Monthly Archives: December, 2012

A Very Merry Christmas

Whilst it has been a couple of weeks since my last post (I am consciously taking a break from constantly thinking about school, at least for the first couple of weeks of the summer), I just wanted to take the opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

May your day be spent surrounded by those you love and who love you, and blessed with peace and joy during this time.

Watch this space early on in the new year as I put my thinking hat back on again.

Have a safe and restful break, wherever you are in the world.

Peace.

M.

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What my students have taught me so far…

The last day of school for the year. It’s one that I look forward to with great anticipation from about two weeks into Term Four. Yet inevitably, every time it arrives, I feel a sense of sadness that I have to say goodbye to the students that I have just spent the whole year getting to know as a wonderful group of individuals. This year was particularly sad for me because I caught a nasty bug on last-day-of-the-year eve, and so was unable to go to work to farewell and congratulate a class that has achieved so much, both as a group and individually throughout the year.

Nevertheless, this is always a time of reflection for me and I realise that whilst I have just spent the year being ‘their teacher’, they have also been ‘my teachers.’ And they have taught me things over the past three years that can never be planned for in a lesson plan. Below are just a few:

1. The importance of routine and consistent expectations. For and of both them and me.

2. As much as I try, I may never be able to understand or fix the problems they face outside of school which affect their learning. I can focus on making school a safe place for them where they feel respected and valued.

3. Whilst they may not always show it, teenagers do appreciate their teachers. Most of the time poor or rude behaviour is not personal but reflective of the young person’s own negative experiences and choices.

4. Take time out to be silly, have fun and just laugh with them. And be comfortable with laughing at yourself.

5. Be honest. At all times. With yourself and them.

What lessons have your students taught you? Please feel free to share via a comment if you wish.

I hope you all have a wonderful end to the school year.

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Technology and the role of the teacher

I just got an iPad. Hooray! You, dear readers, are reading my first blog post created on a tablet device. I am sure it’s not as much of a highlight for you as it is for me!

And of course that means that my classroom will be instantly revolutionized, right?

I jest.

I have heard people make the flippant comment that technology is making the job of the teacher null and void. Personally I believe that’s an irresponsible statement to make. Technology is programmed. As much as we are labeling products as ‘smart’ they still can not replace the power and wonder of the human mind that created and programmed them.

Likewise, a computer cannot replace a a teacher’s human face. What it can do -and should do – is enhance the experience of education and learning for all stakeholders, and change the way a teacher does things. It is a pedagogical tool, not a replacement for an educator.

As teachers we are called to help students learn new skills that allow them to learn, create, question and connect through technology. If we are allowing a device or a search engine to do our job for us then we are doing our students a disservice. Nor should computers or tablets be used to simply do things that could be done with paper and pen. It is about how we engage our learners with technology in order for them to learn things they could not necessarily do without it.

And let’s not forget how creative kids can be with a bit of paper, pencils, cardboard, and craft materials. Tactile learning away from the screen is important as well. I was pleasantly surprised this week to watch how enthusiastic my Year 8 Italian classes were about creating presepi, traditional Italian nativity scenes. See some of their creations below.

So, let’s embrace the use of technology as a pedagogical tool, use it to change and enhance the work that we do, but maintain the face-to-face connection and hands-on activity that human beings have an innate need for.

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