I have really been putting myself in the pit over the past few weeks in preparation for the year ahead. Put me in front of any kid and I would say I know how to engage most of them. But standing in front of a group of adults as always been my kryptonite!! Seeing as I will be speaking to different sized crowds of people this year I decided to take action and take a public speaking course. And I am loving every minute of it.
Going from 12 ammmms and aaaaaahs in my speeches in the first week to very few, sometimes no filler words in my most recent speech I am very pleased with my progress. It also gave me another element of empathy for the learners as I got to really feel what they are going through when they are anxious or when they are trying a new opportunity. I have also grown my knowledge about what is important to engage the audience and this counts for my learners but also the teachers and parents I intend on working with this year.
One of my first speeches was about my realisation in my first year of teaching that resilience is way more important than 'knowing everything' as it helps us grow. Here is a small part of my speech that shows why I feel it is key to talk about the snakes and ladders of life......
The Snakes and Ladders of Life
Yes, I am a cliche. One of my earliest memories is wanting to be a teacher, telling my teddies what to do. This was the start of my life ladder. Filled with checklists, ticking off each life goal to get to University, doing everything ‘right’. I thought ‘when I grow up’ started at 21 when I would graduate as a teacher and know all the answers to life and that would be me ready to be a grown up…..
That was one of my biggest failures to date! And the start of many failures to come. It made me reflect on what I thought was important as a teacher but also as a person. This is when I started to look into the idea of having a growth mindset founded by Carol Dweck. One of the most important quotes that impacted me during this time was “why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better?’
This is when my approach changed from the ladder of life to ….. the snakes and ladders of life where you need resilience, adaptability and humour to play. First, rather than encouraging my learners to get things right I started focusing on challenging myself and designing my lessons to promote resilience, empowering myself and others to deal with the inevitable ups and downs of life.
These are two great reads that may start to get you thinking about how we can use assessment to continually inform our practice instead of only at the end as a test. Also, 'weaving a coherent curriculum' allows you to reflect on what a truly interwoven curriculum may look like. What is the teacher's role and what are the learners doing?
Well, 2019 is well and truly gotten underway! With lots of big ideas coming to the surface and it has been great to be part of lots of critical conversations that include working with parents at our Meet the Teacher evening. It was so great to see many familiar faces as well as getting to know those who are new in the hub this year! As part of the evening we got parents to share their voice on what they think we should start, continue and stop doing in schools.
Many of us know that the world has changed rapidly since we were children and in the schooling system so it may be very hard to let go of what we know did /didn't work for us and the main concern is we don't know what will go in it's place. Many of the voices stated
'we know why learner qualities and the way we learn is important for the learners to succeed in the future, but how do you make sure they are set up for the system as it still is today?' I feel this is a very valid point and it is at the forefront of teacher's minds too. What is critical to learn and what is critical to know and how do we make sure learners are set up for success in whatever path they take?
The one common theme coming out of all the conversations I am having is that this is definitely NOT an easy answer to come to!! I was also part of a conversation with my colleagues and an inspiring guest, Rose Hipkins. We grappled with the idea that it is not either or we need both knowledge and skills not either or. And it may be that knowledge is more prevalent in the junior years with skills being more prevalent in the senior. However both are important throughout the day.
Planning was another essential part of our conversation. How do we make lessons engaging and stimulating for all learners?? We left the conversation starting to put some legs on our blue sky thinking so it will be exciting to see where we get to next! In the mean time, we have been talking as a team and reflecting on what we feel is important at this minute in time. Some things we have focused on has been relaxation, digital tools vs non digital contact time, fine motor skills (handwriting) Expression and collaboration.
Watch this space..........
Although we do not know what the future holds I feel we have to attempt to understand what qualities and skills will be needed/desired to be successful adults: creative, risk takers who can self regulate and adapt to a changing environment (with confidence or resilience?). - That's my thoughts anyways. Helping children to accept and understand what ‘comfortable with being uncomfortable so you are prepared for anything’ means.