Thursday, 1 February 2018

New year, new role, new challenges!

After a relaxing summer holiday I am ready to hit the ground running as a third year teacher.  Heading into the year, I feel a lot more confident and relaxed. I have a much better idea of what it takes to be an effective teacher, and how to a better work/life balance.  So after successfully tackling my first two years as a BT while completing my honours, I feel I am ready for some more challenges!

A change in year levels

I have made the move to teaching year 7 and 8s - a slight change from my year 6 and 7s last year. This will bring a new challenge, as we all know that the hormones will be well and truly kicking in... bringing all sorts of lovely things into the classroom! I found that the year 6 and 7 combo worked really well last year. In my opinion, it helped make the year 6s step up and mature, while still keeping the year 7s grounded. Last year there was a noticeable difference in the attitudes and behaviour between the year 6s in room 6, compared to the other year 6s. I treated them like seniors and spoke about them being seniors - despite being year 6. As a result, they really did step up! I loved teaching year 6 and 7s last year but am excited to teach year 7  and 8s. A challenge will be making sure that I am helping the year 8s to grow into being positive role models and proud leaders of the school. The year 8s have a very strong influence on the other students in school, so it is important that the year 8s make positive and responsible choices.

I'm going OnAir!

I also have picked up a new role, taking part in Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir.  I will be recording and sharing a range of lessons which embody Manaiakalani's  'Learn, Create, Share' Pedagogy.  This will offer an authentic window into what happens in my classroom and how I use LCS to engage and extend my learners.  This is something that I am both nervous and excited about. My time in the Manaiakalani Digital Teacher Academy (MDTA) has really helped me grow and become at ease in a digital 1:1 environment.  I have moved from solely focussing on making learning fun and engaging with the use of digital tools, to how I can extend and challenge my students thinking, and really make use of the affordances provided by digital tools.  Being a part of Class OnAir will help me to ensure I am always engaging, exciting and stretching my learners.

My goals

I have a four goals that I have set for myself which I think will help improve my teaching practice.

1. Stick to timeframes

So often I would want to keep teaching a group or subject, even if my allocated time was up.  Sometimes the class would be so engrossed in what they were doing, that I would let the lesson run for longer.  While I thought this was a good thing at the time, some other subjects ended up getting  less attention. This year I would like to try and keep to the timeframes so I see all groups for the same amount of time and also give enough time to every learning area.

2.  Continue to integrate reading and writing

Last year the focus for my inquiry and dissertation was to discover whether integrated instruction led to an improvement in students understanding of audience, and quality of writing.  The integrated instruction led to a significant improvement in students quality of writing and students also loved the integrated activities.  I intend to keep integrating the two practises this year and continue to extend student's quality of writing. Additionally, I would like to see if integrated instruction leads to any improvement in students reading ability. Further, integrated activities will mean I am killing two birds with one stone, which will help me with goal one!

3.  Use 'wait time'

This sounds so simple, but pausing for a second of two is not using 'wait time'.  This topic came up while I was at a Teachers Matter conference held by Karen Boyes.  After asking a question, Karen suggests waiting 7-10 seconds before speaking.  This sounds terribly long and has made me realise that I definitely do not 'wait' long enough!  Students need enough time to stop and think before they can answer a problem, and not enough time can lead to student's feeling anxious and saying 'I don't know'. However, with the use of digital tools such as Nearpod, Mentimeter and Padlet (check out my tags to find examples of how I use these tools), I find I have the opposite problem.  Students start hurriedly writing responses because they like seeing their ideas on the screen, and the anonymity helps them to feel safe.  I think using 'wait time' will help increase the quality and depth of student ideas.

4. Encourage more creativity

Because I am a part of Manaiakalani, I am confident with using digital technologies to enhance the learning process within the Learn, Create, Share pedagogy.  I have also worked hard to empower learners to share their learning on their blog (read here).  This year, I would like to encourage more creativity.  I have spoken before about learners at Glen Innes being unfamiliar with the creation of DLOs (Digital Learning Objects). Most students are only familiar with using Google Presentations, Google Drawings, and some storyboard creators. This year, I don't want to use this as an excuse for not encouraging creativity. During the first term I will ease students into the idea of creating DLOs, but by term two I would like to encourage learners to become more creative when sharing what they have learnt.

I am looking forward to tackling the new year and continuing to become the best teacher I can be!


  1. You are such a capable teacher CD and one who lights up the room when she walks in rather than some who do so when they walk out. Stay true to yourself, be accountable to someone with similar but experienced teaching pedagogical beliefs and don't forget to have fun after 3pm!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Heather! And fantastic words of advice, I will be sure to follow them :)


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