Monday, 21 April 2014

Complex composition

Education seems to be at a crossroad with many educators embracing our connected world and 21st century skills, but you have many that are still arguing for the 20th century model of teaching methods. I have been involved in education for only a number of years, and I have come across both sides already. I'm from a conservative South African background, and my schooling background was rooted in the old school methods. I did well under these conditions, and excelled at memorising facts for exams. It could well be imagined that I would prescribe to these methods, but i realised many years ago that it is not conducive to lifelong learning and development.

As I became involved in teaching, my mind was opened to the many different possibilities of learning styles and teaching methods. When I was introduced to Twitter just over two years ago it suddenly opened up even more information and connections. Slowly I delved into this medium of discovering information, with plenty of reading involved. Then I started sharing, getting involved in chats and discussions. I have interacted with educators from the US, Canada, New Zealand, UK, France, Hong Kong, China and many in my own country, Australia. In 2013 I started blogging, using other online platforms to connect and share, and building a varied personal learning network.

The 21st century teacher has the opportunity to connect, share and collaborate with educators from all over the world. We all have the chance to develop our teaching practice, share our expertise, contribute to the changing dynamic of education, and above all serve our student better. Technology and being connected are only two parts of the complex composition of a 21st century teacher. At the heart of it all is still quality pedagogy and relationships, and a multitude of other components. I absolutely love the teaching profession, the challenges, the opportunities, the chance to see young people develop, helping them on their learning journey, and at the same time I'm continually learning. As I continue to develop I will always remember where I came from in my own education background, and look forward to serving my students to the best of my abilities.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Busy times

I started the year looking at getting back into blogging more regularly, but the last two few months have been a bit of a mad scramble. Every year no matter how well prepared you are, how ready you are, organised; inevitably that first term hits you like a freight train. Once again the first term of the year was filled with new challenges and new obstacles.

This year I'm teaching 4 different senior classes of Year 11 and 12 students, many of these students I have known for years now and it is great to have them in my classes. Some students had left the region, changed schools, new school building opening and we had new staff join over the summer holidays. I love the subjects that I get to teach, especially my two History subjects and teaching online students again. Unfortunately my Modern history class numbers have dropped a lot, down to only 7 students this year. Hoping that the numbers increase next year, as this is the subject I'm most passionate about. My Ancient history class however is a composite Year 11 and 12 class, with over 20 students. Business subjects have remained quite constant.

I also jumped into doing my Masters this year. I'm studying online through the University of New England, doing a Master of History course. It's going to be a six year journey, doing 16 subjects part-time. I'm excited about studying, learning and developing my knowledge. After just the first 6 weeks I have already found new ideas and skills that I can apply to my students in class.

I'm also fairly active on Twitter with my PLN, do online readings and constantly trying new tech tools to use in classes. I love interacting with other teachers online in many diverse settings. Many discussions, articles, comments reinforce and challenge my own thoughts on teaching. I have drawn more from these interactions than from any other formats of professional development.

Life is busy, besides school and studies, I have a very active 3yr old and love spending time with my family. It is important to have a life balance, and it is an area that most connected teachers constantly battle with. As I enter Term 2, a term that has new challenges ahead. I have my next uni assignment, have a pre-service teacher with me for 5 weeks, attending the EduTech conference and taking part in a TeachMeet there for the first time. There are dozens of other things taking place, and I know the next 10 weeks are going to be extremely busy and challenging at times.

I hope to blog more in between all of what is happening, interact more, learn more, and develop more as an educator. There will always be room for more improvement and development.