1st Year Teaching Reflection

With just days left at Orewa College it feels so recently that I arrived at School fresh out of Teacher’s College, wide-eyed, nervous and excited. I have developed so much personally and professionally and this blog entry is a reflection of both; things I can improve in my professional practice and a few personal points.

The biggest thing that I have learned is to be prepared (I have also learned that being under prepared is not completely awful but, I’ll discuss this later). As a Beginner teacher (BT) the achievement standards and everything was new to me. This meant that I had to do a lot of background reading; exemplars, clarifications, AS documents, explanatory notes and study guides. In the future, I need to make sure that I access these documents far before a Unit begins so that I have time to assimilate the information and have opportunity to ask questions. This will help me feel more confident at the start of units and that I am more certain of where the unit is going.

Marking is an area that I have become much better at. I did not really trust my marking ability because students’ work and grading was a very new process to me. I have learned that the best thing to do is taken from the Nike slogan “just do it.” Once I have reread the documents, made a few points of things that I am looking out for it is much easier to just begin. Image result for nike just do itAfter, I have marked about 5 I found it helpful to check these with someone else to gain some confidence that I was marking accurately and not be time-wasting having to remark them. Another helpful thing that I have learned is to “chunk them.” This means that I break down how many assignments I have per class and the time that I have to do them. I allocate a certain time for and a target number I want completed. This works for me and I will continue doing this because I know when I should have the marking done by and it improves my quality of marking because, I don’t get bored marking the same thing.

Something that I will continue to do is to ask for student-feedback on units. This includes asking the students their “barriers” (things that stop them learning) and “enablers” (things that help them). This informs my teaching practice and helps me to modify my delivery depending on the needs of the students in that class. By doing this I learned that for some students, their lagging devices and ipads were actually a hindrance especially if they were slow at typing or it was outdated. I changed my teaching in the following way. I still created their task on a Google Doc but they did not have to type their answers into it. As an option, I provided felt tip pens and blank paper for students to write their answers. They answered on this paper in brainstorms, lists and other ways. I found that I got far more productivity doing this as it helped me realise and then minimise a barrier to learning. This is one example of how it was useful hearing students feedback.

I strongly think that learning is students’ responsibility but, I have learned that students need to have their work/deadlines scaffolded or steps broken down with them. so they can see practically what they need to do to achieve. For some students, they need more guidance with this process and I would introduce more strict checkpoints that had to be reached. I think this would help students who have tendencies to fall behind but also, students who are aiming for higher grades so they can receive feedback on what they need to do to keep them motivated. In my goal setting Unit for Health there was a large amount of self-management of writing, implementing and reflecting on their goals. If I did this unit again I would have checklists that they have to meet or come back at lunchtime to catchup on. Similarly, I would have liked to have been more on top of the students’ work for 1.1 Active Participation which required ongoing blog entries throughout the year. In the future, I would like to avoid having a backlog at the end of the Unit. What I did do well in this area was provide the students with all their entry dates and get them to checklist themselves. This was an effective way to do it but, it would be more accurate for the entries to be done immediately as the participation occurred. Next year, I will be stricter with checkpoints (like small steps) that students have to meet so that the students don’t fall behind and hopefully by reaching checkpoints they are motivated to keep going.

This year, I tried some new things that I have never done before. This included the Flipped Classroom and verbal assessments which I would definitely do again but, quite differently. Firstly, the flipped classroom felt very experimental. The hardest thing as a teacher was to change the locus of control from the teacher to the student. As a teacher, I found it difficult not always knowing exactly what each student was doing. It was a high-trust model. A method that we used to keep students accountable to their work was having them write on small whiteboards what they were doing and then remove it when they had completed it. I was to take a photo of it at each stage to see where they were at. This is an area that I would do differently because, it was tricky knowing. Instead, I may make a small task as “proof” that they had done it. However, when I received feedback from the students they enjoyed having this onus even though at first it seemed daunting. I would do the Flipped Classroom with more structure and checking of the progress of learning.

Verbal assessments was another area that I used this year. I think for a number of students verbal assessments were really well-suited to. I found that some students were able to articulate their answers really well in conversation and with some probing but, were unable to write it down. Also, when these students were being assessed they often were quite kinesethic and were further able to show their understanding through their movements. An area that I struggled with verbal assessments was that if sometimes meant that I was 1 on 1 with a student which meant that the rest of the class needed to be on-task. I often found it hard to concentrate on the student I was assessing because I could hear the other students. This would have worked better if the students were playing a game on the field, for example and  I could pull them aside and assess them. Some students were also very nervous about verbal assessments so some more preparation for them would be helpful. Verbal assessments are something that I would like to do again in the future.

This year has also strengthened my philosophy on Health & Physical Education. For me, my success story is of a girl who was toxic at the start of the year, forgot her gear very often, was riddled with anxiety and refused to participate. Throughout the year, I have contacted home, empathised with her and been very patient. Even though, this approach is sometimes emotionally tolling the long-term results are far greater. This same girl got Excellence in her Health Assignment and recently, came bowling into the PE office asking if we could play touch in PE. She is also taking both Health and PE next year. My subject is more often than not not about the loud students who are successful at Sports and confident but those or are quiet but perfectly articulate, not confident or aware of what their bodies can do. It is the small gains for these students that will be lasting and make teaching worthwhile. I would like to make sure, in my classes in the future that I hear from everyone, not just the students who put up their hands first or shout the loudest. It is for students to emphasise and understand that excellence looks different for everyone and outstanding for one person may only be ordinary for someone else but, it is vital to be respectful and celebrate the success of everyone.

Personally, I feel like I have built resilience and confidence this year. Teaching has the ability to consume you if it is not well boundaried. This year, I was very careful to make sure that I had adequate rest, playtime and sleep. I rarely ever did work at home because I liked to maintain it as a place to rest, relax and recover. Weekends for me were a real mindshift because, as a student I worked right through them including assignments and part-time work. However, this year I have reviewed them as a place to reenergise and have fun. For me, reflection and quiet time by myself is very important. I intentionally disconnect from technology, spend time in nature and do things that I enjoy. I have learned that self-care is vital as a teacher because, you are constantly caring for others but it is impossible to do so if you don’t look after yourself. It is important to do things that you enjoy.

Something else that has helped me this year is having a SMART goal of my own. This goal was to swim the Auckland Harbour on the 4th of December. For me, this was important because it gave me something tangible to aim for. My goal was a set distance and set date. It was progress and results were something that I could measure. Teachers can go largely unappreciated and results or the impact that you are having is often hard to measure and may never be revealed. I found having a goal which was measurable meant that I was experiencing success and it was rewarding.

 

 

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Fitness Feedback

For each unit that I teach I like to hear student-feedback and responses on what they enjoyed, found meaningful and would change.

In a Yr 10 Fitness Unit I created a Google Form which the students could answer. As is seen in the form here I asked the students what they found interesting, which lesson they enjoyed the most, recommendations for the future and what grade they think they deserved and why. This sort of information was very interesting to read and informs my teaching for the  feedback. It was also very useful to encourage reflection for the students and for me to read the responses, to read how they learned and gained such different and unique things from the unit. For  example; “Try your hardest because that’s all that matters” and “I have learnt about all the different types of fit and that there is more than just running fit” and “how all the muscles function and the muscles that are used for each different exercise. Also I will take away the different types of training and what they are such as circuit training etc”

fitness-response

Recieiving feedback from the students is a part of the NZC’s “teaching as an inquiry” as depicted in the image below. The information feeds the “focusing inquiry” as the students’ responses can inform me as a teacher with what is worth spending time on. It also helps with the “teaching inquiry” as feedback on the activities informs how to teach. All these things help me be a reflective teacher and help improve outcomes for my students.

Teaching as inquiry model.

Applying AKO

In this morning’s PD we were looking at the rebranded AKO and applying it to a Junior Unit of work. We had numerous activities to choose from and we had to complete 3. The ones that my group completed can be seen by the ticks on the photo attached.

We compared Craig’s golf swing to a professional and made points for him on how to improve. We discussed as a group that there may need to be more guidance for Juniors to analyse a performance as it is unfamiliar to them. We thought that having questions or what to look for might be helpful. For example, where is the ball placed, how is the person holding the club, what do their arms look like? What are their legs doing? Where does their swing start and end? This would help students learning to analyse performance know what to look for rather than it being completed open ended. Other than that, we thought it was a valuable and straightforward activity.

As a group, we enjoyed having the choice and range of activities to choose from. Having the links and QR codes and Google forms made it simple and very student centred. 

Orewa College Wearable Arts

Today, at lunchtime I attended the Orewa College Wearable Arts Competition in the Arts & Events Centre. I was very impressed by the effort and design that the students had put into each garment. It was very student-centered with the student MC’s, designers, models and back-stage help.

I feel like it was important to attend this event and support my students who were involved in this. I can have conversations with these students that I teach about their involvement in WOW.

The full Orewa College Wearable Arts 2016 video can be seen here.

wow

Challenging our Practice:

In this morning’s PD we had discussions around what we are doing as teachers to help our students achieve. A particular challenge was around students who have not achieved well in the past, have low confidence or sense of success.

The topic was; “What are we doing?” where we challenged assumptions about teachers and that all students should be getting the same experiences in each class. We considered why is it that parents request certain parents and if the parent happens to be a teacher why is it that they manipulate their son or daughter’s timetable to be with different teachers.

We started off by looking at an image and the assumptions around this image (Slide 5). We then used a “cause, assumption, effect” (slide 6) to identify our assumptions, why they exist and what the implications of it are. This is a very useful tool which can be used in Health & PE classes to trigger critical thinking and to get students to challenge their own assumptions. I also think that images are an effective way to engage students as it appeals to visual learners and can promote creativity. This is a tool and strategy which I will use moving forward in my classes.

A very useful discussion that we had was around the different groups of students that we have in our classes. We broke these into 3 groups “the Battlers,” “Group 2” and “the Brains Trust.” We then brainstormed the different characteristics of these groups (Slides 14 – 18) and how we could reach their needs in the class. It was personally challenging and I found it useful to reflect on which groups I place emphasis on. I was reminded that for some students an “Achieved” is their “excellence” and that they come to class with the expectation that they will fail as they have not experienced much success at School. I think a strategy for this group is breaking the students down into manageable chunks for these students and maintaining high expecations of them and not disregarding them as “not achieved” students.

From this discussion, I will closely monitor and be aware of the students who have low expectations of themselves and try encourage them to believe in themselves more.

 

Term 2 Reflection

 

  1. Professional relationships; During this term I think I have maintained and built-on strong professional relationships at the School. I have been intentional about going to interval at morning tea to meet teachers in other departments. I have continued these School-wide relationships through Blake House events, Yr 9 Form class meetings and Beginner teacher meetings. I am also a member of soup club which is where every Friday we eat soup together. I have found that these opportunities have enable me to build strong relationships with colleagues across the School. Another positive of this is that I am able to ask teachers of other subjects how some of my students are doing in other curriculum areas because of the relationships I have with them.

4. This term I have shown excellent commitment to Professional learning. I have attended all Wednesday mornings Week A PD meetings and contributed to the discussions at these meetings.I have also attended the PENZ New Graduate Mentoring Programme. More about this can be found here. From this I have made some contacts with a teacher at Marist College who I will work with to develop more Level 1 Health Units.

5. I have demonstrated leadership in the Level 1 Health Education. I have developed the Units of work for this and have created shared Google Drive and Classroom with the other teacher of the this subject. I have talked about this further in my Google Classroom blog. For this I have also initiated moderation meetings. This is demonstration of how I have taken responsibility in a learning area and shown leadership.

11. For some of my classes this term I have made opportunity to hear student voice and for them to have some input to what is happening in the classroom. For three of my classes I have done a “how are things going” task. For this I asked students to write what helps them learn, what they enjoy, what is working for them. I also ask them to ask what the barriers are for their learning or how things could be done differently. This feedback informs how I teach. For example, my Year 10 girls told me that visual things such as video clips help them learn. As a result, I have made sure to include these for this class. Through these questions I have also learned that my instructions are sometimes rushed or unclear. From this feedback, I have worked on slowing down my instructions so it is clearer for the students.

12. I have done a lot of reflecting on my practice this term. A particularly provoking meeting in this area was with my HOD, Adam. More can be read about this in my blog post here. A result of this meeting is that I have observed other teachers across the School. I will continue to do this next term to gain more ideas across the School. From my observation . Something that I have learned and put into practice from this observation is to differentiate learning by having students write their own learning intentions and success criteria. This is something that I have trialed in Level 1 PE and will continue trying next term .

Things that I need to work on for next term are;

Ongoing contact with parents and keeping up with informing them with what is happening in class (Department TaI)

2) Demonstrate commitment to promoting the wellbeing of all akonga

3) Demonstrate commitment to the bicultural partnership in Aotearoa NZ

 

 

 

 

PENZ New Graduate Mentoring Programme

On the 3rd of July, I attended the PENZ New Graduate Mentoring Programme. This was a helpful half-day of learning. A number of new graduate teachers in their first or second year teachers me to discuss issues and get advice from experienced teachers.

The topics and overview of the day can be seen below;

Schedule for the 1 Day PD Session: Enhancing Graduate Teacher’s Tool Box

Time Frame Session
12.00-12.30  Arrive at Manurewa High.

Introductions & Whakawhanaungatanga.

1 12.30-1.30

(60 mins)

 Surviving your first 6 months and onto the rest of the year:

1.    how to use your planner

2.    behaviour management

3.    setting expectations

4.    teacher registration & portfolio

2 1.30-2.30

(60 mins)

 Marking & Moderating NCEA:

1.    how to mark internal assessments

2.    external & internal moderation

3.    creating/modifying standards

2.30-3.00  Afternoon Tea (supplied)
3 3.00-3.45

(45 mins)

 Culturally Responsive & Relational Pedagogy:

1.    What is it?

2.    Working with home: parent, teacher interviews, calling home, school counsellors etc

4 3.45-4.30pm

(45 mins)

 Using Feedback to enhance practice:

1.    using technology

2.    teacher rubrics

3.    student feedback forms

4.    video analysis

5 4.30-5pm

(30 mins)

 Creating support networks:

1.    What are our group’s needs?

2.    Where to from here?

The notes that I took from the workshop are shown below.

The key things that I will take away from this workshop is to model the behaviour that I want my students to demonstrate and to always have high expectations. It was also helpful being reminded that as a teacher we need to maintain professional distance from our students. This was put like this; “I’m not here to be your friend, I am your teacher. ” Moving forward  I will also work-on praising positive behaviour rather than focusing on the negatives.

3 july

 

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

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.