- When a student makes a mistake using digital and/or social media, the school favours discipline over educational and/or restorative measures.
- Technology (ICT/Digital) is seen as a subject and not an essential student and life skill.
- Social media is not seen as a collaborative, modern learning tool and is probably banned for both teachers and students.
- BYOD is seen as being about devices rather than pedagogy and/or learning.
- Digital competency and citizenship is not part of the whole school curriculum and is not explicitly taught.
- The school's digital infrastructure is not reviewed annually, and where need be, future-proofed as much as possible.
- Literacy, Numeracy & Oral skills are now seen as superfluous requirements.
- School notices & correspondence are primarily printed and not available on-line, anywhere, anytime.
- Students' smart devices (especially smartphones) are seen as nuisances in the classroom or even at school and are banned.
- The school's strategic plan and professional learning does not prioritise modern learning & digital pedagogy for teachers.
Originally published 8/6/15, Updated 10/4/16
,Richie Jackson may be unknown to most if not all teachers in New Zealand and abroad but to many of our students, he is an idol, a New Zealand Maori professional skateboarder now living in the United States. Simply put, he is an internet phenomenon in part due to unique visual appearance but mostly down to his freakish and world-class skating.
Here is a short glimpse of what this kiwi can do on a skateboard.
It's far to say this individual can do things on a skateboard that I could not even dream about. But why on earth would we want to use such an individual in classroom, let alone to promote something so essential, so valuable as student learning and engagement?
The answer is short and may be rather blunt and not necessarily even to this teacher's liking. Students of today and tomorrow see an individual as someone to aspire to be like, someone to follow and someone to learn from. Students today see Richie Jackson as akin to a teacher, someone who in many cases they find it easier to relate than the degree-qualified teacher who appears to be removed, non-personable and all about achievement and test scores and so little about fun.
Due to the power and reach of Youtube and other video-sharing platforms and a dramatic improvement in digital camera technology and innovation and application, teachers are now competing against the Richie Jacksons of the world in a battle for students' hearts and yes, their minds.
Want to engage your students in the classroom and in learning, here's how Richie Jackson can be beneficial:
Student learning today is no longer just from teachers, from the classroom, or heaven forbid from a textbook. Students' high capability and frequent use of digital in and out of the classroom is only going to create a vaster pool of teachers for them to learn from. We have no choice if we teachers want to remain integral to our students' learning contexts. We have to move with the times, with the students, with the Richie Jacksons of the world. Let's skate dude!
Aorere College students completing homework 200m from a traditional classroom
Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking more and more about the distinction between mere change and substitution, and true innovation.
The further Aorere College travels on its learning journey (aoreredigital.com), the more I see the importance of people, pedagogy and then devices being the priorities. Often innovation does not have to be something completely new to a school. More effectively (arguably), successful and sustainable innovation comes from the spreading of a pre-existing initiative or strategy that has kept quiet for too long by one or two individuals! In every school, we have the "nutty professors", those that have a fear of failure but an even greater desire to succeed, to innovate for themselves and primarily their students.
For innovation to really take flight in schools, it takes teams but also a degree of arrogance that "this will work, no matter what." People tend to quickly dismiss something innovative and dismiss it immediately not because they believe it won't work but in my opinion, because it just might. Teachers en masse tend to practice somewhat conservatively in the classroom context. It is often isolating and indeed lonely being someone who feels the need to innovate and sees the future now but is not surrounded by like-minded people. Considering we are only a country of approximately 4 1/2 million people, for an innovator to survive in isolation is not tenable long-term. It is almost as if we need actual positions in schools aka Specialist Classroom Teachers, titled "innovators" or our school term "nutty professors"
Innovation must also be preoccupied with the thinking and doing journey over the destination, the "how" and "why" as much as the "what". If teachers accept that they have no real option of not being part of the innovation journey and that the destination is now no longer the priority, schools will become innovation hubs and a greatly improved context for innovators to not just survive, but thrive as well.
Not every teacher has to be an outrageous high risk-taking daredevil. However, what is now essential for teachers to stay relevant in 2016 and beyond is that their learning space must be considerate and open to innovation. Even if the teachers don't bring it, our no-fear students certainly; something I increasingly enjoy, look forward to whole-heartedly embrace.
I used to to lecture my English students until I realised that 1) they weren't listening, 2)they often forgot what I just said and 3) academic communication is often more effective 1:1 and/or via digital or at the very least, written.
Nowadays aside out of a cordial greeting, I very rarely if ever now "address" a whole class verbally. Instead the lesson is pushed out in advance via Google Classroom. This gives me time to answer 1:1 questions and address small groups. The result? Students feel valued, considered and the more questions they ask of me and their peers, the more they are learning. The students in my English classes at a range of schools are often suprised at the time given to their questions and the seriousness with which I treat their clarifications. Often a student remarks that there is often very little question time or allowance in their other classes. I'm sure it's not because teachers are scared of student questions.....pretty sure...well kind of sure.
Why could teachers be scared of student questions?
This was an excellent chat despite me having to moderate the chat via 3G and from a carpark after Vodafone accidentally suspended my fibre account. Despite this techfail, the chat was high informative from clarifying that Visual Learning is not in itself a learning style more a preference, to an acceptance that Visual Learning can be all for some people and not at all for others.
To read the storify for this chat, please click on the image below.
Wow, what a first week back at Aorere College as we continue our journey as a modern & digital learning institution.
It now seems a lifetime ago (mid-2015) when we made the above expectation & encouragement public. On doing so, the statements were met with a mixture of excitement, fear and to be honest, a fair degree of scepticism by the Aorere College community.
Now in February 2016, only the excitement exists and arguably continues to grow and evolve, as students, teachers & parents become more comfortable and understanding of our school's digital transformation.
On the first day our Year 9 students graced our campus, I was amazed at how competent and confident these young men and women were in a digital context. Part of the induction day involved every Year 9 student present creating their school network, Google and Wi-Fi profile and being briefed on digital citizenship. By mid-morning, this part of the day nicknamed "Google Sessions" became so popular that those students who had not yet had their turn could barely wait.
What was also so pleasing about the first week back at Aorere from a digital perspective was the enthusiasm of the teaching staff. Whether it was during our whole school Digital professional learning sessions, during our Digital Learning PLG session or most importantly in the classroom, teachers were being great role models in implementing school-wide expectations re Google Classroom & Google Drive.
And the Wi-Fi held!!!!!! Through-out the week, there was always the occasional lag but the school's considerable 2015 investments (Fortigate, 60 new WAPs, seven external WAPs outside, and UFB) paid off big-time.
As the image below indicates, we needed to have reliable and fast internet to ensure that teachers could have confidence in delivering on-line content and activities.
In my wanderings around Aorere this week, student digital use and playground requests for Wi-Fi log-on information strongly reminded me that we were now meeting the students' needs now and for the future.
Two classroom experiences reinforced the power of modern learning. In visiting one of the school inaugural Year 10 Robotics lessons, I was blown away by how adept technically the male and female students were and also how focused and collaborative they were over the double-period.
Then on Thursday, I had my first double-period with my Year 11s. Suffice to say, the lesson activity of them completing a one-minute wevideo introducing themselves made the time fly. What was even more impressive was how quick a number of students discovered the play version of the wevideo app and proceeded to make high-quality videos on their phones and submit them to our Google Classroom.
The week closed off with students going home at 2.20pm Friday and teachers as learners in their chosen professional learning group. In a sweltering staffroom, approximately 50 teachers (over half the staff) were brilliant in their contributions and engagement in the Digital Learning option with many staying on task even well after the accepted leaving time.
What a week indeed for Aorere Digital and what's even cooler is we're just getting started. Roll on Week 2!
One of the great privileges in my job is that I have the time and freedom to roam Aorere College and see amazing classroom learning and first class pedagogy in play. In recent days, classroom visits have highlighted the ability of ANY teacher to be new and engaging in the classroom. Ironically despite the old-fashioned ethos of "learn to walk before you run", my experience and most recent frequent observations, suggests that some people find it easier completely side-stepping any time spent "walking" in the classroom.
What has been even more amazing is both the examples of the examples most recently observed were "beginning" teachers, one a "first year", the other "second year", both teachers part of the excellent TeachFirst teacher training programme. Please note that the beginning is in speech marks deliberately as although both women are new to the teaching profession, both individuals were strong achievers outside the classroom and with a wealth of learning and leadership experience.
The first example of running over walking in the classroom was our new Te Reo Maori teacher Nyra Marshall testing her Year 9 students' language capabilities. I happened to be walking past her classroom and unfortunately for Miss, the windows in her classroom were wide-open and yet not a student was out of their chairs nor could a sound be heard. Now normally as a fan of "learning noise", I would be really concerned about the dramatic tranquillity of a learning space but there was something going that needed further further inquisition on my part. Step forward Detective or should I say Inspector (that's better) Kelly.
Entering the classroom and trying not to distract the Year 9 students (too much!), I immediately questioned Nyra about what on earth was going on. She politely informed me that she was testing her Year 9 students' Te Reo understandings via a self-designed Google Form.
The Google Form was predominantly written in Te Reo and contained a mix of closed and open questions. What was also really cool about this "test" was that it was contextually relevant just to the Maori cultural context but that Nyra has designed the test to to be contextually relevant to Aorere students. What was super-awesome was how seriously the Year 9s were taking the test. I'm sure I heard hundreds of pins dropping. Susequent to the test, Nyra with the support of our digital learning coordinator then "auto-marked" the tests with Flubaroo, a Sheets add-on that also allows the students to be emailed their results instantly and allows Miss to see the strengths and developmental areas of her students.
What impressed was just not the cool way of engaging the students in a culturally responsive manner that had legitimate assessment rigour but the awesome faith that Miss had in her students in using digital technologies. This was a classic example of learning digital indirectly, in my opinion the best way to do so.
Now teachers at Aorere College know how passionate I am about legitimate student learning and achievement in the classroom and beyond, so I don't think there was too much of surprise to Nyra when I politely but strongly asked her to present this #coolschool assessment to the wide staff as one of #TechTuesday Aorere Digital sessions. Nyra was keen as (eventually) and I think in part her slight initial reluctance had more to do with her short tenure thus far at Aorere College and how the wider staff would receive a relative "newbie" talking to modern learning practice in the classroom. Needless to say, Nyra's presentation to the staff (bear in mind, this is Term 4 and EVERYONE is tired!) was not just good and positive, it was brilliant and empowering. The original request was for an around two minute presentation. To my and everyone's delight, Nyra spoke to a transfixed audience and even has this old-timer and classroom pedagogical know-it-all in all awe of her supreme confidence that she was doing the right practice for her students and their learning. What was even more impressive was that while she expressed pleasure in the success of the testing undertaking and how well the student engaged and performed in this context, Nyra was not satisfied, she ended her presentation by noting that she wanted to go even further in this engaging form of assessment by having such an occurence as part of a series of formative tests rather a isolated consummative test. Furthermore, she seemed almost impatient in wanting the test to be even more interactive by introducing both voice test elements and voice-to-text student responses. Now we're getting almost #toocoolforschool.
At the end of her presentation, Nyra was overwhelmed by the support and expressions of admiration and requests for support! Remember that this is a first year teacher but one who guides her students with her head and her heart. In all honesty, there is no way I would've ever have done something so cool in my first year of teaching or probably second or even third.
Nyra's successful innovating reinforced to me that the SAMR model may be an effective transitioning reference for standardised pedagogical progressions, sometimes it is better and makes more sense to dive straight into the deep end. This way, you're guaranteed to "get wet" and be first to the treasure. Furthermore, what I observed highlighted to me that while tradition has its place, ignorance can be bliss and free us of historical occurrences that have no authentic or relevance to the classroom and students of today or tomorrow.
Ka pai Nyra, kia kaha!
Disclosure:I have never visited physically HPSS or met either Claire Amos (Deputy Principal) or Maurie Abraham (Principal) in person. Maurie does not even follow me on twitter! Having said this, I felt I don't really need to, such is this institution's online openness and communication.
Hobsonville Point Secondary School (HPSS from now, because this sounds hip) has been in the news recently for their decision to drop NCEA Level 1 in their school with the public support of both NZQA & the Ministry of Education (MOE). Yet despite such high level support from such illustrious and reputable entities, there still exists in the New Zealand education system and beyond, a great deal of wariness and dare I say it, indeed out and out fear about what this young upstart of a school is doing. Even when the mainstream media gives the school a fair and balanced review, there is someone such as Mike Hosking arguably doing considerable damage through ill-advised throw-away comments to the promotion that teenagers are incapable of self-direction or independent learning. The most august media outlet stuff.co.nz, recently appeared to take great delight in highlighting that ten students had obtained MOE permission to be living in the HPSS zone but be able to attend alternative, "mainstream" secondary schools.
Here are some of the reasons why I think many in education and beyond are wary and/or just scared stiff of HPSS:
1.They seem themselves as part of a HP cluster/continuum with Hobsonville Point Primary School and not a stand-alone education institution. There is even a website that the two schools share (http://www.hobsonvillepoint.school.nz) as if they are equals. In my experience, this is just not the done thing. Lower level schools are supposed to separated and subservient to the almight high school/college. How many high schools can truly say that there exists an explicit and practised continuum of learning from Year 0 to Year 13 in their locality? I'm guessing not many, if any!
2. They're too hip to be effective.
For starters, look at their motto and accompanying visuals! The white birds look so tranquil, collegial and free, drifting in the blue sky. Where's the academic rigour, the message to the students that they must win, they must excel? Their motto is not even a complete sentence! Surely when the average secondary school's motto is a unique mix of latin (never ever understood this significance in NZ!) and is often old-English, what right has this school got to have just three formally punctuated words (note full stops) as their vision? It can't be a vision if it's easily understood and in words students and parents of today and tomorrow can readily access and understand. I thought the last thing a vision was supposed to be was so accessible it could be remembered. Where are the references to traditional teaching, students being vessels to be filled etc., etc., etc.
3. They have rather nice bean bags and they sit outside.
Disclosure: I know no-one in the above picture.
What is going on here? I see no books, no pens, for a modern learning institution I see no tech equipment either. That's it, they're teenagers, they can't self-manage. I reckon they've either run the batteries dry or they've lost their device. Typical. Anyhow back to the bean bags. One thing's for sure, they're certainly not hand-me-downs from Auckland Grammar. I cannot believe that the teachers appear to have no equipment either. It appears it is not only the students who can't self-manage either. I think these confused souls believe that students and teachers can learn and lead back and forth from one to each other and are equals in the learning process. Lastly why are they not in a classroom? I thought a classroom had four walls, lots of books, teacher, whiteboard and teacher's desk at the front and 30 perfectly aligned student desks facing the "front" of the classroom. HPSS obviously has a lot to learn.
4. HPSS lives and breathes the NZC and its original intent.
All jest aside, I believe that the HPSS's significant and innovative application of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) Framework is one of the greatest reasons this school is so feared. Considering that the NZC was introduced in 1993, how many schools see such a world-leading artefact as the key driver underpinning what they do in the classroom and how they do it? Many schools in my opinion briefly considered this publication and quickly and in their eyes, safely returned to the Victorian pedagogy of teacher-knows-all and students-know-nothing.
Furthermore the NZC was visionary in that its first 40 pages barely refers to the curriculum's learning areas (what used to be "subjects"). The NZC hoped to emphasise the importance of Key Competencies, Values and Skills over subject matter. This is why all the learning area detail is at the back. In my opinions, a number of schools' current practice suggest they are reading this publication from the back to the front or maybe not even getting past the learning area pages. Even fewer schools dare to design their learning in response to real-time student choice and a minimal number of schools voice the beauty and viability of the NZC so explicitly in print, on screen and in reality.
5. The school dares to favour learning over teaching.
Learning, learning, learning. What about the teaching? Surely without teaching, there can be no learning. Enough is enough! This silliness and fragrant and disruptive schooling of our youth must cease immediately!
Disclosure: I hate the word "teacher" and its' obvious connotations.
6. The final reason for now (because they WILL be more) why HPSS is so feared is they have dramatically challenged and deconstructed the role of what to most is still called the "teacher." This for many TEACHERS is unforgivable and almost a most disgusting breach of collegiality and solidarity and what's worse from within our own profession, our own teachers. Hold on that's right, HPSS doesn't even have teachers or Heads of Departments. Instead they have the following:
See how tricky those HPSS people are? They've removed the focus on administration over education. How dare they? Leaders of learning (not HODs), learning coaches (not teachers), what on earth? In sport, doesn't a coach only guide from the side, intervene when necessary? Coaches are not even supposed to be on the field. I need a lie-down; if the myth of HPSS ever becomes a reality, us real teachers are out of a job! At the very least, teachers could have been renamed instructors, advisors or something that tells us (and the students incapable of self-anything) that the power and content is still with us EDUCATION PROFESSIONALS at the front of the class. That's right sorry I forgot, HPSS doesn't even really have classrooms, that's why they "learn" outside and sit on bean bags. At least they could try to look like a real school and get some bean desks and bean whiteboards!
In reality, I feel that HPSS are being unfairly punished due to widespread educational and public ignorance and an conscious unwillingness of many to accept that while many areas of our society have moved with the times and vast technological and social transformation, education institutions still appear to be more about one-way transfers of power and content and dare I say it, still about social control and indoctrination. Thankfully there are classrooms and more significantly more and more schools in New Zealand and beyond embracing a similar, evidenced-based approach to modern learning that is contextualised to local and global localities and preferences.
For me however I'm off to my classroom.
Now class, would you all please be quiet and face the front! That's it...right...I've had enough...where's my cane?
Thank heavens for tweetdeck. I got so into this chat that if I hadn't scheduled the questions, we probably would have only had two posted at best. What came through this chat was the need for cultural awareness to be presented implicitly and explicitly in the classroom and beyond. As many of the posts emphasised, students and indeed citizens who don't have effective cultural awareness will surely struggle in a world that is getting smaller and more united and collaborative day by day.
To read this #digitaledchat storify, please click on the image below.
This was a really fun chat with contributors ranging from some of NZ's respected digital veterans to some new participants who thoroughly enthused with their contributions.
To read the storify of this #digitaledchat, please click on the image below.