Thursday, 27 July 2017

Changing horses

Over the last couple of days, as a staff, we have been having professional learning about Careers/Pathways education, so that we can advise our hublings and help them to think about a wide range of possible futures. This has started me thinking about my own career, and those of others my age, who are in a world where things are changing in a way we are the least likely to understand. 

In the last year or so I have been morphing from an English teacher into a History and Classics one. It has been (and still is) a huge change for me as I feel that I just don't have the depth of subject knowledge that my colleagues in this school, or in those subject areas in other schools, have. As an experienced teacher, I feel quite challenged by not really knowing what I need to know, and realise that it will take me a long time to gain the depth to feel confident about facilitating my students into and through big stakes assessments.

At the same time, one of the facts that we learned at our professional learning is that typically, on average, millennials spend between nine and twelve months in a job. When employers are talking about longer retention, they are talking in terms of 18 months being good. (What?! I feel so old...)

How do I fit my concept of long-term learning and continuous development into a format that my hublings will ever be able to use? And how do I look at myself and what I do as not being completely out of sync with the way things are in the world.

I think there are some things that apply, whatever stage of ones career we might be at, and whatever generation we belong to:
  • Be prepared for continuous change - in my case, it is very slow, over a long period of time. For my hublings, it will be a lot quicker. But for each of us, it needs to be at a pace that we can assimilate. The point is to acknowledge that it will happen, and therefore to make sure that for each of us, it will proceed in a way that is planned and advantageous to us - not just to wake up and find that change has happened and either we don't know what to do now, or we have been left behind.
  • Be prepared that it might not work - my husband last year left the Armed Forces after a very long career; lots of different roles but the same organisation throughout. He moved into the commercial sphere. He knows that the move was the right thing, and the job that he has had since that point has been an excellent introduction to that outside world. But, it has been challenging, and stressful, and it may well not be the right place to stay. Looking at the stats that our Pathways Leader (Careers teacher) was telling us, maybe he should be moving on. Maybe he needs to take this experience and learn from it, and look for something not quite the same. Understanding that something is not quite right, is not the right fit, is not failure. If it doesn't work, it is a learning experience, and moving on without making it work is actually okay.
  • Be happy - my job is stressful, and full-on, and I really am not making things easier for myself by taking on new roles and study in addition to my everyday teaching (which isn't everyday at the best of times anyway). But I love it. I want to learn more, I want to be involved more, I want what I do to make a real difference. I came back to teaching three years ago for financial reasons, and I really feel that if I had not found a niche where I can be excited about what I do, I would not still be here. And I also feel that if the excitement isn't there, then it is the wrong place to be, whatever your career, but especially in Education!
The saying goes "don't change horses mid-stream", which means once you have made a decision, you should stick to it. But I don't think this is true any longer. I think that the parameters that are in place at any given point of one's career are not fixed forever, and so as our priorities, our understanding, our interests, and our circumstances all change, so we should actually be prepared to make the leap from one horse to the other, even if it doesn't seem like the safest thing to do.

What do you think? What other ideas do you have that I can explain to my hublings at the same time as I assimilate it myself? Is the idea of a career a completely unrealistic, dead thing? Let me know...

#hpsschool  #continuouslearning  #careerforlife?  

Saturday, 25 March 2017

I made a thing!

I've been wanting to get my hublings to do some serious thinking. And I would like at the same time to let other people know what is important to me. I've been wanting to do that for a while now.

I have several friends who are facebook activists, and they do a good job of putting lots of provoking articles into my feed - some of those I ignore, but a lot of them start me thinking about what is important to me, and why I feel that way.

The only problem is, for me, facebook is a place for keeping in touch with my friends, and being social - I don't feel comfortable with swamping my friends with things. Apart from photos of the Toads, of course.

So this morning, I was thinking. I have been using my hub's google classroom to put things in, but that's only good so far. They can read it but no-one else can. What might be a way I could spread things wider? I thought about starting another blog, but then I thought I'd try something different. Does a webpage go further than a blog? Who knows? Not me.

As a staff we were told about the 'new' google sites thing at the start of the year; that it was easier to use than the old one. I had had a play with the old one before, but my technological-challenged-ness didn't get very far with that. 

I tried the new one. I built a website! With two pages on it! And I think I can add more as I go ... hmm, I'll have to keep playing.

It was actually pretty easy, even for me. There are some things that don't quite work, like it doesn't have the ability to put a comments box in. But I have put my hub down as editors, so they at least should be able (theoretically) to put their thinking in. The rest of you will have to wait until google updates things. 

It does look cool. I hope you like it.

Tracey's Propaganda Pages

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Hermann's and my brains

It's the first week back in classes (well, it was when I started this... ) and I am meeting my hublings as a group for the first time. Some of them know me well and some are new this year, so we all need to learn about each other at the same time as we learn about ourselves and our learning.

As a tool, I have used the Hobsonville Point modified version of Herrmann's Brain analysis which calls the four sectors strategising, organising, imagining and relating. Each of us used a set of cards to find out what sort of characteristics we have in our learning, me included, and made a pie chart showing the different aspects of our personalities.

As you can see, I am strong in organising, can do some strategising, and am not so great at relating and imagining. This is not a judgement about my character or anything, it is simply a screenshot of how my brain works at the moment, and it shows me where I have strengths, as well as the things that I can be working on.  I can also relate this to other things that I know about myself - like the fact that my desk is either beautifully tidy and colour-coordinated, or it is carnage; or that I know I am extremely introverted, so relating for me only happens easily on a small group or individual basis - and from there I can set some goals going forward.

At Hobsonville Point, we have modified the traditional Herrmann's Brain four quadrants to align with the learning that our students do in hub, so that our hub curriculum is structured like this:
The four quadrants reflect the original Herrmann's Brain model, but we have also added in the communicating idea as a central hub, and surrounded the whole lot with our Hobsonville Habits, which are the dispositions we need to make all of the other things happen.

My own goals for the year will be very much around the relating strand, both carrying on from my teaching inquiry from last year, as well as extending my practice in other ways. I feel I should also be doing something in the imagining direction, but there are so many truly creative types at our school that I feel a bit overawed, and I need to put the formal learning (which would be where my imagining strengths are) on hold while I sort out a few other important things. Maybe next year...

Anyway, my students have also been formulating goals based around what they have learned about themselves doing this exercise. They have used the hub learning objectives and built their own goal statements using the generic hub curriculum ones; so for example if they are not so good at evidencing their work in hub they might have chosen the last LO and modified it to read: to GENERATE by communicating my learning through my blog more. (I don't think anyone has actually done that one; as a group, my hub feel they do plenty of blogging, thank you very much). 

The whole point of this is that it is a tool, one of a range of many, and we are using it in combination with other tools to think about our learning. This meta-learning is really what this is all about - if we understand how we learn, and why certain kinds of learning work for us, we can make our learning more successful. At the same time, we can work out strategies to make the types of learning that we find challenging less so. After all, in life, things are not going to be presented in the way that we find easiest or best, whether that be in the workplace or elsewhere, and so we need to know tools that will help us make sense of what we are coming up against, so that we can make it work for us. 

If my hublings are learning that from this exercise, then they are learning a whole lot more than just how to answer questions. I am too.