The Connected Educator at Newmarket School.
Very soon Dr Wendy Kofoed and myself are presenting at Ulearn14. Our presentation centres around our teachers. The title of our presentation is ‘Before collaboration teachers need to make connections.’ Do join us at Ulearn. We are Breakout Four A on 09 Oct 2014 at 13.45-14.15. This post has developed as part of my teacher inquiry around ‘Connected Educators at Newmarket School.’
In our school’s revised strategic plan, one of our guiding principles is Whangaungatanga or connectedness. As Wendy and staff have been working at crafting our strategic plan I have been revisiting my own understanding of whangaungatanga. For me as an efellow that is about my understanding of hyperconnectivity which is all about the relationships we build and how we build them. The Samoan word for connectedness is Va Fealofani and in Maori it is Whanaungatanga.
So some of my own questions include:
· What does a Connected Educator at Newmarket School look like?
· What tools do they use and why?
· How do they share what they are learning?
As I have been thinking and reflecting on connectedness Wendy has been looking at the big picture. Her own inquiry centres around ‘Challenging Learning Design.’ I look forward to her sharing her own inquiry.
At Newmarket one concept we have is whakatauki which is sharing our stories. On our boundaries and dotted within our school we have Harakeke growing. In the springtime when the Harakeke flowers we have Tui come and drink the nectar. So I begin my post with the following proverb and have changed the word kōmako for Tui because we do not have bellbirds.
Hutia te rito o te harakeke
Kei whea te Tui e kō?
Kī mai ki ahau;
He aha te mea nui o te Ao?
Māku e kī atu
he tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata
If the heart of the harakeke was removed,
Where would the Tui sing?
If I was asked,
What is the most important thing in the world”?
I would say
It is people, it is people, it is people
If I frame this post around the current three school values I am already confident about our presentation focus. Our three values are whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga.
I use these concepts and their definition to frame my current thinking around Connected Educators.
What is a Connected Educator at Newmarket School?
Whanaungatanga – Connectedness
Being connected requires learners to develop a secure sense of their own identity and agency to think and work towards where their potential might lie.
Newmarket School is already a strong learning community that collaboratively constructs knowledge to form a foundation for learning. In order to achieve this we aim for all our teachers to be connected educators. A Connected educator at Newmarket School understands the concept of whanaungatanga. They are someone who focuses on building relationships with each other, our community and our children.
A connected educator at Newmarket School knows how to use the managed online tools to find people and how to connect with them. They think carefully about the dynamics of interactions. They actively use Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google+, LinkedIn, and other media tools to make connections and to build their own personal learning network. Because we are in New Zealand a connected educator at Newmarket School’s learning kete includes some New Zealand managed tools such as Pond, Virtual Learning Network, Myportfolio and the School Google+ community to find other New Zealand educators and to actively connect with them and build learning relationships.
What tools do they use and why?
Manaakitanga – Generosity of spirit
Developing the ability to walk in others’ shoes which includes seeing issues from others’ perspectives and thinking carefully about the dynamics of interactions.
A connected educator at Newmarket school knows how to use and take the tools from their kete to move their practice forward. They know how to get the learning needed to improve the craft of teaching. A connected educator at Newmarket School knows how to use Google Apps for Education to crowdsource and share ideas. They are participants in online learning communities that can be found on the Virtual Learning Network and via Google Apps for Education. They take part in twitter chats such as #edchatnz to connect nationally with other New Zealand educators. They know which chats connect them with educators globally. They use a wiki, blog and or google sites as a sandbox to test their learning with online tools and show what has been learnt. They attend online New Zealand webinar such as the Virtual Learning Network monthly sessions. They curate their own learning using Pond and make connections with other New Zealand educators to share what has been found and learnt online. They know how to bring back what they have found and learnt online and share it with their school community via a reflective educator blog. Personal learning is transparent, visible and accessible by all.
How do they share what they are learning?
Kaitiakitanga – Guardianship
Ensuring sensitivity and thoughtfulness of actions in environments both local and distant.
A connected educator at Newmarket school knows how to build their community of practise that has active participants like guest speakers and where everyone co constructs knowledge. A great example of this is #TeachMeetNZ that takes place each term. They know how to reflects on what they have learnt and make this available for all via a blog, Google Doc, wiki and or a site.
I began this post with a whakatauki and I end with a whakatauki.
· Ka rongo, ka wareware
· Ka kite, ka mahara
· Engari, mā te mahi ka mōhio.
· I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, but through doing, I know.
Overall a connected educator at Newmarket School knows how to grow as a professional and to empower each other and their students to build their own personal learning networks to learn using the technologies that are available. Much is learnt from each other, with each other, and with the children that they teach.
As an update, a few hours after writing this, I revisited some of the education terms that have been popular in recent times. I realised that I have been doing the same thing and that is highlighting a key education term. What the originators have done is take a key word and added a descriptor to it to make it sound different. However the key word it self is fine if we view it through an extended abstract lens. Those of you who are SOLO Taxonomy educators will know what I am talking about. I created a visual to better describe what I mean.
So returning to Connected Educator and the whole point of this blog post, I finish with ‘ A Connected Educator at Newmarket School is a Newmarket School Educator.’
(When I write I create a rubric from Pam Hook’s site using the SOLO Taxonomy Rubric Creator. I use SOLO Taxonomy to frame my thinking and clarify the direction of my inquiry by asking clearer questions. Here is my Connected Educator rubric.)