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

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.

Like , share , follow

There are no small ideas. In 2014 we have to value both individual achievement and collaborative endeavour. TeFL makes that quite clear but so does our social networking world. We have to encourage individuals to develop their strengths but we also have to enable them so they remain plugged into the flow of collaborative knowledge. This little video demonstrates clearly that the simple, modest ideas can be of great benefit if they are harnessed and allowed to become part of the greater whole. We are all one but we are connected! This paradox is how we are both strengthening and renewing ourselves for this century.

Genes in Space – help cure cancer

2014 is unbelievable. Genes in Space is living proof we can collaborate as a planet, pool our resources and skills, work cross curriculum and find a cure for cancer. If the whole planet could do that it would be amazing and if we did that by being ourselves with our own skills and capacity to learn it would be even better. Cancer Research UK has collaborated with gamers and the gaming industry to get all the data from their cancer research into a playable form so that players can help search through the data!!! A scientist or group of scientists would take too long and so a cure would be too far away. In all this data could be the genetic flaws which create cancer. More than 200,000 people have classified almost two million cancer images. Human eyes are good and better at detecting anomalies. Read the BBC Play to Cure article. Watch the video. Download the app!! We do not need cancer.

Push, push and push again!

pushMemes are so successful because people get hold of a picture with a caption or a great quote and they push it out into social media. Those potted thoughts are then transferred sometimes at the speed of light. We are connecting as a planet so we are finding our common ground, our common ideas and our accepted ways of connecting. By pushing ideas, processes and connections we are creating a basis for a global connection which will pool all our thinking and doing resources. Some ideas are pushed and become instantly popular. It is what we wanted or just what we needed. If you want something to get traction you have to keep seeding it electronically so the idea or process will take hold and become “the thing”. Advertisers know this but it is now a way of life. It is how we improve knowledge, gain knowledge, get and promote thinking and ideas. I can put things on here that I have learnt. Other people can learn them, add to them or enhance them. I can put my thinking on here. When I am stuck I always get help. When I am clear about the success of something I can share it and other people can grow that idea. We can connect , share and develop ideas as we go along and that is how it is. We currently don’t have the time to sit and think for hours so the planet is moving forward through electronic leverage through push technology. It’s a great way to participate in dynamic learning.

Get your Gmail settings out

GmailIf you have a Gmail or Google ID you might want to read the post at Ed’s Blogue on the privacy settings so that you are not automatically running a Google + account. Ed is very helpful when it comes to being alert to what is going on behind the scenes on devices and often writes posts which tell you how to fix the problem. His post shows you clearly how to alter your settings so you don’t automatically have a Google + account. Integrating the sorts of sites Google integrates is a massive task, so if you are on Gmail, Blogger, YouTube, TweetDeck and you have a Google ID you will be aware that Google tries to simplify going from one online community to the other. It can be helpful Chrome will preserve all your bookmarks and settings so you can log in on any computer and Chrome will run YOUR browser. Having one ID for a number of sites can be handy and then big companies like Google try to both advance their products by helping you join their version of whatever it is and also help you move between their products. In doing that you might get something you didn’t want. I don’t want a Google + account but my YouTube stuff is being pushed by my Google + account and some people have “found” me on the Net in a nice way because my Google + account exists. I never visit it and I never go there and I need to think if it is a problem for me or not. I can only say what I have said before. When you belong to a site, make a habit of checking the settings on a reasonably regular basis.