Monday, 27 July 2015

Teacher Appraisal Blog #6 First Posts

Hello friends,

You have hopefully set up your blog, found the criteria that your school uses, organised how you want to reference/link to them, decided on a labeling system and now are ready to make a start - but where to begin?

I decided to go with the following 2-prong approach.

Firstly I spent a little time working through the criteria. If your school is like mine, someone (or everyone at a staff meeting) has created a starter list of exemplar types that could be recorded against each criteria and provide evidence of your competency.

Make some notes on your Criteria page against these. Here is a screen-shot of my Analyst Page which I have now formatted in a layout and colours that I can easily copy and paste across into my home page when writing each post.
Using GREEN, I have gone in and made some notes against a few that can develop into possible post where these pieces of evidence are elaborated on and backed up with images, video, links to Google files etc. This method certainly familiarised me with the criteria and makes it easier to reflect in my daily practise.

The next time you arrive early at a staff meeting or sitting in the car waiting for the kids, pick one and quickly post about it. Or make a set time each week to do a couple.

The second way to start is to reflect on the week you just had. What was something innovative, a learning leap made by a student, a problem you resolved, a resource you made in response to a need, how did you support a colleague, what professional learning did you participate in, what innitiatives did you start, what meetings did you attend/run/lead, and so on...

Something (or multiple things) will jump out so troll through the criteria and find the one/s that fit this evidence.

Select the Posts option on the menu (just beneath Overview).
Start a new post by clicking the pencil or the orange New Post button. This will display on your Home.

I title the posts by content, not by criteria, e.g. Grandparents Day, Measurement assessment data, or Response made to eAsTTle reading gaps.

Keeping the front of my blog open in another tab (click on the View Blog button near  the pencil to do this), I can go to the  Criteria page that has the relevant criteria on it, then copy and paste that across to the top of my post (saves retyping each time).

I create my entry beneath this - remember that you are writing for an audience so try to make it as clear as possible. Include lots of visual material (pictures say 1000 words), links etc.

Now for the labels:

As mentioned in an earlier post, I am using 2 layers for labelling - the first is the category and the level within that (competent, accomplished or expert) and the 2nd layer is the RTC number, listed beneath this category that I am referencing in my post. This way I can be sure to cover both bases and can easily retrieve posts that relate to these.

Once I have completed my post, I copy the title - in the above image this would be Analyst-Competent, and paste it into the label box to the right of my post. To open the label box, simply click on the label word and it will open up. I also paste in the RTC number to help me track these. Click done at the bottom , when finished with the labels.
Any label used once will be recorded as a pick list beneath the labels box automatically. So for future posts on that theme you will no longer need to copy and paste, simply click on the appropriate words or numbers in the pick list below and they will pop into your box.

Your posts are automatically dated so no need to worry about that.

So there you have it. Now have a go, make 2-3 posts and see how your organisation system is working.  Then go back and make any tweeks, if needed.

If you have any elements you wish to link in or embed but aren't too sure about how to do it, ask in the comments below and I will create a new post and link you in.

Good luck !

With love, as always

Thank you for visiting,

Friday, 17 July 2015

Teacher Appraisal Blog #5 - using labels

Hello friends

So I have posted a couple of pieces of evidence so far and have started building my archive and word clouds.

As you can see, I also personalised the titles of these 2 gadgets, which you can do back in layout by editing the respective gadgets. The Archive list (which I have re-labelled as My Reflection Journey) is starting to grow and the labels word cloud (which I have re-labelled RTC Criteria) is keeping track of the number of posts I have tagged to each label.

So...what are labels and why use them?

When you go to post an entry of evidence, you have the option to categorise that post by way of labels. The tricky bit is to come up with a labelling system before you start (or soon thereafter) that will make sense to you.

The great thing about a clear system is that as your number of posts grows, your word cloud keeps track of how many posts you have made against each category/criteria, or for that matter - how few.

I ended up going with a double layered system as follows:
Because my school has re-formatted the RTCs, I needed to use the school labelling system. For example, this post about data gathering relates to  the following categories -

So I copied these criteria across from the relevant static Pages on my blog and pasted them in at the top of my post so that it is clear for perpetuity, which criteria the following post is about. Thankfully the relevant  RTC numbers are also included at the end of each criteria. In my word cloud, I am looking to track just the main category and the competency level that the post is aimed at, and I copy and paste this into the labels space to the Right of the post (see image below).

In keeping with the National RTCs, I paste in the relevant RTC number as well. You will need to choose what works best for you.

Next time, I'll look at how to make a start on your post entries. Hope your blog is coming along nicely  :) Leave a comment below if you have any questions about labels, or anything else I have covered so far.

With love, as always

Thank you for visiting,

Teacher Appraisal Blog #4 - adding pages

Hello friends,

Today we'll look at adding pages to your blog.

The Why:

For me, I wanted some static pages where I could copy and paste the Criteria and Indicators for quick reference - all right there in one place.
My school has re-classified the 2 over-arching Criteria into 5 areas as you can see from the screen-shot below:

And within that, we have 3 tiers - Competent, Accomplished and Expert. I created 1 page for each of these areas and pasted in all the indicators - bolding key words in each for quick reference.

I then also added a 6th page to include the Teacher's Council version and labeled it Practising Teacher Criteria.

If your school is using those as they are - I would advice setting up 2 pages as follows



Shorten these titles for the button to something that makes sense to you. The full version can be at the top of the page itself. Copy and paste the indicators in from the Teacher's Council website here:

...and now The How:

In the 'back-end' select 'Pages' from the left menu and click - NEW PAGE
  STEP 2
Type in the title for the page and paste in content if you wish (you can do that later too) - click PUBLISH and repeat for more pages.

  STEP 3
To make these new pages visible, go back down to layout and edit the Cross-Column gadget we added in the previous post - called Pages
This page will pop up and this time there will be a list of the pages you have just made. Tick all the pages in the left column - you can see I just added the PTC page and it needs to be ticked). The list Order can also be dragged and dropped in the order you prefer it to appear.

Once ticked and ordered - SAVE

I hope today's post has been useful and you can successfully insert pages into your blog. Write your posts on your home page as this is your dynamic page and will reflect in your archive and on your word cloud. The other pages are static.

Comment below if you have further questions for me or our community, or some advice you are happy to share.

Next time I'll post about why you should use labels and how to label your posts for easy finding / organising. Happy blogging everyone :)

With love, as always

Thank you for visiting,

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Teacher Appraisal Blog #3 - Headers and Gadgets

 Hello friends,

As promised, today's post will be about something pretty - the visual look of your blog. This needs to be designed in the template and layout sections of your set-up menu. Today we'll put in the Header and Pages bar, and start on the side bar.

Scroll down to template to play around with some options. Once you are happy with a preview, select and save it, then move onto layout.

Edit the Header - click on the blue Edit link


This new window will pop up.

Blog Title - type in the wording that you wish to appear on your header.
Blog description - I left this blank but its a good idea to fill out on a public blog to tell visitors what your blog is about. You could maybe add your current favourite quote here  :) Something to keep you motivated in the wee' hours.
Image - upload an image that you would like to see at the top of your blog. For an appraisal one, perhaps choose a photo of something that you are/were involved with or a contribution you made/make to your school. Even something that typifies who you are. I chose an image of the art mural that our teachers created for our school art show last year, during a staff workshop that I lead. I did re-jig it a little using the  'shake ur life' app on the iPad.
Select the placement radio-button of your preference.


Back in Layout, find the Cross-Column and click Add a Gadget
Again a new window will pop up, locate Page Header and click the blue plus sign to add to your blog. Locate just beneath your header.
Now pop down to the sidebar in the layout and click - Add a Gadget.
The following additions are useful:
Search this Blog - you remember writing a post ut not sure when and now need to search for it
Blog Archives  - orders all your posts in date order
Labels - word cloud of your labels. The more posts that you tag with a label, the larger that label becomes. That way you can see at a glance the areas you still need to do some work on
Arrange in an order that suits you, by drag and dropping.


I also added an HTML gadget which you can use to embed any code you like. I embedded the Vidster code which helps to show learning videos I make from my youtube channel. There is a you tube gadget but I found it was pulling other videos as well as my channel - not sure why so went with this route instead.
And the Image gadget to insert my photo.

Here are some front end screenshots:

This is what Vidster looks like with the HTML gadget

This is what blog archives and labels word cloud look like - scroll down on this blog to see how these develop, the more you add. Also note how you can change their titles too.

This is what the search gadget and photo gadget look like


Phew - turned out even more technical than yesterday, I think. Sorry guys :)

Just take it one element at a time. As long as its private - only you will know the mistakes you make and learn from.

Next time, add pages and how you might use them.

With love, as always

Thank you for visiting,

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Teacher Appraisal Blog #2 - Privacy

Hello friends,

Welcome to post #2 about setting up an appraisal blog.

I have set up a second blog on my personal google profile but made this one private in my settings as follows...
Scroll down to settings - select
Look for the Privacy title - go across to the blue edit button  - click
click the 'NO' radio button for both questions - click Save Changes (the big orange button)
Now this is what you want to see :)

Now scroll to the bottom of the same page and look for permissions, Blog Readers - select Edit

Choose the Private radio button - you can add readers (like your team leader or AP/DP or Principal as needed. You can also remove them once your appraisal is over). Save Changes!!

Should now look like this

 Okay - serious stuff out of the way so some pretty stuff next time :)

With love, as always

Thank you for visiting,

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Teacher Appraisal #1

Hello friends,

I am just making a start on my Teacher Appraisal Blog...and my first response is Uurgh! Did any of you feel the same?
It seems such a huge mountain to climb - at first glance. I have waded through all the criteria and  know I am meeting these already.
I think its the thought of the hours and hours of recording and reflecting  - in order to provide evidence that makes sense to another - that makes my brain tired, just thinking about it.

would love to credit this image but cannot find the source - great visual though

Even more challenging is the fact that I changed my role and my school last year, so it feel like I'm needing to prove myself all over again.

I have spent the last few weeks asking teaching friends about their experiences with this requirement and the expectation that their schools have.

Here are a few bits of advice I can pass on at this point:

1. Ask - ask questions, ask for advice, ask about problems that people may have encountered, ask what they would do differently if they could wind back time, ask about what works well.

2. Use a vehicle you already know and can quickly update from mobile, tablet, computer or web hosts like Youtube (I opened a new blog)
3. If possible, do this in your personal capacity (my blog is attached to my personal profile - NOT the school one) you never know when you might move schools and certainly don't wish to remake all this work.

4. If your school has a preferred or in-house system, check how your account can be transferred into your personal name should you move in the future, or open a matching personal account to draft and create in, then just copy and paste into the school one.

5. Make it private. You can always share it with others when required and then unshare again. You could be loading evidence that may be deemed private or sensitive and not for the eyes of anyone beyond your school. In fact think carefully about how specific you are with this. Do you really need to name students/parents/staff etc? or can you write about the issues, events or actions without direct references to individuals? Same thing with images - can these be cropped in such a way that individuals are not easily identified?

5. Layout - give this some thought before you start. How can you easily find entries, criteria, entries that relate to specific criteria etc.

Okay I guess I'd better make a start with gathering and posting on my appraisal blog. Will update here once I have set up my layout. 
Enjoy your last few days everyone, before the wheel starts spinning again :)

With love, as always

Thank you for visiting,