Tag Archives: Blog

Some Lessons to Learn

16 Dec

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I was thinking about the ideas of what makes a great teacher as I reflect on the year. To be truthful as I started writing the same applies regarding a leader in a school. I add one of my favorite models at the foot of the page.

Model expertise

Modelling this is part and parcel of every lesson: confident answers and conspicuous depth of knowledge of the subject that models the value that is placed on learning it.  Actual expertise matters more than simple enthusiasm.  There is no short-cut here: study the subject continually, know your stuff, get ahead.  Don’t wing it or teach, guessing your way through.

Prioritize Curriculum

Linked closely to Model Expertise, it’s essential to know how your subject is deconstructed into key concepts, skills and knowledge elements that allow learners to make progress – so-called pedagogical content knowledge.  Do you know how the course curriculum relates to the wider subject knowledge base? Is there an optimal sequence or at least one you could make a good case for?  You should have a sense of a sensible sequence and hierarchy of ideas and be able to see where content areas overlap.  You should have good knowledge of the assessment criteria in general and the specifics of any public exam.  Knowing the types of questions that students should be able to answer is essential in understanding and planning your subject curriculum – the enacted curriculum that students experience in your lessons.

Hold Attention 

Without this, most of the rest won’t be effective.  It always pays to reinforce the routines around attention so that you get it promptly from everyone.

Explain well

Sometimes I have not done this well as I have been reflecting on my practice lately. By relieving in some junior classes I have noted the need to find different ways to explain the same thing – not simply repeat one method over and over.   It’s often overlooked because people spend so long talking about what to teach, rather than how to teach it.

Respond 

This links to your curriculum thinking and planning.  Designing good questions is a skill you acquire with experience and research – initially it pays to explore sources of questions rather than make them up. Planning how to organise questions in a classroom context: The trick is to involve every student, solicit multiple responses and engineer a collective response that deepens everyone’s understanding – rather than skimming from person to person.

Feedback effectively 

Giving good feedback is an essential teaching skill.  Your goal is to seek improved performance, correct errors and challenge misconceptions but also to affirm and deepen successful learning. Feedback needs to be positive and specific and be very much geared towards an immediate practice opportunity.  You need should tell them what they’re doing right; identify a specific aspect of their technique to change and improve and then get them to practise.

Routines

It is ok to change things up occasionally, but routines keep a sense of certainty.

Manage time

Time: it can all be managed well or managed badly.  It pays to map out the long term, set some time goals and milestones.

Show kindness

Relationships –are a product of other actions.  I’m suggesting that showing kindness is an essential element to relationship-building.  You can be assertive, authoritative and inspire confidence in your expertise but still have difficulties – or cause them – if students don’t connect with your human qualities; if they fear you or resent you.  Kindness means allowing mistakes to be made, extending a degree of parental warmth and acknowledging emotions.  You can be quite formal and disciplined and still be kind.  Crucially, it’s essential to give kindness in order to receive it in return.

React

Being responsive to students’ answers is crucial to maximize the learning from the process.  You need to tackle misconceptions and explore errors without making it seem a big deal to get things wrong; you need to probe and challenge for deeper and better answers; you need to involve other students in building on each other’s answers.

I hope your year has gone well.

Do you have any suggestions for leading your class or staff-room?

knostermodel

White Space

17 Nov

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Recently, I have been reading with members of my PLN (Professional Learning Network) about the concept of white space. White space can be described as the focused time you create for yourself to slow down and reflect. I have become a proponent of this type of mindfulness. My peers have described that they create white space by running, swimming, praying, sitting and listening to music, exploring their passion in the kitchen, enjoying art, unplugging and sightseeing, and spending time with family and friends. Does white space have to be you sitting in a soundless, sterile room getting in touch with your thoughts? ‘m not sure. White space can be anything that connects you to yourself and connects you to others. Biking, running, reading, playing in the snow, all of those can be white space moments for you. I blog. it is my “winter” or white space. I’m doing this for my own benefit as well as to share and explore the white space concept with others. Recently, I read an article about how Norwegians embrace winter and I attributed some of that enjoyment to embracing white space time. I am taking on this challenge to help me reflect, learn about myself, learn from others, and embrace “my winter” in new ways. Next year I am going to encourage my teams to participate in this further.

Why Blog?

8 Oct

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It’s the holidays and time to regroup before the final push. I find it a natural time to reevaluate the things I do and ask why? So why blog.

“Blogging is on a thirty-minute deadline.” I found this a daunting piece of advice, yet liberating. This rule brings focus and a deadline. The deadline brings whats on top very quickly.

First Thought, Best Thought.”  You can always explore an idea again later in a new blog entry. Indeed it has occurred with me.

“A blog naturally reflects what you have been doing .” It helps you vent and solve problems.

The number one thing my blog has taught me is you will need to read more than you write. I am a ferocious reader. Anybody who knows me will confirm that. Simply putting your own ideas out there without exploring the views of others and engaging in conversation with them means you are quite possibly a bad listener. The learning comes about through the exchange of ideas. Publishing a blog has allowed me to engage with thoughtful educators all over the world. I have been amazed at the conversations that have come about. I’ve had conversations with a global network of generous and informed educators who are contributing to my professional development in simple yet powerful ways. That “connected educator” concept is real.

Happy blogging.

Positive Learning Environments: Part Two

23 Sep

constructivist

I suppose the key to these is the key competencies of our national curriculum and ensuring we are getting it right in the classroom.

  1. Focus a good deal of your teaching on “learning how to learn” skill development. Read up on how to teach study skills, learning to learn skills, research skills, inquiry skills. Make sure that your students grow both in terms of content they learn and the “learning to learn” skills they need to develop in order to learn well in the future.
  2. Make “asking questions” central to your teaching and to your learning environment and school culture.
  3. Give students more choices and options – in the classroom.
  4. Use inquiry strategies, research skill building activities, interactive learning and projects as critical parts of teaching. Incorporate more interest based projects into your curriculum.
  5. Where possible, make learning experiences more “authentic”. Ask “how does this relate?” How can you provide students with a concrete understanding of their future options? Can you take field trips to different places of business? Colleges and universities? Bring in speakers?
  6. Create more ways to integrate learning across the curriculum and consider ways to redesign the curriculum. When redesigning or renewing the curriculum, examine whether curriculum materials or programs have a significant component built around developing curiosity, motivation, relevance and interest.

There is little doubt there are lots of challenges here but it up to us as teachers to challenge ourselves to create authentic learning environments.

I Read Blogs

12 Jul

When I think about blogging I think about some great quotes.

‘May you live in interesting times’, the Chinese saying goes; or as Charles Dickens’s wrote about the Victorian Era, it is the ‘best of and the worst of times’.

Blogging is interesting, reflective. This feels a bit like a therapy session. If you’d told me two years ago that I’d be reading blogs I would have laughed in your face. Blogs were written by sad people who had no life and were total bores down the pub at the end of term. Forgive me fellow bloggers for thinking this, as I couldn’t be more wrong I think this is the thing that has and will continue to have the biggest impact for me. The teaching profession is full of people who work unbelievably hard for the students they teach and yet these people still take so much time to reflect and share their experiences to help others to learn, challenge themselves and grow. These blogs provide me with ideas ranging from small things to try out in a lesson, to huge developmental projects, to a complete challenge of ‘everything you ever thought you knew about. I would like to thank you blogosphere for making me a better teacher indeed better person.

How to do a Blog: Blog Live from Catholic Conference

10 Jun

  

I owe so much to the people I have connected with. I am sure you feel the same way. Just being at this Conference makes me realize I am part of something bigger, and pretty special.Whether face to face or virtually, I have been able to connect and work with dazzling people who have challenged me and opened my eyes up to so many possibilities. These people have challenged me and asked me am I being the best I can be?

I wonder sometimes just how different my career, and life for that matter, would have been if I wasn’t able to make those connections.

I have just explained why we should use twitter, or why we should blog, why we should join communities or even why we should join/create a PLN. I hope I have challenged others and got them to do/try something new. Try the Pond. Being an innovator.

I am not telling you anything you don’t already know. Connecting with other educators opens us…

Students can blog also

5 Feb

My classes are currently setting up their user accounts and learning how to using the blended learning environment. It is wonderful how students set their own rules and have a knack for giving things a go. I still do not believe they are digital natives.

I do find it great when students tell, me they love to blog and students from they enjoy being virtual students. It is nice to know that we have the ability that our kids can always stay connected with their friends and teachers and still learn along with us, although they might be in other classes.

Let’s blog or tweet or poke or…

30 Mar

What has joining the online world about education and technology done for me? How has writing here changed me or the way I approach my work? Have I learned anything? How has this weekly reflection helped me?   I know this for sure……I know less than I thought I did. To me it has been a process of māramatanga (enlightenment I use Maori term for it is so much richer) From a practical perspective it dips into so many of the Registered Teaching Criteria for teaching registration in New Zealand buy I digress.

Education is about being willing to learn, being willing to take risks and acknowledging that we do not have all the answers. Not only do we have to admit to not “knowing” it all, but we need to be eager to look for the answers. Teachers must model this for their students. Teaching is more about guiding students to learn new skills for themselves as it is about telling students about what they should know.
Today’s students need to know how to research, work with a team, how to think critically and find information when they need it. All learners need to be able to read, reflect and respond. I think the most important thing that I have learned is that I must continue to learn! I know now that no teacher has learned everything they need to know about being an effective educator. We are always ako (students). We need to learn every day. What we learn today changes what we will do tomorrow……. teachers are in the best position to model this for the community.

Professional Readings

Teaching “Naked”

To balance things out I thought I might suggest this reading this week from Jose Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts

http://chronicle.com/article/Teach-Naked-Effort-Strips/47398/

NCEA and Student Motivation

While doing some research on student motivation this week I came across this really good article.

http://www.edgazette.govt.nz/Articles/Article.aspx?ArticleId=7885

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