"It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching."
Portia, The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene II.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What happened in January...

All the things I should have been blogging about this year, but wasn’t...

Week ending 13 January

My complete inactivity in this week was largely the reason I didn’t get blogging... It was total R & R.  We had headed back home from spending New Year at the in-laws and my partner had started back to work after the Christmas break. I slept a lot, I read a lot of trashy novels, and I completely ignored my ‘to do’ list!  I do think teachers need some down time like this, though.

Week ending 20 January

Apart from my friend Beth coming for two days to reorganise part of my book collection at home, this week was dominated by the NCEA results coming out and by the time I spent poring over them and thinking about them. Who had done well and why? Who had not? Why? What did we do right? What do we need to improve? What did I teach well? What did I obviously not teach well? For once, even though I obsessed about the results for days I didn’t get depressed by them. There were plenty of good news stories to counterbalance the dismal outcomes for a certain cohort who will remain nameless... 

In addition, a lot of time this week went into thinking about our teaching programmes in the English Department and what, if anything, needed to change as a consequence of analysing the NCEA results.

Week ending 27 January

Senior Management and Ash doing a mail out 23 January

I spent most of this week doing a massive clean up in my classroom. I went through every box file and got rid of many bins of paper for recycling from the train wreck which was my desk and the floor around it! I filed till I dropped and I got out the bucket and the cleaning gear and cleaned all the shelves and the desks and the whiteboard and yadayada. While this may sound mundane, having a clean and organised classroom makes a huge difference to my mental and emotional health, not to mention making teaching and learning easier in a classroom environment a bit more adapted to its primary purpose! 

The other thing that happened this week was that we had a voluntary PD (professional development) day around information technologies, which was held at our college on the Friday (25th January). I ran a session for this on using MyPortfolio to record evidence of professional practice and reflection against the RTCs (Registered Teacher Criteria). I somehow have become the school expert on MyPortfolio by starting to use it before anyone else did...  I am running this training again soon so I will post in detail on it then, with links to my handouts and templates, etc.

At the weekend my partner Sean and I did the Waikanae Garden Trail:

And suddenly, my holiday was over...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Bad Blogger!

It is March already and my blog has been sadly neglected. One of my New Year's resolutions was to blog every week. I started in the first week of January by drafting a blog entry, but couldn't post it because of the terrible wireless coverage where we were staying. And it stayed unposted when we got home from our holiday... and so did all the other things I would have blogged about in the meantime.

So for what it's worth, here is what would have been my first blog of the year. In blue are my comments on how I am doing on my resolutions so far!

1st week of January: The New Year's Resolutions

1. Be positive.  I think it is all too easy to focus on the problems, the lack of resources, the constraints of the curriculum or those imposed by assessments, regulation, etc. I found myself considering the title "Facing down the New Year" for this blog and decided I needed to get myself into a more positive frame of mind. After all, I love my job and I am looking forward to getting back to my classroom! 
Actually, I am doing really well on this. I am feeling good about my classes and the school and focussing on the positives. :-)

2. Focus on the kids. Remember, the students' learning experiences are the most important thing, and this includes their learning context, especially social. Relationships are the key to a positive learning experience, and I know I find it all too easy to get focussed on the learning goal at the expense of the process. In education, as in life, the ends rarely justify the means... if the means aren't working, you've probably lost most of the audience before the learning goal is in sight. 
Hmmm, this is a timely reminder. Most of the time this is easy but sometimes the paperwork grind gets in the way, the course planner says I should have finished this unit by now, and it is hard to hang on to the centrality of the learner, as opposed to my next administrative deadline.

3. Hold on to the joy: Those moments when the lesson is zinging, when someone ‘gets it’, when they come rushing to tell me what they did in the weekend, when they want to talk about the book they are reading, when a student cracks a joke which ruins the point I’m making but makes my day. The joy from being able to share the books I love and the love of reading, and get paid for it! 
Yes! Holding on most of the time. But see 2 above!

4. Document it: We have ERO coming this year so I not only have to be a good teacher, I need an evidence trail to prove it. Beyond the obvious of the management document, course outlines, unit plans, data analysis, etc, I would like to try this year to document more of the joy moments (see 2 above). I’m not sure how this is going to work, whether it is a case of using my blog to record them, or whether I am going to drive my students nuts taking photos on my iPhone of them in action... watch this space!
Aaargh! Keep watching.  Not doing so well on the blogging, but I have started working on my own eportfolio to document my professional practice.

5. Get better at using the technology I already have: I have a Mimio, which is an amazing gadget that turns my ordinary whiteboard into a smartboard, but I am not using it much. My goal this year is to be using it regularly for the functions I already know, and to expand my knowledge so I can use it for a wider range of things.
I'm doing pretty well on this. I have gone from hardly ever using the Mimio to using it almost every lesson. I am still mostly using it for basic data show and recording notes on the whiteboard though, but I am using it!

6. Blog regularly: Make a blog entry every week - no matter how short, how simple, how apparently 'uninspired' I might think it - to maintain the discipline of regular self-reflection.
Crashing, crushing failure here, but I am not going to admit defeat! I will turn this around.

And this ends my 9 week old blog post....  originally drafted on 7 January. :-) 

The photo below is the Kapiti Coast and Kapiti Island taken from the Paekakariki Hill Road in early January.  It was a stunning day.