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...

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Three Years Under My Belt

I cannot believe my third year of teaching is over, and my first year at Orewa College. I have been on a rollercoaster this year, learning so much about the school culture and curriculum. I felt a little lost throughout the year, but also had substantial support surrounding me with my million questions! I had an end of year appraisal meeting with Adam, my HOD, discussing my strengths and areas I need further development in, in relation to the practising teacher criteria (see full report here). This post identifies some of the key points from our discussion.

My strengths are my lifelong learning, my professional relationships (particularly with my students), my classroom culture and the learning opportunities I provide. To strengthen these PTCs even further, next year I would like to make connections and increase my relationships within the community, and increase my understanding and inclusion of the Ako Orewa learning process (as previously blogged about). From student feedback, such as these comments from my Level 2 class, I feel confident with my classroom environments and hope students continue to feel safe and comfortable in my lessons.

Moving forward, the two PTCs which need the most attention/growth are 1 (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) and 5 (Design for learning). Next year I would love to learn more Te Reo Maori concepts, customs and terminology. I feel I naturally use some key phrases such as Morena, Haere Mai and Whakarongo Mai within my practice, but have a lot more to learn about cultural practices of Maori and other cultures within our community. One cultural practice we need to be aware of when teaching sexuality education for example, is that Tongan and Samoan students cannot be in the same lessons as their siblings as it is considered inappropriate. I feel though, I need to learn a substantial amount more about the history, culture and beliefs of our non New Zealand European students.

Therefore, my major 2019 goal is to become more confident in the use of Te Reo, read about tikanga Maori and have professional conversations with the Languages department at school. As a result, I would like to further develop the cultural responsiveness within my classes, to ensure I am inclusive of all students, with a specific focus on Maori. 

An additional goal is to analyse student achievement and student progress more regularly throughout the year, not only at the end of the year. After the Seniors left, I spent time breaking down student results, reflecting on the results, and examining where to go next, but feel I needed to have more discussions with students throughout the year to formatively assess their learning, not only summative assessment. (Once the Senior Health exam results are released in January I plan to write a reflective post on student achievement/results). I feel that can be achieved by shaping the structure within my classroom to allow for small group tutorials, as well as discussions with individuals. This structure will require a lot a trust within my classes, which will come back to how I create relationships with the students. I am grateful to be sharing a Level 3 PE class with Adam, and his strength is structuring his classes to have tutorials and check-ins with the kids, so I will learn plenty alongside him!

Now though, it is time to unwind and have a break, ready to tackle some new challenges next year!