Reflections on another amazing year (2013)

Last year I made my list of aspirations and goals  that I felt was ambitious and unattainable in the time frame.  Here is the link if you missed it.  I must admit I did take on too much last year and came skidding into the summer holidays tired and a bit worn out.

Teaching offers so many amazing directions if you are open to them. I believe the journey is more important than the destination.  I could not have possibly imagined the direction some of my aspirations took me last year.  A new year and I am acting Head Teacher of TAS (Technology for those outside Australia) for Term 1 with the opportunity to make the position permanent early next term. This is the story of another amazing year for me. Thankyou for reading on my reflections of the year that was 2013.

Here is my original list with reflection on what happened in 2013:
1. Reboot, improve and gamify my Food Product Development project with World Food Quest 2022.

What happened: Tick done

  • Well I spent a lot of time creating how to videos to explain how gamification relates to the food product development project. Students were given much more time  in class to work on this project.
  • It was a big success and I am preparing to deliver this to Food Technology this term.

2. I am in the fifth year of teaching and I am always looking for ways to teach the art of cooking. I have restructured our Food Technology program’s for the new semester courses in stage 5. The main goal is to make the teaching and learning more student centred.

What Happened: Getting there

  • Changing from  term based courses to semester based courses has helped to change and make the learning more student centred, however, I still think I have quite a way to go.

3. I am involved in a GAT extension and enrichment project for our top year 7 classes, cross faculty. This is a very exciting as we will also be involved in creating a new learning space in our library which will be gutted and re imagined as a flexible learning space. I have a semester based Food Miles project based learning project. The team encompasses teachers from every faculty in the school and we will create cross faculty projects in the second semester.

What Happened: Tick done and ongoing

  • Well early term 2 our open learning area was complete. Each member of our team collaborated together and we decided on a global citizenship driving question. I am a Project Based Learning (PBL) Newbie and attended Bianca Hewe’s PBL swap meet at the Powerhouse museum.
  • 60 PBL enthusiasts in one room was an amazing experience and gave our team many new ways to set up our PBL for the Gifted and Talented (GAT) class.
  • Well how did it go??? Before I answer that I will say that working with a traditional timetable meant each teacher taught the class in isolation and it was very hard to have  common expectations for the students. The first week was an absolute write off and we started again. Once the students got going students we ended up with some excellent projects. It was a very messy process and this pilot program has paved the way for whole grade PBL in our school.
  • At the end of the year I was very fortunate to go to Adelaide to visit 3 schools that have gone down the whole school PBL route.  We went to Mark Oliphant College to their first conference which featured Stephen Heppel, then on to the world summit at the Australian Maths and Science school attached to Flinders University. Birdwood High school in the Adelaide hills particularly impressed us by the way they transformed their traditional teaching by taking each year and allowing them to design and transform an area in the school.  Five teachers are in the learning area at any time. They create cross curricular authentic PBL experiences  for their students.  Half the day is taken up working in teams to complete their projects. Traditional explicit classes are used for students to learn their “needs to know” to complete group projects. This has inspired Cromer Campus’s bold new direction. This is extremely exciting direction and at the time of writing is working extremely well.

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4. When I found Edmodo in 2010 I fell in love. I saw the potential across the school and established the school sub domain in 2011. This is my big whole school project. I am joined by a very passionate team of teachers from most faculties and we have worked with teachers and students across the whole school. This year we will bringing parents in to the Edmodo sub domain, migrate the school student folders over, establish links with our feeder primary schools, establish Edmodo mentors across the school, promote whole school projects through Edmodo, complete setting up the district sub domain for our college structure and continue to develop the Cromer Campus Edmodo training website.

What Happened: Ongoing

  • Edmodo usage in our school has increased for students and teachers. I continued my project and our team have brought parents into the Edmodo sub domain and establishing Edmodo mentors. We established links with learning support in the feeder primary schools, however, we were not allowed to use Edmodo to transfer sensitive student information. I was not able to finishing setting up the college sub domain at the end of last year. 

5. Discovering Teach Meets last year was such a revelation and I attended 4 excellent events. I love the concept of the ” unconference” with motivated teachers from all systems sharing what works in their classrooms with 2 and 7 minute slots. I will organise with a close friend a Teach meet through our college at our Freshwater Campus in term 2.

What Happened: Tick done

  • We had an awesome Teachmeet called Teachmeet Seachange and are currently planning another one for term 2 2014.  Check out the post on our Teachmeet here.

6. I am very passionate about professional development for other staff and have introduced the concept of having 2 teach meet style presentations each staff meeting. Our first staff meeting did not go well as we ran out of time. I am adamant that this will work with different timing within the staff meeting.
I believe in sustainable PD utilising the talents of our own staff and people in our region and moving towards E learning for some PD to allow access to training anytime anywhere on any device.

What Happened: Big Flop

  • We trialled this, however, it did not go very well because we have afternoon meeting and most people were not happy staying longer for Professional development. This was very disappointing.

7. The laptop program for the DEC finishes this year and I have been dabbling with mobile learning using QR codes, web 2.0 tools and apps like socrative to make my classes more student centred.
I am interested in building a program for BYO devices in the next couple of years to ensure the continuation of the cool ICT that is happening in our school.

What Happened: Ongoing

  • We have been using our laptops with a Google chrome browser which has been working well. This is evolving and will be an ongoing concern.

8. I have used my I phone to take food photos in my classes last year and using Animoto to create engaging presentations that have been shared via Edmodo. Jeanette James setup an innovative idea using Instagram. to read more click here.
This year I will establish the food@Cromer Campus through Instagram to promote student achievement to the world.

What Happened: Tick done

  • Well this took 4 months to convince the principal that this was a great idea. Check it out here. I am continuing to promote this to our students and the Food at community is building thanks to Jeannette James.

9. Twitter has become my social media tool of choice for building a cohesive PLN and I will increase my PLN by 20% this year. If you have not setup your Professional Learning Network then I would highly recommend you do.

What Happened: Tick done

  • What I should have done at the start of the year was place the number of followers and following in my Twitter profile. I have grown my network by more than 20%. I love Twitter and use it daily to communicate with my PLN and share and receive links and resources. 

10. Something I have not spoken about on this blog is my desire to become a Head Teacher of TAS. I have worked in Hospitality for 20 years and run 5 restaurants as head chef. I have spent last year participating in whole school projects to get more understanding of how the whole school operates and i am ready to lead my own team.
A big focus for me this year is to write an education resume (this is a very different résumé to anything I have done in the past). I would like to start applying for a Head Teacher positions by the end of the year.

What Happened: Almost

  • As I write this I am acting Head Teacher of TAS and I am enjoying the steep learning curve and challenges of my new adventure. I have avoided writing my educational resume where ever I could. I have started writing because the position will come up soon. I am hoping that this will become a permanent position.

12. In the Christmas holidays I setup a scoop it account to dabble with digital curation. I find digital curation intriguing and need to tweak the search functions to find quality blogs to post about technology in the classroom. I really want to contribute more to my PLN across Edmodo and Twitter

What Happened: It has changed

  •  Scoopit was too much work and I found something much more sustainable for me.I have also found an I pad app called Zite which is an excellent way of finding quality blogs and resources which I share on Twitter.

13. I really enjoy blogging and will develop my blog by posting at least once a month and adding my digital curation to a page on my blog.

What Happened: Sometimes

  • I love blogging and yes I have not been able to maintain it as much as I would have liked. This is definitely and ongoing challenge

14. Finding the work/ home balance is always a challenge. I have a gorgeous 2-year-old, 5 month year old and a loving wife. I am enjoying the advantages of being a teacher and will get home at a reasonable hour each night to spend time with my family.

What Happened: Sometimes

  • I have  been home at 5.30pm most nights for dinner and to bathe the kids. I love family life and I hope my family realise that I am a perfectionist and to attempt this takes a lot of work.  This is something I think I can do better.

15. I am in my third year of Peer Coaching and I am excited that both my learning partners agreed they would like to continue this year. There is an opportunity this year to upgrade my qualification to facilitator which will allow me to train Peer Coaches across our whole college. . For more on Peer Coaching type peer coaching into the search box of this blog.

What Happened: Fail

  • With everything going on with PBL peer coaching has died at our school for the moment. I still will revive this hopefully this year as this approach to Professional development is awesome.

16. Like every other year many new opportunities come along and I will embrace them as they come along.

If you are still reading this thankyou for sharing my learning journey reflections for the year that was 2013.   Feel free to comment on this post.

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