Sunday, 30 October 2016

The value of working/learning in teams.

This week the staff from Pt England got into groups and shared about their inquiries. We all shared something of value that we had learnt from our inquiry and then we each asked a question about something we needed help with. While it was great to hear what everyone had recently learnt throughout their inquiry, for me, the greater value came from hearing people's questions about their own teaching and then seeing the way in which everyone responded to them. Everyone bought something to the table and everyone contributed to helping out their colleagues, no matter how much experience we each had had. The concept of Ako was alive and well.

For me, these conversations really highlighted the importance of doing things in teams and that effective teaching can't be done on your own...well at least in my case. It also hit home the fact that if you've got a question, ask it. I often tell my students there is no silly question and that we are all 'life long learners' yet when it comes to my own learning I don't necessarily apply the same thinking.  I find myself not wanting to ask questions in fear that the answer will be so obvious to everyone except myself, therefore making myself look stupid. Dumb eh? It's the same reason my students don't ask questions.

Moving forward, my goal is to ask more questions about my own teaching, and not just to senior teachers but to any of my colleagues. Who knows what gems of magic I might find.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Incredible Years Teachers Programme

This year I was fortunate enough to participate in the Incredible Years Teachers Programme that focused on strengthening teacher's classroom management strategies. The course panned out over a 6 month period. In that time the participants met for one day every 3 weeks or so. Each time we met new management strategies were introduced and there were open conversations reflecting on the how we were implementing the new strategies in our teaching practice.

I found this course extremely beneficial. I feel I have been given the tools and information that if used effectively will see me well throughout my teaching career. Being 'used effectively" are the operative words in the previous sentence. In the short time I have been trying to implement the strategies I found it's very easy to 'know' them but it's a totally different ball game to 'use' them, let alone use them effectively. I have had to be really intentional about using the strategies otherwise they don't happen. Something will happen in the class and I'll find myself reacting to the behaviour rather than responding thoughtfully and appropriately.

One strategy I have found most useful is selectively ignoring certain behaviours. To start with I found this so hard to do. Initially I'd be working with a group and one cheeky monkey would decide to start roaming around or call out something they thought was funny. I couldn't stop myself, I'd take my focus off the group I was with then reprimand the cheeky monkey for whatever they were/weren't doing. All that did however was take quality teaching time away from the group I was working with. The cheeky monkey would settle for about 5 minutes then we'd be repeating the process a while later.

Once I started selectively ignoring the cheeky monkey I found they would settle back down on their own accord as there was no attention given to them. I even taught my class to ignore certain behaviours from the repeat offender cheeky monkeys. As a result of doing this I had less disruptive lessons and I had more time wth my small groups.

That's just an example of one strategy I have found helpful, there are loads more. I would 100% recommend the Incredible Years Teachers Course to any teacher. There is something for everybody no matter how long you have been teaching. It's a great day out of the classroom every 3 weeks and if that's not reason enough the lunch they provide is amazing!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

MDTA Garageband Tutorial

Today I had the privilege to speak to the MDTA teachers's about using Garageband. It was a great opportunity as it made me brush up on my own knowledge and use of the program, and it took me outside of my comfort zone which is always a good thing. We went over various aspects of Garageband from the very basics like recording audio tracks to creating music for movies. The teachers responded well to the tutorial and by the end were able to use the basic functions of Garageband with some degree of confidence. It was great for my teaching practise to experience pithing things to adults. Initially it was a bit daunting knowing I was tutoring fellow teachers however once I got into the swing of things it was really enjoyable. Thanks Dorothy Burt for the opportunity.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Increasing reading engagement - Term 3 inquiry

This term my wondering has been "How can I increase the reading engagement of learners".  I was finding my children would read because they 'had to' to complete a task  However many didn't enjoy reading. My goal was to introduce my learners to the joy of reading. To do this I tried a couple of approaches.

1 - I introduced 'reading for recreation' activity which was a part of the learners weekly literacy program. Students Selected there book of choice from the library and the goal was to get through it by the end of the term. I bought some nice big cushions (which were actually dog beds) and made a comfortable reading corner for the students to relax and read in. I also provided some ear muffs so they could read in piece.

2 -  I started reading more frequently to the children, this was to show them that books aren't all 'boring' like some thought. We read through Roald Dahl's BFG and coincidentally by the time we had finished the BFG movie was released and we all went to see it. We had some great conversations after seeing the movie with many of the children saying they enjoyed the book better as there was more detail.

Overall I think I was semi successful in increasing the reading engagement of my students. Many students managed to finish their choice of book in the term and some managed to get through a couple. The students really enjoyed being read to, so much that if we didn't do it they were disappointed. It was great to see they were engaging with and enjoying what we were reading.

I will be carrying these two practise on into next term in the hope that bit by bit the students will continue to develop a love for reading.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Inquiry update

Over the last term I have been trying to come up with higher order thinking (hot) reading activities with a create focus, in the hope that it will increase student's engagement and reading levels. So far results look promising. Most students have made at least 6 months progress with a couple making a year or more.  Students appear to be more engaged in their reading and are keen to get to the create activity which is nice to see.

One challenge I've encountered is coming up with an engaging hot activities every week. They often take a long time to prep. To make life easier I have been using similar activities with different reading groups, differentiating them to suit the groups reading levels. I've also tried to create activities that could be used again in the future with various texts.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Inquiry 2016

This year I will be inquiring into how I can have higher order activities with a create focus that learners can work on independently? My hope is that these activities will increase student's engagement and promote higher order thinking.

My first steps will involve looking at what sort of activities other teachers are using to get some ideas. I will then trial some higher order create activities with my top reading group. If these go well I will try them with the other reading groups.

Initially I will be looking at create activities with a focus on inference and evaluation. From looking at Probe data from last year and my existing knowledge of the students this was identified as an area of weakness for a lot of my students.