Major Project – Finally done and submitted

Yup,  that’s about how I feel, Comfortably Numb!  I have submitted my final project, commented the required amount of times (although I will keep reading blogs and probably commenting until Thursday because I like to read your thoughts and progress).  I have enjoyed the journey this semester of looking at Google Drive as an ePortfolio platform that can assist students in grades 10-12 as they transition to post-secondary institutions.  What I have taken from my research is really this…my research has only just begun, there is so much more to look at and I need more time to collect data from students who graduate this semester.  I think this may have been the purpose of the assignment from Stephen and Kristen – to become curious about something and work towards change, even if it wasn’t able to be achieved within the amount of time that was allowed during the semester. I was not able to write a policy for the change I wanted to implement, the tools are available to allow this process to take place already, it is just convincing the division that this is the better method to choose.  BUT until I have more data collected, I do not feel that I am able to present a case that will be looked at seriously.  I will keep on collecting data and sharing it with my division (who are very open to this pathway of technology use).  Hopefully, I will be the change I wish to see sooner rather than later.  But I have a positive feeling from conversations with my IT department that it may not be too far off!

Ciao!

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Unit 6: World Wide Technology Leadership

Before beginning this blog, I wanted to peek at my classmate’s blogs to see who/what they have picked as a positive note to end on.  I have a feeling that my positive may be a bit different, but it is a direction that I am headed in for the fall and have already begun moving towards by procuring equipment, etc.

I found Krista’s post extremely well representative of my views regarding the iPad roll in L.A. and how “unplanned” it was.  I found myself shaking my head at the county not thinking that their students could not bypass the security systems they have set out – come on – you are have just handed these out to high school students who are digital natives!  The programs to block all unwanted materials viewed were not developed by digital natives, rather digital immigrants.  A native is going to find their way around the system much, much faster.  I also wondered why YouTube???  But, I can understand why we just use it for so much currently like uploading vlogs, etc… that my students have created during PBL and Innovative Deeper learning.

Going back to my first paragraph, I am a big proponent of Virtual Reality in the classroom.  This could be because of the subject I teach – it really lends itself well to science at all levels.  I found Scott’s and Adam’s blogs to be quite interesting as they showcased all levels of VR that can be used in the classroom.  I will let you pop over to their sites to read about the difference between each as there is no sense in re-writing what has already been done so well.

Instead, I will focus on the benefits of VR in the classroom and explain the experience that led me to bring this into my class.  However, I am only one teacher, and I feel that many teachers could benefit from the use of VR in their classrooms.  Ashley McCann elaborated on how the immersive nature of virtual reality can enhance our students learning.

I believe that there is a place in education for gamification and that VR can help bring together problem-solving, deeper learning and gamification into one package while allowing students to be curious.  Using a game based system can give students who need immediate feedback to keep them on track engaged (such as earning badges, etc…).   It also has the ability to take students places that we would never, as educators are able to take them by opening up the world to digital field trips or investigations that would be too costly to explore or simply unavailable such as layers of the body systems.

I have had the experience of using VR at the University of Saskatoon during Science on Stage Canada, 2018.  I met Dr. Sean Maw who is a professor at the College of Engineering.  He is using VR in one of his first year engineering classes to have his students build a bridge that will be able to handle a truck carrying a force across it (you can increase the weight of your truck the more confident you are – Newtons).  I was so captivated by this experience that I visited Innovation Place in September to discuss the possibility of bringing this technology into my classroom – but to use it in a bit of a different way.  Besides being able to build bridges, etc… I want my students to build the chassis of a car and then have another program (not developed yet) send the design to our 3D printers.  The idea is that the students can build, test and walk around their cars first before during the creative process, then send it to be physically built, tested, and ran against others.  I have begun to collect equipment, we will see how long it takes my dream to become a reality.  I have a number of students who would benefit greatly from this and I feel that it would level the playing field in my room, meaning that inclusivity may be achieved through the use of this tool.  Would this tool entice our poor attendees to come to school more often? Will VR allow for all types of learners?  Kinesthetic, Visual, Spatial, Aural? I feel that my creative leadership style lends itself well towards using VR.  Have a look at the following video and see what you think – are you hooked?

Note – I did get to experience space in VR – it was UNREAL!!!

Take a look at the difference it made in a school in Tennessee.

Let me know what you think!  I would love to hear your feedback as I learn from everyone and there are many of you who have already ventured where I intend to go.

Unit 5: Flexible, Equitable, Achievable?

At the provincial level, the Ministry of Education within the Government of Saskatchewan recognized the need for allowing all of our students to become digitally competent citizens.  Image result for government of saskatchewanThe Millenials that consume our classrooms each day are digital natives, just because they have been born into this era does not necessarily mean that they know how to properly or safely use the vastness that is this technology. 

The Technology in Education Framework states that “not only is technology vital the learner…it allows for creativity, flexibility and allows for a greater reach in educational opportunities” (p1).  I have chosen to focus this units blog on the view that our provincial stakeholders took at using digital technology to enhance equity in learning for all in Saskatchewan.  How can technology allow for this to happen?  Just as Dylan stated in his blog, growing up in a larger center can cause one to wear blinders, not realizing that not everyone had access to the internet or computers in their schools – or even being in a larger center being forced to only take the courses offered at your school when you could have been taking courses offered at the DLC (understanding there is a financial undertaking here too, which may further resect some out).

Personally, I am a huge proponent of using technology in the classroom to enhance lessons.  In fact, I have gone away from using textbooks in my classes entirely.  Technology has the ability to allow for learning for all, students can be working on multiple levels at the same time.   But, using technology in the classroom also means that I am responsible for teaching the appropriate use of student-based technology.  Just because these Millenials have the world at their fingertips, does not necessarily mean that they know how to use it safely and in an acceptable manner.  Should educators have to shoulder this responsibility entirely?  NO.  There needs to be some responsibility with their parents/guardians too.  However, considering that our students are spending the majority of their waking hours in school, we have a responsibility to do our part if we are expecting our students to use technology in our systems. 

I realize that not all schools are equipped with enough computers for all students, therefore our students are using their own cell phones for classes. By allowing students to use their own devices, we are inviting in distractions which have to be managed.  Great – yet another thing for our classroom teachers to try to manage.  Or is it?  I caution those who are quick to complain about this.  Recently Ontario has decided to ban cell phones in classes beginning at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.  I am curious how this will pan out.  I understand that concern about the distractions, but a student can be just as distracted while on a laptop as they can be on a phone.  I understand that they are faster on their phones with the distractions, however, distractions are always there.  I am concerned that this ban will narrow the educational experience to those in remote areas who do not have access to technology that those in larger centers do.   My other concern with this is:  What if it pans out well, although Saskatchewan believes that technology enhances equity and learning for all, will we follow suit and ban cell phones in our classrooms?  Will this then become inequitable for remote areas?  How will our classrooms adjust to still function within the government mandates?

Unit 4: Image #2 – The Evolving Look of Today’s Classrooms

 

This week’s lesson clicked, literally.  I was feeling a bit underwhelmed by the course, unsure if it was the right fit for me.  I agree with Dylan, I felt refreshed by the format of the lesson.  Then we listened to the podcasts/videos from Bart Cote and Guy Tetrault and it confirmed that I am in the right course, that I do have something to contribute and that I can expand my learning!  I felt as though I fit in with the pedagogy that these two gentlemen have set out for their divisions.  I felt as I was not alone on a lost island, being the only person to think this way, and want the same things as these gentlemen do.

As a mature undergrad student, I felt that the way I was being taught to teach was outdated – there was a better way to reach kids.  I had been an educational assistant for a long time before embarking on my journey to becoming an educator.  I also had children of my own – and had an idea of the type of teacher I wanted to be – I wanted to teach every student in the manner that I would want my own son’s taught.  Entering into M.Ed, I met professors that I connected with.  Alec Couros has had a profound impact on my education pathway.  Throughout his courses, he and Katia have led me towards an evolution of the classroom ecosystems that I have built.  Marc Spooner taught me that being creative could happen in many forms and that students could excel once they were allowed to explore their own learning styles.

connected classroom

This week, I connected with Bart Cote and Regina Catholic School Divisions ideology of technological leaders.  The connections that he was speaking about to those that I employ with my student’s as deep learners lined up perfectly, as it should because it is by Michael Fullan.

I really appreciated the SAMR model, although I have had the opportunity to explore it in the past, Bart’s explanation of not always staying in the deep end or you will drown hit home.  Today in our classrooms, teachers are asked to perform so many tasks while staying on top of ever-evolving technology.  Some will dive right in and begin to drown – overwhelmed by trying to stay afloat, while others won’t even dip their toes in.  I like the idea of diving deep in some areas while having the luxury to swim back to shore when needed.   The graphic below is a one that I found to be nice to share with colleagues who are attempting to integrate technology into their classrooms, in either a blended learning style or just wanting to try something different.

Image result for SAMR

If you are a G-Suite use the below image is very user friendly:

Image result for SAMR

Getting kids back into the  Sandbox is what I believe is important in education.  If we are not engaging our students in their learning outcomes, what type of education are they gaining?  Are they being educated?  This simply cannot be done alone, Guy Terrault spoke about Stealing out, stealing up, 21st-century skills must be modeled by teachers in order to be effectively carried out by our students.  the “stealing out, stealing up” idea models creativity and innovation.   But I wonder if the SunWest School Division’s model doesn’t fit more like the image below.  And, how many of us are already doing this in our classrooms without realizing it?  After all, aren’t you already considered a risk taker if you are incorporating some type of student-led technology in your classroom?

Image result for 21st century skills

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?

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…