My EDUCANZ submission… Almost too late but done nevertheless

Here is my submission to the Education and Science select committee about the proposed EDUCANZ Bill

To the Education and Science Select Committee

I am making a submission opposing the changes to the Education Amendment Bill No.2, in particular the sections establishing EDUCANZ and changing the teacher registration framework.

I submit that:

The lack of teacher representation (Section 380 and Schedule 22) is of concern. I am deeply perturbed by the fact that there will be no elected teacher positions on the new Council, unlike the current system we have, and by the loss of positions reserved for people nominated by the teacher unions. Currently, the teacher council has at least 5 registered members, whereas the new proposed council does not stipulate this requirement.

As a practising teacher, I cannot fathom why I would pay for this body to exist but have no direct voice in electing representatives who may have a greater understanding of the teaching profession. Under the proposed Bill, the Minister has the power to appoint to the council. It is concerning that these positions do not include a minimum requirement of people with experience in the profession. As this body will enforce the teaching profession, it is imperative that we have fair, valid and balanced representation – this must include industry professionals who have been voted in my the professional body.

Another area of concern is the role that the Council will take (Section 382). The proposed Bill states that the Council is expected to provide leadership to teachers and direction for the education profession; as it currently reads, this is very ambiguous what this would look like. As a teacher in New Zealand, my understanding is that this is part of the function of the Ministry of Education, who tend to make decisions based on best practice and research. A professional body, who may not have any representation from the profession itself should not be leading the direction for education in New Zealand. The proposed Bill also suggests that the EDUCANZ Council will play a significant role in fostering the development of the profession. I cannot see how this could be relevant if there is no requirement for a practising, registered teacher to be involved in the Council.

Teaching is a difficult job but is a job that I love dearly. It is imperative that we raise the profile of teaching in New Zealand and that government agencies find ways to support teachers in the profession. I am concerned that the proposed EDUCANZ Bill moves away from the high-trust model that we currently have with the Teachers’ Council to a low trust model (Section 382). For me, the proposed move to auditing and moderating practising certificates seems more like accountability rather than fostering and developing the profession. The costs of doing so will inevitably be passed onto teachers, who will already be funding the Council through their registration. To moderate 10% of evidence towards practising certificates will be time consuming and there is no guarantee that those who are auditing have sufficient understanding and experience in the profession to make valid, fair and consistent judgements.

Thank you for considering my submission, and I would like to speak to the Select Committee about my submission.

Megan Peterson

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SOLO in action

SOLO has been part of my vocabulary of teaching since being introduced to it as the way to structure learning by the amazing Dr. Ngaire Hoben at the University of Auckland in 2002. I must admit my naievity that I never really realised that not all teachers used it.

SOLO taxonomy, devised by Biggs and Collis (1982), allows for clear progression of thinking and understanding in any context (John Bigg’s website). The progressions are based on cognitive connections and provides a common language to measure and discuss those abstract connections. The simplicity of SOLO works well for all learners and educators. SOLO works for my way of thinking – it allows for differentiation of quantity of understanding and provides scope to move to more qualitative levels of understanding.

In the classroom

For me, SOLO was always about the structured overview of learning outcomes – S.O.L.O. – this is how I have always approached my planning as a teacher. Questions arise during planning such as:

  • What do the students need to be able to show?
  • What does complex thinking look like?
  • How can I help students to move in their thinking?
  • What are the intended objectives? What do I need to do as a teacher to support students to meet these?

What it looked like in my traditional classroom at Northcote College:

  • Learning objectives were clearly linked to SOLO levels – either through explicit linking or through unpacking the LOs through the language of the SOLO levels.
  • My workbooks / learning activities were structured using the SOLO levels. Students could identify where they were at in their understanding and self-assess. Then, discussions were held to move them forward to be able to display progression in the quality of their understanding.
  • The SOLO visual cues and verbs were on display all the time – we used them in discussion, in unpacking NCEA criteria and assessment tasks
  • Feedback was targeted to SOLO levels – explaining where they were and where to next.

As my SOLO journey evolved, I realised that this was still very teacher centred. During my study as part of my Masters degree in Education, I made the natural connection between SOLO and Assessment for Learning.

Links to AfL

  • SOLO unpacks the levels of quality – it either stood as the success criteria for a learning activity, series of activities or an assessment, or it allowed for a clear co-construction tool to understand what quality of learning looks like.
  • SOLO allowed for a framework for peer and self assessment – by co-constructing the learning activities  (and assessment activities) against the rubrics
  • Use of HOT tools (from Pam Hook) to scaffold the learning (http://pamhook.com/)  and to show how to demonstrate understanding at the different levels
  • As an assessment tool – marrying up the thinking levels which underpin the achievement criteria of standards (i.e. is Excellence at is not always at extended abstract, it may be at relational, but what skills are needed in order to demonstrate the highest levels of thinking and, hopefully, bag an Excellence. In Classical Studies, NCEA Level 3 criteria at Merit and Excellence but draw on extended abstract, so what is the qualitative difference between them)

My next steps at Hobsonville Point Secondary School:

  • Build student capacity using SOLO taxonomy – reflecting on learning
  • I ran some workshops for all of the students in the school this week to build on their understanding of SOLO. Links to my workshop presentation here.  These link to my professional learning goals of integrating SOLO taxonomy more purposefully to empower students, and building student capacity for reflection and action (in hubs).
  • Using SOLO taxonomy to assess our dispositional curriculum – rubrics for our ‘Hobsonville Habits” here
  • Using SOLO taxonomy as a vehicle to measure student progression and learning in all aspects of our curriculum

I truly believe in the power of SOLO taxonomy as a means for empowerment. I feel that I will be blogging about it over the next few weeks and months as my thinking and professional inquiry come into fruition. Students need to be inducted into the ‘guild of the assessor’ this is so powerful for them and makes the talking about learning more meaningful. SOLO is the bombdiggity! It empowers learners to talk about their learning, can separate product from process, or combine them if necessary.

SOLO Taxonomy broken down into levels, with appropriate verbs and symbols.

 

Some other links which have helped me….

Twitter hashtags:

#SOLOTaxonomy

#SOLOArmy

 

Individual education meetings

Teachers being crammed into a school for parent interviews whilst trying to explain a students’ learning and progress in the term over the cacophony of every other conversation are not part of the way that we do things to Hobsonville Point Secondary School.

Instead, our recently held student-led Individual Education Meetings reinforce the vision and values of our school “learners enjoy innovative personalised learning, engage through powerful partnerships and are inspired through deep challenge and inquiry to achieve academic and personal excellence.” (From HPSS.school.nz)

By JohnE777The IEMs were loosely structured around Hattie and Timperley (2007) questions about powerful feedback – “where am I going?”, “how am I going?”, “where to next?”

We held the meetings in the final week of the term. Students led their parents/whanau and their learning coach through their celebrations and progressions towards their goals for term one, with the coach their to support and challenge them along the way. The meetings we held in our learning commons, so parents/whanau could experience what it was like to be a learner at HPSS. Students discussed their learning progress with evidence from a range of sources: from their work in their modules, big projects, learning hubs, from their regular reflections on their learning and self-assessments of their learning modules, from assessment narratives generated by their module teachers.

Students at HPSS are being empowered to take a more active role in their learning. When discussing IEMs with students in my learning hub, many were nervous, scared or feeling out of their depth. One student asked me why he had to lead the conference, when in reality it was my job as a teacher. Moments like these are too good to miss! The throw away comment led to a great discussion, including a role play, around what it is like to have no voice, no say, to be spoken about -sometimes spoken to – but not to be the speaker. My role as a learning coach is to support and challenge the students. For some, running their first IEM was daunting but a realistic challenge. Most of the preparation work was done with the learning coach and hub in the weeks leading up to the IEM. For other students, my job as coach was to support them by taking the lead in some aspects of the IEM – which was negotiated in advance. The coach acts as the third participant in the conference, an advocate for students, the conduit and filter for the evidence generated by different module teachers and the big project guides.

IEMs work for our students because of the learning relationships already established between the student and the learning coach, and the learning coach and the parents/whanau. Our regular one-to-one conferences which I wrote about earlier in the year build those strong relationships. Read that post here.

During the meetings, the students, coach and parents/whanau finalised the learning goals for the next term, the success criteria of the goals, the strategies needed to meet them, and the roles that each participant would play in enabling these goals. More on goal setting at HPSS here. It was imperative that all three partners in learning – the student, their family, their coach – take some responsibility as each plays a vital part in empowering the student. The personalised learning goals are going to form the basis for discussions during the student-coach conferences next term as well as students explaining “where they are going” and “how they are going” during next terms IEMs and use the information gathered to figure out “where to next?”

At the end of the IEMs, students, coaches and parents/whanau all have a take away – each gets a copy of the IEM summary document (which was co-constructed and finalised during the meeting) and each gets a copy of the assessment narratives on modules (student self-assessment and teacher generated feedback). Essentially these documents become the school report. What I like about these though is that there are no surprises – the student has shared, and documented, both the celebrations of their learning and acknowledged where there is some progression but the student is not quite there yet. The students and teacher evaluations of learning use the same format for module assessment – each has commented on where they are going, how going and where to next – and both voices have an equal weighting.

This was the first student-led IEM at HPSS. I imagine that things will change as we grow into our new school, as we grow in size, as our practice changes and evolves. However, I also imagine that IEMs will be a stayer. They must, as they empower our students in their learning and build strong, positive connections with our families.

Links to other resources:
Information on student-led conferences in the New Zealand Curriculum – http://assessment.tki.org.nz/Reporting-to-families-whanau/School-stories/About-student-led-conferences
When students lead parent conferences – http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/apr96/vol53/num07/When_Students_Lead_Parent-Teacher_Conferences.aspx
http://www.imdetermined.org/files_images/general/Student-Led%20Conferencesrbedits.ppt
http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin112.shtml

Knowing where you are going – Setting meaningful goals

Clearly articulated learning goals are the key to maximising learning by allowing for more purposeful learning to occur. At Hobsonville Point Secondary School, learning goals allow for greater personalisation of learning across the three strands of our school curriculum – Big Projects, Learning Hubs, and Specialist Learning Modules.

Term one ended with student led individual education meetings (IEMs). During these meetings, students led their coach and their parents/whanau through their learning this term and used evidence of their learning to set new goals.

Prior to these meetings, I had led our learning community through some goal setting exercises. We started with the differences between learning goals and performance goals, based on Zimmerman’s research, and then collectively set learning goals. Setting a goal is in itself not enough – it is important to know the success criteria of the goal and the strategies needed to get there. The activity that I ran with the students is here.

Once the students were familiar with the learning goals, success criteria and strategies of goals, they worked in their hubs on a mix and match activity. Once they were happy with how they matched up the goals, they discussed the merits of each. Then it was onto business. They each set a goal based on their learning needs, established the success criteria for their goals, and devised some strategies. We used peer critiquing during this exercise – on the one hand, it gave the goal setter an extra perspective, particularly around the validity of the goals and/or strategies, and on the other hand the open discussions gave extra support for students who were struggling to set their goals. Once the goals were set, with clear success criteria and strategies, the students added them to their IEM summary document that they would be sharing during their meeting. Students in my learning hub mainly set two meaningful learning goals for term 2.

During the IEM, the student, coach and whanau all revisited the goals and looked at them in light of the learning conversation. Some goals were adjusted slightly, many had new strategies added to them in light of the assessment narratives derived by both the students and the teachers on the learning modules, some goals stayed the same. Each student’s goals are personalised and relevant. The final part of the IEM document that was shared with the student, coach and whanau was a set of agreed responsibilities in order for the goals to be met – the whanau, coach and student all stated what they needed to do to help in meeting the learning goals.

Examples of students’ goals:
To manage my learning so I am not rushed
To understand the full concept of place and space (key concept for T2)
To generate written reflections which are more detailed
To focus during the generating phase so I don’t end up being weary.
To take more risks in learning
To focus by identifying and planning to find more than one strategy or approach

Where to next?
It is one thing to set goals and another to have them as central to the student’s personalised learning path. The first step was to use these goals to help the students select appropriate modules for term 2. Module selection had to be completed the day following IEMs. As a learning coach, I was able to guide them in making module selections that would allow them to meet their goals and use the strategies that we had agreed upon as their goals were so clearly articulated and relevant to their needs.

The problem with goal setting in secondary school is how to communicate the information to all teaching staff – for HPSS that is going beyond the learning coach and sharing with big project guides, module teachers and extra-curricular leaders. My responsibility as a coach in many of the IEMs was to share the goals with all teaching staff. I am planning on using KAMAR to do this so that any teacher can see the goals of the students. I love the idea of empowering our teachers to know our learners and their learning needs, and for teachers to plan accordingly. I see KAMAR as being a tool for all teachers to provide feedback on students and how much more meaningful will that feedback be if they are aware of the learning goals.

However, that is not enough. I think that goals need to be visible so I am planning on displaying each students goals in our hub area – inspired by the wonderful teachers at HPPS – and using visual means to track progress towards the goal (watch this space!). Our student-coach conferencing in term 2 will focus around progress of learning, in light of these goals, and figuring out where to next.