Time to revisit my #oneword2016

My word for 2016

My word for 2016

How far can #oneword go? It seems that it can travel quite a long way. On January 3rd I decided to get on the bandwagon and wrote a reflection on one word that would describe my journey for 2016. It is now May and time for me to review the journey so far…

My #oneword2016 is further’. I still very much love this word and it has, to date, served me well. There are five areas in my professional life in which I hoped to make progress during the year -to go ‘further’ and so far after 5 months I am really happy with where I’m at.

notes

Writing up my PhD proposal for confirmation

1. The PhD

The PhD is chugging along very nicely. In fact, I have just now received the email I was waiting for, “Jo I have just finished [reading] the final draft and am happy for this to go the panel now.” Of course that now means I am preparing for my confirmation -the 20 minute presentation to an academic panel who will feedback and hopefully give me the green light to go ahead with not too many amendments. I’ll let you know how that goes in a couple of weeks.

The second part of my PhD journey is continuing the #survivephd15 chat on twitter which has now morphed to just #survivephd and happens every first Thursday of each month at 8:30pm AEST. It’s not as fast paced as others but I’m happy to be able to extend the conversations beyond the themed questions. To date I have been following the same topics covered in the MOOC course last year but after next month that will end. So I’ll be looking for ideas from fellow PhDers on themes they would like to chat about. If you’re interested you can have a look at the storify from our last chat on BOREDOM.

2. Me as learner and teacher

IMG_0027

Oxford

 

Well I did say I wanted to go ‘further’ with this too and while I’m still doing some CRT work, I am also privileged to have a tutorial group of 2nd year pre-service teachers. They are currently on their school placements so won’t be seeing them for two weeks but trust me I have plenty to do, while they are out, marking their assignments. I have really enjoyed these classes watching them grow even in the short space of time, from when they first entered – only a few months ago – but in that time they have accomplished so much from being asked to teach a short session in a local school to getting up in front of their peers and running a half hour teaching session, to now finally completing assessments on reflective practice. I will miss them once the semester is over but hopefully there might be another opportunity in second semester to work again with pre-service teachers. Here’s hoping…

3. My coaching model

“In 2015, I was asked to work with a small team and develop a made to order coaching model for staff.”

Coaches in training

Coaches in training

The coaching model is developing well. We have now completed the initial training for our volunteer coaches and established a group of coachees ready for the pilot program which begins in August. Throughout the training we developed coaching contracts and conducted role plays in coaching conversations. We used multiple sources including AITSL coaching guidelines, GCI (see below), CEM, Group 8 Education, ideas from Instructional Coaching by Jim Knight, and reflections by Chris Munro,  to help develop our very own coaching model. We are also piloting different platforms for coaching conversations to happen including our own twitter hashtag #mlmccoaching, a private Facebook page and a Google classroom platform where we can share resources and give feedback. I intend pushing ‘further’ here and encourage the coaches take part in some coaching chats on twitter, most especially the Australian based #educoachOC.

I also decided that it would be beneficial learning for me in training others that I too follow this lead and signed up with Growth Coaching International (GCI) to learn more abut coaching and am currently in Phase Two working on telecoaching techniques. I am really enjoying reading the resources, making contact with peers and developing my skills. I hope to take this ‘further’ and sign up at the end of the next phase to become a qualified GCI coach!

In the meantime I’m preparing / developing the pilot program for my coaching school. The first two sessions will focus on building trust and relationships, without these there is no coaching success. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

4. Special needs advocacy

With the announcement by the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) earlier this year requiring teachers to attend professional learning specifically to assist and improve their capacity to teach learners with a disability, came many more enquiries from schools. I have also had a sharp hike in attendee numbers for my workshops with Critical Agendas. Last week’s session was over capacity with 47 teachers and support staff attending. Hard work, but I’m so happy that the message it getting out – certainly with a little help this area has gone ‘further’ as I have quite a number of workshops booked with schools across the metropolitan area and will continue my work in spreading the message that everyone deserves to be taught how they learn no matter where they start.

t-shirt logo

t-shirt logo

Continuing in the same vein of ‘special needs’ is the opportunity I have to work with a great bunch of people from the English Connect department and Monash University. I’m in the Peer Support group helping international students with written or spoken academic work. I’m loving this experience and the opportunity to witness our clients improve their grammar and pronunciation skills. I am so privileged to be teaching while at the same time growing as a learner myself, listening to their stories, and meeting lots of new people along the way.

5. Teaching the teacher

To date I have learnt so much already – completing my confirmation paper for my PhD was such a great learning curve and my main supervisor has taught me many new skills, as well as challenging me and supporting me in the process. I can’t wait to move into the next phase with still so much learning to do. My academic writing has improved – I am really chuffed at my skills of ‘crafting’ all my ideas into this paper. I hope I do it justice at the presentation.

The coaching model and training with GCI is something that I cherish and will continue to do so as I complete the training process.

Teaching and learning with my pre-service teachers was a career goal and hopefully I’ll have more opportunities to explore this ‘further’, along with learning at English Connect.

At the end of my post back in January I wrote:

My wish for 2016 is that I can go further but more importantly that as I go so it is that I am not alone, too far ahead or even too far behind. Will you take up the challenge with me? Are you willing to go … further?

Still stands….

Thanks for reading 🙂

How far can one word go? #oneword2016

I joined twitter in December 2012 but didn’t begin using this fabulous learning tool for quite a while. I’m not sure when I first began tweeting as such but I’m going to say that in the last two years of engaging with it I haven’t looked back. This year I began seeing lots of posts regarding #oneword2016 and decided to come on board. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and the very first word that came to mind was MORE. I thought about it wondering why this particular word but then it came to me – it wasn’t ‘more’ I wanted, it was to go further.

“Further” in 2016

I want to go… ‘FURTHER’ this year. It’s not that I haven’t accomplished enough in 2015 but rather, I began many things and now I just want to take them ‘further‘. See? Not ‘more’ but ‘further’; additional to what already exists or has already taken place, been done, or been accounted for..

So, here are my hopes for furthering my professional life 2016 in no particular order:

1. The PhD

In 2015 I changed the direction slightly for my PhD study, mainly methodology related not topic as such. This meant I had to seek out a new main supervisor. I was well supported in this task by the out-going supervisor and have not looked back. My current supervisors are very supportive and don’t pull any punches -they tell it how it is and I really appreciate this. It makes the positives so much more satisfying and funnily enough gets me really motivated to attend to the not so good bits with gusto. This year I’m working towards my confirmation – a 20 min presentation of my proposal and 10,000 word document of the first milestone. Last year I also signed up for The Thesis Whisperer’s MOOC course “How to survive your PhD” via EdX and ANU. It was a great experience and the hashtag lives on with many still posting on twitter and taking part in my monthly tweet chat #survivephd15. This year I can’t wait to get into the actual process of data collection and disrupting the status quo…going further.

2. Me as learner and teacher

I have always enjoyed my time in the classroom with students. When I first resigned my full time leadership position in school I very much missed the students most. I quickly made moves to get back into the classroom while still following my dream of being a full time education consultant. I was told it was a gusty move coming out of school but I’m big on risk taking and learn from my mistakes. I really believe in F-A-I-L being the First Attempt In Learning.

I love learning and teaching and the idea of being a CRT or a short-term contract teacher doesn’t phase me. I work really hard to get to know my students even if it’s only for a short time – from 45 mins to a term or two – it’s worth it and you know you’ve been successful because the students aren’t afraid to tell you so. It makes learning and teaching so worthwhile and so much easier and fulfilling. I will be exploring the possibilities further in 2016 both in schools and in adult education. (Note to self – send emails to daily organisers re: CRT availability in 2016).

Thank you message from a student

Thank you message from a student

3. My coaching model

Last year (it’s weird saying it already) I was asked to work with a small team and develop a made to order coaching model for staff. It was a challenging task but we were determined to come up with something that would tick as many boxes as possible. The proposal was accepted and we are currently in the process of further developing the model. Late last year (there it is again) I facilitated the first of the training sessions for the self-nominated coaches. This year we will be taking it further…Finding out how we work, learning and teaching and developing ‘our’ model using the framework as the foundation.

4. Special needs advocacy

My PhD study is about relationships, collaboration and optimal learning environments. I will be investigating how it works when teachers and learning support officers become the researchers and work collaboratively to meet the needs of students with disabilities. My advocacy stems from my own experience of school and the difficulties of learning a new language. Last year I spent two terms as head of the Special Education unit in a Catholic Secondary college. During my time there I reflected on what I was learning and feeling on this blog. While personally I found it rewarding, I also saw many things that made me mad. My whole purpose for coming out of a full time position in a school was to spread the message that everyone deserves to be taught how they learn no matter where they start. I spend much time travelling to different schools, primary and secondary to facilitate workshops on learning in particular focusing of differentiation and modification and on working with students with disabilities funded and non-funded. My most popular workshop runs regularly through Critical Agendas on “Practical Strategies for Teaching Non-Funded Students with Special Needs.” I would like to spread the message even further this year…

“I believe everyone learns in their own special way, we must endeavour to find what this is and then facilitate the learning using strategies that support these preferences”.

5. Teaching the teacher

This last one is related to all of the above. All teachers must be learners first. My PhD is about me as a learner and how I can go further as such. I want to make a difference. I want to see every student learn and teach at their own pace, in their own time. I want every student to have teachers who really know and understand how they learn and assist each of them in that learning.  As a learner and teacher it is always exciting being in a school, to have the opportunity to work with students and colleagues. I like to assist in making learning ‘fun’, engaging, challenging and to help it last forever. I love running workshops for teachers and to facilitate collaborative structures where teachers learn and teach other teachers. My coaching model is supported by the motto ‘teacher as learner’ first.

My wish for 2016 is that I can go further but more importantly that as I go so it is that I am not alone, too far ahead or even too far behind. Will you take up the challenge with me? Are you willing to go … further?

found on Buzz-inn Community fb page

found on Buzz-inn Community fb page

Thanks for reading 🙂

Understanding the ‘cryptic assessment task’: The English Language Proficiency problem.

This week I attended a presentation at Monash University about English Language Proficiency (ELP) at university level. I recently secured a casual position at the University as a Conversational English Programs Facilitator, so this event was timely and very relevant and I’m glad to have received an invitation.

I’m very excited about this position and hope to make a difference and assist as best I can with academic and conversational English in particular, for our international students at Monash. The Senior Manager, Marta Skrbis, at Conversational English Programs provided some details regarding numbers: there are currently over 580 000 international students studying in Australia and it is expected that by 2020 Australia will be hosting 1 million students from overseas countries. At Monash in 2015 there are almost 24000 international students, that’s close to 40% of total enrolments! WOW!

Are you getting the picture as to why ELP is on the agenda and should remain on the agenda? People think that just because students are enrolled at university level they automatically have proficiency (competency) in English. The presentation covered many important elements but at the top of my agenda for the sake of this post remaining at an acceptable word count I would like to focus on ‘cryptic assessment tasks’ (as one audience member described them). You see the questions that got my attention, thanks to one of three speakers, Dr Rowena Harper, were thought provoking:

  1. Is English the problem?
  2. Is it students who are struggling?
dictionary entry

dictionary entry

As a secondary school teacher I have to say that university is not the only place one can find ‘cryptic assessment tasks’. Over the years I have come across some extraordinary tasks that have been distributed to students and that have successfully extended them as learners. They have been creative, challenging and even fun to do. Other tasks have been successfully differentiated to meet individual learners’ needs, some even modified effectively. And yes there is a difference.

So what are ‘cryptic assessment tasks’?  They are such that what is asked of the student is not clear cut. It may contain words the student cannot decipher -I don’t mean that they can’t look it up in the dictionary for definition- I mean they cannot apply the ‘skill’ it requires of them because they have not yet been taught how.

Take for example this task: Summarise the main points in the following article and reflect on the message it is trying to relay to the reader.

Okay let’s highlight the key words:

Summarise the main points in the following article and reflect on the message it is trying to relay to the reader.

So these are the VERBS -the actions the student must undertake in order to be successful in realising the task objective. Let’s take SUMMARISE  – what does that mean? Sorry, I didn’t finish the thought -What does it mean to one who is not proficient in English? (Please note: This is not only those students with an additional language, or those born overseas, or recent arrivals but also those who were born here). You see one major factor that came out of the presentation was that ELP is for ALL students. Another important aspect is that ELP is really about COMMUNICATION PROFICIENCY – spoken and written.

Here are the first three hits on google using the words ‘definition summarise’:

1. give a brief statement of the main points of (something),

2. to make a summary of; state or express in a concise form,

3. using your own words to shorten a piece of text so that it includes only the essential information.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/

Now to the next verb: REFLECT. For this definition I’m going to use part of Rowena’s slide from the presentation. In this context,

Reflect def

It also has very little to do with a mirror.

Lithograph by M. C. Escher, 1935

Lithograph by M. C. Escher, 1935

And lastly, RELAY.

passing the baton

passing the baton

Now, if the student had some experience of athletics or swimming then he or she might think it means taking turns with a team of people but did you also know that a relay is an electrically operated switch? Of course, in this case we mean it to be communicate, tell, share… or maybe it means analyse, synthesise, evaluate? Does the student know which and how?

Let’s return to the original task: Summarise the main points in the following article and reflect on the message it is trying to relay to the reader.

Let me ask you this: As the teacher, what would you do first?

Read the article to the class?

Have students take turns to read aloud?

Have them read it silently?

Set the task for homework?

Set up some sort of collaborative task for them?

What?

Let me tell you what I would do first as the teacher;  I would make sure they understand what it means to summarise, reflect and relay, in THIS context. I would provide examples and begin the discussion.

The task can wait.

Your thoughts…?

Thanks for reading 🙂

‘Salsa dancing’ into my second year p/t PhD: A MOOC reflection

I just re-enrolled for 2016 (confidence) and promptly got a response that I hadn’t been successful in so doing (frustration) only to have a third email relay difficulties the university is having with re-enrolment processes and reassuring me that I had indeed been successful in re-enrolling (confusion). Phew! I remember thinking at the time – Really? I’m not re-enrolled? (fear) Is this a sign? (confusion again) Should I be re-thinking this? (and fear) But my good sense (more confidence) told me I should just let it go. If there’s one thing I’ve learned on MOOC #survivephd15 with @thesiswhisperer et al. is that everything I’ve felt, am feeling, will feel throughout my PhD journey has a name, some research to back it up, and strategies to deal with it (curiosity).

This week I’ve been reading Kristin Luker’s book Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences (2008). I like how she writes. I can hear her saying the words, giggling when I do and reading seriously when I am. Infact the first chapter begins “I’m serious. Really I am.”

Me too!

Reflecting on my own blog posts about my PhD I can pretty much put a label on each entry. Everything I have written about fits into an emotion from the MOOC. Extraordinary!

In my first post about my PhD I discuss my reasons for beginning the journey itself:

This research is relatable – in fact it relates to a very important part of my memory and attitude to teaching and learning. I do this because I will never forget what it felt like to not understand what other people were talking about.

It’s personal.

Confidence

In my first blog about my journey beginnings I promptly announce that I have been preparing for this all my life. Now that’s confidence!

Frustration

There’s been plenty of frustration this last year, including potential supervisors telling me ‘you can’t do that type of research, just too much work.’ Reading between the lines it really meant “I’m too busy.” Luckily my existing supervisor who was very supportive helped me find my current supervisor -an inspiring individual who had no issue joining the team. In fact our team meeting just this week was a really fun and engaging learning experience!

Loneliness

Lonely? Are you kidding? Not anymore with my great new PhD mates on MOOC, twitter and facebook.  This experience has been terrific and I hope that it continues into the future. My final submission was an idea to begin a tweetchat using the #survivephd15 1st Thursday of every month beginning Dec 3, 2015 at 8:30 – 9.30 pm AEST. I’d be happy to moderate/ co-moderate and have guest moderators if anyone is willing

I have prepared the first three months worth  – 6 questions per chat with the themes of MOOC running through each but with a twist. More details will follow via social media as the time draws nearer. I do hope you will join me in helping to maintain the wonderful support network we have shared throughout the MOOC and retain it as a place to continue to post and share ideas and resources and even get a pat on the back or a supportive word when needed!

 

Fear

For me fear is a motivator – I work well under pressure.

Curiosity

curious_walt

Confusion

There have been plenty of times when confusion and self doubt creep into my thinking. The process of becoming continues and I think it’s just one of those things that will be just out of reach until perhaps one day I will be submitting my PhD and it will be good – no more confusion or self doubt. Well, at least until the next process begins.

Boredom

This post is part of the November #HDRblog15 challenge @debsnet announced as her final activity for MOOC. Never a dull moment. I look forward to sharing and hearing about all of our PhD journeys.

💜Love💜

Latte&notebooks

Thanks for reading 🙂

I will survive my PhD

thesis_big_argument

Inside front cover of my journal

Over the last five weeks or so I have been privileged, as have been many others from all over the world to be part of Inger Mewburn – The Thesis Whisperer’s MOOC course “How to survive your PhD” via EdX and ANU.

To date we have covered, amongst others, modules to do with Confidence, Frustration and Loneliness. Each module has related readings and videos to read and watch as well as a weekly periscope live chat, twitter feed and a myriad of Facebook pages that have been set up to assist in sharing resources, feelings, and whatever else we may need or seek. Sometimes we even get homework! Last week’s was to go out and meet up with other PhDs over coffee!

MOOC_coffee

Homework complete!

 

For me as an older PhD student, at 51, the MOOC course was something that I jumped at – not to mention – I love the Thesis Whisperer.

My favourite module to date has to be the Loneliness topic only because all of a sudden the social network seemed to have exploded as the course becomes ever more popular. I have had the opportunity to connect with great fellow PhD students including the ever growing Facebook page PhD Owls -Older, Wise Learners.

PhD Owls

My cup tipped for all PhD Owls

While there has been discussion in regards to whether loneliness is good or bad and if it needs to be cured at all. I feel there are instances where some ‘alone’ time is essential to all but especially to me as a woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, neice, friend, cousin, educator, learner, teacher, PhD student and a human being. Alone time allows for me to read out loud, to walk around the house with a book or my laptop, gesticulating and making weird expressions – now they know – without having to answer to anyone. I like breaking up my learning with cooking, cleaning, folding, washing, etc. – they call it procrasti-something (replace as required)! Right now I’m sitting at my kitchen bench having moved from the study, to the lounge, into the dining room and finally to here, all after having done three loads of washing, made our bed, stripped the one in the guest room, baked a chocolate cake, and put the dinner on. My friend cancelled lunch on me today and secretly I am quite happy as it’s given me more ‘me’ time. I miss catching up with my mate but just today it seemed better for me to stay in and just get on with things, including this post that I started early this morning -now almost 5:30 in the afternoon.

I haven’t really done too much PhD reading today but I’ll tell you what, I’ve thinking about what I read yesterday. This week is all about Freire and critical pedagogy. You may have come across my post on the PhD Owls Facebook page which got a whole lot more attention than I anticipated and hooked me up with a few others who were interested and/or contemplating Freire themselves. We even exchanged some resources. See, I’m not lonely -well at least not this week so much. I just figure my way of beating the loneliness factor is getting on MOOC and bam! I write this blog with the idea that someone may read and comment and get me thinking differently. That’s how I stay connected -oh – and did I mention twitter? I love twitter. ‘Hello my name is Jo and I’m a twitter addict.’

I felt like I was there with the MOOC gang last night during the live periscope chat on Loneliness, a little awkward that the meet up didn’t quite work out but it was a lot of fun from the ‘outside in’ anyhow. My favourite part is logging in early and listening in as Inger and the gang chuckle at posts and stick their head in view to tell me only 4 minutes till we start, but secretly we’ve started – it’s like my other favourite ‘thing’ to do – taking photos of people I love and care for while they are unaware. It tends to give them this whole new perspective and mostly it reveals how comfortable they are within themselves and when interacting with others.

There’s a party going on around them but these two have got their own little ‘festa’ going on…

Anyhow, I just wanted to give a shout out to all PhDs on MOOC and to The Thesis Whisperer and her gang of helpers just to let them know how much I am enjoying the course and the interactions on social media. I love telling non PhDs about it and watching them roll their eyes or laugh out loud or look at me like I’ve got two heads – Where do you find the time? I make it cause it’s worth it. I will survive my PhD. I am not an imposter. I am smart enough to get into a PhD and therefore I will come out with a PhD. I won’t be scared and I’ll try not to doubt myself. I will survive…wait…is that a song?

Thanks for reading 🙂