Sunday, January 21, 2018

Redefining Me as a Teacher

After a year at Wymondley Road School (and failing miserably in my goal of having an up-to-date blog), I am refocusing this year in more ways than one.

 Teaching Juniors
After being a definite Senior School teacher, and in all fairness a little scared of the younger students, I have a composite class of Year 2 and Year 3 students.  I know a little about these students (or at least the cohort they are coming from - our class lists are yet to be confirmed).  These are students who generally need oral language - a lot of oral language in order to progress in their learning.  I have spent the holidays, in between walking, reading, sleeping, swimming and sunbathing, trying to put a teaching/learning plan in action.  I know that I want to ensure that all my students, regardless of current abilities, are confident, capable learners - routines are key, time is essential and play is the crux.
I want to make sure that I start each and every day the same. Reading a picture book - to allow latecomers to make it to class without missing key learning, as well as developing a love of reading; Calendar maths - leads beautifully into a lot of number knowledge that my students need; weather predications - Auckland weather can change in a matter of minutes, but the point of this is to prove that the world continues even when we are wrong - mistakes are fine; number of the day - so much learning can happen from one simple instructional task.
I visited a friends yr1/2 class at the end of last year.  Her class is heavily play based.  The students spend the first 45 minutes of the school day playing.  Seeing how the key competencies were practiced in a natural setting was inspiring, and despite not having the same space available, I want to try to re-create a similar environment for my learners.  Oral language was being developed as the students were asking questions, using imaginative play to deepen their vocabulary as well as key competencies in play.

Leading Mathematics and Numeracy
I am a maths geek from waaaaaay back.  In fact, at one point I wanted to teach maths.  I was inspired by my high school maths teachers, Dr Rorke and Mr Livingstone - both incredibly passionate about maths and having two opposing ways of teaching maths.
I have been asked to lead maths in our school this year, and while this is exciting, it is a tad scary at the same time.  There is a big difference between being passionate about a subject and leading from the front.
I know that I have to sit and set some school wide goals, but my biggest goal, and always is, is that student see maths as something fun and enjoyable, rather than hard and excessively challenging.  I find that there can easily be a "I wasn't good at maths, and I turned out ok" mind frame towards maths, and in my mind, this is not acceptable.  We don't hear this about writing and reading, so why should it be deemed acceptable with maths.
As I get my head around this task, I'll definitely by talking and writing more.

Enjoying Teaching Again
I'm not going to lie, I found 2017 challenging mentally.  I had a hard class behavioural wise, in fact the hardest class I have taught in my 13 years in education.  As such there were days that I didn't enjoy being in the classroom, days that I wanted to stay in bed, days that I wanted to call it quits and go do something else.
However, having said that, seeing my class and the steps that had made throughout the year was worth all the stress, heartache and angst.  I'm going to be positive this year, and I think changing year levels might give me this different sense of purpose.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Finding My Why...

2017 is a new year with a lot of changes for me in my career.  I left my previous school at the end of 2016 after having been on staff for 8 years since foundation.  I have been asked why I left.  It's a hard question to give a concise answer to. I loved that school.  I loved the kids I taught.  I loved that we were given freedom to innovate and experiment with our practise. However there came a day when I realised that I needed to move on and experience new challenges, get a better work-life balance (is there even such a thing as a teacher?) and to go back to why I wanted to teach in the first place.

As things go, I had my first official Teacher's Only Day at my new school yesterday and this is the question we were asked - What is your Wy? (Wymondley Road....Wy...Why....get it!!). I sometimes feel I fell into teaching because it was meant to be and there are days I feel I did because I didn't know what else to do with my life.  I love kids...always have done....probably always will.  As a teenager I volunteered as a youth leader at my local YMCA every single school holidays and when I left NZ to go on my OE my first stop was summer camp in the USA.  However, it wasn't until I met teachers who were my age and seeing the passion and love for their chosen profession that I believed it was where I wanted to go in life.

Today, I define myself as a teacher.  I care about all the kids I've taught, even the ones that have driven my up the wall (especially the ones that have driven me up the wall).  I go to work every day to make a difference.  It might be to teach a way to solve fractions, open up a fantastical world of literature, to help a kid see their potential.  It might be to give a kid a hug, a sandwich, a high five.  I've often said that if a kid goes home with a smile on their face and back through our classroom door with a smile then I'm doing my job right. The learning will come.
So what is my why? To make a difference to a kid...What's your why?