Oct 23, 2016

Changes in my practice at the end of the Mindlab journey

32 weeks down and the final assignment!

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/

Oct 6, 2016

My interdisciplinary connection map

This was quite a taxing task to start with - firstly just trying to ascertain what interdisciplinary actually means.

Andrews (1990) defines interdisciplinary collaboration as occurring "when different professionals, possessing unique knowledge, skills, organizational perspectives, and personal attributes, engage in coordinated problem solving for a common purpose" (cited in Berg-Weger & Schneider, 1998).

Once I began they seemed to flow into different areas as can be seen by the map...additions kept popping into my head, so this image has now been changed five times.

See ONLINE with active links http://tinyurl.com/h3plnr7

As to focusing on one - tough call. I have decided to focus on my TEAM and my Team Leader as my interdisciplinary future focus as this is the plan in the forefront after completing my teacher inquiry aspect. This area for future focus will incorporate a variety of skill bases and can easily be thought of as interdisciplinary. My Team Leader has the skills [and has been doing this for many years) for running effective Mindfulness training in her classroom; a team colleague effectively runs a brainology type programme at the beginning of every year in her room; my proposal is to combine these expertise and knowledge with my goal to focus on Growth Mindset and begin a study on the effects and possible positives of running such programmes in conjunction with each other on the learners in my room. Also combining the outside expertise of Carol Dweck's information and Sentis productions. Jones (2009) cited interdisciplinary benefits as having a “wider knowledge base”, “wider personality base”, and a “wider design, teaching, and assessment methods to draw on and thus more balance in the overall approach” (Haynes, 2002, p.19). Reading a fellow Mindlabbers blog, which I will continue to follow with interest, has also inspired this interdisciplinary future plan of action. Dion Paxie has been running some interesting mindfulness activities on a daily basis and has through his blog he has inspired me to purchase books they have used as well as trial a few myself. Now to implement the plan in the new school year to see the overall effect it has on the students who have a ‘I can't do it’ attitude.

 Our focus would be to combine the knowledge and understanding of all three of us to create a programme that enriches and benefits our learners from the beginning of the year. We might also see if the combined ideals have any discernable or observable benefits to some of our learners, particularly those with fixed mindsets. Jones stated (2009) “the interdisciplinary approach is a team-taught enhancement of student performance, an integration of methodology and pedagogy, and a much needed lifelong learning skill” (p.3).  One would hope that as Jones (2009) suggests the “students and their teachers will advance in critical thinking, communication, creativity, pedagogy, and essential academia with the use interdisciplinary techniques” (p.5). Our interdisciplinary focus would follow a clear plan of action.

Initially students will be taught about a growth mindset, what it is and how it can affect their learning. They will be taught specifically about the workings of the brain and how this can benefit their learning using ‘Your Fantastic Elastic Brain Stretch It, Shape It’ (JoAnn M. Deak) and the ‘Mindup Curriculum’ as well as using Mindfulness Made Easy cd of exercises by Renew Your Mind. Boaler, 2013, commented on the teaching of the brain in schools being critically important and learning about its plasticity in improving students’ attitudes. “Research shows the plasticity of the brain and the ability of students to develop smartness through hard work and challenge” (p.145, p.150). Students will also be taught some mindfulness techniques and strategies, together with their peers.  According to Mrnjaus & Krneta, 2014, our subconscious and conscious minds are always searching for a 'handrail' to hold on to. This 'handrail' can be someone’s belief, spiritual thought or unknown energy, and it is something our minds perceive as true, this 'handrail' is called creative energy (p.1048). If we start to develop and challenge the subconscious attitude of the student we can start to change their mindset, which affects their ability to learn and achieve.  Mindfulness can begin to create a more positive subconscious brain and therefore improve the mindset of the student; the challenge will be whether we observe this change in students and teachers over the research period. We would need to incorporate some of Andrew Fullers ‘resilience’ training ideas too. The intention will also be to focus on how we as educators give feedback to students and how the students give feedback to each other. Lesson time during each week would focus on effective feedback strategies. The focus needs to move from being achievement based feedback or natural talent based to effort based; it needs to focus on the students understanding their steps to success and how their effort to achieve it is progressing.

http://tinyurl.com/hjzjkjb created by https://creately.com/
All these skills based teachings and knowledge from different people should prove to be a fascinating incite into the learners attitudes and minds as well as our own in a lot of respects. As the focus will not be a specific inquiry it should make for an interesting and adaptive learning focus over the year, which will encompass all aspects of our timetable and curriculum while also developing some life-long skills.

Barton, K. C., & Smith, L. A. (2000). Themes or Motifs? Aiming for coherence through interdisciplinary outlines. Retrieved from http://auburn.edu/~silvesb/smicha/Barton&Smith.pdf
Boaler, J. (2013). Ability and Mathematics: The Mindset Revolution that Is Reshaping Education. FORUM: For Promoting 3-19 Comprehensive Education, 55(1), 143–152. http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2013.55.1.143
Jones, C. (2009). Interdisciplinary Approach - Advantages, Disadvantages, and the Future Benefits of Interdisciplinary Studies, 7(2009), 1–6. Retrieved from http://dc.cod.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1121&context=essai
Mathison, S., & Freeman, M. (1997). The Logic of Interdisciplinary Studies. Retrieved from http://www.albany.edu/cela/reports/mathisonlogic12004.pdf
Mrnjaus, K., & Krneta, M. (2014). Mindfulness, Concentration and Student Achievement – Challenges and Solutions. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 116, 1044–1049. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.343
Mulligan, L. M., & Kuban, D. A. J. (2015). A Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Retrieved from http://acrlog.org/2015/05/14/a-conceptual-model-for-interdisciplinary-collaboration./

Oct 5, 2016

Little things cheer you up

Sometimes little emails put a wee smile on your face and a warm fuzzy in your heart.
Love a resource being promoted...on one of my favourite sites