Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Where to start?

So this is my first time beginning the year in a classroom and to be honest I don't know where to start.

And I am not the only one.  Right now their are lots of beginning teachers (BT's) running around like headless chickens fretting about what they need to be doing right now.  The old hats are telling us to "just wait" but I know that I am going to need lots of time to think and plan about what to do.

I have been collating lots of ideas and resources for the past two years and have spent the last few days revisiting them.  I am keen to do lots of things but I also am hesitant as I need to wait and see where my school is at.

I always thought that when I finally got my own classroom we would have a class blog, be doing lots of blended e-learning, have a really integrated curriculum and be a little bit free range in terms of where our learning would take us.  I know get the feeling that this isn't always as easy to implement as one would hope.

My new school doesn't have blogs yet, or student emails and I see the red tape forming in front of me.

So I am using this planning time to revisit all my ideas and see if I can link some of them.  I will also be ready to present options to my school team and sound like I know what I am talking about. My Evernote folders are neatly organised!

I am also identifying the "regular" parts of the curriculum that I want to be more confident in.  I have asked for The Writing Book out of our Literacy budget and have been rewarded.  I feel the closest thing to attending a Sheena Cameron Workshop is to at least have one of her books on hand.  I have also investigated and purchased a pile of read alouds for the year and thought of activities to help us all get to know each other.

I'm calling on my biggest resource - my Professional Learning Network, the people I know in real life and the Twitterati (teachers on twitter) to help me, guide me and mainly just inspire me while I wait for it all to begin.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A little about me (a blogging meme)

I have been tagged by the lovely @Juliet_Revell to complete this blogging meme.  Hopefully you get to know a little about me.

The blogging task:

Acknowledge the nominating blogger. Share 11 random facts about yourself. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you. List 11 bloggers. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated.  Don't nominate a blogger who has nominated you. 11 random facts about me:

  1.  I love op-shopping.  There is something about being able to find treasures among the "chaff" that really excites me.
  2.  I am really good at getting babies to sleep.  Just call me the baby whisperer.
  3. My favorite book genre to read is Young Adult Fiction.
  4. For some reason I am not very good at hugging.  Don't get me wrong, I'd like to be but I think I think about it too much when I'm doing it.
  5. I once won a prize in an A&P show with a cabbage I grew in my garden.  I entered as a bit of a joke and won!
  6. I first presented at a conference when I was 22.  I put on lipstick to look older as I think I was the youngest person there.
  7. When I am really upset or stressed I read a book and it instantly calms me down.
  8. I am a craft beer snob.  I go to special tastings and events and pretend to know what I am talking about.
  9. I was really terrible at maths until I became a teacher.  It is now my favorite subject to teach.
  10. I think a lot. Which drives me nuts sometimes.  It is really hard to turn off my brain.
  11. I have lots of different groups of friends and I tend not to mix them.

Answers to the Questions

1. What movie provided you with a new perspective?
A tough one to start on!  I am not really a movie person. I enjoy them but I am at least a year behind on new releases and about 10 years behind on classics which gives me a limited pool to choose from.  I am actually going to choose a movie that had a profound effect on me when I was 14yrs old.  In Social Studies we were shown the movie "Escape from Sobibor".  It's about concentration camps, pain, suffering and inequality.  It is also a movie about the human spirit.  The whole class cried.  I have never forgotten the themes of that movie.

2. What inspires you?

Other people's stories.  Beautiful interactions between people.  Children. The landscape of New Zealand.  Looking at the stars.

3. What was the toughest challenge you faced in 2013? Did you overcome it? What helped you?

Ah yeah see the previous post!  Working and studying full-time is no easy feat!  I am very thankful to lots of people that helped me along the way.

4. Name one of your proudest moments.

Completing my first degree.  First person in my extended family to go to University.  I know I made my parents really proud.

5. Is there a phrase that you currently use too often?

I'm one of those annoying people who pick up on a new phrase or idea and then seem to weave it into all areas of my life.  Currently "Ain't nobody got time for that".

6. Have you ever cried to get something you wanted?

I'd be lying if I said that I hadn't. Hehe.

7. What do you find hardest to teach your students?

To listen.  I think in this very visual, digital age, children do not get the opportunities to just listen.  Everything comes with a picture now.  Listening and building your own picture in your mind is actually an amazing thing.

8. What dish do you cook really well?

I make mince like my Mum makes.  She makes good mince! 

9. What is the most interesting place that you have travelled to? What made it so?
When I went to Samoa I didn't quite expect to find quite an untouched country.  It was so beautiful yet so fragile.  The people I met were amazing.  We basically "winged it" when we were there which meant that our adventures were quite unique.  The local chief even tried to marry me to one of his sons!  I took that trip with my Mum and it's a memory I will never forget.
Photo credit AndyMangold

 10. Who makes you smile when you think of them? Why?
When I think of small people I know I always smile.  Children are so amazing.  They have the most wonderful insight and even when they can't talk they interact with the world in unbelievable ways.

11. Who was the last person that made you laugh? Why?
I have a friend who was recently diagnosed with MS.  She's always been really funny but she uses her natural humor to help her deal with stuff.  Therefore I like to laugh with her.  We constantly send each other funny messages and memes.

11 Bloggers (tbc)

@nlouwrens, @nzwaikato, @natashaLowNZ, @courtneyCooperC, @stevevoisey,

Questions for the bloggers:

  1. Who was your first teacher and what did you think of them?
  2. When you want to escape everyone where do you go?
  3. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
  4. What is your number one tried and tested "Grandma's remedy" for illness.
  5. If you could name only 1 education book that a beginning teacher should buy what would it be?
  6. When the going gets tough who or what is your rock?
  7. If you could be a rock/pop star who would you be?
  8. Touch type or finger poke?
  9. What is one thing that you will do this year to make the world a better place?
  10. Why did you first join twitter?
  11. What is one thing you are going to read lots about this year?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Year, New Job, New Blog

As I reflect back on what I accomplished last year I am still a little in disbelief.

I decided to work full time as a Resource Teacher of Vision and complete a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Primary) online.  Thankfully I was able to use my experience as an early childhood teacher and as an ORS teacher to help me with my assignments.  It wasn't all new, but it was engaging and it made me want my own classroom (which I did in Term 4 - see below).

One of reason's why I did so well in an online capacity was because I already have a good comprehension of what it takes to be an "online" learner.  I have gathered lots of information via my PLN (professional learning network) about e-learning and blended e-learning.  I was also already engaged in the world of a teacher.

In January 2013 I set up a Facebook group with another student for the other 15 or so people in my original tutor group.  None of us had met before.  That group of strangers became my best friends.  They were my rock they were there for me in the late hours of the night when I needed them (I did most of my work in the evening and luckily 2 students were in other time zones hours behind!).  I also ended up being a mentor for my group.  The one with "connections" to the profession, who was already practicing what we were learning.

From this I set up my "Northern Suburbs" study group with 2 of the guys in my tutor group and our first exam study session involved craft beer and corn chips.  We have celebrated both sets of exams with craft beer and pizza at Goldings Free Dive and I know we will be friends for life.

On our residency we all came into the Karori campus and saw each other for the first time.  We became instant friends.  We were the only tutor group to go out for dinner together.  We were in it together right from the start.

So it turns out that the person I study best with lives in Nelson.  Skype is one of the most amazing tools.  So are Google docs.  So much collaboration, so much moaning, so many wines!  I even took a study trip to Nelson for a change of scenery.  Again a life-long friend was made.

So on reflection, my success comes down to the people I surrounded myself with.  That people are a valuable resource.  That networking is a fantastic skill to have.

And yes I did get my own classroom.  In term 4 last year I started teaching a Year 5/6 class.  It was hard slog picking up something new and still studying.  I also went on camp for a week and returned that weekend to do a 5000 word portfolio to hand in on the Monday! I tell you! I am nuts!

So this year is a little bit special for me.  I only have to focus on one thing - Teaching.  Something I love to do and something that I love to share with others.