Monday, October 31, 2016

Term 3 Reflection


My reflection of where I am now is that I feel a complete part of the team(s).  The change in this thinking is more about me as an individual than the team.  If I am honest at the beginning I had this view that we were not teaming with regard to the educational well being of the children foremost in my mind.  Now this view, rightly or wrongly was my own.  I quite frankly I thought that it was a bit rich as I wasn't in the 4 man teams, I didn't take into account of the development that needed to take place within the teams.
Over the past 3 terms as the teams have settled into working together and developing programmes of work that work for them and their children and as situations have arose they have called on me for advice, guidance, or as a sounding board.  I have found that I'm valued.  Maybe that was what I wanted from the start to feel valued in my role as Literacy Leader.  Not seen as the font of all knowledge but as someone who can share the load.
So where to from here. . .   I know that I'm part of the team and that staff will ask for my advice, guidance etc when they feel that they need or want it.

Having met with Tony and having discussed some of my issues with him and following these up in my coaching sessions with Evelyn, I realise that I need keep the big picture in my mind.  Often staff come to ask me what to do with a child and I need to listen and clarify what is the actual need here. Going deeper.  Is it the mentor's Curriculum  Knowledge, their Instructional Practise, the Relationship that they have with the child that is the part that needs to be addressed rather than the surface issue of the child?

To be Continued as Term 4 rolls on.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Teacher Only Day Professional Learning with Julia

Once again we had the pleasure of tapping into the educational knowledge and ideas of Julia Atkin.  I always enjoy these experiences not only because of the content knowledge that Julia brings but the way in which she is able to challenge, provoke and lead us to new ideas, change the way we address our practise and think about learning.

Specifically this time her focus was on our 3rd teacher, The Space in which learning takes place.  We are lucky enough to be able to teach in lovely new spaces that have been designed with modern architectural ideas and practises in mind.  They aren't cold and damp.  They aren't Autonomist Learning Environments  - ie boxes ( 7 x 10m).   They aren't piecemeal, ie where teachers and school have tried to adapt the spaces to fit with Modern Learning theories and practises.  We are fortunate to have these spaces and how we use these has a great impact on the culture and learning within them.

We named our spaces habitats.  What is a habitat?
Wikipaedia says
habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animalplant, or other type of organism. The term typically refers to the zone in which the organism lives ....
It is the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the physical environment that surrounds a species population.
A habitat is made up of physical factors ....
Every organism has certain habitat needs for the conditions in which it will thrive, but some are tolerant of wide variations while others are very specific in their requirements. 

I could go on, but these snippets of definition, I think, support why we called our learning spaces habitats.
The last sentence resonates with me as although we are all from the same species for learning to occur for us we require different environments/spaces at different times for different purposes.

I enjoyed watching the process of the habitats re organising their spaces.  The way that Julia told us to tackle this made complete sense.  Ie working through the activities that they wanted to take place in their habitat and the type of space that was needed for this.  I for one as a teacher previously did this the other way around.  
I am looking forward to the evolution of our spaces within  our habitats.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Current Reality - Desired Reality Update wk 4 tm 3

As I settle to write this I feel excited as my current reality is really gaining momentum.  I feel like a small ball of snow that is tumbling down the hillside and as I go I pick up more flakes and sometimes balls (no Evelyn I don't squash them lol) so that I'm surrounded by like mind snowflakes on my journey.  This is where I had wanted to be.
You may think that my analogy is a little flawed as a snowball will eventually smash and melt. However, with the smashing and melting the ideas, beliefs and skills are being spread out onto the soil and will help that soil to grow.  (the soil incase I've lost you are the children and their parents are the soil).
So with spring around the corner and this is the time that we should really start to see the results and I believe that I am.  There are learning focused conversations happening, mentors knowledge and skill levels are rising and the children are benefiting from this.  The feel of the school is positive and one of inclusion. Well done to all.

Part of me, the part that holds the Growth Mindset, is saying that I really need to refocus myself since the goal of inclusion is being met.  But, the other part is saying if I change focus now will the snowball disintegrate before reaching all the soil.  As I wrote that a little voice said believe in the emergence and a movement has started so trust in this emergence and that the movement is self perpetuating.
My new focus is about my role as a coach.  I do give advice, support and assist mentors but what I need to develop are my skills to coach mentors to grow in their practise.  I need to think about this, practise using the coaching guide of Aim, Reality and Action, Paraphrasing what I hear the Mentor saying, provide the right questions so that they develop their understanding of what they need to develop.  
I think that I'm in The Pit. Watch this space.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ponderings from Readings

Teaming do we really share the responsibility for all children's learning?
Now some people will say yeah that's right but do we actually do this.  But I'd ask, do we take responsibility for all the children in our habitats and school all the time.  Do we let things slide that we hear or/and see because they aren't in my mentor group?  Do we know where the learners are and when others share where the children are at do we trust that information?  Do we understand the curriculum and the progressions that children go through?  And, if we do do this then we really do know our learners?

We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.  Marshall McLuhan.
I read an article with reference to the fact that while technology definitely has it's place in classrooms (however they are set up) it is imperative that the use of technology is based around effective pedagogy and not just masking bad practise.  Teachers can see the latest technology as the way to engage learners.  While this might be the case for a short time, my thoughts are that sound practice will enhance the use of technology to further the learning.  Another side of the argument is that if don't move with the times our children are missing out as technological advancements are happening at a rate of knots.  So, sometimes the technology leads the pedagogy and visa versa we just need to be aware of this.  Is there a right way?

Growth Mindset is it enough?
Carol Dwerk has challenged how we think about learning and now that she opened educators eyes and ears to ways of speaking/thinking about learning some are suggesting that just having a growth mindset is not enough.  Below is an extract from George Corous's book the Innovators Mindset

Let’s take the simple example of playing the piano to compare the two ideas. With a fixed mindset, the learner doesn’t believe he or she has the ability to play the piano. With a growth mindset, the learner believes that, with hard work and practice, the opportunity to play the piano is within the realm of his or her ability. That belief leads the learner to try and, ultimately, grow.
The innovator’s mindset takes the growth mindset a step further by focusing on using one’s ability to learn to play the piano to create music.
Where do we want children/learners to go?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Term 2 - Where did it go!

Seriously, I don't know where the time has gone.

Days morphed into weeks morphed into the term.
Here are my highlights  -  being more involved with assisting/mentoring mentors etc to make a difference for the children's learning
                                       -  the progress of the Wetland group, Erryn has stepped up as a leader, the children have self organised themselves into groups to investigate ways to inform others, outside the school of what we are wanting to do, naming the group, visiting the nursery,  etc.
                                      -  Tony Burkin - Pipelines - this was confirming and clarifying as to how and why organisations go wayward.  It is imperative that we as leaders know which pipeline to operate in.  It is slightly easier when you are clearly in one pipeline.  It was also invaluable to have Tony's opionion and clarification of the roles of the coach and mentor.  When and how to coach.  When and how to mentor.  Also with this is the importance of listening and hearing what others need to say.
                                      -  CR - DR presentations - varied, interesting, honest, enlightening.
                                      -  WoRM presentations - the sharing of the learning from across the school.  This supports my Desired Reality.  We are all in this together!

Here are the low-lights - my time management - the professional reading, blogging, not being up to date. I seriously let the ball drop on these  as I became busier with other parts of my job.  It is my goal this term to set in place a system, timetable and I will stick to it.  In sharing this with Evelyn  she showed me a planner that she has found useful and I have adopted/adapted this for myself.  At this stage it is working well.  I just need to keep it up.  What will my reward be?   Hmmm....


CR - DR reflection - just a bit late


My progress through this goal was shared with the staff.  On reflection it made me realise how valuable this is, and that maybe my steps weren't quite right.
Firstly the art of composing the picture, initially gave me think time.
I knew exactly what my role was but I needed to show this in a visual way.  That was a challenge. However, in drawing the pictures my goal was clarified.  It may not be clear to others but it is clear to me and that's what matters.  A process like this is very individual.
Secondly, revisiting my picture and goals and deciding how I would share it with the staff also made the reflecting more valuable as once again it meant I needed to clarify and articulate my steps clearly.
Thirdly, the time limit!  As with most teachers I can talk and being given 3 mins to share meant that I couldn't go on and on.
And, finally, hearing others share has been great as it has enlightened me as to their thinking, goals and steps.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Life without my Bouncing Buddy.

Skippers is a quieter place now with just Emma S and I here.   It's not that the other Emma was noisy but sharing a space makes for noise, action, different happenings and it takes you out your bubble which can happen when you are exposed to the teaching/mentoring/coaching of others.
(Don't panic we still meet around the coffee machine for a catch up and a bouncing session most days.)

These first 3 weeks have seen me:
 - busy observing the reading programmes across the school.  I've been watching, listening and getting the feel for our habitat spaces and how reading looks across the school.

 - working alongside Evelyn to help her settle in, answer questions and share bits and pieces with her.  (I've found this an interesting process as part of me wants to share everything but, as I'm well aware people need time and a little bit often tends to be more beneficial.)  Also already we have developed a repore which allows us to share thoughts, ideas and opinions openly and honestly.

- developing my self as a coach and being available to assist with mentors developing their practise.  As well as developing my practise and ideas about this amazing profession and journey that we are on.   Learning is Alive and well at Shotover School.

- setting up the learning programme with the Wetlands and allowing the children to choose what they want to be involved in.  The topics/areas of need range from monitoring the wetlands to develop information to share with contractors and the new landowners re how important it is that the area isn't damaged anymore.  There will be some hands on preparation work re seed collection, pricking out and planting seedlings that will need to be done.

I wanted to share something with you.  I have been following this blogger called George and get regular emails with his latest posts.
 Here is a link to his blog.   If you scroll down you will find the picture from above and it explains this.   You will note that it may not directly relate to Literacy however I am more than just a Literacy person and like to think, challenge, observe, listen, try out the ideas of others.  Sometimes, I think we run the risk of being too focused on the here and now and forget to extend ourselves.
Rightly or wrongly I believe all teachers are innovators.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Current Reality heading to Desired Reality

Term 1 has seen the setting up, identifying what I'd like this reality to be.
 For clarification, it was to be part of the team where everyone is working together to meet the needs of the students who attend our school.
 The old adage it takes a village to grow a child.  I felt I had one foot in the circle and that the links in the circle were of varying strength.
Now - I can see can hear the discussions about learners happening, and as staff become aware of our systems and guidelines on expectations this will should become at a deeper more specific level.
There is clarity that needs to happen so that everyone owns our WAVE Model.  Mentors need to understand their role in this with regard to referring students and carrying out and monitoring intervention.  However, this is not done in isolation, collaboration between the mentors within a habitat and with other staff members will build the village (desired reality) within our school.

As the term went on I had more clarity with what I needed to be doing in the Big Picture so that we have a clear understand of what reading/writing looks like at Shotover Primary.
Term 2 Reading focus.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Let's take stock. Where am I at.....

Term 1
As with most teachers, mentors, administrators and students term 1 has been a time for .....

 *   Getting the balance of work/life/tasks/support/cerebral advancement (pro. rding/discussions with colleagues).  This balance and allowing for time has been very valuable.   Actually one of the most beneficial developments to my CR is that of the collaborative talk that happens with staff.  For eg This morning, Monday of Wk 9, I've had professional discussions re learning,  and or directly literacy with Emma S and W, Ben, Sharon, Marcia, Trin and Tetli.  The team aspect allows for clarification, it allows for just in time learning, it allows for reflection, it allows for sharing....  This didn't happen in my previous position as although they were a great team things were often decided by 1.   Having time to do the job that you need to do is far more valuable than being paid more.  Actually don't we find this applies to our students as well.

*    Literacy programmes and practises within the school habitats and how can I assist with these
Being involved with the habitats has been timely - I wanted to get to know what is happening - look at what needs to happen and how can I assist mentors to be the best literacy providers that they can be.  I have to understand that the life of the habitats are a different environment than that of single cells, collaboration within classes and across teams/schools.
A couple of stand out points

*    The importance of Foundation Literacy Skills/Knowledge.  This provides that base for all learning and sharing, (as it is important to remember in here that oral literacy skills are included.  I often find that we forget, for want of a better word to deliberately plan / teach / support  oral language) to happen at an in depth way.  Strong literacy skills support success in learning.

*    Baby out with the Bath Water - this is an old saying but I believe that it is more important for us now in the MLE that we are working in.  There are tried and true practises - Best Practise  - that transcend all learning environments.   The Art of Teaching hasn't changed.  students need to learn skills/have knowledge that they can portably transfer to access all areas of learning that they require.
I'd argue that this is more relevant now as students can access more knowledge and skills outside the classroom/schools.

*   Working SMARTER, sorting out what we are teaching - forward thinking - doing the ground work so that when the students meet new learning they can flourish, Knowing Your Learner.  I'm not saying take the challenge away but provide them with a base to start on.  (Thinking about the pit, maybe a couple of shovel fills of dirt in first).  This also applies to using our computers/goggle docs to  communicate and collaborate our planning.  Maybe hyper linking from our joint timetable.

*   Environment - this is what I see is the biggest change.  We have three habitats and the teams are working differently.   They have the same environment but ... the make up of teams are different -  personalities, strengths, needs, experience, the number of students in the space,  etc but each team (in my opinion) main function is to provide a safe learning environment where learning takes place for all on a daily basis.  How the teams manage this in the environment is the fun/interesting/unique challenge.

So where to next term ?????

Ben asked the question and here is may reply
Well, the New Zealand curriculum has a succinctly put it "As language is central to learning and English is the medium for most learning in the  NZ Curriculum, the importance of literacy in English cannot be overstated.
Under the Key Competencies, capabilities for living and lifelong learning, using language, symbols and texts I think says what foundational knowledge they need.  A child needs to be able to access and use those three as the base on which to build and gain success in learning.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Pit

Feeling rather OMG where has this term gone and after 3 days with no or intermittent internet today is the day to shut myself away and deal with my draft paper work.  In doing this my memory was jogged about The Learning Pit.

We talk about The Learning Pit  and we place learners into the Pit and then what do we do?  Do we leave them there?  Do we assist them to get out?  How do we assist them?   When they do get out do we place them into a new pit?
Then I got thinking what would a scaffold look like in The Pit?  Do we have an image for this?

So I got doodling and came up with some images that showed a ladder with rungs and then I came up with a rope with knots.  You maybe wondering why I did all this, what is the point well.  I worry that at times we are so busy having children getting out of one pit and putting them into the next pit that we fail to check that they are able to transfer the learning into different situations.
Are we explicitly teaching them strategies to get out of The Pit? Do they understand and own these strategies?   Can they use these strategies independently?   Can they transfer the strategies that they have used to get out of The Pit in other learning situations.

I suppose it all comes down to understanding and talking about your learning and this goes for us as well.
I think I need to read some more from James Nottingham on this.
Here's a good link that I think is worth a lookTake a look

Monday, February 22, 2016

Current Reality - Desired

 To start this off I'd like to share the quote that Claire (AP) has been sharing with us.  Appraisal is not about Proving our Practice but it is about Improving our Practice.

So my Reality is that I have an awesome role - it is varied - Literacy Leader and Wetlands Project Leader.   The Literacy Leader is a large hat with multiple levels and purposes, but this isn't the right place/time to delve into all that it encompasses.
As I start fully in this role I am part of a number of teams.  My roles within the teams are varied as is my participation.
So, the current reality at present that I feel somewhat disjointed and the desired reality  is to be connected within the whole so that all children are achieving to the best they can be.

Steps  Approach the teams and get involved
          Communicate clearly and consistently
          Seek and act on feedback
  Keep the desired reality/ vision in my sights - knowing that there will be dips and peaks along the way.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Professional Growth

This morning we had a session on Appraisal here at Shotover. The first point made was that no one likes the name Appraisal as what we are about is growth.
After watching and hearing a recap of The Race to the Pole - Amundsen and Scott - we were asked to come up with what we thought were important features that led to ones success and the others failure.
Did these features apply to us as teachers when we set goals to achieve.  Below is what the group I was working with felt were important

Features that we think that teacher's need to consider when planning their teacher enquiry into professional growth are:
* achievable milestones
* slow and steady pace
* clearly identify what you want to achieve - the goal
* enlist expert advice/guidance ie an expert in the field &/or a critical friend
* make sure you have the right resources
* reflect honestly on the way - and your reflections should relate to the goals and the process.
* listen to and act on the advice of others and what the quantitative and qualitative data and/or your observations are telling you.

Note to remember you are an individual so what works for others won't necessarily work for you. Also what works in a silo class will this work in a collaborative class.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

New Year Musings No 1

The holidays are a great time for catching up with...... anything or anyone, anywhere etc

Here are some literacy articles that you might find useful - I find Mindshift on Facebook has some great links.

 Also a couple of Photos that I thought fit with what we are trying(?) to do.

Anyhow that's enough for today.  My novel is read and now it's time to get into The Beautiful  Risk of Education, especially as the sun is shining.  Yeah Right!

New Year Musings No. 2

With the holidays almost over the excitement of the new school year is building.  Furniture has been delivered to school.  All  the new staff are on board.  We've had our first day of meeting and greeting and been asked to share about where we have come from and what has impacted on our teaching and learning in recent years.  This proved to be very interesting and everyone contributed in there own way to this.
 Personally I found this sharing really hard to do.  I had prepared.  I was aware of the 4 minute time frame.  What I struggled with was not organising my thoughts in a cohesive, concise and clear way, but delivering them to the group at  that time and that place.   Returning to my place I wanted to immediately reflect and analysis what happened but it wasn't the right time or place to do so. (It isn't the first time that I've had to speak to a group and not been satisfied with my message and delivery.)

 On the drive south that afternoon to attend a ceremony honouring the Community Service of my father to the Community of Otautau I started to think about it.  Why when I knew what I needed and wanted to say had I struggled.  It wasn't until in the middle of the night that the answer came to me.  What's On Top.  That day I had needed to unload the emotion that I was feeling re my father with someone.
How often as teachers/mentors do we allow children to share What's On Top?
Our brains are amazing machines that we try and control but no it's bigger than us.  In my opinion is important to acknowledge and deal with these things
Needless to say once again I was left in awe of the man that is my father.  He stood up in front of dignitaries, family friends and community and clearly shared who he is.  The part of his, what appeared to be an off the cuff, speech that has resonated with me was this.    "I'm a man of 4 parts.  First is my family.  Second was my job. Third is my sport, Rugby and Racing.  Fourth is my Community, Otautau."
How many parts are you?

                                                           My Dad  January 2016xxxxx

PS.  This is the first of 2 major awards for Dad this year the next being his QSM.  While we are proud that he is being acknowledged for his years of dedication to his Community there is a tinge of sadness as cancer is now interfering with his ability to be involved in all the 4 parts that make him who he is.