Week 19 / My Reflective Practise

Activity 3: Contribution of Teacher Inquiry Topics to my Communities of Practice

Create a reflective entry where you critically reflect on how two potential and inspiring digital and/or collaborative learning related teacher inquiry topics would contribute to your Communities of Practice. Your reflection should be based on a reflective model of your choice.

Firstly I needed to identify two topics from the course that are relevant to me and my context. For this my study group thought it would be a good idea to put the lists of topics together to make choosing easier. You can see the list of what we have covered below: 


The two topics that stand out for me and fit within my Community of Practice are: Key Competencies in Leadership and Student Agency and Engagement. 

From our readings this week Cambridge, Kaplan, and Suter (2005) suggest that communities of practice provide an environment for people to connectinteractbuild and extend the shared resources within shared learning goals. This fits perfectly with our Uru Mānuka Cluster Leaders of Learning Group. It also matches Wenger's (2000) definition that "a community of practice is usually defined by three distinct elements: joint enterprise, mutual engagement and shared repertoire." 

Our Leaders Group was created to help drive the shared vision, goals and pedagogy of the cluster within each school context. This provides the grounds for joint enterprise. We all have skin in the game by being held accountable for our School's development, which provides us with mutual engagement. We also have a genuine interest in the development of technical and 21st century skills for our learners. By working together we create shared resource banks and ideas providing evidence of the final element shared repertoire. 

I have chosen to reflect on the topics using Jay and Johnston's Reflective Model (2002). 





Key Competencies in Leadership

Descriptive: Recent research that has been carried out by the Woolf Fisher team in 2017 looks at the success of the Manaiakalani Outreach Programme and it's links the impact of different leadership within each context. It was identified that in schools that had strong leadership the implementation of the Programme was further ahead. 
The ability to look at our Professional Standards and link them to the Key Competencies could provide us with good insight into our own practise. By focusing on the impact that this will have on our leaders and their leadership styles our Community will become more reflective and aware. Also looking at our understanding of knowledge as a noun or a verb (Freeth, 2013) has bigger implications for how leadership occurs within a school.  

Comparative: The Leaders within the Community can see the impact that leadership within their own context has towards how their School has developed their understanding and use of the Manaiakalani Programme. The research by Freeth (2013) suggests that a good place to start would be to think about the thinking behind leading and its structures before we conceptualise a plan, as people often act first and then think after. 
The Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES) School Leadership and Student Outcomes (Robinson, Hohepa, Lloyd,,2009) states that:
"There is very little research evidence available that directly explores
the relationship between educational leaders’ knowledge, skills, and
dispositions (KSDs) and student outcomes."
Although they did manage to find connections with these four elements and student outcomes:


Critical Reflection: I think that by looking deeper into the Key Competencies at a leadership level the members of my Community of Practice will be able to identify what is working in their own context, what they may be able to improve on and also what their area of focus should be. 


Student Agency and Engagement

Descriptive: Student Agency and Engagement relates to my Community of Practise because it is part of our Kaupapa from Manaiakalani. Although this is part of what we do and a part of what we practise, through this course I have seen ways of making it even better. Looking at how we develop student agency and engagement across contexts and perhaps even within independent school contexts may provide us with pathways we had not thought of before. I believe that we can do more to empower and engage our learners through student agency. 

Comparative: Feedback from the Woolf Fisher Observations show that student agency is often given through choice of who to work with or the order of tasks, but not on the nature or design of the task. Although this time of agency does increase student engagement I feel that there is more we could be doing to engage our learners through topic choice. In some contexts this is already happening. I feel that this would be a perfect opportunity to use the Community of Practise to gain information on what Leaders are doing to engage students through agency and what the effect they are seeing is - using our joint enterprise to create a shared repertoire. 
The online resources from the Mindlab portal suggest that project based learning could be a way to increase student engagement through agency. The paper Engagement in Australian schools by Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership also looks at the difficulty of measuring engagement, looking at the different types of engagement (cognitive, behavioural and emotional). 
The opening sentence on agency from the Portal is: "Martin (2004, p. 135) characterises agency as "the capability of individual human beings to make choices and act on these choices in a way that makes a difference in their lives”" My thinking around this is how much difference to their lives are the choices we are allowing our students make? 

Critical Reflection: Looking at the research from the Portal it seems that measuring student agency and engagement is no easy feat. It is important to be able to determine whether what you are doing is having an impact on students engagement and therefore you must set out with a very clear measurement of success. In saying that I do believe that inquiring into the effect that different types of student agency could have on student achievement outcomes would be interesting for our Community. 

References: 
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. Engagement in Australian schools. Retrieved http://www.curriculum.edu.au/leader/engagement1,37021.html?issueID=12851 

Cambridge, D., Kaplan, S. & Suter, V. (2005). Community of practice design guide: A Step-by-Step Guide for Designing & Cultivating. Retrieved from https://net.educa use.edu/ir/library/pdf/NLI0531.pd...

Freeth, W. (2013).Towards Reconceptualising Leadership: The Implications of the Revised New Zealand Curriculum for School Leaders. TLRI.  Retrieved from http://www.tlri.org.nz/sites/default/files/projects/Towards%20reconceptualising%20leadership.%20A%20Case%20Study.pdf

Jay, J.K. and Johnson, K.L. (2002). Capturing complexity: a typology of reflective practice for teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18, 73-85.
Wenger, E.(2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization,7(2), 225-246.
Robinson, V., Hohepa, M., Lloyd, C. (2009). Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES) School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying what works and why. The University of Auckland



Week 18 / My Reflective Practice

Activity 2: Reflecting on changes in my future oriented teaching practice 

Create a reflective entry to critically reflect upon how you have positively changed your practice during your postgraduate journey. Your reflections should be based on a suitable reflective model of your choice.
For this task I have chosen to use Gibb's Reflective Cycle from Finlay's Reflecting on Reflective Practise (2009). 

Step 1 (Description): By looking through the required reading, the Executive Summary of “Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching: A New Zealand perspective” (Bolstad, Gilbert, McDowall, Bull, Boyd & Hipkins, 2012). I felt that the theme that best suited my journey would be: "Changing the script": Rethinking learners' and teachers' roles. This theme is linked to the understanding that we (the teachers) are no longer the centre of knowledge in the classroom. My innovation was looking at problem based learning and having students identify, plan and solve problems relating to a particular topic.
As stated in the article - taking into account age levels and year levels is really important, I found that my younger students lacked the content knowledge to solve a problem and therefore I spent more time guiding and supporting during these lessons. The senior classes were able to utilise the scaffolding provided and impressed everyone by exceeding the high standard of work set. Overall, in both classes engagement was high, students were thinking about their learning and asking questions.
Planning for students to drive and determine their own course of learning within a set guideline is a huge mind shift for some teachers. Especially when thinking about a teachers traditional role in the classroom and how they plan for learning to happen. This quote from this weeks reading captures my current thinking: "If we believe that the main role of education is not just to transmit knowledge but also to cultivate people's ability to engage with and generate knowledge, then teachers roles need to be reconsidered." (Bolstad, Gilbert, McDowall, Bull, Boyd & Hipkins, 2012).  
Step 2 (Feelings): At the beginning of my Mindlab journey I was really excited about the path that I was on. Change and new learning is something I really enjoy. I would describe myself as an early adopter or innovator (Robinson, 2012) and so I loved being able to come up with a plan and innovation. The thing that I found more challenging was guiding others towards my innovation. As mentioned above, I enjoy change but this is not the case for everyone. Therefore trying to drive my innovation forward when I am perceived as a "jump in and do it" person proved to be quite difficult, especially with laggards. 
Step 3 (Evaluation): Overall, I feel that I have become a stronger leader over the course of this course... so far... I have a deeper understanding of different leadership and follower styles and the impact of each. When it comes to my teaching approach - my students are extremely positive about their opportunity to drive their learning through the problem based learning.  
Step 4 (Analysis): I think it is interesting to think about the changes that we are seeing in education this century. It's not just about technology, it's also about the skills needed to be a valuable member of society. The changes that I made to my practise came about by doing, by putting what I had been reading about into a plan and actioning it. Looking back at the 21st century skills from the video presented in week 2 (link here), I feel that our current pedagogy of Learn, Create, Share sits well within 21st century teaching. 
Step 5 (Conclusion): The changes made to my teaching practise are invaluable. I have a deeper understanding of 21st century skills and attributes. In terms of my leadership practise I am still learning and growing my own style. Using Kotter's 8 Steps to Accelerate Change (2017) was a helpful way to begin to plan for leadership of an innovation. In the future I feel that my ability to implement change will grow as my understanding of those who I work with grows. After all, from my experience leadership in my role is all about relationships. 
Step 6 (Action Plan): Have I achieved my goal - yes and no. I have implemented an innovation that is successful in increasing students creativity and engagement. That is successful. Are others implementing this through my leadership around 70% are. Do I feel that I need to continue to build on my own leadership skills and attributes? Most definitely.  
Future focus - continue to grow leadership capability. 

References: 

Bolstad, R., Gilbert, J., McDowall, S., Bull, A., Boyd, S., & Hipkins, R. (2012). Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching — a New Zealand perspective. Report prepared for the Ministry of Education. Retrieved from https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/schooling/109306


Kotter International. (2017). 8 Steps for Accelerating Change (eBook). Kotter International

Robinson, L. (2009). A summary of Diffusion of Innovations. Changeology. Retrieved from www.enablingchange.com.au/Summary_Diffusion_Theory.pdf

Week 17 / My Reflective Practice



For this task I have chosen to use Jay and Johnson's (2000) Reflective Model. This model has three stages: descriptive, comparative and critical reflection. 


Stage one: Descriptive 
What is currently happening? 
In my practise, reflect-on-action and reflect-in-action thinking is happening. Normally for me, reflecting in action has occurred because of a specific task not meeting the needs of the learners. The lesson may have not worked and therefore it requires thinking in action to meet the needs. I often discuss solutions and options to any challenges that occur with my colleagues after the fact. Believing that this will help me to be better prepared with more options in the future. When thinking about reflecting on actions, I have been using a blog for the past three years to provide evidence for my Registered Teacher Criteria and also for my Appraisal. 
I reflect upon each unit of work at the end of the unit, with the aim to think forward and provide enough information for what I would change if I were to do this again in the future. 
I have always been encouraged to use Teaching as Inquiry and feel that this also creates avenues for specific reflecting on actions. 
I am feeling pretty confident in my ability to reflect upon what is happening within my class rooms and with my practise. I feel like my current practise is working for me, my students and provides evidence for reviewing my practise. I feel like I have a clear grasp on reflective practise and anything that I am learning or reading through Mindlab is only providing me with more evidence that I am on the right track. 

Stage Two: Comparative 
By looking at the 'Evaluate your reflective practise - March 2018', reading the class notes in the portal and reflecting upon the reading 'Reflecting on Reflective Practise' I believe that my reflective style does include elements of self awareness and critical thinking. In discussing this with my colleagues, I challenge assumptions and link this to the importance of context, always relating back to best practise. My appraisers describe me as reflective and a life-long learner. 
When looking at what is not working when it comes to reflecting, I would say time is a factor. Having the time to sit and reflect-on-actions can be a barrier. Reflecting during the action is a lot easier. At times I do not reflect on my actions until well after the fact - which means that the reflection is not as detailed or descriptive as it could be. So how can I improve this barrier?! I guess I could try to timetable it in weekly? Or at the end of the unit? We will see how this goes over the next term...  

Stage Three: Critical Reflection 
I guess the implications of this matter are that one can be negative when it comes to critical reflection and it is important to see criticality as an opportunity to better yourself. Often gaining insight from research can help support your thinking or can clarify why things may be going in a particular direction. 
It is important to reflect upon your practise often and there are many ways that you can do this. Talking to colleagues can help provide you with ideas or understandings that you may not have thought about previously. When reflecting upon your practise, you must not look at things in isolation and have a wide-lense, you need to not only be looking back but also thinking about the future. 

I think this model will be useful for reflection in the future. The hardest part of this reflection for me is that I feel that I am successful in my reflective practise and that there is not a lot that is not working or that I do not understand. Time is the only barrier, and I feel like that is something all of us educators are struggling with. 

My final understanding or reflection upon this subject is that it is hard to be critical when you are feeling that something is working well, but easier to be critical when it is not working. 

References: 

Finlay, L. (2009). Reflecting on reflective practice. Practice-based Professional Learning Centre, Open University. Retrieved from http://www.open.ac.uk/opencetl/sites/www.open.ac.uk.opencetl/files/files/ecms/web-content/Finlay-(2008)-Reflecting-on-reflective-practice-PBPL-paper-52.pdf

Jay, J.K. and Johnson, K.L. (2002). Capturing complexity: a typology of reflective practice for teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18, 73-85.

Ministry of Education (2007) Teaching as inquiry. Retrieved from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/Curriculum-stories/Case-studies/Teachers-as-learners-Inquiry/Teaching-as-inquiry 

SkillsTeamHullUni (2014) Reflective Writing. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoI67VeE3ds 

Feedback from Woolf Fisher - Summer Learning Journey

As always it is so great to have the opportunity to break down and understand our data with the team from Woolf Fisher. This time we were discussing our Summer Learning Journey Data along side the cumulative data from the beginning of our Manaiakalani journey. 

It is important to note that this was Uru Mānuka's first time participating in the Summer Learning Journey and so as expected our data does look different from Manaiakalani's. Some of the finer details of Manaiakalani's data will help us greatly in the future. Things like what activities our students are more interested in completing and how many blog posts need to be made to make progress or learning shift. 

The Summer Learning Journey focus is on Reading and Writing. The assessment used to analyse the data is the PAT Reading and e-asTTle Writing scores. Students are given choice in the number of tasks they complete and also get credit for commenting on others work. They also receive personal feedback on every blog post from a team of adults working out of Auckland University. The below table is from Manaiakalani's SLJ showing the success of the programme. 

It is interesting to note that students who don't blog over summer can lose up to 5 months of learning in Writing. The fact that students who participated did not experience the Summer Learning Dip it a huge success and the evidence that they actually made progress over the school break is an even bigger one! 

Below is data collected on student engagement based on activity type: 

It is interesting to see that our students completed the task that was to express their opinion the most. 

The other relevant data was evidence on how frequent blog posts needed to be to show progress. 

The difference between students blogging once a week and twice a week is huge. The activities are only 10-15minutes in length. If we can somehow get our parents on board and get students blogging twice a week  (at minimum) over the breaks we will see a significant level of progress in both Reading and Writing for our learners. 
This also lead us to asking questions around how habitual this is currently for our learners - are they blogging twice a week at the moment? If they are is it more likely that this behaviour will continue throughout the break? These are some areas that need some looking into. 

I am excited to see what each school will do in reflection to this data. I feel that our cluster is experiencing huge success in our connection, communication and coherence. More heads are better than one, and now we have strong evidence to tell us what exactly improves student progress over the break! 



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First Assignment for Mindlab

For our first Mindlab Assessment we were asked to "identify, justify and plan a digital and collaborative learning innovation applied to a specific area of your practice." This then had to be submitted in a video format in 6-8 minutes. 

This task was more challenging than I had first anticipated... I did a lot of professional readings and so when it came time to get all of my ideas down I had so much to say! 

The challenge that I identified in my practise was lack of students originality and creativity while completing learning tasks. I was aware that students were sometimes scaffolded too much and really wanted to look into ways I could challenge them to be more creative. 
Research shows that Problem Based Learning and Collaboration are two ways to increase creativity. I also came up with an idea around using learning questions instead of using learning outcomes to also increase critical thinking and engagement. 

Here is my slide deck and below is my video presentation. (Don't you hate listening to your own voice! I sure do!)



In reflection I am aware that I did not explain my plan in enough detail for someone else to understand it... but I did well anyway and thought that I would share it with you so you could all see my thinking behind my first assignment... 

I am using Cybersmart Buddies to increase collaboration, have used the learning question to turn my lesson into a problem that needs to be solved and am challenging the students to share their own unique voice for something that is an identified problem in their community. Let's see how successful this will be over the term! Look out for students projects being uploaded to their blogs on the twitter feed here. 

Mindlab Lecture #2: Key Comps in Leadership

How do these competencies relate to being a good leader? 
What about our code of standards? 

Key Competencies and Leadership
Thinking
Being flexible, thinking critically, thinking from different perspectives
Using Language symbols and texts
Biculturalism - looking at where the learners come from and being inclusive of this.
Being a good communicator - knowing what will engage your audience.
Understanding that people show what they know in different ways.  
Managing self
Showing what is expected of you - walking the walk not just talking the talk
Being able to follow
Not being the be all and end all - being an active participant
Being Colledual
Relating to Others
Perspective
Listening
Communicating effectively
Getting to know the people you work with - the community, forming a relationship.
Participating and contributing
Being able to follow
Use people for their strengths - fountain of knowledge in that area
Creating a diverse leadership

We believe that all of the Key Competencies relate to each of the Professional Standards for teaching. It is important to do all of these things well. 

MANAAKITANGA: Creating a welcoming, caring and creative learning environment that treats everyone with respect and dignity.

Relating to others
Thinking
Managing Self
Participating and contributing
Using Languages Symbols & Texts
WHANAUNGATANGA: Engaging in positive and collaborative relationships with our learners, their families and whānau, our colleagues and the wider community.
WHAKAMANA: empowering all learners to reach their highest potential by providing high-quality teaching and leadership
PONO: showing integrity by acting in ways that are fair, honest, ethical and just.


Inspired Research from Sir Ken Robinson

Today I took the time to reflect upon my teaching and lesson planning. I thought a good place to start would be with a video that has been talked about many times in leadership meetings, "Do Schools Kill Creativity?" ~ Sir Ken Robinson

I think there are so many great ideas that came out of watching this talk. But the one that really interested me was divergent thinking. In particular, I want to know how I can increase divergent thinking in my students to enable them to tap into their own creativity. 
The great example from the video that stemmed this thought process was around the use of a paper clip. Most people when asked what you could use a paper clip for would come up with 20ish ideas, people who are divergent thinkers could come up with hundreds. (They would think about the paper clip without limitations - it could be rubber or 10ft high etc.) I want my students to be thinking outside the box. In fact, I want my students to be thinking without the limitations of a box in the first place! 

Link to source

I really enjoyed reading this article Fuel Creativity with Divergent Thinking by Stacey Goodman. It has some great practical ideas to encourage positive classroom cultures. 
A Challenge from this article was the difference between "Good Judgement vs. Divergent Thinking." I also like the idea of sharing ideas quickly so that you can move on to more creative ideas. I feel like it is important to share as many ideas as you can and then weed them out afterwards. 

As always, this is just the beginning of my understanding. I just felt like I should document the thoughts I had and wanted to track my learning journey around this. I think it links very well into critical thinking and extended learning conversations - two areas that our cluster is inquiring into this year. 

I want to work on allowing more than one correct answer... Although I do encourage this overall, I feel like my students still end up with very similar ideas or at least share their ideas in very similar ways. How do you encourage diversity and originality? Maybe I am not allowing enough time to understand and identify the problem... 

That's all for now... I will continue to work on eliminating the square/box that we need to think outside of! 




Week 19 / My Reflective Practise

Activity 3: Contribution of Teacher Inquiry Topics to my Communities of Practice Create a reflective entry where you critically reflect ...