"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Monday, 28 May 2012

Perseverance... Making it to the end

For many students perseverance is a  life skill that is hard as they draw to the end of their course. In the faculty I teach in, Pathways, many of the students sign up for a 6 month or 12 month course. For two of my classes we are getting down to the final weeks of the course and some students are finding their motivation lacking as they near the end of their course. I remember when I was in my final weeks of uni after five years of study I had just about had it. I think the end stretch is what tests our character and fortitude to the max. For some students they like to get it an get it done but for others it's like pulling them over the line step by step. For many students they have left school some years ago and so are experiencing study as never before. Perseverance is definitely a study skill which is tested but developed over time. 

I really enjoy reading poetry in my spare time. This week I have been reflecting upon a poem by Felicity Plunkett entitled "A flake of life". The poem considers the idea that we leave a piece of ourselves where ever we go. Whether that be a flake of skin, hair, fingerprint, conversation etc.. Sometime you never quite know what impact you will have your students in years to come and I find this notion so strange. The idea that memory and feelings about a time in their life can so impact on the students that you become a frame in their mind. Stuck in time if you wish. I remember my school reunion and seeing how my teachers had aged. You never remember them like this. As I age I also see how memories can sometimes seem distorted and unclear over time. It's a rather interesting concept. Perhaps I should have a crack at writing a poem. I might just keep that one to myself. 

In the last week I had a wonderful opportunity to be a guest presenter for an online eFacilitation course. I presented to the group the wonderful world of Google docs and how they can be used in class. I am such a major fan and I use them all the time. I created a Google site, very plain but useful to run the hour long session.   If you are interested you can have a peak at https://sites.google.com/site/tafe2012elf/home. I'll leave this site going for the next month or two if you want to have a look.One of my favorite Google products is the 'Hangout' in Google plus. The majority of teachers had no knowledge of Google Docs so it was very plain and simple. I had wonderful feedback from the teachers who participated and the lovely Maria d'Angelo who gave me the opportunity. 

For me I am coming to the end of my first semester at TAFE and only have a few weeks to go. It has been such a fruitful time in my career and I realise I still have much to learn. 

All the best for the week ahead. 

Until next wek,

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Never underestimate 'confidence'

Over the past few years it would be fair to say that my self confidence has taken a bit of a battering. 

When I was a teenager I was involved in everything school could offer, I was confident and ready to face what life had to throw at me. Well as I look back over my life as the ripe old age of 35 I feel as though I am re-inventing myself again. Deciding to have children in my mid twenties was rewarding and I don't regret it but re-launching my career this year has been a real challenge.

I came to the year feeling like a first year out at TAFE but am discovering that remnants of my old confident self are bubbling to the surface. My self doubts are being replaced with the possibility that I am actually really good at what I do. I am not trying to put tickets on myself but merely reassuring myself from the feedback from students and staff that I have made connections with people that a few years ago I never thought were possible. As a result I have taken on board new possibilities and a new outlook of who I am as a teacher. This has largely come about through an awesome boss who believes in me and staff who are so supportive and honest, yet so professional and let me know when I am wrong. I have learnt so much from them all. 

This drive has further helped me encourage my own students to have confidence and belief in themselves. I have been so proud to watch them gain self confidence more than anything else. For many students who come to TAFE it is second chance education. For a variety of reasons the school system and life have let them down and they have picked themselves up again and are giving it a red hot go. I had never expected adult education to be so rewarding and I can now see that confidence in being a life long learner is crucial to the success of students not just for their education but for life. 

When one is faced with negative comments from bullies at work or those in your life over a long period of time you start to believe them. Slowly but surely they eat away at you until you forget who you are. Once they leave your life and you have the opportunity to rediscover what is right and true I am happy to say that I am a much happier self. I am more aware now of the challenges my students face than I was five years ago and I feel that God was really preparing me for this year. I guess I can empathise with students struggles in a different way than I would have a few years ago. 

I suppose reading this blog you may feel like you are listening to a therapy session but I want to highlight the importance of encouraging confidence in students and as teachers we will never know how far reaching that is. 

My fav sites for the week;
What is classroom jeopardy?

Flipping Blooms Taxonomy

Boxes and Language Garden

Be confident and courageous. 

Until next week,

Friday, 11 May 2012

Small successes matter


A few months ago I was pondering over how the fear of failure can cripple your self esteem. I have found this week that some of my students have achieved baby steps or some small but significant achievements. I have found it very encouraging to that the students are starting to notice small improvements in their study and are becoming more aware for themselves about what it is they are doing to improve their learning skills. A little bit chuffed watching them gain confidence and self esteem.

I have been a strong advocate of Google Docs and this week there was great success in creating Feedback forms. They just love the professional look of the forms and will be using them after they serve everyone on the campus coffee or tea for the Biggest Morning Tea. These forms are extremely simple to use and I like to use them to create self marking quizzes and reflection forms. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHpWeGZORk1xV2h3MDFWSF9sdE9PbHc6MQ#gid=0 When I start a new course with new students one of the first things I do it get them to create a Google Account. Some of my classes are purely taught on Google Docs and I am finding I am dealing with tons less paper and losing papers is no longer a problem. It's wonderful that technology can support learning in such a meaningful way.

Those of you that have been following my learning journey I am quietly but surely overwhelmed by my future job prospects. I have not lost my dream of starting my own business as a consultant teaching teachers how to use technology in the classroom. I am hoping the logo will be done by next week and I really want to start by July. Have been thinking about how Google has a lot of success with their relaxed working environment. My good friend Sally and I have been thinking how this model could be used in training. Planning on developing this idea further. Watch this space.....Can't show all my cards.

Had a friend from one of my previous schools ask how I was enjoying my new job. My response was, "I love it" Life is never dull and over flowing with opportunity. Sometimes I just need time to breathe.

My favorite sites for the week are:
Organise your social media.

Moving image gateway
Ideas for short films

Digital storytelling (Photostory3)
Have been playing around with photostory3 (free download) with the kids
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a96pndIWTI (It's very corny!! 1st attempt)
My 6 year old's attempt too http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfXBB6c0HVA

Until next week,

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Technology, why bother?......

Have you ever been to a lecture that was so interesting that you hadn't noticed that an hour had gone by? There are some very talented individuals who can engage students purely on their skill as on orator. I stand back and admire the skill of these people and their gift. However, as a visual learner I would find this hard to sustain for a long period. With an aging population we find that there are many teachers who may retire in the next 5-10 years. With the fast pace of technology how can older teachers and new teachers keep up with the changes when for many years the same methods have worked? This is a question I find myself often engaging in with teachers and I am always met with a variety of responses. 

Change for some is too hard. There is a definite resistance to use technology for technologies sake. There is a great awareness by these teachers that young people love engaging with technology but for them as teachers they do not have the time, resources or willingness to even give it a go. However I do find that they are engage with their learners and by no means do I wish to criticise their ability or talent as a teacher. Teachers like many other professions in the work place are by and large time poor. Younger teachers adapt to new technologies and learn much faster than older teachers or those with less experience using technology. Younger teachers tend to engage with technology and social media on a daily basis and are quite apt to change. I see that there is a great need to more training on two fronts. Experienced teachers are wonderful in encouraging, guiding and supporting new teachers and younger teachers also have a role in supporting and encouraging experienced teacher in using technology. There is the potential a great wave of change bought about through mutual respect and understanding. 

There is no doubt that there have been numerous studies that suggest that life long learning can be achieved through engaging students in learning through technology. I endeavor to continue to highlight the benefits and achievements of these technologies to enhance learning and I know there are many others who share my passion. Why bother?... Because it is important to our learners and we can't put our blinkers on because it is too hard. Thanks to social media teachers can stay on top of trends and technologies that can best suit our learners where necessary. Educationalists are leading the way when it comes to sharing intellectual knowledge and it is the wonderful community of like minded individuals who continue to drive change and excellence for learners worldwide. Some traditional methods of teaching are greatly beneficial and the right tool should be used for the right purpose. 

I need to continue to remind myself of these truths when I too feel time poor and exhausted. I have learnt through my use of  technology I am connected and am not alone as a teacher and there are others who will support me on my journey through the mind field of new technology. Find time, make time....it's important.

The favorite sites for the week:
Popcorn Share from The Teaching Channel. Nice little idea.

Poetic devices wordle

Essay Map
Have been using this one this week. 

Hope you have a great week. 

Until next week,