Transformation and Discomfort

There is a lot of talk about transforming education or transforming schools these days. Many of the ideas or initiatives linked with this though leave me wondering whether we really understand the challenge we face to transform education in New Zealand. Many of the initiatives I have discussed with others lately are based around STEM and/or digital technologies, so that will be the slant of this post. All of these initiatives are truly innovative and are having great outcomes for students and teachers, but I wonder is it enough and are they focused on the right things?

In our experience here forming Hobsonville Point Secondary School, the hardest thing about change is the discomfort that occurs. This was also backed up in EdJourney where Grant Lichtman says that change is not hard, change is uncomfortable. To me, none of the innovations and initiatives trying to bring about change are really addressing this discomfort well. Continue reading

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Google Thinking, Lone Nuts and Moonshots

Last week I was part of the 2014 Google Teachers Academy in Sydney. 50 teachers from across NZ and Australia had been selected to attend this 2 day experience at Google Sydney. Despite all our inherent differences – age, locations, expectations of the next 2 days, positions of leadership – we were all the same in that we all want change in education. Tom Barrett and Hamish Curry from No Tosh had assembled an awesome team of mentors from last year’s GTA to lead us towards making this change happen.

It started off like any other edu conference these days. People meeting outside the building (or in coffee shops just beside) some that know each other already, but the majority being those wonderful first f2f meet ups. Hugs, hand shaking and introductions out of the way we were then let into the Google buildings (yes, they have 3 in Sydney).

It was obvious from the start that this was not going to be like previous Google Teacher Academies. The first to be led by No Tosh, this was far more about Google thinking than Google products (much to my relief as this was what I had applied for – to push my thinking not for a 48 hour tool slam). Even when the mentors presented Google tools these were shared in 3 presentations through the lenses of community, curiosity and creativity.

The venue was amazing with all the Google expectations: a jungle room for relaxation, endless food, monorail cabin as an office, scooters and unicycles for travelling between offices, endless food, a games room, maker space and did I mention endless food?

Amy, Matt, myself and Suan in the Jungle Room image courtesy of Claire

Amy, Matt, myself and Suan in the Jungle Room image courtesy of Claire

Take your pick for moving between the buildings

Take your pick for moving between the buildings

But, the real highlight for me was the Design Thinking process we were lead through. Continue reading

What if the Ministry of Education and teachers actually collaborated for the benefit of students?

This to me just makes sense but it hardly ever happens. All of us in the education system should be in this to benefit student learning.

I hear teachers regularly bagging Ministry decisions (or the equivalent administration in other countries) yet when I speak with Ministry staff many really do hold the same vision and values that we teachers do. They unfortunately are there to do the bidding of whoever is in power as Minister at the time.

If the political parties could get out of the way and let teacers and Ministry staff work together I am absolutely certain we would see some innovations take hold to benefit student learning across the system.

What do you think we could achieve together?

Or am I living in a dream world here? But that’s ok because this post is Day 11 of my Question Quest.