What I’ve Been Doing …

So it’s the new year and I’ve been busy doing a million things over the school break. Most of them trivial but some of them important.

The biggest thing is I have joined up with two other nerd minded people to create a collective blog called:

This Nerd Life

Screen Shot 2017-12-23 at 9.04.37 PM

The aim is to have three different people update on different days of the week. I’m Monday’s contributor though I’m not sure what I am going to write about just yet. I have several ideas but none of them I’m truly sold on.

Continue reading

Giving Students Choices

At school we are working on Teaching as Inquiry with each teacher looking at their teaching and choosing an area to focus on.

 

teaching-as-inquiry_referenceTKI Teaching As Inquiry (Where I sourced the above image and more information)

The basic idea is that we identify the outcomes we want for our students and then we look at different teaching strategies to help our students reach this outcome.

I think that the majority of teachers do this instinctively but we don’t always think about the whats, whys and hows, which is actually a great way to look at your teaching and look at the needs of your students.

So, my first inquiry of the year is looking at how to give students more choice within my classes. I want to focus on improving the self management of my advanced students while also allowing all students in my class find their own success.

I want to know if giving them free choice improves their self management and results.

I am focusing on my Year 10 class which is also a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) class and my form class – which is actually rather handy because I get to see them a little more than an average teacher would. There are 26 students, more males than females, and a mixture of Maori and NZ European students.

My intended outcome is to have students be able to choose from a range of differentiated tasks during our study of Romeo and Juliet.

The base data that I am starting with is the tracking sheets I have compiled that shows their Year 9 results (including eAsstle results), my goals for them and other baseline data.

I have also created groups for the students based on their Asstle scores – they don’t sit in these groups but it enables me to help with my differentiation.

We have finished reading the play and they are currently working on a Tic Tac Toe activity – there are nine different activities ranging from creating a wanted poster for one of the characters to writing a series of interviews with characters within the play to creating an alternate ending to the play. The students have to choose three in a row – though they have already tried to ask if they can do the three they like the most.

When I first introduced the task I had them move into 9 small groups and I gave each group one of the tasks. It was their mission to figure out what the task was asking, what the success criteria could be and see if they could find exemplars or explain what would make an Excellence, Merit or Achieved. Most of the students fully engaged though there are two that I may have to create more individualised tasks.

The first completed task is due this coming Thursday.

I’m still developing the ins and outs of my inquiry and thanks to the people who have helped me frame it so far. (You know who you are…) But, so far, the students are engaged and they are re-reading the play to get ideas about why certain characters might be wanted, or what songs would be on Juliet’s playlist, or, what would happen if Romeo received the letter in time.

And, they are helping each other, giving me a lot more time to sit with those that are struggling and giving immediate feedback to those who are looking to raise their grades.

I will provide more information as I continue to explore and develop my hunch…

Until next time.

xJaime

 

The One When I Had a Sick Day

Note: This is just a quick blog so I don’t fall behind. Next week will be a better post.

Sorry for not blogging on Monday but I had to have a sick day. I woke at four with a blinding headache which I quickly recognised as a migraine. I couldn’t turn my head without the world spinning and there were definite squiggly things in my vision.

I proceeded to get ready for school (because I’m me and I’m bloody stubborn) but decided, at 6.15am, that it might not be the best idea for me to go to school. Instead, I went in, briefly, to set up relief.

Relief is something that I hate doing. I hate having days off sick because it is often more of a hassle to set up relief than it is to actually teach a class when sick. I know that I’m not the only teacher who thinks like that, either.

Anyway, I went home and slept most of the day a way. I couldn’t even attempt to look at my computer for longer than a couple of minutes.

The benefit of the sick day is that I got extra sleep and, as someone who doesn’t get sufficient sleep anyway, this is always good. It also allowed me to come back into school in a better frame of mind.

I’m not going to lie. I have days were I question why I became a teacher. Not because I think I’m a terrible teacher (though I have those days as well)- but because I feel like I can never do enough. I plan lessons, spend hours researching ideas and theories and even more hours reading about ways to make myself a more efficient teacher – a more effective teacher. Still, I always feel as if there is more that I could be doing.

My average day:

5am – wake up and do some stretches and get the coffee ready

5.30-6.30am – Drink said coffee, check emails, mark some essays, eat breakfast.

6.45/50am – Arrive at school and begin organising my classroom, do more marking, prep lessons and so on

8.25am – Morning Briefing

8.40 – 3.15 – Teaching/planning/duty/brief breaks

3.15-4.30 – Still at school most days – sometimes I have a meeting sometimes I’m just trying to get work done.

5pm – Hopefully home and sometimes still doing work.

Now this is just my average week and I’m not doing a thing where I’m all like – look at the hours I work – I’m stating my day. And, having that sick day, helped me put some things in perspective. (No guarantee how long this will last)

Writing down what I do helps me remember that I also need to acknowledge what I do as a teacher and as a person. It also reminds me that I like smiling and I like helping students and fellow teachers. Teachers have a difficult job and, although most people realise it, we don’t always acknowledge it.

So, to all my fellow teachers:

You are wonderful, brilliant, amazing, powerful, educated and strong. teacher-motivational-quotes-2

And this lovely Buzzfeed list about teacher memes

What are my goals? Classroom Edition

goals

As week three hits I’m already well into deciding what goals I have for myself and my students. These are not to be confused with the goals I have for my self care and looking after myself – rather, these are with regard to my students. The ones that I see in front of me on a day to day basis.

This year my timetable is a little different but I still have individual goals for each of my classes.

My timetable is roughly this:

Level 3 Internal – One main class and 2 one hour relief lessons. (So 3 level three classes in a way.)

Level 2 General

Level 1 Advanced

Year 10BYOD

My goals for each class are as such:

L3 – Critically engage with written and visual texts in order to make meaning with the world around you. And, think about the impact that you have on those around you.

L2 – Think critically about how texts can manipulate you. Think critically about your place in the class and in the world.

L1 – Critically engage with the world around you and think critically about the texts that we study.

10BYOD – Build on your general knowledge and expand your vocabulary in order to improve deeper level thinking.

These goals are all very similar but each is actually very important. I think the overall skill that I want students to improve on is deeper level thinking. There are so many connections in the world and I’d hate for students to miss out when we have a wealth of information at our fingertips.

In order for me to help the students meet these goals I have started a class weebly that the students and parents can check on to see important information and weekly updates. Although it may seem that I’m doing extra work I’m actually hoping it will cut down on unnecessary time spent sending letters or emails – but we’ll see how that goes.

My personal goals in my classroom include:

Regulating my voice more. I don’t like raising my voice and, although I very rarely shout, I have a tendency to fall back on a loud voice to get attention.

Focusing more on my teaching rather than everything else that I need to get done. (To Do lists are my friend.)

Allowing students more time to discuss and develop their understanding. I want them to build their growth mindset and I have to continue to build mine in order to help do that.

As for my self care – if I am honest I haven’t been as good to myself as I could be. Even as I type this I feel as if I haven’t done enough, though it is just Monday. This is something that will always be a work in progress.

What goals do you have for your classroom? Life? Day?

The One Where I Attempt to Justify My Absence…

::*::Dusts off the blog::*::

I do have the best intentions of keeping regular posts on this blog but have found myself rather busy over the last few weeks. This is actually a terrible excuse because I should take the time to blog regularly for many reasons. One of which is that it is a great way to reflect on what I have been doing with my time and to share my thoughts on teaching.

Teaching is not as easy as people would like to pretend it is. There is a lot of paperwork…often more paperwork than there is actual teaching. And, as those in the profession know, there never appears to be enough time to do everything that needs to be done.

Anyway – as a quick update – Three weeks of term have passed and everything seems to be going as smoothly as it can. The Year 12 class that I have taken over is doing well. They are settled and seem to be adapting to my quirky nature. Thankfully I have taught some of them in previous years so they know my quirks. Our look into the world of Vietnam is going well and they have taken to the novel quite well.

My Year 11s are getting through Catcher in the Rye though they are struggling with the fact that “not a lot happens” in the novel. Plus, they really just want Holden’s hat to just be a hat.

Year 13 – Finished their first internal and have moved onto their second. I keep trying to get them to think outside the triangle and look at the world critically so I will keep you updated on that.

Year 10 – this is a lovely class. We are doing an Independent Novel Study and they have taken to it. Some are reading The Help, one is reading Silence of the Lambs and another is reading Carrie. So I am definitely going to have some interesting essays.

Finally, my Year 9s. This is my very mixed class with some kids on various spectrums. Our look at conflict has been popped on hold for the time being as I start teaching them about essay writing. I am teaching them TEXAS.

Topic Sentence

Example

eXplanation

Analysis

Statement

(For those who hadn’t heard of it before.) So far it’s going slowly but I always say good things take time.

This week, however, I will be away for two days as I get to join my HoD and another teacher from the English department on a field trip to Auckland for the Reader Writer Festival.

That is all for my update today. I will endeavour another update after I get back from the Field Trip.

The One Where I Try To Organise Myself

Welcome to my afternoon plans…#teacherlife #lessonplans bring it on

A post shared by Jaime-Lee Coffey (@jaimeleecoffey) on

*

The holidays went by rather quickly and, although I did a lot of prep work during the break I still started the term feeling a little lost. Due to situations out of my control I’ve had to have a change of class so I have picked up a new Senior class. I’m not too worried about the change and it’s a relatively small class at 18 students but it’s still a change and, like most students will tell you, they hate change. They get annoyed with me if I change the desks around and they get annoyed with me if I don’t. This does amuse me more than it should and it also gives me some valid insight to the student mindset.

Anyway – I thought I would use this post to help my organisation progress.

I have five classes:

9BYOD – This term our focus is Tumatauenga and, looking deeper, we will focus on conflict – namely human vs human, human vs nature, human vs self and human vs society. We started by reading Ray Bradbury’s short story “All Summer in One Day”. We will then look at poems from WW1 and maybe even some short stories as well.

10ENG – This is an advanced class so we are doing two things at once. We are looking at the same short story as above and the same ideas however I have adapted an Independent Novel Study that has seven activities that they must complete. I have told them that they can choose any novel that has a form of conflict in it. Once student has already asked if he could do Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and I am super excited to see what he does with it.

11ENA – This is my big class with 32 students. We have started looking at a semi thematic unit surrounding Conformity, Rebellion and The Teenage Condition. Carrying on from last terms film unit, where we studied Pleasantville we have dived into Catcher in the Rye. I am creating a prezi that sets up every lesson for the student and it works on them figuring out several key techniques and going through the text closely to find their own understanding. Today we focused just on Holden’s hat… This is on of my focus classes this year.

12ENG – This is my new class and, for this term, we will be studying excerpts from The Things They Carried and looking into the context of the Vietnam War and what was happening in New Zealand and the rest of the world at the same time. I’ve started them on a scrapbooking task that will take a lot of the term – they have to research the context and create a virtual study guide – they can use pinterest, prezi or, if they aren’t computer savvy, they can even make a scrapbook. While doing this they can start framing a research project, do some independent reading for personal responses, building on their general knowledge and, most importantly, learn how to write an analytical essay for the external exams.

Finally I have my 13ENI – this class is my smallest with 16 students of varying abilities. They are not sitting externals so are focusing solely on internal standards. We are finishing up our Close Scene Analysis – this is where I got them to analyse two different crime procedurals and talk about how the represent or misrepresent certain groups in society – most focused on how mental illnesses are represented in the shows. Next we will move onto Connections Across Text.

So there is my general overview for this term.

Next are my goals for this term. If you look at my colleague’s blog here you will see how inspirational her organisation is to me. My other colleague has also done a beautiful piece on goals which you should totally check out as well by clicking right here.

So goals – scary thoughts that I am putting out in the world. Okay, here goes…

Small: Time management – I’m really trying to focus on using my time wisely – in class and out of class.

Medium: Up-skilling both in my curriculum area and my technology skills area.

Large: Still working on this because there are so many that I want to focus on…

My question to you is what do you find helpful when trying to organise yourself? What goals do you have for school or for your personal life?

Peace and Pancakes

Jaime

*I know that this image is from 3 months ago – I just like it…