RTC: Professional Learning

My school has just started a new process where each term we focus on a different Registered Teacher Criterion (RTC) as part of our appraisal. In term 3 our focus was on number 4:

Demonstrate commitment to on-going professional learning and development of personal professional practice.

Indicators:

  • Identify professional learning goals in consultation with colleagues
  • Participate responsively in professional learning opportunities within the learning community
  • Initiate learning opportunities to advance personal professional knowledge and skills

As part of our professional practice we need to document how we are doing this and a blog post seemed the natural way for me to reflect.

Indicator One: Identify professional learning goals in consultation with colleagues

At the beginning of the year I identified 3 learning goals, which you can read about here. As the year has progressed I’ve added a couple and changed a few, so now my goals are:

  • Provide creative and integrated learning opportunities for students within mathematics to increase students’ engagement and lift achievement levels of all learners.
  • Provide meaningful audiences for students’ writing by integrating GAFE and blogging into our classroom programme to increase students’ engagement and lift achievement levels of all learners.
  • Explore the role of drama in literacy as a strategy for lifting students’ achievement in reading and developing character empathy.
  • Develop and extend my understanding of Kaupapa Maori theories of education and integrate these within my teaching practice, focusing on whakawhanaungatanga and taonga tuku iho.
  • Explore future focused pedagogies, in particular Universal Design for Learning and Design Thinking, and integrate these into classroom practice.
  • Investigate opportunities for curriculum integration and focus on developing dispositional thinking within the classroom.

These goals ave developed out of a lot personal reflection, a myriad of conversations and of course inquiring into my own teaching practice and seeking feedback from students.

 

Indicator Two: Participate responsively in professional learning opportunities within the learning community

I’m very lucky to be part of two really awesome learning communities, my first and primary community is my school and within that my syndicate. As part of my school learning community we regularly have PL on a range of areas, and regular Te Reo Maori PL with our fabulous DP Lena. I am also part of a professional learning group at school focusing on raising the achievement of priority learners in reading, and this too has brought about some fantastic PL opportunities and plenty of discussion. This year’s opportunities for professional learning to date have included:

  • Leading a regular tech session in term 3
  • being part of a professional learning group
  • taking part in e-learning PL with Alex Perry
  • taking part in data analysis and assessment PL on asTTle writing, STAR and Maths PAT
  • Leading staff meetings on e-learning
  • Presenting our vision of e-learning to the board
  • Taking part in writing moderation as a syndicate
  • Teaching my syndicate about design thinking
  • Implementing new opportunities for students voice in our planning practices
  • Leading school wide implementation of Google Apps for Education
  • Sharing ideas and resources with other staff

 

Indicator Three: Initiate learning opportunities to advance personal professional knowledge and skills

I’m also fortunate to be part of an amazing community of teachers online through twitter, blogs and of course the thing that brought us all together #edchatnz. As part of this community this year I have:

  • had ongoing professional conversations with educators in and around New Zealand via blogs and twitter
  • regularly participated in the twitter chat #edchatnz
  • started the Middle School twitter chat #midedchatnz which I host every fortnight
  • attended the inaugural #edchatnz conference at Hobsonville Point Secondary School
  • blogged my learning
  • presented at the Connected Educators Month Eduignite evening in Wellington
  • started to help with the planning for EducampWelly in 2015

This year I have also been lucky enough to be part of the Teacher Professional Development Languages Programme (TPDL) which is an intensive language teaching and learning course. This has involved taking the University of Auckland paper EDPROFST360 Language Learning in the Classroom, studying German through the Goethe Institut, taking the European Framework for Languages Proficiency Exams (A1) and having in school visits to develop my language teaching pedagogy.

 

Reflective Question: How do I continue to advance my professional learning as a teacher?

Obviously I want to keep doing all the things I am doing, particularly with regards to connecting online with other educators. I’d also like to take more opportunities to visit other teachers and classrooms and see how they are doing things. I’d like to continue to explore Design Thinking and learn more about Universal Design for Learning. I’m also thinking about applying to be a Google Certified Teacher next year and an Apple Distinguished Educator. I’ve got a long list of professional readings too, the start of which is below:

The Falconer – Grant Lichtman

Invent to Learn – Sylvia Libow Martinez & Gary Stager

Can Computers Keep Secrets? How a Six-Year-Old’s Curiosity Could Change the World by Tom Barrett.

 

GAFE – 3 Weeks In

Three weeks ago we launched Google Apps for Education across our school. Our teachers have been using it for about a year now, but in week 5 we went universal with it. Every student now has their own GAFE account including Gmail, Drive, Blogger and Calendar.

This feels like it has been a long time coming. We’ve been taking about it and looking at it seriously since around term 4 last year, but it wasn’t until we had an external provider come and say “You need to get GAFE for your students” that we had enough momentum to overcome caution and take the risk. Though to be honest I don’t really think it is much of a risk. GAFE is well established and widely used. With support structures like Teacher Dashboard in place it is a very easy and safe way to enable student e-learning.

As one of the TICs (there are two of us) of E-Learning, this week has been awesome seeing our vision finally come to life. However, I’m also aware that this is just the beginning of the journey and there will need to be continual professional learning for staff and support structures in place to help this roll out effectively. We’re lucky that as a relatively small school, it is easy to see how everyone is working with GAFE and who is struggling and find time to support those who need it. I can only begin to imagine how much harder that task would be in a bigger school.

We also need to provide spaces for innovation and idea sharing. Already there are teachers experimenting, trying new things, asking questions and pushing the boundaries of traditional pedagogy, and we need to foster this, but also makes sure it is being shared.

We’ve also received responses from a few parents expressing concerns over the fact that their children have emails, cyberbullying and internet safety despite having explained the precautions taken, so clearly we’ve got a need there in terms of helping our parents understand our vision for digitally-savvy students who can interact with confidence both online and offline spaces.

As a classroom teacher, I love the practicality of GAFE, I love that I can email my students important notices and share docs with them. I love using blogger with them for our class blog and I’m looking forward to getting them underway with their own blogs. We’ve only had it for a few weeks (and we’ve just finished writing reports) so I haven’t really had much of chance to play and start imagining the possibilities but I’m looking forward to having more time to really wrap my head around everything.