30 Jan 2015

Beginning of the year!

This year (and this week coming!) I plan to make use of these links that I have pinned on my Pinterest boards...mostly free downloads from Teachers Pay Teachers...
Link to image source

'All About Me' pupil info sheet - though I have had to twink and change the American spellings eg favorite into NZ's favourite etc - thanks Science Doodles at Teachers pay Teachers!

And some discussion points from this Hot Spot activity sheet thanks to Kristine from the Young Teacher Love blog.

We will be doing the "In Team Kahu we..." mural again, as I have a whole new team of pupils - let's set up our expectations right from the start!

'Parents' 3-2-1' question sheet - asking parents for info about their child - thanks LA Beach Teacher at TpT as well as asking them for their most appropriate contact information.

'Student Rights and Responsibilities' - gets everyone on the same page about the expectations in the classroom - thanks Angelia at TpT!

I always do What Kind of Teacher Do You Want? and so does Miss Freundlich, it works with any age-group and helps the pupils see that you are wanting to work with them as a team and will respect their opinions and needs.

And we look also at What a good pupil does, says, is and is not - here is Sarah's example.

We will build our own version of this Respect chart and also look at this How Big is My Problem chart.

I will be sharing a copy of Stephanie's poster of Glasser's What We Learn chart.

Star of the Week certificate -  I've ordered this, printed with Team Kahu in the title - thanks Creative Classrooms!

'Uh-oh!' - a note pupils can take home with any work that they need to finish because they didn't do it during their allocated class time - thanks Sally at TpT!

Attention grabbers - you call out, the pupils respond - thanks Traci at TpT! I will be adding "To infinity..." (pupils call out "and beyond!") - sound familiar??

Link to image source
When talking about our learning and skills progression, I will share this Assess Yourself Novice-Expert chart and I also love this Which Step Have You Reached Today chart posted on a Lifetime of Wisdom.

We will also be referring to this Positive Self-Talking chart as shared by Elliott Seif.

For group work and partner discussions I will have these on display, as shown here by Tanja:
Partners  and   Groups

Professionalism...what does it mean?

On Wednesday my school's staff attended a seminar with Tony Burkin from 'Interlead' titled 'Developing Mindsets for Learning and Leading'.

It was a really interesting insight into professional practice (not to be confused with teaching practice) and how our professionalism, and having a 'growth' mindset (ie willing to learn, change, reflect) as adults makes a difference to our teaching practice and working relationships as teachers.

Tony gave us a hand-out with comparisons of 'fixed' mindsets and 'growth' mindsets.

These are the notes I made along the way...


Andragogy. Leading adults. 
Pedagogy. Leading children. 

In our schools we need teachers who are learners and don't see themselves as experts, as experts think they know it all and don't want to change or learn more. 

Book: Carol Dweck 2006 'Mindset'

Book by Jim...? 'Unmistakable Impact'

To learn we need to feel anxious. This anxiety happens because we often hold a mindset we believe that "above all else I must be successful in my eyes and the eyes of others - success defines my worth." So if we don't think we will be successful we get anxious and from this we feel threatened and will either fight or flight to avoid it. This might include blaming others (staff,pupils, leaders, parents etc) and avoidance tactics etc. 

This means we prefer to want positive feedback aka praise over honest feedback and therefore do not learn or progress. It is a FIXED mindset. No growth. 

The opposite mindset of this is seeing the challenge as an opportunity where we feel fearless. We don't fear failure as we see it as evidence of being stretched and on the first step to growing/improvement. "I have to risk failure in order to grow. ". This person will internalise the blame for failure and look inwards firstly their own contribution to the failure.  This is a GROWTH mindset. Teachers need to embrace failure and see it as a way to move forward. 


Michael Fullan. 'professional capital' 2012
There is a difference between teaching practice and professional practice:
Teaching: happens in the classroom: (competency): positive behav management, curriculum knowledge, instructional practices, formative assessment. It's how you deliver your programme WITH the children. 

Professional: happens outside the classroom: (professionalism/disciplinary): meet agreed standards, accept that actions we take contribute to reputation of our profession, choose to work in accord with high standards of the profession even when we could get away with less, assess practices to see if try belong and add to those practices, seek to have continual growth. It is the planning,reporting,collaborating with others, appraisal and reflection,compliance re reporting and budgets etc. 

Teachers Council Principles of Professional Practice: autonomy, justice, responsible care and truth (see code of ethics for registered teachers)

Carrying these out is what gives public confidence in you. 

Engaging in professional practices will have flow on effects on your teaching practice. 

Hidden links between the two practices:
Teaching practice is visible (like the top part of the iceberg), while prof practice is the huge part that holds up good teacher practice (the hidden part of the iceberg) - if don't attend to the prof practices the 'ice' at the waterline will start to melt and the teaching practices will melt away too.

Thinking: What's the difference between Reflecting and Wondering?
Reflecting: is about self-improvement (see Parker J. Palmer 1998 book) - needs to be focused and a habit - Lt.  Col. Hal Moore, Vietnam: What's happening? What's not happening? How can I influence what's not happening?  - a reflective practitioner has a select set of questions that they never deviate from, and these take you deeper and deeper into your thinking each time, it takes structure and discipline and energy to do it. 

Wondering: just happens, is not planned and tends to be random, takes little energy, and is often not useful

See the Teacher Council handbook for the 12 characteristics or good reflection points. 

reflection v inquiry:
Prochaska's Model of Change: 
1. Pre-Contemplation (state of bliss)
2.  Contemplation (thinking about it)
3. Preparation (putting together plan of action)
4. Action (trying it out) often gets to a stagnant point  as it is hard to implement the change
5. Maintenance (developing it into a habit)
6. Termination
STEPS 1-3 are reflective steps while STEPS 4-5 are the inquiry steps, the action steps. Only in the action step will the right questions come up that you need to find answers to that will see you grow in your teaching practice. Inquiry is putting into practice our reflecting. It goes beyond 'learning' to CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENT. 

Lifelong learning = continual improvement
Taking what has been learnt and applying it. 

Professional journaling rather than a professional diary. 

If only commenting on steps 1-3 of Prochaska's steps, then that is a diary merely of inner thoughts. 
The important stuff is steps 4-6, the comments on what is happening while implementing the changes, this is the learning trip,the questions I'm finding as I action changes to my teaching - concentrating on the failures (growth mindset) rather than just the success (fixed mind set)

Learning is about feeling uncomfortable, it will mean at some stage feeling ignorant or incapable, ignorant or negative or disruptive. A person with a fixed mindset will want to avoid being seen as these things but someone with a growth mindset will expect it to be par for the course as part of professional growth. 

Three types of failure: preventative, complex, intelligent. We want to foster intelligent failure: adapting, innovating, attempting, trialling. To do this you need to operate in Steps 4-6, and with intelligent failure eventually you will inquire and change and repeat the steps until you have a teaching practice or programme that is successful. 

Professionally serious OR gifted amateur?? Are you not satisfied with where you are at OR do you think you are an expert and don't need to make changes?

NEXT STEPS for me/school:
*return to my coaching notes from 2012 2013 to see about giving feedback and coaching/mentoring eg within appraisals. 

be sure to speak to colleague ASAP after an observation and to be open to the comments as the person receiving the feedback/suggestions

Staff personally each journaling about a priority learner. All do that so trying it first time together.

Look at our code of ethics and what it means for us as the professionals working here at this school

19 Jan 2015

Passion Projects as a LIteracy Programme

I've been devising a change for my literacy programme for my Year Six class - I don't know why I do this... well, actually, I DO know (it's because I am always trying to fine-tune my class programme to give the pupils the very best possible learning experiences...) but I have come up with (to quote Blackadder) "a cunning plan" to incorporate reading and writing by using the Passion Projects idea in a different way, one that will suit the way I operate...I'll try it out and see how it goes at least!

You can read my overview of intentions and term overview of topics here: click this link!

Basically, the plan is that at the start of the term I will offer up five different topics for literacy sessions - pupils will indicate which topic they are most interested in.  Guided groups will be developed from that, and I intend to incorporate relevant writing tasks alongside the reading tasks eg read an article about animal cruelty, write a letter to the SPCA commending them for their work - pupils may come up with ideas for writing as the unit progresses too (I want them to be guiding the direction of some of their tasks too...)

I need to have some aspect of control over the topics offered to the pupils as if I want to stay sane while building up the resources and lessons for four or five different groups I will need to keep certain limits on what is offered, while still giving pupils choices).  I have broken down some different topics into four terms - topics that twenty years of experience has shown are popular with pupils, while also trying to use topics that have relevant application to their world in 2015 and to have topics that will provide a good range of reading materials and writing contexts.

I have also aimed to cover a range of curriculum areas, with the topics being based on non-fictional themes, but choosing topics for which I will easily be able to find and incorporate fiction texts (ie in School Journal) that fit the theme as well, for instance in the unit about team sports we might read a narrative story about sportsmanship. I have also thought about topical events eg the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli and the Rugby World Cup.

I have thought of a range of EOTC experiences for the pupils to take part in at the end of their unit as incentives for completing a great range of tasks during the term. I have a goal to involve more parents, whanau (family) or community members as part of my class programme, so to have a couple of parents take a group of pupils for a morning fishing or to visit an exhibit at the aircraft museum, will be a good way to increase those connections.

For each unit, once I know which pupils are in that group, I will select the most relevant reading and writing learning outcomes to address, based on pupils' ability and next learning steps - these will be presented to the pupils for their comments and reflections on progress.

Wish me luck! I am off to start building up a class blog-post of online resources for each of Term One's topic units, as well as a Google Drive page for each unit (where the pupils of that group can look to find their independent task list, and I hope to also use the Google Drive for collaborated reflections and other shared tasks for each group/unit).

11 Jan 2015