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

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Friday, 30 November 2012

Festive thinking

WOW! What a year I have had. It is almost too hard to look back at the year in short because it has been so massive. I have immensely enjoyed the last year and have found it stimulating and challenging. At times I have really struggled with the adjustment to teach adults but I must say I love it. This was the last week for the term and now there are no more classes until next year :(

I have already been spending time thinking about how I am going to change things for next year to improve what I have been doing. I am hoping to try to encourage the students to blog. Not sure how that will go. I really need to be more creative with them using technology and the gadgets they bring. Hopefully we will get some more laptops for the class to use.

This year I have discovered more about myself as a learner and this has helped me understand my learners in new and different ways. I hope to consider more the various learning styles and personality types so as to engage my students with rich and challenging texts that can be presented in a way that can meet their learning needs.

I have found twitter and social media enormously helpful this year and find that the community of sharing amongst teachers has massively taken off into new realms for me this year. I have thoroughly enjoyed #ozengchat and more recently #histedchat as the conversation has been wonderful and encouraging. 

I am no closer to finding a work/ life balance than I was at the start of the year. I think new business and new job perhaps was a  bit much on top of my stay and home mum duties as well. Had a few melt downs when everything all got a little too much. However I have made it and am enormously proud of my students,many of whom achieved excellent results.

I am really looking forward to the festive season and am looking forward to thinking time. 
I have  as I get older than I can't think on the fly all the time and I do need to take some time to reflect and think some things through. 

I am building a Moodle site for our section this week and am looking forward to learning the back end of this software more thoroughly.

Until next week,

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Anti-blog sentiments

As the end of term comes rushing towards me like a tidal wave I am running like hell up the hill. I have last minute marking and a major paper trail however taking time to smell the roses is important. However as I sit and write this blog I am somewhat distracted. This morning I put some popcorn on the stove in a pot with some oil to pop for their recess and then got distracted and went to have a shower and forgot about it. The kids alerted my to the fact that there was a lot of smoke coming from the stove and turned it off. Unfortunately the house is full of smokey burnt popcorn smell and I have come away from the kitchen to write to get away from the smell for a while. I clearly have too much on the brain. 

Anyway this week I tried to get some of my students to write a blog. What surprised me was the attitude of some of the students towards blogs. Some thought they were an outdated thing of the 90s and some thought they were full of people's ramblings that were a waste of time to try and read. Others had found that blogs had caused a lot of problems in friendships as their friends had used blogs to let of steam and said hurtful things. However my open minded students actually really enjoyed the experience.

I am finding more and more that as people put up their personal lives in social media they are not using clear judgement with what they are putting out there. I tried to explain to my students that I want them to compartmentalise this blog for their reflections about their learning journey. I wanted them to talk about the things they had improved upon in their learning in the last six months and the things they still needed to work on. Once they had been given a very specific goal they actually found it beneficial. Next year I want them to blog weekly and so I am wanting to set them up for life long reflection and learning and the discipline and thought process that goes into this activity. We'll see how that goes next year. I am completely aware that some students won't do it or like it but I do want to provide those learners who need time to think and reflect the opportunity to do so. 

I really enjoy reading blogs and find such richness in the shared experience. An open dialogue which allows discussion and thought can clear the way for new perspectives, information sharing and encourages positive attitudes and action in relation to ICT.

I am hoping next year to share the blogging love around. 

Until next week,

Friday, 16 November 2012

Learning Environments

I can't believe I have left my beloved blog to sit for so long. It is not that I haven't wanted to it is just that the last few weeks took over and before I know it a month has past. There has been many a poet to write about the passing of time.. Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey has some classic lines..  And passing even into my purer mind, With tranquil restoration: -- feelings too ... That time is past, And all its aching joys are now no more, ...

Creative+independenceOh to have the skill to write like this. Such an amazing poet. Anyway apart from illness I have been a coach in overload to my students. They are running to the end as they only have two weeks left and all their final assessments need to be handed in. Having marked a lot of them lately I have been so excited for many of them who have received an excellent result. There has been many a sleepless night trying to think of the best ways to teach and motivate them to succeed. I feel emotionally and physically exhausted and ready for a holiday but so very fulfilled at this incredible year I have had. 

Last Monday we had a staff development day. We all participated in the Myer Briggs Type Indicator Test. This test aims to understand your personality type and how you can use your preferences to enhance your work environment. It was so interesting. There are things that we think, do and say that come naturally to us and then there are things we need to work on.

Some of you may have guessed by now that I am a big fat extrovert! What was really interesting was all the extroverts got together to ask questions of the introverts and vice versa. The questions the introverts asked to the extroverts in the room was fascinating. It was like a penny dropped in my brain and I understand people who are introverted more clearly than ever before. I must learn to shut up sometimes to let the introverts think and not demand an answer straight away. I must seek their opinion and make sure they have been heard even if they don't offer. Just because they appear quiet doesn't mean they don't have a lot to offer. In our classroom we consider Gardiner's personality types but I have come to realise that there is much more to it than that. I have come to realise that some students will pace themsleves and work systematically whilst other will research and think and have a work explosion just before the deadline. For many this is a preference. It is hard to change a preference but it can be done. 

I really enjoy this type of learning as it forces me to think outside the box. I love to constantly challenge myself and I drive myself to learn however sometimes I realise this takes a toll on me. More than ever I need time to ponder. Time to reflect and file things away in my brain. One of the things that came out of the staff development day was that I work in a very dynamic team. It was a wonderful day and so rich in sharing and encouragement. That random day I walked into TAFE looking for a job was in hindsight one the best things I have ever done. I am feeling very grateful for being amongst such wonderful colleagues who support me as a teacher with all my failings and successes. This environment has caused me to flourish. Not just as a teacher but as a learner who is supported and encouraged on a regular basis. Modeling is a key factor in all this. Kindness, compassion, patience and consistency are all helpful attributes to create a good learning environment. I do hope I can strive to show these qualities to my students.

This TED talk got me really excited this week. Amazing where creativity and technology can 

I have not had time to net surf however here are a few ones I have stumbled across lately:

The Musuem of Me (looks awesome)

Scribble Maps

Think Link
Create rich images with music, video, sound, text and more.
Share and discover deeper stories through images

Qwiller - Online creative writing resources

Until next week (hopefully),