Monday, 29 February 2016

Our Leap Day Leap of Faith

As much as I love and am passionate about Health, I studied Health and PE for a reason - I am also passionate about physical activity and the outdoors.

Today as part of their assessment, we took 12PE out to Woodhill Forest today, to experience a High Ropes course and mountain biking. Some of the students are petrified of heights, and some had never really ridden a bike before - but even though the activities were challenging, they were so engaged

The staff were blown away how positively they participated.

For majority of the students, today was once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am so glad I could be a part of that. The activities aren't cheap and they are located over an hour away from school, which for some families is way too unrealistic as a weekend hangout. 

I have always appreciated what I have, but these kids have provided me with a newfound love and appreciation for everything in my life, as some of them have nothing.

The kids were buzzing at the end of the day, with only a couple of complaints about the bucketing down rain!

What a sweet day at the office. 

Need some convincing as to why outdoor education is important? Dillon et al., will help you to clarify.

(Dillon, J., Rickinson, M., Teamey, K., Morris, M., Young Choi, M., Sanders, D., & Benefield, P. (2006). The value of outdoor learning: evidence from research in the UK and elsewhere. School Science Review, 87(320), 107-111)

Friday, 26 February 2016

Collaborative Teaching 101

This afternoon during our weekly MDTA Professional Learning Group, we discussed the basics of collaborative/co-teaching, which I am still pondering. If you are working in a co-teaching environment, it is important to question yourself and your teaching

Without analysing you, and your colleagues' teaching (individually and collaboratively), there is a possibility you aren't providing your students with the best possible teaching they can have, or the teaching may not be working. Ultimately, teaching needs to work for the students, regardless if there is one, two or even six teachers in one classroom. So, ask yourself the following;

Picture located here

What does collaborative teaching look like?

Feel like?
Sound like?

What works?
What doesn't?

Are we working with one another?
Or against one another?

Am I open to feedback and suggestions?
Do I offer feedback and suggestions?

Are we taking risks, trying new things?                       
Or sticking to what we know?

I think asking these questions frequently as reflection, is important to enable the best learning that is possible for the students.

So when is co-teaching at it's best?

Thursday, 25 February 2016

My Job is Better Than Yours

A look into what is happening in my classes at the moment. Jealous? You should be!

Brainstorming with 9Health what we will be learning about this year. I took this opportunity to reiterate the importance of speaking up when you have something to say/ask, and to never laugh or mock one another. In schools like Tamaki, the likelihood the students' families educate them about touchy, difficult subjects including sexuality is little, therefore it is crucial the students feel safe and comfortable to freely speak in class, so they are correctly educated.

Teaching the concept of Hauora and aspects of our lives within the dimensions through classroom discussion in 12Health.

9Health critically analysing which dimension of Hauora is mostly impacted during specific scenarios, then we had a classroom discussion/debate - because there is no wrong answer as long as there is justification (which is an important lesson to learn).

9SOS created posters using Pam Hook's hexagon model. Students are given a page full of blank hexagons, then in each hexagon they are to write one word related to a given topic. Once the hexagons are full, students are to cut them out and them place them in an order which makes sense to them, then explaining why they have hexagons linked. An awesome activity to critically think, and also revise content.

11PE and 13PE participating in a volleyball tournament. Easily managed when there are three teachers, one per court. Sometimes, although many would argue this (especially my lecturers!), there does not need to be an aim or objective for a lesson. Sometimes, we don't need to teach anything, but there is still learning. Sometimes learning occurs indirectly, and the students don't even realise it. This was a perfect example of one of those lessons.

Are you a beginning teacher too? Check out some tips on how to be successful... and keep your sanity!

Friday, 19 February 2016

I appreciate my Fridays

Week 3 is now done and dusted.

To say I am exhausted doesn't even begin to explain how I am feeling.

After finishing school yesterday, I was so glad we had our MDTA learning today. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy teaching and I love being at school, but man, it's a nice break. Here's my beautiful cohort, I am privileged to be working with.

I am 100% a learner. I need to be learning something all the time. So 'Uni Fridays', as I am referring to them, are glorious. We are learning many new things every day.

This morning begun as a basic introduction to the history of Manaiakalani, how the Trust and the cluster (and us, the cohort!) got to be where we are now. The adventure and hours of work the staff and students, especially Dorothy Burt, have pushed through is incredible. Although I had a basic understanding of how Manaiakalani, and the MDTA, came to, I was still astounded by the groundwork that has been put in - and so many people don't even know about the incredible work that is happening!

After our history lesson though, my favourite part started - the digital learning. Today was a how to for Google Sheets and Google Forms. I knew more than I thought I did about Sheets, because I am quite comfortable with Microsoft Excel, but it was helpful to revise the basics as well as learn some simple tricks of the trade such as freezing and hiding columns/rows. I was mostly engaged when we were learning about Google Forms.

Each week we have to create something to reflect what we are still thinking about from our learning throughout the day. As you can see, I included my Form I created, and mentioned the key learning tips I gained from the session. Google Forms are going to become a major part of my classroom, to assess my students' learning formatively, diagnostically and summatively. This will benefit students, my co-teachers and myself to determine what knowledge they understand, and what needs to be revised. 

In addition, I think the use of Google Forms can be utilised for students to create their own revision sessions, rather than the teachers creating a Form. By creating their own Forms, students are revising knowledge themselves, because they need to provide the correct answers, and they are able to take ownership of something the students are working on. This directly increases student engagement and student-centered learning. Now I cannot wait to include Forms in my teaching, possibly Monday Period 1?

If you are interested, check out my first Google Form I created today!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Passion is Lifesaving

I briefly mentioned Hauora in my previous blog, and I think it is important to understand what this is, especially amongst my rainbow of emotions this week. 

Put simply, this Maori concept, created by Mason Durie, is comprised of four aspects; spiritual, mental/emotional, social and physical, to reflect different parts of our lives, to view our wellbeing holistically. These aspects are commonly referred to walls of a house/whare. Metaphorically speaking, if one of these 'walls' crash and burn, the other walls of the whare may collapse too.
Model located from here.

Today I realised how important it is to have things in your life that you are passionate about, and how these passions can influence your wellbeing, your four walls, greatly.

I always knew this was true, I have experienced both positive and negative aspects of my wellbeing spiralling other aspects out of control many times. However, it wasn't until tonight when I really felt a sudden change in my wellbeing. You could say it's as if my whare was rebuilt in 24 hours, on fast forward.

I am clearly passionate about physical activity, sport inclusive. For instance, I have been playing social football for the past few months. Our team certainly aren't All Whites, but we try our best and have a heap of fun in the process, which was the whole aim of the season.

Tonight we played against the top of the table. We were the bottom. And it was absolutely bucketing down. Prior to the game we considered forfeiting as the weather was so average and we were feeling pessimistic about playing the top team. But, they had terrible attitudes.

The opposition talked each other down. The whole game. I couldn't believe how negative they were toward one another, even though their skill level was astounding.

The adverse comments, alongside our team being supportive and encouraging, got in their heads. They cracked, and we won! 

This simple passion for sport completely and utterly reshaped my wellbeing. My rainbow of emotions leant more towards happiness than of recent. This passion saved my sanity.

What's the moral of the story? Always engage in things you enjoy, do things you are passionate about, because you never know how 40 minutes may lay the foundations of a strong, rebuilt Hauora.

If you would love to learn more about wellbeing models including Hauora, visit this website. In addition to Hauora, there are Pasifika models discussed such as Fonofale and Fonua.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

A Rainbow of Emotions

How I feel now, compared to how I felt this morning is a considerable contrast.

Last night I slept the best I have since I started school, because I finally had a clear head and started to settle. I didn't feel like I had 6 million things to do, maybe only 3 million. This could also be because one of my students yesterday told me she loved PE when I taught her, which substantially boosted my self confidence. So, today started wonderfully.

I co-taught two Junior Health classes with my colleague. She discussed our korowai (class contract), and I introduced the year outline to the students i.e. a basic understanding of the units we will be covering. Wow. The students were pretty close to 100% engagement! Yay, happy!

I had another awesome comment from a student, a young man, which reiterated how important the teacher is for a students' learning. He said to me;

"Hey Miss, this is the most fun I have had in a subject. You are really interesting to listen to. I wish my other teachers were like you!"

My heart melted. 

This is why I became a teacher.

However then my world flipped upside down. My timetable changed. I am losing some of my students I have made relationships with, and classes I have made a foundation to. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. For the rest of the day, my head was in the clouds, I felt so lost.

Things just didn't seem to get better. The day ended with a student swearing at myself and my colleague. Not ideal. And then I get home to mull things over and I have locked myself out of my house. Total, utter, sadness.

After crying on my Mum's shoulder for the first time in I don't know how many years, I knew I needed to gather my thoughts, clear my head and move on. So here I am. I am now starting to calm. In the bigger scheme of things, my troubles today are nothing. I just hit breaking point. I hit the wall. 

Life as a beginning teacher is tough, is challenging but is also incredibly gratifying when you have comments like the above. So now, my hurdle is to get through the wall. I am tired literally all the time, because I am giving 120% day in, day out.

Right now, it certainly doesn't feel like it, but I know today was a huge learning experience for me. I know, in hindsight I will look back and know how I am feeling is a little OTT. The world isn't going to end, I know that, but at the moment I feel like it is spinning in so many different directions. I just need some stability

Ironically, during this mornings (what felt) glorious lessons, I begun to teach the Maori concept, Hauora, to explain how health and wellbeing is complex. Is multidimensional. How one dimension of our wellbeing can significantly impact on other dimensions.

Then mine came crashing down.

But, where to from here? I need to continue to be resilient, among all of the changes happening in my life. Tomorrow is a new day.

Feeling similar? Don't worry, everyone does, as Gilles, Cramer and Hwang discuss here.

(Gilles, Cramer & Hwang, (2001). Beginning Teacher Perceptions of Concerns: A Longitudinal Look at Teacher Development, Action in Teacher Education, 23:3, 89-98, DOI: 10.1080/01626620.2001.10463079)

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Over the Moon

I told myself I needed to try keep my weekends free for me. Georgia time. But oh my, I am currently jumping for joy. Well, I was before I sat at my MacBook!

I am sure all teachers can vouch for me when I simply say Term 1 is an organised mess. Due to the state of the mess - we are reshaping our Health and PE Curriculum currently. I feel so privileged and excited to be a part of this, and I look forward to seeing where the department will be in the future.

Today was a minor, yet huge accomplishment for me.

Earlier this week I discussed with my Head of HPE what we were going to include in the Junior PE Curriculum. I instantly noticed a couple of things missing - no dance and no aquatics units. I suggested these be included into the Curriculum because dance and performance is a part of the students' culture, and many of the students do not know how to swim or have any water safety knowledge. 

I have just received an email from my HOD confirming these units will be included in the Junior Curriculum. I am so happy.

However, this is not all of my success, only part of it.

I have been asked to write the dance and aquatics units.

Over the moon. Way past the moon! THIS IS SO EXCITING!

I am making a difference!

Friday, 12 February 2016

Another Learning Curve

Today was another spanner in the works, to add to the ever-growing pile of spanners.

Uni. Take 2. Bring it on.

This time, however, I am at a postgraduate level, working in a Professional Learning Group (PLG) called the Manaiakalani Digital Teacher Academy (MDTA). I have been both nervous and excited about today and what the future has in store. Especially as I am a dinosaur when it comes to technology!

For this reason, I am counting my blessings today was a basic Google 101. Phew! I now know the simple things I need to know for efficient and effective use of the digital world within my classroom. Check my snazzy slide, explaining the basics I learnt today. May seem minimal to some, but for me it's a step towards expertise, which will come.

You are a star. They are stars. Be stars together. I believe every student shines in their own way, they just need the opportunity to shine, which is my job. I think many students in lower socio-economic areas particularly have low self confidence, thus do not allow their potential and ability to shine through. I know I am a star, so I need to show this to my students, to bring out the star in them. Without stars, there is no light in the dark, no light equals no learning. Together, the students and I can make light as we shine.

Do I demonstrate digital knowledge for and with the students? ... I should be! Today I had a lightbulb moment. How on Earth can I expect students to build upon their digital skills, if I cannot demonstrate new and exciting things myself? As aforementioned, I am totally behind the times, which is why I feel so privileged to have an opportunity to become a techno whizz, but this means I have a lot to learn to be on par with the students. Feeling sub par isn't all that dandy.

Is this yours to share? Unsure? Well, ask. Don't plagiarise. I was so excited to learn about the 'Research' tool that can be utilised in Google Docs (Can this magic tool be used in other apps? Can't wait to find out!), I wish I had've learnt about it years ago for University assignments. No excuses for my future papers now! Alongside this treasure, I learnt how to search for things that don't need referencing, which means students can use pictures for example, and not be breaching any copyright rules! This is genius. Pure gold.

There is so much to learn. So much more. Always. Although when I made the slide I was relating to Google apps specifically, this is appropriate for life holistically. I will definitely be discussing this with my Health students at some point, as I believe it is important to understand there is always more. If you want to learn more, ask. Extend your thinking further. Push yourself. Reach your limits. Learning is not confined to periods spent in a classroom, but confined to your open-mindedness and imagination.

Don't fall behind. YELL FOR HELP. Although this is going to be hard for me, I know it is crucial. For both my sanity and to ensure student learning is the best it possibly can be.

I am petrified, but also over the moon with this opportunity. Although I am feeling a little overwhelmed right now, it is all part of the challenge. Challenges aren't supposed to be easy, but they are supposed to be rewarding. This program is going to be incredibly rewarding once I cross the finish line.

Extrinsic motivation can go a long way, so seek it. How about here?

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Miss D, Grounding My Feet

And so it begins. I am a teacher. 
Today was my first full day.
I had to take a selfie!

Day 1, well, my recollection of;


I feel like this is how the first few days are going to go. Reminding myself to stop, inhale to the bottom of my lungs and tackle the next hurdle. My goodness, the finish line seems centuries away.

I love how I can play ABL games in Health and PE and it can be justified. I love my job! I hope students love my teaching, but I am sure they will... Watch this space!

I want to try and finish my blogs with a link to my blog and what's going on in my life. Some links may be a YouTube clip and some may be research, food for thought some may say. Today I suggest listening to the talented Bill Gates.