A Breath of Fresh PD

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

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Co-Teaching in Action

Secondary teachers primarily spend their time teaching their class, in their room, in their own personal way. One of our biggest concerns when starting to teach at Hobsonville Point Secondary School was around how the co-teaching (team teaching, whatever you want to call it) was going to operate. The major positive working in our favour was that while holding concerns, we were all keen to try it out.

This mindset held us well over the first year. We tried things out, worked on our teaching relationships, gave feedback and planned for how to improve our co-teaching. Continue reading

How Might We Promote Growth Mindset, Risk Taking and Perseverance in Teachers?

It has been a while since I have posted a Question Quest post and this is a question I have been pondering a lot lately. This HMW question actually started as a why question:

Why are teachers so unwilling to be uncomfortable when they expect it of students every day?

I have been frustrated to see teachers across the country unwilling to take a risk and push themselves to try new approaches. It seems that it is about getting teachers to feel ok with that uncomfortable learning feeling. To me, discomfort is just a part of learning:

And if we expect students to be ok at grappling with confusion and discomfort while they learn new skills and ideas, shouldn’t we be ok at doing the same? Continue reading

What If you had a teaching super power?

This post is definitely inspired by Science super hero Nano Girl (Michelle Dickinson). Growing up she always wanted to be a super hero and recently even completed a TEDx talk on how to Build a super hero out of yourself in 5 steps.

This afternoon I was talking with my partner and our 4 1/2 year old daughter about what super powers we would want to have (flying for my partner, ice powers such as Elsa in Frozen for my daughter and teleporting for me) when I realised my Question for Question Quest today:

What teaching super power would you like to have?

I think mine would be the power to give students the confidence to take that big learning risk.

I know that my learning risks get easier the more that I take so it would be great to give students the confidence to take those first few risks. For some students it might be standing up and sharing an idea, others it might be embracing the fact their idea might fail but trying anyway, others it could be about taking the lead role in their group. If they had the confidence to do this a few times, it could really help them take further calculated learning risks in future.

What would your teaching super power be?

Would it change if it was only for 1 day? 1 week? 1 month? A term? Permanent?

 

p.s. Bonus marks for those who work out how to make that super power happen. I am certainly aiming to give all my students the confidence to take learning risks this term! Will let you know how it goes.

Educational Exploring and Seizing the Opportunities

We have an awesome opportunity at Hobsonville Point Secondary School to be part of a team looking to redefine secondary schooling. And I really mean awesome – in all senses of reverence, admiration, fear etc.

It is an opportunity to do something completely out of the ordinary which sounds great but at times can be scary, uncomfortable and unsettling. Now, for me, I see this more on the excitement level of awesomeness but I’m also someone who is scared of heights but absolutely loved the Sky Dive I did a couple of years ago.

As teachers we expect students to be ok with being uncomfortable, learning new things every week and embracing the opportunities that exist. But, at times, we aren’t ok with being constantly in that situation ourselves. This post is essentially about encouraging teachers to embrace those challenges and be ok with being uncomfortable whilst you do so. Continue reading

The Tribe Grows

This week we welcomed 9 more staff to the HPSS team. This means that apart from some part time language and music teachers we now have our full teaching staff for 2014 onboard. This first week was all about getting them up to speed with our vision and values and showing them the way we work.

Our introductions helped them get on board with our ways as we welcomed them with our ukeleles then gave 3 minute brutally honest accounts of ourselves. Later in the week,
Continue reading

Moving from the Big Picture to Teaching and Learning Practices

This week has seen us continuing our big picture thinking but also now starting to focus in on what that will look like in the classroom.

On Monday we had a team trip into town for a mystery day out. The ferry ride through the rising fog was a good metaphor for what we would be going through over the rest of the day.

After breakfast together we were split into 2 teams and given a map of checkpoints and clues to decipher. Basically it was a 2 hour adventure race around town finding the checkpoints and taking interpretive photos to represent what we found. The checkpoints all turned out to be pieces of art around town and afterwards we found out that it was actually the Auckland Waterfront Sculpture Tour. Our team then made this video to represent our interpretations of the sculptures:

After a quick bite to eat we then headed to New Zealand Trade and Enterprise for a Design Thinking workshop with Peter Harrison from the Better by Design team. Walking onto their floor we got a hint at what was coming by the large poster on the wall giving tips for creative conversations:

Tips for Creative Conversations

Tips for Creative Conversations

This was an awesome 2 hour workshop introducing us to the ideas of Design Thinking. Continue reading

NZ Teachers Council Review Submission

The New Zealand Teachers Council is undergoing a review at the moment and the proposals are up for consultation. You can find all the review documents here.

The initial read of the glossy proposals seems nice enough. There is a major catch however. The more you read, the scarier it looks. I thoroughly recommend that you take the time to read the details hidden within the larger cabinet paper as this is where you will find some of the bits that worried me.

Whilst writing my submission I was lucky enough to get the chance to read some other submissions (ranging from 1 page to 11 pages), all of which had great thoughts in them. Even if you only write a short submission, I urge as many of you as possible to make a submission.

In the interests of collaboration, here is my submission in full which was sent in today:

Continue reading

Academic Journal Access

This post is a copy of an email I sent this week to the Ministry of Education:

Kia ora tatou,

I am in my 11th year teaching in New Zealand secondary schools. For much of this time I have either been involved in various research projects or undertaking further study or research myself towards a Masters in Education degree. This has meant that a majority of my professional development has been informed by the most recent educational research. I have now, however, been out of university for 18 months and am finding it incredibly difficult to access academic research.

Research has shown that teachers who reflect critically on their practice improve learning a lot more than many other initiatives. It is very difficult if teachers don’t have access to academic journal databases to be able to critically reflect on the quality of our teaching as we are not being exposed to the latest research and ideas.

The Education and Science Select Committee Report “Inquiry into 21st Century Learning Environments and Digital Literacy” also highlights the importance of teachers engaging with current research thinking. The importance of evidence-based decision making and upskilling people for 21st century learning in this report supports my argument that teachers require access to academic journals.

The Education Counts website provides a great synthesis of research ideas and the staff are obviously well connected with the research as I have personally received some of the articles in support of the publications when I have enquired further. These ideas, however, need to be accessed on a more regular basis.

Is it possible to gain access to the academic journal databases that the Ministry of Education subscribes to? I feel this would allow me to continue to pursue improvement in my teaching which will result in better outcomes for my students.

I look forward to your response,

Regards,

Steve Mouldey

What do you think? Am I expecting too much? Am I placing too much emphasis on access to research as a form of professional development? Should I be paying for my own access (note here: One journal wanted to charge me $39.95 just for one article this week!)? What chances of anyone from the MoE engaging in conversation with me on this?

UPDATE 25/6: I have heard back from the Ministry and now have access to their library services. This is available to support teachers and principals in our practice, I encourage you all to read this post about what I can now access or just head to the Ministry of Education Library to find out more.