Monthly Archives: January 2013

Lollipop moments

School holidays has been a great time to clean out and catch up on all of the blogs I have in my Google Reader.

I stumbled across this TED Talk by Drew Dudley the other day through a post on Lifehack: Top 20 TED Talks that can improve your life.

As we start the new school year this really got me thinking about the conversations we have with students, about the conversations we have through Twitter and PD and at TeachMeets and the power of these to change a persons practice or thinking.

How many lollipop moments are you going to create this year ?

How will you let others know the impact that they have had on you ?



Changing the face of professional learning

Several people within my PLN have written recently around the theme of Staff Professional Learning. (See works here by Margo and Edna)  Their articles, combined with conversations at Tweet Ups and Teach Meets (and time to think over the holidays!) have led me to reflect on how I deliver professional learning within my school and changes I would like to implement.

Image from author’s personal collection













Using data to inform decisions and direction:
As part of our work in achieving eSmart accreditation, one of the domains focuses on the collection of data and makes reference to teacher’s ICT capabilities. To support this, I have used the DEECD ePotential Survey Tool to administer and collect data about how teaching and non-teaching staff view and use ICT. (As a side, I agree that this survey tool is now somewhat out-dated, so if you are using an alternative tool to collect data about your teacher’s ICT Capabilities I’d love to know)

I then export the survey results to Excel and ‘crunch’ the data to produce a report that summarises the survey results and helps me determine where we need to focus our efforts. I hope that by using this data to inform the direction and theme of Professional Learning sessions, staff will be able to see the physical benefits of completing the survey.

One size does NOT fit all.
Just like students in classroom environment, there are huge variations between where staff are at. In a classroom environment, we wouldn’t deliver the same lesson or activity to all; we would provide options that cater for individual learning needs.

Where possible and appropriate, I see the professional learning sessions operating as workshops that teachers will be able to ‘sign up’ for that meet their particular interests or professional learning needs.

Drawing upon ‘inside’ knowledge….
The Australian Charter for the Professional Learning of Teachers and School Leaders talks about the need for “teachers take responsibility for, and actively engage in, professional learning in order to build the capacity and that of others.”

As the ICT leading teacher, I am the one at the moment delivering the majority of profession learning that relates to ICT. As we are a new school, the majority of our staff come from previous educational environments and bring a wealth of experience and expertise. I have previously tapped into the experience and expertise of others, but I’m hoping that this model for professional learning will do more of that. I also see it as a chance to empower and increase the capacity of others by give them opportunities to lead and the experience of presenting in front of others.

….whilst bringing in “outside world”.
Whilst there is a great deal of knowledge within my school, I also think it’s important to acknowledge that we do not have all the answers and tap into the knowledge and experiences of others outside your environment, to prevent becoming insular and to provide an alternative perspective.

In an interview with the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, Fredrick Brown had this to say on the use of social media to support Professional Learning:

People learn best when they are learning with others.  Social media gives them an opportunity to do that and make their learning very public; so all of a sudden you are not learning in isolation.  If you have a question, you can get answers to those questions from others who have experienced the same issues.

All of a sudden you have access to a community that goes beyond your School.  So what a wonderful world it is when you are no longer sitting there is that class-room, like I remember doing my first (1st) years of teaching alone and not really knowing the answer, afraid to reach out to some of the teachers who are around me, because as a new teacher, I didn’t want to appear like I didn’t know – he should know, he’s just graduated from the University – why doesn’t he know?

Social media allows me to reach out and to gain access to knowledge and expertise beyond my school walls.

I have a fantastic PLN through Twitter and other online networks that I would love to ‘bring in’ either physically or digitally via Elluminate and Skype to share their knowledge. I would also love to educate teachers about the power of twitter and other social networking sites to connect with others, form their own personal learning networks and continue their own professional learning journey.

Briefing the presenters:
Initially, I see the need to meet with those presenting to make clear what would be expected from their workshop sessions. Providing support materials (checklists, presentation templates…) will also help with this process.

“Selling” the idea:
For many, this will be different and a change from what they are used to. It will require some selling (I’m thinking of a video) and pitching of the idea to get people on board. It will also take some wording up of others who have been previous supports to help get others on board (Think: “Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy” video) and help sell the idea.

Managing the ‘sign up’ process:
I’m trying to think of a way to manage the signup process for the workshop sessions. I want it to be digital so staff can sign up at a time and location and suits them. I’ve been looking into Eventbrite allows you to create an event for free (on the condition that you don’t charge admission for it). I also like the way it “looks” – it comes across very professional and feels very much like a major event or conference.

When setting up your event, the process allows you to create different ‘tickets’ for your event. I see each of our Professional Learning sessions being ‘an event’ and the different workshops offered being available through different ‘tickets’. The software allows you to limit the number of people who can obtain tickets for a particular event; this would be handy for some sessions in terms of limiting numbers to ensure a more personal and intimate learning experience. It is also possible to include additional information about each of sessions. This would be a chance to explain the learning intention, success criteria and any pre-requisites or actions required prior to attending the workshop session.

With the session created, you can then generate e-mail invitations for staff to log in and register for their sessions. The site also allows you to print your ticket or if you have the app installed in your mobile device, you can download it to your ticket.

On the day of the event, you can print a list of the people who have registered for each workshop.

Prior to attending….
Professional Learning time within schools is limited and often a lot of time is lost in getting people to sign up and register for new online tools or download new programs to use.

Presenters will need to specify what needs to be done prior to session in order to maximise hands-on learning time. This knowledge could be communicated via information sheets that include screen shots or through creating screencasting videos.

Hands on, social, collaborative:
Sessions will not be “chalk and talk” or “death by powerpoint”. There will be opportunities for participants to engage with each other and practice skills that have been taught with the support of others around them. I’d like to see the use of a a shared Google Doc for collaborative note taking and a twitter hashtag for people to share their thinking and their learning as the presentation is taking place.

Have a “Call to Action”:
The professional learning session won’t be a ‘one off’; a requirement of each session will be a ‘call to action’ where participants will need to utilise their new learning back in the classroom environment.

Time for feedback, reflection and sharing:
A follow-up session in future weeks will allow participants the opportunity to share their experiences with others, discuss problems they encountered and ask further questions. I also feel this expectation will hold people accountable for taking action.

At the conclusion of each session, the participants will complete a short survey to provide feedback to the presenter about the content and style of their presentation, details of what they learnt and ways they can use the new learning. (The eventbrite software also allows manage survey responses following an event) The presenter will also complete a self-reflection on their session to identify strengths and areas of opportunity for future presentations. I’d also like to see some sort of coaching\reflection conversation to support the presenter, reflect on the experience and identify possible areas for improvement.


How do you\does your school deliver professional learning ?

Do you use a workshop model like this ? What have you found to be the strengths\challenges with an approach like this ?

Do you have a totally different model for professional learning ?


A reflection on 2012

With the madness that is school at the end-of-year, Christmas and celebrating a birthday, this post is a little later that I had hoped, however, it has given me the time to really reflect on the year that has past and what lies ahead.

2102 has been a hectic year both personally and professionally that it would be easy to forget what has been achieved. As I look forward to 2013 and think about the possibilities, I thought it wise to reflect on what has been achieved from the year just past.

Some highlights include:

Moving House:
Without a doubt, this was the most major project and achievement that was finally accomplished last year. After spending over a year looking at what I think worked out to be 140 different houses and having every single real estate agent in Richmond know us by name, we finally found our new inner-city dream home. Moving wasn’t an easy process, with a short stint in temporary accomodation in Bonbeach for a few months before we moved in. Whilst the beachside living was fantastic over the summer holidays, I was glad that we had found and moved into a place of our own and am totally loving the access to public transport, cafes, resturants, shopping, bars and other attractions that come with the inner-city lifestyle.

Setting up new staff:
The growth at my school in the two years since it has been open continues to be amazing. With our enrolments nearly doubling, naturally more teaching staff are required. This meant lots of work obtaining new laptops, organising passwords and accounts an working with them all to get them ‘connected’. 2012 will again see another influx of new teachers and I’m hoping that after the experience of 2011, I will have refined the process further.

Online Assembly Program:
Given the size of our school population and the facilities available, we did not have access to a large space large often enough to accommodate our school community. This lead to us investigating alternative methods of running our school assembly program and the introduction of us broadcasting our assembly using web conferencing. I’m pleased that this has continued throughout and is something that is now embedded as part of the culture at my school.

Using learning tasks, particuarly with younger students has been something I have really enjoyed. For years, I have talked about keeping better assessment records and I feel that using Learning Tasks has really helped me improve my practice in this area. I have also enjoyed delivering professonal learning and (up until the AEU workbans) working with staff using learning tasks to help with their assessment. A real highlight was walking into a classroom of a not so tech-savvy teacher who had setup a learning task as part of her reading groups for students to complete.

Beyond my school, I’ve really valued the opportunity to catch up each month and share what others are doing and consider it a privilage to work alongside such amazing and talented ICT people like Anne Mirtchin and Mel Cashen to deliver “The Ultranet Share N Tell PD” series.

Wendy Macpherson has also continued to be a valued resource in relation to the Ultranet and other ICT matters. I’ve again enjoyed the opportunity to work with her and be part of some great consultation and feedback sessions at DEECD with other teachers regarding the Ultranet.

Gaining a substantive Leading Teacher position
This had been a long term goal of mine and one that was achieved last year. I was pleased my school recognised the level of work I was doing across the school and created the position. It has bought many new learning experiences and enabled me to see school operations at a different level.

Networking with others:
I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to meet and share with other ICT leaders at local schools without network and also host a number of visitors to our school who were keen to seek out my opinions and thoughts about a range of ICT issues.

Attending the ICTEV Conference:
I was finally organised enough to get to this conference for the first time. It’s always great to hear from other teachers who are practicing within the classroom share their knowledge and experience.

TeachMeets, TeachEats and TweetUps:
I couldn’t imagine my professional life now without Twitter and once again, being connected to so many other great educators bought with it many fantastic opportunities. Highlights from the year included discussing education at the State Library and hear Alec Couros, listening to Jenny LucaWill Richardson and Stephen Dinham speak at the TEDx Melbourne session on Educational Leadership, providing feedback to  the #PLNAction group around the white papers released by DEECD about Victoria as a Learning Community and the New Directions for School Leadership and the Teaching Profession, great conversations and presenatations through the TeachMeet sessions and enjoying the food, drink and professional conversation that follows.

The VISTA Podcast:
Thanks to Joel Aarons, we’ve once again been able to pump out a few more episodes of “The VISTA Podcast“…. which lead to some new members and inquiries to VISTA as a result.

SRC Elections for 2013:
Towards the very end of the year, we conducted our SRC Elections and interviews for our 2013 School Captains. This year, we involved the current school captains as part of the interview panel for the first time. I was highly impressed with their ability to make the students being interviewed feel at ease and their professionalism as we reflected on each of the candidates interview responses.

Commencing the eSmart Acreditation Process:
Although my school is only 2 years old, the use of ICT has moved at a rapid pace. The eSmart program has been great in terms of take a step back and looking at how ICT is managed within our school. It’s certainly raised lots of questions (see blog posts here and here and here) but I’m pleased with what we achieved in the year and where we are heading. Thanks also the the power of my PLN I’ve been able to facilitate “The eSmart Conversation” sessions via Blackboard Collaborate with Jenny Ashby.


Reflecting on the year has been valuable in shaping my ideas and thoughts for the year head.

Just what those thoughts and ideas are….. well…. watch this space !