Some of you may remember that in the mid-year holidays, I sent out an invitation to teachers interested in flipped learning, to join me at the ClickView to utilise a forward board to record content for use in their flipped classroom. The response was huge and we had lots of interest and some great conversations with teachers who joined us.
I am excited to announce that we will be again opening up the ClickView office to teachers who are interested in joining us to utilise my forward board to record flipped learning content. On Thursday 5 October, teachers who book in for a thirty minute session will be able to come to Clickview's Pyrmont office to join us in recording content to take back to their classroom.
If you are interested in booking in for a thirty minute session please contact me via the contact form here or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are not familiar with what a forward board is, you can see an example here. If you are interested in building your own forward board, they are not particularly difficult. You can access the plans I used to build mine here. Feel free to share around with anyone you know how may be interested.
"I'm realizing for the first time, your life goes on while you're trying to pursue this career. I saw my career as everything. But you have this life, too. Living your life fully, you come to know yourself better. You'll find the place for it."
- Attributed to Nicholas D'Agosto
Whilst this is rather late, given that term two ended nearly a month ago, I have been struggling with time and juggling a new direction in my career along with my family responsibilities and have not had time to write. Term two was, for me, incredibly hectic with trips for work visiting schools in Wagga, Wollongong, Tamworth, Coffs Harbour (twice), Port Macquarie and Nambucca Heads, and Dubbo, attendance at FutureSchools in Melbourne, the Association of Independent Schools IT conference in Canberra, EduTECH, FlipCon New Zealand, two deaths in the family which resulted in a funeral in Tamworth on one day followed by the second in Western Sydney the following day, as well as continuing to wrap my head around being a father to an increasingly independent and cheeky daughter.
One thing that I learned in term two was that I am often too focused on the details and forget to look at the bigger picture. I was away from home far too often in term two because I would look at a week and see that I had no bookings and so could get in a trip to a regional area to visit schools without looking how often that would have me away overall. A rookie error and one that I've corrected by blocking out the weeks when I will and will not be travelling regionally throughout term three and four to ensure no more than five regional trips of two to three nights each. Mrs C21 is much happier about that arrangement than she was with term two's travel arrangements.
I know that I have commented on this before, but I have noticed how there is a common threa running through every school that I have visited thus far, irrespective of socio-economic status, sector base (i.e. Public, Denominational, Independent etc.) and that is that students are all trying to deal with being teenagers and teachers are trying to do the best they can with what they have. As someone from w wholly public school background, as a student and a teacher, it is easy to fall into the trap of just assuming that non-public school teachers are in rich schools and therefore have it easy. I am coming to realise that that is certainly not the case. Whilst the school may be better funded and thus have access to better or more resources, the expectations and demands placed upon teachers are commensurately greater. The obvious example of this is the expectation in many non-public school that every teacher is involved in coaching a weekend sporting team and thus required to spend Saturday morning at a sporting ground with that team.
This realisation has reinforced the need for us as a profession to band together and protect our professionalism and use our expertise as educators to know how to teach to build and maintain networks to share knowledge, resources and practice across schools as we support the influx of new teachers to the profession. A quote from someone at FutureSchools has stuck with me; there is not a dearth of excellence i teaching, but the distribution of excellence is uneven.
Get involved in your local TeachMeet group and help promote professional unity and collegial sharing. Find an early career teacher with whom you can work and mentor to help support their growth as a teacher; but be mindful that they can also possibly teach you something. Brian Host said something to me a few years ago that has stayed with me and gave me the courage to be more active in sharing. He asked if I was presenting at FutureSchools (which is where we were when we were chatting) and I laughed at the apparent absurdity of the notion, remarkign that as an early career teacher I had nothing to offer on par with what others at FutureSchools could offer. Brian said (paraphrasing) that it is not about how long you have been teaching but about how you have been teaching.
I think that my mentality at that point in time is typical of many early career teachers as there seems to be an undercurrent of bias towards more experienced teachers, especially when it comes to trying to find a permanent job. We all come to teaching with out own backgrounds and we need to find a way of sharing that appropriately. Put your hand up to share at a TeachMeet, ask your Principal if you can share a pedagogical approach that has been working for you in the next staff meeting, apply to present at a conference...get involved and share your knowledge and expertise. Early Career Teacher is non synonomous with has no idea what they are doing. There will be somethign they are an expert in and as more experienced teachers we need to find and nurture those things whilst supporting them in the areas where they are strggling.
There is a great chance to get involved coming up. Steph Salazar is organising a TeachMeet event focusing on support and encouraging Pre-Service and Early Career Teachers which is taking place on Tuesday 22 August at Woolpack Hotel Parramatta.
"Have something cool to share as a PST or early career teacher? Perhaps you have golden advice for PSTs! Indicate below that you are interested in doing a presentation and we will be in contact. Any questions? Email email@example.com or tweet me @stephygsalazar."
The above snippet is what this particular TeachMeet is focusing on. Not in Sydney? There is likely a TeachMeet group in your area and if not, then why not start one? TeachMeet events in my area started quite small several years ago and were organised by one person once a year. Now TMCoast runs an event each semester and has a consistent showing of between forty and fifty educators.
I will end this article there as it is will and truly well away from where I thought it would go. I would encourage you to register for TMWooly though as it will be a great event with lots of knowledge for and from pre-service and early career teachers.
Education Nation | Prue Gill and Ed Cuthbertson - Encouraging students to become active participants in their learning
“We need to till and fertilise the soil before we can harvest the growth in our classroom.”
– Prue Gill and Ed Cuthbertson
Peter Mader’s session led into lunch (which was fantastic), after which I headed off to The Learner to hear from Prue Gill and Ed Cuthbertson (@prue_g and @ed_cuthbertson) about how to encourage students to become active participants in their own learning. It promised to be an interesting session, which was unfortunately poorly attended, but from which I learned a lot. Prue and Ed have kindly made their slide deck available and you can find it here.
They began by providing some context for the audience, indicating that they came from a low socioeconomic status (SES) area called Conder in the ACT. They qualified it by saying that low SES in the ACT is not the same as low SES in NSW or other states, but that they are, relatively speaking, disadvantaged and isolated from the rest of the region. They added that they have both been in the school, together, for some years, which is actually an unusual situation. Apparently the ACT used to have a policy in place to ensure cross-fertilisation of ideas and practices that a teacher moved to a new school every two years. The unintended consequence of this was that staffing in the school was fluid and there was constant change, resulting in it beign very difficult to build or change school culture. The practice has, thankfully, fallen by the wayside and has resulted in vastly improved relationships between staff members and between staff and students
We began by considering that we cannot empower students when teachers are not themselves empowered and were asked to consider and map on a Cartesian Plane, school practices that were low or high quality and were empowering or disempowering for teachers.
The audience spent time collaboratively filling in their own Cartesian planes and then came back together and shared the ideas. They related to us, as they added groups ideas to the plane, that they were shown this tool by Dan Meyer and that it provided a usable tool for helping a school move from across the plane to the top right-hand quadrant.
They explored the idea that it was impossible to teach the curriculum if a teacher too busy managing behaviour issues and how teachers need to sit down at the same level as students as part of the behaviour management process, conferencing with them to discuss the root cause of the behaviour. This goes back to the theory that all behaviour has a reason or purpose behind it. The school began using the mini-conference process as a way of addressing behaviour issues constructively and that as it gained traction and acceptance from teachers, students and parents, that they were then able to use it not only to assist in resolving teacher:student issues but also in resolving teacher:teacher and student:student issues.
The school invested time in helping staff develop their professional development plans (PDPs), identifying development opportunities that met both staff and school needs and used action research to gather data on what practices were and were not working and to be able to determine the level of impact that practices were having using data.
They spoke about the need to value the passion and knowledge of teachers and to invest in and then leverage that, compromising as needed logistically. The example they gave was that a science teacher wanted to run a particular program and had built up the interest in science to the point where students wanted to engage in that program. The school leadership was able to recognise the passion and knowledge of that teacher and gave the go-ahead for the program, with a quid-pro-quo of taking on an additional class.
The school also uses collaboratively teaching and have placed all Year Seven mathematics classes on the same line, allowing for team teaching, planning, programming, and assessing.
Another aspect of the school which I believe is fantastic is that every teacher in the school, including the Assistant Principals and the Deputy Principal, are expected to observe and provide feedback to two other teachers, as well be observed and given feedback about their own teaching practice. I have heard this concept given many names, but the underlying spirit is brilliant and promotes growth, learning, and best-practice and that it has resulted in significant growth throughout the entire teaching staff.
The school has also worked hard to remove useless and wasteful staff meetings consisting of items that belong in an e-mail. They map out the agendas for staff meetings for the full year and make them visible to the entire staff, creating an environment where e-mail meetings are reduced and promoting genuine discussion and debate on substantive issues. One of the issues examined was the use of funding and the recognition that data and accountability for the use of funding go hand in hand. To this end, funding began to be targeted to specific purposes and programs, which needed to be evaluated and the data used to determine success and the impact thereof through action research. One outcome of this was that the way rubrics were used to judge assessment tasks was changed. They are now structured and given to students indicating that by the end of the unit they need to be able to answer specific in-depth questions, rather than simply writing a report that uses a few keywords.
In order to improve the level of teacher wellbeing, the school instituted a family week wherein staff are encouraged to not arrive at school prior to 0800 and to not be on premises after 1530. In addition to this, once a week, each subject block (the school is grouped into three cross-faculty blocks) has a staff lunch. During that staff lunch, which is cooked by the staff specifically to share with each other, students are not allowed to go to that staffroom and all playground duties are taken care of by the other two faculty-blocks. I have written previously about the benefits of sharing a meal with colleagues, and they have held consistently for Lanyon High School staff.
One area that was identified as needing improvement was in collaboration with other schools. To this end, a learning community was established with nearby primary and secondary schools. As part of this, joint assemblies are held on a regular, but not interferingly regular, basis so that when students transition from primary to secondary, the school they attend is already relatively familiar due to the community environment that has been established.
At this point, we were asked to consider what an empowered student looked like and in our table groups, discussed and explored this with some consistent themes emerging in the room.
Prue and Ed also noted that if it is easy to measure, then it is probably not worth measuring, which led to a discussion about how do we measure if our students are empowered. Some tools that they use as a school include attendance rates, especially for those with historically low attendance as well as reading student reflection journals.
The discussion then moved onto an explanation of the merit and reward system that was being used across the school and that while it was working well and having positive effects, there was an awareness of Alfie Kohn’s Punished by Rewards theory and the negative potential of extrinsic motivation. There was a discussion of the fact that some schools physically cannot get through the whole curriculum and that one way they were working through that issue was to utilise the learning by design methodology in their planning and programming, as well as peer feedback on practice.
They discovered that students were working on assignments outside of school hours, collaboratively, and diving into deep discussions on concepts that were being covered in class.
We are often told, as educators, that we need to leverage a student’s interest and teach to it. However, Prue and Ed argued that if a student likes bikes, do not give him a book about bikes and teach everything through bikes as that will only destroy the love of bikes. It is also, they said, our job to expose students to other ideas, concepts, and interests rather than allow them to become single-minded about something.
Closing out, Prue and Ed spoke to us briefly about the Giving Project they run through Years Seven, Eight and Nine, the use of a genuine student parliament which has input in the school and issues that affect students, and the last comment was from Prue; “that what works is not the right question. What works somewhere does not work everywhere.”
I enjoyed the session with Prue and Ed, their passion shone through and we heard some interesting ideas about engaging students in their own learning, stemming from a focus on improved school culture. The session was not well attended, I thought and did them a disservice, however, their enthusiasm was infectious and they engaged the audience well.
As always, thank you for reading. If you have missed the other articles in this Education Nation series, you can fidn the full list here.
“For it is in giving that we receive.”
– Attributed to Francis of Assisi
This afternoon I spent close to an hour and a half providing some one on one PD, around some new software that is being utilised in the school. I had indicated in conversations that I was familiar with the software, and after my colleague was left feeling overwhelmed by the quick training session offered by the vendor’s local representative, I was approached and asked if I could spend some time this week helping this teacher learn their way around the software.
Thank you to Nicole Mockler
Part of the reason that I write these blog articles, record the instructional videos for my colleagues each week and am active with Twitter on a professional basis is that it is an investment in my own professional development. The opportunity to consolidate my own understandings on a variety of topics and skills, to reflect on my practice, to engage in networking, is invaluable and is an investment in my own continuing professional development. However, an additional reason is that is also an investment in my colleagues.
Thank you to Andrea Stringer
A school is a community (1), a sentiment we see often in the narratives around education. When you hear about successful schools, you often hear that the teaching staff have a high level of collegiality. Harris and Anthony(2) concluded that “providing teachers opportunities for continued development as they practice their profession is crucial for meaningful change in any educational system.” Additionally, they wrote that the ongoing development of skills and self-confidence in students is impacted by the personal and professional development of their teachers’ than anything else within a school.
Thank you to Paul Hamilton
The ongoing publishing of this blog, production of instructional videos and engagement with Twitter are an opportunity to invest on the school community, at the immediate, local level, and then also further abroad, to the wider school community of teachers everywhere. I invest of my time as I want the best for my students, and that means that not only my practice needs to be top quality, but so does the practice of my colleagues. If society is to continue to develop and improve, then the broader community of teachers need to do the same. I invest of my time, as it is an opportunity to do my part to develop teachers. While I certainly do not believe myself to be a paragon of teaching practice, I know that I can offer something to the teaching community.
Thank you to Amanda Gibson
I happily gave of my time to my colleague this afternoon. This person is in the twilight of their career, yet is still incredibly passionate for their craft, and has been outspoken in staff meetings around the need for further investment in technology in the school in a range of areas. They always have a kind word and time for a chat, and have invested their time in the development and mentoring of younger teachers, including myself and others in the school, both temporary and casual. I am not able to offer something to every teacher, I still very much feel that I am a developing teacher, and am only in the very early stages of my career. This person still desires to learn and increase their skill set in order to improve their own craft. If I can offer something that will benefit this person, I can think of no good reason to not do so.
Thank you to Mitch and Trish
Investing time in my colleagues is not just that. It is an investment in my students, in the teaching profession, and an investment in myself. Knowing that I have been able to help a colleague learn something new has a similar effect for me, mentally and emotionally, as seeing the “a-ha” moment in my students. As a new teacher, who feels like he has daily struggles in a range of areas, who is very much discovering my teaching identity, and finding my place in the school community, the value of a thank you from a more experienced teacher cannot be understated.I feel valued, I feel appreciated, I feel worth while and it reminds me why I teach.
Thank you to Linda and Nessie
With the recent news that nearly forty percent of new teachers are walking away from the profession (which is not necessarily a revelation), I felt that it was a timely reminder. If a colleague has invested of their time in you, whether they are more, less or equally experienced than you are; higher, lower or equal to you in in your local hierarchy, whether they are in your local and physical professional learning network or in your online professional learning network thank them. Let them know their time, knowledge and experience is valued and appreciated. I have not even remotely thanked everyone who has invested their time, knowledge and experience in my professional development, but I have included throughout, a small few who have, and I cannot thank them enough.
Who has invested time in your professional development?
(1) Redding, S. What is a School Community, Anyway?, The School Community Journal, 1:2, pp.7-9. Retrieved from http://www.adi.org/journal/fw91%5CEditorial-ReddingFall1991.pdf October 14, 2015
(2) Harris, D.L. & Anthony, H.M., Collegiality and its role in teacher development: perspectives from veteran and novice teachers, Teacher Development, (2001) 5:3, pp.371-390http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13664530100200150