The past few months have provided social connections, educational networking, headaches, controversial views on careers, and the odd eureka moment(s). While experience is the basis for learning, learning cannot take place without reflection (Osterman & Kottkamp, 1993). Initially, I dreaded this last part of the Mind Lab and the consequent blogging that came along with ‘Applied Practice in Context’ however, this was quick to change. I find myself agreeing with Schon (1981, cited in Osterman & Kottkamp, 1993) as the writing quickly “became a dialogue of thinking and doing through which I become more skillful”. The headaches, mentioned earlier, weren’t so much out of frustration or boredom but that moment where something enters our zone of proximal development. It bounces around our head, causing irritation based on the difficulties of new knowledge we are now facing. As suggested by Osterman and Kottkamp (1993) it are these difficulties that “motivate us to absorb new information”.
While the importance of being cyclical in our critical reflections was highlighted, I am cautious of falling back into the ‘same old regime’. The weekly blogging has provided a greater depth of the elements in my practice and made me re-conceptualise my future interactions, courses, and possibilities. Prior to this course, I was very much a lone-ranger in the realm of education. And I was happy with this. However, I now value the richness of connections, both locally and internationally, and the fuel they can provide to reignite our views on education. I experienced a strong behavioural change based on the evolution of my educational values and pedagogy which saw me promptly resign from my teaching position at Westlake Boys’ High School and take up an incredible opportunity at Rototuna Senior High School. It is only now that I see how clearly this aligns with Criteria 4 of the Practicing Teacher Criteria (PTC), ‘Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of personal professional practice’ (Ministry of Education, n.d.). My personal practice now is exponentially different to that of my personal practice 32 weeks ago. I thought I actively collaborated, but in hindsight, I was great at co-operating. I thought I used digital technologies, but in hindsight, I used email and Kahoot. While these seem like minor comparisons it is quite resounding how different my day-to-day practice has become. I strongly advocate student agency and choice in learning and I’ve always valued the power of feedforward but now the countless social channels through which I can build this constructive dialogue with akonga has broadened.
The Post Graduate Certificate in Applied Practice has had an intrinsic influence on my desire to undertake future studies.
This time a year ago, I couldn’t dream of co-teaching the rich modules I am now part of. My engagement with ‘Criteria 6: Conceptualise, plan, and implement an appropriate learning programme’ is in stark contrast to the isolated units I would have previously prepared. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not throwing my old practice under the bus. Upon reflection, I still feel like I planned and delivered some exceptional units with rich thematic links and depth of learning experiences; however, the depth of these lay purely in the context. I am in a very different context now. My growth within Criteria 6 relates directly to my growth with Criteria 4. Due to the personal professional development I have engaged with I have felt competent and motivated to rethink, plan and implement learning in a new way. I am fortunate that my educational setting at Rototuna Senior High School allows me to shape such learning. Being part of a co-teaching model, collaborative staff and innovative take on the NZC has allowed my experiences with Criteria 6 to look remarkably foreign to that of my practice 32 weeks ago. It excites me to think of how this may develop as teaching at RSHS continues.
Engaging in The Post Graduate Certificate in Applied Practice has had an intrinsic influence on my desire to undertake future studies. I am strongly invested in the power of collaboration in an educational system and have joined the RSHS Professional Development Committee, wanting to advocate akō in my practice. I am intrigued by the power within the New Zealand Curriculum and curious to see how we can better the diversity of assessment modes to authentically connect with the skills of akonga, grow their confidence, and enhance their passions. It is the unknown that motivates us, but the breadcrumbs of new experiences that keep us on the learning journey. Whilst I’ve digested a loaf of new experiences, I’m not full yet. My hunger for bettering my educational philosophies and growing the effectiveness of my practice is yet to be fully-satisfied. I am thankful for the Mind Lab providing this entrée of learning and await what will be the main course.
Ministry of Education (nd). Practising teacher Criteria and e-learning . Retrieved from http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/
Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993). Reflective Practice for Educators. California:Cornwin Press, Inc. Retrieved on 7th May, 2015 from http://www.itslifejimbutnotasweknowit.org.uk/files.