Tagged with " reflection"

Reflections

Jun 30, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Classroom

This year was the year that I truly stepped out of my comfort zone. After many years of working in the elementary school I took the jump across to the secondary school. I had always thought it was going to be different but I didn’t realise how different things would be. It has been a great experience and I have been lucky enough to work with a group of amazing educators who have supported me as I found my feet. Here are the biggest highlights of the school year:

Different World

The move to secondary school was driven by a desire to find out what it was really like to work with middle and high school students and teachers. It really been an amazing experience. I have learned so much but still realize that there is so much more to know.

I have worked in primary/elementary schools since leaving university and have developed a pretty sound understanding of how things work – break times, student interaction, concepts taught, professional dialogue and curriculum. When I had thought about how things would be in secondary school I realized things would be different. But it wasn’t till I a made the move that I realized how different things are. This was both a challenging and an inspiring realization. It challenged my preconceived notions about how student’s learn and how schools function.

Things like student groupings, how the 3 IB programmes fit together (PYP-MYP-DP), the DP itself, department structures and collaborating with teachers that teacher multiple year levels (and subjects) have kept me on my toes throughout the year. I have had to rethink how I provide support to both students and teachers. As a ICT department we have playing around with various structures of support and while we haven’t got the perfect blend just yet I think we are getting close.


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by spdorsey

Digital Connections

I love the art of teaching. It has all the elements of life – human interaction, growth, drama and creativity. I was lucky enough to be able to teach a new course for our year 9 students – Digital Connections. Between Ivan and myself we lead this course for all students in the year level.

The aim of this course was to develop the student’s awareness of digital issues whilst also ensuring they had a solid base of digital skills. Being a new course the students we not sure what to expect, the course isn’t graded, but as the year progressed they really got involved in the issues that we addressed. It was those moments when the students were truly engaged by the concepts (e.g. mulitasking & the floods in Thailand) we were addressing which stand out as the highlight of my year.


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Sir_Iwan

Experiences

It never ceases to amaze me the quality of work students can produce. This has especially been the case this year as I have been working with secondary students. The depth of understanding and the creativity they display is amazing. It is a pleasure simply to be part of these experiences – creating tours of cities of the world, finding out how rivers work, investigating the impact of tourism on Thailand and many more. I probably get even more excited when I am not even part of the experience and then see what they students are creating in their own time – some of their work is phenomenal.

When reflecting back on this year I realise that this has probably been one of the most productive years of my career. It was like being a new teacher again – finding out how things work, making connections with a new group of teachers and students, and trying new strategies and techniques to meet the needs of the people that I work with.


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by pierofix

Highlighting Learning

May 24, 2012 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Classroom

“The grass is always greener on the other side” is a phrase which applies to so many things in life. People have an amazing ability to see how things could be. We all have been in this camp at some time in our lives – “If only we had this, then…”

During my career I have had the opportunity to visit and talk to educators from across the globe. During every discussion I see an element (sometimes many) of the place we are talking about which I wish my current workplace would have. But, as I am sure we are all aware, what works in one place doesn’t always work the same way in the next. Every situation, schools in this case, is different and needs a different approach. But there must be some common elements to help create an effective learning environment.

This is something I have been thinking about for a while. It is something that has dominated much of my discussions with my PLN of late (thanks to @becline@jay_priebe@interpidteacher@amichetti & @mscofino for helping me on this journey). I think it is time that I stop looking at the “green grass” and share my thoughts on what common elements schools could have to promote effective learning:

Learning at the Centre

There is broad agreement in education that learning should be at the centre of learning but what does “effective learning” look like? Answering this question is extremely difficult but I think it is a discussion that every school needs to have. Teachers, students, administrators and parents need to come to a common agreement on what effective learning looks like in their school.

In order to ensure the whole school is working towards the same goal, there would need to be a set of overarching concepts which span the whole school (like the IB Learning Profile or Approaches to Learning) but the articulation of what learning looks like at different age levels would be broken down under these statements (sample articulation in the MYP – work in progress).

The process of articulating what effective learning looks like would require the involvement of all stakeholders. Having a common agreement would provide a common language through which we could discuss student learning. The description of what effective learning looks like would form the basis of the culture of the school – prospective teachers and families would gain an understanding of what the school believes, students would be given an insight into how their learning may progress and teachers will have a guide for explicitly guiding students through the process of learning – “learning to learn”.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by eliotreeves

Integrated Curriculum

When planning curriculum experiences teachers would use this articulation of “effective learning” to help focus their experiences. These skills would be explicitly taught through all subject areas. The curriculum would be mapped with the use of a curriculum mapping system to help identify the types of experiences being offer to students

Exemplars

The school would provide teachers, students and parents with exemplars of what “effective learning” looks like across the school. These exemplars would be structured around the articulation of “effective learning”. Teachers could uses this bank of exemplars as a guide to help them explicitly teach the concept of “learning to learn”.


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by lovelihood

Evaluation

Like all initiatives there is a need to see if they are effective. One strategy to do this could be to focus walk-throughs around “effective learning”. A template could be made with which administration and colleagues could use to evaluate learning experiences. The school’s common understanding of what effective learning looks like would form that basis for discussion about professional practice.

Professional Development

Using the information collected from the curriculum mapping system, feedback and evaluation, professional development experiences would be tailored in order address the needs to the individual staff members and the school. This would help ensure that these experiences are focused on improving student learning


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by rachel_titiriga

This is what my “greener grass” looks like. I am lucky to work in a school which is heading in the same direction and it is time I step up and help in the process of guiding us across to these “greener pastures”

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