Monday, January 16, 2017

My Learning Space...well, one of them...

(A blog post as part of the EdublogsClub Challenge #2 post)

This year brings some new challenges for me.  Last year I thought I had everything organised - ducks in a row and all that.  I was a Deputy Principal but ended up as Acting Principal for the best part of Term 1 - we have a 4 Term year in New Zealand.  The plan was that I would then go back into the classroom and carry on developing the Makerspace that my students and I had begun to create in the later stages of 2015.  This was an amazing learning journey where the students were completely in charge using the Design Thinking platform as their guide.  I've included some photos of this space and links to the planning the students did - their learning journey and the philosophy behind all the decisions we made. They were in charge of the whole process. I was their guide and facilitator only. 

Then, as often happens, everything changed.  In 2013 I had an 8 hour operation for an Acoustic Neuroma, a benign brain tumour that, if left untreated can be life-threatening. I recovered really well and was up and running, literally, within a month and returned to teaching within 18 months albeit deaf in one ear from the surgery.  Interesting bit of useless information - it's the exact same tumour and location as the actor Mark Ruffalo had.  Unfortunately, it decided to grow back at the start of last year.  Apparently they hardly ever do - less than a 5% chance. Go figure! 

Decisions needed to be made.  I'd just completed my Master of Teaching and was thinking about starting my Doctor of Education.  I knew I needed more treatment so this 'sealed the deal' I guess and I decided to leave my position and begin yet another stage of my career and yet more study, which I love. So, my current workspace is my office.  I'm a terrible procrastinator, can get incredibly messy while I'm studying and these are the two things they are warning us about!  If we want to succeed in our studies we need to sort these out.  Uh oh, I'm in for a challenge!!!

My Current Work / Study Space

 This is where I am going to be spending an awful lot of time over the next three years! It's very peaceful and looks out onto the garden.  I live in a country area so it's pretty quiet which is a bonus. At the moment it's pretty organised but this is something I know I really need to work on.  I've always been a digital learner and have had semi-digital and digital classes since 1999 when I first started teaching but the last area I needed to be fully digital in was my studying.  I still tended to print everything off and highlight / note-take in hard copy.  I've just moved everything to Mendely and it really has been a lifesaver so far.  A good learning curve but I knew I had to do it simply for the volume of reading I had to do and to keep track of all the paper!

And on the theme of procrastination...look what I found while I was about to start reading more research for my Literature Review...

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Edublogs Club 1: My Blog Story

Hi everyone! I'm based in Auckland, New Zealand and it's supposed to be coming into our beautiful summertime.  Currently, it's grey, drizzling and anything but summertime!  I've been teaching for 18 years and last year left my position as a Deputy (Assistant) Principal to study full time for my Doctor of Education.  I'm still teaching part-time too though - relieving / substituting. I have a couple of regular schools which is great as I get to know the students really well.

Auckland City - from the harbour

One of our beaches

I've been blogging for a long time - since the beginning of 2010 - but I'm not all that consistent! One of my goals this year is to blog at least once a week as part of my reflection on my new learning journey.  In July last year I started my Doctor of Education through the University of Otago.  So far so good - absolutely loving it.  My research focus is on gifted and talented students and how we identify them and meet their learning needs and also support our already stretched classroom teachers who are trying to meet the needs of all learners.

University of Otago

I love reading and commenting on other blogs because it gives me a insight into the thoughts of others and challenges my thinking on a wide range of issues.  I try to make sure that I don't just read education blogs.  The wider the range the better - keeps your mind open to new ideas and possibilities.  I keep up with them by following via email, generally.  Some of my favourite education ones, however are:

Learning with 'e's - Steve Wheeler
Dangerously Irrelevant - Scott McLeod
Cool Cat Teacher - Vicki Davis
The Principal of Change - George Couros
Claire Amos - Learning Leading Change
Four Seasons in One Kiwi - Stephanie Thompson

These are just a few - there are a huge number more from all over the world.  The more the merrier to challenge my thinking!

My goals for the #EdublogsClub are to continue to connect with other educators, both locally and globally and to share ideas and conversations around learning and teaching.  I'd also love to connect with others who are interested in the same area of research that I am.

As far as advice for newbies... just jump in and enjoy.  Don't be afraid to share your ideas. You'll find that everyone is really supportive and encouraging, particularly if they've joined a challenge such as this one.  You'll be surprised by the feedback and conversations and connections that develop.  Don't feel that it has to be an 'academic standard' essay-type exercise.  Think of it more as a conversation with other like minds. :-)

Looking forward to this initiative and encouragement / prod to blog!