(Activity 1) Critically define practice.
Waimea College has a friendly, warm & inclusive staff. This is our alternative staff photo – though I think it should be our actual primary photo rather than the more serious photo that makes it into the School Magazine. It is the smiles, camaraderie and friendships that are evident in this photo that are indicative of our relationships and the culture of our staff and school. I had traveled and taught in London inner city schools and Waimea College was my reintroduction to New Zealand schools. I had landed in a teaching utopia. After years of teaching tough, wary, students in concrete, sterile environments I was captured by these friendly students walking around a school which has beautiful park like grounds and where students felt safe enough to leave their bags lying around. What a breath of fresh air.
Our school and community has changed a lot in the last ten years. Our student roll continues to increase from 1300 students to 1600. With increased students, staff numbers increased, ICT has become ubiquitous.
We have been taking our first tentative steps into BYOD for students. We chose to bring devices into school at the senior level. The main reason for this was to address the increase in ICT needs for NCEA assessments such as research and report writing. Apart from the pragmatic practicalities of this approach by creating greater flexibility for staff and students in terms of access to computing resources to complete these necessary tasks, how could we leverage BYOD to change the learning of students in our classes?
At Waimea College within our appraisal system we attempted to create some more substance to the process of attaining our ICT goals. In the past we had been asked to add an ICT goal which ended up with staff writing goals such as “I want to learn how to use OneNote”. But what difference was this going to make to our teaching?
The question had now become “how can we lead the staff in our school to move up in the SAMR model?” ICT had been integrated into our teaching but had it been integrated into student’s learning? It was time to look harder at the question,
“would students like some ICT with their learning?”.
Our approach was to use PLG (personal learning groups) to look at project based learning (PBL) to put staff at the centre of their learning. Staff could make their own decisions about what they want to learn, increasing their agency in their own learning. This was conducted within a OneNote and was shared and transparent within the staff so that it could add to our collective knowledge base. This satisfies Wengers (2000) notion of communities of practise where we share a joint enterprise, mutuality, and a shared repertoire of resources.
The concept was that staff would use the learning cycle as a framework while aiming to improve an activity that they do with students to increase its level in terms of SAMR.
Staff added to the One Note and reflected on the success or otherwise of their project and shared this with the group at meetings.
This initiative has been successful but it’s potential has yet to be fully realised. Anecdotally, staff were positive about the opportunity to have ownership around their PD and to be given the respect to be treated as professionals in determining their own needs and given some time to explore this with their peers. As pointed out by Les Robinson (2009) in his summary of Diffusion of Innovations, the adoption of new behaviours for those that occupy the “late majority and laggards” group is going to be more likely when they can get reassurances from those who have successfully adopted innovations. Tying the outcomes to our school appraisal system has helped link the process to our school and individual goals and our registered teacher criteria.
The opportunity for a distributed leadership approach where PD was not done ‘to’ staff but was rather a process of a group activity that worked through staff relationships had the potential to be a powerful agent of change.
Robinson, L. (2012). Changeology. Enablingchange.com.au. Retrieved 22 September 2017, from http://www.enablingchange.com.au/htctw.php
Wenger, E.(2000).Communities of practice and social learning systems.Organization,7(2), 225-246 (Link to the article in Unitec Library).