School’s out Friday

*note: swear word within video and inappropriate ad from College Humour at the end. Just so you know.

Yes, I’m going to confess. I have an Apple Watch. (run of the mill variety, definitely not Gold)

Do I need one?

No.

Do I feel pretentious wearing it?

Yes, a little bit.

Do I like it?

Yes, I have to admit, I do.

My family gave me a voucher on Mother’s Day this year for an Apple Watch, and I got it this week. They know how much I love new gadgets and I love them for indulging me and recognising that this is something I would enjoy. I do feel like it’s an extremely unnecessary thing to own and I do feel slightly uncomfortable wearing it. The thing is ridiculously expensive here in Australia and it seems frivolous to own one, but I have to confess that I am liking it, even if I remain pretty clueless so far as to what it can do.

I am away from home at the moment, holidaying with my gorgeous daughter in Port Douglas. I know, you don’t need to say it, I sound like someone who is just throwing money around – forgive me, but having just been paid out for long service leave and knowing that I’m never going to get to take that time off, then this was the next best thing. Anyway, back to the Apple Watch part of the story. I’m liking the activity tracker that is reminding me to get out and get moving – it’s a good prompt that I think is going to be beneficial. I can read my incoming mail, send a message using Siri, and answer and send phone calls from it. You do feel like you’re in an episode of Get Smart when you’re holding your wrist near your face and talking into it, but it has been handy in the car. I can hold the driving wheel and talk quite normally and the people on the other end have been unaware that I’m communicating via the Apple Watch.

There are a myriad of apps available and I’m really in the infancy stages of using it. For the first day, it was noticeable, but four days in and I’m starting to see it as a functional device that I think may prove really useful once I am back at work managing meetings and trying to organise myself in what is going to be a very different pattern of commuting for me.

I have to admit that I do feel a tad freakish with it on, given that wearable devices like this aren’t the norm (yet). Mind you, no-one else seems to have noticed it at all, so maybe there’s nothing big deal about it. Mind you, I’m yet to answer a call in a crowded space and I’m not sure I would. I think reaching into the bag to get the phone would probably be my course of action in shared spaces!

If I discover any noteworthy features, I’ll try and write about them. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the warmth of Port Douglas, a far cry from the depths of a Melbourne winter. My daughter and I walked along the beach at Cape Tribulation today, and I marvelled at the fact that I was treading on sand that I can pinpoint on a map of Australia. It seems so pristine there, I do wonder if the shoreline has altered much from the time James Cook and his men encountered it when they circumnavigated Australia’s East Coast. Even more significant, I wonder if our indigenous people have stories that illustrate what this coastline was like before the arrival of white settlement?

I’m going to be enjoying the sun and relaxation space this holiday is offering me. I hope you can find some space for yourself this weekend, be it in the sun, or by a warm fire. Enjoy. :)

School’s out Friday

I suspect many of you have seen this on mainstream media this week. Cats can certainly wind up in some funny spaces – seeing this brought to mind an experience I had with my dearly loved and recently departed cat, Bella. And yes, if you’re a regular reader you may recall me mentioning our loss last year of our dearly loved dog, Bella. That’s right, we had two animals in the same house with the same name. It’s a long story. Suffice to say, two animals often fronted for dinner when called!

But back to the story related to the video above. My parents live nearby, around ten minutes away. I drove there one day, stopping at a set of lights on the way. When I arrived, I could hear a cat wailing when I stepped out of the car. I thought I must have hit the neighbour’s cat so started looking around the car for an injured animal. No sign, but the wailing continued. I eventually narrowed it down to the bonnet of my car. Lifted it, and yep, there was Bella, huddled on top of the engine, wailing. I spent time in the weeks after this checking where Bella was before venturing out for any car trip!

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Bella, daredevil cat, is on the left. Bonnie, far too slothful for any such adventure, is still with us and on the right. No need to check my car when I venture out now. She’s never going to be hidden in the engine – that would require too much effort!

Have a great weekend. Seek out enjoyment. Make it your mission.  Just avoid positioning yourself on the wing of a glider or the top of a car engine.  :)

 

Discussing Personal Learning Networks with Pearson’s ‘In Conversation’ series – Part two!

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Part two of the interview I had with Pearson’s ‘In Conversation’ series is now available. Click here to gain access.

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Like I said in my previous post, this interview was conducted over the phone. It’s difficult to think on your feet in situations like that, and I don’t think what I said has translated well in reference to Project Based Learning and what happens when students find themselves not succeeding. Here’s what is in the post;

I’ve had fantastic feedback from students involved in project based learning, but it’s not easy as it puts the onus on them to take responsibility for their learning. When they learn via this method, students have a sense of pride in what they’ve accomplished.

I’ve observed that that’s what they respond to best, because they want permission and the responsibility to take charge of their own learning. Through this process, they may eventually encounter and experience failure which is positive feedback. Analysing failure is something we don’t do enough of in school.

When these same students who didn’t do well finished a project, they were then able to articulate and identify where they’ve gone wrong. These same children also went on to perform better in subsequent activities because they were working through the process and ultimately learning how to fail successfully.

Hmmnn…not quite what I wanted to say! I don’t see failure as positive feedback, but it can lead to positive outcomes. In the case of the students I was referencing, they learnt from failure and went on to be very successful in subsequent PBL tasks.

Wish I’d had a rewind button so I could have fixed that up before it went to print!

I do like the quotes they have selected to place in images accompanying the interview, so I going to share them here (nice little bit of archiving for me!)

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Thank you Pearson Australia for asking me to be involved in your ‘In Conversation’ series. I enjoyed the experience and am really pleased that you have identified the strength of Personal Learning Networks to support the professional development of our teaching profession.

Discussing Personal Learning Networks with Pearson’s ‘In Conversation’ series

A few week’s ago I was interviewed for Pearson’s ‘In Conversation’ series. Here’s the premise behind the series and this interview;

In Conversation is a monthly series where we chat with some of the leading thinkers and thought leaders in the education space.
In this month’s interview, we tackled the topic of Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) to uncover the benefits and how they may impact the teaching strategies of educators.

I was very flattered to be considered a ‘thought leader’ in the education space, and even more flattered to see that they have decided to make it a two part report. It was a phone interview and it can be difficult to shape your words when you’re thinking on the spot, but I think what was relayed did justice to the work of educators worldwide who are sharing their practice and supporting their peers in social spaces.

You can read part one by clicking this link. Part two will be available mid June. I’ll be interested to read it, because it’s hard to remember exactly what I said! Here’s a nice grab of what’s to come;

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The Pearson team did a great job creating an infographic with some of my and their recommendations of people to follow on Twitter. I suggest you follow all of them and if you’re not already a Twitter user, then get to it and sign up. You’ll need a good month to get your head around how Twitter works, but stick with it. It’s where my best learning happens.

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Looking forward…

On January 1st this year I wrote a post entitled ‘Looking Back…‘. In it, I speculated on what 2015 would bring.

Fast forward to today, and I’m about to head into a staff briefing where I will be farewelled from Toorak College.

At the start of Term 3, I will begin a new job at Wesley College in Melbourne, where I will take on the position of Head of Digital Learning and Practice.

Did I even contemplate on January 1st this year that this was the course I would find myself on?

Not for one minute.

But it’s happening, and I need to find a way to extricate myself from a place that has made such a significant impact on my life. It feels like a bit of a ‘To Sir with Love’ moment, because how do you thank a school community that has helped you realise your potential and enabled you to become something you never thought you would be?

In 2005, I was working at Monterey Secondary College, a school that also had a significant impact on my life and gave me such good grounding as a teacher. It was a school I loved and the memories I have of it are dear to me. But in 2005, I was teaching a Year 8 class that was making me question my ability as a teacher. I was a parent of young children, I was stressed and I was contemplating leaving the profession and doing something completely different. I saw an ad in the local paper for a part time Teacher Librarian position at Toorak College and it sat on my kitchen bench for over a week before I decided to apply. I felt traitorous to the public education system because I’d been such a strong advocate for free education for all, but I needed change – I needed to reclaim myself and my place in a profession that mattered to me.

I got the job, and in doing so, I unwrapped the gift that was Toorak College.

This gift unveiled opportunity, growth and insight. It helped me realise that the skills I’d developed in the public system were founded in good practice and could be applied in different contexts. The gift revealed new colleagues, new friends, and professional development opportunities that I’d not been able to explore in my previous job. I embraced all it offered and ran, hurtling into the unknown and discovering a significant part of my life’s purpose in the process.

The gift introduced me to classes of students hungry for knowledge. This is perhaps the richest part of the gift – the opportunity to form meaningful relationships with students and the deep satisfaction I have had working in classrooms where we have shared learning moments that are etched in my memory. The gift enabled me to travel with students to destinations like China, Italy, Laos, Borneo, the Kimberley region and on OEG trips to the Murray River and various camp destinations. My happiest moments have been in classrooms and on trips where we have immersed ourselves wholeheartedly into whatever presented itself to us, and we have laughed and learnt alongside one another.

The gift has seen me through the best of times and the worst of times. It was in the worst of times that the gift unveiled true friends, and I am forever indebted to Megan Davies, Lee-Anne Marsh and Mae-Louise McGuinness who held out lifelines that helped me work through challenges that have also been growth opportunities.

The gift has taught me an enormous amount about leadership and what it takes to bring people with you. I am grateful to Noel Thomas, former Principal, who didn’t stall me in my evolution as a teacher who shares their practice publicly. Allowing me to write this blog and being transparent about my place of work was a very generous gift indeed. Current Principal, Helen Carmody, has also been instrumental in my growth and has taught me so much about what it means to lead an organisation through change processes. If I can be half the leader Helen is, I will be doing my next job well.

Like all gifts, you can choose to put them on the shelf and glance at them, or you can make them part of the fabric of your life. Toorak College has been a rich tapestry in my life. I am grateful for the gift it has been and the experiences I have had as a result of gracing its walkways. I am grateful for the people in it who have helped shape my life. I will hold it dear and use what it has taught me in the next stage of my career. I will reflect on it, glance back, learn from it and relive fond memories. I’m proud of what I have brought to it – I am leaving it with gifts that I think will help it grow.

A new gift awaits. There is an excitement surrounding it, and some apprehensiveness too. What will it unveil? What will it teach me? What impact can I make on it? It will reveal itself, in time. I welcome it into my life, and hope that I can be a gift to it.

School’s out Friday

After a seriously busy week, a bit of Improv Everywhere spontaneity is a nice way to nice way to finish it up.

I’ve presented at two schools this week, been to a two day Dylan Wiliam workshop at Frankston High School and attended a LawSense seminar in the city. I’m not really sure why it is I’m still up late on a Friday night typing these words. If I was paying attention to the signals, I’d be in bed catching up on some lost hours of sleep.

Enjoy your weekend. Hopefully it will be a quiet one here – I need to slow down the pace!

Australian Learning Lecture: Sir Michael Barber on ‘Joy and Data’.

On Thursday May 21st, the inaugural Australian Learning Lecture was delivered by Sir Michael Barber on the topic of ‘Joy and Data‘. The event was attended by many leading educationalists and has been initiated as a joint project of the Koshland Innovation Fund and the State Library of Victoria. Their aim is “to bring big ideas in education to national attention. The decade long project is designed to strengthen the importance of learning in Australia for all Australians.”

Here’s what Sir Michael said was the intention of his lecture:

“It is very clear that the longer the 21st century goes on, the more education matters,” says Sir Michael. “The debate I’d like the lecture to provoke is about how data, joy and learning combined could lead to much higher performance in education systems. All too often people, especially critics, create a false dichotomy between data and joy. I argue that they go together and – indeed – that only if they go together can we ensure success in future.”
The lecture was recorded and you can view it below. I’ve set the video to start 22mins 16 seconds in, because there’s a lot of waiting on this video before anything happens!
A storify of my tweets and some from others has been collated and can be viewed here: https://storify.com/jennyluca/all-australian-lecture-michael-barber
Michael highlighted what he considered as four misconceptions about data during his lecture.
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I think what Sir Michael did was help us understand how important it is to be informed by the data, but also how we need to apply human judgement to our evaluation. The following tweets (derived from Michael’s words) kind of summed it up for me.
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I think in education there are some who fear data and the evaluations being drawn from it. Provided human judgement is a factor and we do the right thing with the data we have collected, there should be no reason for fear. In education, we are focused on children’s lives – if we keep our compasses set right, then data provides us with the ability to see where to next. And where to next could be the very thing that enables a child to find the joy that learning can bring.
Thank you Ellen Koshland and the State Library of Victoria for your vision and philanthropic generosity to make education an important talking point in Australian society. I truly hope this vision is realised and that this series will elevate discussion around education and its critical importance to the future development of this country.