Category Archives: #ignition212
ZOMG I’m still totally buzzing from ignition.
After I returned home on Thursday, I spent the last
two three days at school getting things ready. I’ve done a brief rearrange of my furniture and am starting to do some work on the daily 5. However I’m sure the current set-up won’t last long as during the first session the kids are doing a ‘hack our learning space.’ I’m looking forward to the session and thanks @annekenn for suggesting to take the students on they journey.
I’m feeling a lot more positive about the term ahead. Last term I felt a bit like I was sailing into the unknown, not knowing the kids, the school (every institution is different) and I had a lot to learn about teaching. Student teaching is definitely a whole lot different than PRT teaching and obviously teaching in New Zealand is a whole lot different from Korean schools.
@chrisclaynz The power of more than one
@stephentpk Finally a starting point for this blog
Sorry for the short reflection. Over the next few weeks I will be posting how I’ve implemented ideas of the event into my classroom.
I’m recent arrival both to teaching and to the city of Wellington. Over the summer I made the move from Auckland to the capital to take up my first teaching position. With my wordly possessions making their way by road, I decided to fly to my new home.
Despite my love of travelling around the world I don’t do well with flying. And by don’t do well I mean absolutely petrified. Of the dozens of airports I’ve flown into around the world Wellington definitely rates as one the scariest.
Wellingtonians are curious breed. At best they seem to a best tolerate white knuckle landings into their airport. At worst they consider it a business opportunity. I spend most of my time during final approach having panic attacks.
My last flight into Wellington was a nervous flyer’s nightmare. The stormy night resulted in 3 missed approaches, 20 minutes bouncing around tory channel a trip back to Auckland to refuel and re-crew before I made it to my destination nearly 4 hours after we departed.
Suffice to say my airsick bag got used that night. Yet in between minutes of abject terror, I realized that the actions of the people in charge of the jet and the well-being of the passengers could readily be applied to my new life as teacher.
The first lesson is the importance of effective communication. After each unexpected turn in the journey, the crew in the cabin and the flight deck always told us where we were going and why.
This clear and confident communication helped bring my anxiety down notch as I looked out the window wondering if this flight was EVER going to end. So my teachable moment is that when the going gets tough, the tough get talking.
The next lesson I learned is to always have enough gas in the tank to get you home. Obviously not having enough actual fuel has some rather dire consequences in aviation. But airlines know that tired pilots put lives in danger too. Is the same true for teachers?
I’m sure that I’m not the only teacher who has at some point commiserated with a colleague about skipping lunch because of inter-class sport, coming in on the weekend or spending 11-12 hour days at school.
Shouldn’t teachers be calling each other out more often on this kind self-congratulation disguised as self-deprecation? Or would we rather our students see us as the frantic, overwrought, resentful teachers that not taking time out to refuel can make us?
Is that why so many teachers crash and burn?
The third lesson is the importance of having a sense of humour. At all the times the crew on that flight were friendly, approachable and did their best to keep the passengers laughing during our multiple attempts to land.
My next lesson from the crew is doing the best with what you have. Even though I was grumpy and tired, somehow getting both jet planes and cookies instead of choosing between one option made up for spending those extra hours up in the air.
The final lesson is perhaps not so funny, the importance of managing human error. In aviation, accidents are usually highly visible, and as a result aviation has developed standardised methods of investigating, documenting, and disseminating errors and most importantly heeding lessons from crashes.
Yet when we look at education we aren’t so good with managing errors. In the past our education system failed half of our learners each year before the students had opened the exam book in order to preserve the bell curve. My dad was one of those learners.
Today we’ve gone to the other extreme where failure must be eradicated. Missed approaches, bad weather be damned. Our students need to arrive at the end of year at standard OR ELSE. Failure is no longer an option.
The night I travelled to wellington other planes managed to land or at least didn’t get turned back. Should the crew have been held accountable for aborted landings? Did the pilots make an error in deciding to turn back to Auckland due to a lack of fuel and foul weather?
From a bottom-line perspective the pilot’s decision cost the airline time and money. Moreover as a passenger I paid to arrive at 7. But I’m sure everyone would rather have a late safe landing to the alternative.
Aviation learned the hard way that focusing too much on narrow targets can lead disaster. Human errors need to be managed through monitoring and cross checking, as well as reviewing and modification of plans to improve safety.
Which sounds a lot like the idea of teaching as inquiry. Because rather than being a dirty word, if you look closely at closely, a FAIL is actually a First Attempt In Learning.
Or should that be landing?
I always feel uncomfortable when people start talking about leadership. Especially if it happens to be in the context of events that have the tag ‘Emerging Leader’ ‘Young Leader’ or ‘Future Leader.’ Leaders have interesting things to say, leaders have responsibilities, leaders don’t forget to take the class roll after lunch.
I think opinionated geek is the most accurate description.
When I heard that #ignition2012 was happening during the April school holidays I couldn’t wait to book my flights vven though the dreaded ‘leader’ tag was attached to the event. The reason? Two days of un-conference .
Ever since I went to my first unconference back in July 2011 I’ve been hooked on the format. As a learner there’s nothing more engaging than being able to choose what to learn, when and from who. As an attendee I much prefer being an active participant at a conference than sitting as an audience member patiently waiting for the Q&A session to contribute to the conversation. Yes the person up the front might have something important to say but unconferences embrace the idea that the sum of the expertise of the people in the audience is greater than the sum of expertise of the people on stage.
Which is what made #ignition2012 so exciting.
All those hierarchies that our model of industrial system of schooling built up over the last century or so vanished. At #ignition2012 it if you were veteran teacher of scholarship level physics at a large-inner city high school or someone in their first year of teaching five year olds their ABCs at a rural country school. Everyone was there with a common purpose to make New Zealand schools awesomeness incubators.
I love teachers from such a diverse range of contexts quite readily give up two days of their holidays to spend time at #ignition2012 learning and growing together. Nobody was required to be there and yet we were there. Some teachers traveled great distances to participate and the result was a giant melting pot of professional learning. There were sessions on e-portfolios building apps for learning and looking at applying augmented reality into the classroom. We discussed the Ultra Fast Broadband inquiry and talked about the conditions that lead to success for Maori students. In short it this was teacher professional development on steroids.
#Ignition2012 undoubtedly highlighted that the greatest strength of the New Zealand schooling system, institutional autonomy, is also its Achilles Heel. New Zealand schools and the educators within them don’t talk to each other nearly as much as we should. I think this is particularly the case for Beginning Teachers who can easily become isolated in our classrooms/schools with very little contact with those beyond our own bubbles. #Ignition2012 gave teachers an opportunity to connect with other teachers we would normally not be in contact with and the result was a bazaar of ideas to improve teaching and learning in New Zealand.
Moreover for those teachers on twitter and other social media, it allowed us to reconnect and put faces with profile pictures. It provided that real-life human component that is not there in online conversations. Coming together in real life is to quote the amazing @annekenn MAGIC.
What was really inspiring for me is knowing that there are other teachers out there in our schooling system who are dissatisfied with our schools and think we can do better. When I read about the latest policy developments in New Zealand education like the introduction of Charter Schools and Teach First New Zealand I often get despondent that the only new ideas for schooling are coming from the business sector. Ultimately discussions over how we train teachers or school governance is going to make very little difference to the shape of education. It’s the teachers who are in there with our students each day who need to ‘be the change’ in our schools.
#Ignition2012 shows that there are passionate New Zealand teachers out there who have no interest in perserving status quo in New Zealand schools. We know we can do better and in the case of Maori and Pasifika students in particular we know that system must do better. There are more teachers out who want to make New Zealand schools awesomeness incubators.
I hope next year you can come join us next year armed with your teaspoon.
“I honestly believe that the future is going to be millions of little things saving us. I imagine a big seesaw, and at one end of this seesaw is on the ground with a basket half-full of big rocks in it. The other end of the seesaw is up in the air. It’s got a basket one-quarter full of sand. And some of us got teaspoons, and we’re trying to fill up sand. A lot of people are laughing at us, and they say, “Ah, people like you have been trying to do that for thousands of years, and it’s leaking out as fast as you’re putting it in.” But we’re saying, “We’re getting more people with teaspoons all the time.” And we think, “One of these years, you’ll see that whole seesaw go zooop in the other direction.” And people will say, “Gee, how did it happen so suddenly?” Us and all our little teaspoons…” Pete Seeger.
My profound thanks goes to the organizers of #ignition2012 in particular to @mosbourne and the crew at Albany Senior High School. A big shout out also goes to Russell Stanners, Tony Bacon and Abbie Reynolds from @vodafoneNZ for supporting my attendance.