Have you ever tried peer or self observation? Have you had a visitor in the room and observe a lesson only to find the students don’t behave the same as they usually would – either better or worse?
As professionals many of us work in classrooms of isolation, with 20+ young people,
The average class size in Australian schools was 24.7 students, above the OECD average of 24, and far bigger than some high-performing school systems. (I Give A Gonski, 2014)
We all have students who dislike attending school, and will take a day off at any opportunity. I often ask why this is, and when we look at all of the fun things students do outside of school, it is no wonder that they would rather be at home. They can explore, operate by their own schedules, don’t have overbearing adults watching over their every move and telling them what to do every minute of the day. At home students learn from their earliest years and then at the age of approximately 5 years old they are pushed off to an environment that pushes and prods them into a form of learning that is more often than not, not the best learning environment or technique.
As educators and professionals in a very demanding role we are all aware that we have a responsibility to keep the communication loop open and feedback is an important part of our work. We must communicate with colleagues, leaders, our students and their families, as well as the broader community. This is all on top of the core business we have of supporting the learning and exploration of concepts outlined in the governing curriculum to rank students against a continuum of learning outcomes and communicate this information with the stakeholders who require this information.
Loneliness doesn’t come form having no one around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that are important to you.
With only a week before school returns for 2015, I am beginning to consolidate my ideas into planning for the new school year. As the Digital Technologies Teacher K-7 (plus a year 11/12 course) I am keen to continually innovate and push the boundaries. I have a new leader in the STEM curriculum area, whom I believe will be supportive of innovation, and a very supportive Principal who has given me license to push towards innovation and making a difference in my field, but to always reflect and evaluate upon the implications.
When I plan for the new Australian Curriculum – Digital Technology I know there will be many challenges and a very steep learning curve to navigate. I took the opportunity to begin some coding with some students at the end of last year during the Hour Of Code, which was received well by some students, so I believe they are up for the challenge and change. My big idea for the year is to allow more freedom to the students in what they will explore and learn. I want them to take more responsibility for their learning and the direction of their work. I know some students will run with this and thrive in the new learning format and space that is being provided, and others will need guidance and modelling every step of the way. This is an effect of the education system we traditionally impose on our students.
This year I have signed Ocean View College up to participate in the Hour of Code. I have put together this presentation with the support of some University of Adelaide resources. If you would like to use them please do so with acknowledgement of the authors.
I have been using Google Apps for approximately 12 months and I have spoken to many educators who have gone through the process of becoming a Google Certified Teacher. I am inspired by this and believe I have the knowledge and skills to achieve this. My plan became actions when, in April I travelled to Sydney for the Ed Tech Team’s Google Summit. I thought I was very knowledgeable with my use of the suite and my goal for the conference was to make connections and meet some inspirational educators along the way. Instead, I learnt so much my brain was almost ready to explode after 2 days of “Google in Action”. I also learnt that there is so much I DON’T know about the suite and in particular the scripts that make the suite so much more powerful.
Following this, I returned home inspired and determined to achieve Google Certification. I studied thoroughly and completed the exams to achieve Google Certified Educator within a week of leavng Sydney. This was another steep, but very rewarding, learning curb. I now felt knowledgeable enough to present my skills to a wider audience. This opportunity came when I applied to present at our upcoming professional Development Day.
In 2013 I began as LMS Manager (EDUMATE) in our college, which is a Birth-12 public school in Adelaide, Australia.
As the first teacher employed with significant ICT skills in the college for over 7 years I was seeing first hand the gap in learning and skills that the students had. I was also entrusted to bring the skills of the K-7 students up to date with their peers across the world. As the foundation was vastly non existent for the majority I began teaching everyone the same – no differentiation.
As the year progressed, I found that many students we advancing faster than many others. This was the time to differentiate. I signed our college up as a Google Apps for Ed site where I began introducing students to collaboration and to some degree a blended learning model. Through the sue of Google sites, with embedded Google Docs and even home made learning objects such as screen recordings. By the end of the school year I had students achieving higher levels than expected just through the differentiation and engagement.