First Whole Staff Presentation!

First things first – here’s the presentation!

Staff Presentation 30 Jan 2014

I do love Haiku Deck – beautiful presentations, guilt-free Creative Commons images, minimal text means avoiding inflicting ‘death by PowerPoint’.

And my reflection will simply consist of saying that I was worried that I was presenting to a crowd who weren’t that thrilled to hear the message – especially with numerous network, server, internet and printing issues at present – but the staff seemed genuinely receptive. ¬†I am so grateful for the positive feedback I received ūüôā ¬†The next presentation won’t seem so daunting!

My fabulous co-presenter and senior manager and I understand from staff that they are pleased to know there’s a clear vision, that time and resources are being devoted to carrying that vision through, and that there is genuine choice for them as learners. ¬†Hopefully that’s role modelling for ya ūüėČ

I touch the future; I teach – reflecting on Keri Facer’s “Learning Futures”

Let's touch the stars

On the recommendation of Steve Mouldey I purchased and read the truly thought-provoking book by Keri Facer: Learning Futures: Education, technology and social change.

In this well-structured and coherently argued book, Facer builds a compelling case for maintaining physical schools in the light of increasing claims about what the future will mean for education, such as those here.

While, of course, Facer’s “future-building school” of 2035 represents a significantly different educational institution to those of the local school down the road today, it is undeniably a physical presence in a literal building where human relationships are key.

Facer begins her book by exploring some of the exciting and some of the alarming potential futures ahead. ¬†In so doing though, she continually emphasises that the stories of the future she outlines are just that – potential narratives – just versions of what may or may not be. ¬†She calls us to take action now – not to see the future as something pre-determined, but as something that is created step-by-step from the decisions that we make today. ¬†The ‘ending’ of the story can be changed. ¬†And schools have a critical role to play in shaping the future – not just in churning out workers for jobs – but as nurturing citizens who may well have to grapple with environmental, biological, technological, generational and societal issues.

And, for me, it is this emphasis on the future as a story that particularly resonated: “The future is not something that is done to us, but an ongoing process in which we can intervene.” (p. 6) While there are indeed significant challenges ahead, and Facer argues that schools must become democratic hubs where learners explore how to live in an equitable, sustainable, connected way, ultimately I was left with the very hopeful feeling that teaching is really a tangible expression of optimism – that what we do can, and indeed should, make a difference.

So while I generally avoid such cheesy sentiments as those in my title, I too recommend to you Keri Facer’s¬†Learning Futures as a place to go to think about why education and schools are so crucial because in teaching we have the opportunity to ‘touch the future’.

Action Plan – Leading Professional Learning

OK, so the ‘Action Plan’ category of my blog is looking pretty light…but I’m OK with that. ¬†I’ve really been in an information gathering and big-time learning phase. ¬†And while that certainly won’t diminish, I am at a point where I can commit myself to some concrete action!

The first (and potentially biggest – with regards to scale) is the co-leading of entire school professional learning around the ‘whys’ and some of the ‘hows’ of integrating technology into lessons in order to shift pedagogical practice.

My wonderful senior manager and I have formulated this fabulous overview:

Marsden Professional Learning Sessions 2014

Every staff meeting this year (great commitment from the school) will be based around a 20/20/20 model: 20 minutes (probably from me) on the big-picture idea of shifting pedagogy and why we should bother; 20 minutes spent in a self-selected, practical, hands-on workshop; and 20 minutes of reflection, for example updating a professional learning portfolio (commenting on those RTCs!).

I’m feeling very positive and excited about this learning plan. ¬†I’m filled with hope ūüôā

What do you do?

Aha! ¬†The principal has approved my self-written job description! ¬†(Gotta love that opportunity.) ¬†So, in answer to all of you wondering what a ‘Future Learning Leader’ does, here you go:

Future Learning Leader

The Future Learning leader will inspire staff to develop a vibrant inquiry, blended learning ethos throughout the school.  As Future Leader the appointee will closely liaise with: the Principal, the Director of Teaching and Learning Systems, HODs and ICT team.


The Future Leader will:

a)     Lead and encourage the investigation of new pedagogies and their application in the curriculum.

b)     Be an excellent communicator.

c)     Be competent in the use of ICT.

d)     Demonstrate a commitment to:

  • developing and supporting the implementation of blended learning pedagogies across the range of learning areas.
  • co-ordinating professional learning.

Key Position Tasks of Future Leader:

  1. Lead professional learning in staff meetings to develop FL pedagogies.
  2. Attend HOD meetings to promote FL and blended learning approaches and inquiry practices.
  3. Assist departments and individual staff with FL inquiry and skill-building.
  4. Model or promote best practice examples of FL pedagogies.
  5. Encourage and support the development of personal/professional learning communities.
  6. Contribute to online library of workshops and instructional videos.
  7. Work on other related and relevant tasks as negotiated.


*Rubs hands with glee* ¬†Can’t wait!

A Panegyric: Twitter is not ‘just’ for stalking celebrities.

I love Twitter. ¬†There. ¬†I’ve said it. ¬†Judge all you like – but it is one of those things I’ve become a raving lunatic zealot about.

This is a relatively new state of being. ¬†I’ve actually had my Twitter account (@AKeenReader – ahem – follow me!) for a while, and only followed literary types and all things Shakespeare. ¬†I rarely tweeted, mostly retweeting the amazing comments and discoveries others made. ¬†Last year, I used it extensively to find up-to-date resources to share with colleagues and students – again, solely of the literature variety.

Then I went to ULearn (yup, sorry, that again) and still wondered why every presenter told you their Twitter handle. ¬†Were these people that desperate for followers? ¬†“O brave new world that has such people in it” – do we now count our worth based on our follower total?!

Ah, the naivety of the ignorant.

Looking back (a whopping three months), I’m not quite sure when or how the change came into being. ¬†I guess it was one of those tipping point things. ¬†I did keep an eye on the ULearn13 hashtag. ¬†I did start to follow some of the presenters I heard (shout out to @virtuallykaren and @ClaireAmosNZ). ¬†I started blogging, and came across some other blogs I really found interesting (thanks @GeoMouldey and @tomwhitby and @grantwiggins). ¬†And then, I found #edchat.

#Edchat is, exactly as it sounds, a Twitter chat about education. ¬†It is run out of the US, but is an open forum, moderated by educators on a democratically chosen topic. ¬†It runs in real time, everyone contributing, but of course in 140 characters at a go. ¬†Even better (sorry #edchat) there’s a NZ version aptly named #edchatNZ (hosted by @MissDSciTeacher).

Now, none of this really tells you why (or even how – for that, I strongly recommend¬†Edudemic,¬†and this blog post by Joann Fox¬†is awesome too – I won’t cover that here) you should be on Twitter. ¬†So, here it comes.

Got a passion? ¬†Need to find an up-to-the-minute resource? ¬†Want to connect with other learners/educators? ¬†Want to collaborate on a project? ¬†Want to pose a question? ¬†Want inspiration? ¬†Twitter is the place for you. ¬†Rarely is it that I check my Twitter feed (which, yes, my husband will tell you I do obsessively) and don’t find something quirky or thought-provoking or motivational.

I love Twitter and you should too.

I’m it! Tagged in Blogging Meme

My turn – I’ve been tagged into this blogging meme by Steve Mouldey (@GeoMouldey – blog post here) and Pia Bradshaw (@PiaMckay – blog post here). ¬†I’m flattered to be asked, so here I go…

The blogging task includes:

    • Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
    • Share 11 random facts about yourself.
    • Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
    • List 11 bloggers.
    • Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don‚Äôt nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

11 Random Facts:

  1. I always have tissues and lip balm in my right pocket.
  2. I have attended schools in three different countries as a student: in Dublin, Ireland, in Freiberg am Neckar, Germany, and, of course New Zealand.
  3. I have a bookshelf entirely dedicated to Shakespeare and Shakespeare-related books.  I have my own thesis on it!
  4. I get panicky if I don’t have a ‘next’ book lined up to read. ¬†There are currently 13 books beside my bed, two on another shelf, and an e-reader with a further two on it just waiting for me…
  5. My fingernails are currently painted a shade of purple called ‘Rockstar Royalty’.
  6. My middle name is Ruth. ¬†This is also my mother’s middle name, and my maternal Grandmother’s Christian name.
  7. I actively avoid physical activity.  I am waiting for speed-reading to be recognised by the Olympic committee.
  8. I am an annoyingly fussy eater who must force herself to eat fruit, but am pretty good at following a low-gluten diet.
  9. I love doing the Dominion Post 2-speed crossword with my Dad. ¬†But I have to cover up the ‘regular’ clues with a post-it, or else my eyes stray and I cheat. ¬†And yes, Dad’s better at the crossie than me.
  10. I worked at the Hamilton Public Library throughout university. ¬†When we got ‘caught’ reading, our response was that we were ‘familiarising ourselves with the stock.’
  11. My all-time favourite teaching moment was in 2007 when my much beloved year group at Aquinas College in Tauranga presented me with an engraved silver cross.

Pia’s 11 Questions for me:

1) What are you doing and where are you, in your favourite photo?


This is me as a child (maybe 4??) reading the Irish Times when we lived in Dublin. ¬†Don’t ask me about the sunglasses. ¬†I think I thought I looked cool. ¬†Ironic considering I now have to wear glasses…

2) What is your favourite sport to play or watch?

Hmmm see random fact 7.  I do understand cricket.

3) If I gave you 2 million dollars, but in order to keep 1 million you had to give away 1 million, who would you give it to and why?
Some money to my little brother who just got engaged! ¬†But mostly charities whose work I support: Women’s Refuge, KidsCan, Amnesty International, SPCA. ¬†Anyone who builds schools and libraries.
4) Finish this sentence. ¬†The best board game to play on a rainy day is…….Pictionary – as long as I can play with my Dad coz we’re a mean team!
5) What is your favourite room in your house and why?
Anywhere there’s sun and a good book. ¬†Like a cat, I move around based on where it’s shining onto a soft surface.
6) What is the best format to watch a movie – DVD, Blu-ray or Cinema?
Only the one option in this house: DVD. ¬†I do enjoy going to the cinema though – and there’s a great one right around the corner.
7) What was the best deal or sale you have made online?
Not sure…not a huge online shopper. ¬†Last purchase was a copy of “Gerald McBoing Boing” as a present for my brother.
8) When are your energy levels at their peak?
Neither a morning person, nor a night-owl.  Strictly 10am-4pm, baby!
9) How do you prefer to display books? e.g. colour order, dewey system, favourite books at the front
There’s a bit of a hierarchy to my three bookshelves, but currently the most prominent bookshelf has its books in ROYBGIV order.
10) When did you last read a magazine and what was the name of it?
In the middle of the lastest “Home and Garden” right now.
11) When swimming, how do you prefer to enter the water?
Dive right on in!
Steve’s 11 Questions for me:
1. What was the best Edu book/blog/article you read last year? Why?
Yikes Рthis is a seriously tough one.  Too many to really choose, but this one from Claire Amos is probably right up there.  It provided a really great overview of the different ideas I was exploring at just the right time for me.
2. Where is the strangest place you have visited?
Perhaps not conventionally strange, but the¬†Butchart Gardens¬†in Vancouver – simply because it was on the bus tour to get to where I really wanted to go: Victoria Island. ¬†I’m not especially into gardens. ¬†And especially not when I’ve just halved the average age of the tourists…
3. What is your hidden advantage that others don’t realise about you?
“Though she be but little, she is fierce”. ¬†Thanks, Shakespeare.
4. What is your guilty pleasure?
Uh-oh, serious confession time.  E! Channel.  Yup, sorry.
5. What is one nickname you have had?
Briefly known as Splat at university when me and my scooter came off slightly worse for wear against a car at a T-junction.
6. Do you have a pet hate?
Embarrassingly, probably too many to list. ¬†A bit OCD, me. ¬†For the purposes of just picking one: People who don’t give thanks when you’ve let them into a queue when driving.
7. Which school that you have not visited would you most like to visit?
Hobsonville Point Secondary School!
8. Who/where/what do you turn to for inspiration or motivation?
At the moment, I’m a total convert to Twitter.
9. Lance Armstrong: Drug Cheat or Hero?
I’m not good with seeing things as absolutes. ¬†The truth is always infinitely more complex than we know. ¬†Somewhere on the spectrum towards making some poor choices.
10. Latest hobby that you started/developed?
I got back into crochet in the winter.
11. Favourite public holiday?
I guess I should go with something deep and meaningful, but today, when the sun’s shining, I think: Queen’s Birthday – because that falls in June when you really need a break.
Tagged: @rosmaceachern, @alwestnz, @SusanFeron, @virtuallykaren, @CbwynnWynn, @MissesArtech, @arti_choke, @BeLchick1, @Oceanblue1975, @melulater
(Only 10, but my excuse is English teachers can’t count – and apologies for any double-ups.)
Google Doc¬†– once you’ve done so you can see who’s been previously tagged.
11 Questions for you now to conquer:
  1. Who has been a colleague (past or present) that you have regarded as a mentor?
  2. What is your favourite NZ native bird, and why?
  3. What was your favourite book as a child?
  4. Worst job ever!  What was it?
  5. What’s the icebreaker question or activity you use to get to know someone?
  6. Best person to follow on Twitter for one of your passions?
  7. What is your least favourite household chore?
  8. What’s one lesson/activity/unit that you really look forward to teaching?
  9. Fly first class to your overseas destination and have a little less spending money, or fly ‘cattle class’ and have a little more in your pocket?
  10. What’s a web tool or app that you’ve come across recently that you’d heartily recommend to others?
  11. If you hosted a dress-up party, what theme would you choose, and why?