Professional Practice.

Today I completed a “how are things going” conversation with my HOD. In this conversation we discussed the positives or what is going well, the minuses or difficult things, interesting points and suggestions for moving forward.

In my positives, I discussed that I thought that I was fitting well into the culture of the School and that  I am making a conscious to build relationships with staff members beyond the PE department. I also mentioned that I am working to be very student-centered and that I am enjoying the engaged and critical discussions from this. I also thought a positive was that I am delivering high quality, innovative lessons and I am challenging myself by working outside of my comfort zone.

Minuses were having to gain in-depth understanding of all the Achievement Standards in a short-time period. Marking and moderation has been new territory and this has taken some getting used to. I have learned and developed a sound routine to help with this; I download the clarifications, exemplars and criteria well before the Unit. This is beneficial because I know well in advance where the learning needs to be and what level . This helps improve my teaching as I am more clear in my mind of where the students are heading.

Interesting points was the balance between student-centered and teacher-centered. For example, after having numerous individual conversations  with students, discussing the process and careful questioning, I am still unsure how much following-up needs to be done by me and how much is student responsibility. Related to this conversation we discussed the different groups within a class setting (Photo 2). For example, there are the “Brains Trust” which are the students who are self-motivated and able to work independently. With these students they more likely only need spot-checks and shorter conversations. Then, there are the “struggle-street” students who are not as independent and need more directive guidance. We discussed how these students need check-points and more frequent follow-ups. This was a helpful discussion around how to manage and monitor students who would easily fall behind.

The final point of our conversation was around “suggestions” and how to continue learning as a teacher. We discussed how teachers can become territorial and experience a sense of judgement if they are observed by other teachers. Instead, we discussed how observing other teachers past “becoming a teacher” can help inform and improve our own practices and that it should be ongoing. As a result of this conversation, I will be formally observed by other members of the PE department but also, I will observe teachers in other subject areas. I think it is valuable to look at how other departments are doing things and get ideas from other areas of the School. I am going to observe an innovative English teacher and also a teacher in the Yr 7&8 area. I think this will help my teaching to get new ideas, freshen my practice and to continue learning as a teacher .

24.6 Meeting 124.6 Meeting 2

Assessment for Learning

As part of a school-initiative I have been involved with an Assessment for Learning programme with Cheryl Harvey from Team Solutions, Auckland University. This has involved numerous meetings with Cheryl and other beginner teachers discussing assessment for learning, assessment literacy, using student achievement data and teaching as an inquiry.

From this, I have been reflective on my practice and how I can do more inquiry based learning with my students. As a result of these meetings, I have made sure that I have been including learning intentions and differentiated success criteria every lesson. This has been a helpful outcome from these meetings.

I have attached my feedback from Cheryl OC Joanna PAC May 2016

Tapu Ae – Traditional Maori Games

In Year 10 PE, I did a mini-unit on traditional Maori games. I played Tapu Ae with my class and I taught the students the traditional history of the game and Maori terms for play. An example of the specific language I taught my class is below and the teaching resource around the history and origins is attached. This shows that I am developing the relevant use of Maori language in the context of my subject area.

Tapu Ae history and origins

Tapu Ae and Maori specific language:

  • Ki (ball);
  • Kahaaraiti – the circle between Te Motu and Te Roto
  • Kahaaranui – the line between Te Roto and Te Ao
  • Tapaparoa – the outermost boundary (if you decide to have one)
  • Te Ao – the mid-court area
  • Te Marama – the ki (ball) throw-in position at the start of each point/set
  • Te Motu – the entire area within the Kahaaraiti
  • Te Roto – the area of court outside Te Motu and within Kahaaranui and Tapaparoa
  • Te Tupu – “targets” which are placed in Te Wairua
  • Te Wairua – the central zone of Te Motu, in which Nga Tupu are positioned


Student-centred learning

For my Year 9 Fitness lesson I experimented with a student-centred approach. During the lesson I made many observations around motivation and participation and the use of technology.

For this lesson I asked the students to download the app called “Sworkit Kids” and select different exercises from the strength, agility and balance/flexibility categories. I allowed the students to select their own so that they could be exposed to different exercises and pick their own focus for their workout. They then practicesed and trialled their own workouts so they could make amendments if necessary.

From here, I set up 6 cones as station areas. The students grabbed the blue mats to make the area more comfortable to exercise at and then setup their workouts on the iPads. This meant that the students completed the 5-min workout and then rotated to the next one.

My observations were that the students were very motivated. I think this is because they felt empowered in that they could choose their exercises. It also meant that they were proud of the workout and enjoyed challenging their classmates. Each group at each station only had 4 in it which meant that the students were accountable to keep trying hard. There was also good variety in the exercises as each group had a different focus and different exercises. From my observation, I could have left the lesson and it would have run smoothly. This indicates that the lesson was very student-centred.

Google Classroom

As my professional development, I have begun using Google Classroom with my Year 11 Health Class.

I have found this to be a useful platform for a number of reasons. I am able to instantly share files, questions, youtube links or assignments with the class. I can embed Google Docs into a post and assign a copy for each student. I find this helpful because, I am able to monitor the work of the students as they write. Also, students are able to refer back to useful resources and lessons we have used in class. I find that Google Classroom is straight-forward and easy to access.

Another way that I have used Google Classroom is for an internal assessment. I assigned each student a copy of their assignment and they worked on this in class. The advantages of this is that the students could ‘turn in’ their assignment at the end of the lesson and I could see who had submitted or not submitted. I find this beneficial as I can easily share with the other Health teacher for moderation and all the documents are stored electronically.

For my next unit, the students are writing action plans for goal-setting and they are doing ongoing blog entries. I can access their Google docs and I will leave comments and feedback for the students. I am also able to checkpoint the students and that they are keeping up to date with the work. The advantage of Google Classrooms is accessibility.

I have also assisted another teacher to use Google Drive and we share a folder to coordinate our classes. In this folder, there are NZQA exemplars and resources and a live Google Doc in which we put our teaching lessons and activities.

So far, I have found Google Classroom and Drive to be useful tools for collaboration, accessibility and feedback.

Student-teacher PD; insights after 1.5 terms

On May 31st I was involved with a discussion with the student-teachers currently in the School. I was asked to share insights from a Term and a half of teaching. We gathered in the boardroom and begun discussing what it is like as a first year teacher and how to ‘survive’.

The insights and words of wisdom that I passed on were;

Avoid taking things personally. Teenagers are complex individuals and there are 1000’s of reasons that a student may respond to something in your lesson. Remember that each individual has their own background, values and quite often, their reaction is unrelated to anything you are doing. Be reflective, but don’t take it personally when things don’t go as well as you would hope.

Leaving University, most are full of passions and visions of how Education can change the future and with ambitions of being an impacting teacher. Hold on to this passion and energy but also, be patient. It will take at least 3 years to become the teacher you want to be. During this process, make mistakes, experiment and hold onto the vision for Education.

You are important. Students would rather a energised teacher who has had sleep then a teacher who is immaculately prepared. Get sleep, it is vital for so many reasons. Make sure you schedule relaxation time. Don’t feel guilty for not doing work on the weekends – try and get it all done during the week. Find things that energize you. Teaching is a giving and serving profession and constantly considering the needs of others takes it toll. Ask yourself frequently; what are my needs? And do something to meet them!

Get marking. Often, it seems like this scary mountain that needs to be climbed. And it is unfamiliar terrain. Assessment schedules? Moderation? Criteria? Exemplars? Get started. The more you mark the more that the schedules make sense and the patterns of achievement emerge. Side note: make sure you read all this documentation before you begin teaching the Standard so that you are confident with what and how you are teaching.

You will get used to the feeling of not knowing what is going on. To begin with everything is new and this can be overwhelming. You may feel like a fraud with a set of school-keys and classrooms of students calling you their teacher. This feeling may not fully go away but, you do become more familiar and comfortable with not quite knowing what is going on. Even experienced teachers feel like this. The students do not know that you are making final preparations 10mins before  you see them. The students do not know that you are only a lesson ahead (if that) and that you are revising study guides and content. Fake it til you make it. Related to this though is be honest. If you are unsure, rather than waffling an answer, tell the student that it is a great question and that you will find out about it. Then, do it. Follow-up on finding the answer and then, tell the student next time you see them. They will respect your honest and follow-up.