Way back in March I’d signed up for the Mindlab course. I must admit I didn’t quite know what to expect. I considered myself to be a competent user of IT and knowledgable on when best to use it. I remember that first session as being a bit daunting- I didn’t know what to expect. In fact, I was a little uneasy- would this turn out to be ineffective? Would I learn what I thought I already knew? That first session didn’t fire me up in the way I hoped for, introduction activities never do.
From the second session onwards, it was different. I remember being mentally challenged in an addictive way. The number of ideas we were being presented with increased substantially, there was almost too much to take on board.
Almost immediately, I started noticing changes. For the first time since my time at Uni, I started looking at things from a more distant viewpoint. I had my own ideas and perceptions and now I was questioning these. Reading papers helped developed my new mindset. I now realise that although I had considered myself to be open to new ideas, I was actually more closed than I had realised. This led to me developing in confidence as a practitioner in the classroom and as a leader.
One way I have changed is that I am now more research orientated. I have always been vocal about how research is unfortunately kept behind a paywall. Of course, being part of the Mindlab course meant we could access papers that way. As a teacher, though, this is not a long term solution. We need access to all research all of the time, even though we are not on a university course. During the course I did discover sci-hub.ac, which will enable access to research continue unimpeded. I am also now preparing an application to the Teacher Led Innovation fund which could help all teachers in Marlborough with access to high quality research.
As part of my research on Virtual Reality (VR), I learned that it’s not just something that you can expose students to once you have purchased it. There is a variety of research suggesting that there are certain ways to use VR that will be effective. This led to my current spiral of inquiry on using VR for specific attainment tasks. This fits into Standard 6 (Teaching) of the new teaching standards. [Note- Mindlab is still using the older 12 practising teacher criteria]
The second change to my practice is how I am using technology with my students. Whereas before I might have introduced a new way of doing things (e.g. Augmented Reality) just as an alternative activity, due to Mindlab I have planned the introduction far more carefully. This includes thinking in more detail about how to incorporate kaupapa Maori into all activities; no longer is it just an ‘add on’ but something that needs to be integral. indeed, I am now part of my school’s Maori Ora project, and have ensured that in the future all school changes must be viewed through the lens of Maori Ora. This fits into Standards 1 (Te Tiriti o Waitangi Partnership) & 5 (Design for Learning).
I am also far more critical of initiatives that don’t have support by evidence. Even the regularly touted statement that we training people for jobs that don’t exist yet (also used by Mindlab) is something that needs investigation (Doxtdator, 2017). I think Mindlab has taught me, no continues to teach me, a critical pedagogy (Spencer, 2017). This is evidence for standard 2, Professional Learning.
The biggest way I have changed is in my mindset. I am open to change and actively want it to happen. We are moving to a new school in 2021. It needs to be the best possible design (space, curriculum and culture) for all the students and I will fight to ensure this is the case.
So what next? I have a new junior curriculum to prepare for and a new school looming large. I’d like to do a Masters degree, but one thing Mindlab has been is time intensive. I need some reflection and revisit some of those really challenging topics again before I make that choice.
(2017, 8 July 2017). A Field Guide to ‘jobs that don’t exist yet’. [Weblog]. Retrieved 14 October 2017, from http://www.longviewoneducation.org/field-guide-jobs-dont-exist-yet/.
(2017, 13 October 2017). Critical Pedagogy: How to respond to ‘future-focused’ discourse. [Weblog]. Retrieved 14 October 2017, from https://karenmelhuishspencer.com/2017/10/13/critical-pedagogy-how-to-respond-to-future-focused-discourse/.