Thursday, 16 July 2015

Holidays - Time for Reflection

You may or may not have noticed that I've been rather quiet on the blogging front.

Yes I've been a little overwhelming on social media - mainly because I tend to find ways to fill my time during the first few days of the holidays....

And also because there have been so many amazing conferences and meetups that I just seriously wish I had been able to be at.

These holidays I didn't go to the NZATE conference - down in Wellington and I had serious FOMO and was searching for the tweets... which were just not happening that much. Two of my favourite twits were tweeting and I got a bit of a taste but that left more of a FOMO taste in my mouth than anything else - Glen Colquhoun sang his poems to them!!! Gah. Next time.

I need to figure out a way to not only build up #EngChatNZ again, but involve the List Serve as much as possible. For those that use it and in some cases overwhelm it - they've got a good thing going. However I know - for the very sake that I felt the same way - that there are English teachers out there who are in need of support and advice, direction and collaboration that there normal PLN's just aren't giving them. So it's those teachers I will keep aiming for - and if I tend to gather in others as we go - even better.

The other thing I've been thinking about is the need to not only have #EngChatNZ running cross-sector it also needs to involve EVERY teacher at some point too. Because every teacher teaches literacy.

I just had an icky feeling of being a Native Schools Act enforcer...

From the Māori Teacher's Conference I learnt a lot. I'll write a post about that soon also. The main discussion we kept having, that we've been having, that we're still having is over the need for te reo Māori to be a compulsory subject for all students. This is in no way going to negatively impact our kids in NZ. It will add value to their own lives as active participants in NZ. Who understand. Who feel intuned with the way of life here - rather than feel like outsiders. I've been on both sides myself - included and excluded - I know the reality.

What is sad though is that there is still so much rampant racism in our country that we don't seem to see it as racism? Police 10/7, the constant way we describe ourselves, voice our opinions, portray ourselves online and in public, the climbing statistics of violence.

Just for a moment - Henare O'Keefe is an absolute star in our world. He and Marama Fox discussed the need to be proud of ourselves - Henare saying in spite of our backgrounds and how we too can break the cycle - and Marama talking about the way in which we can stand up for ourselves and our beliefs. Both of these keynotes brought back to me the feelings I'd had, have had, still have about the need to be proud of who we are. Like when I discussed Tapu during the Tapu Series - 1, 2, 3 and 4.

I need to rethink how I'm teaching and going about my day to day life as a teacher. I refuse to be a grumpy old lady and I don't want to start now. I do need to stop hiding my frustrations at school and be more open rather than allowing my frustrations come out at home over the littlest things. That is not a good anger management strategy - no matter what I tell myself.

I want to continue planning my lessons so that they're relevant and worthy of my student's time and energy. Make them powerful and insightful and useful.

I want the skills my students to learn to be clear and concise. So that they know they are learning them. In order to do this I need to go back to using the Key Competencies like when I started teaching and how I had TRUMP on the board vertically. I'd use these as lesson intentions. At a point I also used SOLO as LIs and that worked too but more difficult because I was doing it for each level... rather than knowing that my students could figure things out on their own as they went.

I need to trust in my students. Push them further. Instill my high expectations again and again until they not only exceed them but go well beyond them. I need to awhi all my students - not just certain ones I tend to take under my wings. Partly because even the ones who are working well still need focussed attention and the ones who consistently achieve to my and their satisfaction deserve one on one time too. I need to be transparent and explain where we're going and what we're doing.

I want to be all things and more. I want to do all these amazing tech things in class and instead of talk about them I want to practise and improve my teaching and their learning through it.

Like my HOD said on the last day of term - I need to have blinders. Focus on my students. And while she's right... I see these added things as necessary for my students and for those to come in the future. She said also that I need to be patient. I don't know if I can be as patient as she's been with PB4L at our school. The mindsets are the hardest thing to change. But that's where I need to start.

I'm all about immersive culture - that you need to be fully in to develop coping strategies, fluency and understanding.

I'm fully in. But sometimes I feel the waves crashing down on me when things aren't going the way that I'd hoped. And that little bit of hope I'd been saving up is pushed out of me.

This is what is frustrating. Because every little setback costs me weeks and weeks of trying to get back up so that I'm floating once more.

That's why these holidays came at the right time. Because if I didn't get out then I would have been under much too long.

While at Māori Teacher's Conference I was my happy self again... buzzing around the room, trying to find fellow like minded people to discuss the possibilities and excitement of things in the world and what we can do to continue to change and enhance it.

I can be that happy, buzzy person all the time. I just need to remember consistency - and more importantly - to put my buzzy happy energies into those who actually appreciate it. Or at least those who would like to have more of it instead of their grumpy tired teacher.

Another thing - I need to reinforce those expectations and if someone isn't going with them - then I need to follow through. There will be consequences.

I've heard that it's about this time that a lot of young teachers give up. It's the time that they lose the ability to adapt and to make sure that they are in a position to continue being themselves in the classroom. They lose the passion and the drive. I don't ever want to lose that. But I feel like if I keep getting pushed under by those waves then not only will I be drowning - I'll lose my passion too.

During these holidays I've helped my bestie @Steven_de_Bruin with his blog. He's begun writing posts and is using it as his portfolio too. Please click here and have a look because he's seriously a fabulous teacher and works incredibly hard.

I've also read A LOT. Rober J Crane - absolutely fantastic. I'm on the second to last novel in the series of 10 having read from book 4 since the beginning of the holidays... and while I really want to finish it - I feel the pinch of the marking, my presentation tomorrow at Connect and my need to start planning for next term.

I really hope my car is finished today so that I can leave and get out of the house. It's been good bonding time with Mia but really - I feel completely shut in. I suppose I could take her for a walk but it's only just now occurred to me.

Looking forward to Rotaracts pancake breakfast this Sunday too. All proceeds go to the Rotorua Lakes Coastguard :)

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