Activity 8, Week 32, NZ Mind Lab, PRACTICE
Ok, so the road wasn’t actually that long and not very winding either, but I love a good blog title and can’t go past a reference to a fabulous band and wonderful song…In actual fact, my Mind Lab journey has been one of the most straightforward things about 2016 for me, and there was never a moment when I questioned myself having started on it. I remain certain that it is an incredibly worthwhile course, and could potentially become standard fare in the training of a connected educator. I even asked the founder, Frances Valentine, a question related to this very idea in a recent(ish) live chat:
I like her response.
I started this learning journey because I wanted to improve myself as an educator. I wanted to be more and I wanted to see what was possible. At the time I was teaching somewhere where I felt like the “lone nut”; trying things in my class, but not having much of an effect on anything but my own sanity as I was often being shot down for various reasons.
The Mind Lab was a way to become truly reflective in my practice – to grow my own self-awareness of what I was doing in my classroom and why I was doing it. As stated by Osterman & Kottkamp, this self-awareness would (and did) lead to professional growth and development (1993). I have always been a bit of a “gut feeling” teacher. Sometimes I didn’t know why something was right (or wrong) but instinctively knew it was. I was never that confident with talking about what I was doing, as I didn’t feel I had the credentials behind me to back it up. That “I’m just a teacher” feeling haunted me.
Now, I feel I know things. I can back up statements because I have lived them, and damn it, I have read about them too. I still think feelings are valid and should, for the most part, be trusted, but having an arsenal of readings and theories feels good as well. Osterman & Kottkamp also reference the Experiential Learning Theorists, talking about being personally engaged in the learning experience leading to more effective learning (1993). Having those “problematic experience[s]” (Osterman & Kottkamp, 1993) has helped me to continually improve my practice.
I could also have called this post, “The Actor & the Critic”. I like the idea that the teacher must be inside the drama, yet also outside, analysing it (Osterman & Kottkamp, 1993). If I was to analyse my 2016 journey, including Mindlab, it might look something like this Explee Video:
I decided to show it with this programme in honour of my first Mind Lab assignment, which I did using a similar programme, Videoscribe. Explee is a programme a found out about from a student…(I’m learning all the time!)
I have most of all enjoyed the collaborative aspect of The Mind Lab programme. Osterman & Kottkamp say that reflective practice is most effective when it is a collaborative effort (1993). I think this is true. I may still be somewhat of a “lone nut”, but I know where to go to find other nuts and have seen the success that occurs when teachers and students collaborate, rather than being left to their own devices.
In terms of aspects relating to e-learning Practicing Teacher Criteria, I believe being able to find those other “lone nuts” via twitter and other social media platforms as helped me to fulfill Criteria 1 (Establish and maintain effective professional relationships focused on the learning and well-being of all ākonga). I am actively seeking and maintaining connections with other educators and professionals that can support the learning of my students, and also myself, for my students’ benefit. I do this mainly via twitter, but also google+ and connections I have established through The NZ Read Aloud and The Global Read Aloud.
Criterion 9 (Respond effectively to the diverse and cultural experiences and the varied strengths, interests, and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga) is something I am problem-solving every day. I strongly support the use of digital technologies in purposeful, authentic, engaging ways for students, and try to incorporate aspects of e-learning into my teaching when I can. This requires some thought as many students suffer from the effects of “the digital divide” and what works for some students, doesn’t necessarily work for others. An example I am currently investigating and trialing is Seesaw. I chose this as it was simpler than regular blogging programmes and promoted partnerships with students’ whānau. It is still a work in progress and I am reflecting on it all the time.
In terms of next steps for future professional development, I will actually be starting a Post Graduate Diploma in Education, specialising in Literacy, next year through Auckland University. This is a requirement for my new job, but I am really looking forward to it. I discovered that several of the faculty wrote some of the pieces I read for my literature review, so I was able to be a little starstruck and excited that they might be teaching me!
Bring it on!
Oh, and in honour of Seth Priebatsch’s game dynamics, I am going to reward you for getting to the end of my blog post with a couple of Beatles’ songs (I tried to pick one, but couldn’t) that might slightly hint at a future in education (but are actually pretty much just cool)…
Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993). Reflective Practice for Educators.California.Cornwin Press, Inc. Retrieved on 7th May, 2015 fromhttp://www.itslifejimbutnotasweknowit.org.uk/files.
Ministry of Education (nd). Practising teacher Criteria and e-learning . Retrieved from http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/