Monday, 26 November 2018

Ako: To Teach and To Learn, How am I tracking?

Earlier in the year I blogged here about Ako Orewa, the vision for student learning at OC (to learn more about the concept of Ako, read here). I then visited the classrooms of two colleagues to complete an 'Ako observation' (see blog here), to chat with students about what they are learning and why (i.e. the learning process). Our department goal for this year was to emphasise the learning process in our classrooms (as we strive to have it embedded within teaching and learning).

In addition to trying out some exit strategies for my previous inquiry, I wanted to grasp and actively consider the learning process as part of my inquiry for Terms 3 and 4. I focused specifically on my Year 9s, as it tied in nicely with the performance improvement programme unit at the time. For 5-6 weeks the students chose a badminton skill to focus on and attempt to improve, using the performance improvement cycle. The purpose of the unit was for students to understand the cycle and how it can be applied to learning any new skill. This tied in well with the learning process, as I was regularly able to check in with students about where on the cycle they were, what they needed to do next and explain why. 

Students often ask, 'why are we learning about this', and I'm quick to admit that question came out of my mouth frequently at school too. Hence the importance of contextualising learning for the students and making their tasks authentic for the 'real world'. After this unit with my Year 9s, and coincidentally the performance improvement unit at the same time with my Year 10s, I felt much more comfortable with the learning process and feel the kids did too. As a result, I certainly heard less of the question we shouldn't really need to answer!

To determine how the school is tracking as we 'Ako-ise', student feedback surveys are completed to gain a snapshot of the learning process within their classes. My Year 9s completed one survey in Term 2 and again in Term 3. Results which came back to us as the teacher were a series of questions with a percentage alongside it (100% is 'full Ako'). Although there is clearly still a long way to go, this class has aligned more with an Ako vision of learning over the past few months, evident in these statistics. On average, all of the results doubled from the end of Term 2 to the end of Term 3! These three results stood out in particular though, as described in the infographic I have created.

Throughout the year I wrote the what, why, what next less and less up on the whiteboard as it started to become more natural to include within my teaching. However, upon reflection, and looking at the results, these components of learning were not clear for some students, so I should continue to have a visual I refer to. Additionally, I have reflected on some of the students academic results, and realised, ironically, many of the poor results were attributed to lack of hand ins of assessments. To reduce this, and hopefully increase results and engagement, I would like to have more checkpoints and opportunities for 1:1 discussions with students (explored further in this article, a short yet insightful read). 

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Hanging With Healthies

This post is a very long time coming (even though it's pretty short!). Words cannot begin to describe how many times I have tried to sit down to write this post, but other matters have popped up during the end of year madness! Hoping to get back on the blogging roll over the next few weeks.

In the October holidays, I attended the inaugural New Zealand Health Education Association (NZHEA) 3 day conference - #empoweringhealthed, which made me walk away feeling incredibly inspired. Prior to the conference I was feeling rather flat, like I had lost a bit of passion and excitement about teaching. I just needed a break and a few days learning with some awesome, like minded educators from around NZ. 

I am grateful for this opportunity, including being asked to share some of my 'go to' relationship activities (see presentation slides below - if you would like more information about the resources or activities, feel free to comment below or contact me through Twitter). I was considerably more nervous about 'presenting' this time compared to last year at PENZ, but had positive feedback from those who were present.

I attended a variety of workshops, but the three that left me thinking were; Health Scholarships, Senior Health Courses, and Integrated Learning. Next year I hope to be involved more with HPE Schols, as I have tried to learn more about them this year, and have a few students interested. Alongside this, I want to give our Level 2 Health programme a bit of a change, based off of student results and student feedback (post about this to come post exams). Attending a session about Senior courses was helpful to understand the Level 1 & 3 courses, as well as discuss with other teachers what they include in their programmes. Finally, Orewa is heading towards a huge shakeup in 2020 with integrated learning, which I am incredibly excited about, so thought getting the juices flowing now would be helpful in the long run. I now have several ideas to put into action over the next few months!

Two activities I enjoyed participating in, and want to share as they could be used in several Health settings were The Deal Of Life resource and a Character Strengths Test. They are both very engaging and enjoyable, with teachable moments. 

These three days were full on, but I left feeling full in my heart and my mind, and excited for next year's classes. I really enjoy teaching PE, but there is something quite special about teaching Health. This conference, the organisers and the attendees reminded me of this. Reminded me that there is always so much more to learn, to give, to create, to share, so I need to continue to challenge myself to be the best I can be for my students.