No comment

monkey-987886_640I’ve just read a post on a blog that has comments switched off. I noticed this particularly because the topic was one that could cause some questions, debate or discussion.

This made me wonder why someone wouldn’t want comments on their blog posts. I came up with these:

  1. I’m worried that comments could be offensive or cause arguments.
  2. What I’ve said is final/right. It shouldn’t be questioned; there is no room for debate.
  3. I want to tell you what I think but I don’t want to hear your opinion.
  4. I’m too scared that someone might disagree with me.

To me, out of these, the first one is a fair concern, however, you’ve always got the option of moderating comments.

If numbers 2-4 are the reasons, then you’re not willing to be questioned, challenged, or to learn.

If you want to speak with authority, then you need to show you’re willing to back up your argument by allowing for questions and discussion, and be willing to hear alternative points of view.

Image in the public domain

Live!

EdBlogNZAfter getting the #EdBlogNZ 2016 Challenge set up with one blogging challenge a month, I’ve waited until the very last day of January to write my first post. The main reason for this is because I was hit with pneumonia just before the New Year and was laid up for much of the month. Not exactly the break I was hoping for.

This though has given me a chance to do a bit of thinking about this year and to consider the word that I want to define my year. My #oneword2016.

After spending so much time in bed throughout January and having my plans for my break turn to custard I really want to make the most of the rest of my year. I want to LIVE!

Live!

To live this year I want to:

  • Step out of my comfort zone and take responsible risks. A few things have slowed me down a little over the last couple of years and this has meant I’ve become a bit tentative around some things. I really want this to change.
  • Learn and put my learning into place. One of my goals is to learn some basic Te Reo M?ori and have enrolled in a course as part of my PD. I’m looking forward to taking part in this. I’m also looking forward to the other learning that’s coming up.
  • Stretch myself in my writing both for work and my blogging. I don’t really know what this will look like yet but I want to take my writing to another level.
  • Spend more quality time with my kids. Yes, I know it’s a bit cliche but after losing several weeks during January where I had plans to do so much with them, I want to make sure they don’t miss out the rest of the year.

It’s time for me to LIVE!

uLearn15 #EdBlogNZ selfies

Finally posting my uLearn15 selfies with other #EdBlogNZers. I’m hoping I’m remembering everyone correctly!

Firstly… with Mike Buckham. It was great to meet Mike and hear how much he has enjoyed taking part in the EdBlogNZ challenge.

It was great also to meet Steph and reconnect with Annemarie Hyde.

The next two, I didn’t actually take the pics but it was great to connect with them also:

Marnel van der Spuy…


And… both the other #EdBlogNZ founders/organisers – Sonya van Schaijik and Alex Le Long.

Professional blogging for beginners

As part of the #EdBlogNZ week 2 challenges, Alex Le Long and Nathaniel Louwrens have paired up to collaborate on this blog post.

The challenge is to collaborate with another blogger to discuss an important issue in education. Post must be shared on both blogs, tagged with #edblognz on Twitter and include at least one media tool in the post (video, photo, embed something else).

So our important issue focuses on something that we have been pushing and driving for the past few months – Professional blogging. Well, blogging may not necessarily be the issue, perhaps more so, it is reflecting on our practice. Of course, we like to encourage teachers to do this through blogs. And since we co-presented during this week at #ulearn15 on Professional Blogging for Beginners, we thought we’d continue this theme.

Why should we reflect on our practice through blogs? As Steve Wheeler puts it in his post, 3 things you should know about blogging, blogging is public. Yes, you can make them private, but then you don’t have the opportunity for others to think about and consider what’s going on for you and add their point of view. You also don’t give them the opportunity to question their own practice. Remember… it’s for our students!

blog1

This statement above, attributed to Karen Melhuish-Spencer, appeared on Steve Mouldey’s blog, is challenging. We are doing it for our students. We want our students to succeed. If we don’t share what’s going on we can’t learn from each other.

If you’re looking for other reasons to blog, other than to reflect, then check out this Padlet that #edblognz people contributed to recently: Why do you blog?

Blogging gives us an opportunity also to gather evidence for the Practising Teacher Criteria (what was the Registered Teacher Criteria). You can use your blog to write posts relevant to your learning, practise, questions etc and tag/label them with the PTC number. They then become easy to find, use, and share as necessary.

As we progress on our learning and teaching journey, no matter how long or how little we have been teaching, our practice continually evolves to best suit the students we have in front of us. By sharing our learning and developing understanding of this evolution in our practice, we’re then able to portray a sense of thoughtful reflection.

By using our blogs as a way to show this development we can quickly identify the different aspects of our practice by using tags or labels.

Building on our collaborative and sharing natures as teachers, we can learn more about the changes in education and the need to keep reflecting to enhance our own practices for our students.

To boldly go where no man has gone before

Spock & Kirk

One of the #EdBlogNZ challenges for week 1 is to write a blog post about your favourite movie/song/piece of art including how it relates to your life as an educator. So I’m going to write about my favourite TV series / movies – Star Trek.

I’m a doctor, not a…


Wow – this quote, said regularly by Dr McCoy really resonates with me. Let’s rephrase it…

I’m a teacher, not a… doctor, nurse, parent (well I might be, but I’ve not actually taught my own children), social worker, … you name it, we’ve probably had to do it as a teacher!

It’s dead, Jim

We’ve all had to let go of something at some point. That amazing lesson I planned that just didn’t work. That great idea that no one else got or agreed with.

And being a Science/Biology teacher… there can be a few other dead things in my class…

Make it so

Get out there and go for it! Ever had an idea, or come across someone who has done something that sounds amazing? Just get out there and go for it! Make it so! I probably haven’t done this enough as a teacher. It’s about stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something that may work perfectly or might flop.

Of course, we’ve always been told to have that back-up plan in case we need it!

Engage

This seems like an obvious connection to teaching. Engage! Student engagement. But actually, for me this is also about teacher engagement. Not only do we need to encourage student engagement and student ownership of their learning, but we need to own our teaching! We need to be engaged in what we’re doing. If it’s not engaging to us, I can just about guarantee that it’s not engaging to our students. If we’re not engaged in what we’re teaching, then why would our students be engaged in it?

This is an area that was quite clear in my MEd research as well!

Tea, Earl Grey, Hot (Captain Picard) … Coffee, black (Captain Janeway)

 

We’ve all got our drink of choice after a long day, or just to get through the day! Mine was Coke (of course I’m currently celebrating 9 months without it so far this year!) Many teachers always have a coffee or cup of tea to drink. Others stick to water.

Live long and prosperLeonard Nimoy Spock Dies - President Obama Statement

Finally, probably the most well known Star Trek quote, and a tribute to the great Leonard Nimoy. Live long and prosper.

As a teacher we need to look after ourselves. Don’t burn ourselves out. Take time out and relax without thinking of your students (if that’s ever possible). It’s so easy to focus on the job always, but it’s not necessarily a wise thing to do.

Yes, enjoy your job. Be passionate! Have fun with your students.

But… enjoy yourself. Spend quality time with your family. Have some “me” time.

I don’t have anything worth sharing! YES YOU DO!!!

So often when we’re wanting to blog we have a block. We feel like we don’t have anything worth sharing, or we think that all we’ve done is really obvious.

Well… Have a watch of this video (about 2 minutes)

Now what do you think? What’s obvious to you might be amazing to someone else!

I remember when I first presented at Ulearn back in 2010. My colleague and I shared some stuff that was based around web tools that we had been using for ages and were kind of assuming that everyone already knew about them. Boy were we wrong! There was so much opportunity for new learning to go on during that workshop! It was exciting!

So get writing! Share what you’re doing and don’t worry what others think or do. You never know… What you share might change the life (or perhaps teaching practice) of someone else!

Blogging – What’s in it for me?

LOGO - heads only (1)One of the challenges of the 2015 Connected Educator NZ #EdBlogNZ challenge is to write a post about why I blog professionally and what I blog about.

Many bloggers blog for hits, comments and an audience. While I do like those things, I blog first and foremost for me. Blogging gives me an opportunity to think about many facets of education, whether it be what’s going on in the news, what I’ve seen/heard at a conference or in a video, or reflecting on my own practice. Blogging helps me to clarify my own thoughts. Sometimes I can think about something for several days before I start writing. Other times I just jump straight in.

Blogging for me allows me to think and reflect on my practice and consider next steps. Sometimes the post might end up leaving me with more questions than answers—and this is fine. What I’ve learnt is that there is no right or wrong way to write a blog. Sometimes I feel like my blog posts come together nicely, and are worded well. Other times they feel like a jumble of random thoughts. All is okay.

I think that if I try writing for others, my blog will be less successful and useful to myself and my practice.

This quote from Steve Mouldey’s blog, that he noted from a ICOT session by Karen Melhuish Spencer has challenged me a lot with my blogging (and in fact in a lot of the work I do),

As educators we are morally obliged to share our practice for the good of all students.

Blogging gives me a way to share my practice, thoughts and questions with the ultimate goal to question and/or improve my practice (and perhaps that of others) to benefit our students.

The other part of blogging for me is the reading of other educator’s blogs. I have learnt so much and continue to do so. I’m often challenged by what I read, making me think further and sometimes another blog post comes from this also.

The rise of #EdBlogNZ

Blog

Many of you will have noticed the hashtag #EdBlogNZ starting to gain a bit of momentum recently due to some great promotion from the likes of amazing connected educators such as Sonya van Schaijik (@vanschaijik) and Alex Le Long (@ariaporo22), but perhaps you’re wondering how it started.

I enjoy reading teacher blogs and have done for over 5 years now. I’ve used in the past my trusty Google Reader, Flipboard, Feedly, Blogtrottr and now I use Inoreader (RSS reader). However, as new and different edubloggers come along, they don’t get automatically added to my RSS reader, so I miss them.

I was using the edchatNZ hashtag to try to capture these new blogs, however some days that twitter stream runs hot and the blog posts are easily missed in the constant chatter. Fantastic that the chat is going on, but I wanted to capture those blog posts.

So I thought – we need a way to identify what is a blog in twitter, and hence the EdBlogNZ hashtag was born. I started it quietly, at the end of July 2014, tagging my own blog posts with it.

It didn’t really catch on. For over a month I tweeted using the hashtag. Had a couple of retweets but no one else noticed until…

Woohoo! Someone noticed! Not surprisingly it was Annemarie!!!

On that same day, September 6 2014, we saw two others share blogs with #EdBlogNZ!!! And it has started to grow from there with more and more people slowly picking up on the hashtag. Connected Educators Month NZ 2014 helped a bit, as well as quite a few tweets like this one:

Recently, thanks to awesome support from Sonya and Alex, we have expanded EdBlogNZ into a blog site that currently links to anyone who shares a blog post using the hashtag. Check out the blog: EdBlogNZ. Sonya has been compiling a spreadsheet of NZ educator bloggers for some time and this has been included in the blog.

EdBlogNZ also now has a twitter account: @EdBlogNZ. We plan on using this and the blog to set up some blogging challenges, likely to start off during the upcoming Connected Educators NZ. Look out for the challenges and follow us!

I’m really looking forward to where this takes us and am excited that #EdBlogNZ has finally really started to take off! Now I just have to keep up with all these awesome professional teacher blogs and bloggers!

Professional blogging for beginners—a reflection

For Connected Educator Month this year I thought it would be good to step out of my comfort zone a little and present a short webinar with someone I’ve never met before! So I contacted Alex Le Long (@ariaporo22) a few weeks ago and asked if she was interested to present on blogging. She was! Step one complete.

We had a quick Google Hangout where we talked for the first time ever virtually (other than through Twitter) and semi-planned out the session. There might have been a slight “wing it” attitude from both of us but we were a bit more prepared than that. Step two complete.

Stepping out a bit further we decided to run a Hangout on Air. I’ve used Adobe Connect a lot to run training sessions etc, but hadn’t actually used Hangouts on Air, so whether this was a good idea or not we were going to find out! In the end it seemed to work okay except that it seemed that the audience that we knew were there weren’t really a part of the session except through the odd question in the Q&A panel.

All in all it was an interesting experience and the recording of the session is available on YouTube (and embedded at the end of this blog post).

What did I learn? It’s good to try something new and once again step out of our comfort zone. Google Hangouts might not be the best “webinar” tool but it is definitely usable. And it’s fun to do something with someone you’ve only met through Twitter!

I’m looking forward to meeting Alex during the next few days at Ulearn in Rotorua!

If you want to watch the webinar, here it is.

Monday Mentions: 4 August 2014

BlogCheck out my favourite blog posts from the past week.

  1. Schools that work for kids by Eric Sheninger from the blog A Principal’s Reflections. In this post Eric reflects on his son and his technology use at home and relates that back to a school situation, stating that the structure of many schools is at odds to the world our children are growing up in.
  2. Why are more teachers not sharing their practice? by Steve Mouldey from the blog Steve Mouldey: Emergent Reflections of a Secondary Teacher. I know I shared a post from Steve last week but this, to me, is such an important question to consider.
  3. HPSS and Seven Sharp – The School Behind the Soundbite by Claire Amos from Teaching and E-learning. TV current affairs show did a segment on Hobsonville Point Secondary School (HPSS) looking at the modern learning environment and practices that the students learn in. Overall it was very good. Claire takes this and expands on what a school week is like at HPSS to show that the normal stuff people expect from school is still covered within the project work they are doing. This is a great post for anyone interested in seeing how a brand new school operates within and MLE, using modern practices.