04 August 2012

Further university study

Well I've taken on some part-time post-graduate study, while still working full-time.

An interesting byproduct of this has been a renewed understanding, or reminder, of what it is like for my own students as they work each day at learning new things.

  • It's tiring and takes much effort
  • It's easy to get information overload
  • It's important to go over new things many times until they 'settle' into a clearer understanding
  • It can be hard to ask questions when you think you should know what you don't really know
So as I continue my own learning and professional development, I think of my students who, at their own level, are doing the very same thing.

08 March 2012

Time flies

Almost midway through Term One already.  Where has the time gone?  Like every year (but more-so this year) I'm reminded of how most of the first term ends up being all about establishing the class culture, work habits, expectations, and routines.

The difficulty this year is trying to set realistic expectations, while at the same time figuring out what the most realistic expectations should be.  This includes my own expectations of learning behaviours.  Am I expecting too much?  At which point do I 'draw the line' on off task behaviours.  Gauging this properly for the young 5 years olds is a bit touch-and-go at the moment.

However, I must admit, if I look back over progress during the first five weeks, we are making steps forward.  Here's to that continuing. :-)

15 January 2012

Term One nears...

Three weeks until the first students arrive. Two-and-a-half until cluster schools' conference and teacher only day.

Likely to pop in and out this week to sort out room setup now that cleaners should have been through. Then onto actual programme planning the following week.

09 January 2012

Clean out and set up

It never ceases to amaze me at how long it takes to clean out, sort out, and throw out bits and pieces when setting up my classroom - especially when moving into a new physical room. Not only that, but when changing levels, I now have more things to consider.

I'm not much of a hoarder but do like to get things in order before getting onto actual planning for the year's beginning.

Next step - arranging furniture.

28 December 2011

New year brings new teaching level

It's been a while since I posted my thoughts on this particular blog but a recent change brings me here once more.  Starting 2012, my sixth year of teaching, I will be teaching year one and two students (5 and 6 year-olds). I'm really looking forward to it.

The biggest change for me will be planning a predominantly 'learning to read' (decoding) programme rather than 'reading to learn' comprehension programme.

I'm interested to see how maths will go.  I feel confident in this area. Especially as having worked with the older students, I know where I am expecting them to achieve as well as common gaps I came across in their knowledge.  I will be able to plan a programme which hopefully strengthens these gaps rather than focussing too much on lesser-needed areas.

I still have some of my original practicum folders from when I worked with this age during my teacher training, so will look back at them.

Here's to a new year of new learning for the whole class, including the teacher!

(note to self: routines, routines, routines)

21 July 2009

Feeling for my student teacher

The kids were a bit of a nuisance today, playing up for the student teacher who is currently on 'full control'.  Kind of reminds me of my final practicum which very nearly put me off teaching.  I don't want it to get that bad for him so I'll need to give a bit of a 'motivational speech' to the students tomorrow.

21 June 2009

Student Teacher with me for his final Practicum

Just seems like a short time ago that I was a student teacher, now I'm about to have one in my own classroom.  I hope I can pass on some good teaching/learning opportunities for him, and at the same time get a few reminders myself about good teaching practice.

11 May 2009


I'm feeling quite good about my math programme this term.  Seems like into my third year I'm beginning to feel a little more consistent in finding the balance between structured progression of teaching and providing opportunities for students to explore maths with some independence.

I've also refocussed this term on the 'pink numeracy books' in combination with the online planning sheets (as well as still liking the new NZCM books by Caxton).  It's been worthwhile looking through my back-up disks from the past two years and finding some resources I'd forgotten about.

10 May 2009

Weather topic

Recording students in front of a 'green screen' as weather presenters
may be a bit more work than I imagined - but what a great way to
present their learning. I don't know why I don't sometimes keep
things a little more simple though? Like recording them in front of
the white board with a map and weather icons that they can stick on,
or isobars they can draw. Maybe I'll suggest that (and with some
gentle persuasion promote that as the best option). It is fun setting
up a TV studio in the classroom though :-)

The results will most likely be on youtube in a few weeks at http://youtube.com/room3kps

06 January 2009

3rd New Beginning

Welcome, 2009. I'm a fully registered teacher with a permanent teaching position and about to start my third year of teaching.

One good thing about this career is that each new year can be seen as a fresh new start; taking all the good things from last year and adapting them, and taking all the bad things from last year and.. well adapting them.

This 'start-of-year' round I will take a mental note of student behaviours on day one, to assess for possible problem areas.  Normally students are a bit reticent on day one, slowly emerging from their shells as they get to know you.  Last year, they we're a bit too 'loose' with their own conversations during class discussions or teacher directions - this led to a whole year of struggling to have an appropriate environment where all students listened to one another and felt confident enough to take the risk of sharing to all students.  I realise now that if I see a similar 1st day lack of concern for listening to others, I will need to set some very firm routines and protocols in that first term to hopefully allow for a positive environment for sharing, learning, and discussing throughout the rest of the year.

A mixture of team-building fun but also strict expectations on behaviours during independent learning, group work, whole class work (particularly appropriate noise levels in those different situations).

30 November 2008

Fully Registered

Well, here I am, now a fully registered teacher, and to top it off I now have a permanent contract to teach at my school.  Two years of teaching under my belt, finished my beginning teacher professional development programme,  and ready to continue on my journey.

It's been a little while (again) since my last note.  What's been happening?  We've had a successful senior school production, year six camp - and the biggie - some students I have been working with are the New Zealand winners of a Panasonic video competition called KWN: Kid Witness News.  This coming week myself and two students are off to Malaysia for an Asia/Pacific regional award ceremony.  If they are judged the best there, then it's off to the United States for the global awards.

You can view the video (Ecology Detective: Case of the missing Kereru) on my YouTube page youtube.com/mrrobashcroft

Happy Christmas!

13 September 2008

Leading by example

I think I have begun to use exemplars less, and I don't think it's such a good thing.  I must consciously choose to do so.

Also, I need to work on promoting group and whole-class discussions where students share more and I less.

Class dynamics and a positive learning environment

It's been a while since my last post.  Not that I haven't been reflecting on my teaching - as most teachers know, reflection is a constant occurrence, documenting it may be less frequent.

Anyway, I was interested to see my last (written) reflection about class dynamics and am happy to say that things have changed quite a bit for the better.  Strangely though, it's hard to pick what exactly has made the difference.  Probably because it's a combination of many things.

A couple of things I have realised since though.
1. Some of my expectations were based on how my class was last year at the end of the year not the beginning.  I need to remember the journey a class takes in establishing its own community of positive learning.

2. Given time, students are generally able to cope with certain amounts of independent choice in their learning but this does take time to help them learn to manage themselves well when given learning choices.

06 August 2008

Accountability and Consequences

I continue to have some issues with dynamics at a whole-class level.  That is, when teaching, discussing, sharing with one-another.
Even with regular direction as well as reflection on the physical environment and 'interest' of learning content, and other aspects of my pedegogy, I find some key elements of having a constructive team-learning environment difficult to establish to a level that I am content with.
After considering many possible reasons for this, and discussions with my tutor teacher, I am leaning towards developing the way in which I communicate expectations backed up with a system of accountability and consequences.
A likely scenario will be where I have some system of adding names to a list (on the board) whereby the consequences of making it onto that list mean students will have some form of negative consequence, such as staying in at break time (possibly combined with a 'time added' component based on time wasted).  Although I would like to use positive reinforcement, in this particular case (and for a time) I feel some negative consequences to promote positve behaviour may be necessary.
The most common type of behaviour occurring that impeeds on thinking and learning are... having separate conversations during whole-class discussions, movement around the room, distracting others or self from the learning activity.  General routine things that are needed to ensure a positive and engaging time of learning as a large group.
Watch this space and see how we go.
ps. I think I will also try to increase my use of positive verbal praise to reinforce postive behaviour.

21 July 2008

Posting for Podcasting

I'm in the process of trying to work out how to record and upload audio for podcasting in a way that can appear both in a blog, and as an 'iTunes' podcast listing.

When reading on the blog, I thought you could just click on the title of the post to hear the audio - but not so sure though.

To subscribe to this particular blog in iTunes, you'd need to choose Advanced/Subscribe to podcast feed.  The feed address would be feed://fullmarks.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss