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?