Wahine Toa

toa

I was having a recent chat with one of my favourite online educators Marnel, @1MvdS .

She asked me what my goals were for 2018. 

Each year I set goals for myself. Each year I reflect on my progress.

Personal Goal

This year I have a massive personal goal and that is to be healthy. At this stage I have not consolidated my professional goals. They are still coming.

I visited our family doctor during the holidays and he gave me a good kick up the rear end. I guess I needed to hear this from a medical perspective. I told him I was walking a regular 10,000 steps a day as I had my fitbit to keep track. He informed me that that was obviously not enough for a woman of my current stature. He pointed out to me that if I kept gaining weight at the speed I have been I would explode when I turned 60.

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OK, so first things first I booked into an assessment clinic who works with a weight gym. My doctor told me to get an assessment done and to move from there.

When I think with my SOLO Taxonomy brain I am prestructural on my health because I need to be told what to do.

So it has been nearly a month since I began. I have been an average of three times each week. Yes I am doing weights and love the strength training. I am also doing cardio and hate that part of my training.  I have prioritised my week to get it done and at this stage am only there because I have to be and am accountable to my doctor who is checking my progress in 3 months.

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I am learning to say no to others as my health is more important than being of service at this stage. I have been thinking about my energy being a half empty glass and trying hard to focus on that glass being refillable by changing entrenched habits.

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So where to next? You will hear me mutter about having to go to the gym, You will hear me complain about finding long lost muscles. You might see me shelving the cheese and crackers for apples and water in our staff room. (Sometimes). However be supportive and be like my fabulous weight training instructors who encourage me, always greet me and address me by name and continually adjust my training so that the workout fits me perfectly.

 

Numbers

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I am one of those educators who love numbers.

Not quite sure where it came from. However what I have slowly realised is the way numbers can tell stories. Stories I do understand because I love stories.

Numbers from my past

If I go back in my learning to high school. I achieved school certificate maths thanks to Mrs Dodd. However that was as far as my achievement went in mathematics against national standards during the era of sitting one exam to prove learning. Before that I have few memories of numbers except for regurgitating my times table as my teacher kept the rhythm using a ruler against a desk. My dad used my knowledge of times tables to teach me how to tell the time. My mum taught me nursery rhymes and told me stories that included numbers. Mum would also send me down to the local side of the street store with a little bit of money to buy the odd item. 

My dad was an accountant and auditor. Yet I know he often talked about being in a profession he did to make a living rather than doing something he loved. He loved designing and often told me he would have loved to have been an architect. During his lifetime people usually studied for one job. Once in the system they generally stayed there until retirement.

Myself I love the way things work and kind of like my passion for science my strength with numbers developed later in life. I cannot yet see numbers like I can see language but I can definitely see the relationship in building my thinking.

Numbers so far this year

During my current work I am working more and more with data and I believe this is because of my skills with spreadsheets. Over time I have learnt these skills as a need to know basis. Yet one of the skills of being a classroom teacher is knowing how to extrapolate data from a student management system. This is definitely a skill that did not come as part of my professional training but developed with experience. Since the start of this year I have had my head filled with numbers as I have supported our teachers look at their student’s data from last year. I also collated data for our ELL application and matched this against ELLP forms. Then I have identified who our new students are and have tested them for funding criteria. This year we have seen greater numbers of migrant learners at the upper part of our school. Several are recent arrivals.  Finally this week I will finalise all the numbers for ministry application. 

When I work with numbers I use technology to help me check that what I am doing is correct and that is where my developing skills with formulas comes into play.

Many years ago I learnt to use spread sheet formulas to balance my class paper role because my maths was not that accurate. Now we use a database and balancing a paper role is an artefact from the past. I like to go into our school’s attendance register and look at patterns emerging with attendance.

Numbers and Pedagogy

Numbers have a history and numbers can be used to reflect on pedagogy.

In Samoa we are often asked, O ai oe? O ai lou aiga? O fea lou nu’u? Who are you and your family and where do you come from? I believe in knowing my own Faalupega so that I can answer these questions. In my Palagi world this translates to knowing your genealogy.

In my school I believe that we need to know our history so we know who we are and how we have evolved. One way of doing this is knowing our pepeha and knowing our own historical stories. I have tracked our ethnic data since I have started at Newmarket and find this area fascinating. Then when I delve into our historic data I believe we tell the story of migration from the photographic faces of our children.

Each year teachers build a class description about their children. As a young teacher I needed to locate student cards and manually sift for medical and personal details. During those times the numbers included how many in my class, year level, gender and birthdates and each one had to be sighted on individual cards. I kept a hand written paper copy of phone numbers and first names of parents so that I could quickly locate these if I needed to walk across to the office to use the one school phone to contact them. This copy was pasted into the front of my hand made teacher planning book that was drawn up and filled in weekly by hand because this was the period of education before photocopiers.

When I returned to teaching after a break I was excited to see that my principal produced board reports and this is when I saw the first tracking of school ethnicity. I was just starting out in my National Diploma of TESSOL and those numbers fascinated me.

Currently in in New Zealand we have had a change of government and there have been changes in the way we assess our learners. Already I have spotted the broom sweeping clean. For example I can no longer see our schools National Standard data being shared so openly as it was. Parts of our online teaching resource site is evolving and shifting and often I click on broken links which can be frustrating.  We used to highlight just priority learners but that has now changed back to a focus on our total class. Yes we used to do that in the olden days.

Our student management system will probably evolve to reflect current policies. Therefore the way of gathering numbers will change.

Numbers and online learner portfolios 

We are playing with online learning spaces to curate our children’s learning and to share this with our families. As we move towards our learners monitoring their own learning, tools continue to develop to support us in our work. I can already see the numbers and patterns emerging from these spaces that help tell the learning story.

As we replace our national standard data with tracking against the progressions new tools will emerge to do this so our systems will evolve and adapt. As our teachers and learners use the tools to track learning I believe the digital portfolio will gain in momentum. How can our students build digital portfolios if our teachers do not have them? How can we support our students to curate and track if we do not curate and track our own learning? That is where appraisals come in. I especially like how I can use the hashtags from my registered teacher’s criteria to support me in tracking my own learning for my digital portfolio. The ongoing challenge I find myself in is using those tags. When I use them, the numbers show me the areas in my profession that I am strong and the areas that I need to continually work on. 

Numbers and blogging

I have always been fascinated with #EdBlogNZ where New Zealand Teachers’ blogs have been curated and as they blog the most recent posts bounce to the top. Even these numbers tell a story. Writing from experience I know how challenging it is to blog regularly and how challenging it is to curate my own learning. Blogging is a numbers game and inside the system a blogger can track visitors, numbers of posts and regularity of posts as well as using tag clouds to identify the sorts of writing that happens.

For example the numbers from my blog show that I have been blogging for 9 years. I have published 184 posts. I have a regular readership of over 3,500 and yet I take that with a grain of salt. I can talk about the total number of visitors that visit and know from experience that even that is not accurate as the system makes out. I can tell you my most popular posts and I am never sure why because the posts that I spend ages on and reference accurately often do not get the traffic that I would expect. The posts that I flick off often end up getting the traffic.

Numbers, devices and online spaces

So far this term I have ensured that all of our new learners have started with a school device, have been placed on the learning management systems, have access to the online learning spaces and have supported teachers to identify who requires extra in class support.

Numbers and ELLP

This week I will finalise numbers for our English Language Learners application and I have embraced the process of finding out all I can about our new learners including their learning history as well as who they are.

Numbers and you

In your work have you wondered about the growing need to understanding numbers?

 

Numbers and Gunsyou have to read this blog post by USA teacher Mark Grundel.

 

 

Gaualofa: A trip back down memory lane.

E LEAI SE GAUMATA’U, NA O LE GAUALOFA

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What you do out of love will live forever.

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Gaualofa in Okahu Bay. I ❤️ this this photo which includes the self made buoys from left over Jandal material and bound in netting. Effective use and repurposing of rubber.

An old school friend Maselina from St Mary’s Savalalo, Samoa tagged me on facebook and said did I know that the Gaualofa was back in Auckland. She suggested I take some time to come down to Okahu Bay and show my support.

I was super excited.  In April 2011 I had been privileged to catch a ride on the Gaualofa. You can read that story here.

The Gaualofa is  an example of Samoa’s double-hulled voyaging canoe. To this day I still have fond memories of the excitement I had sailing on this traditional Va’atele and remembered stories of my great grandmother sailing between islands. You can learn more about the Gaualofa by reading this description.

In 2012 Gaualofa was gifted to the Samoa Voyaging Society by Okeanos Foundation for the Sea founder by Dieter Paulmann and his wife Hanna.

I got the chance to speak with Schannel Fanene van Dijken, President of the Samoan Voyaging Society and who works for Conservation International Samoa. He explained, The Samoan Voyaging Society (SVS) is a non-profit Samoan organisation that is reviving the heritage of traditional ocean voyaging/navigation and environmental stewardship with new generations of Samoans and other Pacific Islanders. The Society is the caretaker of the Gaualofa, a 22-meter Samoan traditional Va’a or Vaka (Ocean sailing double hulled voyaging canoe) which is used as a platform to deliver traditional navigation/way-finding and ocean and environmental education programming around Samoa and surrounding Islands. The Va’s is our floating classroom with our main goal to enhance the environmental knowledge and importance of caring for our environment amongst our Pacific people, provided by our 14 – 16 trained crew onboard. Since 2009, the Vaʻa Gaualofa has sailed more than 40,000 nautical miles. The Society’s work has been recognised and supported by the Samoan Government, the United States, Chinese and NZ Embassies in Samoa, Okeanos Foundation, Disney, and Conservation International.”

Schannel  stressed that “the New Zealand voyage is an important one. Not only does this allow us to honor and celebrate our shared ancestral bonds with our Maori aiga, but also highlight to our Samoan based aiga who we are and what we represent.”

Via Conservation International

The theme of aiga is an important one to the crew and to the wider Aiga Folau because the not-for-profit organisation works not only to revive Samoa’s traditional sailing and navigation skills but also our past stewardship responsibilities that promoted sustainable land and ocean resource use amongst communities.

  • Read Samoa Planets article: Aiga Folau o Samoa bring the Gaualofa to Aotearoa to get an insight into Aiga Folau President Schannel Fanene van Dijken and Vice President of Aiga Folau, and Tulafale for the Gaualofa, Lauaki Lavata’i Afifi Mailagi sharing about the hopes to strengthen bonds with their Maori whanau.
  • Maori TV ran an excerpt on the journey to Aotearoa and the  Samoan Observer followed the conversation of the SVS and the work they to raise awareness about the environment.

The Gaualofa event is also a reminder for us at Newmarket School to continue our enviro work. Our children completed a beach clean up at Okahu Bay a few years ago and it is a timely reminder to keep revisiting our schools goals of being sustainable. I know my recent visit to Tiritirimatangi was a bit of a shock because I was there soon after a storm and spent a few hours collecting plastic off my favourite beach. But not just the soil and water sustainability but also the air because we need clear skies to read the stars. So the sustainable work I have done with my students in regards to clean air all helps.

The crew will spend the next month preparing their vessel and participate at the Auckland Anniversary weekend Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival.

They will then set sail north to the Bay of Islands for Waitangi Day celebrations on the 6th of February. After that they will sail alongside Haunui and Ngahiraka mai Tawhitithe down the west coast to participate at the Pacific Climate Change conference and the New Zealand Festival in Wellington as they are part of the central participants at the ‘Waka Odyssey in February’. 

The Gaualofa will be in Wellington until 28th Feb then sail up west coast again to Porirua for another set of community events, going into early March. Finally they plan to leave New Zealand from Kawhia mid March and make the 2000 mile voyage home to Samoa in April.

The crew will be engaging with the public and schools during these sails and events. There will be many public sails, school visits with the goal of promoting culture and environment.

Maselina and I spent a few hours down at Okahu Bay catching up.  I have not her seen face to face for forty five years.  But because of social media time is not that important. In addition I met several members of the 2018 custodians of the Gaualofa such as Trevor who comes from the same district of Falealili as my family, Jamal who is from the Tamasese family and Xavier. I found out later that Xavier has one daughter called Nafanua after the Goddess of War. Nafanua’s weapon of choice was known as Ulimasao and that is also my online name.

Later I was also able to meet several of the other crew members. I was super excited to catch up with Fealofani Brunn who now captains the Gaualofa and also Kalolo Steffany who is now the navigator for the Gaualofa.

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          Some of the crew enjoying some lunch.                                                  Myself, Maselina and Fealofani.

The current crew of Gaualofa.

Anna Bertram Secretary
Sa’oleititi Caroline Duffy cultural affairs and protocols
Fealofani Brunn Captain
Jamal Tamasese Crew, Recipient of 2017 Environmental Heroes Leadership Programme
Kalolo Steffany Navigator
Kevin Samia
Leo
Lauaki Lavata’i Afifi Mailagi Vice President and Tulafale
Maoluma Onesemo Crew Representative on SVS so executive committee.
Roman Waterhouse Crew
Sai Crew
Schannel Fanene van Dijken Conservation International Samoa –

President of the Samoan Voyaging Society

Semo Crew
Seniu Crew
Sose Crew
Trevor Crew
Xavier Lui Membership and outreach officer on SVS executive

To give you an idea of the sort of activities  SVS are doing with the Gaualofa, check out the following links to see the pilot community program carried out earlier in 2017 with taking the Disney movie “Moana” around Samoa.

For more information


To support The Aiga Folau o Samoa and their journey to raise awareness about our ocean 

you can contribute via their website and head along to one of two upcoming fundraising events in January to raise funds for the general maintenance of the Gaualofa and provisioning of the crew.

South Auckland

WHERE: St Mary’s Parish Hall Papakura

WHEN: Friday 20 January 2018

Central West Auckland

ticket

Other ways you can help.

http://gaualofa.com/support-svs/

Below are some of what I saw that you could help with.

$1000.00 help us replace one of our beams. We have 12 beams that need some loving.
$200.00 helps us buy our weather jackets. We have 16 crew members.
$100 helps us waterproof the storage boxes. We have 4 of those.

Anyone have access to a communications provider that can help them with mobile DATA access?

$100 helps us buy a week’s worth of food provision per member.  Again we have 16 members and we are in Aotearoa for 14 weeks.

 

Bah Humbug to 2018.

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This is just a reflection of 2017.

Aspects of 2017 that were most rewarding or satisfying and why?

Probably my most rewarding outcomes was my work with teachers. Some example include working with the ACCoS Community. I was excited to see the growth of members of the Across School Leaders as they took up the challenge of sharing their work on TeachMeetNZ and at ULEARN.

I was also excited to complete another #EdBookNZ project where educators from around New Zealand write 1000 word blog post.

I continued to work in the background with my colleagues and curate #EdBlogNZ where we share teachers blogs.

I passed Google Educator Level 1 and learnt heaps in the process.

I attended #EducampAKL hosted at Aorere College.

Within my own school, I collated our student data as I have normally done and analysed changed in ethnicities, progress and general trends.

I was also really satisfied with the outcome of visiting China as part of the China Scholarship Programme to Beijing developed by ILEP, Confucius, Hanban and the New Zealand Ministry of Education. I had my reflection post cross posted on several other sites. Part of my learning involved me developing a music programme using Mandarin formulaic expressions to create rhythms.

 

Aspects of the year that were the least rewarding or satisfying and why?

I have found learning Chinese a real challenge this year. I set up vocabulary in script form and have been endeavouring to learn them, but I have found the process incredibly challenging. I undertake this journey to continually remind myself how hard it is being a language learner and continue to build empathy for the language learners and their families whom I work with.

The other side of being an Across School Leader is the amount of time I am out of my own school. I needed to restructure my time to daily blocks or I felt that my own students were missing out.

My father passed away which kind of knocked me back. Probably more so during the holidays because I am at home. At the same time his death brought all my sisters and my sons home so it was a chance to reflect on his life.

I flunked two exams. Both I was not expecting to fail but fail I did.

What I have found interesting about this year is that I am not as busy on social media as in leading events and discussions but have found myself more as the goose flying at the back and supporting others leading at the front.

Where to next

My role at Newmarket School continues to change and evolve and with change comes the feeling of uncertainty. I am no longer in charge of ESOL or with ICT. I have stepped down from my role as the Travelwise Lead Teacher. This changes are to do with our Community of Learners- ACCoS. I am now leading the Mathematics initiative for our Communities of Learners and this involves two other schools. So again I will be the goose flying at the back supporting other staff to take the lead in these areas.

I am very much about growing others and look forward positively and yet with some trepidation at the loosening of the reigns of leadership. I believe we are in for another year of chaos. Our school has been gutted and our new building is still about a term away. We have a change in staff and that brings delights and challenges. We are tinkering with leadership responsibilities that heightens the concept of chaos and will test normal social and digital structures. So to be honest I feel like all scaffolding has been kicked out from under me, again.

I know that out of chaos better things happen, but at this stage on the first day of 2018, I just want to be the caterpillar. I have no interest in being a beautiful butterfly. I will be a butterfly in another post and sprinkle fairy dust when I can be bothered emerging from my cocoon.  

Blogs and Sites

This piece of writing is to clear my head. I have so many ideas whorling around that I am forced to take a moment to clarify my thinking. I am not quite sure where I am going with this piece but really wanted to clear my thoughts.

Blogs

The major idea is about transparency. I have been thinking about #EdBlogNZ where New Zealand teachers blogs are curated. For me personally the site has grown into being a reference of New Zealand Education and I often pop in to see current trends happening.

The site does not have everything about education on it, but what it does provide is a window to what is happening in schools nationally.

What I find really interesting about educators who take time from the busyness of the job to reflect on a variety of topics and share their learning is how do others in our profession do justice to the Registered Teachers Practice if they are not curating what they do in such a public way.

I guess I liken it to seeing folders stacked on the teachers table with their appraisal documentation and I state- So what?

The next steps I note is cutsey folders in the cloud with all documentation and again I state – So what? Yes it is digital, but I wonder how findable. I wonder how shared those folders are so that others can see? And yes you can create artefacts that gloss over names and personal data. At the end of the day blogging offers stories and the opportunity to glimpse a snapshot of what is happening that frankly, cannot be seen behind a locked digital or paper folder.

At my school this year we have 12 teachers and out of this 12 we had at least 4 regular bloggers. The others have not updated at all in 2017. Being a blogger myself, I had aimed to up my reflections to one a week, but again tracking back over the year, it was more like one a month.

Here are some interesting facts about EdBlogNZ. Currently there are 174 teachers who blog with 67.2% female and 32.8% male. Under principals there are 31 with over half male at 54.8% and 42.5% female. Under facilitators there are 29 with 79.3% female and 20.7% male. What the site cannot do is archive key words or ideas and in order to dig deeper with this would require accessing each site.

Often I hear school leaders say, oh we have most of our teachers who blog. I have been tracking #EdBlogNZ since March of 2014 so I believe we have built a reasonably accurate picture of reflective practitioners and what I conclude with is there is not nearly enough of educators who share their stories.

I often say to teachers if I cannot see what you do then it does not exist which was something I learned from my Flat Connections certification.

Planning and sites

I have embraced google apps for education for the ease of sharing that the tools have provided. I like the way the apps allows multiple access to the same artefacts that is totally easy to do. For example if a video is stored on youtube, I can link it in Docs, I can embed it into slides, I can embed it into sites and blogger. I can also embed it into wordpress.

When I nosey around planning I am interested in how the planning evolves over time and what tools come to the surface. For example, at my school I have watched one team embrace sheets for planning and have observed how the sheets are continually shifting and evolving as the teachers become much more knowledgeable at how to manipulate the information so that it becomes like a hyperdocument. I really like their use because sheets offer a terms planning using one document and tabs are used to differentiate for the different weeks.

I observe another team using calendar in an advanced way that is like an advanced planning system and the neat idea is this is accessible by the students in the team. This same team also uses sheets to drive the calendar. Yet I can see that calendar is much more efficient and really I believe they are duplicating the workload using both. As they bring in new staff who are new to the collaborative planning ideas, I think they will continue to use both until the new people have used and understand the system.

So the challenge can be when schools insist on one way of doing things and ‘coerce’ all staff to follow a templated way of doing things. Don’t get me wrong. Some items for accountability are non negotiable but I believe that teachers need to show how they are continuously evolving with the tools. We all know how fast these change. For example I am playing in new google sites and have always believed that sites are perfect for curating all manners of artefacts. Yet I struggle to find any teachers at my school who use sites for planning.

I maintain our staff site using Google sites and use it to curate important pieces of information and embed artefacts that aid the running of the school. In our staff site, there are slides, sheets, calendar, folders and docs embedded in a variety of ways.

We began using a staff site in 2014 and each year I duplicate the master site and added the year to the duplicate and then this was archived. Over the past three years the site moved quickly in structure and design. Until the current site worked. So for 2018, I created our staff site using new google sites and used the lessons learned to structure it in such a way that it is much easier to navigate. But am not sure what to do at the end of 2018 when I generally curate the site and restructure it to show our current school trends. New Google sites cannot yet be duplicated.

I look forward to seeing how systems continue to evolve in 2018. I hope to see other tools used for curating, reflecting and for collaboration. It is always exciting when I see teachers and students co construct artefacts for learning. What tools do you use in your work?

 

Bear Breaking off Corn

Bear

http://www.cnnuu.com/jianbihua/dongwu/4257.html

During my session of Chinese language this week I learnt a new saying

‘狗熊掰  玉米  Gǒuxióng bāi  yùmǐ’ which means Bear breaking off corn.

This is explained that the bear gathers corn and stores it under his armpit and we can see what happens as he adds to his stash. It is an analogy about the importance of maintaining previous learning. The Chinese story tells of a young bear who plucked a piece of corn, then saw watermelon and thought that was better. So he drop the corn for the watermelon. Next he spotted a rabbit and thought that was better so he dropped the watermelon and chased the rabbit. Unfortunately the rabbit ran fast and the young bear returned home empty handed. I guess the English version of this saying is ‘ A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’

That is a perfect explanation for my learning over this past few weeks. So much has happened that I feel like the earlier learning has dropped away.

Just before the October holidays I sat Google Certified Educator Level 2. This was my second attempt after having a computer freeze in the final 20 minutes during my first attempt. At the end of my second attempt I scored 78% out of 100 and you need 80% to pass. Therefore I failed.

Google Fail

Then this week I received notification of my HSK level 2 result. I scored 108 out of 200. I needed 120 to pass. Again I failed.

Failure

Sometimes having knock backs is disheartening, but as a learner I know that in some ways they are important to help refocus, reflect on how to do better next time and know that learning can have many FAILS.m

Straight after both results I felt like the glass half empty. Yet if I refocus on the glass half full perspective I can reflect and share the good outcomes. This year, I got to visit Beijing on a scholarship and this year I passed Google Certified Educator Level 1.

In addition I ran a successful TeachMeetNZ for our CoL, managed to persuade three of my colleagues in my CoL to present with me at Ulearn. You can read about all about that here.  Last weekend I published EDBookNZ 2017. This is an initiative where educators from around New Zealand contribute to a shared book about current education happening. You can read about past EdBookNZ books here.

Over the past two weeks my Travelwise Student Leaders collected our Gold Level certificate that reflects the work we have done this year at my school and just yesterday we were evaluated as a Green/Gold Enviro school and beyond and our students made that final decision based on our kete of evidence. So just from this term alone lots of fabulous personal achievements. This reflection is still coming.

Where to next

In regards to my Google Certified Educator Level 2 exam I will spend time over the holidays revisiting all the modules and aim to try again later January. In regards to my HSK level 2 exam, I have downloaded the brand new Duolingo app for Mandarin which so far is flippin amazing and practice for 5 minutes daily then try HSK level 2 again in May of 2018.

Update: Oh and check out Reading too much into star wars, ‘The Last Jedi. By Rachel Chisnall

 

Message to the Right Honourable Curran

(This post is one of several that were collated into #EdBookNZ for 2017.)

In response to the Right Honourable Curran, New Zealand’s new minister of Government Digital Services recent call for “algorithmic transparency”.

Let us remember to forgetViktor Mayer-Schönberger (2009, 2011)

 

Balance

Teachers as evaluators  

New Zealand schools gather and store data about their learners.  They do this in an attempt to make meaning of the school based learning processes – to determine the extent of their influence on changing the learners’ knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours over time.  This data gathering and storage activity assumes that the infinite complexities of human understanding can be reliably and validly represented by a simplified set of statistical profiles and continuums.

Effective teachers think of themselves as “evaluators”. Teachers who want to make  a difference are exhorted to adopt certain mind frames about what they do – “most critically a mind frame within which they ask themselves about the effect they are having on student learning.” (Hattie 2011 p14).  

My fundamental task is to evaluate the effect of my teaching on students’ learning and achievement. Hattie in Visible Learning for Teachers (2011 p159)

When teachers are evaluators then schools become places where to paraphrase Schama (1995) “measurement is the absolute arbiter of value”.  

Technologies have enormously enhanced the ability of schools to gather and store this data. As a consequence of the facility with which we can gather and store student data – the focus of school administrators shifts to monitoring the management and exchange of student data as the student moves through the school system.  For example – the New Zealand Ministry of Education’s recently released report on the Student Information Sharing Initiative (SISI) is intended to improve the management and exchange of student data.  

Balance: Good intentions and unintended consequences

Postman (1998) reminds us of five things we need to know about technological change. His first idea is about balance. He reminds us that “for every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage”.  The advantages of using technologies to make learning progress visible are commonly described and experienced. Even the most temporary of visitors find that signing in at the front office is transformed into an expensive  data collection process where they find themselves – bar coded – time-stamped, stickered and photographed – their names (first and surname) and signature recorded along with their intentions and details of their car model and registration.     

I would like to explore this balance between advantage and disadvantage.  What is the corresponding disadvantage to students when schools have a mandate to gather and to  store their achievement data. To ask just because we can gather and store student data – should we? (Van Schaijik, 2011).

My question asks:

What rights does the learner (and or their family)  hold over the gathering and storage of their personal and achievement data by schools and institutions?

Does the learner have the right to ask for the sharing of their data to be restricted?

Does the learner have the right to ask for their data to be forgotten?

Calls for data transparency versus the right to forget data.

Schools collect large amounts of varied data on students including their medicals records, academic scores, and character traits.  They are expected to share student data in ways that keep parents informed on matters of their child’s academic and social well being. The shift to Kāhui Ako identifies that schools also sharing student data with other  schools within their Community of Learners.

Sharing individual and collective student data can help build community and pedagogical content knowledge.  However, when others control and share your data it compromises the rights of children and families to make their own decisions about the data – their rights to privacy and autonomy.  

Mayer-Schönberger (2009) identifies three concerns about providing information to others who then store and share this information online. In school settings I would describe them as follows – concerns over:

  1. Power and control

Students and their families lose power and control of the data that educators put online in digital platforms like Kāhui Ako. Sharing the narratives, history, culture and creativity of students online comes with some important responsibilities. It seems to me that the use of digital platforms like Kāhui Ako for communicating and storing information about young children should raise many more questions than it does about the nature and ownership of our students’ digital memories.  

Who is advantaged and who is disadvantaged when others own and control access to our memories and our data?

  1.  Surveillance across space and time

Technology enables the collecting and storing of unlimited quantities of data and artefacts of student learning on digital platforms in ways that massively extends the surveillance available in the past. This surveillance of student data extends over time and across all learning spaces.

Who is advantaged and who is disadvantaged by this surveillance of learning outcomes?

Who is disadvantaged when learning outcomes from the past are as easily accessed as learning outcomes from the present?  

  1. Information overload and impaired reasoning

When we can gather unlimited quantities of information – and nothing is forgotten it makes it hard for us to discern the data that matters most. We let detail and data from the past that has long since lost any relevance influence our interpretation of data from the present.

Who is advantaged and who is disadvantaged when our past is so easily conflated with our present?  

Building community

One of the aims of Kāhui Ako is to build connectivity between schools through transparency, collaboration and participation. Currently this is being carried out at teacher level and some student level. One area that has been identified for further focus is agency.  As learners develop in understanding they will see that autonomy – personal control – is an important facet of being an agentic learner.

When does personal control over individual student data and information become part of the learners journey?

Transitioning data

Previously data has been drilled down at school and individual year levels, making school data transparent across classes. With the advancement of the New Zealand Ministry of Education data collection processes, student data can be seen across schools and across Kāhui Ako. Now each learner has a National Student Number so with a click of a button and a bit of importing and exporting, data is shared across management systems. The system is not perfect we still ask feeder schools for manually collected data and information about their learners. However, the NZ MoE is active in devising better ways of sharing information across management systems as is seen from the SISI initiative.

The questions asked about this data collection all assume that collecting and sharing data more efficiently within and across schools as students transition will be advantageous.  There seems little interest or appetite to ask about the disadvantages of student data sharing.  

What breeches of privacy and autonomy are built into the architecture of institutional platforms like Kāhui Ako?

What rights do/will individual students and their families have over ownership and control of their data in Kāhui Ako?

Do students and their families have the right for student data to be forgotten?

Forgiveness and understanding

Privacy and autonomy are too easily undervalued when building an online community of learners. Therefore school must maintain a sense of responsibility and balance  between the legal space of the internet and the ethical space of schools.

The internet has amplified the ideals of freedom of expression as well as the importance of privacy.  Along with the advancement of cloud technology it has enabled ease of data storage in ways that have raised questions over the legalities of who owns the rights to control the data collected – its use and how long it should be stored.  

Thinking about this in the context of schools makes it apparent that we must think past issues of data ownership and consider the collection and storage of student data in the context of forgiveness and understanding of what it is to be a young learner.

What limitations should we put on the storage of student data in the context of forgiveness and understanding?

What should we remember to forget?

The right to forget data

As children move between levels historical academic data can now be accessed to give a clearer understanding of the progress of learning which gives a clearer learning picture than benchmarking against National Standards.  As learners move sectors other information is also asked for and again the question is asked ‘What needs to stay out of the data gathering and might be better forgotten?’ Some schools believe that all information helps give a better picture of the child. Yet surely there needs to be a balance to include new beginnings. Therefore ‘How much and what gets passed on?’ As is often heard, ‘if a child is in the banana’s reading group they will stay in the banana’s reading group.

Hook, (2010) reminds us that “When the control remains with the producer of the content, and we shift the default back from retaining information forever to forgetting it after different time periods we restore something of what it is to live well with technology, we restore what it is to be human.”

I urge that all members of Kāhui Ako to find a positive balance between our communities desire for transparency and our students right to privacy so that each child and their families can be involved in the decision making over what happens to their personal details and data.  

I would like all school communities to discuss how their student data is gathered and shared. We must ensure that any data gathering has a purpose and any data sharing is done with fully informed consent – respecting fundamental rights and liberties of students and families over the use of their data – including decisions on how long student data can be stored or when it should be forgotten and deleted.

Note: Thanks to Pam Hook who as usual can really challenge my beliefs and thinking especially around using Digital Tools.

References

Curran, C., Hon. (2017, November 9). Address to Nethui 2017, Aotea Centre, Auckland. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from https://www.beehive.govt.nz/speech/address-nethui-2017-aotea-centre-auckland

Hattie, JAC. (2012). Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximising impact on learning. London: Routledge.

Hook, P. (2010, May 16). A giant romance of primitive life and unfettered love. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from http://artichoke.typepad.com/artichoke/2010/05/a-giant-romance-of-primitive-life-and-unfettered-love.html

Mayer-Schönberger, V. (2009 , October 22). Delete: the virtue of forgetting in the digital age. The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. . Retrieved November 10, 2017, from  https://youtu.be/XwxVA0UMwLY

Mayer-Schönberger, V. (2011) Delete The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age. Princeton University Press.

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from https://www.education.govt.nz/further-education/communities-of-learning-kahui-ako-information-for-postsecondary-education-and-training-providers/

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Data Services. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/data-services

Ministry of Education. (2016, June 22). Student Information Sharing Initiative Report. Retrieved November 11, 2017, from https://education.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Ministry/consultations/SISI-Report-FINAL.pdf

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Student Information Sharing Initiative (SISI). Retrieved November 10, 2017, from https://www.education.govt.nz/ministry-of-education/specific-initiatives/integrated-education-data-ied-programme/student-information-sharing-initiative-sisi/

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Managing Student Data. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Connected-Learning-Advisory/Resources/Managing-student-data

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). National Student Number. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from  https://www.education.govt.nz/school/managing-and-supporting-students/national-student-number-nsn-for-schools/

Postman, N. (1998, 28 March). Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change. Talk delivered in Denver Colorado. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Neil_Postman:_Five_Things_We_Need_to_Know_About_Technological_Change

Schama, S. (1995). Landscape and memory. London: HarperCollins. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from http://www.amazon.com/Landscape-Memory-Simon-Schama/dp/0679735127

Van Schaijik, S. (2011, August 14). How young is too young to have an email? Retrieved November 10, 2017, from https://sonyavanschaijik.com/2011/08/14/how-young-is-too-young-to-have-an-email/