As my MindLab journey draws to a close it is timely to reflect on the journey I have undergone. Osterman (1993) states “the intent of reflective practice is to improve the quality of professional performance” and as I hope to improve, I must reflect. Osterman (1993) also states “Reflective practice is a professional development process that we believe is highly effective in achieving behavioral change.” And since it is change that I am hoping for in my own professional practice again, I must reflect.
The Practicing Teacher Criteria ask teachers to “demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of personal professional practice:” This involves me having to:
- identify professional learning goals in consultation with colleagues
- participate responsively in professional learning opportunities within the learning community
- initiate learning opportunities to advance personal professional knowledge and skills
The collaborative environment of MindLab has allowed me to learn alongside my colleagues and our various learning goals – in particular our personal inquiries – have been developed through consultation with each other. My personal inquiry within MindLab has been the development of better methodologies of displaying spatial geographic information. Trying to get my students to see the world and places we discuss using digital models and 3D printing. I developed this idea in consultation with staff from schools in the Blenheim cohort and others from elsewhere in NZ.
I like to think my participation has been responsive and I have tried to give as well as take in collaboration with others. I have had the opportunity to discuss others work and ideas with them through blogs and webinars and this has been very effective in helping me to shape my own learning goals. In their 2012 paper Laal and Ghodsi state:
“In a learning situation, student goal achievements are positively correlated; students perceive that they can reach learning goals if and only if the other students in the learning group also reach their goals. Thus, students seek outcomes that are beneficial to all those with whom they are cooperatively linked. When individuals get stuck they are more likely to give up, but groups are much more likely to find ways to keep going.” Laal, M., & Ghodsi, S. M. (2012). Benefits of collaborative learning. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 31, 486-490.
I would argue that this has been the fundamental strength of the MindLab process. By working collaboratively, we have built a new Community of Practice and through that community we are all being successful. Our goals and inquiries may differ but the support we garner from our fellow learners provides far more than simply an opportunity to clarify ideas.
For me this was especially important once we finished the taught component of the course and began working in a more blended context. We have initiated learning opportunities and worked together as critical friends and in more affirming manners to build knowledge. Through that process we have touched upon every rubric in the 21st Century Learning Design philosophy. In this way we are now living the work we studied all those weeks ago in week two of Digital and Collaborative Learning. Our challenge now is to continue to grow and spread this learning.
My personal PLD journey with MindLab is not finished here. In 2018 I will be putting in place a new set of activities for my senior Geography students using 3D modelling of maps and spatial data to help them visualise geographic patterns in a more effective manner. This will be used in part to help them write better about these ideas in assessments. The goal of better writing is a key learning challenge for our Kahui Ako. My dream is to enable all students to be able to fully visualise the landscapes and places we discuss in class in a manner that no longer relies purely on their own imagination to transfer numerical or qualitative data and 2D maps into functioning models in their head. 3D modelling should be able to do the visualisation for them allowing them to focus on applying this to their learning. For this I am already in touch with some like-minded people who I have met directly or indirectly through this course.
21CLD Learning Activity Rubrics. (2012). California, USA: SRI International
Laal, M., & Ghodsi, S. M. (2012). Benefits of collaborative learning. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 31, 486-490.
Ministry of Education (nd). Practising teacher Criteria and e-learning . Retrieved from http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/
Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993). Reflective Practice for Educators.California.Cornwin Press, Inc.