My Mindlab journey has been enjoyable in places and quite rocky in others. My main focus for taking this on was I had seen first hand with a colleague at school what some of it was about as I was her ‘go to’ person for all the ICT support she needed to get through it. I supported her understanding of the technologies that were being swiftly introduced and trying to implement them in her classroom. For her it was inspiring and encouraging to watch her start to implement technology in the classroom with a new found understanding and interest. For her, the first intake of Mindlab was successful. I was encouraged by my boss to take it on for the ‘paper’ that it offered. I was skeptical as I did point out that I clearly didn't need a ‘paper’ to prove my skills in technology as they had employed me without a paper as the eLearning Director in the school. However, take it on I did.
Osterman & Kotkamp (1993) stated that “awareness is essential for behavioral change. To gain a new level of insight into personal behavior, the reflective practitioner assumes a dual stance, being, on one hand, the actor in a drama and, on the other hand, the critic who sits in the audience watching and analyzing the entire performance.” (p.2)In a lot of respects I think Mindlab has grown too fast and too quickly to cope with the myriad of students at different levels requiring different interactions with the staff. There are a lot of issues that have arisen this intake rather than the previous one; according to continued conversations with my colleague who had already done it. However, some positives did arise.
For the most part the collaboration and new found friendships I have built from the Mindlab experience are by far the best positives. I am keen and hopeful that the friendships I have built over the 32 weeks will continue and thrive. I did enjoy being a support to other Mindlabbers particularly in the technology area, however this also put added pressures on me during assignments and being a full-time teacher – very hard to keep up the momentum of keeping on top of teacher requirements and Mindlab requirements.
I was disappointed that the one aspect of Mindlab that I was most keen to do was scooted over very swiftly – blink and you’d miss it. Week 3 was my week…except it wasn’t. I was most excited to learn the ‘how to’ of Aurasma. However all I got was what I already knew, not a ‘how to’ at all. Disappointing. Week 6 was an enlightening week. Understanding and delving into different leadership styles was interesting and quite eye opening too. It never hurts to understand different styles and ways of working. It indicated to me my leadership style and the one I was aspiring to be. This improved my practice in the way I utilised my time as an ICT facilitator in the school – always a bonus when positive change occurs. “A facilitative transformational leadership style also encouraged frequent reflective dialogues. This supports the general idea that transformational school leaders can create a learning organization and can stimulate teachers to innovate and take risks” (Bryk et al., 1999)
The experience of using a varying model of learning; traditional verses online, was suitable for this purpose and enjoyable on my part. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekly sessions catching up with my fellow Mindlab Madge’s at the Mindlab. I also relished the online reflective section as this is an area I am very comfortable with and have engaged in for many many years. However, I do know that this was a large stress to some Mindlabbers and doesn't suit everyone – enter me the supporter, the teacher and the lead workshopper that supported and taught a number of students so they could achieve this section of the paper. As Osterman & Kotkamp quoted (1993) “In the reflective practice model, the learner’s role is far more active: “The practitioner becomes a researcher. . . and engages in a continuing process of self-education” (Schon, 1983, p. 299). In doing so, the learner assumes a central position, and the model of instructor as expert gives way to that of the instructor as facilitator.” (p. 15)
The biggest change in my practice has surprisingly come from the most difficult and taxing part of my Mindlab journey – the dreaded Literature Review. This was the hardest and most stressful aspect for me personally as I hate writing formally and always had trouble with it since my school days moving into College. However, I did enjoy understanding how Mindset and Mindfulness are interlinked and can be utilised in the classroom, so following the Lit Review and entering into the Teacher Inquiry segment I found myself planning a programme for testing the effectiveness of this learning. I think having colleagues on board who are as excited as me to implement my programme at the beginning of next year is thrilling and energising. Implementing a programme of Mindfulness, Growth Mindset and understanding the brain fits perfectly with the Ministry’s Practising Teacher criteria in a number of areas:
- Criterion 2: Demonstrate commitment to promoting the well-being of ākonga.
- Criterion 4: Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice.
- Criterion 6: Conceptualise, plan, and implement an appropriate learning programme.
- Criterion 7: Promote a collaborative, inclusive, and supportive learning environment.
- Criterion 8: Demonstrate in practice their knowledge and understanding of how ākonga learn.
- Criterion 9: Respond effectively to the diverse and cultural experiences and the varied strengths, interests, and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga.
It’s only October and heavily into report writing but I am already excited about the year ahead and really putting my teeth into Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset and seeing if as Dweck states (2012) that "In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. Their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it” (p.2)
While I went through many mindsets/attitudes and behaviour changes during my Mindlab journey - I can at least say thank heavens I have come out the otherside a better Educator and a better person.
My new focus for professional development will be to find out what is required for the next paper so that I can use this Post Graduate paper towards another achievement. Is it achievable while in full-time employment? Hopefully it won’t be quite as full on as this paper and that it is doable. I am both relieved and pleased I have survived the experience and come out with some very pleasing grades [some of the best of my career] the elation of completion is like nothing else.
Roll on graduation day!
Bryk, A. S., Camburn, E., & Louis, K. S. (1999). Professional community in Chicago elementary schools: Facilitating factors and organizational consequences. Educational Administration Quarterly, 35(5), 751e781. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/ 0013161X99355004 via a paper entitled Teaching and Teacher Education http://ac.els-cdn.com.libproxy.unitec.ac.nz/S0742051X16300415/1-s2.0-S0742051X16300415-main.pdf?_tid=1898bfd8-1a28-11e6-9fc3-00000aacb362&acdnat=1463267199_aecb08cb7dea5dc50c04d6afd164fd00
Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindset - How You Can Fulfil Your Potential. Random House.
Morehead, J. (2012). Stanford University’s Carol Dweck on the Growth Mindset and Education. Retrieved from http://onedublin.org/2012/06/19/stanford-universitys-carol-dweck-on-the-growth-mindset-and-education/
Osterman, K. F., & Kottkamp, R. B. (1993). Rethinking professional development. Reflective Practice For Educators, 2–17. Retrieved from http://www.itslifejimbutnotasweknowit.org.uk/files/RefPract/Osterman_Kottkamp_extract.pdf
TKI, & Ministry of Education. (2015). http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/Practising-Teacher-Criteria-and-e-learning. Retrieved from http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/