Thursday, 1 December 2016

Self-Care and Pacing Ourselves

After a particularly stressful day today, tired after Crystel's prizegiving (pics and vids to come), sorting out last minute assessments by seniors, refocussing my social studies class and helping them focus in prep for their goal setting day next week, many many reports to write, kai in the staffroom, indepth creative writing sessions for junior English students with the Game of Awesome cards and the new game they made yesterday, discussions on next steps, discussions on goals.... we had a particularly good first meeting with some seriously knackered and hopeful people to start a Health and Wellbeing group at school.

Initially I wasn't going to go because I was just so tired. Workload made it feel impossible to find a few more minutes for something that would be actually beneficial. I dragged myself over to the meeting spot and sat down, reluctantly.

And then our DP gave us a slimmed down Term 1 Heights version of Dr Ian Vickers 'The Good New Habits' book. It all came rushing back. His korero at the NETs conference last year. The way in which we need to self-care more often. How we need to take time to look after ourselves and our well being.

After a day like today, after weeks, months of looking after others, I finally said no to a school activity tonight. It was above and beyond something I normally would have dropped everything to go to. But tonight - I just couldn't.

After the energising korero with the new Good Habits crew, I wish we'd started something like this a long time ago. Really looking forward to next year. Identifying solutions to make obstacles more manageable is definitely my A Game.

Still, after the meeting I walked ever slowly away from school, forgetting that an energising convo really only lifts the spirits, not the energy you actually have inside. So to home I went.


Feel better now but still gutted I chose not to attend the school performance. But for now, self-care.

If I'm in this teaching game for the long run, I need to pace myself. Got the message loud and clear last night from my amazing kaiako still at MColl. Pace and longevity, despite the wrinkles.

We've got this. Not long to go now.

Need to enjoy time with our students, not regret time spent not doing other things. 

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Sticker Charts - Visible Success

Last year I spent a RIDICULOUSLY long time colouring in blocks of rectangles to show student's credits.

This year... I was smarter.

I went to Uncle Bill's (seriously the most amazing $2 shop-esque in Rotorua) and found stacks of neon coloured round stickers. Grabbing four different colours, Orange for Not Achieved, Green for Achieved, Magenta for Merit and Yellow for Excellence, I headed back to plan out how this new sticker chart might look.

For future reference next year...

Each sticker is 2cm - diameter.
Name stickers were 7cm long.

With those measurements I created sticker chart sheets for all three of my senior classes.

A few things:

I started these in Term 2 - if I'd started earlier to not only track the student's credits, but to identify students lagging from the get go... it might have had a more positive effect overall.

The Y11 charts look amazing. We do six internal assessments with them. But our Y12 class only do four (five if you count oral text but hardly anyone ever takes me up on it...) and this year what with the two students in 12L not finished their writing portfolio, the massive majority on both the 12L and 12A students who didn't participate in the visual verbal assessment... there are a lot of orange stickers.

I wonder whether making the Y12's writing portfolio have a larger space to add two stickers - one for each piece of writing they did - and then an overall sticker to show their overall mark?


Last week I made some sticker charts for my juniors. They had been asking for a while for their own also.

Pics to come. More analysis to come too.

Kia Eke Panuku Obs

Have been thinking about my Kia Eke Panuku obs from this week.

At the crux of it... I'd probably call my teaching style, organised chaos.

Students arranged at random, per choice of students. We don't do seating plans. In fact, student led decision making on where they sit and why has become incredibly important.

The shared power in the room - can be seen too. Learning tends to be more co-constructed and we learn from each other.

At any given moment with certain classes there is self-directed learning occurring. 

What this looks like is different in different classes, with different students.

There is constant monitoring. Awhi, support and encouragement.

Wondering about my shadow coaching sessions and how KM modelled her lesson off of what I'd done in mine. Very cool. Loved her Numbered Heads strategy as well as how she had all the students e tu to refocus them :)

It was good to see that in both obs my relationship strengths came into play and that my giggly, humorous nature came out very obvious in the ob too.

I wonder how different my classroom is to someone who is much more traditional.

Two areas of focus for myself:
- Wananga - need to make the most of teachable moments and use that time to dig deeper, one on one.

- Develop more confidence with my Y9 social studies class. The revision stuff we're doing is mostly new. So we need to find a more concrete way to share this knowledge. Google Docs? Slides even? Not sure. That's my plan for this weekend. Figure it out.

I'd like to do more obs too because I need to improve my way of observation. I'd like to see more and dig deeper.

I really like the shadow coaching too. Different styles there - the side by side and the korero and discussing different points that came up.

I wonder how I might further improve and capitalise on the organised chaos and relationships in class.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Parent Teacher Interviews: Thankful parents

Last night I experienced another really rare moment. This time it was two parents of two of my students who explicitly thanked me for what I do for them and their students. It was so nice.

Nice because we don't often hear that. And the sincerity and seriousness of what they were saying made my heart sing.

One of those parents was the same one who said this last parent teacher interviews. She noted that her daughter should be more thankful, and apparently has said this to her in the past, because I let her daughter read an alternate text for her novel this year. The parent commented that she'd told her daughter that this wasn't normal practice and that her daughter should be more appreciative of what I do.

Last night we talked about how her daughter was playing a game on her phone yesterday. The one time I catch her daughter out doing something she's not meant to, out of hundreds of days where she has been absolutely brilliant and completely putting all her effort into her mahi. We laughed because that relationship, to share that funny moment, was there and had already been built.

What I would like is to have that kind of relationship with all of my student's parents. To have them know what I do, to have their support, to improve their learning and overall engagement in their student's learning.

Last night there were way less parents who came. Perhaps this is because of the two other house tutor group day sessions for goal setting and option choices we've held already this year since the last parent teacher interviews.

Regardless, it's always something a teacher likes to hear. That we are actually making a difference and that the difference is noted and appreciated. :)

Friday, 14 October 2016

Financial Literacy: Y9 Social Studies

Yesterday we started a new topic: Financial Literacy.

We discussed what financial literacy means and why it's important to be financially literate.

I shared my experiences with being financially illiterate as a high school student through to being a university student. When I was growing up I was taught about paying bills off. I never got taught to save my money. I learnt how to spend money... but never to save it. I was taught about how to stretch and juggle my money... but again... never how to save and definitely not how to invest it.

Through my experiences... flatting, terrible boyfriends, taking landlords to tenancy tribunal hearings and the issues around bank deals and 'free' overdrafts during O Week... I was able to paint a pretty clear picture that I had to learn the hard way. That I didn't want my students to learn the hard way.

So... we talked about flatting. What you needed to do when setting up a new place. Signing tenancy agreements, finding flatmates, paying bills, setting up joint bank accounts, finding furniture, organising power companies and internet to be set up... oh and figuring out whether to buy food as a flat or individually.

So... after that awesome lesson - even during it I felt that we had some real, purposeful, relevant learning. I lined them up like we usually do when we start a new topic at the end of the lesson and asked them what new thing they'd learnt that lesson.

Many of them were truly shocked with the experiences I had while at uni... and those were the ones I could tell my grandmothers about haha. But I think it sparked interest for many of them because they understand that it's important to be smarter with our money. Perhaps this generation is more savvy than mine with money - perhaps they've learnt from their parents mistakes and won't make stupid decisions like I did while navigating my way to becoming more financially literate.

Yesterday afternoon I made play money. They're super cool. Photos to come.

Now I just need to print off some examples of tenancy agreements ... because today we begin a mock flatting situation. I just need to make some income cards, expenses cards, dilemma cards and winning cards to really make this game work.

Hopefully... playing this game will give them an idea as to how to make their own financial literacy game.

Next things to do... print off tenancy agreements, rentals in Rotorua, budgets, and... figure out whether to let them figure out power, internet, etc companies or print these out too for them... insurance, kiwisaver too...

Friday, 9 September 2016

Film Booklets - Visual Text Analysis (The Lovely Bones, The Intouchables, The Perks of Being a Wallflower)

I feel rejuvenated. This term I've taught all new films (excepting my Y11 film study of 'V for Vendetta'..) and they've been chosen through a joint process between myself and my students. I gave each class a few options and they decided on the one they'd want to watch based on my description and the trailers we'd watched. 

This term I've used:
  • 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' directed by Stephen Chbosky
  • 'The Intouchables' directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano
  • 'The Lovely Bones' directed by Peter Jackson
I've added the booklets that I created for these films and student analysis below. Each booklet has different film techniques and pictures taken from the film. Worksheets have been made by me and there are specific ones that will be constantly reworked and developed based on my student's needs. I've got Google Slides for each film as well that we've been working on as a class. I've added these as links in the titles of the films which are above the embedded booklet. Each booklet and slide deck has the creative commons licensing on - feel free to use and share alike if the worksheets I've made are of any use to you or your students :) Let me know what you think! 

Byte Sized PLD - Practical Sessions at WHHS

Next step in the eLearning PLD at Heights is creating practical hands on sessions.

After the Byte Sized PLD emails I've been sending out we were discussing how we needed to move towards more practical sessions as well as the emails.

Donella came up with the awesome idea of Byte Sized Practical and in the last week we've taken this idea and run with it. So... here's where we are now.

Sessions run by staff - for staff. Empowering on it's own and hopefully SUPER successful.

My hope is that we'll be having more people come along to these sessions in the staffroom and taking advantage of our colleagues sharing their practice. What would be even cooler is more teachers feeling confident to share their learning with staff in future sessions next term.

We don't expect staff members to sign up to these sessions - but hope that they'll pop in. Get what they need and carry on with their day.

Having these sessions in the staffroom will make it more obvious, informal and relaxed. Hopefully staff will feel more comfortable in this setting.

Having this bigger space will also mean we can have small break out spaces when needed for more in-depth discussions or collaborative group projects.

Perhaps soon we will have student sessions being run - for students by students :)