Tuesday, 29 March 2016

A Deserved Long Weekend

The Dean in charge of my tutor group
This week has been tough. Mentally, emotionally, physically and psychologically exhausting. I am giving 110% every minute of every day, and unfortunately that is coming at a cost to my own mental wellbeing. However, I am thankfully surrounded by people who are very supportive of me

My mentor and HO
I needed a bit of time to gather my thoughts and reflect on everything that is going on at school, at uni and at MDTA at the moment, as well as my own personal life. 

The boss suggested a day off, I hesitated at first as I want to be with my learners, but I definitely needed it. Now I have also had a 5 day Easter break to reboot myself, to get through the last 3 weeks of term. Hallelujah this week is only 3 days!

We need to always remember that even though our learners mean everything to us, sometimes we have to put ourselves first. This is the lesson I have learnt this week, and need to keep reminding myself, so that I don't drive myself into the ground. 

Some of my tutor group :)

The reality is, no teacher is perfect, no day is perfect and we cannot do everything.
We can try, but sometimes we won't succeed. This is tough, but what is picking me up when I feel guilty for meeting a friend rather than marking an assessment, picking me up when I am up until midnight planning lessons and then teaching off 5 hours sleep and picking me up when my lessons don't go to plan.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Modern Learning Environment Opportunities

This morning I was fortunate enough to be involved in the Manaiakalani School Leaders Study Tour, hosted at Stonefields Primary School. We were invited to Stonefields to view their modern learning environments in action, as well as provided with ample opportunities to hear both the student and teacher voices, and ask questions.

Today I walked away questioning how I can attempt to implement their way of teaching and learning into my professional journey and school. I think the atmosphere of the classrooms and the vibes from the students was so positive throughout the entire tour, thanks to the supportive, open learning environments the students are immersed in. The students enjoy their learning, as they are able to immerse themselves in learning about whatever they are passionate about, known as Break Through. For instance, some students wanted to make quilts for the Starship Hospital, some created artwork (see right and above) to showcase around school, and one boy worked individually to write a novel. I love how their passion is the focus of their learning, which I want to see more of at Tamaki College.

Pondering how we may be able to include more co-teaching and collaborative teaching at Tamaki, there are various ways, but some may take a while to achieve. I would love to be able to teach all our year levels at the same time. This would eliminate having to stream classes, would enable all students to be provided with the same learning opportunities, and more than one teacher would always be present in class. Currently a struggle is the seniors being at different stages throughout a unit, and being taught very differently, but are then provided with the same assessment (NCEA). This is a department work on, but unfortunately due to how a school timetable is manipulated too, which would be the biggest challenge to put into practice co-teaching and modern learning environments - where and how could we find the time with students choosing multiple options.

However, there are ideas I have floating around in my head which are more achievable. I would love to do the same as Stonefields and encourage students in Art or Graphics to create/design creations to be around the school, like these photos. This eliminates teachers creating learning environments which they think are the best for the students, and enables the students to literally create their own learning environments

I have heard about modern learning environments within secondary schools, rather than primary, which I would love to go and check out for even more relevance to me. To learn more about Stonefields and the wonderful opportunities they are providing their learners, please browse their website!

Saturday, 12 March 2016

6 Day Week

Picture located here
Today I lost half of my weekend to be at a block course at uni, however I really enjoyed the day.

The morning session was about unpacking some of the readings to get the most out of them we could. We were split into groups based on which reading we had read and then our task was to collaboratively summarise the article into one paragraph. From there we unpacked a reading we hadn't read and created a Digital Learning Object (DLO) to reflect/teach what the reading was about, using another groups summary as reference.

My group created the below Google Drawing as our DLO, to illustrate Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development. I visioned the ZPD similar to running. We can run on the flat on our own, we need assistance to run uphill, however for many of us rock climbing on our own is way out of our reach and we could fall. Thus, the blue character (myself) is the learner and the others are the teacher and the helping hands.

Our afternoon session intrigued me considerably. We discussed and debated the idea of knowledge and skill. Are knowledge and skill learnt individually, collectively or does one happen as a result of the other? I believe knowledge is learning and discovering new information, and skill is the opportunity to implement, analyse and build upon knowledge. However, I also think knowledge and skill develop as a result of one another both directly and indirectly. If you are interested in this debate, or wish to ponder further, consider reading Greeno, Collins and Resnick's discussion.

(Greeno, J., Collins, A., & Resnick, L. (1996). Cognition and Learning. In: D. Berliner & R. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of Educational Psychology (15-46). New York: MacMillan.)

Friday, 11 March 2016

Understanding the World Around Us

Today we used the medium of current events to begin to consider critical thinking in our classrooms. I focused my thought process on Maria Sharapova's announcement this week in regard to drug taking at the Australian Open. 

Please click the links in Slide 2 to see various perspectives about the case.

By having a focus point of one article, this enabled me to consider how the current inquiry into Sharapova's case can be included in the classroom. One short article and video clip includes many perspectives and tangents to discuss within the classroom, and can be included in many subjects...

I could include discussion in Health with reference to Hauora and wellbeing. Students could create skits, slides, drawings, to demonstrate how the wellbeing of Sharapova could be effected right now. 

Discussions with reference to family, personal and community values could be included in Social Studies. 

English classes may review the many articles/opinion pieces/interviews about Sharapova to write persuasive essays or speeches. 

Science students could discuss the drug itself or the impacts of the drug on the body short term and long term.

Of most interest to me is the relevance to sport and how the current dilemma/debate/issue/event in regard to Sharapova's case can be included in the PE curriculum. There are many standards related to issues in sport and the impact media has on sport for example.

I think the inclusion of current events in our classes is an approach that can effectively encourage critical thinking, as well as hook the learners. As current events are forever changing, so can the content in our classes, continually engaging the learners. However, this is only true if our content is relevant to the learners, their backgrounds and interests. 

When things are relevant to our lives, we want to learn more about them, therefore are more engaged in the teaching and learning. Listed here are simple steps for student engagement, with reference to research too.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Our Fortnightly Sleepover

Kata and I have scheduled a sleepover once a fortnight to work on our lesson planning, as we teach Year 12 Health and Year 9 Health together. Because we are both beginning teachers, we knew co-teaching was going to be a challenge for both of us. However, we are both so thankful we have developed a beautiful relationship not only as colleagues, but also as friends.

Health is a subject we are both not only passionate about, but also really enjoy teaching. To be up all hours of the night, calling each other every few days and continually questioning what and why we are teaching, does not phase us. We are both wanting to increase student achievement at Tamaki, as well as increase student knowledge and interest in Health. Prior to our (mostly Kata's) arrival, Health did not seem to be taught to the best of it's potential, so I am so grateful we have been gifted with the opportunity to create new units such as the draft we completed on Padlet tonight (below).

I cannot wait to see where Health at Tamaki College will be in two years time, and to see how are professional learning journeys as individuals and as co-teachers have developed. To determine progress and improvement throughout our careers, we value feedback, feedforward and reflection of our teaching, learning and planning both collaboratively and individually in order to grow. Many struggle to discuss feedback/feedforward suggestions, but, as Sheila Heen discusses in this TED Talk, there are many effective ways to provide and receive feedback, which are beneficial for teachers and their learners.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Crash and Burn, Take One

Week 5, done and dusted. Hallelujah!

This week has been long and exhausting, even though I was really only at school for two days!

High Ropes and Mountain Biking with 12PE, check out my blog here to read more about our fun day out at Woodhill Forest.
I was considerably drenched from the rain, so I spent some time warming up with a nice hot shower and soup.
Planned. A lot. Even called one of my co-teachers to plan. Plan, plan, plan.

My super busy day. 6 classes back to back, then a co-teacher meeting after school.
I then completed some admin for my tutor class and had a bite to eat before I pottered off to bootcamp. Yes, I go to a bootcamp. I decided to do so, because I have no time to think about my own training programmes. Therefore, a bootcamp keeps me active without having to think about what I am doing. If I am not active, my body gives up and my overall wellbeing (Hauora) crashes.

Post bootcamp and grass/mud removal, I worked through some of my PE 'to dos' such as planning volleyball lessons with a TGFU approach. Teaching Games for Understanding, is a model developed by Bunker and Thorpe in 1982, to teach skills and technique of games through modified, competitive situations (instead of standing and passing for example).
Diagram found here.


In the pool for a short 1km swim at 5:45am to stretch out and invigorate the body a little.
Awesome day at school. Busy, but awesome. The kids are finally starting to warm to me, and open up, which makes a huge difference to our classroom vibe and overall learning environment.
Our first lecture! MDTA begun our Honours course this afternoon, with a basic intro discussion about critical thinking and how important it is to implement into our classrooms. I am definitely a critical thinker myself, and I do try my best to encourage my students to think critically at present - so I am really excited about what this course has to bring.
Tonight, I completed no work at all. Two friends from England landed this evening and I took them out for dinner in the Viaduct. I really enjoyed spending time with friends, this really boosted my overall wellbeing and Hauora. However, my throat was a little niggly...

Uhoh. I am sick. I woke up this morning feeling terrible. I think I have finally crashed, which was bound to happen eventually!

I am unsure whether it is a good thing or a bad thing that I wasn't at school teaching today. I was out with the Year 12s again, but this time we were kayaking. I really enjoy kayaking, so I tried my best to be involved and be positive even though under the surface smile I was feeling awful. Teaching involves acting!
After a power nap, I went to my sign language course. Ironically we were learning how to sign words related to Health and wellbeing, so I could explain all of my symptoms by the end of the night.


MDTA digital immersion day. Boy, it was tough to stay mentally involved today. I really wasn't 100% there, but I tried to be.
Today we jumped into Google Sites and how we can best organise and present our sites both for our learning, and our students' learning. I was thankful I had already spent some time with a Google Educator learning about sites, so today was revision with the odd new piece of information thrown in. This screenshot shows the site I played with, creating a basic lesson about Little Red Riding Hood. Although it (clearly) needs some 'blinging' up, as it is ugly currently, I now know how to embed various photos, videos and Google products into my Sites.

Being sick and trying to learn is so difficult, I really just wanted to go to bed! This demonstrates the concept of Hauora wholeheartedly if one wall crashes, so does the whare.
However, my favourite part of today was playing around with HTML code. I remember writing HTML code in highschool and I really enjoyed it, so I can't wait to play around a little more and see what I can create in the future.

As this week as been a rollercoaster of emotions and hurdles, I think it is important to remind myself what I am doing here. Why I am putting myself through this organised mess. For the students. As cliche as it is, I want to make a difference. Not a teacher? Check out some ways others have made a difference.