This is your brain on music

Research , combined with technology, can now teach us how to improve ourselves and our lives. This little video is all science and research and yet it is absorbing, informative, clear and well researched. Videos now make it possible to ingest complex information which can then be followed up more deeply by other resources. It is interesting to know there is a difference in brain activity when you listen to music which is more enhanced when you actually play music. With technology and research we can now literally see which activities engage the brain and how. Playing music is one of the activities which engages the whole brain. We all used to learn the recorder and do percussion at school. We all used to sing and be part of a choir. There was a reason for that which educators at the time would have known intuitively. It is literally about a holistic education. Technology can now explain that to us so we understand.

Share your practice

we are teachersI keep telling you, the internet has a tried and tested way of promoting growth and development of ideas :

Create content
Share content
Get feedback
Grow content

It is a self perpetuating method of resourcing our world with ideas. We can now readily share experience. We can readily find authentic help when we need it. The We are Teachers blog is one of those places where teachers can constantly find a wealth of ideas and experience. Our own professional standards site ,aitsl, in Australia is getting very good at sharing real and valuable ways of encouraging us to work with the performance standards and then share those experiences. It is connecting us but it is up to us. We need to share our practice as teachers no matter what we are doing and at what stage of our career we are. That authenticity rings clearly through cyberspace and generates invaluable content for those seeking it. For an isolated teacher it is crucial. Not all teachers are a part of a big ,dynamic school. When we share, we reach out to others and offer them our experiences and knowledge. It can only  broaden everyone’s practice. It will put us all on a stronger footing and we will make natural and reliable connections with each other. This week We are Teachers put up a post by a new teacher. It will help other new teachers. It will turn a year’s work into something which will go into cyberspace and add to our common knowledge and improved professional practice. Social media is now a place where new teachers can quickly get help and support from more experienced teachers no matter where they are teaching. It is also a place where you can quickly crowd source ideas for projects you have in mind. Technology has added something we have never had before and that is an opportunity to have a wide, positive impact for the benefit of all.

Self assessment tool – aitsl

areas for developmentThis is the second of three posts about the aitsl Self assessment tool. The first post is here.
In the area of Professional Practice I have 3 areas of weakness. The self assessment tool very kindly calls them areas for development but I think in terms of teaching to strengths and overcoming weaknesses. Quite a bit of debate can be had about whether you reinforce strengths or weaknesses. Would you ask Picasso to learn to work on his ice skating because he was so brilliant at art? Maybe ice-skating would have given him a different perspective on his art.

Professional Practice

Teachers are able to make learning engaging and valued. They
implement well-designed teaching programs and lessons, and
regularly evaluate their practice and assess student data to ensure
they are meeting their learning needs. They diagnose barriers to
learning and challenge students to improve their performance.
Teachers operate effectively at all stages of the teaching and
learning cycle: planning for learning and assessment, developing
learning programs, teaching, assessing, providing feedback on student learning and reporting to parents/carers.

The first weakness is:

3.7 L Initiate contextually relevant processes to establish
programs that involve parents/ carers in the
education of their children and broader school
priorities and activities.

I am not sure how I answered anything to come up with this as a response. I am not even sure what it means. Set up processes in a secondary school which involve parents in the education of their children and involve them in broader school priorities and activities? I am engaged to teach students French. Am I also obliged to teach their parents French? I am not trying to be funny. On a weekly basis I am in contact with parents, usually by email, to smooth over learning applications and difficulties or adjustments to assignments. Email contact can be time consuming but it does create a space where we can be in easy contact to ensure a student is able to access the curriculum comfortably . This can be done when they are away for whatever reason. I have a blog where my class materials are published for students to access from home. I can can always point the parents to that. We have a learner management system where I upload class materials and parents and students have access to that. It really helps and on parent evenings I usually find out that these things have been well received and have helped in a positive way. With junior students we have a project each term and parents often tell me they have enjoyed talking to their child about those sorts of investigations and areas of learning. Parents also like the technology activities I do with their children, so I regularly get good conversations about the sorts of things I do in class. The assessment plans do not include activities with parents but I do often encourage my students to talk to their parents about what we are learning and about French experiences. I include anything on our school site plan in my lessons and I teach to our school values which come into conversations I have with parents. But still,I am not sure what 3.7L means , though, so I do not know if I have met it or not and cannot think how to meet it. It is a reminder to myself that if I put down criteria for assessment I must ensure my students are clear about what they mean and that I teach them to ask for clarification. Our learner management system has a messaging facility which students have been using to ask me for explanations and reassurance. It’s a positive feature of our system.

My second weakness is:

4.2 HA Model and share with colleagues a flexible repertoire
of strategies for classroom management to ensure all
students are engaged in purposeful activities.

I think I do this. I have 3 blogs which focus on my classroom strategies and what is successful. I am always sharing materials and student work which has been successful. Our office has very robust and interesting conversations about how we manage our classrooms and the sorts of things we do to enhance and engender learning. Experience and sharing are great teachers. Growing ideas is exchanging good practice and then teasing that out into better practice. Often we meet each other and start with “How can I better…?” ; “What’s a good way of…?” and looking at practice from those angles can offer plenty of options and solutions. I’d say this has been a regular part of my teaching life so I am not sure how I got that response from the SAT tool.

My third weakness is:

5.5 HA Work with colleagues to construct accurate,
informative and timely reports to students and
parents/carers about student learning and
achievement.

We have a school based and recommended reporting system. The process is described to us and we are expected to implement it. This does not mean we cannot make suggestions nor that it is set in concrete and never reviewed. I do not work with colleagues on this but when reviews are needed then a panel would be established or a specific consultation group. There are certainly aspects of reporting which need to be discussed within a faculty or at a leadership level because it is about consistency and equity for particular students. I don’t think I can meet this criterion as it stands.

The SAT tool doesn’t just highlight weaknesses. It also highlights your strengths. As such, you can see again that as a teacher I have to think about process, protocol and then what I can influence myself. As a teacher you do have to be there to teach to the needs of the students but there are a number of formal requirements and expectations. The professional standards are making me think about just how much I can influence and what I should influence and where my focus should be. Should all teachers be role models for other teachers? I have always believed teachers should be and have a mentor. It strengthens you. It is dynamic and it is about keeping others confident. Those are considered to be my strengths in this area. If they are considered my strengths I ought to be able to demonstrate and produce evidence to that end. Looking at what the SAT tool puts up as my weaknesses means I have to be able to reflect on that rationally and reasonably. I am after all a teacher. I have to assess others. I have to keep them confident. You cannot fall over because someone said you were not very good at something. Well, you can, but this is why teachers need to collaborate , share and reflect. It sustains them.

The magic of technology

quotepixelI used to love Arthur C. Clarke novels when I was at school so this quote comes from an author who had an important impact on me and my imagination. Never underestimate the power of one. I am , and have been for a long time, the author of my own classroom. With technology I get to do magic each and every day. It’s a different way of teaching but if that means I am lighting imagination, I shall be more than happy. Quotepixel is a great site to get visual quotes for your classroom.

Cross curriculum apps

cross curriculum appsI subscribe to the SimpleK12 teacher learning community site. Some of the resources are paid but if you subscribe to the site you get notification of the free resources as well. This time it was 20 apps for cross curriculum work. I knew a lot of the apps but others of them I did not know. They were Android and iPad apps so that is even handier. You can follow the link here if you are interested and it’s a site worth keeping in touch with. Some good apps for maths, science and EALD/ESL but other worthwhile apps too.