Saturday, 2 January 2016

2015 reflection

It's 2016!
I can't believe how quickly the last year went by.
A challenge by Justin Birckbichler, @Mr_B_Teacher, to write a reflective post got me thinking about writing again. I liked his blog and title - Successes, Challenges and Resolutions so I have split this into those categories. The challenge was to do this before the New Year but I managed to start with one of my Resolutions, and have some time out with family, taking a jet boat trip up the beautiful Waimakariri River.


The School of Apps
This was a new initiative this year and I was reasonably happy with the way it went. It was totally a new learning experience for all involved and we came a long way. I feel this is the way education should be for students and those that did the course were certainly happy with the outcomes. Students were excited, came in frequently after class hours and they were enjoying learning together. More on this in my previous blog Schools within Schools.

Professional Development
I have done a lot more reading and personal Professional Development this year. Joining Twitter and being able to connect with such amazing people with inspiring ideas has been the single biggest motivator for me.
I have relished reading tweets and so many articles and blogs, all of which are helping me to improve my teaching and my ideas.

I have read a large number of books on education as well, with 3 inspiring me to read them many times and bookmarking pages.

Open: How we'll work, live and learn in the future by David Price
Stratosphere: Integrating Technology,Pedagogy and Change Knowledge by Michael Fullan
Creative Schools: Revolutionizing Education from the Ground Up by Ken Robinson

This is very new for me and I want to thank #EdblogNZ and @nlouwrens for getting me started. It's a great way to reflect on my work and to keep track of what I am doing and why. Looking forward to more challenges over the year.

I have been selected to be a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert for 2016 and I am so excited about this opportunity. I have a lot of ideas to help staff and students become more confident in using Office365 at our school, and I am learning a lot myself.

Staff Connections
I have really enjoyed working with 2 particular staff members this year, Andy Gorton and Carmen Kenton. Without these two people in my school, I think I would get frustrated, lack motivation, and I would not be the teacher I am. They feed me, inspire me and encourage me to always be better, think and read more, and push the boundaries. Whenever I feel unmotivated or a bit down, all I have to do is walk into their office or room and suddenly the world is right again. I am forever grateful.


School of Apps
Although there were many great things that came out of the School of Apps in 2015, this was the first year and there are a lot of tweaks to make. Due to staffing, we are rearranging the subjects that students will have access to, and we are also getting a new Computing teacher which will mean a different approach in that area as well. The students will get to go to his class to gain help with coding, which I know will be advantageous, as I am limited in that area and struggled with that over the last
year. I am also rearranging the order of projects as some students struggled with the individual project, so I will put an easier one first to get them on track. Looking forward to seeing how this works and if it helps engage students more fully at the beginning of the year.

Using Twitter has been a real challenge! I still am not that confident and frequently google things to work out what I should and shouldn't do. I don't think I have made any really big social blunders, but I'm not sure I am doing things as well as I can yet. It's a steep learning curve and I love it, but I'm still a newbie! I do believe it is a fanatstic tool and I am keen to make the most of it in 2016.
And in breaking news.... I have just found this amazing help sheet - thanks +ariaporo22

This is a real challenge for me. Writing is not a strong point of mine. I'm music and maths oriented so it takes me a while to get my thoughts into some sensible order when using words. I was always told I rambled when I wrote, so I have been trying to make things very concise. They tend to come out in bullet points. I use far too many exclamation marks (I have deleted about 6 so far while editing) and have had to edit furiously for each post.

Work/Life Balance
This is a hard one sometimes. I think I am improving on it but I suppose doing work each night between 9 and 11pm is probably not a good balance. My personal life, being a taxi to 2 teenagers with multiple sport and music events, makes it difficult to keep up. It is on the edge at the moment, even to the stage of me pretending that reading books on education and being on Twitter reading articles and participating in chats is actually not work so doesn't count in those hours. Teaching is not a 40 hr week job so maybe the 9pm work time will have to stay for a while. Maybe just not every night...

I get frustrated trying to encourage other staff to use technology. Many of our staff struggle to even use their email, never mind integrate some sort of technology into the classroom. This is something I would like to change and I am working on setting up PD sessions for staff to help support them and encourage them to try something new.


  • I will make my classroom a place where students don't want to leave. I have the opportunity with a new music class this year to make it a vibrant and exciting learning experience. I really want to see how I can do this is in a "traditional" class of just 4 hours a week, not just in the Schools within Schools environment where I have more time and flexibility.
  • I will make the most of my MIE Expert role. This means helping others, learning more and getting the most from the support and encouragement of others. Setting up PD sessions at school is just the first step. I want to support staff in their classes and try to help them see the amazing transformation of students when technology is used to support learning.
  • I will continue my blog and keep up with professional reading and Twitter. I have really enjoyed the learning I have done this last year and I want to continue this as it inspires me to do more.
  • I will be wary of my work/life balance. Making time to do other things for myself that are not work related has to be a priority. I enjoy gardening, music and genealogy, as well as being with my kids, so I am going to set aside time to do some of those each day. Plus more jet boating and swimming in the Waimakariri River.