Tuesday, 10 May 2016

MindLab: Applied Practice in Context - Reintroduction and Welcome (Activity 1)

The next few weeks I'll be making a VERY concerted effort to keep up with the learning as finally we're being asked to blog about our experiences. I was doing well in the first few weeks of Mind Lab and then got bogged down with everything else I needed to do. So now that I'm finally at the edge of this last paper with the MindLab I can get back into it... so here goes.

For those of you new to blogging and new to my blog - nau mai haere mai! We would LOVE for you all to keep blogging about your learning as teachers and share your perspectives over time. A really cool place to share your learning after you've created a post is on Twitter and edblognz.blogspot.co.nz

To define my practice:

What is my practice?

A seemingly simple question... however if I were to truly answer this I would say my entire teaching practice is focussed around building student relationships in order to make significant changes to developing improved student achievement. Also, a main focus continues to be the way in which I teach: relaxed, supportive, encouraging and overwhelmingly full of laughter and humour.

Developing more of a focus around what it means to be culturally responsive and ensuring that all students in my class feel safe, comfortable, engaged and interested in the learning and the environment.

Motivating myself to be more efficient with paperwork, more organised with student resources - both paper and digital, more targeted with student academic tracking and ensuring that I'm keeping a consistent record of these.

What is my professional context?

I am an English and Social Sciences teacher at a local Rotorua High School.

Who are my Community of Practice?

Essentially that is the edblognz, edchatnz, EngChatNZ whanau and the many many members within my PLN that I follow on Twitter or discuss issues with online in differing modes (English List Serve, emails, community groups etc). Also, my CoP includes those kaiako in my departments who support me to be the best teacher I can be. Along with this are the Establishing Teachers Committee and ICT Advisory Group within the PPTA that help guide me forward to where I'd like to be in a few more years time. Added to this list now include the fantastic members of the November Intake of the Mind Lab :)

What is the purpose and function of my practice? 
The purpose of my practice is to be the best teacher I can be to my students. In order to do this, I have to function well within the modes of more traditional systems which often restrict me from enabling myself to be the teacher I want to be, for the benefits of my students.

In what ways do I contribute to the community of my practice?
I contribute daily to my community practice through social media, communication (email and face to face), in class and outside it. I share and portray good practice. I learn from others about what best practice looks like. I learn from and teach other colleagues about the importance of finding relevant professional development.

What are the core values that underpin my profession?
The core values that underpin my profession are:
* Loyalty
*Trust
*Pride
* Respect
*Mana
* Honour
* Wisdom
* Manaakitanga
* Accountability
* Honesty
* Awhi
* Reliability
* Good Communication

In regards to my own practice, I think that I exhibit these values well in my classroom with students, with my colleagues and within the community. I'm considerably loyal to my students, my principal and my colleagues and particularly our school. Our school holds a lot of mana in the community and I'm very proud of being a teacher here at Heights. Whenever I'm out in the community there is always an ex-student, family member or current member of the Heights whanau that has a conversation with me about Heights - it's changed reputation from previous years and how it's now known as 'The School of Choice' with a rapidly growing roll.

I'm an incredibly trusting person - I will usually believe a student from the get go - causing some issues as I'm also very gullible haha - but will try to find positive solutions for students that allow them to feel safe, respected and cared for in my classroom. I try to be as wise as possible but acknowledge that I'm not the only person in the room with the information and we try to share our knowledge as much as possible in class. I don't ever want to be the sage on the stage or do chalk and talk. I want to be the teacher that students can turn to for advice, get help with assessments, trust in and will be honest with. In order to do that I need to create a classroom environment where students feel safe to do that - a space where power is shared in the classroom is the ultimate way to do this.

Lastly, the main value is good communication. These last six months or so I've noticed more stuttering and an inability to get my words out clearly. I think them clearly but for some reason just can't get them out clearly. I don't know why. But I will find out. Though I suppose the good thing about this is that I'm able to reword things several times which helps students understand the message in multiple differing ways. Also - being able to be aware of this, knowing that I have no control over it - helps me control it - if that makes sense as I have a bit of power over the issue rather than becoming more agitated because I can't get my words out as clearly as I need to. I've always said that my written language is better than my oral language. Heoi ano....

I was thinking about some of the 21st century values that we need in the profession:

21st Century Values:
* Adaptive Confidence
*Clear and Responsive Communication
* Innovative Learning Experiences
* Real World Learning Opportunities

What is my specialist area of practice?
Technically - I have my Bachelor of Arts (dissertation to finish for my Hons) with a double major in History and English. I have my PostGrad Diploma in Secondary Teaching (with the ability to teach English (Y7-13) and Social Studies (Y7-10) and History (11-13). I also have my Te Ara Reo Maori Level 5 Diploma in Te Reo Maori.

Currently - I teach English (Y10, 11 and two Y12 classes) and Social Studies (Y10).

Though I suppose my specialist area of practice centres around the needs of my students and I will try and bring in as many different areas to engage them if need be. Was just thinking about the other day when we were talking about doing a Coverflip in English and I brought up that another student was thinking about doing 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' and how it would be cool to do a series of Coverflips for different audiences. The group of students who were getting help with this particular assessment asked me a few questions which snowballed into a mini history lesson around WW2 and the Nazi use and abuse of the rights of the Jewish people.

How does my specialist area of practice relate to the broader professional context?
My specialist areas of practice relate to the broader professional context through the ongoing development and evolution that is English and Social Sciences. There are constantly new forms of media and learning and historical artefacts being created and found on a daily basis.

The broader professional context therefore, is connected with my specialist areas of practice as teaching continues to change and develop. We are ever changing, evolving as teachers, professionals and we need to ensure that we are keeping up with the ever changing world around us. We can do this by being connected, feeling the pulse of the education world and changing along with it, rather than staying stagnant and refusing to change or improve professional practice.

What are the key theories that underpin my practice?
Key theories that underpin my practice:
*Cultural responsive and relational pedagogy
* Growth mindset and the impact of self-belief and motivation on our lives
* Reflective practice
* Teaching as Inquiry

Class Notes

Want to know more about what I read?

Further Reading:
Finlayson, A.(2015). Reflective practice: has it really changed over time?. Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 16(6), 717-730.