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Appraisals and technology

Started by Gerard Macmanus 17 Dec 2011 10:36pm () Replies (9)

I was asked to share my appraisal experience and some thoughts around it by Karen (Enabling eLearning)

As the end of the year comes round, so does a teachers final appraisal. This has been a worthwhile experience for the last nine years and this one was different, instead of pieces of paper showing evidence of practice and how I have meet the requirements, this year through blogging and eportfolios I found having evidence on hand much easier and also found that I had put more thought into the appraisal system and looking at the future registered teacher requirements.
In this I look at three technologies that I have used to assist me, blogging, eportfolios and twitter.  


One thing that keeps me thinking is, should I be showing this blog at my appraisal meetings? This blog is my thinking. It shows me learning, trying things out and reflecting on what I have learnt. Though it is also about me being able to write down what I am struggling with, who I am struggling with as well. Sometimes it is management of my school, or with a certain company that I am dealing with. (yes, some of these posts are kept as drafts, but the majority of my posts are public)

My blog provides me a place to put notes on in my teaching.

To share: to share what I have learnt, be it with an application I have been developing or some new technology that I have an idea in out to evolve it.

To learn: this is very much an unintended benefit of blogging but the act of writing posts and deciding how I wish to organise my thoughts, but it has also made me think of how I will encourage future students to start to organise there thinking.

Managing my emotions: Being a teacher in Digital technologies, I find that I am constantly on the go and have a range of emotions that can be picked up from a simple grunt to a happy face when something works.  Being able to write about the process of developing an application, or about an incident that happened at work, without using names has been of great benefit, even if the post does not get "published" I have at least been able to get my thoughts in order, and that it is saved somewhere, even if I don't wish to access it again.

To effect change: A couple of times I have had people stumble across my blog that have commented on a piece, once I even got another job out of it. But this is more about how technology has influenced my practice in my career. Education has huge benefits, something which sometimes I forget. I look at our new standards in Digital Technologies - Computer Science papers, these are now the envy of the world, and others are now starting to catch up. I want to start to go through and post some more blog posts around Computer Science and get teachers to see it differently, not just as Programming, but more around the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their application in computer systems. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_science


-professional development log
every course I go on Professional Development is logged. This is done through the Plan Tab, the reason why I used the Plans tab was the CPD tab was not introduced until half way through the year. Plus with the Plans tab I can create a new Plan for each year.
-pages showing evidence of teaching in the classroom, photos, interviews with students (no release forms sorry)
for me these have been useful in getting evidence that students are interested in bringing their own devices to school as most of the photos I have are of student devices, also included is some student projects, these relate to evidence in robotics where students need to complete tasks within a certain amount of time. Also, once students saw me filming the challenges they themselves felt comfortable in filming the challenges and narrating the challenge at the same time, why it failed.

-professional reading log with questions
I read a number of books as well as various other material this year and found having a specific set of questions to answer helped me understand the ideas in the book even more.
1.    What has challenged my thinking and why?
2.    How has my thinking changed?
3.    How does this match with what I currently believe?
4.    What questions has this raised?
5.    What do I agree/disagree with?
6.    What might I need to do differently?
7.    What are the implications for my leadership practice?
8.    What links does this have to raising student achievement?
9.    How can I be transparent with my staff about my professional learning?
10.    How does what I have read change my ability to cause learning?
11.     Where do I go now?

Why use e-portfolios?

  • An e-portfolio reflects the learning process better than on paper.
  • The e-portfolio encourages and facilitates the learner’s support network to participate and provide feedback on their learning.
  • The quality, not just the quantity, of feedback is enhanced and facilitated via social mediums.
  • The e-portfolio encourages and enables the process of reflection, self-evaluation, and action planning as a process for lifelong learning. The e-portfolio not only develops skills, it develops approaches to learning.



being able to talk about twitter as an aspect of my Personal Learning Network and the people that I follow on it. Talking about aspects I have read and developments, obe especially lately has been from #pencilchat. Though it is being able to carry on the conversation after conferences which has been the most benefital. I didn't go to ulearn this year but was able to follow what was going on by the hash tag and being able to follow up with questions to the people there. As part of the appraisal was able to show favorites from throughout the year that have allowed me to show evidence of professional development. Be it at a conference, association professional development or school professional development.


  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 21 Feb 2013 3:04pm ()

    Hi all,

    imageThinking about your goals for 2013? Planning your inquiry, appraisal or work towards the registered teacher criteria?

    The story already shared in this thread (thanks Gerard!) made it a great reason kickstart it again to highlight that the Registered Teacher Criteria e-learning wiki has been re-developed and is now on Enabling e-Learning: http://www.elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/Registered-Teacher-Criteria.

    "Teachers and schools can decide how to best make use of this information in relation to their individual contexts. Some suggestions on how to use this content include:

    • Teachers identifying how their current practice in e-learning relates to the criteria in order to record this in official appraisal documents.
    • Teachers using the examples of how other educators incorporate e-learning in relation to the criteria in order to develop their own practice and set goals.
    • School leaders supporting teachers to develop goals related to the criteria which incorporate e-learning."
    Will you use these? How are you integrating e-learning in your appraisal this year?

  • Toni Twiss (View all users posts) 25 Jan 2012 11:40am ()

    Hey Gerard

    This is an impressive summary of the purpose behind your professional reflections.  I think that the most valuable thing about going digital is that each piece of data is discrete and shareable.  Like you mentioned about some of your posts remaining as draft - ie. for your eyes only.  


    I was wondering who else you were sharing your reflections with and what sort of feedback you were getting?  And I was also wondering if your students were privy to your reflections and if you encouraged them to provide you with feedback also?  These questions maybe apply more to MyPortfolio than your blog maybe? Depending on if and how you separate out these two online spaces.


    Also, curious to know if you have tied either of these spaces to the new RTC?  I personally think tagging would be an excellent way to do this and would give you a nice clear overview of where the stregths are and where there may be gaps to focus on...



  • Gerard Macmanus (View all users posts) 25 Jan 2012 10:00pm ()

    In regards to the RTC, it is something that I am investigating this year, as I am required to do it so I can keep registered, I like the idea of tagging, but having meaningful tags will be the challenge, thinking it may be the criteria number that I use as the indicator/tag.

    I think back to my interview where I pulled out my iPad and opened up myportfolio and showed the interview panel some of the pages that I worked on in myportfolio showing my thoughts and ideas around a nzc 3 day project http://myportfolio.school.nz/view/view.php?id=24499 (sorry you have to be logged in in myportfolio to view the page)

    Feedback, thats the funny thing, I get feedback from former teachers that I have worked with that see the post come up in their RSS feed, also I get some feedback from former students that saw the address on the projector in class one day. Other feedback comes from ideas that I put out in twitter, and in the google groups I belong to.

    I am enjoying the use of myportfolio, I just wish I could use it a bit more in class, and get the students to provide evidence of their learning, the same as I will be doing for the RTC, but current assessment practice is for pieces of paper to get moderated and sent away for external marking. I am hoping that the work that is going on with the MLE portfolio implementation project will help us assist in getting changes at NZQA to provide electronic portfolios as evidence for assessment.

    Going back to your questions, I think one example I have seen of how this could work has been Stephanie Thompson's work on her blog http://traintheteacher.wordpress.com/ for me this has been an excellent example of how teachers can use blogging to show their process. I don't think I have seen any better examples.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 19 Dec 2011 9:36am ()

    Thanks for this in-depth sharing Gerard. I’ve enjoyed reading how the rigor of your thinking has been enhanced through the use of the social media tools. Some of this reflects the commentary shared in the 30 day Leadership challenge where others talked about the reflective, online, ‘digital’ teacher.


    Suzie Vesper also blogged about "...teachers applying for jobs would be in a stronger position if they could show evidence in a digital form of their own critical reflection on their teaching practice". Suzie goes on to share other useful digital tools teachers can use when collecting and collating evidence too. /pg/blog/read/179198/using-ict-tools-to-reflect-on-your-own-teaching


    The idea that critical reflection can involve more than one person is worth exploring more too - especially through the use of social networking tools.


    Cowan suggests that learners are reflecting in an educational sense “when they analyse or evaluate one or more personal experiences, and attempt to generalise from that thinking” (1999: 18). However, as Biggs points out, “a reflection in a mirror is an exact replica of what is in front of it. Reflection in professional practice, however, gives back not what it is, but what might be, an improvement on the original” (1999: 6). http://www.ukcle.ac.uk/resources/personal-development-planning/what/


    The idea of self and peer assessment (two heads better than one) is quite powerful and relates directly to the Registered Teacher Criteria: Use critical inquiry and problem- solving effectively in their professional practice – where educators can respond professionally to feedback from members of their learning community.


    I’d love to hear more about the feedback process and how appraisers can engage with teachers (discussing, arguing, disputing, revising, reviewing, assessing, writing, reworking and producing articles) to enhance the reflective process. http://peterbryant.smegradio.com/?p=70

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 19 Dec 2011 9:35am ()

    Thank you so much for taking the time to reflect and articulate how you integrate technology into your professional learning process, Gerard. I like the way you talk about the reflective nature of blogging - and it's interesting that, even when posts aren't published, the actual act of writing is sometimes enough.

    I know there will be others - perhaps after Xmas;-) - who will be interested to read your account, and I'll make sure it's shared with our wider community, too:-)

    I'm interested in the way you use the blog and MyPortfolio differently....One question I did have: did you deliberately choose to separate your blog from your e-portfolio (because the blog could do both..) or did their use simply evolve?

  • Gerard Macmanus (View all users posts) 19 Dec 2011 1:38pm ()


    I originally started blogging, well emailing a daily account of my teaching practice when I was on sections during my student teacher practice almost 10 years ago, I was emailing it to my father each night so I got into a habit, it was great to be able to show my professional studies lecturer at the end of it and they were suitability impressed with my development and how I was progressing as a teacher. I then built a mysql/php system to help me enter in my reflections online, be it on a home server, but was able to use this as part of my beginning teacher registration as I was able to show evidence. I then started using blogger.com in 2007 as it allowed me to do it anywhere, and I was seeing how my mates were using livejournal at the time. I guess it is now habit for me to continue using my blog as I don’t see any reason why I have to just have it in myportfolio, though I can link to relevant feeds and also a RSS feed. I guess I don’t want to make change for the sake of change.

  • Peter Eaton (View all users posts) 18 Dec 2011 10:06am ()

    Thanks for posting this - nice to see confirmation I could use these sort of tools to help me and not just assist students.

    Great to see another Computer Science guy in teaching - there can't be many of us...


  • Gerard Macmanus (View all users posts) 19 Dec 2011 1:43pm ()

    This is something that I saw with myportfolio, something that was designed for the teacher to use as well as students. I find using these tools myself I can assist students in there development as a lifelong learner.

    They are great for computer science as well, getting students to use other means of communication rather than pen and paper to be able to communicate there ideas and get student voice, I am using these things more next year as a way of combating the amount of writing students need to do for assessment, evaluate there project, why can't they talk about it and save the mp3 file into myportfolio, evidence of assesment done.

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