Monday, 10 June 2019

Blog Break

Hi all, 

For a few reason's I'm going to take a blogging break for a few weeks:

I've injured my finger at touch!

Also, as always, here are my goals:

To make time for my mental and physical health. 
To carry out all my roles (teacher, HSA director and Across Schools CoL) to the best of my ability. 
To support staff wellbeing. 
To actively maintain a positive personal outlook.

It's nearing the end of Term 2 and it's always the most stressful term for me. In Term 2 I try to run a lot of internals for my seniors, and they sort of.. aren't feeling the pressure or any sense of urgency just yet. I take on board most of the stress! In Term 3 they realize it's crunch time and that it's basically their last term at school - it's the best time to teach exams because they see impending value in their learning - even if it IS just high-stake exams.

Term 2 means LOTS of feedback and marking, practice practicals, moderation, and I'm feeling a little snowed under. Pausing my weekly blog for a few weeks will give me extra minutes back to try and do the core of my roles! 

I'll keep chipping away at my interviews of last Year's Y8 teachers (probably voice-recording interviews as holding a pen is a little tricky at the mo) and will start to analyse their answers soon. 

See you in a few weeks.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Week 5... halfway?

To make time for my mental and physical health. 
To carry out all my roles (teacher, HSA director and Across Schools CoL) to the best of my ability. 
To support staff wellbeing. 
To actively maintain a positive personal outlook. 
  • Visits to the gym this week: A.. half. I didn't sleep well one night and had a terrible day (likely as a result) and after a passing chat to one of the school's social workers, decided to go to the gym to cheer up. I tried to do a class and accidentally chose the hardest class I've ever been to. Think I made it about 3/4 of the way through before deciding that was enough! 
  • McDonald's eaten: none. 
  • Casual sports games played this week: 2 games of touch, one with no subs so that was good.
  • Books read: Vladimir Putin continues.. I am making my way slowly through the book.. it's very dense and factual but fascinating. I would recommend it!  I also ended up watching a short series on youtube of him being interviewed about Russian interference in the American presidential election. 
  • Teaching highlights: 
    • Going in to set up the plant investigations with Panmure Bridge Year 8's - they describe their perspectives here:
    • Another period I enjoyed was one of complete concentration (and dead silence) as Year 13 attacked their massive booklet of readings for their upcoming assessment. The reading pack includes 2-3 newspaper articles, a welfare report, three completely full-on scientific peer-reviewed journal articles, and a herd book. It's ENORMOUS.  Students requested it be on paper for them, so they could highlight and annotate, and quickly flick back and forth.
    • It is quite incredible to me that the kids arriving in Year 9 struggle to focus and read five paragraphs at a time, and yet if they want to go to university through Biology, then this is the level of reading that's expected (for Excellence) in Year 13:

    • This is also a comment on the rigours and demands of biology as a subject. I think it's unreasonable to expect students to work THIS hard for just THREE credits in Biology - there are certainly 'easier' subjects to take that still pathway to university! And the standard is just getting higher and higher; I have friends in two different schools who have dropped two different standards because external moderation came back at a ridiculously high - Stage 2 or 3 of University - sort of level to be awarded an Excellence.
    • It feels like someone out there is actively TRYING to scare kids away from Biology! The NZ Biology Teachers facebook page said the same thing after the Scholarship-level Human Evolution exam last year, and the impossibility of sitting three exams to Excellence in three hours. Even as a university graduate and a teacher of Biology, it took me 2 hours and 45 minutes last year to write just 2 Excellence-level scripts - I found it physically impossible to read, (barely) plan, and hand-write/scrawl out answers in the given time.
    • Anyway, that was a small tangent! My kiddies spent a full 50 minutes slowly reading and highlighting the texts and creating drafts of the shape their assessments will take. I was really proud of them.
    • Probably my FAVOURITE teaching moment in the whole week was Laite requesting a new thriller from my class library. Then Jen requested the book Laite had just returned. Then Gloria asked for a book too, so I gave her one narrated by a very witty and sarcastic djinn. Then Jeff quietly asked for a book - he turned down the true survival story of a guy chopping off his own arm and instead took away one of my teenage favourites; City of Masks. I feel like that one teeny after-the-bell interaction was maybe the most impact I've made as a teacher in this entire year. If I can get kids to enjoy reading, I will consider myself successful :)
  • CoL things: 
    • I interviewed another two teachers about their class' reading comprehension in 2018. 
    • Attended the after school CoL teacher meeting on Thursday.
  • Health Science Academy Things: 
    • Took the class off to the Careers Conference. One of the students report she enjoyed herself because she got to see different careers, although there were none that were 'new' to her. She now knows that podiatry definitely isn't for her, but enjoyed the physio demonstration and having the experience of using a wheelchair with the occupational therapist. More than anything, I think she enjoys the connections with other schools and feeling supported. The students have created their own instagram chat group to keep in touch, which fires up around the time of meetings. 
  • Teacher well-being support: 
    • This week was the 'Brown About Town' Pub quiz. Alex is too good at pub quizzes, so he was banned from playing and given the Quizmaster role instead! We had two teams vying for first place, and in the end Karen, Vaughan and I (supported for a time by Graham and Aman) came out on top!
    • Gratitude emails sent: none this week.