My reflections on three 'away' PLD events this term
GEGNZ Sparkshop in Auckland 28 May 2016
(go to the Twitter Stream here)
It's been great to catch up with other GEG NZ educators. Approx. 50 participants shared, learned and collaborated on a variety of topics around the use of Google Apps in education. I really enjoyed the session with +Ellie Mackwood around using DTs with learners with SEN - a lot of this applicable to our young learners in our y2&3 ILE, too. Another fabulous session was run by +Lenva Shearing, she shared a multitude of useful Chrome Apps and Extensions. I especially appreciated the extra time she took over lunch to show us some of the ins and outs of Hapara Teacher Dashboard.
Apart from the app tricks and tips that come in useful as my students are working more within GAFE, I have been reflecting on the way PLD event experiences differ from when I attended them as a facilitator to attending them as a teacher. As a facilitator I looked for a wide range of applicable learning that I could pass on to the educators I have been working with. Often I would bookmark tools, presentations etc. for later and sit down and tutu until I was confident I could pass this on to an interested teacher. As a classroom teacher now I am looking more for ideas that are directly relevant for my context and the learners I am working with. With no time set aside in my day to 'play', I probably pick up on fewer tools than in the past (not saying this is better or worse, just noting that this is different).
I also reflected on the attendees and the content of the presentations. This was free PD and even with my rather patchy Social Media presence nowadays I saw it advertised weeks ago (and two colleagues joined me). Among the 50odd participants there were few of the GEG educators I used to meet in the past (having been overseas for a year probably added to that). Another participant mentioned she was surprised that not more Auckland teachers took up this offer of free PD. I suppose Saturday morning sports are an important commitment for many teachers and parents, reports coming up etc. all have an impact.
Educamp Tai Tokerau in Whangarei 11 June 2016
I had been to two EducampTT previously (from memory), and this one probably had fewer attendees than the ones in the past. I believe the annual event did not run in 2015, so I expect this had an impact - as well as the game All Blacks vs. Wales in Auckland the same day. And again it was a Saturday where many of the rural primary teachers have commitments. [One of my wonderings: Am I right that there are more primary than secondary teachers represented at such events, and why is that?]
In difference to the Auckland event, there were lots of familiar 'experts' present. Due to the number of attendees rather than individual workshops, a smaller number of topics were presented to everyone in the room.
I personally gained less from this than from the previous experiences, but it gave me an opportunity to revisit some of the tools I have come across previously. Especially Edpuzzle is something I want to explore more; I would like to investigate flipping my classroom, and Educreations could be one way to record 'lessons', or I could use Edpuzzle for a range of existing (or my own) videos with or without added questions for my students.
As I had not quite had enough of commuting that week lol, I also attended the Open Night at the MindLab Whangarei 13 June 2016.
First thing I realised was how long it takes to travel from Mangonui to Whangarei - at least 1h 45min. I am lucky to live in Kerikeri, 45min south of Mangonui. As I have previously written about, I am very passionate about professional learning for rural and isolated teachers, and commuting to Whangarei for a 4h sessions every week for (I think) 16 weeks would be hard work. In 2015 I had encourage the MindLab to come to Whangarei for Northland teachers to be able to take advantage of the great programme they are offering, but back in the classroom working long hours, I would struggle with the commute alone.
Karen Baker competently presented the 'intro' to the course. I was interested to see that the ITL research was quoted, something I had not come across much in New Zealand before but have worked with intensively in Australia. It sounded like I would enjoy a lot of the content, but given that I have worked across this field previously I am not sure that I would find enough 'new' learning to justify taking that much time away from my day job and my family (please note the order... sigh...)
I am incredibly thankful to my colleagues for their company on the trip to Auckland and to our principal for the financial support.