Preparing for Prac

As I was recently fortunate to be given a position as a literacy coach at my local primary school, alterations have been made to my prac, meaning I now start on Thursday (EEK!).  After chatting to my mentor from the school I feel so excited about the experience ahead of me. We chatted about how teachers have a tendency not to want to share ideas.  There is often a sense that what we know/have/use is our property and for some reason, exclusively ours.  Blogging has helped me share with and learn from others in a collaborative environment.  It’s such a valuable thing for educators to share with each other, and when we stop, it’s my opinion that our students suffer.

My mentor then raised the point that my prac experience is so valuable, as once I graduate, I will rarely get to see another teacher work.  It doesn’t happen.  When I think about that, it makes sense.  Once I’m teaching, I will hardly ever (if ever!) get to observe other teachers in their environment and learn from them.  It makes me think that blogging and other online resources (such as padlets) are valuable for teachers.  Imagine setting up a padlet with your teaching partners with the purpose of discussing “christmas concert” or “mother’s day craft”.  You could share with each other ideas, restrictions, sites and information without needing to arrange a meeting.  The padlet could be added to at any opportunity given, and wouldn’t require a great deal of time.

How else can we continue to share once we are practicing teachers?

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Academic Integrity

I’ve never really felt the need to protest many marks that have been issued to me throughout my academic life. In primary and high school I pretty much survived with common sense, very little study but attention during class.
University has been generally the same for me- provided I engage in the course material (lectures, readings and tutorials) I have passed with credits or high distinctions. Some courses have involved much more effort, some have interested me more, and therefore my attention is drawn to course material more frequently.
I received a disappointing mark today. I know that if you’ve ever studied at university this isn’t new, but the difference is that I had some very specific feedback on this assignment, and made changes according to this feedback, only to have different comments made on the same points! It sounds confusing, but it really isn’t: firstly I had a lesson at 90min, the feedback was “too long- 20-30min max”. I changed the lesson to 30min and was then told in the final submission that this was too long. So, I’ve started the procedure for having the mark reviewed.
My reason for addressing this in my blog is a reminder: as teachers, we have the responsibility to adhere to high levels of integrity when assessing our students. The mark I received has put me in a mindset that makes me want to throw the towel in. I’ve worked hard, and get marks like this, while I am actually working with these kids, seeing the lessons in practice, and I know what works and what doesn’t work with these kids in my classes. That doesn’t mean I’m right, but I have a level of experience and knowledge that isn’t negligible either.
Our marking shouldn’t reflect opinion or preference. They should reflect the level of understanding our students have about a subject. Whether they do things our way or not, we need to remain neutral.
I’m going to try not to quit uni tonight and just chalk this one off to a bad day.

Pedagogy… I could think of other words to use right now!

Pedagogy is one of those education words that really refers to the “how” of teaching.  It’s something that every teacher has, and they don’t refer to it as their pedagogy unless they’re studying.  That’s what gets to me about the amount the word is used in study.  It hasn’t got a lot of real relevance in teaching practices – we use it, it evolves and develops, but it isn’t really used very often.

Personal pedagogy is what I have most interest in developing, as it forms the basis of how effective my teaching will be.  In week 8 learning path, David (my lecturer) refers to pedagogical knowledge and the importance of experience.

“For many teachers, PCK is something that comes from experience.”

David Jones, http://usqstudydesk.usq.edu.au/m2/mod/book/view.php?id=176354&chapterid=7776

The thing for me is that it absolutely has to evolve through experience.  I’ve said many times before that education from theory to practice is very different, and pedagogy is part of the evolution from theory to practice.  We have theorists that inform our pedagogical knowledge now – ideas; ideals; examples and so much information, but many don’t have the experience to see that while some pedagogies work well in theory, for various reasons, their classroom implementation may not be so.  The various reasons I am talking about include: teaching partners (different styles, different educational backgrounds, different experiences); curriculum coordinators (these people often dictate the resources available for use in the classroom); principals’ or deans’ (they make ultimate decisions about what/when/who is available to you in your classroom); parents; students; experience; environment.

My point is that we need to remain very flexible in the way we use our pedagogical knowledge.  Experience is so valuable, and shouldn’t be taken for granted.  When we enter a classroom as graduates, we need to remember that the students will teach us just as much as we will teach them.  They will teach us patience, kindness, fun, excitement and all the wonderful things that come from learning.  We need to absorb it all, keep learning and keep evolving.  I never want to be a teacher that is “set in my ways”.  That’s part of my personal pedagogy.

Check out some of my peers and their views on pedagogy:

http://kyb01.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/pimp-my-pedagogy/ (Kylie’s Blog)

Copyright Licencing, and all things “ownership”

The latest hurdle I’ve had to overcome in my studies is understanding the implications of copyright on the use and distribution of what is found on the wwww.  Yep that was 4 w’s- it’s a Wonderful world wide web.  It’s wonderful because the web is so rich and full of so much stuff.  Stuff.  There’s no other simple way to put the enormity of everything imaginable and even things you can’t imagine that can be found in the unfound pages of the web.  I love that no matter what I come across in my studies, or in life, I can open up my browser and search for hidden treasure.  Just today I started thinking about my 4 year olds birthday in a few months, and off to pinterest I went.  Invitation ideas, themes, inspiration was all coming at me.  It’s so effortless that it’s become thoughtless.  I don’t think about where the picture I’m viewing has come from, whether that’s someone’s art, whether I owe someone thanks for what they’ve presented me in my treasure hunt.

I have thoroughly enjoyed doing my latest ICT assignment, so when it came to addressing the copyright issue I desperately wanted to put my fingers in my ears and sing “lalalalala” while going to my happy place.  It is mind boggling.  But it’s important.  I think the lesson for me is that part of my teaching has to be to remind my students that despite the wonders of the web, we are viewing someones’ something.  Someone’s pictures, thoughts, work, ideas.

We are already understanding the importance of being mindful of what is put on the web- it is there to stay and we are making a footprint of sorts with what we post on social media.  However, what about the stuff we “re-post” or “copy”? We need to get more savvy with what we use, how, when and why.  Who owns what you are “right-click, save” ing? I’ve had a big wake up call this week, and I’m certainly on a road to recovery of less right click save-ing.

Check out more info here on Creative Commons licensing.

The start of a new semester

I’ve just commenced another semester of Uni, and as I tackle 2 children, 4 subjects and working, I find it important to be organised.  In order to be organised for Semester 1, 2014, I’ve started working through subject introductory material.  Interestingly, this blog will form part of my assessment for an ICT subject.  Blogs fascinate me, as we use the platform to write anything from personal to professional, thoughts and musings to theories and research.  The audience is so varied, and almost intangible.  Who actually reads this? Who really finds what I have to say interesting?  Am I writing this for the benefit of an audience, or for selfish reasons – finding something cathartic in writing what’s on my mind.  I guess through the course of this semester I will explore this more, but for now, I’m going to enjoy the cathartic effects of blogging.

After viewing and reading all of the introductory material, I was interested in the information on the theory of connectivism (see the video link below).  While I haven’t read any further material on this subject, the video on connectivism was inspiring and engaging.  An observation I would make is that engaging in a connectivism style of learning is something that occurs in many ways, in many environments.

For example, I am a mother of a prep student, and spend time discussing some topics from my study with teachers at her school, other parents and staff.  These discussions provide a really authentic, meaningful insight into the various learning experiences of children, their families and educators.  I have also worked at a school where I regularly engaged in meaningful discussion with educators, parents and staff.  These discussions unfortunately aren’t on an rss feed.  I’m looking forward to the use of blogs in this course to hopefully document these discussions and experiences in a way that will enable others to engage in them and benefit from these authentic processes.

I was also struck by the statement in the introductory material that ICT is to be used to ENHANCE learning.  Interestingly, I have seen many examples where ICT is used in a “token” manner-  using youtube to play a video clip every morning to ensure ICT is incorporated in the students day.  Using ICT to enhance learning, and integrate it in such a way that students are more engaged, and involved in the process not simply viewers of the results is something I’m very interested and passionate about.  When integrated correctly, used to enhance learning, ICT will make the difference between 21st century learners ready to participate and lead in a technologically advanced society, or learner requiring additional training in the workforce in order to operate in society.