A garden of practice.

To help make sense of the 32 week programme, I compared my experience to gardening. Each week The Mindlab planted a handful of seeds (new knowledge) in the garden of my professional practice. Coupled with these seeds, experiences were provided in the form of classes, readings, webinars and assignments. These served as instructions to help me (the gardener) give new seeds the best chance of establishing themselves inside my garden.

Growing the garden.

The rate in which these seeds (new knowledge) grew varied. Some seeds are in Mauri Ora (Potahu, 2011): they have flourished into plants, already baring fruit. One such plant is the SAMR model (Puentedura, 2010), which changed the way I use digital technology in the classroom.  Previously, I measured the success of web-based technology solely on student engagement. The SAMR model now enables me to explore the added value of technology so I can implement it more effectively as a tool for learning. For instance, in exploring the increased functionality of Google docs, it has developed into a platform for my students to collaborate together and share their knowledge with other classes instead of being just another word processor. This example of change in my professional practice in e-learning reflects Criteria 4 of the PTC.

Gardens require nutrient-dense soil for plants to grow.

I think of the nutrients in the soil as the skills and attitudes I’ve learned during this course. These are things like collaboration, resilience, social and emotional intelligence, leadership, and critical reflection. Combined in their totality, these nutrients form a healthy bed of soil for new knowledge to grow and be applied in practice. The most important change for me on this level is in how I practice collaboration as result of the increased self-awareness I learned.

Some colleagues found me to be cynical in the past. So, in examining my collaborative capacity against Goleman’s components of Emotional Intelligence (2003), I was able to improve my interpersonal skills by becoming more aware of the manner in which I communicate. Aside from Goleman’s research, others emphasise successful teachers possess excellent social skills. The Tu Rangatira model of leadership (Ministry of Education, 2010) iterated that effective leaders, “project kindness, approachability, and understanding.” The verb ‘project’ indicates that body language is as an integral part of communication. When interacting with colleagues, I take care to ensure I am positive in my demeanour, as well as dialogue. I believe that through engaging in critical, research informed reflection of my practice, I have learned to be a better collaborator. In developing a higher state of self-awareness through actively engaging with peer critique, I have promoted a collaborative and supportive learning environment (PTC #7).

Overall, the practical nature of this course has transformed the creed of lifelong learning into a tangible and achievable entity instead of a lofty ideal. Though some seeds of knowledge lie dormant in their Mauri Moe state, I am confident in my developing skills as a research-informed and critically reflective practitioner in cultivating them in my burgeoning garden of practice.

References

Goleman, D. (2003). What makes a leader. Organizational influence processes, 229-241

Ministry of Education. (2010). Tū Rangatira: Māori Medium Educational Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Leadership-development/Key-leadership-documents/Tu-rangatira-English

Potahu, T. W. (2011). Mauri – Rethinking Human Wellbeing. MAI Review, 3, 1-12. Retrieved from http://www.review.mai.ac.nz/index.php/MR/article/viewFile/380/680

Puentedura, R. (2010). SAMR and TPCK: Intro to advanced practice. Retrieved from http://hippasus.com/resources/sweden2010/SAMR_TPCK_IntroToAdvancedPractice.pdf

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