Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Task ten: Where I am, where I'm going

I'll start at the end. I've signed on at Unitec to complete a Masters in Applied Practice, and am currently waiting to hear back about a Study Support Grant for 2016. I have a few ideas in mind at this time about a thesis, but I'm considering how to examine the effectiveness of my school's personalised learning program. I've spoken to the program head at Unitec about further study at the conclusion of a Masters as well. After years of thinking about it, Mindlab has opened the door to further study for me and has given me the confidence to pursue my own learning. It's helped me explore where my real interests lie within education, and think about where my career is going. 

This has been the result of 32 weeks where I've had to reflect on my values, practice, pedagogy and ambitions. It's been a struggle at times to step back and honestly critique myself within the wider teaching context, and more than once I've found myself complaining at change with the poisonous phrase "But this is how we've always done it!" Overcoming that internalised resistance to change and trying radically new ways of teaching, e.g. the flipped learning that made up the core of my DCL assessments, has opened me up to new opportunities.

My DCL assessments allowed me to develop in criteria 6 and 8, and critically evaluate the challenged and rewards that come with flipped learning. 

"Miss, I've been able to take photos!"
Whilst I felt that employing flipped learning wholesale in my teaching was too difficult, I have continued to use the model in some areas of teaching and have found it to be a powerful tool in my teaching arsenal.

My LDC assessments gave me the opportunity to consider my own role as a changemaker within the school and whanau community, and has encouraged me to step up into leading learning contexts. I am on the inquiry framework working group, overhauling our school's system for next year, and the Mindlab course has given me lots of ideas and tools for how to move this process forward. Design thinking in particular has been of great help in this work, which relates to criteria 1, 4, 5, 7, and 12. 

My coursework hit a rough spot just after the conclusion of the Mindlab-based learning, where I had an accident that prevented me from writing anything and badly affected my grades. I considered asking for a deferment on my R&C assessments and the lit review in particular caused me some sleepless nights! Finding the reserves within myself to complete all my assessments within the extended timeframe and to have received such a good grade for my lit review was a validation that I can overcome personal adversity and not lose momentum in my studies. It was also the development of my ideas for this course that sealed my decision to continue and complete my Masters, something I had been considering for years but had lacked a clear idea about where to go with is. 
KDEC students taking part in a practical assessment. Mindlab has helped me restructure assessments to include everyone, without needing to create a different assessment as has been the school's expectation.

APC was a great opportunity to reflect on my professional values, practice and commitment to the wellbeing of my students and other teachers (Criteria 2, 3, 9, 10). When considering the questions around biculturalism it was reassuring to see how my values and praxis work to uphold the tenets of the Treaty and that I am on the right path of supporting and raising the achievement of my Maori, Pasifika, students of colour and disabled learners. 

I finish my Mindlab course a better teacher, a better learner, and ready to move my career forwards to better the experience of my students. It's been a privilege to do this course.  

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