Monday, 16 October 2017

The End Is Near

How is today the first day of Term 4 - this year is flying past?! I feel I have grown so much this year, not only as a teacher but also as a person. I have faced many challenges and been given many new opportunities, and now the end is near. I am most looking forward to spending tomorrow with my Year 11s at Snowplanet, a 2 day High Ropes course at the end of the year with my tutor class, and developing new relationships and building on relationships during the Jumpstart programme in a few weeks.

A quick reflection post Term 3 on my 2017 goals:

1. Schedule time for me:
Until these holidays, I am proud that I have not said no to any social event or activity that I have wanted to do. I have enjoyed having this two hours each day at the back of my mind and when there are busier times, I have been making up the hours I may have worked through. I had lots to juggle in Term 3, and trying to maintain a balanced Hāuora is incredibly important, not only for myself and my whānau, but also for the students. 

2. Read educational blogs:
Unfortunately I did not give one hour per week, but tried to give one hour fortnightly last term reading through blogs. I tried a different approach; rather than focusing on the same blogs I had been, I tried to read through all posts I saw on my Twitter feed. I regularly tweet links to my posts, so found this to be a great way to read different blogs, with an array of ideas and topics. I am so thankful I got introduced to blogging as part of MDTA, as this has been a reflective journey for myself, which I have been able to share with others!

3. Experiment with more digital tools
I was light on the inclusion of more digital tools this term, but used some Google Expeditions to revise the Skeletal System (see detailed description in previous reflection). Rather than using more digital tools, I was trying to build on my confidence of the inclusion of the GAFE community, and trying to use them in different ways such as hyperlinking to a variety of websites and encouraging students to use these websites to answer a series of questions or create a digital artefact. 

4. Attend more extra curricular activities
I made it through the basketball season! I will be writing a blogpost later this week, once the photos from our Sports Awards are released - such a cool night. I have also signed up to assist the one day Waka Ama tournament in November, as many of my students are involved. I am really looking forward to a day in the sun with them, learning about a new sport!

5. Include blogging into 11PE

As reflected a little in a previous post, I am currently bringing all of the pieces of my dissertation together. I spent the second week of my holidays writing a draft of my dissertation. This has been a difficult process, but I have learnt a lot about the blogging process and started to refine how to include blogging within my classroom next year to benefit my students. I am really looking forward to this hurdle being over - roll on the 20th of November once it's handed in!

Overall, I feel I developed great goals for myself, and I'm looking forward to the final 9 weeks of the year to wrap these goals up and make new ones. The important thing for me to keep in the back of my mind, is that although it's the nearing the end, every minute still counts!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Post PPTA Annual Conference Thoughts

After recently attending Mahi Tika 2 - an employment relations course facilitated by the PPTA (see my reflection here), I was encouraged to attend the annual PPTA conference. The conference was based in Wellington, so I was fortunate to be flown down there for three days to learn about what's happening within the union, and to network. These are the major things I was left thinking about, after an intriguing experience, completely throwing myself in the deep end!

One of the most contentious papers discussed was a salary increase for teachers. It is well known we have a considerable workload, and compared to other professions aren't paid particularly well. Teachers are often heard saying they do it for the love of the job and the kids - but at the end of the day we still need to pay the bills! So I was really interested listening to the discussion about salary increase on the conference floor. Because, as Sam Oldman (South Auckland teacher) highlighted "many [teachers are] being pushed out of teaching by workload, stress and low pay" in his recent article discussing what life is like in a low decile community. I really liked this article as I could relate so much of his story, to my own experiences at Tamaki College.

The paper I backed most, was the diversity paper - supporting schools to be safe places for students, staff and whānau from minority gender and sexuality groups. Acceptance and ongoing support of LGBTQI is incredibly important, as are all minority/diverse groups, to ensure feelings of safety within the school environment. Upon reflection, I feel there are staff within our school who want to be supportive of minority gender and sexuality groups, but are unsure how. I think some uncertainty may be because of a lack of understanding/education. Therefore, I would like to work with the other Health teacher, to possibly create a presentation for the staff about the gender and sexuality spectrums, and as a result the staff may be have greater knowledge of how to be supportive. Or, we could request a full staff session from Rainbow Taskforce or Rainbow Youth, which would also likely support our Health programme. It was timely having this discussion when RY released this incredible ad this week (a discussion which I regularly have with students!)...

One of our guest speakers, Dr Mere Berryman (University of Waikato). My key takeaways from her presentation were; 

- The NZ Education system is of high quality and of low equity
Kia Eke Panuku schools have greater academic success for both Māori and non-Māori students when compared to non-Kia Eke Panuku schools, and
- Poutama Pounamu is dedicated to reducing the challenges faced by Māori, in hope to increase success within schools - their research and website also provide resources to support other educators
- The alongside visual represent the 'ako critical contexts for change', which bring to light the parts which interweave within teaching and learning

After Mere's presentation I really liked Mere's closing whakatauki/proverb:
"Ma te huruhuru, ka rere te manu,
It is the feathers that enable the bird to fly."
I was really left thinking about all of the feathers this could be referring to, and thought these words were powerful. I am now wanting to have a weekly whakatauki with my 2018 tutor class, as something to refer back to throughout the week with the students!

Overall, I really enjoyed the conference, learning a lot and making new connections. I am looking forward to further opportunities within the union, and definitely the 2018 conference!

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Student Voice on Blogging in 11PE

I am currently feeling under the pump, like I'm barely keeping afloat. Not only have I been battling a head cold and it is the end of the term, I am trying to tackle my data for my dissertation. This post is a quick update with student feedback and major findings!

Across the whole class I was interested to know their opinions about blogging within PE, and how/if blogging effects their learning in PE. A quick Google Form showed interesting results. These graphs are a little off, because I asked students to complete the Form at the start of Term 2 and then again at the end of Term 2, so some students responses changed. However, they are good visuals for immediate feedback.

Students were given four questions, 1 representing disagree and 4 representing agree. After identifying their position on the scale, the students were asked to give a brief explanation for their position. 

Enjoyment of blogging:
Half of the class enjoy blogging and half do not. What interested me was that the scale is heavily tipped towards enjoyment though. Some of the comments the students made were:
- "Because blogging is alright and it can help me for my assessment but it can get annoying at times if we do it too much."
- "I gave a 2 because I don't think what we learn in one particular class needs to be blogged to the public for every topic or session of p.e we have."
- "I enjoy blogging because it help me to remember the things we've leant. I also enjoy blogging because I can get feedback from not only the teacher but also from my peers in the class."

Blogging supports learning:
I was pleased to see nearly two thirds of the students thought blogging was effective/helpful for their learning. Upon reflection, it would have been useful to have discussions with individual students about their comments, to determine what students specifically found effective/useful (or not).
- "It helps me be able to explain what we've learnt so far and how to present it to people".
- "Blogging has helped to support my learning in PE because when I am absent I can always check everyone's blog on what they've learnt when I was absent. Therefore I can catch up with the class and be up to date".
- "Because it can improve my writing".

Blogging is challenging:
I think this question may have been too broad for the students, suggested by the variety of their responses. If I was to redo the Form, I think I would break down the four sections with subquestions, to specify what students may have found challenging. 
- "It's hard to see if I'm improving".
- "It can be hard when I want my writing to be a good piece of work and when we have a time frame to complete it in. I find it good challenging but not when I'm under pressure".
- "Sometimes blogging is challenging because there'll be times where I just don't know how to start my blog post, so I'm wasting time trying to know how to start my blog".

Blogging helps with feedback/feedforward
This graph positively surprised me, as majority of the students consider blogging to be helpful for progression of learning. On the flip side, there were also a large proportion of students who didn't think blogging supported their feedback and feedforward. One thing I am exploring a little is how to give effective feedback, a skill many of our students are developing. Then, how to use feedback to grow.
- "Because it gives people more ideas & to improve".
- "Because we can get feedback and feed forward from other people around the world, not just people in our class".
- "Not really because I don't read comments on my blog and no one really gives me feedback or feed-forward on what's on my blogs".

So where am I at now?
I am focussing on three specific students and their comments and blogposts. These are coincidentally the top academic students in my class (these are the students who gave consent for me to use their data for my studies). The major themes/findings of my intervention from these three students are; blogging helps me as their teacher to identify gaps in students' knowledge, over time students became more reflective within their posts, students began to integrate feedback into future posts, and in class discussions/peer teaching increased.