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Posts Tagged ‘change’

  1. Mind the Gap: Research and Schools

    1 November 2016 by shartley

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    Image by Mikel Ortega at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikelo/217048717

    Last week I attended the AIS Education Research Symposium.  When I worked at Oakhill College I was part of the team that created and implemented REAL (Relevant Engaging, Active Learning) and then we researched its impact.  Unfortunately I left Oakhill before the end of the two year research project but thankfully I remained involved to an extent.  We designed REAL to create a paradigm shift in the teaching and learning environment at the school through a transparent curriculum in a detailed but clear (student-friendly) format, structured for students to know each lesson or week:

    • What is to be learned
    • How it is to be learned, and
    • The evidence of successful learning

    The research project examined the impact of REAL on student outcomes but effectively discovered the effect it had on teachers too.  The research revealed REAL as a significantly successful program, although teachers found it hard to adapt their practices, and I’m proud to have been associated with it.

    But this post is about the symposium.  The main participants at the symposium are from schools that have received a funding opportunity from AIS and are at the start, middle or end of a two year research project.  It is also for any other teachers who are keen to make stronger links between research and teaching practice.  And the first keynote speaker, Dr Stacey Waters, was exactly on this topic.

    It is extremely hard to make a cultural shift in any institution, let alone a school which has so many entrenched perceptions of what it should be like.  Nearly everyone in the world experiences school and our experiences are reinforced by pop culture’s representation of it, this image being a teacher up the front instructing students sitting in rows, resisting the learning process (except when they have a superstar teacher like Michelle Pfeiffer or Robin Williams).

    This is not the one best way to learn.  Academic research has indicated this repeatedly, yet many schools resist changing (much like their students resist learning).  I think part of it is the conflicting voices dominating the discourse of how schools should operate. As mentioned before, there is the entertainment industry image but there is also the political viewpoint that schools must do better, meaning better at publicly published score achievement (PISA, NAPLAN, HSC).  In education conference circles there are a few (mainly men) who have a certain popularity, often stringing out their one concept stories for decades (I’m thinking the hole-in-the-wall story and the idea that schools kill creativity).

    The academic voice is often lost in all this.  There are some who are picked up by politicians and/or the media. For example, John Hattie and his Visible Learning ideal is lauded by politicians and the media.  However, even the John Hatties often remain ignored in the day-to-day classroom, for a number of reasons.

    Personally I think it stems from a dominating need of isolated teachers in their classrooms to have control and order.  Control and order is easier if learning is considered to be the mere accumulation of knowledge.  It casts a dark shadow on education.  Teaching is better if it is collaborative, learning is better if it is collaborative, but it is much harder to maintain control and order in a collaborative environment when there isn’t a desire to learn in the first place, by teachers or students.  It is harder to know what individual students are doing in a collaborative environment and if it is known that they are not participating in the learning process, it is hard to know what to do about them.  There are plenty of theories, methods and systems that can be put in place but really, it all comes to dealing with individual motivations and desires to learn.  And to be honest, the better learning environments take more time and energy to plan and monitor.  I love an active collaborative learning environment in my classrooms but boy, it’s hard work a lot of the time.  

    Prof Ruth Deakin Crick shared this quote as part of her presentation about the use of technology to change school culture from exam-driven teaching to a learning culture with dynamic pedagogy and engagement (image, however, was clipped from elsewhere):

    screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-6-05-25-pm

    Teachers are so busy and comfortable with what they know well and what they’ve been rewarded for in the past, they don’t want to become even busier and take risks that result in lost control and disapproval.

    So now we can see why some resistance to change exists, let’s return to the academic voice and other reasons why it is difficult to implement research findings into school practice.

    To be able to research in a detailed, scientifically credible manner, academics focus on narrow areas to reduce multiple confounding factors in their study. They generally want to discover a cause and effect, and the size of that effect, but to be specific and certain they can only concentrate on one cause and one effect at a time, whereas education is much much more complicated than that.  It is like reducing economic modelling to two products in the market.  It illustrates a concept but an economy with just two products is not real life.  This is why Hattie’s study is so appealing, it throws hundreds of studies into the mix and calculates which causes have the most effect.  However, one point worth noting, is how long this all takes.  A research project can take years, and then months to write and publish in an academic journal, and then even longer to garner the attention of those who it really affects, people in schools.  I’m not sure of the age of the studies Hattie includes in his meta-analysis.  Due to the narrow focus and time-lags the question was raised at the conference as to whether the academic rigour should be sacrificed, to an extent, to allow more pertinent and practical studies be undertaken in a more timely manner.  I don’t know the answer.

    The publish or perish pressure on academics is a significant factor too.  The money associated with grants often comes with a proviso of what must be researched. Dr Stacey Waters also referred to the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) system which awards points according to the category of grants.  To be published, it helps if the research is something new and different, rather than going deeper into something that has already been examined.  The dream situation for an academic though, is selling books.  And books sell if they have something novel and easy to implement.  We all know how hard change management is, but just how many books advocate just ‘x’ number of steps (eg Kotter’s 8 steps) like it is a simple linear process?  It’s not.

    Even if academics find something that is commonly considered important to implement in schools, the process is slow and usually ineffectual. Researchers are already balancing teaching and research and then they need to market their findings so that schools will take their ideas on board, when so many ideas are already present.  Dr Stacey Waters says that publishing and even training people is not enough. One of her presentation slides said:


    Implementation is most successful when…

    • Practitioners receive training and coaching
    • The organisation provides the necessary infrastructure for training and coaching and regularly evaluates
    • The community is fully involved in the selection and evaluation of programs

    (Fixsen, Naoom, Blasé, Friedman & Wallace, 2005)


    She argued that schools should build relationships with universities and establish a research culture by providing easy access to academic journals and having a forum to discuss what these journals have to say.

    Before Oakhill obtained the research funding opportunity from AIS, we asked some universities to help us perform academic research.  We discovered that not only did they want to be paid consultation fees, that some even wanted to virtually take over the whole process.  We backed away quickly and were relieved and grateful to receive the AIS funding opportunity.  As part of the inaugural recipients of research funding there was only minimal guidance but still, some important structural requirements, including an academic advisor.  However, we ended up only spending 50% of the budgeted amount we allocated for the advisor. He was extremely helpful for implementing research that produced quantifiable data and how that data could be used, but partly due to how late we were and partly due to the lack of need, we didn’t use as much of his services for the writing part as we thought we would.

    So here we were at a conference that was bringing together academics and teachers, albeit those already interested in research. As Terrie Jones tweeted, “Teacher practitioner researchers in partnership with academics bridging the research practice divide? This room. #AISRandD16”.  One of the sessions I enjoyed the most was about Case Study as a form of research.  From what little I have been involved in research at a tertiary level, I have found case study methods frowned upon because it is not appropriate to extrapolate something that works in one circumstance as being applicable to a wider range of circumstances.  Dr Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn argued that yes, three case studies are better than one, but much can be learned from them and proceeded to demonstrate how powerful they could be but also recognising their limitations.  I tweeted that I’d love to work on a case study with Dr Kimberley and she responded with a “Let’s talk” which I will probably take her up on some time next year (see screen grab below).  However, I’m not looking to do research like this until at least 2018.  I started a Master of Research (MRES) at Macquarie University this year but stopped just a few weeks in due to lack of time. I’m currently not working full-time so I can help my son through his HSC (he has autism and anxiety issues).  I considered studying also during this year ‘off’ but I need to make him the priority, not my own work. After that I’ll be open to all sorts of projects!

    screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-6-30-03-pm

    The people at this conference are the core people of their organisations interested in learning and continuous improvement.  What we actually need to learn as researchers within schools, is how to gather-in colleagues to a learning mindset and join with us.

    When we first attempted researching the REAL project ourselves, we applied to present at academic conferences in Seville, Spain, and New York, USA, and were approved for both based on our ‘abstracts’.  This was before the AIS research funding program even existed and we were without any support from universities.  We then had to write papers for these conferences, the New York paper being subject to a peer review.  It failed one reviewer but the other advised us to change the format significantly, which we did, and it was then published <http://shanihartley.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.264/prod.58>*.  We also had to review other papers which was a great learning experience for us.  At these conferences there was much said about education at all levels but over 90% of the presenters were from universities.  Universities seem to take a more hit-and-run approach instead of working in tandem with the schools they research.  It would be nice to see or even experience more collaboration between schools and universities in the research process at academic conferences.  Perhaps we were better off without a university’s own agenda. We were unusual in being school teachers conducting and presenting our own research.  There should be more of it.  

     

    * Despite numerous emails to the publishers, the bios of the authors were not corrected.
    This post is also found at http://squibsandsagas.blogspot.com.au/2016/11/mind-gap-research-and-schools.html

  2. Policy Rhetoric Regarding Technology in Education

    13 October 2013 by shartley

     

    Photo by author

    Photo by author

    The rhetoric of the role of technology in education spruiked by government bodies and other institutions was clearly demonstrated by Jordan (2011).  It provided a similar awakening for me that the research conducted by Marcos, Sanchez and Emilio (2011) into teacher reflections also provided (see previous post).  Basically, in both cases, there are a lot of statements made emphatically, authoritatively but with little evidence of research into the effectiveness of the promoted course of action.

    The problem is the rate of change in education today, particularly in regards to education.  People feel there isn’t enough time to conduct research.  It is compounded by the familiarity many people feel towards technology and the absolute horror felt by others.  Those who have the knowledge and experience easily dictate how it should all work to those who know little.

    However, in my not so humble opinion, some of Jordan’s criticisms are of almost universally accepted truths. For instance, technology is a driver of change.  It is evident by the smart phones in people’s pockets and how they use them.  Jordan (2011) lists “ICT as driving welcomed change” (p.419) as her first theme in representations of ICT.  My issue is with the word ‘welcome’.  The language in political rhetoric is more about “opportunities” (p.420) that can be gained with ICT change.  The more emotive and persuasive language is found in words such as “vital” (p.420) in regards to how technology should be used for learning.  This is not saying it is welcomed.

    Of course politicians and educational institutions want to focus on the positives students’ futures.  Don’t we teachers want the same?  I believe it is fairly obvious that there is potential to harness and transform technology for the good of education so I don’t agree with Jordan’s criticism on these points (p.421).  However, the word ‘revolutionise’, to me, is pushing the rhetoric a bit too far.

    Overall I don’t object much to the rhetoric used regarding the potential of ICT in education.  However, I agree with Jordan’s criticisms of descriptions of students as “digitally savvy” (2011, p.425), a term coined by Mark Prensky, a prolific keynote speaker around the world.  He has experienced four years in the classroom, 1968-1971 (Prensky 2013).  In the classroom we too often see the shortfalls in students’ ICT knowledge, such as not knowing to use CTRL F to search for a particular term in a screed of text.  From my experience, they have a much more narrow experience of technology than I, generally restricted to gaming and social networking.

    At my previous school, teachers were constantly marginalised to being facilitators and technology lifted to the role of teacher.  Jordan (2011) argued that where students are deemed digitally savvy, “the teacher is relegated to the role of passive mediator, the instrumental means to predetermined ends” (p.428).  It is a false depiction.

    Popenici (2013) lamented the portrayal of an ideal where students completely self-direct their learning in a blog post that resonated to an extent with the experience I had with my previous school.  For instance a ‘Deep Learning Day’ was introduce one day a week for Year 11 to work on whatever they chose, even though teachers were expected to provide work that may not be completed.  Students were allowed to consult with teachers but teachers were (originally) not meant to keep them on task or offer unrequested assistance.

    Personally, I agree with most of the rhetoric of the politicians but agree with Jordan’s concerns for the way students are depicted as having a technological advantage over teachers.  The framing of the use of technology in education needs to more realistic for the opportunities and possibilities to be achieved through recognition of the true support and development required to make it happen.

     

    References

    Jordan, K. 2011. Framing ICT, teachers and learners in Australian school education ICT policy, Australian Educational Researcher, 38:4, pp.47-431, http://www.academia.edu/1964725/Framing_ICT_teachers_and_learners_in_Australian_school_education_ICT_policy

    Marcos, J.M., Sanchez, E., and Tillema, H.H. 2011. “Promoting teacher reflection: What is said to be done” Journal of Education for Teaching: International Research and Pedagogy, 37:1, pp.21-36

    Popenici, S. 2013. Devaluation of Teaching and Learning, 10 October, http://popenici.com/2013/10/10/teaching/

    Prensky, M. 2013. Marc’s Resume (CV). http://marcprensky.com/marcs-resume-cv/

     

     


  3. Managing change effectively

    3 September 2011 by shartley

    In Business Studies students learn about Managing change effectively.  They look at how a business must:

    1. Identify the need for change
    2. Set achievable goals
    3. Deal with resistance to change

    The business may also engage management consultants to help it through this process.

    To meet these outcomes I asked students to write a business report about a change they would like to see in their school.  My favourite (reproduced without corrections) is advocating student involvement in the hiring of teachers:

    Introduction

    This report will discuss the processes that are required for a positive change at Northern Beaches Christian School. The positive change that is considered is the idea of having student input in the process of hiring staff. This report will identify the need for the change, set achievable goals, and discuss dealing with resistance to change. It will also list all the consultants that would be needed to implement the change and address how stakeholders of the school would be affected by the change. The report will conclude with a recommendation on how the change could be implemented and the benefit to the school.

    This report is being written because a recent study has concluded with the results that students work harder, more efficiently and have the will and  right attitude to work because of the teacher that is teaching them and the way they teach. Therefore, from large amount of student support it is necessary that this change is implemented one way or another, because ultimately it is the students being taught and therefore why not hire a teacher that they approve of?

    Identifying the need for change

    An effective principal would always be scanning the environment, attempting to understand factors that will have an impact on their school. In this way, they may better identify current trends and predict future changes. Achieving such a vision requires a holistic view of the school community and awareness of the potential impact on the business from a variety of factors. Correctly anticipating these factors greatly assists the principal in identifying the need for change. To better understand the changes that need to occur, the principal needs access to accurate and up-to-date information. This would include the recent study completed, which investigated the impact a teacher had on the work completed by their students, and included how the students worked as well. From this it seen that that the way students work is largely impacted by their teachers, which includes their drive, ambition, will and efficiency. For example, an enthusiastic, innovative teacher that explain concepts in a way that everyone understand would definitely have a positive impact on students work ethic than a teacher that reads out from the text book and orders students to answer questions from the textbook. Therefore, for the benefit of the school, it would be better for students to have an input because it is them that are learning and they should have an input on who teaches them.

    Set achievable goals

    Usually goals are directed towards the employees of a business, however in this case, as the change is directed towards future employees and the senior executives and the principal of the school, it is they that the goals will be directed towards. A vision statement for the proposed change must also be created as it states the purpose of the change, indicates how the future employees should act and states the key goals.

    Vision Statement:

    To have student input in the hiring of staff, as they are the people who are being taught and therefore must be able to choose preferences for the best learning experience possible. All future employees must be focused, enthusiastic, innovative and have exceptional communication skills.

    Key goals include:

    • Having students participate in the interview with the future employee and principal.
    • Having future employee being assessed by students and senior executive in a practice lesson.
    • Having a questionnaire created by students that is to be completed by the future employee and having questions such as what drives and motivates them, why are they enthusiastic about teaching, why approach this particular school, what teaching style do they think they possess.
    • After all of the above has occurred, students should sit with the principal and senior executives, for the final discussion of their position.

    Measureable goals include:

    • Having different but same number of students at each interview, practise lesson, final discussion, etc.
    • Creating a system on how and which students would be chosen to participate in this important selection.
    • Having an assessment created for the practise lesson, to which the LAM would be marking them off.

    Deal with resistance to change

    With any amount of change, there would always be some resistance from teachers, senior executives and even the principal themself. The common reasons to why they would resist change include:

    • Disruption of routine. They may resist change because they are worried that they cannot adapt to the new procedures that threaten established work routines.
    • Time. In some circumstances, not enough time is allowed for people to think about the change, accept it and then implement it. In other situations, the timing is poor.
    • Inertia. Some managers and employees resist change because it requires moving outside and away from their ‘comfort zones’. In this case, it would include having student input in a normally senior executives and principal area, and the future employee would think that students would take advantage of their position and negatively use it.

    Resistance to change can be dealt with having strategies put in place. The first step in reducing resistance to change is to ensure that the senior executives and principal understand to main reasons why change is resisted. Once these factors have been identified, each senior executive can put in place strategies to reduce the resistance. Two of the most effective are creating a culture of change and positive leadership.

    Culture of change: A strategy includes having the school identify individuals who could act as supportive change agents, which are people who act as catalysts, assuming responsibility for managing the change process. This could also not be possible without the strong communications of the leaders and the encouragement of teamwork.

    Positive leadership: A principal who acts as a leader and has high expectations of employee’s abilities to initiate and implement a change process would generally be rewarded with people who are willing to embrace change. There may still be some points of resistance, but this resistance can be productively dealt with because the employees believe that they have the support and trust of their principal.

    The consultants that would be needed to implement the change

    To implement the change, the consultants that would be needed are:

    • Education consultants-who help people that want to find a career in teaching. They would be used to inform those who want to teach at Northern Beaches Christian School about how they would apply at the school and the processes they would need to undertake before being hired.
    • Management consultants, which are people who have specialised skills within an area of business. They can provide further strategies to smoothly manage the introduction of business changes by:
      • Undertaking change readiness reviews
      • Creating a supportive business culture
      • Actively involving all stakeholders in the changing process
      • Gaining and recognising early achievements.

    How stakeholders of the school would be affected by the change

    Students: They would be positively affected, as their valuable input in teacher hiring would be recognised, and they would feel as if they making the school better for everyone.

    Teachers: Depending on the person, they would be either negatively or positively affected because those that were teaching before the change was implemented, would believe that the students do not like them and positively because of the benefit to the school.

    Principal: They would be positively affected because it is new innovation that the school could embrace, especially giving the students an active role in the development of the school.

    Senior executives: With the support from the principal they would be positively affected by the change because they have student opinion on a very important decision.

    Parents: They would be positively affected because they would know that their children would be more engaged, focused and enthusiastic about learning because they have a teacher that they like and work better with.

    Community: The school community would be positively affected because of the development of the school and would be supportive about students having more responsibility by having an input about teacher hiring.

    People considering to be hired: The change would bring more pressure upon themselves, however a great teacher would learn how to use the pressure and turn it into an advantage for themselves.

    Conclusion

    It can be concluded that implementing the change of having student input in the hiring process of teacher is beneficial to the school. It is recommended that this change occur gradually with a systematic approach, to be created by the principal and management consultants, with education consultants being informed about the change, so they could inform those wanting to be hired about the processes to being hired. This change will be beneficial to the school because it gives students a place where their input is valued and used for very important decisions. As the principal wants to be innovative, this change is one more step towards it and the future development of the school.


  4. The Education Revolution (a quick post)

    20 January 2011 by shartley

    Pročitano u prvoj polovini 2008. godine

    So I was doing the laundry and thinking about the prep work I’ve been doing this week and about a conference I’m helping to run later in the year and wondering how many teachers actually want to move away from an industrial style of teaching and learning. I think those of us on Twitter feed off each other and become enthused and energised by the concept of change to improve students’ learning. Further, I teach at an extremely innovative school led by a Principal whose current passion is architecture and furniture for education. Not everyone is like us.

    I want my students to love learning, to enthusiastically participate in discussions, to want to learn more, to think, investigate, discover, problem solve, create, participate in world matters, and so on. I don’t want them to merely regurgitate facts and figures, to memorise standard essays, to simply read and feed it back. Yet I am constrained by our system. For the last 6 years I have only taught students in Year 9 and up so am duty bound to prepare them for the School Certificate at the end of Year 10 and the HSC at the end of Year 12. The majority of my students are not pushed at home to perform at the highest level, they have cruised through most of their school life coasting on whatever ability they are at rather than adding value to their education by being enthusiastic about the learning process and/or their subjects.

    It seems the majority of the top performers are the ones who have a culture at home of valuing academic education but what about those who don’t? Even then, many of them are seeking marks as a means to university entry and power and wealth rather than valuing education for its own sake. How do we encourage students to embrace learning?

    The work I’ve been doing this week is preparing a Business Studies course for a new syllabus. One of my main aims is to use the textbook as little as possible to the extent that next year we can ditch it altogether. This means using less than 10% of the pages and so far I’m on track. Business Studies is a subject that lends itself to being real and relevant. The Australian government at all levels and various business associations provide material online to help business owners establish and operate their businesses. Students can dream and plan their very own businesses. I love showing students how they can turn their interests into a real live business. My current HSC students that I have often referred to in this blog include a lot of sports enthusiasts. It is an absolute joy when they can envisage running a coaching clinic, owning a sports store or running a sports travel agency.

    When I taught Business Studies early in my career I was bored silly by the textbook and the internet worksheets I created so much that I never wanted to teach it again after just two years. When I saw the students enrolled in my class last year I knew they and I would never survive if I continued in the same vein. Now I use tools like LinoIt, games like the lemonade stand game, online quizes like this entrepreneur one and creating their own online glossary of key terms in Moodle. The best aspect of Business Studies is how they can apply the theory to their own future business. It takes a lot of energy to run classes like this but the reward is great. Most of these students will not perform well in the HSC but they will perform better than they would have by merely studying the textbook. They have learnt heaps about business, they are quite enthusiastic about business and they have a foundation on which they can build their own business. The HSC does not measure that.

    Now thinking about the conference on best teaching practices in Business and Economics classrooms, I wonder about the participants. What do they want from their teaching? What do they want for their students? Have they heard from a change enthusiast like myself before?

    Some of the teachers participating in this conference come from schools where the standard is extremely high and the pressure for results in tests are immense. Are innovative teaching methods appropriate for their students? Is there a trade-off of marks for passion? Is it possible to achieve both?

    I think it is possible. Actually, I believe innovative teaching is important even if marks are sacrificed. Passion can lead to better marks for the lower to average student. However, I think there needs to be a change in culture for the top-end to understand memorisation is just a means to an end and in the long-run they benefit more from enthusiasm and curiosity.

    Our testing system also needs to change. There needs to be greater scope for the way students present what they have learnt and how they can create, problem solve and be active citizens in our economy and society as a result of a quality education.


  5. Hot desking

    15 November 2010 by shartley

    Newsroom panorama

    Newsroom Panorama by Victoria Peckham

    • What if some staff became semi-itinerant in terms of the staff room location?
    • What if each staff room had a table space for collaboration – as well as a couple of comfortable chairs and perhaps less desks and/or privately managed work materials (aka clutter)?
    • What if ‘mobile’ staff could choose which staff room they wanted to work in from day to day?
    • What if some staff would like to trial using the Hub (even with its open access and senior students) as their home base for work and meeting with students or staff (if a GLM or LAM)?
    • How might we provide secure space for them in the Hub? – possibly a locker or a mobile mini-caboose?
    • Are you a ‘change’ junkie? Does any of this strike a chord with you? Are you interested in putting your hand up to try something different?

    My Principal emailed around the above questions and I knew I had to respond.   If I don’t respond how can I ever argue about any changes that are inflicted upon me.  This was my chance to influence the working situation I would like to be in.

    Currently I am not completely happy with my staffroom.  There is one phone shared amongst 7-8 staff.  As an online teacher I am often at my desk answering on everyone else’s behalf.  That said, I am also often responding to knocks on the door from students, looking for items teachers have forgotten to take to class or to see one of the other teachers in the room.  Music students are particularly frequent visitors sincethey need to book rehearsal times, fetch instruments out of storage and just generally more needing of support.

    One of my really good friends is approaching retirement and at times she can be a little negative.  She is a great teacher but is not very flexible with changing attitudes towards education, particularly regarding technology and student-centred learning.  As much as I love her it is becoming harder sharing such close space with her.

    So, to escape this situation the Principal’s offer looks appealing.

    I actually like the idea of the Hub in many ways.  There would be more interruptions but they will be more for me instead of someone else.  I worry about the security of students’ work, since it is a place senior students use.  As I mark papers I would need to secure them every time I left my desk for even short periods of time.  I like communicating and collaborating with teachers across the whole school, being in the centre of activity. But not all the time.  I can see working in the Hub being appropriate some of the time.

    There will be occasions where I will need to work with staff in my faculty on activities such as programming and assessment writing.  A meeting room where we can spread out and not be interrupted would be ideal in these situations.  As a head of faculty I would also need somewhere private to talk one-on-one with a member of staff or students.

    However, to be very productive in my individual work, I like quiet.  Recently I shared a quiet office for a couple of weeks with just two other occupants.  One, a non-teaching member of staff, is quite a reserved person, although he received many phone calls (each desk had its own phone) and the other was away teaching most of the time.  I achieved a great deal of work during this time due to the lack of interruptions and the room being what we dubbed ‘a cone of silence’.

    I’m not one for personal photographs or artefacts at my desk but I like my own stash of stationery and resources to call upon.  If I had a large locker for these items plus my files and folders it would be an adequate solution.  I would love to have a business/economics/culture area within the school where all the associated resources were stored with some comfy chairs and a round table to spread out alone on or to hold meetings around.  Every time I went to teach a class I wouldn’t want to lug around my lap-top with me.  It would need somewhere safe and secure, away from where students could read my email or tamper with files, although a locking mechanism could work.  Many students could hack through it though.  I am not yet willing to trade a lap-top in to totally rely on an iPad or some other Personal Digital Device.

    I like to change where I work.  At home I have a desk but more often I am in front of the TV on the couch or in bed.  Once a week I stay at my in-laws and adapt to being in a different location, packing for me and my children each week.  I am a very busy person and take my iPad to conferences and my lap-top when I stay at houses of family and friends (just about everyone has wireless access).  When I have a looming due date for a writing gig I stay at a hotel for a weekend to have peace and quiet and room service, alone, away from all the domestic demands of my own house.

    Overall I like the concept of not having a permanent desk but it would have to be managed carefully and securely.  I would need a large locker space or an area of storage that was easy and attractive to access.  I started a pro and con list but the list was coming out with many more cons than pros, the most prominent ones being noise, lack of storage and lack of privacy.  The pros being a more collaborative atmosphere, more flexibility and you know what, sometimes change is good.  I did a bit of Google, Twitter (thanks @SimonBorgert and @BAFDiploma) and academic database research and found we should also be concerned with hygiene, RSI and other ergonomic factors and practicalities such as how one is to be located when there is a phone call or how to print.

    Yet my deepest concern is the divide it could cause amongst staff. Already there is a bit of divide between those teachers who embrace technology and are flexible within their classrooms and those who are more traditional in their approach.  I am concerned that it is perceived as an ‘either you are with us or against us’ attitude from the top.  I am willing to try it but am scared that once a few of us say we are willing to try it leads to a headlong rush into doing it for real, for everyone whether they like it or not, no turning back.  Sometimes at our school trials are really an easing-in of a new idea, not trials at all.

    I wouldn’t have described myself as someone who embraces change.  But yes, I will respond to the Principal’s email, putting up my hand to say I am willing to try something different.  But I will also send him the link to this blog.

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/office-warfare-20090429-anfm.html
    http://www.computerchairs.com.au/computer-chairs-articles/2000/8/30/musical-chairs-for-adults/
    http://www.squidoo.com/hotdesking
    http://www.darktea.co.uk/blog/13-tips-to-successful-hot-desking
    http://www.bnet.com/blog/teamwork/is-hot-desking-a-cool-idea-or-a-catastrophe/224
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/4493463/Mind-how-you-move-that-chair-its-hot-Hot-desking-is-a-growing-trend-bringing-a-new-culture-writes-Violet-Johnstone.html


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