Being Grounded

Charting a path in uncertain waters

I am in a tumble dryer, which is better than being in a concrete mixer! The tumble dryer has tennis balls in it to stop clumping. The tennis balls are ‘future focussed learning’, ‘teaching at school Utopia’, and teaching at ‘Grassroots State Secondary School’

STOP! I say, I want to get out of here as it is doing my head in. Until I decide otherwise, my blogs will be about my practice in my school.

“The only thing more difficult than starting a new habit is stopping an old one”

If I was working in a brand spanking wet paint school with a clean slate then certainly things would be easier. I say easier acknowledging that there would still be many challenges and I applaud what these schools have achieved. However, the challenge for me is to improve my practice in my school, with my constraints.

“The only person that you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday”

On Twitter we beat ourselves into a frenzy of defining 21st Century, future focussed, student centred, personalised, add what you like, eLearning as we try to aspire to some super power of teaching, sorry facilitating, learning at Shangri-La College. This is all good stuff and is mostly empowering but it does make the first steps in a learning journey seem like one small bite of the elephant.

There is no doubt in my mind that as teachers it is our job to build relationships with students. The realities of the classroom include the students who don’t want to be there and the students who don’t know how to behave on the odd days they are there. We manage assessment, reporting, fundraising, and sports teams, not to mention NZQA and moderation. We have discipline systems that seem arcane, punitive, bureaucratic, ineffective or hopefully not, all of the above. However, we have students who make us smile and we have students for whom we make a difference.

Do we offer a classroom environment where the students are asked to be engaged learners that are able to manage themselves in a digital environment whilst practising citizenship? Do we teach our students using real life contexts that give our students agency using an authentic audience or do we roll out some unit standards so that the students can gain Level 1 NCEA?

It is all very well to talk about how education should be. Certainly unless I dedicate at least an hour a day to this task I cannot possibly understand the complexities of my quest. My challenge is to focus on my journey; how do I implement future focussed learning into my practice? Wow! That was not that difficult. I had thought that I had to change the world or change the school when, in fact, all I have to do is change myself.

There will be many challenges along the way; they will be seen as opportunities to explore new practices. When I do come up against a road block I will merely go around the Maginot Line.

To use a John Key expression ‘at the end of the day’ I am judged on my classroom teaching and that is where I need to focus and ensure that I am exemplary of best practice. More importantly, that is the measure of how I choose to judge myself.

Terry’s aspirational list of Top Ten Teaching Targets

  1. Be the best classroom teacher that I can be
  2. Inspire students
  3. Inspire teachers
  4. Lead by example
  5. Move towards my goal
  6. Use restorative practice
  7. Have a future focus
  8. Build my PLN
  9. Reflect (bike time!)
  10. Blog weekly!

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