Last week I stumbled across #ntchat on twitter – lucky it is the summer holidays in New Zealand and I can indulge in browsing online at my leisure.
I’m not a new teacher yet, but by this time next year I sure hope to be. So, I was essentially eavesdropping on what new teachers talk about.
The focus of the days #ntchat was on positive transformation – identifying an aspect of your teaching that you want to improve.
Of course setting goals is a good idea – but why would a new teacher already need to set goals for transforming their practice?
Then I imagined these two scenarios –
Teacher A started her new job in a fantastic school with wonderful children. She began the year by implementing all the great ideas she had learned at training college. Teacher A didn’t set any particular goal but had secret aspirations of being awesome at everything: behaviour management, literacy and maths teaching, correspondence with parents, inquiry learning (this list could go on…).
Near the end of term 1, Teacher A felt a bit stressed. The literacy rotations hadn’t been as enthusiastically received as she had hoped, and she hadn’t sent home a weekly newsletter to parents like she planned.
At the end of term 2, the literacy rotations had improved but then the maths programme stalled because she was spending her planning time writing the weekly newsletter to send home, and camp was coming up, so even more time was needed to plan for that. Teacher A was feeling overwhelmed but struggled through to the end of term 3, when she approached her mentor and confided that she felt like she wasn’t cut-out for teaching and although she loved her students, things just hadn’t turned out the way she thought they would…
Teacher Z started her new job in a fantastic school with wonderful children. She began the year by reflecting on all of the great ideas she had learned at training college. Teacher Z decided that she would really like to learn more about literacy teaching and approached her mentor to explain her goal, and together they discussed some professional articles and ideas.
Near the end of term 1, Teacher Z knew she has developed really strong literacy rotations which the students were responding well too, because she had collected some anecdotal notes and assessment data on her students’ literacy skills. She sat down with her mentor to reflect on what was working well, and sent home a newsletter to parents sharing the work of the students and showcasing their literacy strengths. Teacher Z could see that camp was coming up at the beginning of term 3, so she set herself another goal to work with her mentor to plan a good event, and to learn about the school’s camp policies and procedures.
At the end of term 3, Teacher Z felt like she had learned a lot and that her students were benefitting from her refined skills and knowledge. Teacher Z had developed a supportive professional relationship with her mentor and together they planned how to make Teacher Z’s second year just as successful…
Teaching and learning are part of a cyclical process of finding out what works and reflecting on what could be better…
What aspects of teaching and learning are you transforming in 2012?