Learning spaces

This post has been written as part of the 2016 #EdBlogNZ Challenge for February which encourages participants to share a virtual tour of their learning space.

My own learning spaces

As I’m not currently teaching, I don’t have a classroom or learning space for my own students, however I do have my own personal learning spaces and this has made me think about what I find suitable for my own learning needs.

my workspace

In my “office” at home, which is really just a small corner of my bedroom, I have set up my desk, and a ridiculous number of devices and monitors. Okay… I’m sure some others have more, and to be honest I don’t always use them all at once. But this works for me. Yes, it’s my workspace, but I also do a lot of learning here as a part of my job.

2016-02-17 19.34.43

While my job sometimes takes me to work in various locations, I do have another space that I have used for both work and specifically learning. It’s a place that I find peaceful, calming and generally relaxing. I sit in my car and work/study with a view across the Wellington harbour. Even on an evening like today’s which is overcast, with a slight breeze (not even a Wellington breeze!), I can enjoy it.

What draws me to my learning spaces?

I’ve always liked my work or learning spaces to be as uncluttered as possible. I think I’m probably a little anal about this actually as I would often procrastinate when I was studying by tidying up my desk (although it honestly did help as I was able to calm down and focus more with the clutter gone)… And… I don’t know why I’m sharing this one… When I’m watching TV I can’t stand there being any mess around or anything visual that might distract me after a slight glance at it. Again, I tidy up the space and make sure none of the white backing on the curtains are showing (including the ones behind me because once I know…)

Actually I do know why I shared that. I have seen so many classrooms that are just full of clutter, whether it be stuff or colour. For me, this is distracting. I know it’s not the case for everyone, but there will definitely be some of our students who also find it distracting or possibly even over-stimulating.

Overall, I like the spaces in which I’m working/learning to be open and peaceful, with not too much noise or distraction.

What do my children like in their learning spaces?

I thought I’d ask my children what they prefer in their learning spaces/classrooms. I’ve got 5 of them, so I figured this was a reasonable sample size. 😉

Miss14 (Year 11) – prefers to lie on the floor; doesn’t like lots of people in one space; prefers an open space but not a big space; likes some things on wall but only if relevant; when lots of posters/student work on wall and/or with lots of colour, it can be distracting.

Mr10 (Year 7) – prefers to learn inside, at home; inside at a desk (at school); quiet space; computers; not lots of stuff like books – take up too much space; doesn’t like lots of clutter – too hard to work with and too hard to find stuff (low vision); lots of colour can be distracting.

Mr9 (Year 5) – prefers quiet, not many people around (personal space), likes sitting at a desk.

Mr7 (Year 4) – likes a lot of colour, quiet, sitting on a cushion.

Miss6 (Year 2) – likes lots of stuff around, teacher, not much stuff on the wall (also low vision), quiet, at desk.

Every teacher needs to consider their learning space and the students they have at that moment. Not all people can cope with a lot of stuff around. It can be visually exhausting or distracting. Some like music playing, others can’t focus with it. Some like sitting at a desk, others like sitting under desks, on a cushion, lying on the floor. It’s exciting to see more and more schools and teachers creating flexible learning spaces for their learners.

Guest post: Mike Buckham – Impact of the EdBlogNZ challenges

This guest post is written by fellow #EdBlogNZer, Mike Buckham, as part of the #EdBlogNZ 2015 Connected Educator challenge.

 

<– This guy 🙂

Follow Mike’s blog: MB@WORK.


 

My experience with the Edblognz challenges and the impact it has had on me

My experience with the Edblognz challenge has been nothing short of transformative. By participating in the challenge I have connected with other educators across the sector (ECE to Research) and this has re-invigorated my passion for learning and my part in the journey (my own and that of my students).

The impact? A massive (read, “possibly completely overwhelming” aka “Am I nuts!?”) learning journey has been sparked from the experience. I’ve connected with educators and ideas that have me thinking about more ‘big picture’ questions:

  • Is it possible to have a ‘unified field theory of education’? If so, what might that look like?
  • Should we stop talking about “21st C learning/education” and simply talk about future-focussed learning? What does that look like?
  • Does educational achievement equate to societal progress/success? Does this help us tackle the “wicked problems,” or create more ‘highly-educated fools’?
  • What is ‘achievement’ in a truly diverse and inclusive education system?
  • How do we define success, and who gets to define it? What biases are inherent in those definitions? How is our success then to be measured?
  • How do we deal with these challenges? Individually and collectively?
  • How do I bring all of that down to my kura/students and how do we move forward?

I don’t have the answers and probably never will. Maybe my students will carry on the journey for me. With a life-long journey there is always another horizon.

 


Thanks, Mike, for sharing your thoughts on this blog.

 

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.

Student engagement – An #EdBlogNZ Connected Educator challenge

This post has been published as part of the #EdBlogNZ Connected Educator 2015 challenge.

One of the challenges this week is to create a 1-2 minute video about an education topic that you are passionate about and post it on your blog.

An area that I’m passionate about and actually researched for my MEd is online student engagement. So I’ve focused this video on student engagement. The challenge is about stretching bloggers and getting them to give it a go… so here is my effort.

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!

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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!