Month: June 2014

The Rite of Passage

Last thursday I underwent another one of the legal “rites of passage” of a new teacher by being observed by my school principal. Although an incredibly stressful situation it turned out to be a highly constructive affair. I received many words of encouragement and constructive criticism from an education veteran who is passionate about the future of education, particularly the role of technology in this future.


One specific encouragement she afforded me was the nature of my entry slips or warm ups. Inspired by the urgings of my twitter friends or “tweeps” I have developed a method of conducting these warm ups using technology, specifically Google forms.


Photo from Keso S:

In a nut shell the students are linked to the google form or type in the customised link into their task bar. Once there, students are prompted to enter their name and then answer a short number of questions based on foundational knowledge of the coming lesson or revision questions from the previous lesson.


I display the responses on the Interactive Whiteboard so students are encouraged by seeing their submission register on the screen. I personally adjust the width of the browser so the students answers remain hidden but their name displays. When students finish they pass their devices to students who forgot to bring/charge theirs.


After the submissions are in, I select “Add-ons – Flubaroo – Grade assessment” and select the answers I entered when I created the form. The add on “grades” the responses which shows instantly trends in answers and students which may need more help during the lesson. If they class under performs in a question sometimes I spend some time to revisit that concept before continuing with the lesson.


Give it a go! It will surprise you how quick and easy this is! Alternately, If I have spooked you with my wordy explanation stay posted for a pictorial or feel free to ask me. 



The Power of Focus

If you asked my classes if I had a “catch phrase” I almost guarantee that you will get one response: “Focus”. Im not advocating that it is a particularly noble motto to be famous for amongst students but it is in truth what I find myself saying most these days. Focus isn’t only directed to wayward learners either. I encourage myself to focus each and every day. As a novice teacher I find myself suffering from the infamous flurry of the first few years of teaching. There is so much going on at school! So much to do, to think about and to improve on that I would go crazy trying to do everything at once.


Picture from Michael Dales:

Instead, for my sanity, I focus. Each week I identify one idea or element of my teaching to devote extra effort to improving. In theory, I will eventually improve my teaching as a whole. This bite-sized focus approach allows me to positively approach the roller-coaster ride of wins and failures that is inherent in teaching.

It is important to stay positive during the storm that is the first few years of teaching. I have to consciously reinforce my belief in a growth mindset. No matter how rough or tough or enough of a day you have, try to focus on your learning. We may be challenged to persevere through countless failures but at the end of the day if you do not feel challenged you are not growing.

So in the battlefield of the school day remember to focus. Actively focus on your growth and development. And for the love of teaching: Enjoy yourself! This is the best and worst job in the world. So focus and you will survive!