Sunday, August 17, 2014

First steps towards digital collaboration

This week I ran a staff professional development session on how to set up a YouTube account and utilise this amazing resource.

I decided just to offer it as an after school activity for anybody that was interested. Taking the compulsory factor out of it and making it about staff making proactive choices about their own learning.  I had nearly every staff member present including our Principal!

No pressure Leanne!

My aim was to have everybody logged in and using YouTube to create playlists of resources that could then be shared with others. I found that some staff were using videos as resources already but were not using YouTube as a tool.

I had also created a Google site for the school. This holds the information from the session so that teachers can readily go back and find notes on how to do things.

One of my colleagues is a prolific user of YouTube and had never ever created a playlist before.  He was having the search the depths of his brain every time he wanted to re-watch or re-use a particular video.  In passing the next day we discussed the potential for connections and sharing within the team which then got us discussing sharing other types of resources too.  His playlists alone are going to be game-changers within the school.

And I guess that is the point I wanted to reflect on.  For me, presenting some information about how to set up a YouTube account was pretty straightforward.  As my colleagues 14yr old son said to me "so you basically taught them how to use YouTube? But that's so easy!". Well yes it is easy but actually to those who are new to the digital platform it is like reading a whole other language.  Their are new symbols along with new possibilities and I imagine the experience for some was quite overwhelming (in a good way). But what I have hopefully achieved through this small thing is opened a door towards more collaboration and sharing within the school. It may just be a very tiny opening to begin with, but I have plans in place for how to kick it open even wider.

Much kudos must go to the master of YouTube himself Jim Sill who inspired me at the GAFE summit in Auckland earlier this year. That man has so many playlists that I imagine Google created the "Ctrl f" search button just for him.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


I have just finished have learning conferences with students and their whanau and I am really pleased about how easy it was to talk openly about students learning with them.

Thinking back to the first round, I didn't know their children at all back then.  It was the third week of term and I had probably only just memorised everybody's name!  I was nervous about making judgements about what goals to make because I honestly did not know anything about what their potential needs were.

This time it was all about celebrating success, realising both strengths and weaknesses and looking to the future with commitment and excitement.

My biggest reflection was around the learning culture in our classroom.  We have become a learning whanau.  The learning that we do is collaborative.  The students have a tuakana-teina relationship in that we all learn from each other.  It is a safe place where everybody's voice is valued.

Which then got me thinking ahead to next year. The Year 4's move onto a different syndicate but will my Year 3's still get to be in the same class?  Is it more beneficial for them to stay together?  Do they need to branch out wider and work with more people in the syndicate?

So I brought the idea back to the key concept of why my class is my class - we are whanau.  Why break us up?  Let us start the new year welcoming younger children in to a well established classroom with an amazing learning culture.

Relationships, whakawhanaungatanga, for me is the foundation of education.