Thursday, 20 October 2016

Ch-ch-ch-changes...

I have had the privilege over the past three years of having two Post-Graduate qualifications funded through the Ministry of Education, my school, Unitec, and the NEXT Generation scholarship. The study required from these two qualifications has impacted greatly on my teaching practice/pedagogy.

Key changes in my practice

The biggest change that has occurred within my teaching practice is the amount of reflection that I undertake.  Prior to studying, I would reflect briefly, about what went well or what I would do differently to improve next time.  Ostermand and Kottkamp (1993) describe reflective practice as being "a means by which practitioners can develop a great level of self-awareness about the nature and impact of their performance" and that this "creates opportunities for professional growth and development" (p 2).  I have found that as I become an increasingly reflective practitioner that I have become far more aware of how my actions affect the performance and outcomes of my students' achievement and well-being.  
I have also found that through increasing my reflective practice, I am much more open to reading professional research and publications.  Prior to study I had very little inclination to read educational articles/books as I couldn't see how they would relate to my teaching practice.  I'm definitely eating my words now!  It's amazing how reading one or two articles could make you question how you teach something, or spark an idea.  The latest publication that I have read (other than articles for assignments) was Grant Lictman's book #EdJourney.  This book was about how different schools around the United States are being innovative in their schools.  It was a very engaging read, which I would recommend to any educator.  I'd also recommend watching the keynote Grant Lichtman did at uLearn 2015 when you have a spare 3/4 of an hour. 

PTC (Practising Teacher Criteria) - formally RTC (Registered Teacher Criteria

The two criterion that I believe have been impacted the greatest by completing my study are Criterion 1 and Criterion 4.
The working relationships that I have with my students have grown.  I have been fortunate to have a core group of students that have followed me through this learning process.  They were Year 4 in 2014 when I began my first Post-Grad study and are now Year 6 this year as I complete this Post-Grad course.  These students have been my 'guinea pigs' (I get eye-rolls now when I say that I've learnt something new that we're going to try!).  They have seen GAFE and Chromebooks integrated into everyday activities.  They are confident users of digital technology - even when they do not have access at home.  These students are used by other teachers for help when needed.  When I am away at workshops/courses I get emails from my students letting me know what's going on and asking for help.  

Criteria 1 achievement:
  • less teacher talk, more student talk time (a continual struggle!)
  • using tools such as Google Forms and Padlet to gather student voice - this can be done anonymously if needed
  • commenting on Google Apps means instant feedback/feedforward, from teacher or students
  • using google Classroom to organise activities and tasks
  • students setting up their own blogs, an example of their learning to share with friends, parents and whanau around NZ and the world
  • parents/whanau using email to contact me, and vice versa, rather than letting questions and concerns slide


My PLD (Professional Learning and Development) is non-stop.  I can continuously be up-skilling myself, and keeping up with the latest educational opinions through the use of digital tools.  Twitter, Facebook, the VLN, Google+, and webinars enable me to connect with other like-minded educators, engaging in thought-provoking discussions and sharing ideas that have (or haven't worked).  

Through connecting online this past holidays (Sept-Oct holiday break), I was able to follow the uLearn 2016 conference that was held in Rotorua.  Attending in person was not an option this year, but I could follow the keynotes through the twitter hashtag #ulearn16 and #notatulearn, and have conversations with fellow educators from around New Zealand (and the globe).

Criterion 4 achievements:
  • participating and contributing to twitter discussions - #edchatnz, #whatisschool, #ulearn16, #notatulearn16
  • contributing to educational discussions, helping other teachers on Facebook through the NZ Teachers (Primary) page
  • contributing to the Google + Mindlab 2016 March intake community
  • watching TedTalks, EdTalks, or similar educational clips on YouTube or Vimeo
  • utilising the portal for this course!


Dreams for the future...

I want to continue to use digital technology in a seamless way - not as an added extra, but as a normal part of classroom practice.  I want my students to be able to create products, not just consume.  I want my students to know how to interact positively online and know how to create a digital footprint that they can be proud of.  

I want to keep using the Design Thinking process with my students.  I want them to be able to solve real-life problems creatively and collaboratively.  My dream is for my students to understand that there is not only one solution to a problem.  That they don't have to settle for what they are told.  I want them to feel empowered, ready to tackle life after 'school'.

Change has been the key idea that has sprung out for me during my study.  We need to change our mindset.  Our world is changing.  As educators we need to change the way we further our PLD.  And change is why we are in education - we are here to change lives.




References

Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993). Reflective Practice for Educators.California.Cornwin Press, Inc. Retrieved on 18 October, 2016 fromhttp://www.itslifejimbutnotasweknowit.org.uk/files.

Ministry of Education (nd). Practising teacher Criteria and e-learning . Retrieved from http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/