Friday, 15 April 2016

Our Kids Are Drowning Too Often

Picture from here

New Zealand drownings are too high. The country, as well as the world are aware of this and the water safety industry are working hard to lower the drowning statistics. The unfortunate reality, is that many of the drownings which occur in NZ, are young people, mostly of Maori and Pasifika culture - our students' culture. This is a super scary thought.

In hope of trying to reduce the amount of Maori and Pasifika drownings (and overall drownings), I have encouraged for an aquatics unit be taught at school, because as of recent, Tamaki College has not included aquatics in the Health and PE curriculum. I have taken responsibility for creating a unit for 10PE, which will be based around basic swimming and water safety. I will be creating a site for this unit to incorporate the digital world and multi-modal learning into the classroom, watch this space...

To find out more about water safety visit Water Safe Auckland Incorporated.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Time Flies

As the sun sets, beautifully might I add, on an 11 week term, I begin to reflect on my progress as a first year teacher so far. But, I don't even really know where to begin - so much has happened!

The past three months have been a total blur, I feel like I only just started! Everything has come and gone so quickly, it is actually crazy. I knew the life of a teacher is chaotic, but I really did not appreciate how much so. I have been going 110%, with guns blazing and my heart laid on the table 24/7. Literally. Emails all hours of the night asking for help, up early hours of the morning working out and trying to fit my teaching in somewhere!

The unfortunate reality I have discovered, is amongst all of the behind the scene admin and follow ups, there really is little time for planning and reflection. Having three co-teachers to meet and plan with has it's difficulties, but I have managed to make it work. To build on this, however, I do need more time from two of the teachers, so that I don't feel like I am only just keeping above water.

I have learnt a lot about myself this term though. I have learnt that I need challenges. I need to learn. I need to ask lots of questions. I need to be supported. I need to focus more on the positives than the negatives. The most significant discovery is that I need to remember to switch off when I leave school.

The most challenging part about working at a lower decile school, is the clientele whom we teach. These students come from backgrounds/homes I cannot even begin to imagine, and I wish that I could help more. I have struggled most with changing my focus and mindset to my life, and my wellbeing when I leave school, because I just want to keep giving. I want to help as much as I can, but the reality is most of the difficulties these kids face are well beyond my control. Thus, I need to learn how to put the kids aside when I go home, so I stop losing sleep.

Over the weekend I watched The Freedom Writers, a film about an at risk class of students in L.A,, who had been deemed incapable of learning. The teacher turns their lives around. I found this true story incredibly relatable and this is what encouraged me to reflect on my first term as a qualified teacher. The teacher has given me inspiration and motivation to continue to give my all for my students, as something will come from it. I encourage all to watch the film, read the novel, or visit The Freedom Writers Foundation website.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Share - What Does This Mean?

This afternoon we spent time discussing the value of the 'Share' component of Manaiakalani's Learn, Create, Share model. Share mostly relates to sharing of our knowledge, our work, our learning and our creations with our peers, colleagues and community, however this discussion got me thinking about share as much more than that.

To be an effective teacher I believe I need to be an open book, willing to share more than my creations and my work. I need to share everything in my life, especially in the Manaiakalani community.

Students value knowing me. Me as a person, not just me as a teacher. Our Pasifika and Maori students value this considerably, which I knew beginning the job, but now I have my own experiences. Willingness to share my family, my interests, why I teach, what I want to do in the future, encourages barriers to go down. Barriers many of our tamariki have when they first meet someone. Barriers that may effect their learning and the classroom environment. Barriers that are present because they are protective of their school, their learning and their friends. 

I have enjoyed the barriers eroding over the past ten weeks and some of them have completely vanished, because I am open and honest with the interest students have in my life and my feelings. What is the point in hiding or not talking about things if a student is interested? Of course, there are times when there may be that one student who oversteps the privacy line - but I just let them know that what they are asking is confidential. 

The biggest thing I have taken away from this afternoon, upon reflection, is sharing is not only constrained to creations of learning and our work but much more than that. I want to begin to share my work, and my students' work more, so that we are gifting the world with our creations, but this will take time. I am trying to be realistic that the fairies and rainbows and perfection I want, is a long way away, but chipping away a little bit at a time and taking small steps forward will help get there. 

I am busy, I am tired, I am stressed and boy I am looking forward to the holidays. I am more than happy to share that! But for now I need to potter through the final week of term.

Doctor Maya Angelou is one of the most influential voices of our time, an important figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. I thought her words in the above quote simply expresses how to share, and encouraged me to consider why we teach and give. I am now inspired to read more of her work.

Friday, 1 April 2016

HTML Coding Driving Me Crazy

Today the MDTA cohort started creating a Google site about current events happening around the globe. The aim of the site is to develop our critical thinking skills and the critical thinking of others - we are mostly targeting our learners.

Please visit our site

Each page has been created by a different student from MDTA, each with a different context and focus. All of the pages have been created as one or more individual lessons to teach our students to improve their literacy, critical thinking and some as a Social Sciences focus.

I am thoroughly enjoying manipulating HTML code and having a play around with my site. I can definitely see how people lose hours drowning in thousands of lines of code, because it is so intriguing. However, it is doing my head in a little!

I cannot wait to see how much further my coding skills develop in the future, and how my students' learning will be impacted. To see my current events site, click here.