Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Professional development through Teacher Inquiry

The first workshop I attended at CEESA 2016 was run by Aloha Lavina. What attracted me to this workshop was the idea of teachers engaged in inquiry learning. Aloha is the Upper School Principal at American International School of Zagreb. Her school had been using the tools from the Adaptive Schools workshop that she and others had attended.

The teachers at AISZ identified areas that they wanted to investigate within their school roles or areas of responsibility. Then they formed groups to meet regularly to investigate their self selected topic. While they were working on their inquiry the teachers kept professional portfolios. These were hard copy binders which had specific areas for the teachers to maintain. Throughout the inquiry the teachers investigated, designed specific interventions, observed outcomes, gave each other feedback and reflected on their learning.

One aspect I was intrigued by was the professional portfolio. I have been exploring the possible options for electronic portfolios since this session. There are a number of e-portfolio options available such as portfoliogen, pathbrite and exibi. As someone who has to maintain a professional portfolio for my LIANZA registration which is due every three years I would like to choose one of these options and try it out. At the moment I use Evernote as a way to keep track of the many aspects of the LIANZA registration process. While I know I can share these notes I can see that a portfolio may be a better way to go about reflecting on my learning. I can see the value of keeping records of my professional inquiries with my colleagues. Our school uses Professional Learning Communities to try to achieve something similar. I think the AISZ model that Aloha shared with us has this dimension of keeping a record of progress, questions, reflections which adds value to the teacher and to the school community that she works in.

I also decided to follow up on Adaptive Schools and find out more about it. Thanks so much to Aloha for an interactive and thought provoking workshop. I will be taking action - watch for future blog posts.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Greg Curtis - Personalisation, Start with the WHY

Continuing my CEESA conference reflections; I am going through the conference sessions and exploring the ideas presented.

Greg Curtis gave the only Key Note address of the conference on Friday morning, 18 March. He talked about the large transformational process that is required when a school undertakes to pursue the idea of personalisation of learning. So it is best to start with the WHY. Why is personalisation the answer? The most obvious thing is how quickly the world is changing and developing. We need adults who can think creatively, who can leverage the tools at their disposal to come up with solutions to major problems. Education for the future isn't about learning facts it is about developing and maximising potential.So all schools need to start with the question of WHY. In fact starting with the WHY leads to success and adaptivity.

Yong Zhao challenges us to move beyond education to make everyone the same to educating students to be the best versions of themselves. Learning should extend, amplify and elevate. In the TED talk below he asks teachers to teach to the child's strengths rather than trying to fix their deficiencies.

So once we have the WHY then we can explore the WHAT. The what things can we do to achieve this. Unfortunately there is no manual for how to create personalized learning in your school. There are continuums of personalization and many schools are working on how to develop ways in which students can indeed develop their strengths.

One school in New Zealand that was built and developed to do just this is Hobsonville Point Secondary School - a new secondary school that opened at the beginning of 2014. Deputy Principal Claire Amos has been blogging about their personalisation journey in "Learning Leading Change" Claire and her colleagues in leadership in this school spent one year before the school was built exploring personalised learning in schools around the world. They have developed their own model and have been working successfully with students for the past two years.

Goal clarity is essential. I wonder what personalization in our library would look like? I really want to create opportunities for student choice and voice in the library. All things to explore in the new academic year. I want to set some goals for our learning before the end of this year.

I took notes about this session on Evernote