a fair bit already, who still had serious gaps in other areas, to be able to clearly create a programme that would be beneficial for our own learning and possible pathways in life.

With all that being said... I have learnt a lot. I've made new friends. I've collaborated and shared my learning. I've forced myself to get back into blogging and after 300 or so posts I was stupid to stop back there for a while. Because it's important to be a reflective practitioner. We need to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and need to identify areas that are of most importance to us.


Two key changes in my own research informed practice in relation to the PTC's in elearning:

* Collaborative programme of learning
This essentially builds onto all of the learning I've been doing but still need to build more confidence in myself in order to continue trying to encourage a collaborative programme of learning for staff and students at Heights.

My students easily see the why and how when I explain to them how we could be doing things in class a lot better. But that confidence I have being able to be myself with my students hasn't transferred really into confidence with my colleagues at Heights. I'm always feeling like the rug is about to be swept out from under my feet when I bring up a new suggestion or idea. Mind you I have found people I can collaborate with on this journey which has been good. Colleagues who have been thinking about doing the Mindlab course have been asking me about the course and I've been sharing my learning. Surely this is a start to a possible collaboration in future.

* Knowledge about how akonga learn
The research I've done through the Mindlab has definitely reinforced my own thoughts around how students learn and this research has come in handy plenty of times over the past 32 weeks. I've been in conversations with my up-line or others in more authoritive positions and been able to make quick and easy connections to multiple pieces of research to show I connect what I'm doing with how students learn and the why along with the how. Although knowing this research has helped me, perhaps it has isolated me also as now I know 'stuff'. And for some, knowledge is definitely seen as all powerful. I just want to collaborate.. so I'm in an ugly catch 22.

My students though have benefitted so much from my new learning. We've been trying heaps of different things in class, been practicing some really cool styles of learning and teaching. We've been thinking more deeply about next steps. I've pulled away from practices that I was doing previously around understanding knowledge acquisition in learners particularly around SOLO Taxonomy and Class Dojo which is strange as previously they were my go to tools. I suppose now that I'm trying out so many different things, I may have lost sight of what actually works for me and my students. So I need to rethink and practice more to ensure what I'm doing truly benefits student learning.

Over the last few months I've definitely seen a change in my overall teaching method, but I don't know whether it's a better one. I'm a lot more tired, have less patience and although I'm still differentiating my student's learning, I don't know whether I'm teaching the best as I can right now. I've definitely improved my own time-management skills with the focus on timed assessments and due dates (and those beautiful extensions) and my procrastination has become a lot more focussed and timed too which has been great and is a lot easier to manage.

I've been more aware of deadlines at school and teaching students how to keep up with deadlines too.

I wonder though whether knowing and keeping to deadlines will be as important as it was in the 19th century as it might need to be in the 21st century.

Goals for future PLD:

I definitely want to investigate more Google Hangout styled events where students and I discuss learning and can get help from each other and how this might play a part in developing more collaborative learning.

I want to figure out how to be a better leader, to inspire and to create moments where learning is at it's highest peak. That comes down to practice and self-confidence... I need to figure out how to transfer my skills as a passionate speaker with my students and colleagues outside of Heights to my colleagues inside Heights.

I want to keep identifying areas of learning that is relevant to my own personal situation.

But most of all I want to figure out how to maintain my passion for teaching and learning... without constantly being in fear of burnout.

Overall, I'd just like to say a massive thanks to Lynley and Tino who made my learning journey in the Mindlab awesome. They were constantly willing to listen to my concerns and help me when needed. You two are absolutely fabulous. Thankyou. Nga mihi nui ki a korua.

I'd also like to say a massive thanks to Mary Hamill who has been my partner in learning and development for all of this Mindlab journey.

Also... massive thanks to everyone in the Mindlab intake of November. You guys were very very cool. :)

Last but not least... to the markers who ignored my constant overwordyness and word counts that bulged every single time well over the limit. Thank you for your guidance and your focus and your willingness to help us be better teachers. Nga mihi nunui ki a koutou katoa.

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