Last week was just crazy busy. With my research assistant job cranking up a notch and my ‘day job’ needing some serious time put in, it meant I didn’t get much done on the blog or thesis fronts. As well as that, my younger step-son had his last 3 VCE exams (that means he finished High School this week, for those non-Aussies) – so a little full on at home too!
My week was busy but it was great too – so I thought I’d share 5 things I saw in schools last week. 5 great things that from the outside would be invisible and no-one would know that anyone is even thinking about them. It’s ok that no-one knows this stuff, cos teachers just get stuff done and it’s part of our job of course – to an extent. Much of teaching is about passion too.
This time, I’ll let you in on a couple of conversations I had. For privacy, of course, you won’t know which schools or regions they come from. And I’ve changed some names, genders and teaching roles. The things these guys are getting done are the point here – not the back-slapping :0)
One teacher was chatting with her Principal:
“How to do I get more time with the PE teacher for my Grade 6 kids? I have been organising running training every morning before school from 8am. Now the other Grade 6 teachers want to join in -but we haven’t got the time or space before school. And we have yard duty and before-school meetings to fit in. I want these kids to run and spend this time together – it’s so good for their personal skills, I don’t have many arguments in class anymore. These kids are loving exercising as a class and focusing on personal bests. But I’m having to balance it all up – the curriculum is so full already…”
For another Principal, the challenge at school was about supporting the younger siblings through the school and keeping the whole family engaged in learning:
“If I could just find a way to link up with the next-door Kindergarten, I think we could have a real impact on our kids learning at home. We don’t have well-off families who have the time to read books, correct homework or test spelling words. I know it’s not really our role but our school could help these families if I could just find a way in…”
This conversation went on most of the day and he left with several contacts and ideas to get started :0)
For a newly graduated teacher (first year of teaching) his challenge was to understand what each child needed for their learning.
“I’m going to scrap next week’s maths planning (it’s the same as this week’s anyway) and I’m going to ask the kids what they want to learn in maths – and how they’d like to get started. That way I might be able to get to each kid several times during the week and rather than worrying about ‘did they finish that worksheet’ I can actually talk to them about their own, personal learning and maybe teach them one on one. It’s worth a try.”
For one school technician (they provide the tech support for all the computers, laptops, iPads etc) it was about making sure our kids had what they need to learn best.
“My school is a special education setting and I’m trying to get past the number of things that get broken or smashed and how many times I have to fix that same iPad, and try to see what these kids can do with the iPads. It’s quite amazing when you see that 13 year old boy communicate through an app. I didn’t know how much he understood when I spoke to him. Now I do and I can talk to him. I know now why that teacher complains so much when that iPad is broken, it’s stopping him talking to her.”
For an ICT leader at a school, her challenge was around supporting the teachers to let kids be the leaders and share their knowledge of computers and the Internet.
“I think we have to accept that the details of the software or the technology aren’t going to be something we can learn everything about. We know teaching, though. We know what our kids need to know and we know how we can help them learn it. I’ve got to get some of the older kids to come present at a staff meeting. Our staff need to see how much knowledge these kids are arriving with. It’s amazing. Then it would be hard to avoid the fact that we need to make the most of these tech skills at school.”
This teacher left the room at this point to call her Principal and change the staff meeting next Monday to one that she could run with some kids from the after-school care program.
My job in schools is amazing. I work with people like this every day.
This post hasn’t been about blowing our own teaching-horn. Although I can see that you might think that :0) It’s actually about sharing what goes on before the 9am bell and after 3:30pm. It’s invisible so we don’t expect you (as parents) to know and we shouldn’t get frustrated when people give us the ‘all those holidays, finish work at 3:30’ speech. It’s what the world knows about teaching.
So this is my, very small, very minor, attempt at drawing back that curtain.
Let me know what you think. I know this can be controversial – that’s fine, opinions are good.
But remember your manners in the comments section please. As MamaMia puts it –
‘Imagine you are at a dinner party with people you don’t know, now write your comment’
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