katherine zagotsis
Highly Accomplished Teacher. AAC Communication Partner & Advocate. Mum of one. Accidental Leader. Reflectionist, Mentor and life-long learner.

Engaging Now! 7.4

Demonstrating 4.5

MS EduMeet April 17th 2018

April 24, 2018 | Focus Areas: | | | | | | | | | 2 COMMENTS

One of the things that I’ve gotten really good at since working in Special Education when attending Professional Development is filtering content and figuring out if and how I can adapt it to suit the needs of the students in my class.  This year, that’s seven students, six Receptions and one Year 3.  Six are on the Autism Spectrum, two have high health care needs and six are non-verbal.  All have an Intellectual Disability and half of the class is of Asian descent.  I’m always thinking of and using strategies, sensory tools and incentives for each child.  It was an entirely new experience for me then to be thinking instead of the adults.

Skype Translator

This was one of the clips shown to us during a Skype chat with Mark Sparvell and Sonja in Washington.  The topics beforehand: Microsoft Innovative Educator Programs, World Day, Minecraft in Education and Microsoft MakeCode were ones that were more relevant to mainstream educators, but I was glad to hear about them.  I think it’s good professional practice to have an idea about what’s going on in other contexts, even if it can’t be used directly.  Skype on the other hand, was directly relevant.  A few weeks prior, I’d sent home notes to all families about NEP meetings and most had responded, besides for one.  Then I checked the diaries in the morning a few weeks after that to find that a parent had responded, requesting a meeting for the next day.  There were a few issues with this.  One, this parent’s first language is Mandarin and requires a translator, which requires a week’s notice and a heap of admin.  Two, I already had an appointment booked myself that I was unable to cancel.  (Usually, I’m highly flexible with my time, but I couldn’t manage it on this day).  I spent that afternoon chasing down one of our SSO’s who speaks Mandarin and asked her to please call to explain that I couldn’t make it.  Which she did, but unfortunately they turned up the following afternoon, phone in hand and said to one of the Receptionists “Meeting, Katherine, today?”  This is a parent that I’ve also only really seen during the first week of term and that, combined with the language barrier, I don’t have a strong professional relationship.  So I was very excited to learn about something that could potentially help me overcome that.

I’ve already arranged a translating service for this parent’s meeting in the first week of term, so I won’t use Skype for that.  What I’m thinking might be really useful is to call this parent regularly to update them on their child’s progress and also to get to know them a little better.  I think I may have a little difficulty communicating that I want to Skype with this parent and I need to avoid making assumptions, like the family having access to wi-fi, computer or a smartphone.  I also haven’t used Skype myself for years, so I need to play to see what’s changed.

Office 365 for Beginners

I’ve got a pretty good understanding of most things when it comes to basic IT and if I don’t, I can usually figure it out. I’m the person who feels quite confident in integrating ICT ,who is seen as a proficient user of ProloQuo2go and often, I end up playing with a new app or robot to work out its usability in my context.  (This usually happens about 2 pm on my NIT day when I’ve pretty much lost it).  If I happen to observe my colleagues during my NIT though, I can see a wide range of understanding when it comes to technology.  Some teachers are using their own devices and hotspotting, others are writing emails/word processing and still others are avoiding even sitting at a computer or if they are, they’re asking me how to transfer files across from one USB to another or asking someone else how to copy and paste text.  At a guess, I’d say that the majority (or at the least the people I share NIT with), aren’t aware of Office 365 or that our site has access to it.  So I wanted to go, to better inform my own understanding so that I can explain it to others.  I also knew that Office 365 used Cloud Storage/OneDrive, but I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant and wanted to understand it a little better.  Selena began the session by showing us an image of all of the Office 365 tools in clouds, connected by white dots to people and asking us what could we see and what did we want to know.  I really liked this as it immediately gave people space to ask questions and the feeling in the room changed from sit and listen to ask the question, make the comment.

“What’s that app, I’ve never even seen that symbol before?”

“What are all the dots about?”

“How is that man riding a bicycle while using a laptop?”

“I want to know more about the clouds.”

So began a discussion about things like connectivity, data storage and the ethical considerations surrounding both of those.  I was somewhat disappointed to find that Cloud Storage is this:

If you go here, you can see exactly where your data from Office 365 is located.  I was glad to learn that it was based in Australia, which means that Microsoft needs to comply with Australia’s privacy protection laws (and not another country’s, which can be completely different).  What this prompted me to think about though, is my use of SeeSaw in the classroom as I was fairly certain that their data is stored in America.  While I take certain precautions while using this app, like not sending group photos to parents, using icons instead of photos and using only student first names, I need to think more broadly.

When it came to talking about how to practically use OneDrive, I’d started to use it last year, but I’m still also using my hardrive. I think that comes down to habit more than anything else.  I never ended up in the situation though that happened too many times last year: colleagues losing their hardrives or having to go home to get the USB that they’d forgotten.  That’s a little concerning as the Learning Continuum of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability lists that being able to ‘manage and maintain data securely in a variety of storage mediums and formats’ is a skill which should have been developed by the end of Year 10.


  • Buy headsets (Skype)
  • Ask principal if I can have access to LearnLink administration, so that I can add other tools to Office 365 (Skype, which is becoming Microsoft Teams)
  • Ask parent if they’d like to use Skype and if so how often
  • Read Department for Education’s ‘Understanding and managing privacy risks-SeeSaw fact sheet.’ Implement any necessary changes.  Encourage NIT teacher to do the same.
  • Transfer files from my hardrive onto OneDrive.  This will be a good opportunity to sort through 3 years worth of work.
  • I’m already a Microsoft Innovative Educator. Explore the Microsoft in Education site a little more and see if it’s worth going further.

A thought: Microsoft Teams might be a really good alternative to writing minutes from PLC meetings and storing them in physical folders. Feedback from school review a few years ago was that staff aren’t given enough opportunities for collaboration, so this may be a good option to do so.

2 responses to “MS EduMeet April 17th 2018”

  1. Your reaction to this training is similar to mine last year. I felt like my head was going to burst with all the new ideas. I love your idea to use Microsoft Teams in your PLC… It’s a great way to encourage collaboration! Can’t wait to hear how it goes.

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