eFellows17 – Hui #1

wp-1485562570118.jpgThe CORE Education Dr Vince Ham eFellowship programme kicked off last week with the first hui of 2017. I’m privileged to be one of seven teachers on this year long journey that will see us challenged and inspired as we all take on individual inquiries that will be presented at uLearn17.

My intent with my eFellow17 hui blogposts is to briefly capture the discussion and learning with three ideas and three questions. I blog in order to reflect; by thinking back through the hui and synthesizing the discussion I hope to think more deeply about my learning. My aim is to share ideas that fit with the purpose of the fellowship: “to inspire transformational practice“.

Three Ideas

  1. Derek Wenmoth introduced the inquiry mindset and the key questions challenging education at the moment.
    • What do we see the role of technology in learning?
    • If education is all about interpreting knowledge – knowledge based system – who owns the knowledge?

The impact of these key questions was captured by the slide below, where he argued that realising the potential of 21st Century learning  can only occur when technology is used to transform learning and knowledge is owned by the collective.

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2.  Alex Hotere-Barnes introduced ideas regarding Kaupapa Māori Research, and what he’s learnt being Pākehā and engaging in this area result. He referenced the work of critical Māori scholars Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Graham Smith and Ani Mikaere who all foreground the cultural and political dimensions of kaupapa Māori thinking and action.  A key point was the importance of challenging “deficit theories” in research that position Māori as “objects” of research; as opposed to being the designers and doers of Māori research. I took from this that there are a lot of cultural considerations to think about when approaching research from a Māori perspective; but fundamentally one needs to be open to communication and collaboration – it’s all about relationships.

3.  Keryn Davis introduced Cowie and Carr’s concept of the consequences of assessment – that all assessment makes a difference to competence (how does the assessment impact the abilities and skills of the learner?), continuity (what does this assessment connect to?) and community (how does assessment build community?)

Three Questions

  1. Derek’s question of “What do we see the role of technology in learning?” has been answered in a way by one of the leading players in NZ education, NZQA. The commitment to using digital formats for assessment has shaped a lot of the conversation in the last two years on this matter. However, as Derek pointed out, at this stage they substituting: taking a paper exam and putting it online. If we were to transform external assessment, what might that look like?
  2. In Alex’s presentation, he gifted us an expression: “Pākehā paralysis”, which is based on the work sociologist Martin Tolich. It occurs when pakeha become immobilised by the challenge of interacting in culturally appropriate ways.  This is a barrier that gets in the way of Maori success in the NZ school system. A question going forward is how best to overcome this feeling? What strategies do we need to employ? This EDtalk expands on that brief definition and has several ideas.

3. And finally, a question that is launching my inquiry this year: how might teachers collaborate to create safer spaces for students of minority sexualities and genders?

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Sage on the Screen – Education and Media Technology

sage-screen_webThis interested book written by Bill Ferster organises itself through chronological developments in technology. Ferster captures each development as a history of progress and relates it to the growth of modern pedagogy. The contents pages looks like this:

  1. Traditional Media
  2. Interactive Media
  3. Hypermedia
  4. Cloud Media
  5. Immersive Media
  6. Making Sense of Media for Learning

The temptation here is to see such a structure as a rubric that we are moving through. One could argue that traditional media for instance could be prestructural on the SOLO Taxonomy, and immersive media is the extended abstract. This notion led me to reflect on my own practice, which I would argue fits in the cloud media space – streaming media, MOOC’s, flipping, are all embedded in some way into what I do. From the rubric perspective, this book gave me an insight into what education is moving towards.

The historical approach to this book led to some interesting evaluative comments about the introduction of media technology into education. In the formative years, as cinema, radio and television all emerged, application of these mediums into education settings appears to be ineffective coming from the perspective of transformational pedagogy. The case study put forward here of American Samoa where congressional funding was used in the early 1960s to create instructional televised lessons which were used for up to 30% of the learning time. “The top down, autocratic nature of the American Samoa experiments is typical of how many educational technology projects are implemented” (36). Professional capital was absent from this approach, and therefore the technology – at best – only substituted the teacher’s practice rather than enhanced the learning.

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The book then documented the attempts of technology to create learning experiences that were not passive, or linear in their implementation (42). Learner agency developed with the introduction of more interactive media, but needed to move in alignment with developments in pedagogy. Where traditional media, like films, offered teachers a break, the shift to interactive forms of media required a different set of teaching skills (70). The disconnect between the technology and the implementation had begun – something which is visible now in a BYOD environment where students might still be experiencing no fundamental change in the instruction because pedagogy has not moved alongside the technology. (Represented by the first level of the SAMR model).

When exploring hypermedia, Ferster argued that “using multiple (but appropriate) forms of media together can often be more effective than any single media form alone” (88). This was supported by Richard Mayer’s research into the principles of multiple-channel learning:

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This research presents  a compelling argument for blended learning, but what technology to blend? The media technology that could potentially feature in classrooms has never been more diverse. This is evident in the immersive media chapter, where virtual reality and augmented reality are explored. The challenge in laid down in the final sentence: “if instructors can come up with compelling uses for the new capabilities these tools afford, immersive media may indeed join the pantheon of instructional media forms” (158).

My major takeaway is that the human element is fixed element in any pedagogy. Many media products “assume that all students come to instruction with the same amount of preexisting knowledge and learn at the same pace;” however, a good teacher can optimise this tool and create learning opportunities for the right students, at the right time and the right place (171). The human element is the most important factor in learning, and no modern media or medium can replace it… yet.


Ferster, Bill. Sage on the Screen: Education, Media, and How We Learn. John Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, Maryland. 2016.

Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School

fullen20drawingMichael Fullan delivered a memorable keynote at uLearn16, discussing the new pedagogies for deep learning. He was persuasive in claiming the role of the middle in education transformation is most important. He proposed that the role of leadership was to:

  • Respect and reject the status quo
  • Be an expert and an apprentice at the same time
  • Experiment and commit

During this presentation he talked about professional capital. I had little prior understanding to hang this on, but having now spent some delightful time in Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves’ book Professional Capital things are a lot clearer.

51d5demgijl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Professional capital – the systematic development and integration of three kinds of capital – human, social, and decisional – into the teaching profession (xv)

In exploring these three areas – human, social and decisional capital – the overwhelming trend I read was the need for autonomy and trust in order to build knowledge, understanding and capability. The five C’s of professional capital that enable the teaching force to become highly effective are a good start:

  1. Capability (or expertise)
  2. Committment
  3. Career
  4. Culture
  5. Contexts/Conditions of teaching

There was a step that Fullan and Hargreaves addressed first which was around attracting the right people to the teaching profession. They unpacked systematic differences between countries and looked at reasons for capable teachers leaving the profession after only a few years.

If you want a high performing school system, a competitive economy, and a cohesive society… we need the best, most highly qualified teachers who have a deep and broad repertoire of knowledge and skill in the schools that don’t have the luxury of screening out children (79).

Effectively, this acts as a contradiction to the current direction of the NZ government. When it came time to talk about the culture of schools, there were some fascinating insights:

The arbitrariness of culture is a curse and a blessing. As soon as you grasp that, you realise that it’s just when things are completely fixed that they are actually most open to change. (103)

This non-committal way of defining culture makes a lot of sense in practice. Efforts to create a culture, often bring voice to the opposition, but naturally developing culture shifts are – for better or for worse – are often achieved without significant interference. Understanding the different types of work cultures in educational setting helps to flesh this out. They presented the two main categories of professional cultures and four subgroups:

#1: Individualism

Individualism is created by architecture (isolated classrooms), evaluation and self-preservation (associating help with evaluation and “collaboration with supervision and control” [108]), guilt and perfectionism (high expectations in environments with poorly defined limits), pressure and time (closing the door to collaboration in order to successfully meet obligations).

In the best professional learning communities, we will see, strong collaboration and distinctive individuality go together in vibrant communities of innovation and growth (111).

Individualism is not ideal for a culture of learning. Individualism “undercuts the possibilities of developing and circulating professional capital” (106). But individuals are essential to any workplace ecology.

#2: Collaborative Cultures

“Collaborative cultures not only can be informal but they also must always be informal” because for collaboration to occur in an authentic way it must be embedded and not forced. This powerful idea challenged my understanding of leading collaborative change. To unpack it, the authors describe and unpack four different types of collaboration:

  • balkanisation (clusters of collaboration, usually departmentalised; often there develops conflicts between clusters and poor continuity across departments)
  • contrived collegiality (danger of forcing cooperation, needs to be a patient development journey, authentic collaboration is doubtful when based on external agendas)
  • Professional learning communities (space for inquiry and learning together; challenges emerge and self-direction evident through ownership of the problems and the solutions)
  • Clusters, networks, and federations (school to school networks; systemic connection opportunities, co-operation – friendly rivalry, support)

Within effective collaboration there is a clear understanding of collective responsibility. “Collective responsibility is not just a commitment; it is the exercise of capabilities on a deep and wide scale. It encompasses positive competition: challenging the limits of what is humanly and professionally possible” (142)

Thoughts I am left with:

  • Collaborative cultures are based on trust and relationships and are not forced or contrived. Informal work is the basis of a collective culture. However, this needs to be balanced with arrangements that allow the emergence of this kind of social capital that are deliberate and structured.
  • A balance is needed as well between the pushing of new ideas and change and pulling: “by the excitement of the process, the inspirational feeling of the engagement, the connection to people’s passions and purposes” (130).
  • Change leadership is a series of balances: “confident and humble, resolute and empathetic, collaborative and competitive” (136).
  • The fundamental goal “is to do things that bridge the chasm, reach for partnership, and replace polarization with integration – in ways that make every effort to respect each other’s positions without capitulating to them” (154).
  • I am reminded of the opinion economy – a concept introduced to me by David Buckingham. Finding the space, the balance, the commonalities, between two opposing ideas or concepts is important to navigating forward effectively. This connects to the principles of change which require professional capital.

We can treat teaching as just a short-term investment of business capital, and finance the present by mortgaging our children’s future. Or we can make teaching a sustainable investment for professional capital, and give birth to a world of many happy returns to come (186).


Fullan, M. & Hargreaves, A. (2012) Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School. New York: Teachers College Press.

Leadership and Diversity

An interesting reading by Marianne Coleman. She applies a definition of diversity as “categories of difference in individuals to which value judgement stereotypes are consciously and unconsciously applied, bringing advantage to dominant groups” (173). This has strong connections and implications for work with LGBT staff and students that I’ve previously discussed. The chaKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERApter asks two reflective questions at its conclusion:

  1. As a leader in education what do you consider to be the key values relating to leadership and diversity in education?
  2. In what ways might your institution ensure that diversity is fully considered in policies and practice?

The ideas in the chapter helped clarify some thinking around these provocative questions through examining leadership theory. In particular the idea of value-led leadership: “If valuing the diversity of individual students and staff is a key part of the ethos, this should feed through to every aspect of their leadership” (178). Important to this is examining bias so that an authentically inclusive environment can be created and sustained.

Another layer of the chapter I found persuasive was the notion that “the behaviours of school leaders have a greater impact on pupil performance than school structures or leadership models” (173). This speaks of the importance of interweaving diversity based values into the fabric of the school so that these values are naturally occurring. The natural presence of these values need to be balanced with the interrogation of assumptions to ensure that awareness remains high and our “value judgement stereotypes” are regulated (173).


Coleman, M. (2011) ‘Leadership and Diversity’ in Robertson, J & Timperley, H. (eds) Leadership and Learning. London: SAGE Publications. Pp. 172-185.

uLearn16 – Keynote #4 – Karen Spencer

‘Beyond the echo chamber: The extraordinary possibilities of a networked profession’

Karen will take you on a provocative journey to explore the rapid rise in innovative professional learning. From ‘done to’ staff meetings to collaborative, agile investigations into what’s happening for our learners, the way educators improve and grow has evolved rapidly in recent years. She’ll explore new insights into professional learning, best ways to embrace change, and invite you to think about how we can transform what we do for our learner.

In many ways this was a perfect closing to uLearn16: synthesising the key themes of the conference and drawing together some superb advice for working in praxis. Karen acknowledged poetically the essence of teaching, affirming that getting better at what we do is part of our DNA and that methods matter. She also affirmed that the greatest difference to student achievement is teachers. Teachers’ beliefs are fundamentally important.

The approach that will make the greatest difference to students is self-belief in teachers to collaborate and to be effective

If we are to surround ourselves with only voices that agree with us then we can end up operating in a filter. It’s vital we keep our views being challenged and engage with dialogue with alternative viewpoints. There is no one idea, so we must hold our ideas lightly.

The key note stuck to a central theme of embarking on change. This was fitting, as come the end of the conference with so many ideas boiling at the surface, the how was never more important. The three considerations before embarking on change:

  • Find the urgency
  • See the story behind the data
  • Embrace discomfort

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1. Find the Urgency

With so many initiatives and ideas surrounding us, a continual yearn for solutions and constant educational designing; it is hard to have deep meaningful change. So we need to focus on the most urgent area that students need most. Find the urgency. giphy

Go slowly into innovation and take the time to ensure it is deep and meaningful, not a band aid solution. Focus needs to be spent on the things that are urgent. There’s no such thing as small change. The answers are not at the next exit – because it is a fluid process. Look for the alignment between the vision and what is happening for the students.

Pause before you leap into the next innovation…

how-to-hire-a-cfd-consultant-maslow-71405b732. See the Story Behind the Data

Data is one thing, but the story is as important. Listen to your learners. Make it be OK for it to be safe for them to offer us their feedback. Their voice is so important, but it has to be genuine. They have to have the space for their voice to be heard authentically.

3. Embrace Discomfort

Being a modern educator means having our biases being gently exposed. You need the diverse views in order to realise where you are making assumptions. We all see things differently and being open to alternative points of views is fundamental to success across the board in education. Our challenge sometime sis finding ways to hear diverse perspectives.

Naturally there is pressure to conform (last clap) and agree with colleagues. Devil’s advocating and seeking diverse views can help – read a blog you don’t agree with. John Cusack rule:

I have one rule: keep the fear off the set

Five Actions

  1. Compare the school’s vision and curricula
  2. Explore the story behind the data
  3. Walk around all the information
  4. Resist ‘solutionitis’
  5. Agree on the strong signals before you test and trial

The learning we do together is not the extra thing we do on the plate, it is the plate. Education doesn’t change the world. Education changes people and people change the world.

 

uLearn16 -Keynote #3 – Michael Fullan

‘Early lessons from implementing New Pedagogies for Deep Learning’

Our work on School Leadership, Professional Capital and Coherence is becoming deeply integrated and embedded in the clusters and networks of schools that are engaged in implementing ‘new pedagogies’. I will identify some early lessons concerning how leadership for deep learning differs when it comes to digitally accelerated innovations. There are also some surprising new findings about the role of students as change agents relative to pedagogy, school organisation, and even societal change.

Humans are innately wired to connect, create and help humanity. We see examples of this through psychological experiments with children – it is innate human nature to help others. Society, education and life either enhances this natural wiring or it crushes them. Out job is to ensure we enhance. Transformational pedagogies are there to uncover the reservoir of creativity that sits within our students that is otherwise suppressed.

Whole system change strategies

  • Accountability (history of failure)
  • Standards (insufficient)
  • System Culture (promising success)

Don’t obsess with targets – a negative of system change. Aspirational targets are good – but obsessing with target clouds the intent and prevents the effectiveness of the change.

b9-3d4wciaefwcmFocus on the 6 C’s of education:

  • Character education: building resilience, empathy, confidence and wellbeing.
  • Citizenship: referencing global knowledge, cultural respect, environmental awareness.
  • Communication: getting students to apply their oral work, listening, writing and reading in varied contexts.
  • Critical-thinking: designing and managing projects which address specific problems and arrive at solutions using appropriate and diverse tools.
  • Collaboration: working in teams so students can learn with/from others.
  • Creativity and imagination: to develop qualities like enterprise, leadership, innovation.

Breakthrough leadership – If you are the only person in the room that is right, you better stop talking and start listening

  • Respect and reject the status quo, he status quo is just not good enough.
  • Be an expert and an apprentice, open to learning but lead learning too.
  • Experiment and commit to problem solve and do it better. Stay with the problem learn from it and commit to getting it right.

The Seventh Sense, Ramo – the pros and cons of networking

  • The new reality – ubiquitous social media can’t be controlled – they weaken hierarchies (when you weaken hierarchies you open up lateral thinking and solutions)
  • Distribution and concentrated connection is the new power
  • The young and the most connected – and the LEAST commited to the status quo (agents of change when you set it up right)
  • Humans, especially the young, find helping humanity to be an intrinsic value
  • The above conditions cause learners to outrun leaders and researchers
  • The job of education is to produce better citizens for tomorrow, today

Jal Mehta offers advice (10 potential pitfalls) that can doom teaching for deeper learning:

The professional development system is broken – the back roads are open. Partnership of construction within teaching networks – student performance should be measured on global competencies.

Big ideas:

  1. Students as agents of change (let students drive the change – be open to their voices and their ideas)
  2. Professional Capital of Teachers (leadership from the middle, use the thinking and the knowledge that is already there)
  3. Coherence (make it more simple – simplexity – don’t make complicated things complicated. Take the complicated and break it into simple chunks!)

Further reading: ‘A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning’  by Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy

uLearn16 – Assessing Deep Learning

uLearn16 – Assessing Deep Learning

By Margot McKeegan and Derek Wenmoth

Deep Learning is the key focus of an international collaboration led by Michael Fullan, involving clusters and networks of schools working together to build knowledge and practices that develop deep learning and foster whole system change. In this workshop participants will be introduced to the measures being used to evaluate the deep learning in this programme, and experience how these are applied in a practical way to form judgements about the learning that is occurring.

Notes below are a bit sporadic representing the sort of spitfire nature of the session where Derek threw out a lot of provocations. The notes written here are largely responses captured from my own thinking or something contributed from the group attending the workshop. Lots of things to continue unpacking.

Key questions:

  • What is deep learning?
  • How might we measure it?
  • What evidence would we use?

What is deep learning? Collaborative padlet. No one was talking about tests or national standards etc. Connecting this to the learning stories that we’ve experienced. What indicators do we use?

What does deep learning look like? What does it sound like, look like, feel like? When learning is deep it will feel hard and frustrating. The challenge of overcoming something because it is hard is what makes the learning worthwhile. It will involve emotion where the students and the teachers are excited – mutual respect. Zone of proximal development – it stretches people. Challenge for educators thinking about scaffolding the processes so that the learning is accessible. It sounds like students being about to articulate their learning, using their voice.

How is this measured? Consider the models of Bloom’s Taxonomy, SAMR, AsTTle, and SOLO Taxonomy. How do you know if someone is successful? Co-construct the success criteria with the students. Allows deeper learning of ourselves – how has the learning changed you as a learner? The idea of self-empowerment and leadership allowing the learner to become more self-aware and global citizens.

Connection to the movement in the media whereby news stories are about the soundbite or the headline. Do we still value the 6 o’clock news? Is news coverage now surface level, or deep.pedagogies-for-deep-learning

New pedagogies foster deep learning. It has to occur in four dimensions: pedagogical practices, leaning partnerships, learning environments, leveraging digital. Building precision. The focus of most of the workshops discussion was pedagogical practices.

This image on the right is taken from this blogpost which unpacks the new pedagogies for deep learning. The model below gives criteria and indicators that can be used (and were used) to assess a lesson plan:

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While it is easy to be critical of something in this context, the challenge is to apply the same critique to our own lesson plans.

If you think you’re already doing it. Ask for a second opinion