Teacher Learner Term 3

This term I learnt how to snowboard.

6a9f8d3d3ee6e3b4d105da46921a9a55In 2010 I wrote a post about how we all need to make the shift from ‘teacher expert’ to ‘teacher learner.’ Sadly, this is one of the main things holding many of us back from helping our students make the shift into being ready for today’s world. Many of us have a teaching mentality that is fixed and not geared for growth and when we realise that we can’t be the holder of all knowledge and expertise then we open ourselves up to be vulnerable in front of our students. We become more able to be change agents in every way.

This term I decided to learn how to snowboard. I’ve been a skier since I was about 8. My family would have the occasional winter trip up the mountain and I kept the ski trips up into my teens with my friends when I left home and then with school trips since I’ve moved to the South Island.

This year, however, I took the chance to learn a whole new discipline when my wife and I took our kids to Cardrona for the first time. If I’m going to be on the learners slopes, I thought, I might as well learn something new alongside them.

So, a family day out, 2 school trips and a day with some friends later and I have had 4 days this season getting to grips with standing sideways, making ‘toe turns’ and actually cracking a rib (I think… at least it REALLY hurts when I sneeze and I have trouble rolling over in bed). BUT it was worth it.

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 9.25.29 pmOne of the greatest outcomes of this adventure has been the chance to show my class how much I’ve failed. I showed them this short clip of me crashing a few times and I was amazed at how interested they were. It’s easy to forget how important it is for other learners to see us failing and to keep on trying. I really like this poster for getting this message across, too.

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 9.30.42 pm

Below is a video I put together using our new school Gopro camera. We’ve decided to buy this to create a new version of our ‘What I did at school’ video we first made 3 years ago. This snowboarding day out with some friends was my chance to get to grips with the camera’s ‘ins and outs.’ There are quite a few tricks to using it, as it turns out. The music is from American Authors, ‘Best Day of my Life.’

I wonder what I’ll learn to do next term?

Learner Poster = eatteachblog.com/

Fail Poster = peachysceneblog.blogspot.co.nz


Team Teaching #1 CEO to Partners

This is the first in a series on Team Teaching; what makes it work at our school. I’m hoping to write about the things that make it or break it, as we’re discovering along the way.

CEO to Partners

Every teacher who runs their own traditional classroom recognises pretty quickly that once you close that door at the start of the day, you are the cleaner, the shop assistant, the store-room manager, the receptionist and the CEO of your own little business. Apart from having teacher aides (learning assistants) and the odd parent help, every decision to be made is very much up to you. In my first year teaching I was literally the only one in my class older than 9 – for the entire year!

And, as we all recognise, this has its downside (you can become quite a ‘lone ranger’, which may be why many of us sprint for the staffroom for some adult interaction!) but it also has the upside of giving you the space to make ALL the decisions. Of course we have to plan and teach within our government and school guidelines but, on the whole, we can run our little ‘non profit organisation’ as we see fit. I decide where to put the resources, how to setup my classroom furniture, where to seat michael and Sarah and even whether I want seats at all!

If I want to swap maths and reading times around – I do that! If I want to create a massive chicken wire covered with material tree in the middle of the room – I do that! (True story) And what’s even better, it’s that I can do all of these things on a whim if I want. I can dream it on my way back from the staffroom and have these changes in place before lunchtime. Because I’m the boss! I run our little enterprise and if I want the scissors tray to be labelled in Te Reo only then that’s exactly what happens!Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 6.26.44 am

BUT – when we’re team teaching, it’s very obvious that things have changed. Now you have another CEO to deal with. One with precisely the same convictions about how the scissor tray should be labelled and in our experience we have realised that those convictions can be very different from your own. Now you have a teacher in your rooms who has equal say over how the rooms are set out, how the day will run and what are the best approaches to help students learn in your room. In effect, you have a business partner!

So – what are you going to do when you don’t agree on things? Or, even worse, when that disagreement happens in front of your class? Here are some things we’re learning that makes for a successful Teaching Team

1. Learn to be flexible – you have to accept that the benefits of TTing far outweigh the loss of control and that your opinion or preference isn’t the law of the land anymore.

2. Learn to ‘Park it’ – we found out very quickly that having an ‘out clause’ or saying that gave us time and space to think through issues was crucial, especially when little eyes and ears are watching. Having a strategy that leaves conflicting issues till later gives us a strategy we can work with.

3. Have a shared understanding of teaching beliefs and practices – we call this our ‘Team Tikanga’ and we have a document that describes what our workshops will look like, how homework will happen and everything in between. If we want to change or discuss things we write our ideas in a table headed ‘For discussion’ and we talk about this at our next catch up.

4. Think of the Flow on Effect – everything I do impacts on my TTer. If I want to go over time in a reading workshop then that impacts on what’s happening next door with the rest of my class, and my TT. It takes time to retrain our thinking to include the needs of another teacher and this is so important.

Next Team Teaching Post: #2 Why on Earth would you do that? Benefits of Team Teaching

Student Engagement Poster

This is a great poster I’ve seen thanks to Educatorstechnology.com and it’s doing the rounds on twitter at the moment. I’d probably say that I’m great at using 2, 3 and 5 in my teaching practice at the moment and I’m definitely going to utitlise the “3-2-1” method of reflection in number 6. Lately I’ve been asking, ‘What’s one thing you’ve learnt or gotten better at today?’ and this would take that to another level, I think.

I also remember a teacher using number 7 a lot when I was in Primary School. We would try to beat each other to finish her sentence. Funny. What’s something you’re already using and also, what would you like to use in your class a little more?