Friday, 30 January 2015

Year 9 English to Y10 English

So last year my Year 9 class was a bit of a mission. There were so many individual needs and so many issues to work through before we could tackle any credible work.

We did nail a few things: poetry, static images, language techniques and parts of speech, analysis of film...

But we didn't get too close to beginning or completing a proper novel study.

The focus last year I suppose was to instill positive behaviour for their learning. So much effort was put into recognising good learning behaviours particularly in the first few terms.

It all became a bit unhinged come the exams and having to move rooms and becoming stressed out as the seniors left. I felt horrible for my Y9s as my focus went to the seniors and Y10s in prep for Y11 but I still think we managed to get a good foundation of knowledge and skills sorted for their coming year.

Now this year I have a core group of previous Year 9 students in my Y10 English class. It was a surprise yesterday as I hadn't properly digested who was in my class when I originally saw the class lists. Hugs and smiles and hope.

Hope that this year wasn't going to be ruined by immature behaviour and long drawn out wait time as silly boys mucked around. Hope that this year there would be no bullying of one particular student. Hope that my talk to another particular student before he came in would stop it- once and for all. The realisation that his bullying of that student may stem from his religious beliefs and how I can somehow use those to enable him to "see the light" so to speak...

And of course there are a bunch of new students too! They're all expecting an awesome year with me and because Y10 is my favourite level to teach English to - I will work even harder to do the absolute best job.

Yet the first thing I did when the old boys came in was tell them off. As if we had just continued from last year. Yeah there were a couple students who I pushed a bit further and suggested that their behaviour at the end of the year was what I was looking for - not at the beginning of the year.

When the new students and my old girls came in I was still in the process of getting the boys to settle after lunch on the first day back and so we did what we could.

And the class was still a mess because we didn't get the new bookcases after school the day before due to the rain. And there were still heaps of posters to put up and a tonne to either put back in the backroom or chuck. And there were still a few unneeded desks stacked up taking up space.

So all in all - I got them to reflect on last year. What they enjoyed about English, what they struggled with, what they need help with and more importantly what they didn't enjoy last year. I was hoping the kids would reflect on how much learning we didn't actually do and how much we didn't learn because of the consistent behavioural issues.

I have yet to read each student's reflections which I'm hoping to do today.

What I normally do when I start a Year10 class off is intoduction letters which is what I base our whakawhanaungatanga off of. However I read last year that intro letters are all well and good but what do they actually tell you about the learner? So this year I took this way and focussed on figuring out who they are and learn about what makes them tick as the term progresses. Perhaps creating solid relationships will happen more naturally this way too.

I just felt a bit awful which is why I woke up so early and couldn't get back to sleep. Needed to get this out of my brain haha.

More importantly, I need to strategise and I need to think about what it is that I want for my students this year.

I need to get them ready for Y11. And that's quite a significant jump for these kids so we will work steadily, focussed and work together to get to the goal.

The first thing that needs to happen is for the boys to be split up. The second is for the books to be put away in the bookshelves. The third is a solid plan for this year and it's beginning to take shape in my head.

Seeing as the majority of my students are pretty pro at poetry analysis now we might start off with that to get the old skills back and also impress themselves and their new classmates with their knowledge. I've found that there is a significant difference in the content knowledge each student has when they walk into a new class.

Working on my student's strengths to begin with will enable them to feel successful and also to push the new students too.

I'd really like to stop saying old students and new students because the entire class are my students. But the fact of the matter is that I have a strong relationship with my old kids and I know how to get them working. Whereas the new kids, I've just met.

But I look forward to the challenge and hope that this coming week will not only set some boundaries but will ensure that my students all feel safe and welcome and have the ability to learn at their own pace.

I'm also hoping that a couple of students are moved in and out of the class because their levels are too low or too high for the class and I'd like for any class dynamics to change quickly so that I can just start teaching properly.

Of course, this may not happen too soon so I will carry on and hope that we'll have a good year!! :) Need to push them and get through everything we need to so that we can ensure everyone is successful.

Increase each students' reading level by two levels
Increase each student's grade level
Ensure that each student is on the right learning path and is pushing themselves
Enable each student to feel successful
Develop critical thinking skills
Complete and enjoy a novel study
Delve deep with film analysis
Focus on success criteria and co-construct the learning
Individualise the learning by ensuring each student is known and is helped one on one when needed
Initiate gamified learning to further give incentives to students to push themselves with their learning
Generate consistent and developing data and use to show learning journeys
Enable students to have a growth mindset
Develop a strong awareness of interpersonal relationships and the need for a open mind

For now - I'll leave it there. :)

Thursday, 29 January 2015

First Day Back at Heights

Even though I've been in and out of school for the past two weeks... today was the first time I really felt like I was back. We had the new Year 9s at school and jeez. It was exciting and draining. I only had 6 of the 7 new Y9s today in my House Tutor group class - but they were so so quiet! It took all my energy to keep up the pace and get them talking.

By the end of the day they were finally and I suppose it properly began when we were walking back from assembly and saw a magpie fly right into our classroom window. Shocking and a little bit funny. Just glad that the bird was okay!!

We ended up being stuck inside while the rain pelted down and could actually think about different things to do. I'd gone through admin, rules and expectations already and I was running out of things to discuss. Then I remembered the three swivel chairs in the back cupboard of my new classroom!! I suggested the idea of chair races - I wasn't sure they'd believe me because my previous suggestion of being allowed to write on the windows didn't go down so well. In fact the girls were first into the back cupboard to grab the chairs out and then I think the boys realised I was actually serious.

Two boys played on them for ages and I found some cardboard tubes for jousting. That took up about 30 minutes. Was pretty hilarious too. Kept telling them to be careful and they were which was cool. They even began to come out of their shells a bit too which was cool.

One of my new students said that his old teacher at intermediate would never have let them do something like that. I asked him why and he told me he had been in an extension class of sorts. Taking the comment I reminded myself that relationships were more important to build on a foundation of respect and fun, and that today was only going to be like this ever - with no classes... I continued thinking up more ways to get them talking.

We did brain teasers, played 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' with the app on my phone and decorated the class. It is beginning to look like a classroom finally!!
It was good to see them all gelling and getting to know each other. Seeing them asking questions, getting cheeky and getting to know me was cool too. Hearing about their future dreams and aspirations was awesome and I look forward to seeing how they go over the next couple of weeks.

Of course, I must say a huge thank you to our one very committed Peer Supporter in our class! Thanks Britt!! You were awesome today.

Looking forward to a fabulous year with these kids and hope that they gel well with the rest of our crazy, loud bunch :)

Monday, 19 January 2015

Well HELLO 2015!

So far this year I have dealt with my little sister's first break up and spent alot of time reading, sleeping, tanning, playing with Mia and Zo and spending time with family.

What I haven't done is any definitive work for school this year. Nor have I been back into school to switch classrooms... something I am still dreading.

I should feel guilty about this lack of work and amount of general relaxing I have done... however - I am completely ready to go back to school now. A week ago? Not quite.

During these holidays I've had time with two sisters who managed to bankroll me haha and timed their stays just for my payday and then left the day or two after. Pretty clever if you ask me. So I've spent a considerable amount of time just mucking around.

During this mucking around time I have read nine books, found a tonne of research that can help with this year, created a new classroom website - link here:    , re found my love of Pinterest - mainly because I want to start learning how to sew and so why not make dresses?

I've also completely ignored my blog. It took me absolutely ages to switch off and once I'd finally did it - with the force of a bored 14 year old sister in tow... I could relax. Gone were the consistent checking of Twitter notifications or to see if anyone had said anything interesting worthy of a favourite or re-tweet. Gone were the need to send and check emails. Gone was the focus on upping my #YesYear. Gone was the pressure to keep going hard.

All I have left right now is an appreciation of everything I did last year. Everything you all have done for and with me. Everything seems peaceful and relaxed and it has been a long long time since I felt this relaxed.

And yes - I know school is about to start. And that I said I was ready. But regardless, I have had an amazing year and I am ready for the next challenge I have set for myself.

One of .... dah duh daaaah....


If you know me at all by now - you will have seen that I love doing things to make others happy, to start new things and do lots of things for lots of different reasons. Most of 2014 was to prove myself that if I can do things that are selfish, important to me and make me happy - then perhaps I might actually enjoy myself.

Because I do enjoy myself when helping others - but it's a different thing. Now that I know what it feels like to not only do things for myself and yet somehow still help others - I figure I can still do that. Except I need consistency.

Consistency to not only keep up with everything I take on and make it balanced, but also to ensure that whatever is the most important to me - helping others (students, colleagues, family and friends) is done first and done right. So, here comes 2015. The year I attempt consistency.

Some of those things will be:

Ensuring my students work is all in at the same time, to me for marking and then to the moderators. On time.
Ensuring that my paperwork and digi-work is all up to date.
Ensuring that I keep doing what I love but not to the detriment of my students learning - hence the need for flipped learning particularly if 1) I want them to achieve higher and 2) I need to keep doing what makes me happy (PPTA, teaching others, MWWL, etc
Ensuring that I continue to strive for my goals in teaching, PPTA, MWWL and my PLN
Ensuring that I follow my heart and focus on what is actually important
Ensuring that I allow myself time to breathe and relax before the next big event
Ensuring that I take care of myself, hinengaro and tinana..  because otherwise there is no point
Ensuring that I do things that I love - to make sure I am not just serving others
Ensuring that I give time to every opportunity and also know when enough is enough
Ensuring that I still have an amazing year this year but perhaps saying 'Yeah Nah' a few more times may help improve consistency
Ensuring that I love what I do and enjoy what I'm doing - there really shouldn't be a problem :)