Sunday, June 19, 2011

My school year ... 2010-11

The hectic nature of teacher life can be a hindrance to reflection. This task is done, what's next on the list? Planning. Assessment. Meeting. Report writing. Paper shuffling ...

I am always asking my students to reflect; indeed, it is an essential component of PYP pedagogy and overall good practice. In the past I know that I did it incorrectly by giving them the reflection "criteria" and a (very short) time frame in which to have it completed. I know now that reflections require time, that it is a process that is never fully complete. So, I will begin a reflection of my school year that will probably never end up complete, but instead will initiate a process for setting my professional goals for the upcoming school year; process trumping product being one of the key ideas I took away from the ADE Institute. I will keep coming back to this throughout the summer break as my thoughts develop. 

The New
  • Twitter. Initially I was suspicious of joining Twitter as I thought it was simply another version of wall posts on Facebook. What are you eating at whatever restaurant? Please tell me! Rather, Twitter has turned out to be a very effective Personal Learning Network that allows me to communicate with educators throughout the world, sharing ideas and resources, asking questions and challenging preconceptions. 
  • Google Docs. The immediacy of G-docs is amazing. The collaboration between students as well as  teachers holds so much potential. I started playing with G-docs as a teaching tool this year and aim to continue to do so in 2011-12.
Requiring Attention
  • Student Blogging. My colleague @hkexplorer has been a driving force in our school with regard to student blogging. Both her work and that of Kim Cofino has been inspirational; over the school year I have seen much more clearly the educational potential of student blogging. I aim to be much more tuned in next year in this area of my teaching. 
  • Finish what you start! I love picking up new teaching ideas and trying to implement them. I am never totally satisfied with the status quo with regard to my teaching. Sometimes I do this without fully considering the length or complexity of these "new initiatives." This can lead to a feeling of failure, that I wasn't successful in trying the "new." However, upon reflection, I am always looking for teaching methods and ideas that can improve the learning that happens in my room; so, I will not stop trying to be innovative but I will be more careful in how I carry out the "new"in my teaching. Final thought on this: if something doesn't work, I am sure to discuss this with my students. They can learn a great deal from seeing their teacher moving outside his comfort zone, to try new things ... and, if things don't go as planned, they can be a part of the discussion as to why. This is invaluable for our students and it is honest. They need to know (and see) that perfection doesn't exist and that it is dishonest to pretend that it does.
  • There is a lot more to add to this list ... definitely ongoing!

The Simply Awesome
  • ADE. Such a validation of how we are transforming teaching and learning to represent 21st century pedagogies. These are exciting times to be a teacher. 
  • Collaboration. I am one in a teaching team of 5 plus a classroom assistant. We have worked very well together - sharing resources, successes and failures. Our planning is conducted together and we're almost always on the same page as far as what is happening in our classrooms in a given week. We have our own styles and personalities that affect the actual teaching and learning in our rooms, and we have built on each other's differences to create a team dynamic that works. This year has been fantastic because of that and it is something I hope I can contribute towards and work to continue next school year as we say goodbye to two of our colleagues. 
  • Classroom culture. My students trusted each other. They could offer feedback to each other that was constructive and mature. They knew how to interact. They knew how to share. Of course I was lucky with the dynamic that these students created just being who they are ... next year I hope I can find ways to replicate the amount of trust and sincerity that characterized this cohort. 

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