Saturday, 18 April 2015

Modern Learning Mindset /Practices

I've just read this amazing post by Steph on Modern Learning Environments or Mindsets and I seriously think that it was just the little oomph I needed to not only restart my blogging engine... but also to start the next term.

A lot of the time I stress out over what I don't have access to... at present the most important is the curtain rail and special metal hooks for the curtains I sourced from the very generous people at the Curtain Bank, functioning projector with a bracket for the roof, access to the COWs on a more frequent basis - or better yet a BYOD policy so my students can learn better....

And of course my classroom. It still frustrates me that this year I'm in the wops but I've made do. I've attempted to make the class have more positive vibes, more light and a relaxed and focussed learning atmosphere. My new red curtains that I put up last term look brilliant against the purple painted walls and the yellow ribbons to tie them up - really set the colours off. I've covered the holes in the back wall with one of the big bookshelves my HOD bought for our class which I'm using to store the student's paper resources and work. The other bookshelf looks fantastic with the class library books that I've collected over the years as well as student's poetry collections.

There is a filing cabinet by my desk filled with resources for students to use throughout the day and for projects.

An entire mini bookshelf for dictionaries too.

Probably the best features of the class are the back wall's new blackboard we painted on with permission from our caretaker which now has a range of different information (apps, class site link, leaderboard etc) in different coloured chalk - this was used mostly last term by students who got the novelty use of it out of the way with their names and drawings; the whiteboard which covers my entire front wall of the classroom which still needs to be set up how I want...; the mural on one side of the wall depicting Maui's struggle with the sun; the trapezoidal tables that can be moved around to create different collaborative groups and also the back section behind our class which was great last term for reading, individualised programmes and for students to utilise to practice their poetry.

I've bought a few beanbags over the last couple years and have a few more covers at home that just need filling with beans.

At the end of the day though - like Steph said in her post - it would be great to have access to the Modern Learning Environments that some of my favourite kaiako mates have been blessed with. Some teachers find MLE difficult as well. I'm always interested in hearing other people's experiences and sometimes I think if they're having a difficult time, then perhaps they're just not doing it 'right'.

But what is the 'right' way?

Collaborative? For sure. Individualised learning programmes? Definitely. Small groups and big group learning? Of course.

But really - is the furniture the be all and end all of this? I don't think so. It's taken me a while to get to this perspective. If you've been reading my blog for a while now you'll know I ruminate for ages before I come to a decision or acceptance of a fact about something.

So - I agree with Steph. It is a mindset. The furniture certainly helps to enable this mindset - but ultimately if you are still using traditional pedagogy and haven't made the shift needed - then the beautiful MLE furniture is redundant.

Yes - I will continue to be in awe from afar of the kaiako and students who have MLE - but am becoming more aware of how my own pedagogy mirrors a MLM - Steph's new acronym - Modern Learning Mindset.

So I shall continue my haerenga... and think about how I'm teaching and whether that aligns with my own goals and how I want to teach and how my students would benefit with their learning.

The hardest part of the journey thus far  has probably been the resistance by some students as they aren't used to change. They've been taught a certain way and it's most obvious when the classroom environment changes, desks are moved around and they don't have 'their place' to sit.

Slowly some have gotten used to changing the setup every so often. At first I was changing it nearly every lesson to find a more suitable setup for the class and the projects done and the differing students. Teaching five classes, three senior, two junior (four English, 1 Social Studies) - the makeup has been difficult to find an easily manipulative setup as well as one that is easy to transform back to default setting.

What's been interesting is my personal attempt at collaboration. What I think I need to do is find a group of people I want to collaborate with and go from there. Instead of getting frustrated at things I just cannot change - I need to find ways in which to work and still stay positive.

Also - need to remember that because of how students have been previously taught - it takes a while to break through and I must be patient.

Even without the projector - I can still teach my way.... it just takes a bit more preparation with having to get class sets printed.

The Google site will help with this eventually... but I need to be patient - something I just am not good with... except with my students!

Structures and processes need to be in place for me to be in a positive mindset - mostly things that I have no control over changing in my school despite my efforts at trying.

So - I just need to continue as one of my mentors said - in my own bubble and focus on my students. Because I just can't change what I actually cannot change.

Regardless - this MLM - is definitely something I can get on board with and something which I will be adopting a growth mindset towards as well. Need to focus on the positives and what I can change in my own classroom. :)