Thursday, 7 July 2016

Mind Lab Week 32. Changes in my Practice.

My decision to embark on the post grad Mind Lab journey came out of my desire to increase my knowledge and experience around digital technology and its place in today's education. I was concerned that coming out of a class would make me too far removed from the e -learning and connectivity that I knew my students and colleagues would be a part of. I was concerned that I didn’t know enough to contribute fully to a senior leadership team.

At Mind Lab I found that collaborative practice was being modelled by the teachers in the room during the first 16 weeks of face to face lectures and hands on activities. Luckily there was always enough knowledge in the group and people willing to learn, work together and produce to a deadline. I found the lectures interesting and thought provoking and the hands on activities challenging and at times frustrating. I gained in confidence over my thinking around technology and I increased my confidence when trying new technologies. During this time I have also gained in confidence over the use of blogging and twitter as a way to be connected globally.

One of the highlights for me was the opportunity to work with my colleague on the group tasks. As of the beginning of this year we have been working at the same school. This brought our group assignments sharply into focus as we were able to make every assignment and piece of research relevant to our school context. (Newly established school as a result of a merger). We discussed, debated, analysed and clarified our thinking on a variety of subjects that we were always able to view through the lens of our particular context. It didn’t start out that way last November, but what a bonus!

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Two key changes in my own research informed practice in relation to the Practising Teacher Criteria (PTC) in e-learning:
Criteria 5: Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning.
One of the benefits of this course is the dialogue that has come out of looking at research. As a new school, everything that we do, we are are looking critically at and deciding how it will look for us. It is the perfect time to reassess or press the reset button. We have looked hard at how we want to show leadership to our teams. We are consciously modelling collaborative practice as a senior leadership team. We have a shared office and the staff know that we work collaboratively on tasks. We model professional attitudes of a growth mindset (The whole staff were given Carol Dweck's book Teaching a Growth Mindset at the beginning of the year). In the course of our Mind Lab work, my colleague and I have investigated  and created a plan for the introduction of project based learning as a natural progression in innovative practice from self regulated learning, student agency, and deep learning tasks. We are excited at the prospects this promotes for our future direction.  We are now using blogging as a means of professional dialogue. Blogs are used as a means of chronicling staff Teaching as Inquiry. We now link the activities that we blog about to our PTCs. (Practicing Teacher Criteria).  
Professional development processes share a common goal: improved practice.” (Osterman & Kottkamp. 1993)

Criteria 11: Analyse and appropriately use assessment and information, which has been gathered formally and informally.
One of the challenges that I am enjoying in this role is using data. I have used data as a means of initiating professional dialogue around raising student achievement in my teams for some years now. I have reported to BOT on student achievement in my team. Next level for me is using the school management system to collate, graph and analyse school wide data. This is in order to find trends and implications to report on progress to the BOT and to determine next steps in terms of resourcing, monitoring target children and identifying professional development needs.
We report on overall teacher judgement that we have triangulated with our teachers using formal summative assessment, anecdotal evidence and informal observations.

My next professional development dream is to help facilitate the mindshift that will be necessary to move our school further into innovative practices which includes the adoption of multidisciplinary project based learning. I want to be a part of the movement towards using e- learning as a means of accessing technology in order to do things that we could not: connect, collaborate, design ideate, synthesise, and produce without the technology.
As for my personal commitment to life - long learning, I’m not exactly what the next course will be, but I know that it will be one that is relevant to my leadership role.

Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993). Reflective Practice for Educators.California.Cornwin Press, Inc. Retrieved on 7th May, 2015 from

Monday, 4 July 2016

Mind Lab Week 31 My Interdisciplinary Connection Map.

My interdisciplinary map shows my commitment to the value of making connections, in and outside of the workplace.
The interdisciplinary concept is multifaceted. On my professional level it incorporates all of the different networks in my life. Looking at my map I can see how much value I place personally on making connections that will enable me to grow professionally as well as to enable others to grow. I can see that what has gone on in my past is what has enabled me to grow professionally and past involvements are what has enabled me to make the connections that I so strongly value.

On another professional level, the multidisciplinary connections between subjects resonated strongly with me as I explore the possibilities of project based learning further. Crossing interdisciplinary boundaries is how project based learning will work. As was stated on the video  “The road to success academy model” (Week 31 Mindlab) the
pursuit of crossing interdisciplinary boundaries “ allows individuals to focus on the collaboration and participation in finding solutions to increasingly complex problems occurring in the world today.” (Lacoe Edu (2014, Oct 24).

As was stated on the video (Mind Lab Week 31), interdisciplinary crossover allows for a curriculum approach that consciously applies methodology and language from more than one discipline, in order to exam a central theme  (Lacoe Edu (2014, Oct 24). My Goal for the future in my school context is to explore further the cross curriculum interdisciplinary connections within the project based learning approach. I can see how the benefits of this approach would make learning so much more authentic as students access the discipline that they need (and the teacher who has those skills) in a much more natural and timely way as they work together to solve real life problems viewed through a social / emotional lens. In this way students will become better equipped to develop the necessary competencies that will sit alongside their knowledge acquisition. These competences are tools such as creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and citizenship. This is project based learning.

David Wiley in his TEd Talk ( Mind Lab Week 31) talks about crossing interdisciplinary boundaries in the sense of “enabling educational opportunities for all” In this way he presents the opportunities that free online sharing of knowledge enables for the student. He raises an appealing analogy about educational innovation comparing it to a musical remix or mashup of ideas - not necessarily new thinking but putting ideas together in a different way. In his Ted Talk, Wiley quoted Eric Raymond as saying “to solve an interesting problem, start by finding a problem that is interesting to you”. My Goal for our school is to work with the senior leadership team (of which I am a part) and the staff to enable educational opportunities for our students. Just as I am able to access the opportunities that being globally connected affords me, so too do I want to be able to make that possible and safe for our students. There are tensions associated with being globally connected when you are are a young person and these need to be addressed in a timely and safe manner.

The interdisciplinary environment that our students will have access to will enable them to have the benefits of free online material. They will have access to information and be influenced by people that may help shape their thinking and actions. This same environment can also have challenges in terms of unfiltered knowledge and influence. As teachers we share the responsibility with whanau to educate our students in the ability to filter information in a way such that they can process the information safely and connect globally with people in a positive way.  


Ted Talks:
David Wiley talked on interdisciplinary thinking that leads to innovation.Source: TEDx Talks (2001, April 6). TEDxBYU - David Wiley - An Interdisciplinary Path to Innovation. [video file].Retrieved from (via Mindlab Week 3)

Lacoe Edu (2014, Oct 24) Interdisciplinary Learning [video file]. Retrieved from

(via Mindlab Week 31)