when was the last time…..

This week was somewhat of a challenge that I gave myself. As a new senior humanities teacher I gave my students their first major assessment essay. Not that this was a challenge, but I was nervous about how to assess it and trying to do the right things by the students. So I decided to write the essay with the students.

I did my preparation the same as the students and sat down at the same time. What an enlightening experience.

Firstly, I struggled collating my thoughts into a coherent message and when finished and reading it through, found myself saying “there’s no evidence in that”.

Secondly, I found that I put myself under a lot of pressure to try my best.

Thirdly, I totally loved the experience. all of the knowledge and ideas swimming around in my head – it was really good (and I know that sounds weird) to gather it all together.

One outcome from the experience, if I who had not done this for 20+ years felt the pressure for no reason other than do to my best, I can understand how students feel about the pressure they are under. Also sometimes students have 2 or 3 of these in a day.

Teachers usually say, you can cope with it, but I wonder if they could?

Also I know I have to convince my students that completing essays should be a natural extension of their learning process. Show me your understanding by jumping on and writing about the topic and enjoying it. Find the joy in telling me the story. That’s my next challenge.

So all in all, I just wonder how teachers would go if we had to do what we expect our students to do.

By the way, my mentor/guru/savior graded me a C+ and I understand why.

butchers paper, the floor and sprinklers

Today I had a very interesting and highly purposeful lesson. it invoked brainstorming. Now usually in this session I would encourage students to sit around a table and discuss issues then write them. But after talking some to early learning colleagues and noticing the big roll of butchers paper, I decided to try the ‘old fashioned’ way – big questions on the sheet and students discuss and write on the sheets with markers.

Firstly getting out of the seat was a positive step – out of the seat and onto the floor. Secondly the discussion around the room – while it took a while to develop, the comments and clarification that students were having with each other regarding the topic was more than I expected. Thirdly the sheer delight in students collaborating to solve problems in a way where the weaker students could ask or make comment in a non-threatening way (unlike answering a question in front of the class) but still understand and clarify any misgivings about the topic.

I know that this may sound quite basic to some of my colleagues, but it reaffirmed to me that we must keep the learning experience fresh to our learners. It would have been do much easier to have done a PowerPoint but to have the level of discussion with each other was magic.

As a new technology head I was amazed to see the basics working so well. But new technology is about collaboration, discussion and learning in the classroom.

On the floor, marker pens and butchers paper…a little bit like running through a sprinkler.

Basketball Questions

Thanks to @ewanmcintosh and his blog, this morning I found this intriguing concept of questioning – The Basketball Question.

After reading it this morning, I tried it today in class and it worked so well I thought it relevant to post!

Here is a link to it. Go forth and use this. In my politics class today the conversation started bouncing around from student to student and no one was left out of the loop.

Can’t wait to try it again tomorrow.



First Week Challenges

How do you reflect on your own teaching practice? What is there to say about what you do? I know I can do better but how do I say it?

This week during our Professional Learning session all teachers were asked to write something that they do in class that is successful…something that they feel they do really well. Once written on a sticky note this was to go up on a wall in the staff room to remind us that we are all doing great things in the classroom all of the time.

I really struggled to write something down. I know that I am an okay teacher, I know that I am not organised enough and I am sometimes one to two periods ahead of some of my new classes…but why was this so hard to complete?

I realy felt like what I do isn’t anything special – it’s just who I am – maybe that is what is special? That sounds too pretentious. Is that what the teaching profession is suffering from? Too few teachers willing to discuss what they are good at for fear of persecution by their peers? It’s a tough question to answer.

In order to improve myself, I have to be willing to analyse what my strengths are and what my weaknesses are. SO I have to be objective about my ability – a self awareness? Wow how to you teach people to do that? If I knew the answer then I would be principal. I feel I can be critical of myself, but not reward myself. we all see to often people rewarding themselves when many of them don’t deserve it.

so then how to reward myself for the things I do well, while not going overboard and recognizing what to improve in. Now there’s a challenge.

Change. have to be a change agent.

Hello world!

The intention behind this blog, is for me to keep a record of my highlights and lowlights as a member of the Teaching Profession in Australia.

It will be my way of sharing my insprirations and frustrations and a way of reflection in my professional capacity as a teacher.

If you have accidentally made it here, well then I apologise that it probably won’t be Earth shattering, and to my colleagues and professional friends please share your thoughts and ideas with me.

I just found this quote from Frederick Douglas – “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” And I think that this will be my motto for 2012!