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

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Let the creative juices flow

Over the last few weeks things have been changing. TAFE finished, my kids have been on holidays for a few weeks and I'm back to be a full time stay at home mum. The problem with that is I have been finding the adjustment a little difficult. Coming down from a very busy year has set my brain into 'now it's time to deal
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with all that stuff you put on the back burner to think about and I am going to think about it NOW!' So consequently not only do I feel like I am 'filing things' away in my brain but my creative and ideas part of my brain has gone into overload and I can't sleep. I was so encourage by all your messages from my last post that I set about thinking about the future of education and philosophy for a few weeks before I was able to get my head back into the reality of teaching for next year. So having processed some of these thoughts about technology and the future of education I am now up to thinking about how I can practically take on board some of these things and incorporate them into my programs and teaching for next year. It's time to be creative!

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Not many people know this (although you are all about to know now) that in my previous life I was a professional musician. I spent many years of my life as a flautist. I use to play in bands and orchestras many years ago and I still play on a regular basis at church. I also play piano and guitar and use to sing in choirs and at weddings. So my first love and passion in life was and still is music. Whenever I feel strong emotion I often thump it out on my piano or flute and I find music helps me process my thoughts. It's my 'soul food'. Whilst I can't draw for quids I have a very strong creative side to my personality. I love the discipline and creative capabilities that music brings to my life. I also know that I can use both these things to make me a better teacher. So after having a few down weeks to reflect on the things that worked and the things that need to improve for next year I have decided to be disciplined this week and allow myself time for creativity. So I have joined Lynda.com  and am learning all about Photoshop for a start. I could find all these things on Youtube however I like these well paced and plain English lessons and they are great for my beginner level. I can fit it in around the kids and school holiday activities and they aren't too pricy. I have also slotted in some time for my music and I am working on Debussy's Children's Suite as a school holiday project on piano. 

So when do I relax? Well after many conversations with people I don't know. I have never been very good at it. Sitting by the pool for hours on end or at the beach is boring. I love spending a few hours but not all day. I love to read but even then I can only do that for a few hours. Put simply I find the art of doing nothing frustrating. However I do know that in my own way I need to find time to recharge. By using music and other creative endeavors I find this the best way to recharge. Feeding my soul as such. I find this through spending time on my spiritual faith, my family and the creative side of me helps me recharge and look at things with a fresh and new perspective. So with this in mind.... Let the creative juices flow!
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I do hope you all have some time to unwind and be creative over the holiday break.

Until next week,

Sunday, 1 December 2013

What will the future look like?

Today I tried to take a break from the things that get me down. I admit yesterday morning I was flat as a tack however I am not one to stay there long. After some retail therapy and a facial I was on the road to recovery. So today I needed to spend the day being inspired. I took time out for some reflection and thought processing as well as taking in positive thinking that would lead me to better teaching practice. This always leads me to TED. However TED was not the only place I stumbled across today for some inspiration. 

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TAFE does provide some excellent professional development for teachers through TAFE Connects. TAFE connects is an online elearning meeting each week and they have excellent guests speakers on a range of topics. Alex Miller is a TAFE teacher and she and her team have embarked on exploration into the virtual world of teaching. I must say until today I had thought about elearning from a very 2 dimensional way however today I now think differently. We have been creating avatars for years through gaming using say the xbox, play station or wii but what if we had our virtual avatars in a virtual classroom that was totally interactive. I love the concept that our face to face teaching practice can also take on form in the virtual world.  Who knows what our learners will look like in the future? 

This year I started Teach Meet as a means of feedback to other teachers about what was going on in classrooms. At no point do we really measure how successful we are at what we do. How do we know our students are better at English than those in other schools or colleges. Do we just rely on Naplan? How do we know which teachers are having success and which ones are not. Are we only measuring results based on scores? Is there a means of measuring quality teaching over the last 5 years or so and how do we compete with each other? This thinking came out of a TED talk by Stefan Larsson. If the medical profession can get a grip on this why can't education take a leaf out of their book. 

Then I watched Angela Lee Ducksworth's talk about the importance of 'grit' in our students. 

We know that our students lack resilience for many reasons and is there something we can do to help our students build resilience and encourage them to stick out for the long haul? 

This then lead me to the next  2 videos....

After watching Bill Gates deliver his talk on teacher feedback I have been thinking about how this applies to me and can we deliver quality that is cost effective and manageable?

So can we do these three things? Can we measure the success of teachers, build grit in our students and provide quality feedback, sharing and leadership for our current cohort of teachers? Is this too much to ask? 

As a young teacher I know there are so many things I can improve upon and I really want the best strategies I can find to improve on the quality of my teaching. I would like some feedback on how I'm going but would like the input of those who know the students and also those who don't. Regular feedback conversations would be so helpful. 

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If we improved the overall quality of delivery then we may get more students succeeding and reaching their goals. By looking at countries who have managed to model success much can be gained by thinking through how these techniques can further develop quality teaching for teachers in Australia. There are people like Alex Miller who are pushing our expectations of what teaching is and by addressing quality and innovation it can go a long way to providing successful pathways for our students. 

I need to mull on these ideas for further implementation and improvement in my own teaching practice. 

Until next week,