At the start of the year I set myself a goal to blog more regularly in order to hit the lofty target of 52 posts across the year. This post is the 52nd and I’m very proud to have made it. To wrap this up, I thought I would use this post to reflect on what I’ve written about. Scroling through, three main areas became clear to me…
Diversity – from Tolerance to Acceptance
This has been a massive year for equality movements globally and for me personally around this issue; however, I remain cynical about whether or not schools are moving quick enough to support sex, gender and sexual minority youth who are significantly at risk.
The biggest moment for me was the Seven Sharp story I was featured in back in April. The response was global with responses coming from far and wide, culminating in being published on Out Teacher – a UK website. The opportunities this produced for connections and networking can only be topped by the ripples the story has made – most of which I will never find out about – but the odd facebook message or private email from strangers suggests that this has made a real difference to a lot of people.
I am now thinking more and more about how to make change in this area, by exploring more about leadership and diversity, and looking forward to exploring this as part of a Core Education Dr Vince Ham e-Fellowship.
Closely related to diversity, a big shift for me this year has been the increasing opportunities to share through presenting. This has come in many forms, such as delivering the Safer Schools for All workshop in March and in July. More significant were the opportunities to present at three conferences:
- CTU – Out at Work Conference – ‘Changing Workplace Cultures‘
- Proud NZ – ILGA Oceania Human Rights Conference – ‘The Challenges and Opportunities of Creating Queer-Friendly Schools for All‘
- uLearn16 – ‘Reframing Gender in Education‘
These have been really special highlights for me. In particular uLearn16 where the feedback was so receptive and warm – with many following up for more information afterwards. The other area I’ve been able to share is through writing regularly for the PPTA News. Some of those articles I’ve blogged as well:
- Reconstructing Social Norms – Inside Out Resource
- Books Review: Sexual Cultures in Aotearoa, New Zealand
- Reform and Reaffirm Diversity
My next step this year is sharing more of what I’m doing in my classroom: reframing assessment in a curriculum driven multi level environment. I’ve evaluated how this have progressed this year, but I would like to share this work further so more voices can contribute to the development of this approach.
The Echo Chamber
Possibly the most significant challenge that I took away from uLearn16 was from Karen Spencer’s keynote. This was a conference where Larry Rosenstock and Michael Fullen presented, so I was fairly surprised that the keynote that stuck with me the most was homegrown. Titled ‘Beyond the Echo Chamber’ the challenge was to look for people that disagree with you, to go slowly into innovation, and to find the urgency based on what the students really need. This stuck such a chord with me because I tend to experiment the next day when it comes to reading about a new idea. But the challenge here is in order for change to be deep and significant, it needs to have a robust process in behind it.
So how can I look outside the echo chamber? I’ve been very lucky this year to have read some powerful books which are helping me to understand different perspectives and challenging my assumptions:
- NCEA in Context – Rosemary Hipkins, Michael Johnston & Mark Sheehan
- What Great Teachers Do Differently – Part One & Part Two – Todd Whitaker
- Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School – Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullen
Furthermore, I’ve attended several presentations that have helped challenge my thinking as well:
- Growth Mindset Workshop – Carol Dweck and Susan Mackie
- A Lifespan Perspective on Bullying – Vanessa Green
- Teaching in a Modern Learning Environment – Karen Boyes
Collating this information makes me enormously proud of my professional journey this year and increasingly excited for 2017. I really value this process of blogging. The idea of publishing my thinking and reflection so that it could be read by anyone can feel silly sometimes. However, the process of reflecting, writing, more reflecting, more writing – knowing that at the end of the day anyone could read this work – helps to make my thinking clearer, my connections deeper, and I think it helps to make me a more effective teacher.