Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Don't Forget Our Angel Students

At the end of last year I felt very worn out. But I also felt I had overcome some new challenges and learnt a lot. Reflecting on my end of year appraisal and why I felt so worn out, one of the reasons was because a lack of positive reinforcement and sharing positives with whanau.

Unfortunately, majority of my discussions with students families were negative, discussing what their child was not doing or were doing that was unacceptable. Obviously I have dozens and dozens of students who are highly respectful, organised, engaged, but these angels are often forgotten about because they are self managed and seek my help only when they need it. This needed to change. I couldn't forget about the angels and only focus on those who were off task.

At my old school, we sent home school postcards every few weeks to a student or two who had displayed the school values. I felt so great sending those home to whanau, and the students came to school buzzing. So, this year I have created my own certificate to send home to students who are these angels that may feel that they are being forgotten about or not recognised. My aim for the year is to send 2 each week, and to spread the love around my classes. 

I think this will help to address my own feelings of being worn out and increase the positive connections I have with students' homes. I have already seen the impact on some students, when they come smiling and thank me for being recognised. One student even said her parents put the certificate on the fridge, and nothing has been on the fridge in years!

So a reminder to us all, we have angels, and we need to recognise them!

Friday, 25 January 2019

Integration: The Latest Buzzword

We are back at it for another year! The past two days have been full on, discussing integration, what that is and how on Earth we are possibly going to create integrated units! Next year, 2020, Orewa College will be breaking down the silos and saying farewell to subjects for Years 9 and 10. In their place, 16 3-subject integrated units based off the core values of the New Zealand curriculum. For a more detailed description of the journey the school is currently undertaking, follow Richard's blog series as he details the steps the school is taking.

For our two callback days to begin 2019, our focus has been to gain more of an understanding of the logistics and the structure of the integrated units, as well as begin to work our magic so to speak. We have shared across departments what we have trailed so far, the fears we have currently and the steps we need to take moving forward. This shift in education is incredibly exciting, for us and more importantly the kids, but obviously requires a lot of PD. 

I really enjoyed yesterday, as we were given options in the morning on how we would further like to learn more about integration. Many opted into the movie option, Most Likely To Succeed. I didn't attend this session, as I had previously seen the film - see my post here. Instead, I chose to complete readings, to give myself some time to learn about others thoughts, and give myself some time to reflect on my own. All of the readings we were suggested to read can be accessed here.

Below (and above) are quotes which left me thinking, and may leave you thinking too...

"Rather than forcing students to fit the environment, we need to have the environment fit each student." (Lory Hough)

"We are influenced by our surroundings and what we experience, which can limit our understanding of the world and especially the possibilities that exist." (Katie Martin)

"Teachers were happier through working with students who were intrinsically motivated to learn on projects designed by themselves." (Richard Wells).

"In the highly competitive, hyper assessed version of high school education, there are winners and losers. The losers are often those who dare to question, refuse to accept the status quo, strive to be themselves. And it's these students - the ones who probably have the most real potential in the wider sense - who are falling through the cracks." (Joanna Mathers)

I have been placed into the 'Respect' unit, alongside another HPE teacher, two Tech teachers and two English teachers. We were buzzing with ideas in our initial meeting and planning session yesterday, and our next step is to work out how to shape these ideas into an engaging project for the students. I believe this is an incredible opportunity for us to learn, and for the students to be exposed to/involved in more authentic learning opportunities. I am really looking forward to the change next year, but nervous as to the workload on top of a standard crazy school year! Watch this space...