Unit 3: To Google, or Not to Google, That is THE Question!

Technology is all around us, there is no escaping it.  Our students are digital natives, while we are digital immigrants.  Heck, some of them (and maybe some of you) were even born with the aid of technology.  Technology is a wonderful thing.  Or is it???  Just as with organisms on Earth, technology is in a constant state of evolution.  I really like the video even though it is 4 years old, it shows the progression of technology, but it also asks who is in control?  The technology or the user of the technology?

In our school division, we are asked to use Office 365 and all the goodies that come along with it.  All of our students are asked to use it, teachers communicate and set up classes with it, etc…  Division office staff use it, we use Office Teams, for file sharing, and collaborations.

Dramatis Personae – In this case, all of the individuals who fall within our school division who use Office 365 in any capacity are considered Dramatis Personae.  While Office 365 is considered one of the top software companies, I wonder if it is the best one for our high school students.  Let me explain below.

Props – In our division, this would include mainly laptops for our students, or their cell phones (but I am thinking this would be mainly just for their school email accounts).  Staff would have access to division issued laptops, if you are an administrator this may also include a cell phone.

Scene – Anywhere and everywhere in our school division.  All individuals have access to Office 365 within any area of the school or division be it in a classroom, hallway, another school, division office, or even at home WHILE THEY ARE AN INDIVIDUAL IN OUR DIVISION.

Conflict – The scene is setting the stage for the conflict, and hence my major project.  I teach only students in grades 10-12.  Once you are no longer an individual in our school division you lose access to all of the documentation you have kept within your Office 365 cloud.  This means that the moment our graduates step across the stage, their digital learning portfolio has vanished.  And unless someone (a teacher who understands what is about to happen) informs them that all of their work they have created will disappear unless they put it on a thumb drive.  I would like to see our high school students begin to use Google Classroom – which is also allowed in our school division but not maintained or supported, simply because the students will not lose their digital learning portfolios.  As educators, we can also help them learn how to use Google Classroom, plus all of the other Google Drive apps that are offered before they enter post-secondary education or the workforce.  I have asked some recent graduates what interface they use – Office 365 or Google Drive – they tell me they use Google Drive.

This is where the conflict lies.  Do we support what the division wants, or what is best for the students in the long run?  What would you do?

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Unit 2b: Disruptive Leadership – literature reviews

This week has been full of playing “devil’s advocate” and really looking deep into putting myself into someone else’s shoes in regards to leadership styles.  Not just from an administrative point of view, but from a classroom point of view as well.  I have been looking to my colleagues and analyzing their leadership styles, what is working for them and how I could incorporate that into my craft to help carve out my ideal leadership qualities.

Leadership, more or less?

‘Followership is a relational role in which followers have the ability to influence leaders and contribute to the improvement and attainment of the group and organizational objectives. It is primarily a hierarchically upwards influence’ (Carsten et al, 2010: 559).   

I really appreciate this quote because I have never thought of a fellowship approach before.  I also like that the leader is working towards an upwards influence, rather than a downwards influence.  To me, it feels like the leader is valuing the ideologies of those working for them.  I like the idea of a team approach.   I feel like this leader is connected to those that look up to him.  Although this quote supports the Relationship/Transformational theory of Leadership, it blows the “Great Man” theory out of the water.

Critical and Alternative Approaches to Leadership Learning and Development

One area that is being developed as an alternative view and that better appreciates context as well as emotions of becoming and being a leader is the move towards aesthetic and artistic methods of management and leadership learning and development (Gayá Wicks and Rippin, 2010; Hansen and Bathhurst, 2011; Taylor et al., 2002).

Things that make you go hmm.   I am all for creativity in the classroom, and even find myself gravitating towards the Creative Leadership Theory, but I don’t really understand this quote and will definitely need to do some more research into this.  It has piqued my interest so to speak.  I do not understand how one would deal with hard issues in an artistic method of management?  How does a communicative leader do this?   The type of leader who would be able to carry out this type of leadership effectively would have to employ Trait theory – but maybe some of the “Great Man” theory as well?  I am a bit confused on this one and would like to see it in action.  Is anyone else as confused as I am?

Avoiding Repetitive Change Syndrome

Many companies, divisions, departments, and even subunits lack organizational-change speedometers. Their tendency is to increase the speed of change until they are traveling dangerously fast.

Just like Jennifer, I feel that a lot of school staff feel this change chaos directed from the division level.  Unfortunately, a lot of the people in the division office have not been in schools for a long time (some have never been in a school – HR for example) and do not understand or remember employee burnout when asking for teachers, staff, administrators to collect more data or fill our more surveys on top of the every demanding teaching load (growing class sizes, less supports in classes, greater diversity, and planning in classes) placed on teachers. As division office leaders, they are wanting to ensure that tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished to their requirements.  But not necessarily understanding what it is doing to their staff.  We now have lost prep time in our teaching day – 10% prep plus 4 prep days throughout the year.  One of those prep days is in the middle of final exams at the end of the year – why????? That is not helping us.  Yet, we are asked to do more.  While I do believe that our leaders are trying to make sound and timely decisions: Use good problem solving, decision making, and planning tools for the betterment of the division, I do questions how they go about doing it, and if their leadership style is appropriate.

The stupidity paradox: The power and pitfalls of functional stupidity at work.

The first aspect of stupidity is an absence of reflexivity. This happens when we stop asking questions about our assumptions. Put simply, it involves taking for granted what other people commonly think. We often fail to question dominant beliefs and expectations. We see rules, routines, and norms as completely natural: they are just how things are. Members of the organizations don’t question these deep-rooted assumptions – even if they think they are idiotic.

Ohh, so many thoughts. I feel especially in our current educational climate this may change.  Currently, we have leaders who rule in a Democratic leadership style, but we have educators and professors who are now questioning the systems and it may be time for a change.  In schools we behave as we always have, we run by a bell system (again, why?), we believe in grades to tell us how well we are doing (again, why?), and no one questions this. It is so robotic. Maybe we need this, but then again, maybe we don’t?   I really feel that this type of leadership will change, an no, it will not be welcomed with open arms, nothing ever is.  But as was noted in a previous article, change is change, it isn’t bad, but it can hurt if done wrong.

Cross-Cultural Understandings of Leadership

“…when a group or tribe needed to make important decisions, the method of arriving at that decision was through talk.  All participate.  All listened.  Decisions were arrived at when the talk had exhausted and the issue and direction for action was established.”

This is a great quote that envelops my ideology of leadership.   Summing up the Creative Leadership approach nicely.  It is what I would hope that all organizations would base their leadership approached on, although I know that is not always the case, nor could it be in some situations (emergency personnel, military, etc).  But it is how I would like to envision policies are created, put in place and ready to be carried out.   For me personally, a leader who takes not from Lakota Leadership is employing all 6 C’s that a strong leader would poses.

 

Unit 2a: Introvert vs. Extrovert leadership

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

From the time I wake up to the time I walk into the school (about 1  1/2 hours), I am in introvert mode.  I do not live alone, I have grown sons (one at home, one away at school), 3 dogs and a husband, yet in the mornings I do not want to be engaging in deep conversation outside of the usual “did you have a good sleep” or “what do you feel like having for supper”, the latter being stretch sometimes.  But once I enter the doors of LHS I go through a massively rapid punctuated equilibrium large scale evolutionary pattern into an extrovert. This tends to happen in the span of walking from the side door of the school to the end of the doormat.  A total of three steps, plus stomping if it is winter time and I am trying to clear off snow from my shoes.  I feel that from that moment on, I am “ON” until the bell rings at the end of the day signifying that I can officially turn “OFF” (well, not really until I leave the building do I turn off).

While I am in “ON” mode, I am a creative individual, not necessarily in an artistic sense, but nonetheless, creative with how I approach my craft of teaching and inspiring students.  I am known as MamaCoop: the school mom, the one who kids come to when they aren’t feeling well, I manage a football team – I think I do this because I really miss my boys playing sports. In my classroom, I definitely am in the real of the creative leadership style!  This could be due to the nature of the subject that I teach = innovation to me is key in science.  I teach science at the high school level with a story, creating a vision for my students to buy into – role-playing if you will.  I want to immerse my students in real-world science.  Not just facts from a textbook, but problems that can be solved to make a difference in the world.  I have to agree with Krista, the creative leadership style allows for showing your students or colleagues a path to achieve what your final goal is.  The leader gives meaning to what is being done.  I don’t believe that failure is bad, I tell my students that they “fail forward”, we learn and move on from our mistakes.

 

 

When I am in my “ON” mode, I am truly giving my all to my students, my kids.  But when that bell rings, I can turn “OFF”.  And then I climb back into the quiet space of my vehicle and begin the descent back into the safe, quiet space of introversion.  Just as a turtle withdraws into its shell, I withdraw into myself.  Once home, I am done for the day.  Unless we need to be somewhere, I am changed and not leaving my house again until the morning.  I charge my batteries being alone, and that’s okay.  But – I am a single child, and I wonder if that has anything to do with it?   I often wonder if this happens to many teachers?  Does it happen to you?  

Before I transferred to LHS, I was a vice-principal with a small rural school in our division.  I was working alongside an administrator who had a different vision of admin than I shared.  It was then that I decided I needed to leave admin or I was going to not be true to who I was an individual in my core values and beliefs of how an administration leader was to operate.  This is not an opportunity I regret, quite the opposite, in fact, I am grateful for it as it taught me who I was at my core.  It also taught me to be true to me, no one else is going to look out for me other than myself.  A good lesson in life.

I am the current SSTS president, this is a position I am honoured to have.  In this position, I do not delegate at all.  I believe that my board each brings their own areas of expertise to our PGN and we benefit from that.  We are a creative board and lend well towards the vision that SSTS has for the province of Saskatchewan.  Just because I have the title of President does not mean that I am any better, nor do I work any harder than my board members do.  We work equally as hard, we are one.  I am just the one who designs the meetings, asks for input, attends the STF meetings alongside 2 other of my board members, and signs documents under the advise and agreement of my board.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Three leadership approaches that piqued my interest were to use the full capabilities of your organization – isn’t this a no-brainer?  Why would we want to hold anyone back if they were doing good for the organization under the organization’s belief systems?  It has been my experience that good things are produced when you allow your employees to run with their strengths. Keeping everyone informed – I understand in schools that there is a “need to know” basis for some things (confidentially speaking), but when it comes to the safety of all in the building I feel that it is important for all to know.  There were so many times when situations could have been prevented if all staff had been aware of a change that had been occurring with the school setting.  Develop a sense of responsibility in your workers – everyone is a trained professional, let them do their jobs.  If a mistake is made, then we fail forward as a group and learn from there.  Please do not undermine what the employee has been trained to do unless it may do more damage to your system as a whole faster than you think – I have witnessed this first hand…. how to lose an entire staff on day 1…

 

Unit 1b: Fight for Your Right

Beastie Boys performed a song, Fight for Your Right.  Have a listen to the first 1:28, really listening to the words.

You wake up late for school, man you don't want to go
You ask you mom, please? but she still says, no!
You missed two classes, and no homework
But your teacher preaches class like you're some kind of jerk

How can we change unjust power structures that exist in our educational systems?  For one, the hidden cognitive curriculum is beginning to finally break down its barriers.  Indigenous education via oral history is embedded within curricula.  It is a step in the right direction.

U of R Treaty Ed Camp Blanket Exercise

Divisions, Universities, and Governments supporting educators with blanket exercises, elder visits, knowledge keepers and FNMI consultants are opening up the opportunities to expand our learning which trickles laterally to the learning of our students.

As an educator in a high school, I want my classroom to be a place where a student wants to be, not a place where they have to be.  I want them to make a choice to come to my class. Unlike the above song, I feel that there have been initiatives which take the lecturing or “preaching” away from the teachers and placed the learning into the hands of the students.  STEAM/STEM are large initiatives which bridge multiple subjects together showing students just how intertwined all subjects are while they are solving or working on a real-world problem that interests them while becoming globally competent citizens through the practice of Deep Learning (6 C’s).  It is up to the educator to initiate STEM/STEAM/GENIUS HOUR in their classes, some are willing to give up control to their students, and others are not at that point yet, and that is okay.  It will take time to undo all that has been done in the past.

Other than giving up control in the classroom, I see students as being allowed to be more creative in untraditionally creative subjects such as math and science.  The robotic nature of the school in which everyone has to express their answer the same is not so anymore.  If a student can solve a physics problem, and arrive at the correct answer, in a different format, why is it wrong?  We now allow students to express themselves on exams in a written format, but if they need an oral exam or other adaptations, those are afforded to the student.  There is no one right way.

In order to stop the rat race, we need to see change.  Yes, the rat race has been created and maintained by people who make the decisions and then supported by those that conform to these decisions. However, with lateral or bottom-up leadership, change takes place and expands our circles.  Our inner circle now is our outer circle and we see our students thinking for themselves in areas of education and social justice.  It’s about time!

Photo by Mert Guller on Unsplash

Unit 1a: What Did You Just Do?

Did you just ruin “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” for me?  As a child and an adult, it remains my absolute favourite Christmas movie.

Image result for the grinch, original

…And the Monkeys… I use to watch their television show when I was little.  Another Pleasant Valley Sunday was a favourite song for me as a young girl, however, as I sang the lyrics (think, a 5-year-old singing the lyrics), was I old enough to comprehend the meaning behind the song?  No Way!  I was just entering school and being conformed to the system.  To answer the title of this blog, what have you done?  Well, you have made me think!  And this is a good thing.

As a teacher, it is important to me that I try to place myself in my student’s shoes.  To do this, sometimes I need to think back to my own high school experiences in similar classes.  What were classes like and how have they evolved until now?  I grew up in a small city in Saskatchewan.  We were not poor, but we were not rich…we were comfortable.  My high school student body was predominantly Caucasian.  I only remember having a few non-white students in the school.  It was the type of school that you went to if you had family that had attended it previously, you know, to “carry on the tradition”.

Classes were robotic.  They still are!

Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

Besides technology, not too much has changed.  We run on a bell system….WHY??????

We rely on marks to indicate how well our students demonstrate their knowledge of the subject matter ……WHY??????

Do the powers that be want to produce students that are so robotized that they are unable to think for themselves?  Until very recently my view of education through experience as both a student in the system and now an educator was that we were only expecting the 4 R’s from our students.  By keeping our student’s robots to the system, a certain control was maintained over the students – there would be no threat to the system because there would be no metacognition on the students part. And honestly, a lot of teachers, administrators and divisions still ask for this to be the way the curricula is taught.  However, it is not how the high school curricula are now written.

I also remember not having many female principals or vice principals in school as a student.  But going beyond this, the “star” athletes were heavily awarded to the male student body during athletic awards.  This “old boys club” mentality was not only viewed in boardrooms, but also in the administration of schools (a women’s job was to clearly be either a secretary OR a teacher in the school), but it also played out in our classrooms.  Meritocracy was seen being played out in many different levels of the educational system.  In some ways, it still is.  While we now see many women in power positions and having broken through the “club”, we have also seen many minority races taking their well-deserved places at these tables.  We now see male kindergarten teachers, now that is something that we wouldn’t have seen in the past!  However, it was my experience, that getting out of the administration position lost a lot of respect from colleagues, what a shame.  However, I often wonder if it really isn’t some form of admiration for actually being strong enough to stand up for myself and go for what I really wanted?

When did you make a change in your career that went against the system?  How did it impact you?

Its a new day
But it all feels old.
Its a good life
That's what I'm told.
But everything
It all just feels the same
And my high school: it felt more to me
Like a jail cell, a penitentiary.
My time spent there
It only made me see

That I don't ever want to be like you.
I don't want to do the things you do.
I'm never gonna hear the words you say
Cause I don't ever wanna.
I don't ever want to be.
You don't want to be just like you
What I'm sayin' is this is the anthem
Throw all your hands up
You. don't want to be you
Go to college, a university
Get a real job, that's what they said to me
But I could never live the way they want
I'm gonna get by and just do my time
Out of step while they all get in line.
I'm just a minor threat so pay no mind
Do you really want to be like them
Do you really want to be another trend
Do you want to be part of that crowd.
Cause I don't ever wanna.
I don't ever want to be you

Shake it once that's fine
Shake it twice that's okay
Shake it three time you're playin' with yourself again

You
Don't want to be just like you
This is the anthem throw all your hands up
Now that you feel me, sing if you're with me
You, don't want to be just like you

This is the anthem throw all your hands up
Now that you feel me, sing if you're with me
Another loser anthem [Repeat x4]


 

 

 

 

 

But We Were Just Beginning….

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk Flickr via Compfight cc

It does not feel possible to be at the end of this course, honestly, I just feel like I was beginning.  Although the course is technically over, I am forever changed as an educator.

Teacher/Learner

This course has had the largest impact on me, personally and professionally, from any of the courses that I have taken from Alec and Katia.  And I am kind of sad that I won’t be taking any more courses from them, as there are too many things that I have come to know as routine.  But while reflecting on what to write in this post, I have realized that even though we will officially be done the course as a group, the things that I relied on will not be over.  I will continue to check out twitter (something I still need to practice and do more of, I just find that I get sucked into the “twitter vortex” once I go on, I am consumed for hours!).  Staying on twitter, getting better at it, will allow me to continue networking with my fellow 834 classmates.  I will continue to follow blogs of teachers that I have come to know.  Logan’s blog is more than just a series of posts for class, I learn from the classes that he teaches (and I secretly feel he is the next Bozeman Science with a Crash Course twist, plus how else would I keep up with how many cats he has?).

Credit to Giphy

We were tasked with what felt like an impossible, yet exciting, task.  Create a course module for a class that you (currently or hypothetically) teach.  I thought that I would begin with a science 10 module, but the began creating my prototype for the Environmental Science 20 advanced placement course that I am currently teaching.  I was already creating an asynchronous course, why not apply the tools that I learn in this class while getting real time feedback from my students?  Over the course of three months my course grew and grew.  I created a course for what I knew my students needed this semester.  My course profile explains in further detail my thought process.

At the start of the EC&I 834, we were asked to list three goals that we had for ourselves….mine changed throughout the course, and that is OKAY because my thoughts about the course evolved.  During the second week, I began to research different LMS platforms that would be user friendly and supported by my administration and school division.

By the end of the third  week, I had decided upon which LMS platform I wanted to use – Canvas.  Although at that point I still thought I would be designing a prototype for Science 10, not APES20 (oops…) 🙂

I have decided to change my focus from a class that I was not teaching towards one that I currently am, I mean, why work harder?  This week I began to play with EdPuzzle and created my first Vlog using Screencastify.  This was a big deal to me as I am very introverted away from the classroom, my confidence is slowly but steadily growing!

I began feeling more comfortable with using multiple media channels in my lessons.  Like a game of Duck, Duck, Goose; I tried to improve upon my strategies each week!

One of the new tools that I discovered in the following week was mysimpleshow – at the time of creating and playing with this new tool it was AMAZING and user friendly (note – you can now now longer use your own voice for your simple show, you must use their robotic voice – this does not work for upper level science classes.  I have since emailed the creators of mysimpleshow and received a response as to why this is)!

I began to get very comfortable with my course prototype, while at the same time feeling like I was going off the rails simply because I was becoming overwhelmed with trying to implement everything that we were learning into my prototype – this I later learned was just not realistic!  And…I was just a bit intimidated by the amazing work that I was reading on my classmates blogs…confidence declining at this point.

We were asked to think about which we preferred, open vs. closed forums. In hindsight, this may have been the most revolutionary blog topic for me, as I self-reflected on the type of learner and participant I was versus the one that I want to be.  The doors to blended learning were blown WIDE OPEN for me and I was able to really connect with what I was creating.

Finally we were at the end, yes, I was EXHAUSTED (maybe learning how to create a course prototype while teaching the course at the same time was not the brightest idea I have had – BUT the most productive at the same time).  In fact, if I had not created a blended learning prototype while teaching the class, I would not have had a realistic idea of how much time and effort needed to be put into creating quality lessons that my students deserved!

Overall, I am very satisfied with my course – and the students taking it seem to be enjoying it and doing very well, but I really won’t know until after May 1st when they write their college exam and I ask for a reflection on the course from them.   I received very valuable feedback from my reviewers – information which I have taken quite a bit of time to reflect upon:

  • In class, I always use a peer/self evaluation form for my students because I feel that it is important for students to self-reflect on their product.  I never complete this form because I have a rubric for the product created that I would use and I should have included this rubric – this was an oversight on my part, one that I will correct before next semester begins.
  • I did not consider the low bandwidth issues as I do have my students working at the back of the classroom – and the community I work in is unlike any other – these students are very fortunate to have tools to allow them to be successful (whatever they need) provided to them by the school as well as their parents.  All of my modules are created using Google Slides – if there were a low bandwidth issue the students could always download the entire unit and keep it on their personal laptops, decreasing the need for bandwidth as it could be exported and saved as a powerpoint.  The only issue that may arise from home is if the students were unable to connect to they hyperlinks – buffering issues may happen. But again, these are advanced placement kids, they would then need to come to school ahead of time or stay later to access the school’s internet access if they ran into these problems – I do have certain expectations for them, and these expectations are above and beyond for my regular stream students. 
  • I also did not consider EAL students – if you are registered in an AP course – you need to know the English language.  This course is not designed for EAL.  This course is designed for above average grade 11 students with a strong work ethic and academic ability.
  • I did include cultural consideration in my course as I do include FNMI teaching within the module.  As far as other cultural considerations, again, this is an AP course and it has been designed for students from all areas of North America to be taught as a cohesive student unit.
  • The mention of not addressing socioeconomic status really made me reflect – I have not asked any of my students to use technology other than a computer or smartphone.  If the students do not have a computer to access at school or their place of learning, this course may not work for them, however I do have students who are more comfortable viewing the course and working on it on their phones, so I do know that a computer is not the only way to access the module.
  • Just to clarify, activities within the modules were designed using EdPuzzle, which I am able to track student progress and success through the website itself.
  • It was mentioned in the feedback that the course profile was written as a “this is what I do” more so than a “this is why I do” – and the reviewer is correct, it is simply because the course is already up and running.  However, including my educational pedagogy within the course profile is a very good thing for me to include and I will look at implementing this for next semester in writing and not verbally as I was able to speak to my students face-to-face (in person or over Zoom).

As this course is running currently – I am hesitant to give out login information over the “web”  as I do have concerns that portions of the course could inadvertently be changed (I will provide an instructor log in for grading purposes) before my students are finished studying for their college exam.

WHEW!!! MADE IT AND AM HAPPY WITH MY GROWTH!

BTW:  My celebration of learning is also complete!  Yay!!!

You Are Here!

You are here!  Like a Google Map – my course prototype is finally complete for this course.  I say it is complete, but is it really ever complete? I know that I am a lifelong learner, and that I am never done learning or changing.  This is true of my course prototype – I designed this to be used in a current class. While I am fully aware that once I have officially submitted this assignment, I will want to change it as I stumble upon a new/better form of technology to introduce within my module, something that will allow for a better learning experience for my students.

Just like Logan posted, there have been a vast amount of emotions that I have gone through while designing this course module.  I have felt empowered and defeated all at once as I have my students providing continuous feedback – this may be unique to some of my classmates whom have not had this opportunity.  But what I have learned is that with the feeling of temporarily defeat I was able to produce a much better product.  Will this product be to the same quality level of someone with the video editing skills of Andres?  No – but that is okay, my course is designed for what my current need is at this time.

While this course has flown by – it feels like we were just introduced to the idea of creating a course module.  One thing is for sure, I AM EXHAUSTED.

                         http://gph.is/1SCiukI

I did not take into account how time consuming creating a blended/online course would be. I am much quicker at creating quality content now than I was in the beginning of the course, maybe because I am comfortable with the platform and the tools that I have used. I have developed a great appreciation for tools such as Screencastify, Smore and  MySimpleShow as they have allowed me (a not so creative person) to add creativity to my course. Although I own a Macbook Air (not a paid endorsement, lol!) – I really have not played that much with iMovie – not because I do not want to, I honestly feel that I do not have the time right now as I feel that once I begin playing around, I will loose track of time! 

I finally understand how my students feel when I come into class saying – “hey I learned something new in class last night and thought we would try it”.  Sometimes it can literally be information overload!  But for now, I feel satisfied with what I have completed (for the time being).