When I arrived at Lynfield College last year I found a school with a very strong Teaching as Inquiry culture. All teachers across the school were inquiring into the impact that their teaching was having on their students. This was enabled by some great scaffolded templates to help teachers who were newer to the process and time was built into the meeting schedule to help these inquiries progress.
Last month I went to 2 conferences: I started April at the Teach Tech Play Conference and ended it at Energise 2017. These two events were such a breath of fresh air.
Admittedly, the locations were a major help. Teach Tech Play was in Melbourne so I got to have a weekend exploring there before the conference started. And Energise 2017 was in Queenstown, where I didn’t have extra days to explore but the scenery was amazing enough at the venue:
These different locations also meant that the teachers at the conferences were a different group than I regularly see at conferences in the upper half of the North Island. This means that I got to meet lots of educators that I knew through twitter and also to meet new faces that I hadn’t interacted with before. (A special shout out here to Rachel Chisnall who I met face to face for the first time the night before we presented a workshop together – led to great opening lines about welcome to our workshop, we met online). Now, I really like the crew of educators that I have got to know over the years at local events, but it was great to break out of that chamber and interact with different people for a change. Continue reading
Last year two members of our staff were discussing how many students were leaving school without some of the skills that would really set them up for their future. Conversations like this probably happen regularly in school staffrooms around the world. What makes this story a bit different is that these 2 teachers decided to do something about it.
In May last year, Bronwen Wilson and Kat Wells set up a meeting with me to pitch the idea of a Life Skills Programme. Their staffroom discussion had developed into a shared document where they put together a proposal. The proposal was to combine the skills of staff at Lynfield College with outside specialists to deliver a programme covering topics such as mental health, careers, digital citizenship and sexuality which were considered useful for student’s lives but which they might not get the chance to be developing through their normal curriculum.
Last year I arrived at Lynfield College with one of my responsibilities being eLearning. The school had 3 year levels already operating under BYOD and 2016 saw this implemented from Year 9-12. BYOD had been relatively successful in the junior school but it’s first foray into Year 11 had not gone so well.
My initial reactions were to arrive at the school, raise expectations and support it with plenty of professional development. I then quickly took a breath and got myself set to observe and listen to what was happening, rather than arrive with all guns blazing.
I found a Principal (Steve Bovaird) who has spearheaded the introduction of BYOD, a (fantastic) Director of eLearning (Bronwen Wilson) whose role was to help staff develop their use of blended practices, a well used Moodle site and plenty of PD opportunities occurring. So, with great people already involved in leading BYOD and some good processes in place, I prepared to dig a little deeper as I got to know Lynfield.
Very soon, it became clear that one of the major barriers to BYOD implementation across our school was the network infrastructure and maintenance. Term 1 2016 was one full of disruptions as the wifi crashed or slowed considerably on an alarmingly regular basis.
Next week the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics start and with it will start a whole wave of classes learning about the Olympics. My Year 10 class will be amongst the students learning about the Olympics over the next few weeks. However, I don’t want it to be a case of choose 1 country, find some facts and colour in the flag. I want some deeper thinking to occur.
This afternoon we were privileged to have Nathan Mikaere Wallis at school to talk with us (our staff plus some staff from other schools in our CoL) about neuroscience. This post is sharing my notes from the session (so please ignore grammatical errors etc. as Nathan is highly entertaining and moves at great pace!).
He is a highly entertaining speaker and the 2 hour session sped by. If you get the chance to see Nathan seak, then make sure you take it!
Nathan said we were trying to cover 6 hours of material in 2 hours. So, here are my notes to summarise it even further. Some of my thoughts on the implications of all of this follow at the end. Continue reading
A bit of a different post to my usual ones where I unpack things going on. In this post I simply want to share 3 things that have sparked thoughts for me this week.
These sparks are on very different topics but have all kicked my brain into overdrive at different times this week. Enjoy: Continue reading
A series of recent activities, events and discussions have seen me imagining a range of future education scenarios. So, this post is an attempt to write up a few possible scenarios. What could education look like in the future?
I have always been a large advocate of listening to what teachers have to say about education. I much prefer to read books by teachers or those who are working closely in/with schools over those who have lots to say but lack the authenticity of recent work on school grounds. The same with blogs – I’m a big ol’ nerd, who loves to read blogs of what teachers are thinking about and doing in their classrooms.
Teachers, though, have a very vested interest in the future of schools. Will those of us whose jobs depend on the system staying fairly much the same way it is now, really investigate all possible options for the system could shift? Continue reading
Student Centred is one of those vague buzzwords that is used regularly but never really defined in practical terms. This post (based on an Ignite talk I gave last week) attempts to paint a picture of what student centred practices actually look like, both in the classroom and from a leadership perspective.
For me, the key to student centred practices is empathy. Truly seeking to understand how students are experiencing their learning, where each student is at and what their individual needs are, so you can help improve their learning. Student centred practice is focused on doing what is needed to help each student understand and excel in their learning.
As I have written about previously, data is a great place to start in getting to know your learners, but there is a whole lot more to do if you want to understand them. Achievement data, personal data, surveys, observations and good old fashioned conversations should all work together to help you empathise with your students.
Student centred teaching is not just about what they like but about thinking how what they like/are interested in links with what they need to understand in class. How can their interests be used to help them understand the key concepts and skills from the curriculum. Continue reading
If new technology is used in the same way as old technology, the pedagogy ‘wineskin’ is likely to fail
In my last blog post I wrote a narrative of my day shadowing a Year 10 student. This was a real highlight of my first term as a senior leader. This post shares some of the questions that I have either been grappling with or am about to start grappling with in my role as DP. Some of these developed out of reflecting on my day shadowing, many of them emerged from other events throughout the term.
How might we build upon the great content learning to develop more autonomous learners?
What if students didn’t all move through lessons at the same pace?
How might student understanding be checked in ways that don’t stop progress with learning? Continue reading