IEP – Where is the individual?

This post is a reflection on the IEP (individual education plan) meeting I attended for my son recently. I don’t mean any of this as a criticism of the school, but simply as observations and a reflection from my perspective as a parent (and yes, as an educator).

The first thing was (and to be honest, I thought of this before the meeting), where was my son’s invitation to attend the meeting? Surely, if we’re looking at his education plan then he should be involved – especially by Year 7. He may or may not have much to contribute, but he should be given the opportunity. I did actually ask him if he would like to attend, but as he was already home, sick, he decided he’d rather stay in the warm house! If he had already been at school, I might have asked for him to attend. I really think it’s important that the child attend these meetings to bring the focus back to learning rather than what will the teachers do all the time. The child then also knows what is going on and was a part of the decision making. As it turned out it was more about “this is what we want for him” and “this is what we (the school) will do to make it happen”.

The second thing was that as the parent, I felt that I should have been invited to speak first. This was possibly just an oversight, but I do believe the parent (if not the child) should be invited to speak first in this type of meeting. The reason I feel this way is that otherwise the school staff drive the conversation and concerns of the family get relegated to the end rather than brought out at the start.

Thirdly, education jargon needs to go. Yes you’re in a room full of educators, but most parents are not. Not everyone understands what a stanine is or what “5b” means in relation to asTTle. I did, but they didn’t know I was in education until I pointed it out later on.

Interestingly, my son had his goal-setting interview the day before the IEP meeting. I would have thought, therefore, that his goals would have been a part of his IEP. But this was not the case. It seemed to me to be more focused on what the teachers would do. Yes, it was to help raise his achievement in various aspects and support him, but there was no onus on him to do anything.

Finally, don’t rush. An IEP meeting is not one that you should rush through. These are important decisions being made about the future of a child. As a teacher, it might not be the only child you need to consider, but for the parent in the room, right then, their child is the most important person on the planet. Rushing can make it feel like you don’t want to be there or that the meeting is just a bit more of a bother for you.

A delightful way to teach kids about computers

I really enjoyed this TEDx talk by Linda Liukas. In it she shares her passion for coding, including how she realised she has been coding her whole life through, for example, learning the patterns of a language or learning to knit.

She says that we need…

to not see computers as mechanical and lonely and boring and magic, to see them as things that they can tinker and turn around and twist, and so forth.

 [ted id=2417 lang=en]

The kids of today, they tap, swipe and pinch their way through the world. But unless we give them tools to build with computers, we are raising only consumers instead of creators.

We often hear in education that we need to be creators and not consumers of technology. That means that we need to give our students opportunities to be creative and not just do the same kind of stuff all the time. Our students need the chance to think. They need to be questioned to help stretch their thinking. They need to be given the tools and support to make some of their dreams and ideas become a reality.

Programming gives me this amazing power to build my whole little universe with its own rules and paradigms and practices. Create something out of nothing with the pure power of logic.

The quiet learner

This post is part of the #EdBlogNZ 2016 Challenge for the bonus Leap Day challenge. The challenge was to “stretch yourself and create an audio or video post about a passion of yours”.

I have focused on being an introvert and a learner. My audio recording is below and beneath this is a transcript of the recording.

Transcript

 

introverts uniteIn a group I can feel isolated. I can feel alone.

Sometimes I can feel more alone in a group than when I’m on my own.

Words wash around me, over me, through me.

I might have something good to say. Something relevant to the conversation. But it’s too late. I didn’t speak up in time. The time has passed. The conversation has moved on.

I might be questioned on the topic. I had something to say, but now I’ve been put on the spot. My mind is blank. My thought has gone. And now I feel even more alone. People are waiting for a response and I have no words to speak.

Talk with me one on one. Give me time to think and to process and we can have an in-depth conversation. Don’t bother with small talk though, I can’t keep that up. I’ll answer your questions about the weather or about what I do. But they will be short and to the point.

Engage me with my passions and I can talk with you. In fact, I might not shut up.

You see, I’m an introvert. I value my own thoughts and my own space. I don’t need to be alone, but I don’t need constant attention.

When I was at school, I hated being put on the spot by my teachers. I might know the answer or be able to respond, but as soon as my name was called, it was gone. My stomach would start to churn. My face would go red. I appeared as if I didn’t know anything. It was unfair.

Yet, I found myself doing this as a teacher.

Why?

Because I hadn’t understood my own personality. I hadn’t understood my introversion.

I despised group activities as a student. If it was only with one other person, I could manage. But with a larger group I felt my voice could not be heard.

However, I found my way with working online. Put me in a collaborative doc, and I can contribute. My voice can be heard. Throw me into a fast-paced Twitter stream and I will love every moment. I’m in a crowded online space yet physically I’m on my own. I am happy, I am learning, I am contributing and I’m engaged.

 

Image source: Joe Wolf, Flickr – CC BY-ND 2.0

Breaking down the walls

2016-02-27 12.18.40I spent today at EducampWelly. It was about 5 hours of educators having the opportunity to share and discuss all things education – what’s on top for them. I always love these events because you see the real passion of teachers come out, especially since they have made the decision themselves to use up one day in their weekend to continue to grow and develop for the benefit of their students… our children!

The thing that stood out to me is how in so many ways at the moment, schools are trying to break down walls.

  • Breaking down walls of their classroom (sometimes literally) and reimagining what learning is, how, where and when it can take place.
  • Breaking down the school fence/gate and getting out into the community; encouraging two-way communication and engagement between what goes on inside the school and outside it.
  • Breaking down the silos of subject teaching – integrating more across subjects (particularly at secondary) and reimagining assessment.
  • Breaking down the barriers between the various sectors; realising that all sectors can have something to offer to all others – early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary.

That last one was the big one for me today. It was so good to see a range of educators from across the sectors.

Let’s keep breaking down the walls and continue to engage, discuss and learn from one another.

Monday Mentions: 18 August 2014

Check out my favourite blog posts from the past week.

  1. On the Importance of Commenting on Blog Posts… by Alex Le Long from Evolution and Imagination. Alex gives us a good reminder that we need to be commenting on other blogs. I know for me that I love comments and sometimes get them on Twitter instead of the blog post. It’s nice, but feels more permanent if attached to the post.
  2. Let’s Booktrack by Allanah King from Life is not a race to be first finished. Allanah blogs about the Booktrack app. I had a look at this at the Education Festival earlier in the year and could see some really good benefits in this. Worth a read.
  3. UDL at the dentist by Chrissie Butler from The CORE Education Blog. This is a great blog post about Universal Design for Learning from an unexpected experience at the dentist. If you want to see a practical example of UDL check it out.

Monday Mentions: 11 August 2014

BlogCheck out my favourite blog posts from the past week.

  1. Managing change in your school – What is missing? by Leigh Hynes from the blog Hynessight. This post highlights some of the challenges that come about due to change in a school (or anywhere). If you haven’t considered each of the five parts of change management then stress can easily build amongst staff.
  2. Pond and Copyright: negotiating the waters by Chris South from the N4L Blog. I’m sharing this post for a couple of reasons. Firstly, as Pond continues to develop, it’s useful to know how N4L/Pond is dealing with copyright infringements and what our responsibility as educators is. Secondly, the N4L blog is a useful one to follow to keep up-to-date with what is going on with N4L, the Managed Network and of course Pond.
  3. Five Good Resources for Teaching Digital Safety and Citizenship to Elementary School Students by Richard Byrne from the blog Free Technology for Teachers. Richard shares a range of useful digital citizenship resources for you to use with your students.

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.

Smarter Everyday

I’ve recently come across this YouTube channel: Smarter Every Day.

I’m not going to write much about it because I think the videos speak for themselves, however in a nutshell, the host has a question to answer and heads out to answer it through videos (including high-speed), interviews etc.

These are the two videos that first grabbed my attention.

How Fish Eat (Parts 1 & 2)

And just to whet your appetite a bit more, a cat video (that’s why we use the internet isn’t it?)—yeah, I know some won’t like that he’s experimenting on animals, but we know they land on their feet. The question is… Why? Lots of physics learning in this video!

There are a huge number of videos on his channel and he has over 1.7 million subscribers! The videos can be used in a wide range of educational contexts or even just to inspire kids to question and investigate more!

Monday Mentions: 28 July 2014

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a Monday Mentions blog post. I decided last week I need to reinstate it.

Monday Mentions is when I pick my favourite blog posts to share from the past week. Usually 3-5 of them.

So here they are for this week:

VPLD/FFI Hui

I’ve been lucky enough to attend the Virtual Professional Learning and Development/Future Focused Inquiry two-day hui in Auckland over the last couple of days as an observer (I say observer but as much as was possible I was an active “observer”. It was a privileged to be able to attend and meet a lot of awesome people, grow my network and learn heaps of what VPLD and FFI is! To be able to finish the second week of my new job at a hui such as this was awesome!

Anyway… there were a lot of great presentations and many amazing stories shared throughout the two days. I’m just going to pick the 5 things that really stood out to me.

  1. Probably the biggest thing that stood out to me was Suzi Gould summing up the somewhat complicated teaching as inquiry model into three words that somehow ended up with becoming four: ask — seek — change — reimagine. Ask and keep asking. Inquiry starts from questioning. Seek information from students, whanau, colleagues etc. Change, and to change you must take action. And as part of this, reimagine. It’s important to imagine and be creative and to continue to do so.
  2. Heather Eccles talked about needing to go outside of our comfort zone and our perspectives to get answers/solve problems we may have. As educators, this means we sometimes might need to not only talk with other educators/teachers to find solutions but talk to those outside of education. Outsiders can often have a very different perspective and bring new ideas to a situation.
  3. Catriona Pene shared about digital mihi. She talked about why you would share your mini, and that is in order to make connections with those you are with or presenting to, give a sense of identity and also credibility. She stated that sharing a digital mihi allows a bit more information to be shared in the form of pictures, videos or animations. Creating a digital mini is something that I have planned to do this year, but have not quite gotten myself organised with. We were given the opportunity to work on these during the session, so I’ve made a little progress and aim to be finished early next week. Watch this space!!!
  4. We heard about the 3 brains of leadership from Margaret Lamont who reminded us that following our heart and having those gut feelings/hunches can be just as valid as well thought through ideas.
  5. The final thing that really stuck with me was from Afoa? (please if I have this incorrect, tell me!) who talked about the idea of it ‘taking a village to raise a child’. He described how the Samoan chiefs in the Matai system when meeting each sit at a pillar. This is representative of the chiefs all being required to support, hold up and lead the village. What this means though is that the historically the chiefs are required to think and the others to do what is required. We need to encourage Pasifika students and families that it is okay to think for themselves. Afoa left us with learning the word, lotogatasi and broke it down into it’s parts to define it: loto=heart; lalaga=weave; tasi=together.

lotogatasi = hearts woven into one

Finally, I must share this video reminding us all to BE MORE DOG. Sounds a bit odd, but have a watch and think about the meaning behind it.

Enjoy!