Sunday, 27 April 2014

Time for a Change

January saw me move away from the teaching of intermediate students and into the secondary school system in New Zealand. It also saw me begin to mold and develop my thinking towards the final project choice for my e-Fellowship through CORE Education. As a result this blog is now getting a makeover - a name change being the first and most obvious change.  This will be teamed with more regular postings as I begin to develop my thinking over the coming months.

I am now teaching at Wanganui Girls College, my classroom time spent with some pretty awesome Year 9 and 10 Math students as well as some of the Year 10 girls being in my Health class.  Am I enjoying it?  You bet!  I am getting my head around the different structure of a secondary school when compared with primary/intermediate schools, at the same time as I am re-connecting with the deeper knowledge required to teach the Math.

The other, and equally important, part of my new role is as Director of E-Learning.  I have responsibility for developing this further within the school which has to begin with the placement of the correct infrastructure - wireless and introducing BYOD being our next major steps.  The past Term has seen me getting my head around O365 and what we can be using this for.  Moving past the glitches I am now confident we can make some real progress into collaborative learning. I am still feeling a little like my hands have been tied after the previous class I taught in being a wireless, 1-2 device driven environment.  Again, change is afoot...

March provided me with my first real taste of what the e-fellowship is going to mean. I finally met all of this years e-fellows, spending 3 days in some damn stimulating company.  Many thanks to Ben Britton, Marnel van der Spuy, Rebecca Power, Tim Gander, Anne-Louise Robertson, and Rowan Taigel - I am looking forward to our next face to face in a few weeks.

The general consensus in the surroundings our accommodation was set seemed to be that it was like being on camp without students. We were surrounded by the bush at the base of the Waitakeri Ranges.  That said it is the first time I have been on a professional development based in digital learning where wifi and phone data was not available or out of range after hours.  Our lunch on day two was testament to our addiction, when we were all glued to our phones tweeting, Facebooking and sharing our experiences with others. It did provide the grounds for solid discussion and the realisation we were sharing similar experiences in our own teaching environments. Discussion around the brazier was pretty inspiring.

Our mentors, John Fenaughty and Louise Taylor, took the opportunity to challenge our thinking and focus us on transformation through a series of workshops. Moments across the three days helped most of us crystallize our thinking into research projects.

We were also privileged to visit Stonefields School and Hobsonville Point Secondary School, which both provided us with some WOW! moments. Many thanks must be offered for the warm welcome we were given and the open manner in which our questions were met.  Claire Amos and Mark Osborne opened my eyes particularly to the possibilities of what can be if  we remove the silo system from secondary schools, teamed with the possibilities of creating modern learning environments from which secondary students can work.  I am well aware as we look at removing the desks and chairs from my cell that I should not over-furnish thanks to a discussion with Mark Osborne.

Stonefields School:

Hobsonville Point Secondary School:

I felt really lucky to meet past e-fellows at a pot-luck tea John organised.  Contacts and networks were made or grown and we know they are watching to see what we are going to add to the knowledge base they have already created.

The project is now taking shape - following a great Skype session with Louise it sounds like I know what I am doing.  My focus - supporting change in school so everyone can feel comfortable with e-Learning. My process is sorted and, apart from a few tweaks on current wording, the plan has formed.

Now to actions.  The first if these is background reading.  Future posts here will come from my reflections as I undertake this - a collection of aha moments that need expressing.  I am already part way into the first if these.  More in a later post - I promise.  Hence, the final reason for this blog having a name change.