Posted in Criterion 1, Criterion 2, Criterion 5, Criterion 7, Mindlab reflections

Current Issues in my Professional Context

Organisational Culture

Whangaparaoa College caters for years 7-13 and has been in operation for 10 years. As part of their job application, our principals completed a Myers-Briggs personality test to ensure there was a balance of personality styles and skills. Recommendations from the Curriculum Stocktake (2002) were also considered, in particular, the review and refining of outcomes in essential learning areas. The principal at the time told everyone planning the curriculum to ‘chuck everything in the bin,’ metaphorically, and then plan based around themes. Once all the curriculum skills were chosen, they then asked what was crucial that was missing, added it in and ditched the rest.

Hattie’s research was influential in the planning of the school. His identification of the teacher as one of the most important factors in successful learning guided the teacher selection. However, many did not want to teach junior classes only so it was a challenge to find the right staff.

Academic Counselling is a key value. Learners spend one hour on a Wednesday with their Academic Counsellor. The focus for Term 1 was goal setting and in Term 2 the focus has been planning for the Learner Led Conferences happening in Week 10. Learners are asked to reflect on each subject with the guidance of the AC. They are then coached on how they will present this information to their family.

The school motto Together, Believe, Achieve reflects the importance of relationships and learner achievement. Our principal, James Thomas, believes in encouraging an Atmosphere of expectation. Boundaries are important: the teacher/coach sets firm boundaries but is not an authoritarian, or a teacher with a laissez-faire style. Communication is valued in the sense that a message is not truly communicated until it has been received. Hattie (2003) found that principals “…who create a climate of psychological safety to learn, who create a focus of discussion on student learning have the influence.”

 

My goal is to foster a positive, professional environment by role modelling the ABC and encouraging others to do the same. As I am a new HOL and new to the school, my priority is to build positive relationships with my department members. I have a vision for my department to be the leaders of the school in technology-enabled pedagogy but I am mindful of earning trust before mandating too much change.

Changes in the Profession

In the last few years Whangaparaoa College has been introducing BYOD to successive year levels. This has encouraged many teachers to reflect on their pedagogy and think about how they might incorporate the use of technology. The Teaching And Lead Learning group has been formed to address this challenge. I joined the TALL group this year and we have interviewed learners to find out what teachers are doing well and what could be improved. The results were then shared with staff by the learners. We are currently working collaboratively to create resources that will help teachers incorporate technology into their teaching practice.

In the English department and we are addressing these changes by sharing ideas. Each meeting, someone will share an app or website and show how they have been using it. We have learnt about School A to Z, Zaption, Google Sites, LitCharts, WordPress and MindMups. My department members seem to be enjoying this and we have all tried something new this year.



References

1. Hattie, J., 2003. Teachers Make a Difference: What is the research evidence? Retrieved from http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/content/download/501/3926/john_hattie.pdf

2. Recommendations from the curriculum stocktake. Retrieved from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/Archives/Curriculum-project-archives/Developing-the-draft/Recommendations-from-the-curriculum-stocktake

3. What Is Laissez-Faire Leadership? Retrieved from https://www.verywell.com/what-is-laissez-faire-leadership-2795316

4. Thanks to James Thomas, Lisa White and Jason Pocock for answering my questions and providing useful information for this post.

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Author:

I am an English teacher of year 9-13 students at Whangaparaoa College. I enjoy incorporating the use of technology in the classroom and researching effective ways of engaging students. In 2012 our school introduced compulsory BYOD for year 9 and I have enjoyed this challenge. I am an advocate of Project Based Learning and plan to increase my use of this teaching style. I am also a musician and enjoy playing in local bands. If I can include music in my teaching in some way, I do it!

13 thoughts on “Current Issues in my Professional Context

  1. Hi Christine, thanks for your interesting post. I was fascinated to read of how leadership positions were chosen based on various personality types. I took the test myself and have discovered I am a relatively rare (2%) combination and apparently suited to teaching as a profession – it was actually really spot-on I thought. This method sounds like it has contributed to a forward-thinking and evolving community of practice within your school.
    A challenge facing my community of practice also links to the need to acknowledge and develop balance between new technologies and existing pedagogy. One of the really important aspects for this to succeed is identified as an on-going professional learning network that is well-supported within the school. It sounds like you are making positive moves by creating resources that focus on that successful implementation. That is an area I’m hoping to develop within my own Faculty.
    Cheers, Sarah.

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      1. Thanks Christine, getting more positive which is good. I’ve learnt to not try and relay new ICT info in the middle of a busy Faculty meeting as was the previous fashion but to hold smaller sessions that can be more tailored to where individual teachers are at. There’s quite a bit of variation between those ‘early adopters’ and those more ‘hesitant’ in their approach.

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      2. Yep, I feel ya! My people seem very positive at the moment but I have experienced some negativity at my old school so am just hoping that it stays positive.

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  2. I’ve found your reflection really interesting, Christine. I think there is so much merit in what you are doing and the school’s initiatives are also very positive.

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  3. Very interesting to see that Stohl’s comments re: newer schools and school culture are very accurate!

    I really like the idea of the TALL groups – definitely a student-centred and non-threatening way to give teachers feedback on their teaching.

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  4. Hi Christine
    An interesting and thought- provoking post. It is great to see how you are approaching the differences in the pedagogical philosophy between our two schools. We as individuals are driven to foster positive relationships with our students and we know the benefits of this. I like the ABC concept.

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    1. Thanks Alth! I have really enjoyed looking into the school context, culture and values – especially since I am new. It has helped me gain an appreciation of the leadership here and how much they have influenced to school culture.

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  5. Hi, Christine, really interesting post. I have not heard of the Myers-Briggs personality test before. It is certainly something I will look at in the future. In our faculty, we also share examples of best practice. This is a great way of introducing new ideas to staff.

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  6. Hi Christine, it is great to see the collaborative approach your school is taking to ensure all needs are catered for with the introduction of new technologies and methods of teaching and learning. We have been sharing through mini PD sessions where teachers take a session (google calendars, thinking tools etc) and staff are able to choose what they attend based on where they are currently at within their teaching. It is a good way for teachers to up skill at their pace.

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