The ‘D’ word

The ‘D’ word … my @oneword2017

Having been alerted to Cheryl Doig’s latest blog post ‘ Exponential Change: Prepare for Disruption’ I was drawn to listen to Sue Suckling, Board Chair  of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), speak about The Future of Education at the SingularityU New Zealand Summit held in Christchurch November of 2016. I listened with interested relief (or disbelief!) as she declared that ‘the day of the qualification is over’! I am a strong advocate of  ‘I will not let an exam result decide my fate’ and often tell my students that a number does not define them. To me the most important understandings and dispositions are the ones not measured by our education system. However, Sue discusses the issues arising from this move away from qualifications. Specifically asking these questions: what is relevant in a qualification? Is it subject specific? Is it based on dispositions? How do we quality assure what has been done? How do keep a record of knowledge/participation?

I believe for me as an Intermediate teacher (not bound by NCEA) we are using some platforms which begin to address some of these questions. Digital portfolios such as Seesaw and Blogs are a record of learning and are available for whanau to see. Students are able to upload a wide range of evidence to their portfolio from docs, PDFs, images, videos, links and more so it can be a complete journey from start to finish. Platforms such as GoFormative allow us to give ‘just in time’ feedback to our learners. Twitter can be used to gather learner voice, reflection, thinking and when Storified provides visible learning. Another technique we are going to trial this year is ‘Story Hui’.  This is about creating collective knowledge through story-telling and sketchnotes.

In her blogpost, Cheryl shared what Singularity University faculty member David Roberts described as the difference between innovation and disruption. “Innovation is doing the same things better while disruption is doing new things which make the old things obsolete.” Being a disruptor, my plan is to take Story Hui (and any of the other platforms we use which make learning visible) and replace the traditional report. It is certainly time the traditional report was made obsolete! I also plan to continue disrupting the way we have always done reading by making groups obsolete and replacing them with with connected, whole class literacy through #NZreadaloud. We will make homework obsolete but instead encourage home learning but it won’t be compulsory. We will make ‘I don’t like Monday’s’ obsolete by continuing to have PlayDayMonDay. So while I still am employable as a teacher I am going to do everything I can to disrupt the paradigm and make school a place that kids want to come to before education becomes so borderless that I am made irrelevant!

Over the last four years I have been ‘going rogue gracefully’, I have blogged about ‘Beautiful Disruption’ before; slowly pulling back from the regulated, linear, time bound education to more permissionless, integrated, anytime, anywhere, student driven learning. This graphic shows some of the trends in educational change.

Image from Cheryl Doig blogpost.

It has not been easy …

Well that is not quite true. The changes have been easy as they are learner centered; everything being done has the students at the center. I have included them in the process of change and each year they have come to an understanding (as much as they can understand in two years) the need to unlearn and relearn what it means to learn, what is important to learn, and how and when learning can take place. What has not been easy is attempting to get our parents understanding what we are doing. Disrupting the way a classroom has always been takes time and patience from the students as well as their whanau. As Sue says, parents only know one way and we need to inform them about the changes. This is where we plan to do further disrupting this year … we need our whanau to understand why things are changing in the classroom and why it is not going to be the same as it was when they were at school. We plan to bring in ex-students to share their story with our new students and their families. We are planning to have our learners share with their families how they can access their learning throughout the year to hopefully eliminate the need for reports.

In the video Sue spoke about how being connected is driving disruption. I can honestly say that being connected has had a huge impact on me as a learner and I can see how this can be true. Being connected has meant I can learn what I want when I want. I wrote about ‘Isolation being a Choice’ here. I know that being connected has driven my willingness to disrupt.

Something closer to home has been the other driver for me. My own children. Their lack of interest in school, boredom in classes, and confusion around homework and what it is supposed to achieve. Then there is the focus on ‘preparing for tests’ weeks before you ‘take the test’ all to finish with an ‘achieve’ or ‘not achieved’. This test result then determines what class you will be in! Now this is fair and equitable huh! I have seen and heard of so many of our kids who are disengaging from school … it is time educators made some changes to the way things have always been. Sue states that fear and control are two things limiting disruption. We are controlled by the past and tradition and afraid of how this new paradigm will look. I think that whatever small change or disruption we can put in place is worth letting go of some control and feeling a little anxious. We must remember who we are doing this for … our students!

So my #oneword2017 is

DISRUPTION (continued!)







4 thoughts on “The ‘D’ word

  1. Steph says:

    Disrupt away Kerri! What I think makes the difference is that your ‘disruption’ is not based on idle speculation or change for changes sake, but on your ongoing reflections, the research you undertake and on really knowing and understanding the needs of your students from ongoing assessments etc! You really put the time and dedication in to seek something that is better and more responsive for your students. You seek input from Whanau and student voice and engagement underpins your way forward! To do this takes courage and conviction! As always, you continue to be an inspiration to our profession!


    1. Kerri says:

      Kia ora e hoa. Appreciate you replying to my post. I definitely believe that behind relationships sits engagement and that our job is to find a way to maximise this in each of our learners. They will all be different – hence LearningMYway. It does take some courage because things look different they have looked before and it takes everyone a while to get used to it. Being at Intermediate, we only have 2 years to try to unlearn and relearn what learning is – kids and their whanau:) The feedback we receive is encouraging and positive. Our goal this year is to have whanau on board the whole way – start to finish AND in between!


    1. Kerri says:

      Hey thanks Anneke for taking the time to respond. Yep…everything I do is grounded in learning centered around what is going to be best for the learners!


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