James Rea, Deputy Principal at Russell Street School , explains the purpose and content of their e-portfolio documentation. He describes his role as e-learning leader and the approach he takes to developing and maintaining staff capability and understanding.
I’m James Rea. I’m the Deputy Principal at Russell Street School. One of my roles is to look after e-learning in the school and sort of grow that within the parents and community, and oversee it at the teaching end - what’s happening in classrooms.
And so as far the e-portfolios go, my role in that is having those discussions with the teachers, getting those shared beliefs, checking what we’ve got as far as policies and procedures for that - so for other people to follow, if we change staff that what we’re doing matches with what the paperwork says, and that it matches with our beliefs still. Especially with a lot of web 2.0 stuff, it’s always developing and changing so that the opportunities and possibilities keep changing.
As far as the documentation goes, we’ve got some for e-portfolios. They’re quite specific about how many posts should be there, what sort of posts they are. It summarises the term, how it was, and then it has a specific statement to the child. The higher order thinking, so, making sure the children are reflective on their posts so that it’s not just a sample of learning. It has to reflect on where to next, what I learned from this, how it applies to my other learning. It’s not just there and people have to interpret what the learning might have been in it.
Every class is expected to have a blog, and from a leadership point of view David and I have said that strongly. Every class has to have a blog - it’s something we believe in and we sort of monitor that generally. Just every now and then go in and check the blogs, talk about what’s happening in those blogs, comments for the children, giving them that purpose.
The shared beliefs that we get in the school, they come about from having discussions with the teachers, highlighting good practice, bringing that up at team meetings, having special staff meetings and talking about that good practice. Talking about the purposes and benefits of the blog - so, are they using it as a portal? Are they using it as a way to share and communicate the learning? And that, different classes have different uses.
Talking about the management of it as well. It’s all good and well to see these wonderful digital samples of learning on the blogs but some people don’t know how to get to that point, you know, how do you get your children to produce it in the first place? Then, how do you get it on the blog? So, part of my role is removing those barriers. Sitting down and doing that one to one just in time learning with people - talking them through it, holding their hand at some times and showing them that it’s not impossible, it’s not hard, and actually it’s a lot easier than they think. And again, with the blogs getting it to that higher order. Making sure it’s that reflective thinking, the creativity is coming through, talking people through it, asking them to think, you know, what could you do next? How could you make children think more critically about this? How would you scaffold that? Sometimes providing models and solutions for them, but often just making them reflect on it and think about it for themselves because they have the answers.
Advice for others is to get started, yeah, not just wait. Have a good look around, see what other people are doing, explore to start with, look for the teachers that could be your beacons, that you know are going to be successful, that are going to give it a really good go and will model that good practice. That’s something that’s worked really well here. That you can hold people up and say they’ve tried this and this - this is how it works, this is how they’ve managed through the difficult parts, and then they are also a support. So then, you’re building a team of people who can support the others that either have barriers to it; that either they don’t have the skills or they don’t see the purpose of it yet.
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