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Portfolio of Professional Growth
Transcript of Portfolio of Professional Growth
I am from trying to find out where I belong
revolving best friends
lending a helping hand
and sugar coating everything
I am from home made cinnamon buns,
fresh baked cookies
and spaghetti sauce made with a mix
I am from stand up for what you believe
a mother telling me to follow my passion
and a father telling me to just get over it
I am from a cabbage patch doll
chosen from the trunk of a car
Princess Di haircuts
and buying my first bra at Wool-worths
I am from stubborn willpower
even in the face of the same bowl of vegetable soup
served up for breakfast, lunch and dinner
starving for three whole days
I am from repression
the building up of feelings
resentment expressing itself
in the face of the most trivial of things
I am from red
racing forward at break-neck speed
hoping for fulfillment
and rarely enjoying the journey
I am from school comes first
even when you have the chicken pox
I am from life experience
embracing the good in my life
and learning from the bad
finding what I want around every corner
and having my perfect life and sometimes one step back Eric Freeman
Red Inside Green
oil on linen I am red and green. RED
My Natural State of Being
Hard working, determined, thourough and perservering
Enthusiastic leader - drives for results
Industrious and decisive
Maintains high self standards in self and others GREEN
My Learned State of Being
Looks for the good in others
Not easily ruffled or flustered
Strong sense of personal values Reflection on the process of uncovering the roots my assumptions:
In going through the process of determining
where our pre-conceived notions are derived
I found my green starting to dissapate and crack and my red start to take over. It was like unleashing a red monster whom I'd worked very hard at controlling. This really was a one step back experience for me. Once I re-engaged this side of my personality through autobiographical reflection and colour mapping, I was continuously frustrated and aware of my red tendencies dominating everything around me . There were moments I wish I had not done it at all. My frustration and judgemental side was flexing it's muscles and I didnt' like myself. I am still in the process of trying to repair and find balance. I'm sure I will learn a lot from trying to accomplish this and it wills serve a purpose in my future - but wow is it hard work. Autobiography and Assumptions Learning Tree Spring 2010 "To some extent we are all prisoners trapped within the
perceptual frameworks that determine how we view our experiences. A self-confirming cycle often develops, in which our uncritically accepted assumptions shape actions that then serve to confirm the truth of those assumptions. We find it very difficult to stand outside ourselved and see how some of our most deeply held values and beliefs lead us into distorted adn constrained ways of being"
-Brookfield, pg.29 To My Instructors,
As I thought about the question - What, in teaching, are you most passionate about? - several things flashed through my thought process:
bringing out the best in my students
sharing with peers
being involved in the bigger picture of school, district, province
After looking at my list I realized that it is a very different list than what I would have written 5-10 years ago. Having returned to teaching following my fourth maternity leave, I switched to the Coquitlam School District. This switch has led me on a path of discovery about my practice, connection with the district community and has opened up doors for me to begin my journey as a leader and mentor. I feel as though I am just beginning the second phase of my teaching career in which I make a shift from learning and experimenting to sharing, leading and navigating.
My learning style has also undergone a shift. I used to learn and apply myself to my studies as a means to an end goal- i.e.: ‘do this - get that’ attitude. About three to four years ago I began to develop an understanding about how my energy affects the opportunities placed in front of me, the people who surround me and ultimately the direction of my life. I am developing a deeper understanding of how to step back, absorb what is going on and reserve judgement. I am noticing daily, that by opening myself up to the potential of a situation there is always the potential for insight. I used to be quick to judge and quick to offer an opinion whereas now I am working on not judging and looking for the opportunity in each situation for positive energy and growth. In undergoing this transformative shift my qualitative learning style is more open and reflective. I possess the clarity to know that what I need to learn will present itself in my life, the confidence to pursue depth of understanding, the determination to grow, the openness to listen and the reflective ability to turn theory into practice.
I look forward to working with you, hearing what you have to say, and engaging in transformative conversations.
Kindergarten teacher I am learning that a successful mentor must find ways to take the mentee’s learning process from lesson mimicry to a deeper understanding of core process so as to facilitate a shift in teaching methodology. I am learning how to develop a professional learning community that is respectful, celebrates strengths, identifies core questions and works for the betterment of all its members. I am learning that student empowerment and leadership are the skills needed to build the foundation needed to compete in a global marketplace. Is the percieved "step back" more important than the two steps forward? How do we compete with the world? How should technology be used in our classroom? What is the role of the teacher in an information society where all information is at one's fingertips? What role does constructivism play in preparing my students for the future? Initial Reflection in my teacher log:
-The question is how do I come up with an easy way to foster and develop a system that creates meaningful experiences for both parent and child? Extended Reflection:
I had all these thoughts towards the end of the Stuart Shanker presentation - and they were again brought up as I read the first chapter in our Leadership text. I have two conflicting thoughts on this subject and I’m not sure how to bring them into harmony. My first thought is that involved parents make a difference and my second is that kids often need time away from a parental influence to really come into themselves as thinkers and social beings.
As a parent, I have been a PAC president and a regular volunteer at my kids schools - I know that my presence impacts the lens through which they view the world. When I passed on the PAC president role - my daughter said “well who is going to bring the fun to our school?” My eldest son and daughter heard me talking about a visit I had made to my son’s preschool and they both begged me to come and help in their rooms too. I know that parent involvement has impact on them, their classmates and the teacher - but does it feel meaningful to the parent?
This past week I have been trying to figure out what makes a good parent volunteer experience. I know that I, as a parent, want to feel as though I had impact, that what I do to help has meaning, that it’s more than just a play/observe kind of visit.
As a teacher, I notice that there are some parents who are great volunteers and are able to be in the classroom without creating an emotional issue with their child. While other parents have a really negative impact on their child’s sense of independence and the student become clingy and unsocial. I have a -volunteers welcome- sign on my door with a letter explaining how a volunteer would be a real asset to our learning - yet I have had very few volunteers. I send lovely thank you notes to the volunteers and I make sure that their child knows how much I enjoyed having their mom, dad, or grandparents help. I have inspired two moms to become teachers and yet I still feel I could do more - I explored this issue last week and thought that perhaps it was because parents feel that K is play and they already do that at home - so why spend the morning doing it too? I know a few really enjoy their first taste of freedom in at least 5 years and take well deserved time to themselves and the rest have little ones that they care for. The others work. Time is a factor!
Part of me envies the private school practice of mandatory volunteer hours. I think it would be amazing to say you have to spend time here and see what we are doing and how we are doing it.
In order to address the issue - I thought that as our class begins turning our classroom into a science lab that perhaps they could develop a science experiment at home with their family and then present it to the class(it is an optional thing). I left the days for presenting open to their schedule. I think this type of involvement fosters conversation, family fun and hopefully a way to get people in. I have had a good response so far - I’ll see how it pans out.
This seems significant because, as was reiterated to me at the Shanker presentation - a child can be taught self-regulation at any age if they are nurtured to do so. It is never too late - but parents play an integral role and need guidance on how to do it. So, if this is the case - am I not only there to teach the child but also the family? How do I do this without preaching and how do I do this, as stated in our leadership text, in a way that creates parent leaders?
I asked Stuart Shanker about the ‘changing child effect’ and he said that I should involve the parent in a leadership role and give them a title to build their self-esteem and make it a job in the school - not the classroom so that they still feel validated and their child can see the connection between home and school. - It made me think and feel a bit overwhelmed too! Hmmmmm- where to take this? Is a parent job chart the way to go - they have them at my child’s pre-school and parents seem pretty willing to help. I am interested in asking parents about why they do or don’t volunteer - what makes a volunteer experience enjoyable, what makes it unenjoyable - that type of thing. Assumptions and Action:
Voice of students (and parents)
The student voice was not present in my reflection at all.
My action is to start considering the world through my students eyes and include their take on the world in my thinking. It is interesting that this came up because when we divided into groups about which lens we had the most trouble with, I chose this one.
The parent voice was present but I made many assumptions about what they might be feeling and thinking.
My action is to talk with more parents and find out what/and if this is an issue for them and why.
I used my experience as a teacher, parent and learner during this reflection and I also noticed that I asked a lot of questions during my reflection that cause me to reflect as I reread what I wrote - it’s a big circle of reflection that never ends!
My action is to continue to ask questions and hopefully search out the answers by using the other lenses available to me as I reflect and move forward in inquiry.
Theories and Readings
Stuart Shanker presentation - Self-regulation
Stephen Brookfield - Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher
Kieran Egan - The Ideas That Run Schools
Lambert - first chapter
All of these readings tied into my reflection and without them as a starting point this reflection would not have happened. Theory, as I strongly felt during our group activity to divide to the lens we feel most comfortable with, is a strong presence in this reflection as well.
My action will be to continue to read and attend as many theory experiences as possible . They have huge impact on me as a learner, teacher, parent and leader.
Voice of Colleagues
While the voice of colleagues is only slightly felt in this piece - I should note that following this reflection I sought out and had several interesting discussions with staff and admin on this topic. It was an interesting way to flesh out the practical applications of theory and learn how others approach the question - although a fifteen minute recess break is a very short time frame. It was a wonderful experience and one I would gladly have again and again.
My action is to continue this practice of debriefing and exploring theory with peers. Educators talking with one another about practice
Educators sharing thier craft knowledge
Educators observing one another while they are engaged in practice
Educators rooting for one another's success
-Roland Barth (pg 11 in Relationships Within the Schoolhouse) My reflections about being a mentor:
It is a real honour to be acknowledged as a Master Teacher and to be given the gift of being a demonstration classroom. However with this gift I often am left being very aware of how isolating teaching can be. When I teach I am fully engaged with my students, which leaves me recess (15 min) in which to discuss the theory and implementation process behind what I do with a visiting colleague.
How do I maximize this 15 minutes? What questions should I ask that promote relflection and change? How do I optimize this connection? Should I set up a blog or e-mail list that keeps us in touch and sharing our growth? How can I optimize this time?
I often get thank you notes following a visit and when I run into a teacher who has visited I often hear the phrase "Oh Itried activity A that you had set out in your clssroom and it was a lot of fun. Thanks for the idea. This in itself is not a bad think but it makes me question if I did a good enough job imparting the theaory behind my pracitce? My pracitce revolves entirely around the children's interests and all activities I bring to them are to further their engagemnt in what they are currently exploring, so if a teacher is taking this idea - does it really tie into what his'her students are interested in or have they turned by child centered approach into a didactic experience?
I don't know.... In doing so, I have begun a journey that will give me focus for professional growth and tailored reflection... Through this process, I hope to develop as a mentor and leader who is capable of asking probing questions that deepen understanding and inspire those around me to seek answers... How can I ready my students for this world? If information has no value - what does? Parents in our Learning Community How do I teach beyond the child to the family? How can I foster parents as partners? The Future of Education Did I make you think? I found this link on our Super Intendant's Blog about leadership. He posts a new entry everymonth on the subject and it is always an interesting read. So... Reflect: A core piece of my portfolio demonstrates not only my reflections, but also the questions and thinking that they have provoked. I am not typically one for written reflection, I prefer to think on something, formulate a plan and begin to take action. The writing process has been an intersting one and I think starting a teaching blog (as I plan to do) will help me explore this type of reflection even further. At this point I have more questions than answers - and I'm okay with that.
Explore: I feel like the first term of this program has been more like self-discovery and councelling than anything else. As I mentioned in one of my refelctions - I really felt like this process was digging up things that I wanted to stay under the surface....but I think I have come out with a better understanding of myself as colleague, mentor, teacher and leader. Note:
While I did not feel that my baseline porfolio learning statements embraced the capacities of Investigate, Lead and Collaborate, I would like to assure you that I have spent considerable time reading and investigating theories on leadership, constructivism and self-regulation. I have also put into place some frameworks for establishing future collaboration. I think my next portfolio update will show this growth. Capacities At Work April 2010 I am
is a needed foundation for meaningful growth and development in my professional life. I have learned that undivided attention is a key component of successful mentorship/leadership. I am learning that 21st century education looks very different in different parts of the world. I have learned that the skills of facilitation and coaching take practice and conscious effort to implement A letter I wrote for Nancy to take on her trip and share with the teachers Latin America she was there to facilitate:
I was very inspired by the challenge that the women you are working with have taken on. I have written a letter to them and if you feel comfortable with it plese share it with them.
Hello fellow teachers,
As a teacher in Canada, I am inspired and in awe of the challenge you are facing. I salute your goal of equal education for both genders and having the priveledge of living in a society where equality is a shared value, I can tell you that your work is profound. It is often said that an individual can have a hard time making a big difference in global identiy - but the work you are undertaking is just that- an endeavor to change the world one student at a time. When set backs happen, as they quite probably could, please remember that you have the support and encouragement of teachers in Canada and we are humbled by your undertaking.
May your learning journey take you to new heights and may you take the time to count your blessings with each student you teach. While the vision is BIG the realationships you build with your fellow teachers and your amazing students will give you the solid foundation you need to accomplish your goal.
As a woman and as a teacher - I salute you! Bravo!
I hope you have a wonderful trip! You make me want to be a better person. Thank you
Kindergarten Teacher in Coquitlam Canada A Reflection on 21st Century Learning:
Listening to Nancy speak of her trip to help teachers confront the inequity of gender that Latin America is facing made me realize that 21 century learning looks different in different areas of the world. While talk here is of technology and individualized learning projects, in other parts of the world 21 century learning means attempting to attain what we, in Canada, already have. Gender equality, nurturing safe environment without corporal punishment, buildings to teach in, resource aquisition and socialization are some of the issues that pop into mind. While we have a goal of pushing education forward -should we not also have the goal of creating parity in education globally? No problem can get solved on the level it was created.
-Albert Einstein October 25,
I had an interesting chance to try facilitator skills and I could have done better. The parents whom with I am having a difficult time came in for a meeting today. I went into the meeting glad for the opportunity to clear the slate and start again. The parents came in wanting the same thing and also to vent a bit - I did not interrupt them or intervene when I thought they were misrepresenting what happened. I tried to move our relationship forward. In my mind I was telling myself to be quiet and to listen - at one point I even said to myself I should paraphrase back what I was hearing - but I didn’t get/make the opportunity to do this. While we all left the situation feeling like we were willing to start fresh, I still felt a little railroaded. It is very difficult to endure misinformation - or rather take in a different persons representation of a conversation that you don’t feel represents what happened. I know that not arguing the case was the best way to move the relationship forward - but boy am I bothered by it. I know my administrators respect me as a teacher but it hurt to be misrepresented in front of them. I know I need to suck this up and beginning with a fresh slate is definitely the way to go. The parents were able to stay and watch me teach for a bit - it was our launch of our pirate ship today. I think this experience might have also helped to smooth things over. It also gave them a chance to observe their son in my class. It was a fun morning and I hope that our relationship will develop into a positive experience.
I have a quote in my bathroom that says Happiness is when what you think, what you do and what you say are in harmony. I hope that by wanting to start fresh, letting the parents vent and not being defensive - but rather open to the possibilities will bring me happiness. Right now I just feel a little down .... This learning was important to me because is gave me a new perspective that brought me to a higher level of thinking. Being able to transend some of the red parts of my personality was a really big step for me. To lay aside my desire to right and be seen as right was a big step for me. I still need to work on raising myself up to a different level to solve problems in a conscious well thougth out manner. It is by no mean s internaized yet.....but one day, with practice and vigilence to this type of problem solving practice, it will be. This learning is important because:
-understanding our educational place in the world puts things in perspective
-thinking about the future helps us plan for our educational role of the present
-being connected to a global conversation about 21st century learning helps broaden my thought processes
-understanding what 21st century learning means in other cultures puts our culture in a different light
-It’s made me look beyond myself as a parent, educator and learner In essence, Dan Wolf, editor of the village voice, shaped the organization by listening and asking the right questions, eliciting ideas that people hadn't even known they had.
-Sally Helgensen - Web of Inclusion We should not be talking to, but with. That is the second nature to any good teacher.
-Noam Chomsky The best methods for a given teacher is the one which is most familiar to the teacher.
-Leo Tolstoy Explore:I have been exploring my place within the spectrum of 21st century learning as well as my role as leader/mentor/coach within my profession. I have done this through readings (text, articles, TED, Youtube presentations, poetry, philosophy, blogs, websites), discussion, journaling, and interactions with others. I am working at integrating my learnings into my practice and leadership. I hope my growth in this area will help me reach out to the larger educational world while allowing me to reflect on my day-to-day practice and what values I would like my students to carry with them into their future. Investigate:I have read many textbooks, websites, articles as well as watched many TED talks and you tube clips of educational/communication theory. I also took an on-line course about coaching. I have also thoughtfully participated in group discussion as well as professional conversations with colleagues. Overall, this capacity has helped me re-think how to integrate theory into practice. I have had several revelations about the blending and authentication of changing practice. Mostly, I have realized that in order to apply theory - you have to reflect on each situation and what you could have, should have done, revisit the theoretical models that can help you with future framework and then try, try again, until it is a part of your communication style. I am working on integrating practice in to leadership. I hope to evolve my communication techniques to be internalized and bare some resemblance to the mentors who have influenced me as well as represent the theory that I have been reading. Harmony. Harmony between thoughts, deeds and theory and practice. Collaborate:I have been working with my cohort, my inquiry group, student teacher, new Kindergarten teachers, Learning support teachers, administration, peers, parents and students to collaborate and transform educational practices. Through this process I am learning about communication theory, thought provoking educational theories, individualized needs and ways in which I can contribute to my profession. I feel that I am in the developing stages of this capacity and that, as life balances out, I will be able to put more focus on engaging in this area more deeply. This capacity was huge part of my term, yet I still feel I could go deeper and have more impact in the future. I hope to take Nancy and Alison’s suggestion and branch out to a bigger professional community as well as be more involved in mentorship within the district.Lead:I have been working on taking on a leadership role within the district. I have joined the Kindergarten Teacher’s Mentorship group and am working with three other teachers to reach out and connect with new K teachers. I have also been working with a student teacher. My inquiry group was a wonderful group of women committed to elevated discussion and a passion for growth. Their support and conversation has elevated my role in a leadership capacity. I am still at the beginning stages of this capacity and working towards integrating leadership in to my professional life. My goal in this area is to create professional opportunities for growth for, not only myself, but for my peers. It will begin within the K mentorship role and hopefully expand. I have been asked to join a pedagogical discussion/group on documentation beginning in the spring. Hopefully this will lead to some possible opportunities for leadership.Personal Capacity to Communicate:This umbrella statement capacity is pervasive in my work this term/year. I have been wrestling with my communication style and attempting to learn new theory in hopes of tweaking how I interact with others. Communication seems to be the cornerstone capacity for leadership, reflection, collaboration, exploration and investigation. I have spent this term in professional development around this skill and I have began to notice a shift in how I interact with others. I am still at the beginning stages and will continue to read and implement philosophy when, where and however I can in order to internalize this process. Investigate:I have read many textbooks, websites, articles as well as watched many TED talks and you tube clips of educational/communication theory. I also took an on-line course about coaching. I have also thoughtfully participated in group discussion as well as professional conversations with colleagues. Overall, this capacity has helped me re-think how to integrate theory into practice. I have had several revelations about the blending and authentication of changing practice. Mostly, I have realized that in order to apply theory - you have to reflect on each situation and what you could have, should have done, revisit the theoretical models that can help you with future framework and then try, try again, until it is a part of your communication style. I am working on integrating practice in to leadership. I hope to evolve my communication techniques to be internalized and bare some resemblance to the mentors who have influenced me as well as represent the theory that I have been reading. Harmony. Harmony between thoughts, deeds and theory and practice. Collaborate:I have been working with my cohort, my inquiry group, student teacher, new Kindergarten teachers, Learning support teachers, administration, peers, parents and students to collaborate and transform educational practices. Through this process I am learning about communication theory, thought provoking educational theories, individualized needs and ways in which I can contribute to my profession. I feel that I am in the developing stages of this capacity and that, as life balances out, I will be able to put more focus on engaging in this area more deeply. This capacity was huge part of my term, yet I still feel I could go deeper and have more impact in the future. I hope to take Nancy and Alison’s suggestion and branch out to a bigger professional community as well as be more involved in mentorship within the district. Lead:I have been working on taking on a leadership role within the district. I have joined the Kindergarten Teacher’s Mentorship group and am working with three other teachers to reach out and connect with new K teachers. I have also been working with a student teacher. My inquiry group was a wonderful group of women committed to elevated discussion and a passion for growth. Their support and conversation has elevated my role in a leadership capacity. I am still at the beginning stages of this capacity and working towards integrating leadership in to my professional life. My goal in this area is to create professional opportunities for growth for, not only myself, but for my peers. It will begin within the K mentorship role and hopefully expand. I have been asked to join a pedagogical discussion/group on documentation beginning in the spring. Hopefully this will lead to some possible opportunities for leadership. Personal Capacity to Communicate:This umbrella statement capacity is pervasive in my work this term/year. I have been wrestling with my communication style and attempting to learn new theory in hopes of tweaking how I interact with others. Communication seems to be the cornerstone capacity for leadership, reflection, collaboration, exploration and investigation. I have spent this term in professional development around this skill and I have began to notice a shift in how I interact with others. I am still at the beginning stages and will continue to read and implement philosophy when, where and however I can in order to internalize this process. Capacities Explore Personal Capacity:
Communicate Investigate Collaborate Lead This reading made me think of my first Principal and mentor, Wes Durksen. I was struck by the time he always took to address my concerns and issues as a new teacher. His door was always open. he turned his computer screen away when he sat down to talk - basically he put me first. He did this with everyone on staff. It was welcoming, encouraging and without judgement. It was safe. The Reflective Educator's Guide to Mentoring by Diane Yendol'Hoppey and Nancy Fichtman Dana
The Mentor's Spirit by Marsha Sinetar
Stp-by-step Coaching by Marilyn Atkinson
People Skills by Robert Bolton
Turning to One Another by Margret Wheatley
The Web of Inclusion by Sally Helgesen
Are You Listening? by Lisa Burman
Mentoring Matters by Laura Lipton
Working Together by James Calvin
Teaching, a selection of poems
Interviews with school leaders to gain their perspectives on mentorship and facilitation
On-line introductory course through Erikson College about coaching
TED talks about leadership
National Staff Development Council website
Superintendent’s blog on SD43 website
A Continuum of interaction, article published through the BCTF
Asking the Right Question: The Essence of Teaching, Selma Wassermann
Principles of High-Quality Mentoring, Ellen Moir, Dara Barlin, Janet Gless, Jan Miles
Leaders First Change Themselves, Dennis Sparks
Change Agent, Michael Fullan Mentoring Matters Primary Skills Rubric:
This rubric allowed me to assess my base line skills and evaluate how I was turning theory into practice. I completed a baseline in September and revisited the rubric in December. I noticed substantial growth in 'attnding fully' and some growth in 'inviting thinking' and 'sustaining thinking'. I learned that I need to work on the coaching skills of trusting that the mentee has the right answer rather than offering up my own ideas. I am also working on putting all of the components together on a consitent basis. “It is the theory that decides what can be observed” - Albert Einstein “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.”
-Friedrich Engels A Continuum of Interaction
Developing a continuum of interaction was inspired by a BCTF document entitled ‘A Continuum of Interaction’ and by Nancy and Alison who have been encouraging me to understand time and place around using communication skills. The BCTF document uses a scale of consulting, collaborating and coaching. I have been looking at my interactions through the lenses of mentoring, facilitating and coaching.
Mentoring is a place where I have more information than the mentee, and would like to impart the information in order to help them build a foundation for future ownership and skill.
Facilitation is when I can help a person take ownership of a concept and help them turn it into their own internalized process.
Coaching is leading them to their own idea and giving them the space to develop confidence/insight into what they already are capable of. Bibliography of My Term: This learning is important because, at times throughout this process, I have felt overwhelmed at the magnitude of adjusting my communication techniques. I want to be authentic and true to the theory that I have been studying. I am acutely aware of when I am not following the theory aspects of communication and struggle with adjusting my instincts around facilitation and coaching. Listening to my inner dialogue as I try out strategies and/or forget strategies and then kick myself mentally is like a constant barrage of self-critique. There are times I wish that I could just have a conversation without any theory popping into my head and then I realize that this was a journey I undertook for admirable purposes and I continue on. It is important learning and it will make me a better communicator and facilitator. Once theory is internalized, my skill set will be more in tune with leadership opportunities. Time and practice - this is my current mantra. 10 000 hours of practice is needed to become an expert at something (as suggested by Malcom Gladwell’s book Outliers). So I am now on hour 200ish....9800 more to go. I look forward to my growth during this time and noticing how my style and influence will change as I experiment and implement. This learning is important because is helps put things in perspective. Understanding that 21st century learning in Afganistan is about gender opportunity (not even equality) helps mold the experience I create in my classroom. It would be easy to focus on technology when thinking about the 21st century, but perhaps the focus should be on passing on the values of our society to the next generation. Being aware of gender equality, bullying, equal opportunity, acceptance, friendship, democracy, critical thinking and manners should be the focus of our schooling system. Giving our young people a foundation for influencing positive change in a global economy and empowering them to embrace their position of influence in the world to impact change. This learning has made me question what should be taught in a kindergarten classroom. With every new piece of literature on our educational horizon I question a little more and ask ‘what can I do?’ today to make a difference tomorrow. My Learning Tree - Fall 2010 Themes of Learning Professionalism encompasses all areas of growth.
One has to be aware of
theory, practice, the individuals around them and their needs,
global practice and a desire to be better. It is a whole package
that requires skills, practice and conscious effort. Being attuned to others is a corner stone of good practice. Inquisitiveness is a gateway to growth.
Asking the questions, building the bridges and searching
out the answers were all part of my growth this term. Communication is a key to growth and change.
Communicate with my peers, mentees, teachers as well as taking in different types of communication such as webcasts, books and articles. It is in communicating that we can shape our own views of the world. My Learning Tree - Spring 2011 How can relationships with colleagues, students, friends and family be filled with care and life balance? Can one maintain relationships based on an ethic of care and still maintain balance within their life? Good enough might be
my answer... I am begining to internalize the difference between a leader and a facilitator. I am learning that practicing the ethic of care leads to questions about boundaries, consequences and life balance. I am learning that daily, thoughtful conversations can lead to big things. I am learning about myself as a learner. This work has greatly influenced my teaching work, in that it has expanded my role as a professional beyond the classroom. I am hooked on the idea of facilitating and having daily conversations with peers. I am keenly aware of how my work place can be a better place through the implementation of caring conversations and the sharing of ideas. I know that what I was involved with during my field study will perpetuate itself over and over again for the rest of my career. I think I rose to the challenge that serendipitously presented itself during a conversation about the philosophy of education and, in the process, increased my confidence and skill set. I plan to bring the art of facilitation to my teaching. The activities that work for workshops can also work for learning in the classroom. I am looking forward to bringing the art of good group activities to my daily teaching practice.I will take what I have learned about conversations to my work as a mentor, teacher and peer. I plan to be especially aware of my daily interactions during high stress times and during the late winter part of the year when our energy is low and optimism is at a premium. Perhaps most life changing is that this process has given me a desire to teach a higher grade level. I am keenly aware of a desire to have in depth conversations and creating some deep level learning through inquiry with my students. While, to some extent, this is possible with K, the conversations and the ability to represent learning in depth is now a deep seated craving that I hope to pursue with a higher grade level. Now, with each new endeavor I ask: where do I fit on the ladder? How can I better prepare myself for the ups and downs of leadership?
As I am a results driven, get it done kind of person - how can I frame my goals so I can care for those involved, have passion for the goal and reduce my frustration when things are moving along slowly? Can a facilitator as leader model really work?
I wonder this because of the process I went through with my staff. Separating myself from the outcome was an important part of the process of facilitating. Should a leader separate from their goal? How can goals be restated for the leader to feel comfortable with the process? Group #1 (Keiran Egan, Nel Noddings, John Dewey, Sue Montebello, Andy Hargreaves)
These resources were primarily used during the first phase of my inquiry. I read them with the intent to better understand the philosophical spectrum of education. I found the Dewey quite fascinating. It was like getting a glimpse into the start of modern educational practice. I was inspired to think that one person could have such impact on the entire education system. The book also gave me a better understanding of the modern history of our education system. Keiran Egan gave me the idea to look at where I fit on the spectrum of educational philosophy during a workshop I attended on a Professional Development day. He stated the three common lenses of modern education and then proposed his own. It was interesting to understand the way in which modern educational practices came to be and how one person can disagree with all of them and find their own way. I was inspired to discuss and evaluate my own preconceptions and understandings.
Andy Hargreaves is another individual who is trying to find a better way by looking at the systems that have brought us to where we are now and then taking a step back and seeing where he would like to take it. His book also gave me a better understanding of my preconceptions and he also gave me a push to see beyond what is already in place.
Nel Noddings opened my eyes to the lack of feminine perspective within our current system. I often wax poetic about what a different world it would be if women had been in charge. Nel Noddings was able to not only wax poetic but also put into place a structure that can be adapted into our educational system. Taking the ultimate feminine characteristic of care and analyzing it’s presence and possibility within a school setting has created a movement to further explore and implement her teachings. Sue Montebello is the shinning example of this influence. She exemplifies a way to lead that minimizes the system and honours the individual. Group #2 (Covey, Gruwell, Bolton, Arrien, Drucker, Class readings, Class presenters)
This group helped me develop an understanding of what a visioning/team building could look like. I was inspired by Covey’s book on how to create a school culture based on leadership qualities. It opened my eyes to the tipping point phenomenon that was later echoed by Greg’s TED talk link.
The other books and talks helped me develop an understanding of how small conversations can make a difference.
Bolton’s book gave good strategies for communication and Arrien and Drucker put concepts into a big picture framework. The ethic of care readings helped to solidify the importance of listening and hearing the voices of peers. All the readings made me more conscious of the types of conversations I was engaged in and helped me elevate my discourse at work.
Group #3 (Lipton, Wellman, Owens, Hinds)
This group helped me grow as a facilitator. With their guidance and support I was able to create a positive workshop to begin the visioning process with my staff. Wellman’s workshop allowed me to see the value of good directions and the importance of making connections with the group. The Lipton/Wellman book was instrumental in developing the workshop. I used two of his activities and adapted another to suite our needs. Nancy was an amazing sounding board and a catalyst in making me feel like I was ready to lead a group through a workshop. Kelly Owens was my co-conspirator throughout this field study. She helped me see a new inquiry, focus my thoughts and develop the stamina and conversations within our community. Shining Moment in Ethic of Care:
My shining moment was coming to a fuller understanding of what is meant by ethic of care. At the beginning of this process I started to notice my words and actions with kids and edit what I said and how I responded to them. I was so concerned about being caring that I failed to recognize that setting boundaries and holding kids accountable is caring. For some of them - I am the only person in their life that does this. Reading the article about ‘good enough’ helped solidify the gut reaction I was having to the ethic of care model. In the beginning, I was going out of my way to understand the reason(s) behind the behaviours of my students. It was getting so overwhelmed by digging to the bottom of everything, that I was loosing track of time and loosing the valuable teaching time in order to fully understand all aspects of the child. I was putting this understanding before the needs of my whole class (the kids didn’t know what to do while I was debriefing a recess incident and therefore began to mismanage their time - thereby creating more problems) I have come to the realization/understanding that kids need boundaries and they need consequences if they can’t stay within the boundaries. Giving consequences and holding kids to account is showing care. If you hit someone you choose to stay in the next day at recess. If you call someone names- you apologize and make amends. If it happens again- you choose not to play. Simple, effective and reasonable. Reading the ‘good enough’ teacher article solidified this recent understanding. It is easy to go overboard with the ethic of care. Understanding a child and their life outside the classroom is important and should be done through daily positive interactions - a teacher should develop a relationship with the student. However, the teacher is also there to act as a mirror for social rules and ensure that socialization is set though laying out boundaries for appropriate conduct. I agree with Lyon McDaniel’s summary of Winnicott’s relational model about good enough being better than permissive or retaliatory. As a professional who works with 5 year olds- this is key. Helping kids navigate the world means setting expectations and holding every member of our class responsible for their actions. In the early goings of the ethic of care model, I found myself getting run over by the will of the kids - oh, you had a bad morning - I can see why your frustration got the better of you....By not emphasizing the options available and only highlighting the aspect that caused the behaviour - am I not enabling excuse making? What are the long term ramifications of this....pretty severe. I prefer the setting of boundaries and ensuring that the child understands that they choose their behaviour and that they choose the consequence - not the teacher or the antagonist. Self-regulation is the key and this can only happen when a child knows what is expected and knows strategies for meeting expectations. In setting clear boundaries and having the students understand that they are choosing a consequence should they cross a boundary - I have rescued my classroom from a permissive culture centered on the needs of the one. The needs of the whole creates balance, understanding, boundaries and care.
Reflection of Shining Moment:
This story made me reaffirm a strongly held belief that every teacher should try something and then figure out how to make it their own. In experimenting with and reflecting on my practice throughout the experimentation, I was able to develop a better understanding of my values and core beliefs. I see a child a capable and in doing so, I believe that they can live up to the expectations set out for them. I believe a child chooses their behaviour and in experimenting with crossing boundaries and understanding consequences a child learns to navigate the world as a responsible citizen. This is not to say that relationship building is not part of this dicotomy. Taking the time to know a child and understand their feelings is a crucial undertaking of all successful educators. I am thankful for the time I spent exploring my own relationship to the ethic of care and the lessons I learned from it. I am a good enough teacher for it.
Shadow Moment in Ethic of Care:
At the beginning if this year, I had a new group of kindergarten students and I was excited at the prospect of helping them develop as life long learners. There was a group of three boys that had been together since they were two years old at a daycare facility and one of them was presenting social challenges. Interestingly enough, it was not the one that the daycare had indicated might need extra help in this area. This specific child was having trouble recognizing the input of other students and how to share the attention of the teacher. He firmly held the belief that his ideas were the most important and that the teacher would put them above all others. He was a very bright and curious kid who loved the spotlight. He would insist that the spot light be given to the exclusion of all others, commenting “but mine’s better, right?”, after I would praise someone else’s work. Things began to escalate and this child would act out physically and try to promote himself as the most important person in the class. I phoned the parents to find out more about their child and I made the mistake of asking if this child was an only child, not meaning any harm. Sadly, the mother felt that I was categorizing her son and that I was misreading the entire scenario. Her son, she said, would never bully anyone and he can be misunderstood. The parents became so concerned that I was pigeon holing their child that they attempted to have him removed from the school (after we were done our pirate unit - because their son was loving the class?!?) Anyway - I requested a meeting and after some heartfelt listening they agreed to stay. But not before their son came to school and said “I’m leaving school because you don’t have the skills to teach me”. I have since felt very scared to phone the parents and report to them any behaviour, good or bad, as I fear being misunderstood. I make every effort to touch base with them when they come to the school (which is rare). The social problems are persisting with the child, but I deal with them as they come up. The parents do not contact me - nor I them.
Reflection of Shadow Moment:
-Fear is blocker of conversation.
-Once threatened, I felt very apprehensive about any contact.
-It began my year in a very bad way and I don’t feel like I’ve been able to recover.
-My ego is bruised and I am sad as a result of this communication breakdown.
-It is my relationship with this child that inspired my understandings in the shining moment piece.
I would spend my recess time trying to better understand him. He began hiding in the bathroom to ensure that he was the last one ready to go in order to spend time talking with me. While this seems positive, in actuality he was being quite manipulative. As soon as I began setting boundaries about my time (ie: If I’m talking/working with someone else then I am off bounds and you will have to problem solve on your own or wait without interrupting), his behaviour improved. His self-confidence increased and I was able to interact with other children without jealousy. It was a win-win. Shining and Shadow Moments The Evidence of my Staff Facilitation
I was asked by my staff to lead the start of our visioning process on our last pro-D day. I planned a morning of activities that resulted in us getting to know each other more, a sharing of values and the laying of a foundation for our school's community.
The following is a wordle that shows the footprint of our values. (It was created from the results of one of the activities.) Theory and Resources Inquiry Influence Theory Graph of My Daily Conversations I hunger for positive feedback.
When I try out something new, I am apprehensive about asking for critical feedback , preferring to self-analyze.
How does this hamper my learning? Do I embrace this or try to change this? Can you have balance in your life when you practice the ethic of care? Questions??? Reflections Good Enough vs. Ethic of Care Capacities: Reflection, Personal Capacity (to communicate), Explore, Investigate, Collaborate, Lead Capacities: Reflection, Explore, Investigate Capacities: Reflection, Personal Capacity (to communicate), Explore, Investigate, Collaborate, Lead Capacities: Reflection, Personal Capacity (to communicate), Explore, Investigate, I spend a lot of time on conscious incompetence! It seems to me the older I get the more I know I don't know. Open Space : The Tiger Mom
This experience taught me that I internalize information in a different way when the lens through which I view it is altered. Having to prepare and facilitate our group in exploring this article, allowed me to create the filter through which we experienced it. In turn, I had to really think about outcomes, and direction and approach I would take in sharing it. This article had the potential to pave a negative path - but throught the lens of care, I think I took the group to a deeper understanding. I learned that I get a positive jolt of adreneline in not only presenting, but in preparing for the role as facilitator. It was a great experience that taught me more about myself as a learner and leader. We need to remember that our relationships need not be perfect, only good enough.
- Lyon McDowel
This article made me think - Wow - the pressure is off and life balance can re-enter the conversation. Boundaries, care and the greater whole can fit into my life as a teacher. This sentiment was also present in the movie Full of Life. The teacher cared deeply for his students, set boundaries and held each on to account for his/her behaviour while still putting the needs of the whole ahead of the one. This process taught me that it is challenging to facilitate something in which you have a vested interest. I had to put my opinions and thoughts aside and open up space for the staff to be heard. I made the conscious choice to put the process ahead of my own thoughts and feelings. This required me to change the lens through which I was viewing the process from participant to facilitator. With each presenter/article we had the pleasure of hearing/reading, I experienced a combination of awe and regret. I was in awe of these people who were willing to give so much of themselves. I wanted to bring as much of myself to my exeperience. However, as I began to try this approach, I realized that it could only lead me to a path of regret. Regret for a lack of balance between family, work, community and self. I have been on an exploration of life balance since having a family, and what the ethic of care contingent seemed to have in common, aside from the ethic of care, was unlimited time to give of themselves. Sue Montebello, upon my asking her if she lead a life with balance, responded with "No, but I'm okay with that". I am not there and I don't know if I ever will or want to be. I know that my life's happiness comes from having balance between all the spheres of my life. I'm not willing to give that up to practice the ethic of care... To me the ethic of care is to cultural reletavism as the good enough teacher is to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Joan really hit home the notion that daily hallway conversations can have a huge impact on school culture. She was an inspiration to me as I began trying to create momentum for a school visioning process within my school. This e-mail demonstrates the impact daily conversations can have....I am humbled to know that I am viewed in such a positive way by my staff. Wow! What's yours?