If I think reflectively about my VPLD learning journey thus far, I do believe it has taken the shape of a steep bell curve and over time 'the goal posts' have moved. A number of external factors have certainly contributed to this change as I will soon explain.
The year 2015 started off 'as every year does at school' with lots of excitement and sheer determination to get back into the classroom. I was accepted on the VPLD programme, thanks also to the support of my boss and life was good. With Mr B, the longest standing Principal of New Zealand at our helm, the E.P.S whanau were destined yet again for a great first term. That we thoroughly did enjoy. Then Mr B retired and with that announcement came a change of Principal and over a term a change too, in our school leadership structure.
The goals that I set earlier this year alongside my mentor Rick, have also taken a turn, moreso for the better. My first intention was practice based. Although I had planned to have my twenty three Y5-Y6 students blog with another local class, we have instead entered with them into class Twitter and joined both KidsconnectBOP and KidsedchatNZ. Although it would be nice for my students to run their own twitter sessions 'it's early days', the challenge of typing just 140 characters with punctuation and spelling accuracy remains and scaffolding is still needed at this time.
The recent changes to our class infrastructure now mean we have 10 mini iPads, 15 chrome books and fiber up and running effectively in our two-classroom block. I am introducing Google docs with ease, students are loving the connectivity and engagement and in Term 4 we begin quadblogging and mystery Skype.
We also have two big screens and an Apple TV. Storage, management and planned workflow of devices is currently 'systems in progress'. I'm thinking seriously of moving out a lot of the traditional desks we have as students are finding their own workspaces on the floor, in alcoves, at benches, or basically anywhere they feel comfortable learning with the devices.
I have a sound pedagogical base and I want students to understand the eLPF or e-Learning Planning Framework and the SAMR model. I am also in awe of the growth mindset that comes with the effective integration of technology and my students are thriving immensely on this kind of thinking and learning. In retrospect, I would ideally love to work collaboratively in a 1:1 Y5-Y6 class next year and so I have subtly voiced this request.
My second goal was based on building the EBOP Connected Teachers group as a community of practice. A Facebook page has since been set up and shared with this roopu. We held one hui at REAP in Term 2 and we decided that the Term 3 meeting would be replaced with the launch of Educamp Whakatane in September. This was planned extensively and very well received. It is now my intention (along with a core group of e-learning leaders) to organise an EBOP Connected ICT thinking and learning mini conference for local teachers just before the school year begins in 2016.
The VPLD programme has certainly kept me on my toes throughout this time. Rick and I have remained in constant contact via FaceTime, phone conversations and also kanohi ki kanohi at the Educamp Whakatane hui. It has been an honour to have him follow my journey, provide feedback and feed forward and suggest ideas as and when required. I must apologise however for my lack of 'posting presence' within the VPLD site. This is now back on my 'to do' list.
My learning journey so continues. In July with the support of Mr B, I completed an ACET or Advanced Classroom Expertise Teacher portfolio and managed/facilitated a national Facebook page alongside other like-minded ACET educators. I will hear if my portfolio has been accepted early in October. I did think too at one stage of submitting an e-Fellowship proposal but will now consider that initiative for next year. The 'Teacher-Led Innovation Fund' also inspires me.
In my spare time I manage/faciltate a Facebook EBOP educators group called PL Geeks Unite, join in on educational twitter sessions and I post regularly to our EPS staff VLN FB page. I intend participating too in CENZ15 or Connected Educator Month. I have personally paid to attend ULearn this year (along with another colleague/friend) and we are at present enrolling in the Postgrad Certificate in Applied Practice being offered by Unitec in Rotorua. It is also my desire to continue as a mentoree or hopefully become a mentor, for the 2016 VPLD programme. One can only wish.
Amidst the changes and challenges that have presented themselves this year I am happy with who I am and what I do. My personal tagline #angelwita2tude suggests this. I am also grateful for the ongoing support I continue to receive. This is indeed a precious taonga gifted to me unconditionally by my students, fellow school and VPLD colleagues, friends and whanau. Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi. He toa takitini toku toa. Alas, my strength and the adventurous journey I lead, is not due to me alone, but due to the strength of many.