Sunday, October 11, 2015

uLearn15 - "Re-imagining aspects of future-focused learning, teaching and leading"

This year the uLearn programme was structured around the following strands:
> Re-imagining learners and learning
> Re-imagining teacher practice
> Re-imagining leaders and leadership
> Māori medium
> Pasifika Strand

    Keynote Speakers:
    Keynote 3: Pat Snedden - The transformational journey to improve student achievement through public good partnerships in Manaiakalani at Tamaki

    Day 1:
    • Breakout 1 - Teaching with thinking dispositions with Karen Boyes
    The world has change and we can't go back. Citizens of the future will have to create their own jobs. So, what do we do if we /don't know?

    Life is about making things easy for you - look at how cleaning products advanced from 'jif' (elbow grease) to 'spray and wipe' to 'wet and forget'. Helicopter parents (who hover) and/or lawnmower parents (who 'push the mower through' to clean the path to make it safe for students) does not help to fight learned helpless. Parents need to be re-empowered to parent.  
    As teachers we [also] rescue kids too fast and too often students see themselves as passive participants. We need to let them struggle (1. Persisting) - the struggle makes you strong.

    Kids are good at avoidance when things are hard. What do they do when they try to avoid work in the classroom? Some examples: they need a drink of water; sharpening a pencil; help someone else; look busy; tidying up etc. Students even admitted to hide their pencil and spend 15 minutes looking for it or pretend to be writing and when the teacher comes close, look like they're thinking. 

    The best ways to deal with avoidance is to address the ‘elephant in the room’ and simply talk about it. Make students aware that you know the behaviours they are exhibiting are about avoidance and then teach explicit strategies to overcome the avoidance by simply name the behaviour and offer support. For example:  “You are doing x to avoid x, is there anything I can do to help you?” Students have to realise that it is not about the end product. Think about the process, what happened and the next learning to occur.

    (3. Listening with understanding and empathy)
    How often do we taught listening? Although, we should not worry that our students are listening to us. We should worry that they are always watching us, as the brain is wired to mirror and reflect actions that we see from role models. Sitting at the dinner table where children can talk and are listened to, helps them to be good listeners.

    (11. Creating, imagining and innovating)
    Restrict access to resources, cut technology time and have time with no agenda, to help kids to be creative. Use of genius time or 20% time. Kids have to be allowed to be bored 

    (16. Remain open to continuous learning)
    We should teach students to find out what they don't know. This is the information that they need to learn. Don't get excited with an A+ as this only shows that they have not been pushed and that they don't know what to learn next.

    Using the 'Growth Mindset' from Carol Dweck, we have to find the point where the natural talent is not enough, to enable students to learn and grow.

    Never work harder that the students and don't do for them what they can do. We have to switch roles.

    Conclusion: Thinking dispositions is not a thing you 'do', it's to be used all the time!

    • Breakout 2 - 1:1 Starting out in a junior classroom - One app wonders with Karen Belt

    Students use Explain Everything to learn, create and share. This session only highlighted [for me] the value of this app that I am using with my 5 year olds.

    Other involvement:

    Day 2:
    • Breakout 3 - Modern Learning Curriculum with Mary Anne Mills
    We started this session by watching the following video:

    'Challenge' questions we were faced with included:
    > What messages does this video convey about the curriculum in these schools?
    > What is future focused about the curriculum being offered?
    > What would a video convey about the curriculum offered in your school?

    Today we should be designing a future focused curriculum that addresses the needs of all learners
    -shifting ownership of learning
    -learner centred design
    -supporting a knowledge building curriculum

    Design from the inside out:

    Vision, values and beliefs: Mutually agreed upon and owned by the school community (the basis of a common sense of purpose made explicit in vision/mission statement)
    Principles: Derived from values and beliefs (captured in policy statements)
    Practices: Living expression of you values

      Further discussion included:

      The 6 themes in the NZCER's Future Orientated Learning and Teaching
      > Personalising learning
      > New views of equity and diversity
      > Rethinking learners’ and teachers’ roles
      A curriculum that uses knowledge to develop learning capacity
      > A culture of continuous learning for teachers and educational leaders
      > New kinds of partnerships and relationships

      7 principles of learning - OECD
      > Learners at the centre of what happens in the classroom
      > Learning is a social practice and can’t happen alone
      > Emotions are an integral part of learning
      > Learners are different
      > Students need to be stretched, but not excessively
      > Assessment should be for learning, not of learning
      > Learning needs to be connected across disciplines

      Taking a learner-centred approach is one of the significant shifts in the NZ Curriculum, used to contrast with a 'content-centred' approach that was said to characterise much of our previous curriculum approach.

      Learner Centred Beliefs or Principles in a school, eg. student voice in selecting topics and context must be authentic and can guide the planning for a more learner-centred approach to a curriculum implementation.

      Curriculum is always contentious. Differing views of knowledge.
      What is important to learn? (What is powerful to learn in your school or learning area?)
      What is powerful to learn? (What is so important you cannot leave to change?)
      Why have learning ares? NZC p.17 (What are the big ideas students will develop understanding in?)
      What do you emphasise in 'Learning Areas' and 'Key Competencies' and why?

      Redesigning Curriculum
      > Re-configurations around grouping learners
      > Re-configurations around time as a flexible resource
      > Re-configurations around distributing leadership

      Designing Curriculum
      > What is the body of knowledge that we in New Zealand Aotearoa consider to be essential for our learners to engage in?
      > What is powerful to learn?
      > Whose knowledge is important?
      > Who chooses this knowledge?
      > What conditions are needed for a knowledge building curriculum?

      Our Curriculum
      > What do we do well?
      > How do we know (What evidence do we use?)
      - Qualitative?
      - Quantitative?
      > What are we measuring against?
      - School vision and mission?
      - Targets?
      - Values?

      We concluded with the question: "What matters in your school for a school leaver? What should they know, value, understand and demonstrate?"

      And then, time for some relaxation at the Gala Dinner...

      Day 3:
      • Breakout 5 - Harnessing the collective power of our learning community with Emma Alaalatoa-Dale
      "Why are we motivated to learn and implement new things?
      Why do we wake up at 2.00am with a solution to that problem that has been annoying us?
      Why are we o.k. with failing, re-grouping and trying again?
      Why are we at uLearn15 in our holidays?
      Why do we do what we do?"

      Because we are passionate, invested, driven and motivated. By what?

      Change is what motivate others. This includes the students in our classes and schools. How can we ensure that learners are motivated, passionate and inquiring? This can be done through a process of inquiry that evolves over time to meet the needs of our students.

      Five things that can make inquiry successful and necessary to harness the collective power of your learning community:
      • Connected (Planning is responsive to the world around us, our students, their families, our community and the wider needs and opportunities in our world. What is being talked about around the dinner table in my students homes? Do I know what my students are talking about in the playground? We understand that we don’t hold all the knowledge and so accessing the experts from our learning community and beyond is imperative if we are delivering a full curriculum. Am I providing a balanced, rich and full experience for my students to answer their questions? Or am I inadvertently placing a ceiling on what they can learn? Who or what can I access to help me smash that ceiling? We work as a whole team, a whole school. Our 5 year olds are talking and sharing about the same things as our 12 year olds. Am I allowing my students to collaborate with ALL of our community? Are my students feeling connected to their school through their learning? A year of inquiry is connected through a mantra. For instance last year was ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’ And this year has been ‘Learn from the past to lead the present’ Can your students see the connectedness between the the different things that they are learning?)
      • Encompassing (The inquiry question infiltrates EVERYTHING, all curriculum areas, assembly, conversations in the playground, home and community communications, all staff)
      • Tangible (Your Learners and wider community can see it, can touch it, can experience it and can reflect on it’s effectiveness)
      • Consistent (The process is consistent from inquiry to inquiry. We are not teaching knowledge anymore we are teaching students to be motivated, inquiring, problem solving learners. This means that as the world continues to change and the knowledge continues to change they will continue to be fully contributing citizens)
      • Student Led (After students are ‘tuned in’ it is about THEM asking the questions, about THEM evaluating their information sources, about THEM deciding who to collaborate with, about THEM holding the conversations, about THEM deciding on the solution/s, about THEM creating their solution, about THEM evaluating and reflecting on the change that they have / haven’t managed to make and about THEM deciding their next steps)

      A great visual to support questioning:

      Then it was time to fly home and I was able to sit back and think about the many thoughts swirling around in my head...

      So what's next for me?
      > Be prepared to be uncomfortable, embrace disagreement and provocations that challenge me. 
      > Be constantly open, inquisitive and adaptive.
      > Stay positive when faced with diversity and remember that I can make a difference for others.

      Note: As part of Connected Educator Month some uLearn15 events were also Live Streamed.

      ~ "Individually we are one drop. Together we are an ocean - Ryunosuke Satoro ~

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