Children do not come first.

npsThis week at Newmarket School we had camp and swimming and new children and I thought about our fabulous teachers at NPS. This post is a shout out for them and for all teachers.

I believe if we take care of our teachers then they will take care of our children.

I often hear and read about children being incredibly important and they are placed at the center of everything. They are highlighted in school documentation as being the heart of our schools. 

Don’t get me wrong, I believe our children are the heart of our schools too.

However we appear to miss something when we neglect to mention the place of our teachers. If our children are the heart of our schools then our teachers are the blood that pumps that heart.

One of my old principals used to say “Take care of our teachers and they will take care of our children.” Or she would say, “Our teachers are our greatest resource.” She also said,  “Without our fabulous teachers I would not have a fabulous school.”  

Sometimes too when I read documentation I want to change the word student or children for learner because I also believe that all teachers are learners too and if we use the word learner than this embraces our teachers too. 

Yes I know support staff, parents and whānau, but that is another post.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

GAFESummit 2015 reflection

Recently I attended the GAFESummit North Island sessions held at Albany Senior College. Last year we had 6 teachers attend the summit from Newmarket School and when we returned we moved very quickly as a school. As a staff we embraced Google Apps for Education and all planning became collaborative as we moved into the transparent environment. Each team had folders and a site.

But the changes really took place this year as team leaders took control of their team sites and team blogs. Each team member had full ownership rights to both. I watched with pride as the learning spaces evolved and the speed at which information was shared with both teachers and their students.

 

Then this year, I had three teachers and myself accepted to present at the 2015 Gafesummit. As their mentor, I felt huge pride at the process each teacher underwent to prepare and then present in front of their peers. They had fabulous feedback via Twitter. I was away for the week leading up to the summit and the team got together in my absence and practiced a run through. They gave each other feedback. The experience enabled them to tweak their session and step through what they wanted to share. The practice session also enabled them to share ideas and identify how they could make their presentations even better.

 

I have been at Newmarket now for nearly 6 years and I have seen the growth in professional learning blossom as our school leaders and teachers move into making their own learning visible.

 

Myself and the management team have recently returned from an international conference and the trip confirmed that we are well on the way with what we are doing with our teachers and to continue encouraging and developing them as leaders in education.

 

I have identified that we need to provide further opportunities for collaboration outside our school. Each teacher has a Twitter account, they are all on the VLN and they all have their pond account activated. As they continue to make connections with educators outside our school I know that this will continue to have an impact on their practise and thus affecting the learning for their students.

 

I know that the educators who presented at this years GAFESummit have been changed by the experience. They were ready for the challenge and will return to school buzzing with more ideas. They will identify what they need to do next and their enthusiasm will generate the next group to step up

 

Some of my takeaways from the sessions include

  • Do not be a complacent expert but a restless learner
  • How do we find the adjacent possible in our classroom?
  • Disrupt Boredom

 

Myself I shared the TeachMeetNZ project and also took an advanced youtube session. I use youtube to mentor teachers and as a platform for them to share their learning.

Here are the teachers’ reflections who presented at GAFESummit

Here are the slides to my session ‘GAFE 2015 TeachMeetNZ’.

Here is my video introduction for my advanced youtube session.

Science

Science has been dominating my time this past few months and it has been exciting.

@mattynicoll approached me to lead the 24th of February #ScichatNZ and of course I said yes. I know Matt because we were both on the steering committee for #edchatnz and he is one of the teachers joining the #TeachMeetNZ meets #Science session.

I enjoy teaching science and learning through the Nature of Science. For those of you interested in learning how to run a twitter chat, I use the #GlobalClassroom training shared with me from @mgraffin. He is an Australian Science passionate teacher that I have met on twitter. I set up a google Doc and divided the hour up with questions. You can see the one I set up for #SciChatNZ here. Matt was fabulous is supporting me by giving me the topic. During the hour chat, I have learnt too from @ussieEDchat the importance of using a graphic for questions as this helps hold the chat together. So I created a presentation of the questions here . I exported the presentation as jpgs and tidied up the images leading up to the session.

The session was storified by @NZScienceLearn so do go back and revisit the session. I was grateful for the #SciChatnz team who rallied around me and helped ensure that the twitter chat flowed. In fact it didn’t just flow, it stormed and we trended on twitter.

One of the important lessons I learnt from @julielindsay is about keeping a record of the sharing. So I like to see some kind of an archive of chat history. This is something that the #SciChatNZ team do very well.

The other big Science collaborative project I was involved in was with Cath @NZScienceLearn. We had been coordinating a #TeachMeetNZ meets Science Session for the 21st of March. You can read more about that here.  We had a team of 8 science educators joining us and they are well known in the science education community partly because of their twitter activity and their involvement in various science projects such as #scichatnz and Science fellowship.

As part of my collaboration with Cath I was interviewed by Melissa @NZScienceTeachr on behalf of the New Zealand Association of Science Educators. You can read that interview here.

My goal this year is to understand how social media works and so I had investigated how everything linked across platforms and how traffic was driven. I observed the TeachMeetNZ youtube channel with interest. Through the work of @abfromz and @BartVerswijvel I stumbled across Thunderclap. I activated a thunderclap to help broadcast the science session and also so I could see how it drove traffic. I set up tickets in Eventbrite and I could see the huge integrations that this site had with Facebook, Twitter and instagram. In addition, I activated my Mailchimp account that had been dormant for a while. I used the TeachMeetNZ meets Science session to play with many of the tools.

Science at Newmarket School has many links. In particular the work we did with @S_Heeps. I had @BelindaHitchman join me from School in the TeachMeetNZ session. In addition we had @Doctor_Harves join us at school for a visit.

My SOLOtaxonomy thinking hat is excited because I believe that my work with TeachMeetNZ is moving into relational thinking. I am having other educators put their hand up to host a session. Yes I can already see where it needs to go for extended abstract thinking here in New Zealand. But I need a few more strong Google + educators with a working understanding of youtube.

Hey Tony, thanks for sharing a viewer’s perspective. The fun is in the connecting and collaborating sessions. Thanks too with your support in Pond, Google + and Twitter.

The term is nearly over

Reflection near the end of term allows me to sort out my thoughts and helps me make sense of the speed that sometimes happens in my thinking. This post is a way of sifting through how I am thinking.

 

Science

Science at Newmarket School has many links. The school has recently completed a science contract under the guidance of Susan Heeps. Last year Virginia Kung and her work with science was featured under the Future Focused Learning site.

During the recent #TeachMeetNZ meets #Science session Belinda Hitchman @BelindaHitchman from Newmarket School shared her work that was carried out in regards to using coding. She explained the links between understanding coding and understanding science. Recently I led a #scichatnz live twitter chat. You can read about the how the session was developed on a post on the Scichatnz blog.

The TeachMeetNZ meets Science session was a collaborative process between myself and Catherine Battersby from the Science Learning Hub. However what began as a duo chatting face to face soon became a full group of science educators making connections on twitter and google +, creating a presentation to share in a google hangout, learning and supporting each other with the tools, celebrating during and after the event and then sharing via a reflective blog post for the education community. As part of my collaboration with Cath I was interviewed by Melissa @NZScienceTeachr on behalf of the New Zealand Association of Science Educators. You can read that interview here.

Using Social Media for learning

My goal this year is to understand how social media works and so I have been investigating how everything links across platforms and how traffic is driven. I observed the TeachMeetNZ youtube channel with interest and was particularly interested in the way the channel took a spike during each session and then how this was sustained over a period of time after each event.. Through my online involvement  I stumbled across Thunderclap which is a social media tool that allows broadcasting across several social media sites at the same time. A thunderclap was activated to help broadcast the TeachMeetNZ Science session and also  to see how traffic was driven. In addition I set up tickets in Eventbrite and could identify the integrations that this site has with Facebook, Twitter and instagram. In addition, I have reactivated my Mailchimp account that has been dormant for a while as this allowed access to subscribers to events.

I used the TeachMeetNZ meets Science session to play with many of the social media tools.

 

TeachMeetNZ goal

Recently I had a discussion with Julie Lindsay and she asked me what my goals were for TeachMeetNZ. My  goal for TeachMeetNZ is for the process to continue to evolve. I have identified that my work with teachers and the site is moving into relation thinking using SOLOtaxonomy because each year I have had a teacher take on the task of hosting an event. Therefore other educators are making the link of the importance of teachers sharing their practice. A few other educators have indicated a willingness to host a session. So far I have had Tim Gander hosted a TeachMeetNZ meets PE, Steve Mouldey hosted TeachMeetNZ meets Geography and now Cath Battersby hosted TeachmeetNZ meets Science. Coming up there is a session for Samoan teachers and a session for Maori teachers. In October Matt Esterman has agreed to cohost with me again as we run a second ‘Across the Ditch’ TeachMeetNZ where we combine TeachMeetNZ with TMSydney.

The real goal of TeachMeetNZ is about educators making learning to network and make connections with each other outside their school bubble and having fun learning collaboratively.

 

Youtube as a vehicle for sharing continues to evolve and for the next topic focussed TeachMeetNZ  I recommend a drop in presenter numbers and having a larger support team. For example having a separate time keeper then enables me to move silently in the background and concentrate on cameras and sound. In addition having the twitter broadcaster join the hangout and even have a live blogger record the event in progress. It does take time to train a team, however the event quality is worth it. For the next subject specific TeachMeetNZ these recommendations will be put to the host because ultimately the session is for a teacher to practice reciprocity and help with coordinating and running the session.

 

Leaving a legacy

TeachMeetNZ is about teachers leaving a legacy for the education community. This can be in the way of twitter microblogging and being curated using storify, it is in the youtube clips, the slides that are made available to the community via the wiki, it is in the reflective blog posts that eventuate about the sessions and the process.

Where to Next: 

Currently  TeachMeetNZ educators create their own presentations on something they are passionate about. Each session is about bringing a group of educators together to make connections with each other online and to share their learning.

Using all of my own learning frameworks, I have identified that my next big step using youtube is all about collaboration. I am planning for teachers to work together and create an artefact like I learnt how when becoming FlatConnection Certified. Through the work I do with Pam Hook, I have identified networking to learn as thinking relationally because teachers working collaboratively together strengthens their understanding about making links with each other and with a topic.

If an artefact is co-created  then abstract thinking is extended. This was highlighted in the edbookNZ project that happened during Connected Educators month. The educators taking part informed me that they had more fun learning with each other during the process.

 

Teachers collaborating and networking to learn

So the edbooknz collaborative site is ready and I have put my hand up to organise and coordinate this during Connected Educator month in October. I will use all my learning around social media and educators to drive this years #edbooknz project. It will be wiki based so all learning will be public. This will drive extended abstract thinking because many educators come together, make links and cocreate a product in live time and with a realtime audience.

 

Final Question

Will you say yes to this collaborative opportunity? Will you allow your learning to be on display in real time? If you are keen to be one of the team leaders, then let me know.

Educampwelly

Yesterday I attended #educampwelly at St Mary’s college in Wellington.

I took time out from a hectic schedule to show my support for Philippa who I knew was one of the organisers.

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Teachmeetnz : @Juliet_Revell @timoslimo @hunch_box @AKeenReader @vanschaijik @heymrshay @taratj

Philippa is one amazing educator who is moving fast in ‘edusphere’. Last year she presented with me on a TeachMeetNZ session and later on we were both on the steering committee for edchatnz, then she was was selected to be a Coreefellow 2015 intake. Now she is part of the Mindlab team and is sharing her passion about Design thinking and learning. That is her in the middle of the #TeachMeetNZ photo that I always try and gather at events.

However as an experienced teacher sometimes we attend events to offer support but can come away with so much more. That was me.

First of all I was able to visit St Mary’s College and having been a Director of Religious studies for most of my teaching career, I was able to see the visual evidence of the special character of the school. I loved the way that the main organiser Paula opened the session for the day as all catholic schools open special events with a prayer. I especially loved that she proudly did so in Te Reo. She delegated the blessing of the meal to another delegate.

The second highlight was catching up with the fabulous #TeachMeetNZ educators. I always watch how they are getting on and have a real sense of pride in seeing them. I was able to chat with the upcoming presenters such as @Jackbillie35 and @steve_katene and find out more about them and their interests and tag a new presenter for an upcoming session.

The third highlight was having a chat with Tim about the Pond developments and hear him mentor a new ICT Lead teacher in ensuring that systems are in place before purchasing devices. This reminded me how much I still need to mentor staff at my school about pedagogy before the tool and continue to encourage them to share their practice outside of our school bubble.

A further highlight was leading a SOLOtaxonomy session. Totally off the cuff and totally exciting because we had recently had Pam Hook work at our school and we revisited the why and the how of SOLOtaxonomy. Therefore I was able to share with the interested delegates some of what I had recently heard from Pam. I think that my mentor Ginny would have been proud because I even showed them how to create a rubric using the generator from Pam’s site. However on reflection, I did not start with a rubric. I did use the hand signals to indicate a shift in thinking. I also used the hand signals to identify teachers whose thinking was strong and encouraged them to lead a discussion at their tables because the group was so big.

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I attended other sessions too and took away much in the discussion. I was able to make connections with heaps of new educators, introduced a couple onto twitter, and unfortunately could not attend everything. So I do look forward to reading other blogs about the educampwelly event. For example here is Leanne’s reflection. @fivefoot3

Finally you have no idea how excited I was to meet Drew @phatnesian and Victoria @vtofilau. They are other Samoan educators who also attended on the day. We chatted in Samoan and generally basked in the glow of finding each other as I know from research how few and far we are in the education system.

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To finish up with I love freebies. As educators we often spend on our own professional development and it was such a fabulous gesture of Coreeducation Wellington team to sponsor our lanyards. This helped us put a twitter handle to a face. They were there too and helped with registration and helped problem solve the WIFI.

To the N4L team who put on the pizzas for us hungry people. This enabled us to stay back and chat because during the packed day there were so many exciting sessions that just having the opportunity to chat and catch up with each other is also such an important part of educamps. Thank you too for this. You remember what it is like as teachers to attend events and knew exactly what you would do if you had the chance to support.

Now Fiona, educamp mama you were not here physically but you were here on our lips, in our minds and in the odd tweet you were tagged in and responded to.

So for all of the delegates who attended, have you fulfilled the criteria for earning your digital badge? To help you, here is the twitter list from the day. Have you joined the educamp group on google +? Here is the link.

Have you taken time out to say thanks to the amazing welly_ed team who put together this fabulous event for us? What are your plans regards running your own collaborative event? eg: I have one coming up #TeachMeetNZ meets #Science hosted by Cath.

Lastly have you recorded your reflection of the day and have shared it in a public way?

Flat Connections


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‘Break outside your friends list and join a community of internet strangers. You will be surprised at what you will learn from them.’
Imgur founder Alan Schaaf

For the past few months I have been working with a group of educators globally as we fine tune our learning about being connected educators in a global setting. One way of coping as an online learner involved setting up a page on my SandBox Wiki and dumping all the links that flew at me. This included any contact information and all the important pages. This page helped me hugely and allowed me to quickly access anything I needed. There might be a better way of doing this but I coped regularly by reverting back to what I know.
A whole pile of events aligned for me as part of my FlatConnect learning and these have eventuated in the following outcomes:
There have been 5 of us in the Flat connections cohort. @julieswords1 @AnnRooney6 @mblanrun  @BonnieHermawan.  We come from four different countries and have time zones as one of our biggest challenges. To address this Julie Lindsay @julielindsay our mentor uses Timebridge to coordinate an agreed time between us. Between us we have a combined level of expertise that is astounding.
Julie uses Fuze which is a free online video meeting service  to communicate with us synchronously. This works like elluminate but appears to be more stable. However I am unsure if this can be live streamed as I have had a play but need to learn more about this great tool.
For our current assignment we were asked to work collaboratively together on a common theme and create a video artifact. We were asked to use our team wiki to create all our notes and learning.
One huge learning from me this week was that I can copy and paste directly from a google doc straight into the wiki and all my images tables links etc all come across beautifully. The only challenge is the photos need resizing but it is easy in a wiki, because I can just drag across. I should have done that at the start of advertising my google hangout. I was focussed on trying to pull the group together quickly for a hangout and resorted back to what I know which is twitter and google docs. A second learning was coping with the time zones particularly as I was coordinating the hangout and I used World Time Buddy because this is a tool I have used before. I learnt that there was a half hour time difference between my two Australian Colleagues. I sort of had already guessed that there might be. In New Zealand we have no time difference between any city because of our small size.
As I prepare for a collaborative project with our sister school in China I need to take into consideration the Great Firewall of China that blocks twitter, Facebook, Google and recently Instagram. I am aware that several schools and local citizens bypass the wall using a different system. But in China this is an illegal activity. I could have directed the current cohort to the Team wiki and I could have used the Flat Connections Ning for asynchronous communication. There is no way I can use a hangout with our sister school but we can use skype for school as this gives us a similar number of access if I brought in several classes to work with our school. I could screen cast a skype session but that would bring up legalities about capturing images with minors.
After the Google Hangout session was over I realised that I could have had each team member share their learning around our recently completed assignment and I could have had them create a single slide about what they had learnt. I could have then given them the second lesson of sharing their own screens and they could have talked about what they have just completed. I underestimated abilities and I could have covered a lot more in the session. Even though most of my global colleagues were new to a hangout, they are not newbies to collaborative tools.
Instead I wonder if they would be willing to join me again in a follow up session and give a brief reflection of their learning as being part of FlatConnect Global Educator 14-2 group. We could use the same idea I do with TeachMeetNZ project and I would wiillingly cut the video so that they could have a reflective page on our Team’s wiki.
Where am I up to? I need to interview a teacher gamer and complete my part of the collaborative assignment, create my slides about our sister school project in preparation for our final session with Julie and count down to our summer holidays as we only have two weeks left of school but there is still so much to do. 
WOWEE, I have also just learnt that I can copy straight from a Goole Doc into the Ning too. Even better I just spotted the editing tool for corrections and even better the HTML tool for embedding. 

CENZ14

Connected Educator Month has been and gone here in New Zealand.
The vision of the New Zealand team was for educators to strategically access, collaborate and share across national & global networks to inform schooling designed around students’ needs and strengths.



As I look back over the past few years, this is the third year that  I have been part of Connected Educator Month. In 2012, I was lurking and watching what was happening via @JulieLinday’s tweets. In 2013 I lead a Global Chat Sharing Stories of our Global Connections with #GlobalClassrooms. I attended a few online sessions run using Blackboard Collaborate.

At Newmarket School I am conscious of giving our teachers and our students the same opportunities that I have been a part of. So as I read the Ministry of Education Future-focused learning report, and Core Education 10 Trends in particular Trend 8: Global connectedness I am looking to 2015 and have identified how we can ‘effectively connect, communicate, collaborate and co-create across classrooms.’ I have been given the task of designing an EFL experience for learning using a global focus and I am excited at the possibilities. I have been learning so much from the #FlatConnect course and credit Julie for exposing my thinking to ideas that I had not even thought of. I will be using some of those ideas in my design. 
At SOLOtaxonomy design is extended abstract thinking. I am thankful that I have been part of Connected Educator Month and have created learning opportunities for teachers because now I can bring those ideas back and inform my school and design the learning opportunities for our staff and children based on their needs and strengths to connect and collaborate at a global level.
This year Karen Melhuish Spencer @virtuallykaren approached me and asked if I was interested in aligning one of the TeachMeetNZ sessions into the Connected Educator Month. I already knew about Connected Educator Month so of course I said yes and I would run the first session earlier in the month than I had initially planned. I then agreed to coordinate and run two events as I was sure that Matt Esterman  of #TMSydney  would join me because we have been speaking for a while about a combined TeachMeet event. The third event which was a collaborative book project was not really planned. However the work I have been doing with Julie Lindsay  around teachers working together on a collaborative project was the incentive I needed to say ‘Let’s do this.’ As a SOLO taxonomy educator I am aware of where I need to go next with what I do online so the book project was like the beta test.

So those were the three events I committed to for October. At the same time because of my teacher inquiry, I was working with staff who were preparing for their first ULearn presentation. In addition Wendy and I agreed to work together and co-present using my inquiry as the springboard for the presentation. But ULearn14 was only one of three events that my principal and I prepared and shared at. The second was sharing for the Springboard Trust and the third being part of the collaborative educators team who wrote the #EdBookNZ.


Highlights for Connected Educator Month are all listed below.
But what you can see is the product.

I know Pam Hook  and Virginia Kung  would say to me, “Where’s the rubric Sonya?” and “The process is more important.” and ‘How has your thinking changed?”  I am also really conscious of not allowing this reflection to just being a multistructural description. So if you are reading this, then please respond below as this allows me to think more at a relational level.


So where to next for me.
“Politeness is the poison of collaboration,” said Edwin Land. My collaborative friend Bridget Casse  was prodding working with me as we wrote the chapter on connected educator blog post. I was more excited in the working document. The challenging discussion was stimulating and thought provoking.
So thinking along the learning of #flatconnect I would have each collaborators work on a wiki page next time. This allows the interested educators to see the process. We could use an unlocked google doc too, however am unsure of how secure the history would be and how long it is archived. If I was working with children under 14, I would probably use Edmodo because it is a more like a walled garden for our children.

Acknowledgement
Thanks to all the amazing educators who took part, supported, proof read, gave feedback, broadcasted etc to the events below. Special thanks to the staff at Newmarket School who have joined in and are sharing their learning. Special thanks to Wendy the head learner who is willing to walk the talk, special thanks to Karen who was visible in all the events and to Julie for my global learning. To my SOLO mentors Pam and Ginny none of this would happen without your ongoing disruptive thinking.

https://www.smore.com/t5yjg-connected-educator-month?embed=1