Saturday, 28 February 2015

Day 28 #28minutesofWriting - 784 minutes later

Entering the #28daysofwriting challenge I thought it would be great to get back into the habit of blogging and increase my page views. This was quite a self-involved motivation and but I also knew that through regular reflection and writing I would be able to make more sense of my first steps on the journey at Hobsonville Point Primary School. At some stage in the future I knew that this would pay dividends.

I haven't posted for the last two days but I have posted far more days than I've missed, have learnt far more than I had imagine and helped to formulate some strategies that will assist my professional and classroom practice for a long time. Not all of these lessons revolve around explicit teaching practice but need to be outlined nonetheless.

Professional reading:
While my initial involvement with this blogging challenge was far more selfish, the 28 minutes of writing has been far exceeded by my professional reading throughout. Reading many blogposts has inspired, challenged and taught me a huge amount. It has created a reading list that will take me a long time to complete if ever. I use to regularly read several colleagues blog posts but this number has increased dramatically. Most importantly, I have read posts that have held different views to my own. Two texts I've been inspired to read are Game Storming and Drive. Game Storming was purchased by Amy and we've already integrated successfully one of the activities we uncovered in there.

Writing Style:
I still find that I am reluctant to comment on the many posts I read (hence my enrolment in #28daysofcommenting). Some have made me feel quite inadequate as a writer - I strive to write to the level of some of the posts I have read. I have recognised for a while that I am sometimes not as analytical as I need to be, HBDI analysis confirmed this showing that my last thinking preference is Analytical/Logical but it isn't far behind. Reading posts I have established that my ability to integrate evidence based analytical thinking in a natural writing style is weaker than I would like it also. Between Ewan McIntosh and locally Steve Mouldey, I've found blogging styles I'd like to emulate but I've also appreciated the raw energy and emotion behind other posts. 

Reflection - remove your ego:
Warm and demanding is the ethos at both Hobsonville Point schools, it can feel very confrontational initially but if you can strip the ego from your thinking and deal with the issues then reflection can become very rewarding. Challenging myself to remove ego or baggage from my thinking as I have approached some of my posts and my general 'unschooling' at HPPS has resulted in many interesting discussions. It's also allowed me to consider whether any tool/programme/activity/assessment is best for anyone learner. I think it is best summarised by attributes which feature in the HPPS Mindset continuum. 

Sharing, Caring and Bewaring:
I'm not sure if Bewaring is actually a word but being aware just didn't sit right on the page ;-) I've enjoyed the commenting and community of writing that has grown from Tom's #28daysofwriting but it has also led me into discussions and posts that don't feel comfortable personally. In several posts I've made sincere efforts to confront thinking that may be challenging for others, clearly public forums such as a blog are dangerous tools. Currently, I'm reading Jon Ronson's new book So You've Been Publicly Shamed, a book which covers the negative exposure that can unwittingly be secured through social media. This is the world that we tread with our virtual support networks. Sharing, caring and bewaring has to be uppermost in our minds.

Goal Setting:
Throughout the 28 days I have queried much of my thinking and in this quest I have read many different posts, it has made goal setting for 2015 quite difficult. I have got to a point where I recognise that Student Voice, Design Thinking and my own capacity to think analytically will most likely form parts of my professional objectives. How these will actually shape up I'm not entirely sure.

28 minutes never seemed like a difficult target, but 28 days of writing certainly did! Although I didn't meet 28 days, I know I've definitely met the target on average (28 days x 28 minutes = 784 minutes). 

Cheers Tom, thanks for the journey and I look forward to our next 28 days commenting.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Day 24 #28Daysofwriting - Choice or Voice?

"What is the difference between student choice and student voice?
How you using student voice to inform learning in your learning common?
How are the activities you have in your learning common responding to the needs of your students? Or do they just keep them busy?"

These 4 questions were posed in our staff meeting this afternoon, the example being whether I had considered these in my enthusiasm to bring Kidsedchatnz to HPPS. I know that the example wasn't a personal attack, more an extension of the "Warm and Demanding" culture at the Hobsonville Point Schools. But as I quickly pondered these questions I decided that Kidsedchatnz does deserve this lens being put to it. Not just for its use at HPPS but for its role in schools as we seek to grow it. 

Some readers will know that I am one of the coordinators at Kidsedchatnz and love what we have done with participation increasing significantly since it began. I've posted about it frequently (e.g., here and here) and it has been integral in my own PD as my role and enthusiasm has grown.

I sat in the last block this afternoon running a workshop to introduce a variety of Yr 4-6 students to twitter this afternoon, in preparation for the first chat this afternoon. All of them would have a range of learning and dispositional needs. Without rambling through how each child's needs are met, I think there are still valuable questions and answers contained within a focussed reflection.

Core Education outline successful student voice (in relation to MLE's) as being:
  • do students have ‘the power to act’ in the MLE?
  • are all learners empowered to make choices and decisions about how, where, what and when they learn?
  • are learners a part of their own learning support network within the MLE?
  • Is the design of the MLE adaptive to learner needs and ambitions? (
Where does Kidsedchatnz fit within the lens of choice versus voice? Kidsedchatnz and the topics that have been used have always relied to a large extent on student voice, over time our team of coordinators have accessed our participants to establish topics, questions and activities. But is this the voice that is required? If I am the moderator for the week, I've always posted a topic using my class to generate the questions, but the weeks that I'm not the moderator I can't say that it is my student's voice, but this is where choice comes in I would argue. I've always given my learners the option to take part in a chat session, if you're not interested in talking about EOTC or Science you don't have to participate. 

Once in a session then student voice is obvious, the children have agency to express themselves within the topic, and can support, question and discuss the topic with other students. In the past, I have watched as different students engaged in quite different learning conversations based on their own interests.

How you using student voice to inform learning in your learning common?
I have to confess that Kidsedchatnz is a 'programme' I have experienced success with and is easy for me to fall back to/rely on. This is the worst form of teaching we've discussed with Daniel, when things are tough or we're in the Learning Pit, we can revert to what we know. However, while Amy will be confirm that I've been proactive in pursuing Kidsedchatnz being used at HPPS, I've been very pragmatic. I know that should demand (aka student voice) not be there, then I can not reasonably continue to dedicate time to Kidsedchatnz. 

If I am sensible about HPPS involvement in Kidsedchatnz and use student voice then I will be looking at student interests and where possible looking to create an opportunity for my students to really express their voice. 

We have also used flipped lessons and activities as a precursor to the chat sessions. Student voice could be used here, creating an activity that students want to do with the follow up being the discussion questions formed by the learner.

How are the activities you have in your learning common responding to the needs of your students? Or do they just keep them busy?
I once ran into a topic that my students at HNS just weren't interested in, but I also use to have 1-2 other activities on offer. At the time I would argue that these additional activities were responding to student voice and worked against Kidsedchatnz participation, a student even told me that I should make the options less exciting. Using the warm & demanding lens, I'm not sure I would now judge them as being responsive but hindsight is 20/20. At the time I'd blindly ploughed on and believed that the options needed to be less exciting, but if they were truly responsive then Kidsedchatnz should have been the option to remove.

I am confident that using voice & observation my learners will be able to meet many learning and dispositional needs though Kidsedchatnz. For some learners, participation in any given week may lean towards being stuff they do rather than a great learning experience. But if they were to exercise discretion around the topics they engage with, and fully extend themselves in those chat sessions then it ceases to be stuff and becomes the awesome collaborative and connected communication experience it can be.

Kidsedchatnz will be under intense scrutiny at HPPS, I think this is positive and if the scrutiny is warm and demanding then it may signal an awesome growth period for my beloved Twitter-based chat. In the afternoon, Amy and I run responsive workshops (e.g., Movie making or Garageband). The workshops are set up to help with a need that we have observed, students can lead them and they generally need to opt-in for these workshops. We will easily be able to identify if students are not opting in, each days planning is there for both Amy and I to see and it will quickly become obvious if my time could be better spent elsewhere. Although, if Kidsedchatnz was to truly become responsive then maybe there are some amazing opportunities that could be pursued.

Student voice or choice? Or just stuff?

Day 23 #28daysofwriting - Shiny new things

Sunday's article about a boys classroom certainly caused a stir, rightly so. I was involved in some interesting discussions via the twittersphere and loved the blog posts that have come out of it also. At home, my dear wife had some interesting takes on it, with a teacher husband but no recent experience in primary schooling her opinion her thoughts on the article might be reflective of some viewers. I had a different view again, I think the media are doing education an injustice here, to the NZ public and the school may not quite be getting it right (but I reserve judgement).

I loved the perspective that both Steph and Ruth have added in their posts (Steph's postRuth's post). They both reflected on the role of the effective teacher and this has to be paramount in the journey that these boys only classrooms. The fact that stereotyping both girls and boys is dangerous, that a female could be just as good for these males is accurate. Their posts were great responses to the need for boys classrooms, but still some will appear and others will continue. At HNS last year we were talking about possibly creating one, I was even interested in being the teacher. I've just moved into a shiny new classroom and many of these shiny new classrooms are cropping up around NZ while others are being upgraded to become shiny old classrooms. So? What is my point here?

Changing the environment won't necessarily change the education experience for the child unless there are fundamental shifts in the pedagogy. This argument has been swirling around MLE's for a while I understand, Mark Osbourne and Core resources often assisting many to comprehend the moves required. Very little emphasis was put on the actual pedagogy that was being employed by the male teacher in the boys classroom, as a educator I resented that, it was what I was truly hoping to see and found myself critiquing the implied pedagogical cues that were present. This is certainly unfair for the school, parents and children as other educators would have been doing the same. I know that as all the shiny gadgets and toys were what the media represented about Hobsonville Point Secondary last year, rather than the obvious pedagogy differences that HPSS are pursuing. The layperson's reaction, "What about the basics? They still need to teach the basics!"

The cues that I spotted which worried me were superficial but they were there, reading from school journals, talk that boys won't keep quiet, teaching in 15 minute blocks and the need for hands up. Flimsy cues for making judgements but that is what the rest of the nation were doing. For me these cues represented other things. How can you talk about boys not engaging and then present a reading group with a school journal, giving the boys real books and real tasks will generally be far more engaging. When did a classroom have to be quiet for the boys to be learning? I'm thinking about the comment here that an effective numeracy lesson is one in which there is lots of noise from discussion and activity. If they're all busy in books, yes it will be quiet but how much learning will be happening? 15 minutes or they turn disengage, fine but have you thought about the content you're teaching? I made the inference that this meant there would be no passion projects, no real choice in how their day would be proceed and that nothing had really changed. Steph and Ruth's effective teacher wasn't in this room and again it will be the children who miss out.

Its not fair to judge the pedagogy being used on such superficial cues but that is what I did. I respect the courage that the school and teacher have shown. They had no editorial influence on that article and will be suffering a backlash. This is where all educators and schools suffer, once again we're at the mercy of the media and its portrayal of us. I hope that the pedagogy has changed in that classroom, I trust that it has, but how will these changes affect the boys when they move back into their co-ed classrooms next year? Will 1 year accelerate their learning enough?

The environment is only a small part of the picture, it is the box that the jigsaw puzzle comes in, the way the pieces are put together is up to us.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Day 22 - #28daysofwriting - worklifebalance

That teaching is a highly demanding profession isn't news to anyone and it helps if you can maintain a healthy work life balance. So why I am writing a post when I don't have much to offer?

Today, I fulfilled a goal I have been working on for a long time. I love my golf! It is a constant source of relaxation, none of my golfing buddies are teachers which gives me breathing space.

It just so happens that golf is also an activity that aids the use of the analytical thinking styles of the brain, make of that what you will.

The goal was to have no 90's in my last 20 rounds. 20 rounds is significant as it is from these rounds that your 10 top scores are chosen to establish your handicap, taking into account the slope rating of the course. It all gets rather complicated, if you want a more in-depth description of the NZ handicap system go here.

Now, I just have to work on keeping those 90s off the last 20, I wonder how long that can continue...

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Day 21 #28Daysofwriting - A post for Bridget

I've just got home and seen a member of my PLN asking for help as part of her #28daysofwriting, it seems only fair that I post a response as part of my own #28daysofwriting challenge. Bridget, I sincerely hope that you don't mind this as method as a response, but you've actually inspired me to start writing straight away. I hope that you find some value in my post.

Purposeful blog writing vs a series of recounts
I see the dilemma, I had different issues around class and individual blogs over the last two years and this year we're using blogs in our year 4-6 common.

At the start of each year I had started with a more traditional rotation and part of the activities included blogging with the expectation that children would visit other blogs and write comments. The design for this was multipurpose. First, I viewed this as a meaningful form of literacy, learners were engaged in choosing their own posts to read and when they found something that they wanted to comment on they would write quality comments. Clearly, writing a quality comment is an artform in itself and within our PLN we regularly talk about wanting to receive & produce more comments. It is also a significant factor in Tom Barrett creating the #28daysofcommenting challenge to follow on from the success of the #28daysofwriting challenge. For my learners it meant that their comment writing was purposeful, they were going to be read by other students. Not all children would engage, but that can be said for any classroom activity. To generate readers for our class/individual blogs we used Quadblogging [International] and Quadblogging Aotearoa also.

I believe the reading of blogs is relatively easy to motivate, kids find this far more interesting than any journals or whole-class novel. They're able to navigate their classmates, or blogs from around the world according to interest and personality.

As to the writing, I agree that writing can start becoming like a series of recounts. However, for some of my developing or reluctant writers I was more than satisfied with this, after all mileage is an important objective for young writers. I'm conscious that many teachers require their budding writers to draft their posts into their books. I understand that they're worried about the quality of posts but as far as I'm concerned, why not take all the fun out of it! I only ever asked children to draft their posts in their book if there wasn't a device available. I regularly go back to my own posts to fix a mistake, this is part of writing and the writing process on a computer, is still the writing process.

The crux of this is your objectives for blogging, I was trying to engage the children in writing so any posts were a positive and therefore I was happy to let my children choose their own topics. Some of my children were happy to write recounts about school events and important moments in their lives and that is where their blogging journey finished. However for others they used it as an outlet for their creative writing, sharing their interests and publishing projects. While some of these posts had higher readership than others, for me the key was in the writing not the page views. Our school community never really bought into the whole blogging process, I'd wanted to run a family blogging competition using a point scoring system (idea was stolen from another blogging guru Linda Yollis). Again though, for me this wasn't the primary objective, just a great addition when it happened. However, a tear almost came to this lad's eye when I was told that one of my children's blog was helping keep a Dad connected with his child while he worked in the Abu Dhabi. As I say this comes down to objectives that the teacher has for the blog and the writer, and hence how students approach their writing. 'Pimping your blog' was another measure I came across, if running individual blogs set a goal of x number of posts before an individual can introduce their own templates or additional gadgets. While I don't advocate changing your objectives to suit your output, I know that I found any quality writing was still worthwhile, regardless of the writing form.

Source: What is Engagement?
A purpose that I'd never expected from blog reading and blog commenting was the way that it informed my planning. My students would often get excited by things that they read and I was able to integrate these ideas into the activities and experiences that I would provide for the class. The most successful of these was when a boy who didn't engage in art spotted some Picasso-inspired art done on a blog and asked if we could do these in class. I couldn't refuse!

Perhaps you should try an action  @JJPurtonJones used recently, discuss your problem with the class and see how they would remedy this? Their actual problem was how to create a writing programme that was more engaging for their school, so very similar to your problem, albeit a slightly different medium. Mileage, while not going to be your primary objective, is still important for your learners as they hone their skills as young writers.

Add caption
Choice is crucial I believe, we all struggle when we are forced to do something aka compliance. How this choice may take shape in a your classroom could take many forms, writing style, publishing type (wiki, class or individual blog, shared writing posts, etc), the style of our own blogs. Consider the variety of choices employed on the blogs you read, this is all down to individual taste, skill and audience. Some of us blog regularly, others infrequently. But the variety of topics that are written about is astronomical also, I'm forever agog at some of the innovative topics that I read and Tom topped this off last night with his tweet to you and I about his most recent post.

I sincerely hope that my post will give you some food for thought. I'm sure that others may be able to find aspects that can help their own or their classes blogging. For me, I feel that this has been one of my more meaningful posts - even if it for an audience of 1.

As an aside, I'm counting this as my Day 20 & 21 post - its taken a while but it has been worth it.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Day 19 - Warm & Demanding

I feel like the pressure went on today, 1 of my new colleagues said she could tell by the look on my face. 

Thursday's include amongst other things our techie sessions, planning time with our teams and for me today, a catch up with a senior staff member to see how I was going. 

The session to check on progress was needed, it was reassuring to hear some of the words of encouragement around how everyone is still new at this. While I'm not crying off my wonderful choice to apply, being in HPPS is definitely a sink or swim scenario and sometimes it definitely feels like you're a bit of a duck - you look all calm above water, but beneath the surface your legs are working furiously to keep you afloat. This check in was wake up call number 1!

Team-teaching can be tough I imagine but thus far communication with my colleague Amy and the rest of the staff has definitely made it easier, collaboration has been to the forefront and Amy has definitely lived by the creed Warm & Demanding. As we worked through our 'To do' list this afternoon, we made steady progress and recognised that our learners would start to feel the burden of our expectations next week. We've had three weeks of getting to know them, establishing our learning space, some great habits and expectations. It's time to get on with the real journey that is the living the HPPS values. Wake up call number 2! 

The techie session was hosted by my colleague Amy and I get a bit of stick from her for being a geek, as I'd already done some of what she was running through today so I was able to support the others. Her session was on setting up our teacher portfolios using Google Sites, it includes many components such as your personal objectives, the HPPS staff, Mindset Continuum and links to the Registered Teachers Criteria. While the vehicle she was using seems straight forward I think facing my year in terms of goals, mindset and the starkness of it all really brought me back to earth with a thump. Wake up call number 3!

Just as we've eased our learners into the year, I'm beginning to feel that I have trod their journey in also. I still haven't worked out my goals for this year, even though I recognise there is a universe to learn about. We have room for 5 goals in our portfolios based around: Collaborative Teaching, Learning Common Culture, Personal Professional Development, School Culture and Development and there is a spot for a personal goal. There is so much scope for my own development that I'm a little overwhelmed by the possibilities and struggling to keep a clear head. Daniel gave sage advice early on, get your feet and then start to think about your goals. But the time is coming that I need to put my goals to paper!

Over and above this is the HPPS mindset continuum, 12 criteria to evaluate yourself against (as shown below). I'm still establish what I think might be by starting position on this, this is no dichotomy and as I apply it to various components of my professional practice I alter my evaluation. Confusing! 

I'll face some massive challenges this year. Getting out of bed to go to school won't be one of them! Regardless of the goals I set and whether or not I achieve them, I can't begin to fathom how much I might develop as a professional and as a person. 

Who needs new years resolutions when you have HPPS!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Day 17 #28Daysofwriting - KC4F and Ignition Activities HPPS

Late last year I was inspired by the book Key Competencies for the Future (KC4F). I wrote a KC4F blog post on it that consequently led to my involvement in a couple of online discussions about its integration in my classroom. My shift to HPPS has somewhat shelved any inquiries using this model as the focus is slightly different. HPPS's ignition activities today and tomorrow are designed to spark our learners imaginations and provide us a platform on which to base our Inventive Thinking work. But KC4F and the thrust of our ignition event aim to lead children towards future focussed learning through key skills and dispositions.

Children undertake 6 workshops over 2 days, the juniors and seniors each do a slightly different rotation. Activities included art experiments, construction, invention, food technology, BP challenge type events and arts & craft. I was running a building workshop, students were using Lego, wooden blocks and good old cardboard boxes to construct/invent what they wanted. I saw everything from tanks, cars and planes right through to a beer shooter (it shoots beer bottles out the year 1's told me), a coffee squirter and a house! Neither Amy or I had LC4 in our side of the rotations, this afternoon we decided this was a positive as it placed the impetus on them to explain what it was about a workshop they'd enjoyed.

When the students returned from lunch, they reflected on what they'd done.  Using post-its, large sheets of paper and the prompts "Why", "What if", "I wonder" and "How I felt" they unpacked their learning from the workshops. We plan to run several more immersion activities with LC4 but these two days will serve as a great foundation for Inventive Thinking.

This is a bit different to the plan I might have followed if I'd remained at HNS. After the final Connected Educator event based on KC4F I started the following post but it never saw the light of day till now:

"My original post on the Key Competencies for the Future text has led to my involvement in several discussions online and recently generated a request to participate in a CENZ14 event. Along with Danielle @missDtheteacher, we offered our classroom perspectives on what we are doing to integrate our learnings from the book. The webinar can be viewed here KC4F Webinar

Clearly, it is flattering and daunting being asked to participate in such an event and it has acted as a catalyst for some healthy reflection, even before the event. My initial question being "Did I actually follow through on what I planned in that first post?". As I put together my slides, reviewed the book and post again, I realised that while not perfect I had made some positive changes. As the authors revisited their thinking I was contemplating how "Wicked problems" might look in my room, especially the idea that need not be issues as vast as globalisation. But Danielle's contribution kicked the brain into overdrive and this will lead to a lot more learning.

Design thinking, multiple perspectives for thinking and backwards mapping were all approaches that she mentioned...

Culture Box
Backwards Mapping
Kidsedchatnz activities"

While I strived to make moves towards the ideals promoted in KC4F, the dynamic nature of school life meant I didn't get as close as I would have liked. But HPPS goes after future focussed learning also and as Amy and I bounced themes/projects the learners could undertake I could see the skills and dispositions that needed to be learnt. Most importantly, I could envisage authentic tasks and the literacy and numeracy work that would be embedded in such projects. Job Descriptions, budgets, design thinking, event management all leaping out for the taking.

I'm left with the feeling that I'm back where I started but in a more responsive position, where student voice is far more active. I believe that LC4 students will be dealing with their own wicked problems and dealing with all of the KC's and our learner profile, all brought about by having their thinking ignited.

Day 16 of #28daysofwriting - Reflecting on reflection

Reflecting on reflection was a quirky way of thinking for LC4 yesterday. Some were struggling, some were flying and some were taking a good look in the mirror to write about the difficulties they'd had. It seems apt that I too should reflect on this, we recognised later that we could have made it slightly easier for some who were having some difficulties.

Reflection is important as a teacher and a learner (speaking for myself hear). Without the chance to consider what I've done and all the rationale then it is difficult to establish why something might have happened in the classroom and therefore what my next steps should be. It is the same for learners in our classrooms. Thus, in week 2 we started the process of writing reflections by having Amy set some criteria for these in workshops.

The reflections some children wrote were nice. I'm not being rude, but they focussed on aspects of their learning that meant the reflections were just words on a page. There was very little thought about their challenges in week 1 or 2, just what they had loved doing. 1 child had written about their difficulties with trying to type too fast and making too many mistakes, 2 - 3 others had specified the troubles they had with planning their day, a process we'd started on Wednesday. These children will all take something out of their reflections to help them learn.

Quality reflective writing is difficult, as a teacher I've battled with it and know that sometimes the thoughts just don't flow. Other times it is a little raw and we don't feel like putting ourselves out there on the limb. Forced reflective writing is challenging also, I remember struggling to find the right topics while a student teacher during practicums, so I empathise with the children here. In the future they'll be expected to produce 2-3 reflections a week so there is a need to align them to our expectations.

Yesterday we took a full class workshop to cover some of the challenges and the purpose for reflections. They identified evidence of learning, improvement and next steps as three factors integral to their reflections. We had originally set out criteria outlining the 5w's and their challenges. The children had spent so much space on the 5w's that they'd avoided, missed, forgotten or otherwise the actual challenges they'd faced. This workshop was an effort to refocus them on the challenge.

As the learners brainstormed several of the things they could write about and how these challenges might be solved, we constantly reminded them of the need to avoid the nice reflections. Our message was if you didn't find it hard then you're choosing the wrong independent activities.

Some better quality writing was produced this time, more wrote about specific problems they'd faced with planning, some about having siblings in the class, about a numeracy assessment. Some still had trouble choosing a topic and reflected on their reflections, a quirky but not altogether inappropriate idea. To several of these children I recommended they start a list for reflection ideas, its something I've used to help me with my #28daysofwriting and I know many teachers use an "I wonder" or "ideas" notebook for writing.

What we failed to do, was direct the class to our learner profile statements, we've been using these with the class regularly as they are integral to the school. How might we use our learner profile statements better? Well integrating them to our reflections would go a long way.
3 Learner Profile Statements from HPPS Learner Profile

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Day 13 of #28Daysofwriting - Supporting change in others

Encouraging and welcoming change doesn't feel comfortable for many people. This is not news to anyone, I dare say that if you're reading this then you are probably more inclined towards accepting change in your life than you are change adverse. But you know someone who struggles, you've attempted to get them to make changes and you've battled your own demons when they couldn't or wouldn't. I believe this is probably a normal state of play, regardless of your personal or professional circumstances.

Yesterday, as I posted the first part of this the words were flowing easily, but I quickly recognised that I was running out of time! I anticipate this already, this part of my post on change will focus on helping others with change.

Integral to supporting others make change is considering where they are coming from. Reflecting on my time in education (albeit short, but including my time in tertiary education here also) I've noticed that age has little correlation to attitude to change. I've worked with many younger people who were firm in their beliefs and had no interest in accepting change in their professional life, conversely I've been privileged to meet many older* educators who I hold on high esteem because of their innovative practice and attitude towards change. The observation that change doesn't happen because they're too old is inaccurate, clearly there are other forces at play that prevent or discourage change.

I've come to appreciate the different perspectives that people are taking may be simply due to their thinking styles (Hermann's Brain - see brief summary in previous post). I tend to think in organisational or creative modes. I'm happy with implementing change, creating lists of things to do, look at the big picture and enjoy the visionary aspects of change. I can be viewed as very passionate and have enthusiastically recommended adopting some changes to others, but perhaps they are looking with a more analytical mindset. The result is that they may not adopt the proposed change, not because they lack my vision or organisation (their fault), but because I have not provided enough research, reading, data, analysis to support the proposed change (my fault). I tend to not contemplate the interpersonal or emotional aspects of any particular change, where this may be a large factor for others. Daniel's work at HPPS with the staff regularly refers back to whole brain thinking, meaning that we should access ideas from all thinking bases and this generally makes for better understanding.

The idea that better analysis can work with some, if you are able to provide better alternatives some people are prepared to undertake change. You may need to rethink these alternatives on many levels though, efficiency, sustainability, future proofing, professional development required, learning styles of all students and such like.

Change also requires a significant mindset component, that is, a Fixed versus a Growth Mindset.

Time is beating me again, so more about that tomorrow...

* I'm not naming anyone here for fear of offending! Age is partly a reflection of your birthdate and definitely a reflection of mindset.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Day 12 of #28daysofwriting - Change is uncomfortable

"Change is not hard, it is uncomfortable"

When I first heard Grant Lichtman say this, I just about dropped my laptop. Here is a statement that needs to be heard more often and not just by the school community. Family, friends, government, sports fans and business owners all struggle against change, and I know that some changes in my life have proved incredibly ha... uncomfortable.

In a burst of genius last year, Edchatnz organisers secured Grant to deliver a great GHO last year. This is where I first learned about Grant and heard this idea. I can confess that I haven't read any of his books, although it is on my to read list and every time Steve (@Geomouldy) refers to Grant on his blog, I think must read that book! Grant's statement was based around innovation, but not all change is innovative. "Who moved my cheese?" is a good read on dealing with change, its not education focussed but it really spells it out the different camps people fall into.

Dealing with change is an interesting topic. Naturally, a growth mindset is vital as it provides enough incentive that you are actively looking for improvement which in essence is change. Thinking of some changes I've made in the last year I've been pleased with my coping. I've moved school (blogged here and here), but also I've made many changes to how I've taught, dealt with students behaviour, implemented school initiatives and many other changes at the family level. Change is ubiquitous, what I've come to appreciate over a long period is that dealing with some changes might be comfortable but others less so. You need to consider the personal, familial, mental, emotional, collegial, societal, and professional impacts and a change at any of these levels can be har... ha..uncomfortable.

Dealing with change yourself is all up to the individual, but there can be much consternation when your peers are on struggle-street with change, they're change-adverse, they nod and say yes but do their own thing anyway, or they just flat-out refuse. We've all been there, we'll go there again no doubt, so what do you do?

In the past I've tried various mechanisms to encourage change, some not so subtle. Ultimately, the changes didn't occur until the individual wanted...

Oh, damn out of time! Let's continue this conversation tomorrow.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Day 11 of #28Daysofwriting The day

It's almost 5.30am, this is my post so that I don't miss a day. I'm not sure what I feel like writing about it so thought I'd plot my class day with LC4.

9.00 Take role, yippee all 41 kids in LC4 present & accounted for. Haven't had a child absent yet...
9.05 Explain how their specialist teacher time will work on Thursday. The children will be going to two of the specialist teachers (Tech/Music/Dance&Drama/PE) for a 7 week block, then will rotate with LC3 to have the others).
9.10 Play portrait game - designed to facilitate knowledge of their peers.
9.30 Introduce how planning will work, take weekly planner and plot their workshops for the day (2 compulsory workshops + 1 AWS numeracy assessment), then they can schedule in independent activities (literacy based - as that is all we have modelled thus far). Visual planner for separate group explained (they do not need to plan workshops as they get called to them).
9.39ish First requests to go to another learning common to ask permission to read to someone.
9.59 Brain break - children grab healthy snacks and continue with work.
10.00 Many students have settled into 1st activities, Amy & I both supporting those requiring     additional support.
10.20 One student directed away from planning entire week, lets start with just Wednesday thanks.
10.30 Students check if it is time to move to next activity.
10.35. Two boys ask if it ok to help ECE teachers build trampoline, yes - you'll be reading instructions.
10.50 Students start to hand in numeracy sheet.
11.00 Children head to morning tea.
11.30 Amy & I return to LC4, most children awaiting instructions. Several self-managing students already where they need to be according to their planner, they actively prompt others to follow their planners.
11.32 Place Learner Profile statement proudly on wall in front of students who are awaiting instructions "I can manage my time and resources". Some students start moving. Workshops begin (1st time using planners so a bit of "find me x please, x should be here")
12.00 2nd rotation of workshops (Less "find me x please, x should be here")
12.30 "Aren't we starting another rotation?" Me: "I don't think so" (check planner, students correct!)
12.50 Student from 1st workshop comes to show me his work, using what he learned - very proud. Students all head off to lunch.
1.40 Students come in querying if it is learning time yet (no bells)
1.40ish I sit with student working on PBL, he started Cold War project over holidays & isn't sure what his next steps should be.
1.40ish Amy having trouble with Internet, makes Digital Citizenship workshop difficult. Students slowly handing in numeracy sheets.
1.50ish Begin entering numeracy results onto Google Spreadsheet. 1 minute later 1st interruption.
2.00ish Work with child who has reading difficulties on numeracy sheet - once questions read to him he answers many more.
2 - 2.30 Many more sheets coming in. Students also checking on work they have done for creative writing.
2.35 Discussion about the day of a particular student between Amy & I. Decide on course of action.
2.40 Amy begins reflection of day with children (continuum around managing my time & resources). I sit with student to co-construct email with student to celebrate successes of the day, he asks that I wait until after 3 to send it, and can I please email his Dad also.
2.50 Email completed, awaiting <Send>.
3.00 Students go home.
3.04 <Send>
3.08 Coffee order taken by staff member's child - awesome need that fix!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Day 10 of #28daysofwriting - Team teaching - collaboration & conflict

Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi*
With your basket and my basket the people will live

Team teaching can be daunting, going from being the captain of your own ship to having to working with 1 or more people isn't everyone's ideal scenario. 
I knew when applying for my position at HPPS that this would be another huge challenge, I enjoyed the discretion and independence that came with my own classroom. I'd been able to be innovative and take risks with classroom experiences that I may not have felt confident enough or experienced enough to take otherwise. Several teachers from my training course had gone into team teaching environments immediately, my initial feeling was this wouldn't have been my preferred course of action, however a job's a job and what beginning teacher would cut off their nose to spite their face. I'd heard over time about the issues my two friends had so it was intriguing to read Matt Ive's blog post on team teaching as a BT and the safe, supportive environment he'd found it. I wish I'd read this 2-3 months ago as it may have allayed some nerves I was having about my move.
My reality is that I am teaching with an innovative, supportive and knowledgeable colleague who challenges me where I need to be. We started the planning for our year by spending much time together discussing our vision for LC4 and it was over this time that we forged the bond we would need to work as a team. I was coming from a quite different classroom setting, where as Amy was a foundation teacher at HPPS. 
Yesterday, we began our walkthrough process where the onus was on Amy and I to discuss our collaborative efforts on what we had achieved for our planning, processes and learners as well as how we had dealt with any conflict that had arisen. We aren't the only new teaching team this year, all four learning commons have new teams in them. 
Because we are working together for the first time it would be easy for Amy to say this is the HPPS way, but this hasn't been the case. Often we have had to go back over things several times for me to find the clarity that I have needed. Another approach has been to refer back to some of the core documents such as our Learner Profile, Curriculum Mapping and our Dispositons. Alternatively, much can be achieved by simply talking things through and referring back to readings, the learners or scenarios that we have in mind. Both of us have had input and as I find my feet I've felt more confident with suggesting approaches and experiences that are adding value to the learner common.
Have we had conflict? Nothing serious that can't be solved, we occasionally have different approaches but that is the nature of team teaching. In one instance where we weren't able to reach a suitable conclusion to a learning issue, while I had eventually be convinced of the merits of finding an alternative pathway we hadn't been able to find a the right pathway to fit our needs. So we sought dialogue with other teachers in the school. We possibly talked this issue to death but resolved that the best thing was to park the issue and pursue it at a further date. While no one likes sweeping things under the carpet, this was definitely the most efficient solution as if we'd pursued this further we most likely wouldn't have achieved as much before the students arrived.
We have several ideals that are top of mind in our discussions, clearly the learners' needs and the core documents at HPPS but also the concepts of productivity and accountability, both for our learners and us as their advisors. With these in mind, I believe that I too will have same great experience of team teaching that Matt Ives writes of. 
By ourselves we bring a lot to this common.
Together, we bring more.

*sourced from

Monday, 9 February 2015

Day 9 #28daysofwriting - Favourite Picture Books

I love books, reading and using picture books in the classroom, I've managed a bookstore and was blown away by the incredulous idea in the news this morning that picture books could be damaging the literacy of NZ children (Picture Book article). Colleagues in the twittersphere were apparently appalled at this idea also, with a number of tweets flying around debating the validity, reliability and general credibility of the research.

In the interest of thumbing my nose at such research I decided that tonight I would celebrate some of my favourite read alouds and authors with you, not all of them have been road tested in the classroom by myself but have been by other teachers.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear
An incredibly simple story that the children in my first junior practicum thoroughly entertained. After reading this story once the class were able to join in with the repetitive story line and initiated a role play lesson as they began to do actions for each animal. My associate teacher and I thought this was hilarious and formulated a more formal drama lesson around the book. Eventually the book was turned into a live story with each animal appearing out of the trees in one area of the school. When I later used this with my buddy class the same reaction occurred. This book is an oldie but a goodie.

The Pigeon series by Mo Willems
I love these books and have purchased several over the years, they are delightfully simple texts served as brilliant provocations for many health conversations. Responsibility, sharing, hygiene are all general themes explored in these books but they're done with humour. There are two apps to back these titles up and one of my classes enjoyed creating their own Pigeon animations which proved to be excellent literacy lessons.

Summery Saturday Morning by Margaret Mahy
Mahy had many titles that are deserving of being in such a list but this one has special love from me, I've never used it in class myself but read it regularly with my daughter who loves the slugliwugs and gugliwugs. The alliteration in this particular book is great as is the use of poetic structure. I need to road test this one but given Mahy's stature in NZ children's literature, I'm sure many teachers already have.

The Wolves in the Walls and The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, by Neil Gaiman.
Both of these are sophisticated picture books and have amazing illustrations provided by Dave McKean, that demonstrate a real graphic novel quality without appearing too much like a picture book. The text is rather dry and provides a real test for students because of its non-linear nature. I've purchased my own copies of both titles which came with a CD of Neil reading the text also, this in itself creates a good teaching point as the differences in tone, speed and clarity can be discussed.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore
This title illustrates what could be done by publishers who want to invest in a picture book. The book comes fully embedded Augmented Reality and has captivated anyone that I've ever shown the book too.  I blogged about it here Fantastic Flying Books  as I was blown away by my classes reaction the first time. Make sure you check out this post as this book is definitely worth sharing with your class!

Alice in New York
This is an interactive App book which is an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. The text follows similar lines to the original Alice, the visuals have a grainy affect but their interaction is awesome. Well worth pursuing as either a read aloud or for individuals to read as it has some brilliant songs & poems within the text. Its also a great way for children to access a classic.

Looks like time is well & truly up...

It doesn't quite fit but if you've made it this far make sure you take a look at The Day the Crayons Quit and anything else by Oliver Jeffers also! Blog post here. Also check out Battle Bunny and I'm also a fan of works by Jeannie Baker and Shaun Tan.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Day 8 of #28Daysofwriting - Art of Teaching

At the start of year HPPS staff retreat Daniel challenged us by leading a discussion on the Art of Teaching. Staff PD in education is littered with many different teaching methods and philosophies so I must say I was a little curious where this was to head, although we did have three questions to enlighten us somewhat about Daniel's direction:

  • How might we develop an understanding of the “art of teaching”?
  • How might we challenge our practice to make sure it’s future focused?
  • How might we develop a diagnostic pedagogy?
Daniel's first point was to outline that this was once this great All Black fullback called Christian Cullen, I was instantly wide awake. Where was this going to go? I don't know that all of the staff were as engaged as me, but nonetheless. Daniel related that one of Cullen's talents was to play the game as it developed in front of him, he was able to adapt as the game changed in front of him, often with amazing results. As soon as Daniel had mentioned Cullen and this ability I'd instantly been transported to an amazing day at Carisbrook, Dunedin where as a young scarfie I'd watched Cullen score this fantastic try. 

What has rugby got to do with teaching? Cullen's ability was to read the game was integral to his success in the oval ball code, he was always in the right place when the opposition kicked and he had a penchant for being able to make the cover tackles when you didn't expect him to. As teachers we need this ability also, not to cover the crossfield kick or drop someone as they dive for the line, but everyday our children provide us with many different challenges that we hadn't conceived as we planned for the lesson, day or week. It is the teachable moment, the technology that doesn't work, the idea that just doesn't make sense or any other deviation from the plan that occurs. How we deal with this challenges is what Daniel was referring to, the Art of Teaching.

How do we develop this ability? You would think our ability as an Artist will develop as we grow experience and skills, I know that my adaptability is far better as a teacher today than what it was at the start of my first practicuum. There were so many verbal signals to listen for, without even worrying about the non-verbal cues. 

In the last few days of been starting to read Nuthall's The Hidden Lives of Learners and in the back of my mind I have Dweck's Mindset and I'm starting to think myself into some tight corners when I think about this Art of Teaching. Thinking about all that occurs in the classroom, much of it beyond the knowledge of the teacher, how is one able to teach the classroom as it develops? I'm at a distinct advantage, I work in a team-teacher environment. Yes, that means there are more students in our learning space, but together there is far more skills,  experience and mental capability in that space than an individual would have. Cullen was a naturally gifted rugby player, while I recognise that he would have worked incredibly hard to develop his skills over the years he was also blessed with speed, agility, strength and a feel for the game. No matter how hard I could have worked I struggle to think that I ever would have reached his level. So then where do I stand as an Artist of Teaching?

My query is, does that mean that we have teachers who are more able to read the classroom than others, or in other words are some teachers more accomplished Artists than others? Or is this purely about experience and development (a growth mindset). Sir Ken Robinson talks about this also, teachers who have many tools with which to engage learners as the classroom develops.

28 minutes is buzzing on my phone, my thoughts still aren't clear on this but the Art of Teaching needs more investigation and reading.

I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Day 7 of #28Daysofwriting How did you get here?

My brother, a trainee teacher at Waikato University, has just left to head back to Hamilton and his visit raised some intriguing reflections for me. We discussed teaching at length, he has lots of questions based on 2 weeks of training and 10 years of working in education in Japan, plus today I showed him through HPPS.  After seeing the school he asked a legitimate question that sometimes I find a bit of a mind boggler: "How did you get a job here?"

I'm only in my 4th year of teaching and my first position was in a school which feels like it was at the complete other end of the continuum from where I now spend my days. I'm lucky, I came to primary education via a few years working in a Private Training Institute. PIHMS (or the Pacific International Hotel Management School) was a simulated hotel environment, the students ran the restaurant, front office, events, did the house keeping & attended classes to learn the theory as well. Being in this hands-on environment was a real challenge teaching tourism, marketing & events. How do you make the theory real for these students? Lecture style simply won't cut it amongst these students. When I compare these students to my primary classes there are some obvious comparisons, variety of learner styles, multicultural classroom, ESOL students and a genuine desire to see the reason for what they're learning. The comparison is useful, HPPS has a lot of quite attractive features to anyone on the outside, but the harsh reality is that the learning still needs to take place and it is our job as learning advisors to make this learning happen. Another comparison that is useful between these two learning environments is the effort we were putting in at PIHMS to understand our learner and how they were changing, I remember reading a book on Generation Y, attending a conference aimed at teaching in this hands-on environment to this learner style. It was worthwhile learning that put me in a good space as the use of different management styles was definitely at the forefront of the topic.

In my first 3 years as a teacher I was empowered to pursue alternative methods for teaching, as I became more confident and passionate about what I did I have become more visible across the social media landscape. Clearly, I'm an active blogger, tweeter, pinner, use Google+, YouTube and have taken part in a few online seminars. All this has helped, I believe, to get myself to HPPS. It demonstrates a willingness to be proactive about my own development and share my learning with others. But I still have to be a good teacher, I think the experience of a tertiary hands-on environment was integral in my development and I had great support at PIHMS to help with this. Once in the primary sector, supervised freedoms were valuable and my DP  and  Mentor Teacher were always ready to keep me grounded.

Joining the HPPS team is a massive step for anyone and I can empathise with Danielle when she blogs about the underbelly at HPSS or always feeling like a BT.

I still pinch myself when I realise this is now my school, I'm eager to face the challenge of the high expectations, I wouldn't have come otherwise, but it is scary!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Day 6 of #28DaysWriting To Tech or Not to Tech?

"Perception is reality" is a phrase that you can often hear in media, marketing and publicity circles, I've worked enough in my other life to know that this is definitely an issue that is pervasive in education. The perceptions students have of subjects and teachers, the perceptions held by parents and even those held by teachers of other schools.

When I secured my job at HPPS some of my colleagues at HNS thought this would be a great fit, they perceived that HPPS would have lots of technology because they were a new school. Technology isn't at the core of HPPS values however, in fact, in my first week the students of LC4 haven't even turned on a device.

LC4 students have been busy doing all sorts of things, there has been a lot of student talk and lots of the traditional pencil and paper. Why wouldn't there be? In terms of collaboration and convenience pencil is quick, we're not worried about saving/sharing work and it gives everyone a chance to participate. Contrast this with my first week the last two years at HNS, I'm positive that I had integrated devices into lessons very early. I'm not suggesting that either of these approaches is better, but it is interesting how the perception of a school has been formed.

I'd enjoyed the integration of technology in the classroom, but it hasn't been without its challenges, many teachers will be familiar with the notion that e-learning needs to have the e removed as the focus should be on learning. I've always supported this idea and our discussions as a team have definitely been towards this end, any integration will be done for the right purposes, using the right tools and for the right reasons, rather than just a shot gun approach.

Our kids definitely like technology, I've had some quite interesting conversations around various tools within our common. But they engage with their learning regardless of its technology content, this tells me that Amy and I are doing the right things at this point.

It will be intriguing to see how technology develops within this learning common. But right now, technology isn't even in our focus.

Day 5 of #28 days of writing: Waitangi Day - a true celebration

Last year I watched enviously as the Hobsonville Point School community (Primary & Secondary Schools) celebrated Waitangi Day in style, I'd been amazed at the activities taking place and thought that my own school and others could be doing more. A feeling which was clearly felt by others this year. It is easy to justify why more doesn't get done, start of the year, parents already incurring large costs, not enough time to organise etc etc. Forget the constraints, look at the positives.

Yesterday (I'm writing this in the early hours as I was too tired last night - sorry +Tom Barrett ) I was privileged to be part of the HPS community as their Waitangi Celebrations kicked off in earnest. To Maurie, Daniel, Sarah and Sharon and all the other staff and helpers, a huge credit to you that this event takes place and I was honoured to be part of the staff yesterday.

Since I started tagging my posts last year with the Registered Teacher Criteria I was disturbed to watch the trend that much of what I was doing wasn't explicitly meeting RTC 3 or 10. I was using Te Reo in the classroom, I had signs, we did art but much of this was superficial. Yesterday I knew would be different, what a revelation! See Steve's day 5 post for a great explanation of the day, its background with the school and some awesome photos.

Much of my day was spent at the Hobsonville Boat Ramp supervising the high school & primary students participate in Waka Ama activities, carving up meat in one of the kitchens and talking with parents and staff. I also went out in the Waka with other learners. I say other because I'd never done this before and I was as much of a learner as the children from my learning common many years younger. But the significance of the day is not what any one person did, it is in the multiple partnerships that were in play truly celebrating the partnership of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Staff, Learners, parents and others from the community all worked as one yesterday to make a very special day for this community. Children ran workshops and supported each other, parents stepped forward and played the role of the expert, while others workshops were run by the staff. But key was that every activity was celebrated the Treaty and its partnership. It made me proud and

Sitting back watching the highlights of the news later on, the bigger picture was a whole lot clearer. I've often been frustrated by the news at Waitangi Day, protests and political statements are all I have known as a New Zealander on this day. I partially blame the media but how much of the blame should be on our shoulders? The Hobsonville Point School Waitangi Celebrations were in the true spirit of partnership, many people working together as one to achieve a common aim. We celebrated the Treaty, our biculturalism, our learners.

This is the first Waitangi Day that I will remember for the right reasons.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Topic Planning - Day 4 of #28Daysofwriting

Starting a new school it is obvious that you need to learn about your students. There are relationships to be formed with students, their whanau, their roles within the classroom, playground and with their peers. Developing an understanding of your students and their needs is an important feature of every teachers planning as the year begins. That's why so many schools have topics based around "Getting to know you". At HNS we always started our year in my time with Keeping Ourselves Safe. This would include an introduction to the PB4L programme, Quality Schools and free swimming lessons that were offered to the school.

By the end of the term I could always sense the frustration of my students as some of these concepts had been done to death, no matter how much you tried to innovate ultimately the learner was hearing some of the same messages. For the record, once we got past the trust building, ice breaker games my class would always spend a lot of time investigating digital citizenship.

As we planned for 2015, I was looking forward to a different approach. HPPS bases their "topic" around three key areas Inventive Thinking, Effective Communication and Digital Age Literacy. Within these areas, we haven't yet planned our immersion tasks for Inventive Thinking as all staff have been busy getting to know our students, as learners and as people. As we approach the conclusion of week 1 of the term my appreciation of this grown. Amy has blogged about how the learners have built their space, but there have been others times we have observed them:

  • Playing the diversity game
  • Co-constructing rules for their classroom
  • Providing a range of board games for early finishers, free time and before class
  • Two low risk low effort writing activities
  • No formal assessment has taken place
We've been encouraged by management to spend time learning about our learner, setting the expectations and getting the foundations right. This should make our move into Inventive Thinking easier but there is no time constraint for the unit either. Inventive Thinking doesn't have to end with the completion of term 1.  

What is the thrust of my post?
I feel I'm starting to truly understand how ubiquitous student voice can be in our role.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Day 3 of #28Daysofwriting

Remember that feeling from Christmas, the one where you reach the end of the day and you feel stuffed! But there's a satisfaction attached that was borne of a great day, lots of stories, experiences that were more than you hoped. That's how I'm feeling tonight after my 2nd day at HPPS.

I'm struggling a little to come up with a blog post worthy of my 28 minutes, I really just want to hit the hay but I want to see this out and I'm way too stubborn to give in on day 3 of a month long challenge.

Our learning common is really starting to take some shape after a big effort by our learners today to shape their space in a way that works for them as a community. Amy has posted about it earlier tonight in her own 28 days of writing (LC4 taking shape) and the commitment that lots of our students demonstrated was a great reinforcement for what can be achieved with student voice.

Learner Profile displayed in LC3. The model is clearly split into
three key areas with each statement being colour coded by how
it aligns with Hermann's Brain Analysis.
HPPS uses a learner profile at the core of our learning, it's a disposition based and the students all learn to talk about these dispositions and whether they are supported, self managing or self directed with each statement. Amy and I decided that we were going to co-construct the model with our Learning Common. We have a number of new students in our area (plus myself as a new learning advisor) and thought that we may reduce the daunting nature of the Learner Profile by adding 1-2 statements at at time.

The manner in which we've been reducing them has been strategic. While the children have gone about the lessons we've observed their behaviour, decisions and interactions and then have used 1 or 2 of the statements as a tool for reflecting on how the previous activity has gone. Thus far we've only introduced 7 or 8 of the statements, but the sharing that is taking place has been meaningful, demonstrating a better understanding of the statements than might have occurred if we'd just put the model up in it's entirety.

Our introduction of the Learner Profile, the way our space is taking shape and the overall thrust of all the learning at the moment is all about setting our students up for success. It is the true and authentic way that student voice is being utilised that I am genuinely relishing and learning from.

28 minutes are nearly upon me, till next time...

Monday, 2 February 2015

#28Daysofwriting - day 2

Day 2 of the #28Daywriting challenge started with a perfect opportunity for me to walk the talk. I've been blogging a bit about the growth mindset (here and here) so at a quick staff meeting before school I really had to put all the chat into action.

As part of the start of year activities, the school hosted a powhiri to welcome the new members of the school community into the family. One of the DPs outlined the process at our briefing and informed me that she had a special job for me, I knew what was coming, she wanted me to lead the response. Daniel told me that he would be speaking in english and there was no expectation that I would speak Te Reo, but that I would have to lead a waiata. From earlier posts, some will be familiar with an embarrassing experience that I'd had and that I had challenged myself to remedy this situation (blog post here). I won't say that I've fully remedied this early concern but the growth mindset had to be the default.

Being in the growth mindset and armed with the knowledge that this would be a great learning experience I sought out the DP shortly after the meeting and we ran through the process again. She'd found several of the boys from our senior learning common who would stand alongside me to provide support (fits with the HPPS ideal that we are all learners and all teachers), the stereo system was set up with both waiata to act as a backing track and I was to be provided with several copies of the waiata to share around so that I wouldn't be singing alone and I didn't know the words or the tune (there is no danger of me ever being on NZ Idol). At this stage I have to thank my DP for being so supportive! This had provided enough scaffolding that I was fully comfortable with taking my part in the powhiri, albeit rather nervously.

Daniel spoke, the HPPS family sang their waiata, I spoke, and then a few of us sang our waiata in return. I'm convinced in hindsight that I didn't put in a NZ Idol winning performance but it was completed and I was proud of taking the right attitude to this.

I realised that part of this comfort had come with a strong day of PD at HNS last year when we had visited a marae as a full staff and there had been a lot of thought and effort put into the explanation of the process. This learning had been furthered when HNS had hosted an expert to help the year 6's understand the powhiri process and prepare them for their visit to Henderson Intermediate as part of their open day, I'd like to think this partly in response to my blog and pressure at a team meeting.

The idea that I can hold myself more accountable with this important cultural aspect of our schooling is quite reassuring, while I've only taken baby steps I'm reminded of some sensible words that starting is the hardest step to take.

At a family level pressure to expand my knowledge and skill in this area is also building, my 2 1/2 year old daughter regularly comes home from daycare singing songs in Te Reo and I have loved being able to sing these along with her. As this enjoyment and pressure builds I need to expand my repertoire, perhaps at HPPS I have the support to continue this journey.

On Thursday our school will jointly host a Waitangi Celebration with the secondary school, what an amazing opportunity to be the teacher and the learner.

Growth Mindset hat firmly on!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Seeking a growth mindset

I'm walking into a new school tomorrow to start 2015. With my colleague Amy,  we've spent a lot of time getting our heads around how will we work together? In this environment? With these learners? What will the learning look like?

Our principal asked the HPPS staff to spend 2 days offsite getting our head's around the direction of the school for 2015 but importantly he asked that we attend with our Growth Mindset firmly on. 

As a newby at the school, it would appear difficult to not have the Growth Mindset on, you're environment is totally different, you have a different group of students and you'll be team-teaching in a school which personalises the learning journey for each of its students. You'd be excused for thinking that this is daunting and it clearly will be at times. One of the first struggles that I have faced I think most would battle with when you start at a new school or any organisation. How do you suggest ideas, concepts and systems without feeling like you're the proverbial new guy, the one who has only been there 5 minutes and already they're full of themself. 

I think it is a natural human response to therefore sit back, let others become comfortable with your presence before being a bit more forward in meetings. By not sharing are you accepting your position, ideas and suggestions are of low value and is this a fixed mindset?

However, HPPS staff discuss the mindset regularly, from the perspective of the children as learners, staff as learners and the organisation. As a newby, I've been encouraged to feel comfortable with sharing ideas but reminded that I need to think of the Why at every turn.

Within this school, professional reading is highly valued as a means of justifying decisions but also seeking innovative systems and practice. Since securing my position I have completed plenty of reading, Mindset was the first real chunk, but I've also had to get my head around Hermann's Brain, worked through the Daily 5, and am now looking at Nuthall's The Hidden Lives of Learners. On top of this the management at the school are regularly posting readings to our innovation community page and blogging themselves.

I have really enjoyed getting my head around this new position and the time spent with my new colleagues establishing the new learning common has been a great learning experience. 

Tomorrow the children enter their new learning space and I get to truly experience what it is like to be team-teaching.

I have a lot to learn about being part of a team teaching environment, in this environment, with these learners. But as I left school Friday afternoon and while I write this I am so excited about what this year will hold and the learning that is going to occur. 

My growth mindset is on. Roll on tomorrow!