Connected Learning

Jarrod Lamshed

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The Juggling Act

When you start a new job, there’s always a period of time it takes to feel settled. Last year was that for me. If I’m being honest, it really took the whole year for me to start feeling like my new school was a place where I fit. I don’t think that this is unusual. Starting a new role in a new school means developing relationships with students, staff and other leaders. It means gaining their trust. In a new role you tend to hit the ground running. You are eager to impress… to show people that they’ve made the right call in hiring you. That time is over now. I’m beginning the second year in my role and I feel like I’ve got a handle on what that means. I’ve also had the time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not. This isn’t a ground breaking revelation… I think most of us do this all the time.

Last week, some things clicked for me. Any teacher knows that time is a precious thing. There are only so many hours in a day. What we do with those hours is important. I’ve written about the need for balance before and I don’t want to rehash that here, but my thinking has changed a bit. We all struggle with the balance between work and home. Hours at school stretch out and that time at home with the family get encroached upon all the time. This is a constant battle that isn’t going to end any time soon. What I’m struggling with right now is finding balance WITHIN my work life. Reflecting on my new role, I’ve discovered that I’ve lost some things. In particular, I’ve unintentionally removed myself from a network of learners that challenges and pushed MY practice.

A big part of my role is encouraging pedagogical change in others. My job is to prod, push and expose people to consider new ideas and to try new things in their practice. In focussing on this, and feeling time-poor, I’ve stopped exposing myself to people and professional activities that push me.

This year, within my work, I need to make time for this. I have nominated to rejoin the EdTechSA committee and work with others to help shape teaching and learning around digital technologies. The people involved in this group are passionate about what they do and help to spark my thinking. I have already committed to facilitating several workshops for teachers at other sites this year. Doing this, pushes me to think more critically about my practice and keeps me on my toes.

Guiding others is important and I know that this is what my role is about. But I can’t do this properly if I’m not pushing my own learning.

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Listening to Outsiders – Weekly Round Up

answerhub_quote_nyedesktopipadThis week I’ve been listening to a series of interviews from the ABC (I hope it survives the budget cuts) podcast ‘Conversations with Richard Fidler’. Interviews with Julia Gillard, Molly Meldrum and Matthew Evans have been varied and entertaining company on my morning walks. In particular though, an interview with Adelaide Craniofacial surgeon Dr David David stood out this week. As well as being a good story, Dr David hit on some pretty important points that are completely relevant to schools.

When discussing the early years of  craniofacial surgery, Dr David made the statement that the successful outcomes they see today didn’t start until true collaboration became the common practice. He explained that to provide truly successful outcomes for his patients, he worked with a social worker, eye doctor, brain surgeon, ear specialist and a dentist. He went on to explain that this was a ‘true’ collaboration. They don’t work under a traditional method of referral through letter writing, but instead have become a team that communicate, strategise, plan, operate and consult with each other. They share office space, and meet everyday to fine tune and improve their practice.

This is something that we’ve talked about in schools for a long time, but it’s something that we could still do better. We know collaboration is a powerful thing. In our job, we are busy… I get that. As school leaders, we need to be looking at ways to create time and space with timetables and structures, and as teachers we need to prioritise collaboration over the ‘busy’ stuff. I know the busy work is important, but we need to look at how to balance this with real, ongoing collaboration that will improve our practice and create better outcomes for students.

It’s a fact of life that we can’t all be experts on everything. What if we found a way to truly collaborate and worked with and draw on each others strengths? What if we were able to team teach when it was beneficial and free each other up to work with students that need some extra support or extension? What if we planned critically together more regularly? What if we saw asking for help or advice about our practice as a natural and comfortable thing rather than a threat or sign of weakness? I feel confident that this is all possible… I just haven’t really ever seen it in action in a sustainable way.  It’s certainly something to aim for.

Listening to this conversation really pushed home the idea that we really need to be listening to people from outside of the teaching profession. As teachers, I think we can easily become caught up in the world of ‘school’ and forget that there are other ideas and experiences out there for us to learn from. When we think like this, we are really limiting ourselves.

After this, I’ll certainly be listening to more of these ‘outsiders’. I think that it it important, and will only help my practice and professional learning.

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Weekly Round Up

This year, in my new role, there has been a big focus on supporting the professional learning of others. Being new at this, this has meant that I have let my own professional development slip. This is obviously not ok, so I’ve made a renewed commitment to put aside some time to get this back on track. I’ve missed it. Professional reading, listening, viewing…. engaging, is what keeps me inspired and and striving for improvement in my own practice. This weekly round up (who am I kidding, more like semi weekly) is to reflect on and share what I’ve been looking at.

Teacher Education Review Podcast: Interview with Richard Gerver
Richard Gerver is a new find for me. He isn’t someone that I had come across before in my professional learning. It seems I’ve been missing out. This interview covers thoughts on innovative change, project based learning, and effective leadership. It’s well worth a listen. Following up from this, I’m now reading Richard’s book “Creating Tomorrow’s Schools Today”. It’s an interesting read, especially looking at it from a leadership viewpoint as well as a teacher headset.

Techlandia Podcast: Interview with George Couros
I’ve listened to George (@gcouros) MANY times before and every time, I still get something out of it. This time around, I was particularly interested in the way that George has used social media to set up an authentic communication and sharing space for his district. Wouldn’t it be great to this happening here? As a new leader, I can see the benefits. A chance to create the narrative for not only our school, but our partnership. A chance to create a positive and powerful online presence and open up real communication between our schools, parents and students. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to affect this type of change from my level of leadership? I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m just saying it needs some more thought. I think creating some momentum at a district level (Education Director?) is needed. Food for thought.

Both of these podcast episodes are worth listening to. Both have achieved some critical thinking and ideas for change.

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Up to Standard?

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This year I became part of a school leadership team for the first time. It’s been a crazy year and has whizzed by at high speed. It’s been a very positive year, but one thing that dropped off my radar was regular blogging. As we move toward the end of the year, I feel like I’ve finally established this as a part of my regular routine again. This is important for my reflection… and sanity. I’ve made some changes to the blog to force myself to step up my game. I’ve added the AITSL Principal Standards and will blog against these as I move forward. In my new role, I preach the need for us to challenge ourselves and to continually improve our practice. It’s important that I model this, and expect the same for myself. The addition of these additional standards is a work in progress. I haven’t been able to find examples of blogs that are using these so I welcome and appreciate any feedback about how they are implemented here.

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AITSL – Illustration of Practice

Last year, I was contacted by AITSL about our school participating in an Illustration of Practice project. It was certainly a worthwhile project for us to be involved in. Being involved with AITSL has improved my teaching without a doubt. The reflection process is an important one and the AITSL Standards for Teachers give me something to reflect against.

Since using the standards as a tool for my professional learning, I have been able to identify not only my strengths, but als the areas that I need to focus on more. In conjunction with this blog, I now have a mechanism for regular reflective learning that keeps me accountable to myself as well as a positive industry standard.

Below is one of three final videos produced by AITSL for their Illustrations of Practice collection. I look forward to sharing the other Hackham East Illustrations soon.

It can also be found on the official AITSL website at http://www.teacherstandards.aitsl.edu.au/Illustrations/Details/IOP00251

Visit the AITSL site and join the discussion.


 

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Moving On

Each year at this time we go through the experience of saying farewell to our year 7 students. This is not something that I enjoy! In our classroom relationships are important, and this works both ways. I know that they are ready for their next challenge and I know that they are all ready to be successful in their high schools. As always, I will miss working with those student and their families and thank them for another supportive and rewarding year.

A tradition at our year 7 graduation is for a student to talk about their teacher. This year I was absolutely privileged to be on the receiving end of the following speeches written and delivered by Raphael and Trent. I am very grateful for their words and would like to share these below. I have included a transcript and recording of both speeches.

I love my job.

Raph’s Speech

Mr Lamshed was more than just an incredible teacher
He was a best friend, loyal to the end
He was a big brother who taught us how to care for each other

Whenever you’re feeling down…
Feel like no one is around
He was the best friend you could open your feelings to..
cry to and just express your feelings in any other way

Because you know he was able to comfort you
Better than your teddy bear and little night lamp when you were 5 years old

Every single day whenever your feeling lost…
you don’t know what to do
you’re stuck on a very important decision and you don’t have a clue
or you’ve just made a vital mistake, he was the big brother to pull you through

He would never force us into doing anything
but he would give us options
and tell us things that only a big brother was able to tell you.

Sometimes when I was talking to Mr Lamshed
I thought I was talking to King Solomon.
King Solomon is to be crowned the wisest man that ever lived…
I believe

As with every big brother, Mr Lamshed would sit us down
and have a conversation with us
about what kind of man we need to be
He taught us everything about respect, manners and responsibility

That made a big impact on the type of man that most of us boys would like to be.

I strongly believe that Mr Lamshed is a dream teacher for every young man
and I am very grateful for spending two years in his class and so should every single student that has ever been in his class.

Thank you.

Trent’s Speech

Mr. Lamshed.

I first met him back in year one when I got put into Ms Hibbert’s class. The class back then was huge and half of the class got split up into his. Not many of the people that got split up from Ms Hibbert’s class were happy about moving from one teacher to a new one. Even though I had only seen him for about an hour that day, I knew I wanted to be in his class. It wasn’t because most of my other friends would be in there it was because of him.

Even back then I could sense he would be the nicest person I have ever known.

That year I wasn’t put in his class. As the years went on he had formed a 3/4 single sex class, but I was one year too young to go into his class, but I desperately wanted to be in there. In 2010 I got put into a 4/5 single sex class with Mr K. I knew when I would finish year 5 and the year 7’s would graduate, I would finally be put into Mr. Lamshed’s class.

In year 6, I really got to know Mr. Lamshed and he really got to know me. He taught me and the other students how to be ourselves and grow up to be respectful men. Without Mr Lamshed I don’t think I would have had the courage to run for Red House Captain, SAPSASA cricket for Onkaparinga, Clippers for Cancer, perform Kapa Haka in front of 2,000 people and choir in front of 2,000 people, have a part in the New Media Awards and be part of the leadership team.

He has combined the class in such a way that no other teacher could do, such as valuing each and every classmate as a unique individual. He respects other people’s opinion and their right to express their points of view. He motivates us to try and accomplish a range of tasks, from it being to our projects to a bigger goal such as trying to become a better you. He has instilled a sense of belonging in a special way. He has made learning great fun and he has a fantastic sense of humor. He has been approachable in every way. We have been able to confide in him about absolutely anything.

In the space of two years I have had great excursions including the camp, lunches at Charlie’s Diner, sleepovers and more. He has spent many hours outside of the classroom helping us and a range of other students from other schools preparing for Choir, and Kapa Haka for us.

His passion for technology has been infectious. All of us boys have had a head start by learning various methods including blogging and KWN media awards. Thanks to him we have all had exclusive one on one use with the iPads which has been really awesome.

I have been so fortunate to have had him as my teacher for the last 2 years in an all boys class. I sincerely will miss you (and the Justin Bieber singing). 

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