Sunday, 12 November 2017

Adventures in the US - Educational recount

Adventures in the US -  Educational recount
The following recount outlines the educational elements of our trip to the US. It does not capture the rich discussions we had as a leadership group, the planning and ideation around leadership structures, staffing, environment development and strategic planning moving forward. Over the 12 days (two days of travel) we were also lucky to have a couple of days to enjoy Philadelphia and New York at leisure, which I also haven’t included in this recount.

New Zealand to San Francisco
25 hours in total from leaving home to arriving at Zephyr Hotel in San Francisco.  Although tired, it was time to have an explore of Fisherman’s Wharf. It was during this early introduction to San Francisco that we stumbled upon Marissa at a MakerSpace, tucked away under the famous Ghirardelli chocolate factory and shop.  
We instantly hit it off with Marissa and were quickly talking the same language and educational jargon. Marissa spoke with energy and enthusiasm and expressed a personal passion for encouraging women into engineering, as well as a commitment to students with dyslexia, ADD or ADHD. We discussed our upcoming presentation and she asked probing questions and gave constructive feedback.
After our rich discussions we asked her advice on where to find more inspiration around San Fran. The recommendations provided the basis for a extremely valuable experience in the days to come.

TechShop SF.
The following day we ventured out to find TechShop SF. A must visit organisation in the heart of San Francisco. On stepping through the door we knew that we had hit the jackpot, and on talking to Tim and Mary on the reception desk we prepared ourselves to have our minds blown. After some smooth talking “we have come all the way from New Zealand to see you guys” we managed to get a personalised tour of the operation. TechShop is a vibrant, creative community space that provides access to instruction, tools, software, and use of space. They advertise that you can make virtually anything at TechShop and I would tend to believe them. Their catchphrase is “Come build your dreams”

Coco was our tour guide and after putting on the compulsory safety goggles we were off. We explored the array of tools and machines. As well being given an outline of the philosophy and organisational structures of TechShop. Welding machines, powered coating machines, water and sand blasting capable of cutting metal, laser cutters, 3D printing and more. All accessibility to anyone with a creative or a passion project.
When reflected as a team in the evening, we could come up with a raft of ideas, innovations and ponderings not only for our design production space but classrooms as well.

 Monte Vista
We rose the morning with the predicament of how we were going to get to Monte Vista a pre organised school visit roughly two hours from San Francisco. After much discussion and negotiation we eventually managed to organise a driver for the day. Our driver, Cesar was magnificent, a wealth of knowledge and a really lovely guy. He drove us out to Monte Vista, in Watsonville, the artichoke capital of the world. Eventually we arrived at this oasis, a school in the middle of nowhere.

The principal was not available to meet with us which was disappointing. However, we were introduced to Nathan, who I believe is the equivalent to a Deputy Principal. During lunch on campus Nathan asked and answered very thoughtful questions, quickly demonstrating a high level of insight into educational leadership and models of effective education.

Our tour of the school took us into all sorts of places. Many of the spaces had been developed / designed by the wife of the provocative and slightly flamboyant previous principal, who we had meet a year earlier in Sydney at the ‘I on the Future Conference.’
Learning Spaces were designed to create atmosphere to compliment the subject area. Light, sound and colour used in creative ways. Garage roller doors either opened or closed off classrooms, furniture was mobile and varied to aid student choice and encourage collaboration. Outside areas provided lovely socialisation spaces and an array of physical opportunities including sand volleyball, basketball, swimming, horse riding and huge sporting fields. The use of space was cleverly thought out and prompted many ideas to take home.
Cesar had waited patiently and was pleased to see us return to rejoin him. On our return journey we took the opportunity to visit D-School at Stanford University.

D-School (Design School) was in the middle of an extremely impressive campus which was immaculately well groomed and manicured.
It would be an understatement to say that D-School was impressive in how it was set up to deliver design approaches. The design philosophy was displayed throughout. D-School is world renown in design thinking education and although we didn’t get the opportunity to meet with a guide we got to explore the building and could get a sense of how the place operated.
Thinking processes displayed everyday. Learning spaces that could be adjusted to meet the need. Cleverly constructed signage, moveable walls, prototyping centres. Millions of post it notes covering white moveable and removeable boards.

It was exciting to reach Philadelphia for the much anticipated AMLE Middle Schools Conference. We arrived in the evening and headed to our hotel in central Philly. We had lovely dinner and an early night.

After an early morning run down the banks of the Philadelphia River and run up the ‘Rocky’ stairs I was feeling really good and in a positive frame of mind to explore Philadelphia before the conference.

AMLE 2017 - Conference
(Detailed presentation notes and slideshows not included)
The conference started with the hype expected from an event in the US with an over enthusiastic presenter followed by a couple of Keynotes. Nothing mind changing or inspiring to begin and after the a couple of uninspiring sessions we started to get slightly worried. However, as the conference went on we started to hit some really good stuff, particularly content focusing on adolescents and neuroscience. Here are is a brief description of the top 6.

Julie Adams - Neuroscience Neuro nuggets
Julia outlined the key factors that make the young brain different.
The young brain is HIGHLY influenced by environment. Student success is not by chance...but by design.
We were guided through 8 Neuro Nuggets that will help middle schoolers' succeed.

Victoria Lentfer - Calm management Strategies
Victoria presented with a really calm manner which complimented her topic - CALM Management which seeks to communicate, assess, lead, and manage a positive, safe classroom.
Victoria presented multiple strategies to prevent bullying and learn proactive communication models that ultimately empower students to make appropriate choices. The techniques included learning a model she called the Redirect Behavior Model. How to effectively use your voice and how to create Positive Behavior Expectations that empower students to make good choices.

Grace Dearborn - When consequences don’t work- achieving with at risk youth
Grace passionately articulates that consequences should be a last resort and that when used they don’t resort to much. (at risk students)
Using examples Grace stated that, once teachers have exhausted their hierarchy of consequences, how then are they to proceed with students whose behavior is unchanged no matter what consequence is given?

She gave practical strategies on how to effectively and positively manage students and how to use consequences, while modeling respectful communication, teaching personal responsibility, and de escalating confrontations.

David and Gail Vawter - The adolescent Brain reaching and Teaching
This was my favourite session and this one and his one that followed in the morning were the most valuable. David was an extremely effective presenter who used a range of techniques to ensure you retain his content as well as providing entertainment.

“Some think that the adolescent brain might be an oxymoron. Yet each student not only processes an amazing brain, but a brain that is undergoing an amazing transformation.”

His interactive and humorous session translated current research including ADD, gender differences, and the impact of poverty on the brain into usable and practical strategies that would enable teachers to help each student be successful.

David Vawter - Success for all middle school students through differentiation
“Helping each student succeed is the goal of education Learning more about our students and ourselves will lay the foundation of this success.”

David defined differentiation and outlined how to Differentiated classrooms for the six area of differentiation: readiness, student interest, student learning preference, content, process, and product.
Practical application of each of these areas was also be discussed and demonstrated.

Stephen Eames & Jason Ataera - Developing T-Shaped People Presentation
Our presentations went really well. Many participants appreciated our thought provoking content. Some could make connections with the concepts and could see themselves using the tools and ideas presented. For a few, who had no choice or control of what they deliver, they struggled. Particularly those who were standards and assessment driven.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Presenting at NZAims 'Full Steam ahead'

Presentation at the NZAIMs 'Full Steam Ahead Conference'

The Changing Face of Technology Education.

Design Production Education at Raroa Normal Intermediate.

Design Production Education (DPE) is an exciting learning area at Raroa Normal Intermediate, that has undergone a radical transformation from the time when it was known as Technology or Manual Training. The driver for change was the development of a new school-wide curriculum. The now completed curriculum is framed be eight guiding principles - ‘The Raroa Principles and Fundamentals of Learning.’
These principles underpin all learning which occurs at Raroa.
The three most significant principles which have shifted how spaces are used and how students operate in DPE are:

Personalised Learning  
Flexible system(s) that is built around the learners’ needs and interests with the aim to
develop self-regulated learners.

Knowledge - Ako, Wānanga
Creating relevant knowledge to use in authentic contexts, including future focussed, as they arise on a “just-in-time” basis.

Socially Constructed Learning - Ako
The organisation of  learning should be highly social so that learners have opportunities  to teach each other and collaborate.

The Design Production Education (DPE) area is now a speciality area that challenges students in ways unlike any other learning area. Our students work analytically and creatively to solve authentic problems. They trial and create potential solutions to these problems by putting their innovative ideas into practice. Students learn the practical and academic skills essential for high achievement in life.

The systems and structures that have been put in place to enable the students to develop lifelong skills are grouped into three areas - Toolsets, Skillsets and Mindsets.

The Toolsets in DPE are the Context specific ‘tools’ and/or ‘knowledge’ in a given area. These are learning about ,and how to use, the ‘tools’ that they will be able to draw upon during the design process.

The Skillsets -  these are future focused skills which will prepare the students for success across multiple disciplines; prepare students for their futures. They include: collaborative working skills, communication skills, critical thinking, questioning and problem-solving. As well as developing agency and self organisation. In DPE this skill development is framed by the design process.

The Mindsets are the values we hold as most important.  Mindsets are why we do what we do and how we overcome challenges and strive to achieve. At Raroa these relate to our school vision -  ASPIRE to Achieve. The Mindsets in DPE are outlined in the table below.

Another significant achievement is the integration with the classroom. Traditionally, Technology departments have run completely separately from the rest of the school and each subject a silo of it’s own. By working alongside learning programmes, complementing the knowledge and skills within students’ current inquiries we are increasing the relevance, creating partnerships and bridging the gap between the classroom teachers and technology teachers. The results have been impressive with celebrations which have been attended by hundreds of parents.

The Learning Street was built in 2016 to complement the move to a more design based approach. ‘The Street’ is a design hub which links the specialist areas. One of the catchphrases for the Learning Street is ‘The ideas should shape the rooms, not the rooms shaping the ideas’

Students ideate and develop their ideas which they will take to the specialised room and / or teacher who can assist in taking them to the next step.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Pedagogical Change Through Collaborative Leadership - NZEI Middle Leaders conference

Presenters: Stephen Eames & Jason Ataera

Ask yourself WHY? Pedagogy drives change.
As the rate of change increases our institutions must become more agile in response.
We must be experts in co-creating systems which meet the needs of our ecosystem.
Gone is the system for life, we are instead using systems which keep pace with the changing needs of our learners.

Sit alongside colleagues as we delve deeper into themes such as Pedagogy, Institutional Agility, Ecosystems, and systems for now. We will share our journey of change in an Intermediate context in a lighthearted way and spend time looking at some of the key points you can take away and apply in your context.

Welcoming the participants and starting conversations with soft music in the background set the scene.
Then light hearted chatting and laughter as people settled in and discussed the perspective cards placed on the tables. Jason and I roved the room adding to the comfortable, relaxed feel. Making
introductions, connections and building up relationships.

Starting the presentation with a Cook Island greeting brought the group together and followed by brief descriptions of who we are and our leadership journey, including an outline of our context enabled everyone to feel that what will follow is of value and delivered from the heart.

Down The Back Of The Chair. - Context is king

The message - It is up to you to make meaning of what we are delivering. All contexts are different. Pull out the pieces that apply to you, your school, your context and the students in your school.

Down the back of the chair
"Pleasure, Treasure, Toys and Trash, down
the back of the chair"
"Some hairy string and a diamond ring."

Depending on your needs and context...A diamond ring doesn’t help if you just broke your shoelace. - What are your needs?

We made it clear that we were not espousing that we have the all the answers, and that we are not a ‘No Tosh’, De Bono, Guy Claxton or anything in particular school. We take inspiration from multiple sources and draw upon the theories, ideas and research to help us develop our own pedagogy and deliver techniques and strategies which complement what we strongly believe in and our vision.

 Next key message - Know your staff and develop your strategies.
As we have heard numerous times, it's about people, people, people. What is your strategies to enable teachers and students to flourish.
People react differently to change.

We then introduced the T- Shaped person metaphor, outlining how we will provide tools which will build breadth of skills and knowledge and can be drawn upon in personal contexts so that participants can delve deep into an area within their own schools.

This led into Institutional Agility.
Agile Leaders limit an organisation to their own Leadership Agility (Top Down)
Agile Institutions harness the agility of everyone within the organisation

"The smartest person in the room is the room, the smartest person in the organisation is the organisation." The goal is not to be the most agile.

Thought provoking insights on how to foster innovation and support change whilst staying true to the deeply held beliefs of the organisation.

Famous New Zealander and Company perspective cards
Focusing on three key areas - Pedagogy first, Systems driving practice / practice driving systems and accountability.

We drew on examples of each and presented challenges we had faced. We opened up the room to discussion and using perspective cards, reverse brainstorming and 5 Whys, we explored the concept of Institutional agility.  
Throughout the presentation we provided opportunities to share, discuss and ask questions.

Getting to know names and schools helped to gain an understanding of different personalities and contexts and in some cases the challenges they faced. Trends included: Student agency, personalised PD and accountability. All of which we were able to address and provide advice. 
Personal stories of students and teachers were received with smiles of acknowledgement and jokes and jest between Jason and I provided entertainment and complimented the content.  (Dr Barbara Fredrickson suggests positive emotions broadening one's ability to think creatively with flexibility)

The presentation flew by and after the conclusion messages and thank yous the first comment heard was
That was great! The time flew by” then lots of thanks and appreciation.

“The chair, the chair, the challenging chair,
The champion chair, the cheerful chair,
The charming chair, the children’s chair,
The chopped and chipped but chosen chair
To think our fortune waited there

Down the back of the chair.”

Saturday, 11 March 2017

EduCampWelly17 - #WellyEd Conference at Raroa

Raroa intermediate was the ideal setting for this years EducampWelly17 (I am a bit biased as the AP there.) The Learning Street provided inspiration and prompted questions and conversation on the changing landscape of learning and learning environments.

EducampWelly is a spin off from the #wellyed network. A network of passionate educators. Created by Philippa Antipas @AKeenReader and has now grown to form an exciting group of connected teachers and educational professionals. EducampWelly17 attracted teachers and educators from Wellington, other parts of NZ and a few attendees from overseas.

After introductions, The day was kicked off with 'The Smack Down' - Each person gets one slide & 1 min. This was an opportunity to hear a range of ideas, thoughts and pitches. Quick, fun and thoughtful.

This was followed by the shaping of discussions and workshops based on participants interests. Tours of the school ran throughout the day providing opportunities for participants to ask questions and look around a range of innovative learning environments.

The day was a buzz with conversation, accompanied by coffee, baking and to end the day pizza and drinks put on my N4L

Here is a link to a reflection from one of the teachers that attended the conference.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Sir John Jones - Leading Remarkable Learning 4th March 17

How great teachers and schools make a difference.

Sir John Jones was knighted in 2003 for his services to education. He has worked extensively in challenging schools in North West England. He speaks with a huge amount of passion. His messages are serious, heartfelt and filled with humour.
Sir John’s messages focused on making connections with people and teaching from the heart. He talked about the teachers who are the magic weavers and the power they have to make a real difference. His many stories and clips presented brought tears to the eyes of those listening.

“80% is about relationships and the other 20% is about relationships.”

Ubuntu - A quality that includes the essential human virtues; compassion and humanity.

It’s lots of little things that can create the new normal.

  • Become the asker of brilliant questions.
  • Change why?  to what?
  • Beware collective Nouns
  • Who are your Magic Weavers?
  • Reflection - Ask the question “What mistakes did you make today?”
  • Change the Script - Take care with your questions and how they are received.
  • No Invisible Students

Sir John spoke about the relentless pursuit of excellence, teaching with warmth, passion and righteous indignation. He also talked about mindsets and believing in students.

Sir John gave me an opportunity to reflect on same of the amazing students in my career, the connections made and what really counted and made a difference.

Jason Elwain - Avoid assumptions

Sugata Mitra - Leading Remarkable Learning - March 2017

I have long been a fan of Sugata and in many ways he has been a big influence on my teaching approaches and philosophy of teaching. I have watched and enjoyed his Ted talks numerous times and have experimented with the concepts of self organised learning environments on a number of occasions. 

Sugata Mitra is Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education. He was given the TED Prize in 2013 in recognition of his work on 'building a School in the Cloud,' a creative online space where children from all over the world can gather to answer 'big questions’ He is also well known for his ‘Hole in the wall’ experiments.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Reflection Michael Fullan U-Learn16

Michael Fullan

Michael Fullan, is a worldwide authority on educational reform with a mandate of helping to achieve the moral purpose of all children learning.

Michael works alongside educators and governments to change the role of teachers to that of activators of learning who design learning experiences that build on learner strengths and needs, create new knowledge using real-life problem solving and help all students identify their talents, purpose and passion.

Michael talked about systems change and working with clusters of school to implement change.  

Amongst other points Michael outlined that humans are innately wiring to connect, create and help others.
We need to amplify the innate characteristics in education.

Michael outlined whole system change strategies.
  • Accountability has a history of failure, not that you remove accountability, as positive accountability has an effect
  • Standards also do not fosters sustainability change
The major contributor of sustainably change is systems  and culture change

  • Breakthrough Leadership
Respect and Reject the status quo
Be an expert and apprentice
Experiment and Commit

"The dynastic duo and must be addressed in schools.
New developments in Neuroscience and new developments in Learning Environments."

Reflection - Larry Rosenstock / High Tech High

Larry Rosenstock

The first keynote for U-Learn 2016 was Larry Rosenstock - Larry is the C.E.O  of the San Diego-based High Tech High.  Although I have listened to him speak before and have watched the film ‘Most likely to Succeed’ I was excited at the opportunity to listen to him once again.  
Larry presented his views on the educational paradigm shift and the move away from structured educational systems of the past.

A particularly poignant part of his talk for me was when he spoke of his earlier days in education and the way that students were grouped based on assumptions - ‘These people can do this and these people can do that.  Manual workshop was prescribed to the boys and vocational studies to the girls and similar systems of organisation. Some of these systems, although, not so dramatic still exist in classrooms today.
My reflective question: Are we still selecting or grouping students for opportunities based on assumptions?  - what factors do we use to justify these grouping?

He went on to talk about his desire to focus his attention on people that it was predicted wouldn’t be able to do something (achieve in an area or pursuit)
This being one of the drivers in creating High Tech High.
Larry also reaffirmed that ‘knowledge is socially constructed’ and displayed some wonderful examples of student projects.

  • Challenge assumptions and provide opportunity to succeed

Later in the week we got the opportunity to be involved in a workshop with Larry. Exploring ‘memorable moments’ - This was another fantastic session.