Week 32: Changes in my practice, by Tracy Simpson

The last 32 weeks have been a pedagogical odyssey, and one that I have had great pleasure in sharing with others. I didn’t realise that I would learn so much, or that I had so much to learn! Incredibly, I had never thought to question the definition of knowledge until our first session. Now, not only do I have a more philosophical understanding of what it can mean, but as a result of our exploration of Constructionist, Constructivist, Connectivism theories, I have a better understanding of how to help students create new knowledge for themselves from what they have experienced. I am  taking a far more project based learning approach. I also began the course with trepidation over the digital element. Using Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model, the level of technology integration in my teaching was at ‘substitution’ level, with some ‘modification’.


As I begin to plan for 2018, I am moving towards ‘redefinition’ and in doing so I am developing PTC eight:

Criterion 8

I am conscious of the need to help students develop their own personal learning networks where they can create a space for sharing their work, ideas, opinions and independently source the information they need to develop knowledge. So far, my students have used Office 365 OneNote for storing resources, sharing work with me and collaborating with their peers, but I wish to expand this into Google+ or blogs so they can interact and connect more broadly, as well as use these forums for reflection, in the same way we have. I am using more online, blended learning tools such as those offered by Education Perfect and Ted Ed. I am conscious of the need to teach students how to use digital tools ethically and in a safe way; consequently, I am collaborating with my peers on ways in which we can create a culture of digital citizenship. Mindlab has motivated me to want to develop the digital skills I need in-order-to help my students develop theirs.

Participating in Google+, Twitter and setting up a blog has enabled me to make valuable connections beyond school that are helping me with my personal professional development. I now have my own PLN, which is continuously expanding. The second significant change to my practice has supported PTC criterion 4:

Criterion 4

As SCT I not only have a responsibility for my own professional development, but I also need to actively support my colleagues with theirs. Mindlab has consistently modelled reflective practice ‘as a means of facilitating significant change’ (Osterman & Kottkamp, 1993).  It seems incredible that as far back as 1938, Dewey was offering his ‘cycle of reflection’ (fig. 1) as a process of Inquiry into improving pedagogy. Yet many schools still take a didactic approach to professional development. The links between Dewey’s Cycle of Reflection (fig. 1), Timperley’s (et al) Spiral of Inquiry (fig. 2) and Tim Brown’s Design Thinking (fig. 3) are clear in that they all require the identification of a problem; an understanding of needs and the development of a solution. They focus on active and experiential learning, yet so often we still expect our students to learn passively and staff PD is often presented as a lecture with little or no real time to develop the ‘experience’.


Our school’s appraisal system has reflection in-built, but as we evolve our curriculum I want to help teachers develop their reflective practice further. We need to be active participants in our development, rather than passive recipients of a didactic and prescribed programme. In doing so, we will ‘develop a critical awareness’ about our own professional practice (Osterman & Kottkamp, 1993). Along with my fellow in-school, Mindlab colleagues, I plan to facilitate workshops that will use the principles of the three inquiry processes outlined above to develop a reflective practice that will benefit the school community.

My ‘oddyssey’ will continue through reflection, research, listening to students’ needs and greater connectivity to others, within and beyond school, who share a creative drive. Together we will create a more holistic learning experience that will help our students become responsible global citizens.


Brown, T. (2008, June). Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, 2 – 10. Retrieved from https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=harvard+business+review+june+2008+design+thinking&oq=harvard+business+review+june+2008&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l2.15359j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993). Reflective Practice for Educators.California.Cornwin Press, Inc. Retrieved on 7th May, 2015 from http://www.itslifejimbutnotasweknowit.org.uk/files.

Ministry of Education (nd). Practising teacher Criteria and e-learning . Retrieved from http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/

Timperley, H., Kaser, L., & Halbert, J. (2014, April). A framework for transforming learning in schools: Innovation and the spiral of inquiry. Seminar Series 234, Retrieved from http://www.cse.edu.au

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One thought on “Week 32: Changes in my practice, by Tracy Simpson

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  1. Hi Tracy, I too introduced my students to Office 365 OneNote at two different ends of the secondary school spectrum. One is a low academic ability class in year nine and the other is a very capable year 13 class taking a theoretical research course. My intent was to invited higher levels of collaboration and student empowerment. The results were the opposite of what I thought. The low ability class responded far better to the structure and orderliness of OneNote. There appeared to be more buy-in. The year 13 class engaged more with unfettered access to the resources I uploaded. Their individual interactions were less of a collaborative nature and more one-way in direction. The teacher(me) put more effort into the resources than the students. This may have been a function of the grading system of NCEA, where the output on an individual creates that grade they attain. Very few students posted work in the collaborative space that would have benefitted their peers. I will also seek ways (reflection and consultation) to improve the connectivity of students to the course and I look forward our presentations that will introduce the Waimea staff to new educational approaches that will benefit our students. Thanks for the food for thought.

    Marcus Swain


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