Monday, March 2, 2015

Heading to retreat… #28daysofwriting

Woohoo – almost two years on here we all are heading to retreat in Hanmer.  Five of us board the early morning flight out of Dunedin bound for Christchurch to board the bus for Hanmer. 

Aside from visiting one of the many truly beautiful spots in New Zealand again, I am really looking forward to the MAGIC of the restrea
·      Reconnecting with CORE whanau from all around New Zealand;
·      Meeting new CORE whanau who have joined recently;
·      Spending time reflection on the journey that CORE has been on;
·      Looking at wehre we are at in the current eeducational context in NZ;
·      Looking to the future;
·      Socialising with CORE whanau;
·      Exploring Hanmer again;
·      Relaxing in the hot pools..
How privileged we are as a company to come together; spend quality time together; developing as a team. 
Theme: The core of CORE
Honouring the past
Celebrating the now     
Looking into the future

I always believe it is a HUGE privilege to have everyone in one space for a journey of reflection.  A vision or team ‘way pf being’ is only lived and owned if it is revisited, reflected on and re-shaped. 

How does this look for me in my professional life?

Honouring the past

In 1981 I attended Dunedin Teacher’s College for a brief sojourn.  I was not ready to be a teacher and off I went to explore different opportunities. In 1998 I returned and began my three year stint at Dunedin Teacher’s College, graduating in November 2000.  Since then I have taught in three schools, and been a Deputy Principal for five years.  I won a teachNZ scholarship in 2011 and celebrated a study year completing my Masters of Educational Leadership and travelling around New Zealand on my self designed ‘Twitter Tour’ exploring schools across NZ using mobile devices and flexible learning spaces.  In 2012 I returned to school and ran a BYOB (bring your own browser) programme in a student designed learning space classroom.  We had a fabulous year, connecting online, have choice and control over our learning with personalized learning pathways, and designing new learning spaces.  At the beginning of 2013 I took up a position with CORE education and worked as a facilitator in the Blended e-learning team in schools in and around Otago, Central Otago and Southland.  2014 saw me working as a facilitator for the newly named contract Learning with Digital Technologies with schools in and around Southland, Literacy with the Literacy Online role, mentoring with the Virtual Professional Learning and Development Team and consultancy. 

Celebrating the now  
2015 sees me as Cluster Lead for schools in Otago and Southland as well as workshop support in Christchurch.  I am also continuing the VPLD mentoring and thoroughly enjoying the learning in this role.  I have recently begun participating in my first MOOC – name it…
I love my roles, I love my job!!!!  I continue to find better work/life balance. 
Looking into the future

Where to now?  I know that education is where I want to be.  I know that I miss direct contact with class and learners.  I use the analogy of my c=being a free range chicken and a return to the class would be like putting me in a cage for now…

Sunday, March 1, 2015

MAGIC in my own backyard.... #28daysofwrting in March

So here I am on the first of March.... The next chapter... writing for 28minutes for 28days... and maybe even more - right though til the 31st of March!

So today's post started with a tweet some days ago from @Boz23

I explored the site 12 stunning photos of New Zealand  and decided it was time to explore the beauty right here in my own back yard. My family have often talked about this spot but I have never been.

So today was the day!  WOW I can not believe the MAGIC that is here, right over the hill from where I live.  It is a steep walk down and of course a steep walk back out but it is worth ever step...

I can hardly believe the beauty of this place and how exposed to the elements it is.  While we were at the very top it was almost too windy to stay upright, yet down on the beach it was quite sheltered!

We sat on a rock and were enjoying the view when a group of youngsters set up a cricket pitch along the narrow stretch of beach. We moved out of the way of the ball and to my surprise, as one of them hit the ball for at least a four, I popped my right hand up and took a clean catch.  Imagine my surprise when they offered me the bat.  What fun....

Well the place is truly MAGIC.  It is like a little piece of paradise tucked away out of sight...

I can't wait to go back...

Tonight I shared photos with @boz23 who asked if it was near the Great Ocean Road, which was exactly what I felt when I was there today!  

Check out my post from the Great Ocean Road tour earlier last year to see the similarities!

Thanks so much Margaret for allowing me to experience the MAGIC of my own area....

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Coaching Digital Learning - Cultivating a Culture of Change

Woohoo - my first MOOC - Coaching Digital Learning - Cultivating a Culture of Change MOOC-Ed, to enhance your digital learning content knowledge and further develop coaching strategies.

What a shock I got tonight to realise that I had enrolled for this course and it started 5 days ago - so I'm on a bit of a catch up!

I am enjoying reading about seven Partnership principles of: equality, choice, voice, reflection, dialogue, praxis and reciprocity.

The actions of good coaches are described as:
  • enrolling teachers in coaching as a part of their professional development;
  • identify teaching goals;
  • listen;
  • ask questions;
  • explain teaching beliefs;
  • provide feedback;
  • partner for success;
October 2011 | Volume 69 | Number 2 Coaching: The New Leadership Skill Pages 18-22 What Good Coaches Do - Jim Knight

"As Senge has written, effective coaching is not about the answers; it's about the questions" (Senge et al., 1999).

"Mentees are often looking for answers, and coaches are primed to oblige. But offering answers to every question can lead to a dysfunctional dance that short-circuits higher-level thinking."

Both of these quotes support my inquiry question fully. I really am charged with listening, and questioning to support others to find the answers, move beyond the obvious! 

Questions to Ask:
  • Ask questions about essential issues and behavior.
  • Ask precise and incisive questions.
  • Ask questions that generate specific and relevant information.
  • Ask questions that connect the past, present, and future.
  • Ask questions that explore values.
  • Occasionally, ask for permission.
  • Avoid asking why.
It's About the Questions Ronald R. Bearwald

I am thoroughly enjoying the start I have made and look forward to more great learning tomorrow!

The twenty eight days of writing journey... Day 28 #28daysofwriting

Today is day 28!
There are many ways to look at that!
Was 28 a target?  
Was 28 about establishing a daily writing ritual?
Was 28 just the number of days in February?

What was your aim for the 28 days???

These were the goals I set myself on day 1:

·      I will write for at least 28 minutes each day for my blog;
·      The main focus of my writing will be year beginnings and inquiry;
·      I will choose a variety of styles and genres;
·      I will invite connection and collaboration with my writings and wonderings;
·      I will share each post with a wider audience through tagging, on twitter, in the VPLD, the vln, and the Ethos community, some may even make it to the Facebook group NZ Teachers (Primary);
·      I will include reflections on my readings and my professional development;
·      I will encourage others to become involved in this journey;
·      I will connect with and comment on blogs of others in this initiative – aiming for two + comments per day;
·      I will have a lot of fun and share MAGIC wherever I can.

WOW - so many of these goals achieved!!!!  Celebrating with a happy dance...

I am delighted to have achieved almost all I set out to.  However there is still a lot of work to be done.  I have not committed time to read and comment on the blogs of others daily...

So, for the next two hours that is what I plan to do....
Back soon....
Three posts read, one comment left... 
hmmm - why is it that I feel inadequate to comment on some posts???  Do I feel I have nothing to offer?  

Back again soon...

Hmmm, two more posts read and both require me to sign in or join to comment, and unfortunately, that is not something I do... Should I?  Is this a barrier we can remove for our audience.  I know that I have removed the 'word verification' from my blog for the past two weeks but have been inundated with spam... is this just the way of things now?

Anyway, two more comments posted and time to head back into my reflection of the journey.  

Five more posts read...

A HUGE thank you to Tom Barrett for starting this opportunity for each and everyone of us to share our voice, to connect and network.  
I am really exciting to write daily for all of March... Tomorrow will see me setting myself some goals for the next chapter of my blogging journey.

Thanks to all who have visited my blog, read, or commented.  Without you, my audience, these are just words floating in space... 

Friday, February 27, 2015

The WHY of last minute panics... Day 27 #28daysofwriting

Teehee - I learnt a lot today... a lot about me, a lot about technology and a lot about perseverance...

Here is my creation on adobe voice which I was very happy with:

So just imagine my surprise when I realised I could not download the file or export and use it for next week....

So in kicked my perseverance, my bloody minded determination that I would not be beaten.  Crowd sourcing for support - twitter, txt, skype, email and quicktime seemed like my best solution....

Two hours ++ later and this is what happened... I used Quicktime to screen capture the video, and separately capture the audio.  

Now - how to put it all back together?

iMovie was my first choice... and after much trial and error and googling I was able to layer the audio and video back together to create an mp4 clip that I was able to export, then upload to Google Drive.

What did I learn today?

  • Persevere, persevere, persevere
  • Ask for and accept help
  • Be prepared to spend a lot of time
  • Celebrate success when you get there!!
So what does the finished version look like?

Not as good as the original out of Adobevoice but I am happy with it nevertheless.

So mission accomplished and a whole lot of learning along the way.  This was an incredibly powerful journey for me as I learn to persevere and explore and use new digital tools.

And the icing on the cake for me tonight... 
A glass of red wine and viewing all of the videos of my colleagues... oh we are such an incredible talented, diverse and talented bunch.

Roll on Monday when we are all together and the real MAGIC begins!!!!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Taking the sting out of the tail of stress!!! Day 26 #28daysofwriting

What is stress?
: a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.
: something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety
: physical force or pressure

If one word is bandied around in our busy life it is stress.  We are to avoid it at all cost for the sake of our health, our relationships, our general well-being!

I am really focusing on life balance this year and one particular area of focus is the way I deal with stress.  I think we are deluding ourselves if we think we can avoid stress.  Well, I know that I would find it very difficult to avoid.  

Let's look at the three bullet points in turn:

: a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.

A state of mental tension... How long the state lasts is crucial for me!  How long do I choose to hold onto stress and allow the stress to build up?  I am getting very good at reminding myself to take the stress, put it in a bubble and release it!  Now I hope that doesn't sound trite because it certainly isn't meant to.  Over recent times I have been working as a mentor to educators and I receive mentoring.  The greatest advice I have ever received is 'let go'.  I have worked at 'letting go' that which I cannot change, do not need to hold on to, or is not doing me any good.  This strategy is serving me very well. 
I grew up with a father who was a worrier. He often 'saw' danger or worried about things that hadn't even happened.  I was inclined to be like that, but I am mentoring myself out of that headspace. 

So yes for me, stress is a state, a state I determine how long I hold on to!  
What about YOU?

: something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety

'Something' that causes... what is that something?  Is it a full calendar, a perceived mountain in front of you, a trouble or concern, an unknown?  Whatever it is, it is often thinking about it that is far worse than facing the load.  What can you do to decrease the strong feelings of worry or anxiety?  For me, I have a number of strategies I am working on.  I am breathing first... really deep breathing and re-focusing and am finding this an incredibly powerful tool to have in my kete.  No matter where I am or what the situation, I can employ my breathing strategy without impact on others, or anyone even knowing. I am also visualising.  This is a work in progress, but visualising the worry or stress gone can be very, very powerful.  Yet another strategy is making the most of grabbing every moment... the MAGIC that is everywhere - the flower, the sky, the cloud, the sounds, the colours....

What do you do when something causes you strong feelings of worry or anxiety?

: physical force or pressure
Although it would be easy to discount this definition as irrelevant, I think it has real merit to be aware of and pay attention to. Sometimes stress or worry can feel like a physical force or pressure, usually in your chest, or your eyes, or sometimes in the form of a 'headache'. An acute awareness of these signs is essential to survival.  All of the strategies I have mentioned above work but my first and best call is to get right away from the spot or moment of stress.  Walk, listen to music, close your eyes, go for a drive, meet with a friend... Whatever works for me right at the moment is what I employ to get me through that stage.  

What works for you?

There are so many different stresses and pressures in our lives and some are to be welcomed.  Some bring us the momentum necessary to perform to our optimum, or push beyond our comfort zones...
Just writing about stress has taking the sting out of the tail for me....

Let's meet in your space... part 2 Day 25 #28daysofwriting

Well what a delight to get to blog part 2...

Yesterday I shared Let's meet in your space...

Last night I noticed this in the NZ Teachers (Primary ) facebook page:

This post has had, and continues to have numerous responses... and are well worth reading...

And of note... today there are 3,728 members.  Educators are sharing, caring, supporting, discussing, questioning and connecting on the facebook page at a phenomenal rate!

It is, without a doubt, meeting a real need.  

I will be interested to follow any moves to try and replicate this within the vln.  

The vln (virtual learning network) has a range of groups across everything education, with educators discussing, sharing, networking...
Twitter has #edchatnz #scichatnz #mathchatnz #engchatnz and much much more...

Your PLN (personal learning network) is never going to be restricted to one space or way of connecting.  I think it is crucial for us all to connect whenever, however, with whoever...

Synchronous, asynchronous, curriculum, or level specific, whatever your need, I am sure there is a space and a place for you to connect and network.  

Whatever works - go with it!  

The true MAGIC is in the face to face connections and when a face to face connection is made, all future online connections are richer and stronger!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Let's meet in your space... Day 24 #28daysoflearning

Let's meet in your space... wherever that may be....

Over the past four to five weeks I have been marvelling at the growth of the facebook page - NZ Teachers (Primary )

From humble beginnings by one teacher in Auckland in January to 3826 members today sharing, connecting, networking, discussing all things education.  

This got me wondering... 

  • why has there been such exponential growth of members over such an incredibly short period of time?
  • why such open sharing and questioning?
  • why are so many educators connecting here as opposed to Twitter, Pond, vln?  Or are they in many spaces?
Is it because of the ease and familiarity of facebook?

Is it the rapid response with so many members?

This rapid growth of members connecting and sharing is akin to the phenomenal growth from Danielle Myburgh's dream #edchatnz.

Taking my wonderings into my personal and professional roles, I am aware of the need to meet learners wherever they are.  We must be mindful of supporting learners, and ensuring opportunities are made to meet, share, learn and connect within familiar networks and online spaces.

The share volume of sharing in the facebook page could well be cross posted to literacy spaces within the vln, and shared via twitter.  

The challenge is knowing who is out there, who is sharing, and in which spaces.

What are your preferred online networking spaces and why???

Monday, February 23, 2015

Learning from my mistakes Day 23 #28daysofwriting

Back at work today after a HUGE week last week, I was acutely aware of the need for focus and organisation as I tried to process the paperwork and get everything done before I head into more schools tomorrow.  

Fully focused I set off to create the forms necessary for the next steps, as we come together as a team, to ensure we best meet everyone's needs.

In my haste, I did not thoroughly read, or process the instructions. I doubled up on the work required and spent a lot of time creating sheets we do not need.

It got me thinking...

How often do I have a picture in my mind of what needs to happen that over-rules the real picture?

How often do I skim read, rather than deep reading?

Later this afternoon I was talking to our team leader and my mistake became evident.  How grateful I am to learn this early on of the potential duplication.  

How frustrated I would have been...

So here I am  tonight, reflecting on the benefits from close contact with our team.  The benefits of regular check ins, and clarification of tasks is essential.  

I really am loving our new way of working, sharing with team members, collaborating, and sharing the journey!

Woohoo... FAIL = first attempt in learning!

I love that I learnt from my mistakes today!

Day 22 More MAGIC to explore.... #28days of writing

Agh, there is nothing like waking from a sensational sleep, away with family and friends...

Coffee on the deck, with nothing more to worry about than which direction to drive in...

Off we headed, stopping at a craft expo, the Waikawa Museum, and the 10th Annual Edge of the World Art Exhibition 

Brunch was another surprising delight at Niagara Fall's Cafe. 

A delightful journey followed as we wove our way around the south and ended up at the Moth in Mandeville.

Great company, sunny weather, so much to see and do in onw tiny corner of New Zealand... 

So much to go back and explore further!

Special little spots in our world... #28daysofwriting Day 21

A crazy busy week all around the south ends and I head home for a night in my own bed, then it's off for another adventure!  New Zealand is one beautiful country and bit by bit we are exploring it! This weekend it is the Southern Scenic Route down to Catlins and beyond, to Waikawa.

Packing up is fun - I am just loving the confined space of Grant's new car as we really can only take the essentials!  So not long is spent packing.

Off we head south!

First stop, Lumberjacks in Owaka and the lunch was delicious!

 Glorious blue skies when we left soon turned grey and the rain started at Owaka, so roofs up!
A brief stop at the Lost Gypsy Gallery...

Continuing down the Catlins, through stunning bush and around Tautuku Bay.

Arriving at Porpoise Bay, Waikawa, to a glorious peaceful little spot in the deep south of NZ!
A swim in the Ocean at Curio Bay capped off a perfect day...

Then nibbles, wines, great company, great conversation... 

MAGIC day...

28 minutes of writing... possibly not... but totally okay with that!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Impact - what is it all about? Day 20 #28daysofwriting

This morning I woke up to a Twitter notification:
What an incredible read to wake up to:

From Mosgiel to Mumbai – Twitter tours make connectivism MAGIC @coetail

This post brings bak so many incredible memories:

The power of connecting face to face, continuing to connect online, is evidenced in ripples.  

Mosgiel to Mumbai is such a fabulous title.  Mosgiel, in the deep south of New Zealand seems incredibly removed from the rest of the world.  The power of connected face to face is and always will be where the absolute MAGIC is, however the continuing ripples online are made possible through this connection.  

I don't know much about Mumbai at all - so there is another interesting connection for me to pursue.  

I also don't know anything about @coetail - What is that all about?

So, Steph and I met in July 2011 and have probably had about a maximum of ten face to face connections.  The conversation and connection during these sessions has been the solid foundation on which our online relationship continues.  

I think back with such a warm heart to the connections I made during 2011 and am amazed at how many educators I still have a close relationship with.  Many I still visit and catch up with face to face, most I am still in touch with online, and almost all I catch up with at Ulearn and conferences around NZ.

The MAGIC is in the face to face connection.  This connection supports online connections until  the next face to face and so on in an upward spiral of networking.  

Robust, philosophical conversation.... Day 19 #28daysofwriting

Robust and philosophical conversation is one of the many privileges of my role. 

This week I have had the privilege of visiting schools in and around the deep south of New Zealand and in and around Christchurch.

In every school there is rich, robust and philosophical conversation. We are all on a journey and I love to connect with others on similar journeys, be challenged by those on completely different journeys and be inspired by the passion of educators for learners. 

This week has been unique for me.  Scoping 8 schools in 5 days over contributing, full primary, secondary, rural, urban, integrated…

What a pleasure it has been to reflect with staff.  To look at the journey they have been on, the successes they are celebrating and the challenges they are facing.  How good it is for the heart and soul to hear the enthusiasm and passion for learners and learning.  How inspiring it is to hear of opportunities being taken, innovations being trialled, and journeys shared.

Some of themes emerging are:

  • Modern Learning Practice;
  • Google Apps for Education (GAFE) to support learning and collaboration;
  • Modern Learning Practice (MLP);
  • Change management;
  • Integration of digital technologies;
  • Digital Citizenship;
  • Teaching as Inquiry (T@I);
  • Learner agency;

Just as our way of working this year allows for professional learning and development (PLD) where goals and needs align, it also allows for individualisationpersonalisation and agency.

We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiastic welcome and reception we have received across the south and the time, honesty and passion shared. 

It is so easy to get enthused and involved when the passion is there.  How lucky the learners are to be surrounded by this positive ‘buzz’. 

If there is one thing I can encourage educators to do, if not already doing so, it is to record the exciting journey they are on.  Only by recording the journey of today are we able to truly reflect and really learn from the experiences.  As we move into uncharted waters with Modern Learning Practice, we NEED to know the journey, the tipping points, the key moments that impact on us, the deviations and detours we make, the lessons learnt, and the MAGIC created. 

I am especially looking forward to working alongside educators and living vicariously through their journeys.

Thank you to you all for the robust and philosophical conversation that has been the MAGIC in my week!
Now the fun begins, as we draft development plans, align needs, and collaborate to find the best way to meet needs.  

What a pleasure and a privilege to a part of this journey.