Have I completed everything I set out to achieve?

With this as my first experience to plan a whole term and set out what I wanted my students to achieve I was challenged every week to sit down and decided, are we going in the right direction?

I was advised to over plan as there is nothing worse than not being prepared but in saying this I was so excited about the learning experiences I had planned I wanted my students to experience them all. So in my final weeks I had to prioritise and I did so by asking myself the following questions, what had the students started that I wanted them to complete?, what experiences had I planned that I was eager to still implement? and from what I had learnt about my students and the classroom would I implement to ensure I could get a final indication of their learning? I had to ask myself this and go through this process as I was not going to be in the classroom next term and wanted my hand over to be clear and smooth without leaving any loose ends for my mentor teacher to tie up for me.

Once I prioritised I had a conversation with the students and we discussed if the learning experiences I had deemed important were what they also deemed important and would allow them to successfully achieve the outcomes we had set out. Throughout my practicum I learnt there was not a more valuable resource than your students, they can show and tell you their learning and help you understand where to go next and what to revisit to ensure everyone is achieving.

So when planning you must reflect and for all teachers this should be a natural process but when doing this think about the students and what will keep them engaged, allow them to achieve your intended outcomes and where the learning will take them next. Your planning will guide their learning but remember to check in and make sure they are learning.

It is your job as a teacher to have a path for the week, term, semester and year and to guide your students along this path.

Busy learning…

It has been a busy last few weeks working through content and exploring some new learning, teaching and assessment strategies. I have experienced many challenges but ensured I reflected in an appropriate manner enabling me to develop my skills.

My latest challenge has been writing a criteria, CV and cover letter for job applications.

Four years of university, four practicums and an abundance of experiences but this was the hardest piece of writing I have had to complete. What did it all mean? How was I meant to write it? What examples should I include? Luckily my mentor teacher, a recent graduate and a fellow upper school teacher were there to help me and guide me through the process.  Although I have already put my name into the Graduate Pool with no limitation on where I am willing to go there are many schools that now have Independent School status which enables them to create a pool of applicants to which they can choose their staff. These are the schools I am currently considering and applying for in hope to have the opportunity to experience an interview and be in a pool with the possibility of appointment.

It was a challenging process however I feel confident my application reflects my teaching, planning and personality with a clear indication to the panels that I am ready to start my teaching career and take on new challenges whilst developing my skills, knowledge and resources.

Week 5 & 6: Being flexible and learning to work with interruptions…

I wrote this post and decided to leave it for a week or two before publishing as it was a fortnight that required a lot of reflection and I didn’t want to share a post that couldn’t help others work through what I had experienced.

I chose to write week 5 and 6 together as they posed the same challenges and saw me try a range of different strategies.

I will set the scene…

Four weeks had flown by and I had learnt so many new things but little did I know that the next two weeks would be the most challenging. Our class would be involved in Swimming Lessons for the next 2 weeks, Winter Carnival, High School Guest Speakers, Golf, Dancing and Footy Colours Day. Along with this I had students preparing to go away on holiday and students returning from holidays. It was to be an unsettled 2 weeks ahead and I had no idea what to expect.

Although I knew I could take all of this in my stride and I was able to adapt my timetable accordingly I wasn’t ready for the changes in student behaviour as I should of been.

Through my reflections and learning I realised:

Timetable
Having a flexible timetable is essential but keeping your routine is the key to a successful working environment. Students like routines and with these interruptions they will be unsettled so it is you job to ensure they see the classroom as an environment in which they feel comfortable and are able to continue to learn.

It is also important to talk to your students about the changes they will experience, your expectations and your endeavour to keep things as normal as possible. Being honest is the key.

Be proactive

Don’t let them take an inch in these weeks. Students interact with their swimming instructor in a different manner and it must be seen that students don’t bring this behaviour into the classroom. You must ensure your expectations are clear and that you pick up on student behaviour early and don’t let it escalate.

In closing enjoy these activities with your students and ensure your are part of the experience but don’t drop your expectations.

Week 4: It is all coming together and it is an enjoyable journey!

Four weeks have never gone so quickly and it is only just the beginning.

After slowly settling in I have now had time to focus my teaching and learning in different areas. Learning to plan, teach and assess has been a huge challenge and finding the most effective and efficient method has been an interesting process. I personally have found checklists focused on my lesson objectives the most efficient assessment method to monitor students learning and development accompanied by anecdotal notes of students learning styles, classroom interactions and individual strengths and areas to develop.

 

This week I have also been introduced to a range of resources after working with other members of staff and attending a PD of using ICT in Literacy and Numeracy Blocks. Below are some fantastic websites that I feel will benefit student teachers in their endeavour to work collaboratively with other staff members and to monitor their students’ progress and useful websites.

 

Google Reader

Google Reader is a fantastic tool to keep you up to date with the latest technologies by subscribing to a variety of blogs and websites. I have also set up my account to link to the students in my class’s blogs and I am notified when they publish a new post. I have also subscribed to a range of technology focused blogs and have been applying some of the different technologies that are written about in my classroom and will continue to do so.

http://www.google.com.au/reader

 

Evernote

Evernote is a website that you can record websites, notes and important information, emails or blog posts on and access anywhere or anytime using a computer, phone or any other devices that can access the web. Evernote allows you to share resources with your colleagues and add notes to ensure clear communication.

I have been using this program with my mentor teacher and it allows us to develop our resource bank, plan meaningful, engaging lessons using the computers and Interactive Whiteboard system. I would highly recommend this tool for student teachers to share resources with one another, their teacher and other staff members so than can start to accumulate an abundance of excellent resources for their own classroom.

www.evernote.com.au

 

Google Calender

This tool allows you to create a calendar of events and share them with your colleagues. I have been able to work with my mentor teacher and ensure that we are on the same page with student talks being presented, school activities and events to make planning smoother. This tool should be utilised by all teaching partnerships as it a tool that can be accessed using a computer, phone and any other device that is able to connect to the web.

https://www.google.com/calendar

 

Remember to use the resources available to you and gain as many as you can while you have the support of your mentor teacher.

 

 

 

Week 3: The Honeymoon is over…

The come down from the first two weeks of intense planning and upbeat teaching is over, the challenge now is can you sustain it.

This week is the time to finalise your planning, identify your weaknesses and reassess where you planned to be at the stage of your practicum. Remember you have a lot of learning to do in a short amount of time, plan your journey and stay on top of it.

The Learning Journey

It is important to make the most of your experience and the availability of an abundance of resources. The best resources you can explore are the teachers. It is important to talk, observe and ask for feedback from a range of teachers, everyone is different and can help you with different aspects of your development. Open your mind to advice and feedback and try the suggestions you receive, some will suit you and some won’t and it is your job to find out.

The Challenge

Can you sustain the workload you have taken on?

– Are you assessing students’ learning so you can write a meaningful report?

– Have you taken over all duties so the students see you as their teacher?

– Are you building a rapport with your colleagues?

– And how can you develop yourself as a teacher?

Other Duties

Do you feel like a member of the school staff? How can you ensure all students in the school respect you as a teacher?

Things to consider:

– Helping with sporting teams (in and out of school time)

– Work with your buddy classes

– Attend and provide input at staff meetings

And invite the principal into your class to observe you and provide you with some feedback.

Week 2: Developing a routine…

Your routines are in place, the classroom is familiar and it is time to get down to business.

Work to your strengths and focus on developing your weaknesses. It is about trying new things, reflecting, altering your approaches and trying again.

Positive Reinforcement

– You must continue to build positive relationships with your students.

– Immediate feedback in the form of praise, feedback, rewards and certificates ensure students make positive associations with the learning experiences and classroom environment.

– Be positive, smile and enjoy seeing your students learn and grow.

Engaging Learning Experiences

 – Are you enjoying teaching your students? Are they enjoying the lessons you are planning?

– Identify your students learning styles and differentiate your instruction and activities.

Learning what suits you…

– How do you want your programs to look?

– Do you work more effectively in the morning or afternoon?

– How can you assess all of the students learning?

– Are you using your time efficiently?

After being guided by your university lecturers and mentor teacher now it is time to decide what suits you.

 

Relax, experiment and enjoy the next 8 weeks showing your own teaching style.

Week 1: Entering the unknown

After entering the unknown the most important thing to do is reflect.  After reflecting daily and identifying aspects of your planning, classroom management, teaching and knowledge that did or didn’t work it is essential you highlight what you must do to improve in all areas of your teaching.

I have highlighted what I believe is key to a positive start.

Preparation & Organisation

 It is important you are prepared (even over prepared), it will ensure you are confident when teaching and gain the students respect and attention. It is also essential to have clear expectations of your students and share these with them. Constantly reinforce your expectations and be honest, you will be different to their normal teacher.

Always be on your toes, change something if it didn’t work and try something new, and explain why to the students they will be interested and eager to impress.

Rapport

Knowing your students is the key to a successful classroom. Take the time to get to know your students, spend every morning talking to them and show you are interested (you should be). Be honest with your students, gain their trust and respect and you will be able to plan meaningful, engaging learning experiences.

Mentor Teacher

They are there to help your, schedule regular conferencing time to ensure you have your queries answered. Ask for advice, you will have gaps in your teaching and planning; use your teacher’s experiences and knowledge to fill them. Remember, this is their classroom and their students, they know them.

Be responsible, take on all duties that your teacher does, that means ALL! 

Reflective

It is important you remember you are still a student-teacher and it is not expected that you will get it right the first time. However, it is expected that you will reflect on the teaching practices you employed and learn from your experiences.

Remember to talk to your mentor teacher and other staff members, they are experienced and are there to help you. Talk to them about your ideas, concerns and even your strengths, teaching is about learning and developing and to be a life-long learner you must welcome and use the feedback you receive.

Be positive, you will have great days and you will have days that challenge you but remember it is all part of the experience and will benefit you in the long run.

 

My First Post

Welcome to my blog, ATP: A commitment to learning.

I have created this blog to reflect on my final 10 week practicum.

As I embark on my journey and encounter a range of new experiences I will inform you of my progress, new knowledge and most importantly the challenges I face.

Please comment on my journey, your advice and thoughts are greatly appreciate to help me develop as a young aspiring teacher.

My journey begins tomorrow, come back soon to see what I have discovered.