I really enjoyed this quick read article by David Jakes about ideas! It's all about how teachers need to come up with better and more innovative ideas in order for change to occur.
"Change is dependent on generating ideas, and about creating ideas that have magnitude — and that really is the key. Big ideas, ideas that potentially position the organization beyond their horizon line, bold, creative, audacious ideas, and those that make you tilt your head, squint your eyes, and then slightly nod. And then smile."
This kind of leads to a Core Blog Post that I recently wrote based on the video "Beyond the Obvious". It's all about how we often hold back sharing our own thoughts because we don't think they're any good. How do we encourage others to share their ideas in order for collaboration to take things to the next level? How do we create the conditions for this in our schools?
"There’s a reason that collaborative teaching is often called “power teaching.” By collaborating with others we combine expertise. Interacting with a wide range of people lets us gain multiple perspectives. This in turn leads to greater chances of our ideas intersecting or colliding, increasing the likelihood of creativity and innovation. We can share ideas that may then evolve into transformative action."
Think about sharing these readings with your staff to build a dialogue.
Questions to consider:
Do you have a school culture that encourages all contributions?
Do you indulge in "blue sky thinking" that lets people think creatively?
Do you allow for collaboration within your staff?
Do you encourage multiple perspectives? Do you engage with student and community voice?
"Little ideas are easy. Big, potentially impactful ideas — not so much." David Jakes
When beginning to think about teaching collaboratively, many people are often concerned about maintaining contact with their students and still "knowing" their students really well. I would agree that this is a challenge. It is different than when you are in a single cell classroom. There's no way that you can know 50 students that you teach at different times as well as you would know 25 who you teach all the time. That's when the conversations that you have with your co-teacher(s) become so important. Together, my co-teachers and I find we have a really good knowledge of our students. We work on learning reports together and feel confident that what we are reporting is a true and accurate reflection of a particular student. I just wish that we had more time allocated to for 3 way learning conferences. It would be amazing to both be able to be at the conferences for all our students, not just the ones on our homebase list. Extra teacher only day??
I know lots of school are thinking about assessment/ learning conferences and pastoral care with multiple classes and teachers and I would love to hear what's working well in your school.
Meanwhile, I wanted to share a student survey that we conducted at the end of Term 2. I find Google Forms a great way to gather information from students and to gather student voice. We have been introducing our Year 4 students to using their Google Drive, so sending out a survey let them have some practice. We were amazed at their responses and gained some valuable information. Let's face it, you would never have time to go around and ask each child a whole bunch of questions, let alone remember the answers and collate! Let Google do the work for you!
So here is a sample of a few questions we asked and some responses. We did ask the students to put their names, which they happily did. We asked quite a few pastoral care questions - how students were finding the playground etc. This gave us some good information and we were able to identify a few key children that need some extra support. There were 48 children who took the survey, give or take a few user errors who had so start again!
We were interested to see which subjects were appealing to the students the most. We found it interesting that Reading was so far ahead in the survey. We think this is because this is the area that is most student directed, with a lot of choice, elearning opportunities and independence. This gave us the idea to try and include some of the same elements into other areas of the programme. (Stay tuned for a blog post about how this goes.)
This question was in response to us getting rid of "Read and Feed" time. Students now just get their snacks when they want to eat them, between 9:15 and 10:00am. We wanted to check that they were still happy with this.
This is an especially interesting question as we now have almost 2/3 of our students bringing their own device. These are mostly ipads. However, the laptop still remains incredibly popular which is a good reminder about using the best tool for the best purpose. The laptops have been in hot demand with the use of GAFE, especially as our students love using Google Draw, which is not supported on the ipad at this stage.
Can't believe that PAGES is still so popular - though I think it is because our kids love making poster type creations on it.
As you can see, a huge amount of the class is bringing a device. Below are a few likes/ dislikes. One common thread that came through was that the way we are storing the devices is making the kids crazy! So, Day 1, Term 3 we will pose this as a problem for the kids to come up with a solution for.
We wanted to check in with the kids who don't bring their own device how they were feeling about this. The more BYOD kids we have, the harder we are working to make sure that everything is equitable. We have PLENTY of school devices for kids to use. The biggest issue for school users seems to be saving work in progress. Hopefully as they become better using Google Drive and their email, this will be easier for them to manage.
We are big on collaboration, so learning partners are used all the time in our class. This was interesting feedback. Something we have taken on board, is to give more opportunities to work in a 3 or alone - mix it up a bit! The kids often get to pick their own partners and I bet they don't like it when we assign - but I guess that's too bad for them!! But it would be interesting to discuss with them why we do this.
So, our next step is to discuss parts of this survey with our kids once Term 3 starts. Maybe ask them for more input. We want to show them their voice matters and that we have taken many of their ideas on board. It'll be interesting to see what they can come up with for ipad storage and security. I also can't wait to unveil our new and improved Maths programme - I think the kids will love it!
My name is Ngaire Shepherd-Wills. This website is a record of my TeachNZ sabbatical, Term 2, 2013 and then I have continued to share my wonderings and discoveries about Innovative Learning Practices. I now work for CORE Education. Views are my own.