Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Solutions Hunters

A great afternoon listening to this bunch!  A group of dedicated - devoted and passionate teachers.   The barriers shared covered a whole range of things we face daily as educators!    In the image you will see what topics led our discussions.   From classroom practice of scaffolding through to the key competencies and the typical logistics of state schools.   We spent a greater portion of our time sharing about how we can or at least begin to overcome some of the barriers our students can face.

One thing I'd like to share here and didn't this afternoon (my forgetfulness) was the inability a teacher experiences from time to time to make connections with students.  In particular the students that we may find extremely quiet or disruptive.  This can be a real barrier to the student's learning.

My attempt to find a solution to this is talking with a range of experienced people.   This includes people who may have taught the child  or is experienced educator in the leadership team.  I've found time and time again that the team - wrap around actions of colleagues, whanau and community brings about the most change.  When we're all on the same page - the support and sometimes forced direction the team promotes has the student begin to change and in some cases get right back on track!

Thanks to the team of expert teachers and student teachers this afternoon.    It's a huge plus that we discuss these very things because we desire only the best for our Tamaki Tamariki.  

Monday, 14 September 2015

IEP - yeah you know me!

IEP - Individual Education Plan = Yeah you know me??

Individual Education Plans
IEPOnline is for anyone involved in developing or implementing individual education plans (IEPs) to support students with special education needs. Central to the website is the Ministry of Education publication Collaboration for Success: Individual Education Plans (September 2011) which replaces the 1998 ‘Individual Education Programme (IEP) Guidelines’.
Connecting to my previous presentation 'To obey like a canoe before the wind' I have arrived at this point in my inquiry.   There are students in my classroom and across my team where school is a serious challenge to be a functional part of.  These students have - special needs in the classroom daily.  You plan for groups at a time, however the plans must then be tailored again to support these particular individuals as their ability to work in a small group is challenging for themselves, their peers and teachers.
It has been aptly put on the TKI site, under the title 'How to succeed at IEPS': 
The IEP process is about writing students INTO the New Zealand Curriculum rather than writing students out.   
This has a teacher thinking, dreaming and looking ahead to the new term of what can be done for the INCLUSION of these students in the day to day, week to week running of the learning environments we strive to create, maintain and sustain??  What do I write into my plans to ensure these students are not just here in body but seriously engaging with the curriculum? 
My vision is to have blocks of learning change during the week for these particular individuals.   Relate to the time of day/week where the student tends to become disengaged or may need a 'second wind'.    Recent talks also with GATE in our staff meetings have supported this view.
For example:
Sporting student: weekly learning sessions with our Sports Teacher and Coordinator, linking to learning in classroom. Planning how to tackle the tasks set and further.  Linking to community and region sporting events and goals.  Mentoring with people in community outside PES?
Naturalistic student: weekly sessions to work on garden boxes in block and further.  Support from our school caretakers etc.  Linking this to the wider community and it's benefits.  
All this would need to be consistent and regular to ensure engagement and shifts of positive change for the students.
  • the teachers/adults/mentors need to be available consistently.  
  • feedback and feedforward to be regular from student/mentor and teacher to ensure progress is monitored and recorded
  • resourcing of people to work one on one and to fund the projects for these programmes

  • look at timetable of team teachers, locate time specifically for the set up 
  • research funding/resources available for this type of IEP - more individuals to make up the different focus groups?
  • regular updates on the progress of these programmes, record and share with SMT for future

In striving to achieve this we will be looking closely at what these particular learners have in their winds and hopefully provide the 'second wind' .   It will certainly differ from the majority.   

Imagine if we get this right the IEP will have these students saying - 'Yep, teachers knows me!!

Thursday, 20 August 2015


My previous posts speaks of connections we make with our learners, in particular the connections through the relationships we develop with the learners in our care.   This is a clip shared with me by an older friend.  I think it's worth your time to sit and watch.   Be reminded of how our connections set up the environment for learning - for achievement further than we can imagine.

After I watched this TED talk, I called a meeting with my son's Principal, I asked him if he would show this video during the next all staff meeting in November. He reviewed it, and said he'd be honored, and sincerely thanked me!~ Melanie Bell

Posted by Melanie Bell on Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday, 3 August 2015

Impact inquiry

Thinking and thinking before reacting. This is part in parcel of the impact I have experienced from my inquiry. Facts are presented as who did what to whom - teacher and student, my job now is to think about the wind that had the canoe (student) arrive where they have. Often this is NOT a quick process, I must reflect and tap into supports in my senior leadership team and colleagues.

 In our group sharing today I can draw parallels. In everyone's attention to breaking down the big picture to steps, scaffolding, detail - the content of the winds for our students. Regardless of whether it's a reading, maths, small group - behavioural - cognitive - there's a need to pay attention to the small that makes up the big.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Ua usiusi faʻavaʻasavili. To obey like a canoe before the wind.

Full Definition of OBEY
transitive verb
1: to follow the commands or guidance of
2: to conform to or comply with <obey an order> <falling objects obey the laws of physics

"She/he just doesn't listen...others children do but this one"...if we want to be frank...'they don't obey'.   This can often be said when experiencing the student who is not 'doing what they're told'.
You stop, take a second and a third look - what is it really that's causing this student to not 'obey'. Let's look at it differently - solo taxonomy for ourselves
- to say does not obey/listen/follow/do what I say...
is a stand alone idea we may have which lands us and our strategic thinking at 'Uni-structural or Multistructural' levels.  Not good enough for a teacher is it?

Let's look at it a different way -  a good teacher would - what am 'I' doing to cause this outcome...sometimes - time and time again????  

A Samoan proverb ' Ua usiusi fa'avaasavili' can be used in this context.   'To obey like a canoe before the wind'.  We can picture a canoe in the vast sea, at the mercy of the winds, the current and tides.
We can go further and add the weather, oars and skill of the canoeist.   Back to our classroom
- what's in their wind that we individually and collectively contribute to?
- is the environment(wind) one which draws students into wanting to obey and accept your guidance?

The following presentation is an example of what winds have contributed to the directions a canoe has travelled so far.  You will see a list of important factors contributing to the wind.  Then you will remember the many students in our care who don't have the same, maybe more or less...This is where our thinking needs to be when dealing with our next 'Difficult/challenging/non-compliant/defiant/disobedient student'...

At the relational level (Whanaungatanga), the aspects are linked and integrated, and contribute to a deeper and more coherent understanding of the whole. At the extended abstract level (Waitara Whanui), the new understanding at the relational level is re-thought at another conceptual level, looked at in a new way, and used as the basis for prediction, generalisation, reflection, or creation of new understanding</i> (Hooked Solo Taxonomy)

This is where I am now challenged to push my thinking and practice when faced with behaviour that varies from the majority of their peer groups.   What is the new way to take?  What is in the winds for this child?   What generalisations can I make?  What can I predict from what I provide?  Is there a contribution to the winds I need to diminish?  Increase?

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Being ready to learn...SOLO Key Competencies

Peer to peer notice, key competencies

Establish personal goals/ plan my work/ set high standards/ act appropriately in a range of settings/become aware of my actions and words on others/ set high self expectations/ developing a range of strategies to become a successful learner/ make well informed choices. These goals are outlined in Pam Hook's description of SOLO in action through Key Competencies for learners.

 I have been a little stuck in my inquiry in deciding what to be recording and sharing. Given that I am a new team leader I have spent the majority of my time, effort and goal setting around the tone, culture and expectations in the year 7 & 8 team. I have felt stuck in that I hastily decided on this inquiry thinking purely curriculum - as in literacy and numeracy. I however found it challenging as this curriculum for me in regards to numeracy and literacy has captured very little of my time and efforts. With a team just established, students having to change with the new team - a whole lot of focus was to be devoted to the building of a culture and set of expectations. One where the key competencies would be visited daily, daily goals outlined across the team. The expectations from uniforms through to positive interactions set and consistently revisited. What has this meant for us? A whole lot of positive reinforcement of things that our team of teachers believe effect the big picture of learning. If we look good, sound good and even smell good - we're ready to learn!

 Our efforts team wide, follow on from the previous years of learning at PES - have produced the following in the senior school:
 -Students arrive prior to 8.30am start, actively preparing for day of learning
-Students in full school uniform for class and PE is the norm
-Students are disappointed when a member of the class forgets their PE shirt/swimming gear.
-Students are eager to share with teachers when they achieve -Students desire to be praised and named in class and team gatherings
-Students point out what is appropriate...right place, right time and right attitude
-Student's positive, respectful and considerate behaviour is 'normal'
 There is more to list - so expect another post soon.  I am planning to work on SOLO within the context of key competencies for the year 7 & 8 students of PES. Given this is my most urgent priority to be maintained for this exciting part of the school!

 The following is an example from Pam Hook's rubrics based on managing self - being responsible to start school day well. It relates to our efforts of teacher's meeting every morning at 7.45am, ready to open our space at 8am for our students. In the aim of our students being in the extended abstract level of consistently being ready ahead of time for school day and assisting others along the way. The great news is that over 70% of our students are doing this!
  Managing Self:
Being responsible to start the school day
Extended Abstract: I can consistently get all things ready for my school day and can assist others in this process
Relational: I can consistently be ready ahead of time for the school day I need reminding to get some things organized for the school day Multistructural:I can do many things to be ready for the school day Unistructural:I can do one thing to be ready for the school day
Prestructural: I need support to be ready for the school day. I cannot pack or unpack my school bag, I do not have a pencil ready.

The following rubric is another of Pam Hook's examples. We have just arrived back from our year 8 leadership camp. A big part of this was devoted to the realisation of their roles of leadership and the need to be self motivated to maintain this. During camp we gave many examples of how to move from relational to extended abstract of reflecting on their leadership.
  Managing Self: Self motivation Yrs 4-8 Extended Abstract: I can reflect and evaluate factors that influenced my self motivation
Relational: I can accurately apply the correct skills learned to new independent tasks with consistent effort
Multistructural: I can describe a purpose of the task, and can willingly maintain the effort required to complete the task
Unistructural: I am willing to put in limited effort to complete a task independently Prestructural:I am not willing to put in the effort required to complete a task
I am very happy to share that our students are sitting mostly at the Relational level of personal organisation and time management. It would be a great challenge for our students to move into the Extended Abstract levels for this. A great way to introduce high school and tertiary education life to them!
  Managing Self: Self Management: Personal Organisation and Time Management (Intermediate Level)
Extended Abstract: I can apply what I have learnt from the timetable to design other timetables. Eg other timetables, rosters I can evaluate what would happen if there were no timetable or structure to the day.
Relational: I can understand the consequences of not getting my correct gear for a class. I can interpret the timetable to support others.
Multistructural: I can list the classes I have on any given day and bring the correct gear I know all my teachers and what they teach I can move to the correct class at the correct time
Unistructural I know the school operates a timetable I can find my home room, hall and identified locations I know the staff I usually remember to bring the correct gear to class Prestructural I need help to · interpret the timetable · Locate rooms · Identify staff · Understand blocks · Bring appropriate gear to class

Monday, 23 February 2015

This year as staff we are carrying out our own inquiry to best practices that impact the student achievement in our classrooms.   My inquiry involves the research and practice of the SOLO taxonomy.   How to use SOLO (for teaching and learning) to get cognitive engagement in a Learn Create Share pedagogy.   Are we doing it already?  In parts or whole?  How can we scaffold learners in learn, create and share as part of using SOLO taxonomy.  Does it match or does it differ?

I am the new team leader for the year 7 and 8 students and staff of Pt England School.  I have selected this inquiry as it supports our vision of 'Year 9' readiness.   SOLO is used by Tamaki College.  Participating in last years lead teachers of Manaiakalani PLD days shared the need for this.   The need to be better prepared in the year 7 and 8 levels for college life.  One part in particular was that by way of being able to have students not simply identify and find information - but be able to explain clearly, hypothesise, create, predict, generalise and create new understanding.  I hope to learn and practice best ways of scaffolding our learners to the higher order thinking.

Snapshot of my place now:

What are my students doing now? Behaving awesome - develop the cognitive engagement further. They need and ready for it now!

What am I doing now?  Re-structure of mindset to match that of SOLO taxonomy. Mind to travel from 'Unistructural' level to 'Extended Abstract' level.

What am I wanting to change? My practice informed through knowledge in this area
What am I going to try that I think will impact my students’ learning? SOLO in the different curriculum areas - in my conversations, task setting - site EVERYTHING students get from me - acting as prompts etc to promote the higher order thinking..
Micro teaching: what are the questions I’m going to ask?  SAMR model - variety and balance!