This video was captured during a Twitter chat that moved across to a GDoc and shows how it can be used by multiple people at once to collaboratively share ideas.
For the full list of FTPL videos, please click here.
“Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive.”
– Attributed to Jamais Cascio
What strategies do you employ to weather the storm that is the beginning of the school year and the mental chaos and stress that it generates? What advice would you give to pre-service teachers or new graduates to set them up to get through the chaos of term one mentally intact?
I have been finding this term mentally and physically stressful, draining and tiring, despite my contract being for three days as opposed to the four days of last year.That said, last year, I was tasked solely with teaching digital literacy skills in an RFF capacity, a role that I think, as I was reflecting last night whilst talking to Mrs. C21st, I took too lightly, as the skills I was teaching are skills that I think I could perform in my sleep whilst standing on my head, and so allowed some bad habits to creep in, in regards to planning for specific lessons.
This year, I am finding that there is so much more to do than what I was aware of from my ITE and even from last year. There are whole facets of teaching that do not get touched upon in, well, not the ITE program which I completed. The actually planning and programming from a scope and sequence that has been prescribed by the school, the administration required on a daily basis including everything from marking, checking books, interacting with parents, staff meetings, committee meetings, extra-curricular activities such as sports teams and debating, reassuring the student who’s struggling to feel comfortable socially that they do have friends, giving your banana to the kid who has no lunch, buying a water filter because the water in the taps tastes bad and on top of everything else, changing numeracy scope and sequences halfway through the term (though when the one that was being used made no sense, I actually do not mind that one, as frustrating as it is), having to prepare Individual Education Plans for any student who requires an adjustment for their learning.
In addition, this is also the start of the football (soccer) preseason, which brings its own time requirements, especially given that I am refereeing with a branch that is an hour away. Pre-season seminars, courses to upgrade my Referee Assessor (coach) qualifications, pre-season trial games, an FFA Cup match, training, fitness tests and other meetings have seen me spend about four or five hours just travelling each week, on top of the actual time at the event.
Then there is the chaos that comes about from Mrs C21st now being pregnant, which though things have been relatively smooth so far, with more nausea than actually being sick, it has brought its own challenges, especially in regards to food and working out what smells set her nausea off. Thus far, it has not been as bad as it could be, with the smell of red meat cooking, chia seeds, and some yoghurts being the main things that set her off, and our (her) consumption of white peaches necessitating the purchase of a fresh bag of six peaches every two to three days.
At the end of my first day of my first practicum back in 2012, in a Year Six class, I was hooked, I had the buzz, the rush of adrenalin that comes when a student has an a-ha! moment and gets it, and I thought to myself that, yes, I was in the right profession. I would be lying if I denied having wondered about the truth of that thought in the last week. Recently, I asked for feedback about pursuing a permanent posting, and Corinne Campbell (@Corisel) commented that I should continue to pursue a permanent posting, as being granted that would also see me gain access to significant additional funding for mentoring and guidance in planning and programming and early professional development opportunities.
I think it is fantastic that new, permanently-employed teachers have access to that resource to help gain their footing, and I do remember hearing one my friends from university who was permanently appointed straight out of university, talk about that and how she would be struggling even more than she was, without the time that it gave her to get her head around all of the tasks that were never mentioned during our ITE.
As far as I am aware (and if I am wrong, please correct me!), as a temporary or casual teacher, I do not have access to this assistance. Whilst I understand, from a practicality and management point of view why casual teachers do not have access to it (which school manages it etc), I think it is as important that temporary and casual teacher’s gain access to it in some format, even if only on a pro-rata basis. I am contracted, for the year, at .6. Why should I not be able to access .6 of the full amount in order to gain some guidance, mentoring and assistance in wrapping my head around everything? Why could a casual teacher with a good working relationship, whether with a particular school or a particular teacher, not nominate that teacher/school to be their mentor, and some sort of agreement is negotiated to provide the assistance to the new teacher?
There has to be a way for this to be better, and more equitably managed. There seems to be a regular discourse about the shortage of teachers and the rates of new teachers that are leaving the profession within their first five years being abominably high. Why can we not seem to come up with a way to put in place, for those new graduates who want it, access to assistance that is currently restricted to one small portion of the workforce?
I have not had one of those days since my last article on that topic, however, I have not particularly enjoyed my teaching lately as I am too busy stressing about getting through everything I have ben told I need to get through. I suspect that my desire to complete my referee qualification upgrade this season will fall by the wayside as it will be the first casualty of the year due to the amount of time that refereeing sucks up.
On the plus side, other than a few nights, (including tonight, but Mrs. C21st is out at a training night), I have done well in not doing work at home when Mrs. C21st has been at home as well. That said, I have been getting to school at around 0630, and have often only left earlier than 1800 due to appointments.
I had a bit of a stress-out last night. I had lost Saturday as I was refereeing an FFA Cup (the assessor was happy, I got a result in regular time, ran just under fifteen kilometres according to my GPS unit, and took just under sixteen thousand steps) and then spent the remainder of the day completing paperwork and reports and going through my post-match recovery program. Sunday we spent in Sydney seeing some family and friends we had not seen in a few months, and it was dinner time when we arrived home. I ended up getting a little bit of planning done for what I need to do, and was in bed at 2030, and then here this morning at 0615, with a fresher, cooler head.
Today did actually go well. I get through everything I wanted to, except for three activities, and only half of my reading groups.But I think that, despite what I wrote earlier about taking work home, that I will take the night for myself to relax, go for a light run (I have a fitness test tomorrow afternoon) and then an early night.
I do have faith that I will make it through this term, we are, after all, halfway through. I do remember feeling like this when I first started working in one of my previous occupations, and asking my manager at the time what I was doing wrong that I was not getting through my workload each day, and stressing out about it. I do not know what changed, but it did and suddenly one day, I was the one helping others get through their workload. I believe I will get there, and that at the moment I am somewhere in transitory phase between consciously incompetent and consciously competent.
That said, I would love to hear strategies, whether mental or physical, that you use to get through this chaotic time of year. As always, thank you for reading.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
– Attributed to Charles Dickens
I wrote an article yesterday about the benefits to myself and to my school community that come from investing time in your colleagues professional development and in your own. This afternoon I have the opportunity to attend my first TeachMeet. The Central Coast TeachMeet site website describes a TeachMeet as being a meeting or un-conference where teachers come together to share good practice, practical ideas and personal insights into a designated topic. Presentations are short (two or seven minutes) and are delivered, voluntarily by teachers who nominate in advance to present. Additionally, TeachMeets are an opportunity for teachers from a variety of sectors and backgrounds to meet and exchange experience, knowledge and ideas, and to invest in the broader school community.
Today’s Teachmeet is being hosted by Bradfield Senior College with the focus being learning spaces. This is a topic I am particularly interested in at the moment, with the movement of our school to open learning spaces as part of our school rebuild. On the back of the TeachMeet, is a TeachEat, an opportunity for further networking and exchanging of ideas, thoughts, insights and practices.I am very much looking to hearing from those who are speaking, about various uses of learning spaces, both traditional and alternative.
If you are interested in attending, click on this link to check the details and to register. If you are unable to attend, watch for the hashtag for the event on Twitter this afternoon #TMSpaces.
“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”
-Attributed to Amy Poehler
No single teacher, on their own, causes great things in the classroom or motivates students. That may sound odd, given that most classrooms are operated by a single teacher, but we do not cause great things to happen in isolation. The great moment in a lesson occurs because we have brainstormed how to deliver a particular lesson/skill/concept with a colleague, we have asked our partner or children for their feedback, we have sought feedback from our own students on how we can be better teachers for them and put that into practice, we have been to a professional development session of some description that has lit a fire under our tail and ignited a passion we were heretofore unaware of, the office staff have printed and distributed notes for any number of reasons.
In other words, we have collaborated in a variety of ways and with a variety of people. We do nothing in isolation. Ultimately, if we do not collaborate with our students, it will be irrelevant how amazing and inspiring our lesson plan is. Without their collaboration and buy-in, nothing is achieved.
I had a conversation this morning with a colleague who delivered my program to some classes on Friday, and her feedback was very useful. She pointed out that attempting to have students save a filed onto a communal USB was very time-intensive, and recommended simply using a class list as a tick and flick sheet, with a particular competency noted at the top of each column, and a tick if the competency was achieved. That was the initial idea, and somehow in the transition to using the class laptops as opposed to small groups, the method was cast aside. I used that method this morning, and it was much easier, and much simpler to put into practice in the classroom, and also when entering the data on the spreadsheet that my records are being kept on.
Collaboration with colleagues, especially around sharing what works is vital to a teachers success. How do you collaborate?
As always, thank you for reading, and I look forward to hearing from people about the collaboration that is going on.