Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Ups and Downs of Being Back in the Classroom

This year I am back in the classroom full-time. I have been the Technology Coach at my school for the past four years and felt that I was getting too removed from teaching as a homeroom teacher. Last year I was back in the class part time but I really needed to go back in full time so that I could have the full responsibility for the class.

It has been four months and I need to reflect on my practice ...

Homeroom teachers are very busy people. There is so much to juggle but at the same time it is all about setting routines and sticking to them. Sometimes I do well and sometimes it's very hard. I am constantly struggling with keeping a balance, hitting all my goals and keeping it on track. I also work as a part of a team which can be very hard as we are all busy, all have commitments and all have different teaching styles and opinions.

The Ups ...

I love being able to connect with the students again. I am getting to know them more and more everyday and starting to see some progress. What I love is seeing how the whole writing process has gotten so much easier. At the start of the year I was lucky to get a few sentences from each student. Now most of my class can write in greater detail and much more quickly. I am even getting some consistency with paragraphing.

I am very proud of my students' most recent work which was to each write a digital book on a body system. They created these books on their iPads. Each student has written a book which is research based, includes a video, voice recordings, hand-drawn diagrams and photos that were taken by the students themselves. I have uploaded the first two books already to the Apple iBookstore and we now wait for them to be published. This week I hope to upload three more. 

Writing books is a very big process, especially when the books are research-based. I have proof-read these books over and over and over and yet I still find small errors. I have had to check each fact to make sure that the students have not changed the meaning when writing it into their own words. I have also had to check that they cited the resource correctly. I will write about this process in more depth in the next blog post.

In Math we started with a geometry unit which was fun and very practical. The following unit was measurement which has shown me how many students needed some explicit teaching but - now we are past that and into the final stretch. The upcoming unit is number which is proving to be more challenging. I have started some PD on my own which has already taught me so much. A colleague of mine put me onto this resource - NZ Numeracy Project. I have started to diagnose my class through a series of personal interviews. Wow! I am learning so much. It does take a long time to get through each one but I feel that learning about how my students actually think when working with numbers is invaluable.

The Downs ...

Differentiation is hard. I have a typical class which as you know has students who can work easily and those who struggle. There are learning needs in the mix that are really challenging me. I can ability group and I do but sometimes it is hard to work with groups that have such a great need for explicit teaching. I try hard to give personal attention to each student but often my focus will drift to those who have the greatest needs. I strive to give ample focus to the top students as they deserve attention too. Ohhh it's such a balancing act!! I often feel quite frustrated but this just makes me like it all the more. Teaching is the hardest job I know and that's exactly why I do it.

Now that I have settled into this year, I feel that the hard work is just about to begin and I look forward to the challenge.

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