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Showing posts from March, 2014

So Which Pedagogical Cocktails Are Drinking Today?

cc licensed (BY-NC) flickr photo by Thomas Hawk: http://flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/2355249759
I am not sure if I was being naive or slightly arrogant, but this post began its life as an effort to provide an overview of the different modes and methods of inquiry. Whether it be challenged-based, project-based, problem-based or plain old inquiry, I was trying to bring everything together in my own head, to make more sense of it all. However, what I soon realised was that the more I explored the topic, the more variants that appeared, with so many different ideas and interpretations. It all came to a head when +Richard Olsen shared a blog with me from +Ewan McIntosh on the difference between project-based learning and design learning. As you read through both McIntosh's post, as well as various comments that follow, you realise that there is little consistency throughout. Although many of the differences are only marginal, there is little agreement on what constitutes either problem…

Missing the Celebrations and Successes in the Educational Landscape

Tonight was parent/teacher/student interviews. In between one interview and while awaiting the next, a parent of a past student came over and just had to thank me. I had taught her daughter five years ago in Year 8 and she was now in Year 12. The mother said that her daughter had asked her to thank me for challenging her all those years ago and that she was glad about it now.
It is not very often that you receive thanks in the teaching caper. Even more so when you work in administration. I believe that this is one of the most challenging aspects of education. Teachers are so often told when they have failed or should do something different. Very rarely do teachers get told what they have done right and if so, such celebrations often deny the complexities associated with such achievements. For example, the teachers of the dux of Year 12 may take some of the credit, but this denies so many other factors and influences, such as support from home and the effort of former teachers in laying…

Celebrating Other Voices in the Moment

In an insightful post, 'Missing the Moments By Trying to Capture the Moments', +Chris Wejr spoke about the dangers of missing the moment by failing to just be there. Wejr's issue is with technology and the modern trend to try and capture each and every moment. However, I think that it is not just technology which prevents us from being there. Sometimes the helter skelter nature of life means that even though we are there, we are not always aware of those significant moments that occur around us each and every day.
Final MomentsThis was all brought to the fore with the recent passing of my mother. It is a strange experience being told that there is no more treatment that they can do, that the cancer is terminal. On the one hand, the doctor gives some indicative date, while others talk about how they were told that there was nothing that could be done for them and that was over ten years ago. Subsequently, every time that I saw my mum in the last few weeks of her life, I was …

Denial Never Worked for No-one

For a while, denial worked for me. I treated it like some sort of solution. However, I've learnt the hard way that denial is a coping strategy, a way of masking a problem, a way of pretending everything is ok. The issue though is that at the end of the day everything isn't ok and the problem still remains.
I was reminded of this recently with the death of my mum of kidney cancer at the ripe old age of 54. I remember when she told me in the middle of last year that she first told me she had cancer and that it had already moved into her liver, I just thought that she would be ok. No matter that it would be incredibly difficult to operate, I just thought that she would somehow get through it. She overcame other challenges in life, why would this be any different? She didn't and it wasn't until the last few weeks that I truly realised the extent of it all. No matter that she hadn't eaten properly for six months, that she had lost much of her weight. Like her, I was an …

Looking Back to Look Forward

During the week I was asked by the principal to represent the Middle Years (5-9) on a new ICT Committee. Although the school has invested in a lot of ICT, there has been very little explicit leadership to drive it. Often ICT was the last dot point of many on the list of responsibilities allocated to various leading teachers in the school. Instead it has been driven by leadership with a little l, those staff who have a passion and interest in the area. 
The first task set for the group is to develop a three year plan. Thinking about where the school might be in three years time got me reflecting how far things have evolved in the past three years. Here are just a few changes:
Collaboration and the Cloud Three years ago, staff and students were dependent on the school share drives to share resources. The only way to really collaborate was through email. As I have stated elsewhere, the problem with this is that the 'original' document often gets lost in the process, meaning that ev…

When the Assessment of Performance is not Actually about Performance

After trying to swing the axe to the performance and development process last year, the Victorian government has returned with a range of changes in a draft format for consultation. This time they have brought a 'balanced scorecard' to the table. A series of goals spread across four areas depending on whether you are a principal or a teacher. These goals are to be developed in the context of each school's annual implementation plan (AIP) and are aligned with the AITSL teaching standards. In addition to the goals, teachers agree to the evidence that they will be assessed against and if they fail to get in the top two tiers of the assessment scale then they will not move up their increment.
Now I must start off and say, I believe in goals. Whether it be something that is fluid in the sense outlined by Kath Murdoch in her focus on one word or a more structured approach that I have spoken about elsewhere. However, I am not so sure about setting goals that are so explicitly atta…

Change the Mindset, Don't Change the Program

This year my school made the move from Google Apps to Dropbox in regards to sharing planning documents. This was not my personal choice, especially as I had spent so much time and energy working with the technician to set Google Apps in Education in place last year. However, as +Dan Donahoo pointed out at ICTEV, it takes a village to make a decision. This means that the outcome reached in the end may not be the solution proposed at the start. The process is actually what matters the most. So a bit of background to the process.
It is always fascinating to follow the thread back to when various tools and techniques were introduced in a school. Like a seed on the foot of an explorer traipsing across the countryside, Dropbox was brought into the school by the regional coaches who used it to share various documents and resources with staff in the school. Unlike Google Drive, Dropbox allowed a wide range of files types, as well as offline access. It first started with Mathematics, then progr…

Primary vs. Secondary - the Great Educational Schism

This post is co-written with +Catherine Gatt. Catherine is a Primary ICT Specialist, with both Primary classroom experience, as well as a Secondary background.
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In a recent post on the Connected Principals blog, Sam LeDeaux posed the question: 'Are Educators Passionate About Their Profession?' His basic premise was whether teacher's go to work or go to school. This is really a part of a wider debate in education about perspective and the way we see things. One other such area where this is prevalent is the great debate over the differences between the Primary and Secondary classroom.
Working in a P-9 school has its benefits, including the ability to gain a valuable vantage point. However, so often with every positive there is a dark side lurking, a constant comparison about the differences in how things are done, about who works harder, about which is easier. What is disappointing is that there is often little evidence used to support these arguments, let alone first hand…