Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Self Reflection.

One of the reasons I haven’t been blogging for a while is because I have been struggling to write anything positive. I will admit this year has been a struggle. I am teaching a year 2/3 class and to be honest, I am finding it very difficult to enjoy it.

I am WAY out of my comfort zone and spend a lot of weekends wondering if I am actually the best person to teach this year group.

My comfort zone is older children. Give me some of these students in year 5/6 and I will absolutely love them! But at this age I am not so sure.

I am reflecting a lot on my own teaching and learning. My planning is for ever changing each day and some weeks I completely re-write what I am doing.

My biggest worry is that I will fail theses children.

As a teacher I feel I’m not experienced enough at teaching younger students to read and write and feel I am always swimming in the deep end. I then begin to second guess myself and my own teaching ability.

Is this where I want to be? 

Friday, 9 October 2015

Do the students have to constantly move?

 Write a blog post about an education question/ challenge/wondering that you have or are facing. You don’t need to have the answer/solution.

 This is a wondering I have had since my son started in a MLE three years ago and then in my own school as we started to make the move towards this (we move to a new MLE in 2017) in our current school. It was something that I also asked during a Twitter conversation during Ulearn 15 which started with +Kassey Downard tweeting about having the same Homeroom teacher for 5 years. ( I can't remember what breakout she was in where this came up).     

Why do we assume in a MLE we have to always move the students around?

I can see the positives and negatives for shifting and moving students and I will admit I am guilty of this as well. We are still working in single cell classroom but trying to adjust to teaching in a more MLE or ILE ( what ever you want to call it) environment. And yes I move students around because when we first began this that was what our assumption was. Set homeroom but changing all the students in the team around for different subjects. So five teachers and the majority of 116 students moving about.

I don't work (yet) in a open planned room so I am not sure if it is different for those who do. You would constantly always see the same teachers and students in the room so would you have the same issues?

This term I am team teaching ( I like the students am moving out of my room into another room every day for literacy) and I have already said that we are two teachers with a class of 43 rather than two teachers with our own reading and writing groups. How this will work I am unsure as it is completely new to me.

We have had a few students who have found moving to different teachers hard. When I asked my own students about this, most said they liked the chance they got to move and work with different students and teachers. But this is every 10 weeks not every 2-4 weeks so does that make a difference?

I have had some very honest students articulate to me why they would like to stay with a certain teachers and I personally don't have an issue with this. I don't force them out of their comfort zone as they are not ready for that (yet). But do other teachers still make them move? Does it work? 

Or is it even an issue?

Monday, 5 October 2015

Have I connected with you?

Write a blog about some legendary bloggers, educators, inspiring leaders that help you to dream bigger

I know this should be an easy task and reading other blogs they all seem to have an answer but I don’t.

I think there is a combination of great bloggers out there that I grab ideas from. I love reading what others write and if posted on Twitter I tend to read each one that comes up on my feed.

I got into the habit of blogging more because of Claire Amos and her #hackyourclassroom and took on this challenge last year. This started me blogging but also made me worried about how inadequate my blog might be to others.

I guess that can be the hard part about reading other blogs from amazing educators; you begin to wonder if you could ever rise to that challenge. It can be somewhat intimidating and daunting.

There are times when I do read blogs (and love them) but realistically know that I can’t do that in my school. There are about 50 computers for nearly 200 students. No ‘maker movement’ as ours and the parent’s budgets can’t justify it. So no papertronics, makey makey, robots  and no 3D printing.  Where even buying ingredients for basic baking has to be come out of a very tight budget. Trips need to be funded or free and even asking parents to supply more resources can be an issue!

I am a teacher working in a low decile school where money, support, resources are tight. Where sometimes school is the only safe place. That no matter how ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’ it would be to try new things or ideas, it sometimes isn’t possible.

I am turning this slightly around and asking for others to connect with me. Are you in the same situation?  Do you blog about it? Do I know you? Share with me please as I would love to read more blogs that relate to my situation and what you do.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Connected Educators #EdblogNZ challenge: Week 1

Think about your teaching practice. How has it evolved over time?

This is when I feel old yet inexperienced when it comes to teaching. Although I have been teaching for over 15 years I still feel I am a newbie at a lot of things. To be honest I have two years of NZ teaching experience and all of it has been classroom, Twitter and blog based. I sometimes feel like a fraud as I lead a team where most probably know the NZ education system a lot better than I do.

Having a trainee teacher this term, one thing I have realised is I have classroom experience. I can read a class adapt in two seconds flat and completely change a lesson plan (which I personally do not write up a week in advanced).

So how has it evolved over time? It's changed a lot I'm not sure I can list everything. I am constantly reflecting and changing my teaching practice mainly because if it's not working for the students then I need to be the one to make a change. 

 The one thing that still sticks with me was my first teacher mentor. She always encouraged me to think outside the box and I still do.

I never started off with allocated seats, I loved students mingling working together, hearing their voices. I guess the only time this didn't happen was when I taught in schools that didn't allow this.

I'm not a chalk and talk teacher any more ( and yes my first year of teaching I did use a chalkboard!).
I don't use copious amounts of worksheets or textbooks.
I don't plan homework

I deviate, chop and change, mix it up and don't dot my i's and cross my t's for every single lesson plan.
My standards are high.
I see the potential in everyone and what everyone to succeed

A lot of my teaching has changed just as a lot of the curriculum has changed as well. While teaching in the UK, I got to experience a lot of changes some good, some bad. Dictated by what OFSTED wanted to see us do. Sometimes it felt like I was teaching to a check list but other times I could see the benefits.

Effective marking and critical feedback
Next step marking/challenges
No hands up/ making sure every students has the opportunity to share.
Differentiated work
Cross curriculum panning
Planning for 'real life'

One thing that hasn't changed is putting relationships first - knowing my students. I'm a rule breaker. I teach what I know is best for my students and meets their needs. Not for the school up the road or in another city. This is how my teaching has evolved the most.

What are you currently working on developing in your practice? What tools have you used during this inquiry time?

 This year has been a complete learning curve for me. As you will see from my previous blogs, I have left my comfort zone of older students and am now working with younger ones!

The most obvious one for me is I will be team teaching literacy next term. I will work alongside another colleague and about 40 students (still in a single cell classroom). I'm working with someone who plans and prepares very different to me. I'm a in my head, plan it as I go while they are the writing it down, everything is written out sort of person.

It's going to be a challenge but I know we can both learn off each other. Although I have always collaborated with teachers before, I have never taught in the same classroom for a long period of time. It 's definitely going to a good challenge.

I envisage a room where small group teaching is taking place, everyone is doing their 'own' thing and learning is just happening. Something I have been doing in my own room by myself but now I need to try this with another teacher.

Tools? We have just started Google Doc so it is something I want to try and continue with and get the students more involved with.

Hands on? I teach some students who really struggle with school and have found myself reverting back to a lot of 'hands on' mini lessons. This is especially something I have been doing in Maths. Who knew that Countdown dominoes would come in so handy!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Effective Communicator Week 7

This week's challenge was fantastic!

My class had great fun trying to work out the code although when the answered appeared they thought Morse had been a spelling error.
Once I asked them to go and search it up on Google everything clicked!
They really enjoyed completing this one and getting another piece of the puzzle.
One week to go and it will all be finished.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Writing inquiry - Week 1 examples

Examples of my students writing.

Students were given the screen shot and watched the animation again. Also included was a range of vocabulary which students were encouraged to use in their own writing.

Students took part in shared writing and then were asked to go and write their own opening. Students were supported and guided when needed.

Year 4 student

Year 3 Student