Activity 10: Summarising my Postgraduate Learning Journey and planning for the future

The Practising Teacher Criteria and e-learning site provides a guide for teachers to reflect on how e-learning can be used to support the Practising Teacher Criteria. My personal 32 week learning journey through the Mind Lab postgraduate programme has helped to meet a number of the criteria as detailed below.

Developing relationships with students

My students now use e-learning tools to share information about themselves, providing a way for me to connect with them and discover some insights into who they are. For assignments on the course I have used tools such as as Google Forms and Survey Monkey to provide students opportunities to contribute their ideas and opinions. My students have also used Google Presentations to share information they had researched collaboratively.

Developing relationships with parents/whānau

I am developing relationships with parents/whānau by using e-learning tools to facilitate on-going relationships and interaction between home and school, (in order to support learning). A great example of this is my class’s e-portfolios which display our learning goals, evidence and reflection pages. News and information is also shared using our School ‘Lunchbox’ App.

Professional development networks

All of the teachers from our school that have completed the Mind Lab course have used the information, resources, and stories to identify and develop their own professional learning communities that share e-learning understandings and practices (focused on improved student learning outcomes). In the first course we were able to critique leadership theories and reflect on our own personal leadership attributes and styles, within a context of leading innovation in digital and collaborative learning. This enabled us to identify a potential digital and collaborative innovation and design a plan that could be applied in our learning environment.

Being culturally responsive

After implementing our plans we were able to conduct a research informed inquiry project that supported both our needs as practitioners and those of our community. Our inquiry harnessed e-learning tools and online resources to recognise and value the cultures that students bring with them to the classroom. Examples were using Blended e-Learning for Māori and Pasifika Learners and Bit Strips for engagement.

Developing digital citizens

Our school is now using the e-competencies to break down e-learning and create e-awareness (Awareness of ICTs and their relevance in society, including digital citizenship). We have improved digital literacy, media literacy, informational literacy and technological literacy across the school.

Managing change

My environment (the physical, social, and pedagogical context in which learning occurs) has changed due to an innovation I created at the Mind Lab. My class is now an innovative environment supporting strengths-based teaching and learning. It offers my students (and me) flexibility, agency, ubiquity, and connectedness. I am now working in an innovative learning environment where teaching and learning is collaborative, reflections and inquiries are shared, and my community is engaged, leading to a more robust, continuously improving community of practice.

Professional development

Osterman and Kottkamp (1993), detail a four-stage experiential learning cycle that is the heart of the reflective process. With this conceptual framework in place, my next steps are finding useful ways to move through the various stages of the cycle. I have had the experience, observation and reflection, and must now concentrate on abstract reconceptualisation, and further experimentation. While experience is the basis for learning, learning cannot take place without reflection. Conversely, while reflection is essential to the process, reflection must be integrally linked with action.

References

Education Council. (n.d.) Practising Teacher Criteria. Retrieved November 10, 2015 from http://www.teacherscouncil.govt.nz/content/registered-teacher-criteria-1

Ministry of Education. (n.d.) Practising Teacher Criteria and e-learning. Retrieved November 10, 2015 from http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professionallearning/Practising-Teacher-Criteria-and-e-learning

Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993) Reflective Practice for Educators. November 10, 2015 from http://www.itslifejimbutnotasweknowit.org.uk/files/RefPract/Osterman_Kottkamp_extract.pdf

Activity 9 – Evaluations of cultural responsiveness in practice

All cultures within our school are valued and accepted through active encouragement of non biased school culture and ethos. Staff members ensure that tamariki from all cultures are treated with respect and dignity and actively work towards maximizing the potential of each tamariki. We also have a Maori immersion unit at the school and the focus for tamariki in this unit is to succeed academically in Te Reo through the New Zealand curriculum.

Mainstream classrooms endeavour to develop an awareness of Te Mana o Aotearoa and provide the means of fostering better cultural understanding consistent with the Treaty of Waitangi. School celebrations reflect Maori Culture through signage, waiata, powhiri and daily conversations (e.g. greetings, weather, classroom language etc.) Study topics include components of te reo Maori and tikanga Maori as appropriate to the topic and the class level.

Whakopono (Honesty), Tumanako (Respect) Aroha and Tiaki pai (Caring) are reflected in our daily practices. Each class implements a class treaty which highlights a range of values as the school focus. These values are promoted through school assemblies and classroom programmes.

At least one Maori parent is represented on the Board of Trustees. The school consults with the Maori community through regular hui and panui on the first Monday of every month. Senior management are supportive of these meetings. Through the hui parents are regularly informed on tamariki achievement. The school also encourage parents and whanau to be active in supporting our immersion unit and to achieve the objective of improving learning outcomes for Maori tamariki.

Student Achievement Function (SAF)

I am the only classroom teacher at our school that is a member of our change team working with SAF. SAF Practitioners focus on assisting their schools to raise student achievement and improve their capability in one of five key areas: evaluative, instructional, organisational, cultural and linguistic intelligence and educationally powerful connections with parents, family and whānau. Our team has created a 26 week change plan which will build our own capability to:

  1. accelerate achievement levels of priority student groups including Māori students, and Pasifika students
  2. increase our capability in at least one of the five key areas above
  3. increase their capability to lead and embed change
  4. implement and continue an inquiry based approach into our performance and to drive sustainable changes within the school
  5. contribute to the Ministry’s Pasifika Education Plan goal of having 85% of year 1-10 Pasifika students meeting literacy and numeracy expectations, including achieving at or above in national standards (years 1–8)
  6. contribute to the Ministry’s Success for All target of having 80% of schools and kura demonstrating highly inclusive practices.

On Saturday the 31st of October we held our first Pasifika fono. This event was for our Pasifika families to join with some of our team in an informal conversation around the ongoing education and well-being of their children. It was a fantastic opportunity for these families to share their thoughts, aspirations, concerns and questions in a friendly social environment. The morning was well attended and began with a cup of tea and biscuits while everybody was welcomed by Hazel (our parent representative) Pamela (from The Ministry) and Peter (our Board Chair). We then watched a short video I made of some of our students from each cohort sharing their thoughts on school life. The food for morning tea was blessed by another one of our parents before we moved into the community room where, in café-style, parents were able to respond to a number of prompts about the schools future direction. Our next step is PD with .

References

Ministry of Education. (n.d.) Supporting Pasifika students. Retrieved November 10, 2015 from http://inclusive.tki.org.nz/guides/supporting-pasifika-students/

Activity 8 – Legal contexts and digital identities

In my first year of teaching I experienced an ethical dilemma of a digital nature that almost cost me my position. I was first made aware of the situation when my principal called me into her office and asked if I had an Instagram account. I replied in the affirmative and was then asked if I had any inappropriate content that students might be able to view. I replied in the negative and was informed that a parent had laid a complaint against me.

What had happened was some of my students has started following my Instagram account. While looking through them one student had shown her mother a picture I had taken of a scantily clad street performer in Las Vegas around 3 years prior. The parent was quite rightly aghast to learn that her daughter had access to her teacher’s photos, one of which she considered inappropriate for a nine year old.

My principal followed procedure by standing me down for the rest of the week while an investigation was launched and my school computer was forensically analysed. It’s fair to say I was in shock! While I had several social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I believed I had made everything private or only viewable by request, when I had first started my training. I was also teaching a year 5 class who I did not think were even allowed to have such accounts, (my daughter was 14 at the time and certainly not permitted on these platforms). My shock soon changed to embarrassment when I realised my Instagram account was still set to public viewing and had pictures of my family and travels from as far back as 2009.

We know that the prevalence of the use of social media has greatly impacted the educational community – including teachers, administrators, students and their families. A new generation is growing up with social networks as an integral part of life and the public sharing of information obscures the normal boundaries between teacher and student and teacher and colleagues (Connecticut’s Teacher Education and Mentoring Program, 2012).

To quote Goran Collste (2012);

“Morality is a natural feature of human life. Human beings are social beings engaged in social interactions. As human beings, we cannot avoid making judgements about what is right and wrong, what one should do and what is valuable.” (pg. 17)

The Education Council Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers clearly states that Teachers certificated to practice in New Zealand must be committed to the attainment of the highest standards of professional service in the promotion of learning by those they teach, mindful of the learner’s ability, cultural background, gender, age or stage of development (Education Council, nd).

All my professional interactions are governed by fundamental principles, one of which is a commitment to learners and another a commitment to the profession. This means that I need to develop and maintain professional relationships with learners, based upon their best interests, and also advance the interests of the teaching profession through responsible ethical practice. While I felt I had not intentionally dishonoured these principles, my inaction was a clear breech of my Schools Cyber safety policy.

Our policy states that the use of any ICT equipment/devices on the school site, or at any school-related activity must be appropriate to the school environment. This includes any images or material present/stored on ICT equipment/devices brought onto the school site, or to any school-related activity. This also all includes the use of all personal electronic devices such as mobile phones and ipads.

Staff are reminded that they are powerful role models and need to be seen to be upholding the core values and principles of Cyber safety and the conditions of our user agreements. Staff are also reminded to be aware of professional and ethical obligations when communicating via ICT with students outside school hours. There should be no contact outside of my role as their teacher.

In the end my breech was viewed by the board as unfortunate. I was told to secure my account, given a verbal warning and the parent was informed of the circumstances and given guidelines from Net Safe about social media. We then used the scenario as cyber safety PD with other staff members and updated our user agreements. Lesson learned!

References

Collste, G. (2012) Applied and professional ethics. Kemanusiaan,.19 (1), 17–33

Connecticut’s Teacher Education and Mentoring Program. (2012) Ethical and Professional Dilemmas for Educator: Facilitator’s Guide. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from http://www.ctteam.org/df/resources/Module5_Manual.pdf

Education Council (nd). The Education Council Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from http://www.educationcouncil.org.nz/content/code-of-ethics-certificated-teachers-0

Ministry of Education (2015).Digital technology- Safe and responsible use in school. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from http://www.education.govt.nz/assets/Documents/School/Managing-and-supporting-students/DigitalTechnologySafeAndResponsibleUseInSchs.pdf

Activity 7 – Social media in professional development, teaching and learning


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Studies suggests that online groups can provide a thriving participatory system that enables educators to engage in an informal kind of professional learning, focused on immediate concerns and contexts, in their own teaching and leadership situations (Melhuish 2013).

Following on from my last post, promising as it seems, ICT and social media are still not without their challenges, especially when they can be more distracting than helpful to students and teachers alike. While teachers can use ICT and online social networks to seek information, share ideas and even contribute to the development of deep knowledge, effective learning will always vary according to their own (and their students) knowledge and competence of these platforms.

The Ministry of Education has introduced an initiative to enhance professional development via online social networking. The Virtual Learning Network is a platform where educators can engage in professional dialogue around the use of these platforms. VLN Groups can enable an informal type of professional learning for teachers and support those new to the available tools.

Edutopia also have a great page, called Social Media in Education which has a toolkit that both outlines and links to blogs, articles and the unbelievable number of resources available for educators to explore and support the process of using Social Media in their teaching practice.

Web 2.0 Tools

Web 2.0 tools are essentially online software and web-based services that let users create, collaborate, edit and share content online. I have already been using Web 2.0 tools by writing in the cloud (GAFE), creating my own digital resources (blended learning) and again now by creating this blog!

One of the first social media platforms that supported engagement with my own professional development was Pond. This Network for Learning portal, is an online environment that aims to unite teachers, school administrators and students with providers of educational content and services. Its basically a place where I can discover content, share knowledge and engage with my peers. By actively engaging in the Pond environment, I can connect with the wider education community – not just peers I already know and have contact with, but new people I discover inside the environment. Discussions with other educators are some of the best resources I have found in Pond and groups like #ULearn15 have been invaluable.

Digital tools can also be used to scaffold students to think deeper about their learning, organise their thinking and to communicate and collaborate with others online. Pam Hook’s HookED Wiki Solo Taxonomy and Web 2.0 shows how Web 2.0 apps can be used to enhance differentiated learning outcomes.

Another great digital resource to use is Yammer, a social network much like Twitter or Facebook, but only available to people who belong to your school. All of the postings are intended to allow collaboration between teachers and students to work on projects, share files and co-edit documents. You can explore 5 Ways Yammer is Improving Communication, Connections, and Learning in our Schools  or watch Build Classroom Community with Yammer to learn more.

There are also some great readings about future-focused teaching and learning.

Using Mobile Web 2.0 to Transform Pedagogy and Engage Learners by Dr Thom Cochrane on integrating Mobile Web 2.0 technology into learning environments to enhance learner engagement, is an interesting read. So is his  Post Web 2.0 Pedagogy: Mobile social media

Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching – a New Zealand perspective – This research project draws together findings from new data and more than 10 years of research on current practice and futures-thinking in education.

Future-focused learning in connected communities – This report from Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye’s 21st Century Learning Reference Group aims to help inform government planning around 21st century skills and digital competencies.

References

Images:

  1. http://learninglab.etwinning.net/web/5621803/more-resources
  2. http://teachersandsocialmedia.co.nz/sites/default/files/resources/social-media-map-and-characteristics-poster_0.pdf

Melhuish, K. (2013) Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’professional learning. Retrieved November 5, 2015 from http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/8482/thesis.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y