Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Relationships are the key

One of the most essential ingredients in having students achieve success in the classroom is the relationship they have with their teacher. The ability to connect, understand each other and have the mutual respect goes a long way to having a good student/teacher relationship. There are times when no matter what you do, you and some students just do not connect, but when you do the results are amazing. This is my reflection on the past 3 years of teaching, and some of the great relationships I have formed.

Over the past 3 years I have had wonderful students in my senior history and business classes. I have had the opportunity to engage in conversations, excursions, camps, and many other opportunities. I'm still in contact with a number of my students that finished school last year, and I love catching up with them and seeing how life after school is going. One of the ex-students came on a trip with the current Ancient History class this year, and even came and helped me out at school earlier this year. She is now studying to be a teacher, and I might just end up working with her at some point. She worked tremendously hard in the 2 years I taught her, and we had some great exchanges in class and through emails. there are many others that I have also had many interactions and helped along the way. Many have asked for reference letters after they have left the school and they know my door is always open to them. One of the letters I received from a student I have stuck on my wall and it motivates me and provides immense inspiration to me:

This past year I have seen relationships grow stronger with my current group of students. Some have shared personal stories with, had really tough periods to work through, asked advice, and generally been absolutely brilliant in my classes. They have achieved exceptional marks through diligence, dedication and proactive in their studies. We have had good laughs, (they love making fun at me, especially some of the words I say with my accent and my obsession with Evernote). We also had a 4 day trip to Sydney, where I saw different sides of them, and marvel at how they have all developed since meeting them at the start of 2011. Last week I launched my 1st Annual BBQ for my graduating students. It was a great evening of relaxing, laughter and inviting them into my home. I'm looking forward to this tradition continuing.

This week marks the end of their formal lessons, before their final week of school. On Wednesday night is our School Awards night, and I'm looking forward to seeing them with all the different awards they will receive. Next week they finish with a Valedictory assembly and their Formal (Prom) that night. I have been deeply honoured and humbled by the fact that 4 students have asked me to deliver their Valedictory address. I'm busy working on the speeches, and hopefully I can do them justice. I have forged a close bond with the current group graduating students, and at the end of next week I have to say goodbye to them as students, but I believe we will remain in contact over the coming years. At the same time, there are other students that I have started to develop relationships with, and the cycle continues. 

The mutual respect is there, they respect me, they have listened, worked hard, trusted and grown. I have respected them, listened, worked hard, trusted and grown. I'm no longer the teacher, I'm the facilitair in their learning journey. If you want to make an impact on a students lives, show them you care about them as a person, believe in them, work hard, encourage, be human, don't be afraid to fail, and go on the journey together.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Quick recap from a busy teacher

I have been trying to start this blog post for over a week now, and finally I hope I manage to get something down. This final term here in Queensland is always hectic, with a million different requirements and things to get done. Quick recap on these last few weeks:

  • I'm on the Modern History District review Panel, and we had our Verification day on the 21st of October. Intense day of scrutinizing other schools work, students submissions, and making judgements & recommendations. It is a challenging process, but invaluable PD and learning that takes place. It always helps to understand the State assessment requirements and see how other teachers do it.
  • My Year 12's have done tremendously well. I'm so excited and proud of their achievements. More than half of the Year 12's I teach across three subjects have achieved a VHA level (Very High Achievement, essentially 86% and above). Also the second year in a row that one of my students achieved a VHA 8 level (VHA 10 is the highest possible).
  • My Business subject folios and tasks were selected to represent the sample for our district at State level. Only the second time in our schools history one of our submissions have been sent to State. 
  • On Wednesday the 23rd October I moderated my first ever Twitter chat on #histedchat. Another tremendous opportunity to learn and interact with a range of educators from all over Australia. I have been so excited getting involved in twitter chats, and then hosting one to really move along my Twitter journey. I'm very thankful for the opportunity to have moderated the chat, and I'm really looking forward to joining more chats and getting to make contact with even more educators from all over Australia & world.
  • Through everything that has been going on I have also proceeded to do 3 different MOOC's through Coursera (previous post). They have gone really well, with 2 wrapping up tomorrow, before I join a new one. All three have been fascinating, and I'll have a full review and reflection on them in the coming weeks.
  • Lastly for now, I have decided to enrol in a Masters course. I'm leaning towards doing my Master of History through the University of New England or doing my Master of Education. Hopefully have everything in place to start part-time studying next year. I enjoy learning and developing my knowledge and skills. Doing a Mssters will definetely help me grow as an educator and at the end of the day benefit my students.
That is just an extremely quick recap of some of the things from the past few weeks. Lots to share and reflect on over the coming weeks with my Seniors finishing up on the 15th.