In January of this year I made a list of ‘edu-dreams’ that I hoped to fulfill by the end of the year. Whilst I know that the year is not over yet, I’ve got that belly-feeling of finality in terms of teaching this year, and thus felt compelled to see what my hopes for the year had been. I knew ahead of time that I’d failed a bunch of them, but reading them over again I was surprised by just how many I had forgotten about and therefore not even taken any steps to fulfill.
Here they are with annotations (in red) explaining why I did or didn’t make my edu-dream come true.
1. Create an indigenous sister school in Wilcannia – students in Years 9, 10 and 11 given opportunity to connect via video conference unit, edmodo and in person.
FAIL: I did think about this long and hard. I even got the name of a lady working at Wilcannia HS. I just didn’t get it off the ground – didn’t even send an email. Maybe next year? My students have experienced a video conference with other schools and teachers and a film director this year, but the dream of making contact between my middle-class Anglo students and a indigenous students did not happen. Maybe it wasn’t meant to. These things can’t be forced – it is naive and arrogant of me to assume that any indigenous students would want to connect with my students anyway, isn’t it?
2. Introduce google docs to my senior classes
SUCCESS: I introduced my Year 12 HSC class to google docs for a collaborative homework task. They did it terribly. As always, students in my class don’t do homework. Why? Because I am disorganised and never follow-up/check homework. I never punish. It’s important for me to be liked. That’s a weakness of mine.
3. Have Year 9 participate in the Red Room Company’s ‘Papercuts’ program. Facilitate and inspired creative experience like this one.
FAIL: Students did participate in a performance poetry evening at school. 3/4 of the class attended and brought a parent. It was nice. We didn’t do anything like it again. I have 4 weeks to remedy that.
4. Design and run 1-1 enhanced PBL experiences for Years 9, 10 and 11 – ideally one per term if possible. Project-based learning connects students to the real world.
SUCCESS: Pretty much this whole blog has been dedicated to documenting my PBL adventures this year. It’s taken me to the point of a Masters of Education (research) in PBL.
5. Make spelling and vocabulary development relevant to each unit.
FAIL: I can’t remember one unit where I incorporated spelling and vocabulary development – to be taught explicitly anyway. I shame. It is a good idea. Save it for next year.
6. Bring Shakespeare to life – create a Globe Theatre (or at least the stage) and have students act out scenes of play being studied.
SUCCESS: Kinda success anyway – as part of our study of Macbeth my Year 10 students performed skits in our new outdoor performance space. My prac student, Lauren Forner, had Year 9 perform Romeo and Juliet in the drama room for another class.
7. Present/celebrate student creativity and critical thought in as many ways a possible. Each unit needs to end with some form of celebration of learning.
SUCCESS: Kinda. Nearly every Year 9 and 10 unit had a celebration of learning built in simply because I was using a PBL model. Year 9 had a few cool things: Poetry Performance evening, filmed game reviews, Romeo and Juliet performance, connecting with a school in Pennsylvania for blogging. Year 10 had some cool events too: Resilience Writers evening, short films shared … and what else? I dunno. Nothing, I guess. So yeah – fail for them. Damn.
8. Include debating (formal and informal) in all units.
FAIL: Well, Year 9 did a debate on Animal Farm and Year 12 did a debate on Orwell’s essays. I guess that’s a semi-fail.
9. Set up parent edmodo accounts and encourage active parent involvement in classroom – find specialists and harness these talents to enhance student learning. Include parents as ‘audience’ for learning celebrations.
FAIL: This is a no-no for my school. I let two parents have codes cos they were concerned about their kids … they were interested for a little bit. They got over it though.
10. Ensure all learning goals are displayed clearly for students each lesson – preferably projected onto whiteboard.
SUCCESS: This is one thing that I can say I consistently do this and have been doing it all year. Not sure what impact it has had on my students. Some look, some don’t. I usually draw their attention to it.
11. Student and teacher generated individualised learning plans created at the beginning of each unit. Active and continued completion of KWL tables.
FAIL: I have to be completely honest here – I can’t even remember writing this goal. I don’t even know what I mean by it. Wow, it would be a mass of work. I started using KWL, moved to ‘goals, medals, missions’ and then to ‘learning check-lists’ … none have stuck. Maybe that’s my fault – actually I know it is. I have these plans, introduce them to the kids and then forget to continue to use them or check them. Dear me … what a fail!
12. Use google calendar to organise my edu life.
FAIL: fail, fail, fail.
13. Set up and introduce edmodo ‘school’ domain to staff. Help Math dept see benefit of edmodo.
SUCCESS: I did set up a school domain. I did introduce it. I didn’t re-introduce it. They don’t use it. Fail. Math dept is using edmodo – yay!!
14. Each class must have an ‘experience’ at least once a term. An ‘experience’ is connecting with a class from another school (national or international), visiting somewhere outside of school, meeting someone amazing or having him/her speak to them. Most likely relate this to PBL.
SUCCESS: I am very pleased to say that THIS goal has been achieved for all students this year. Year 9: connecting with a school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Year 10: going to Good Game Design workshop at MacICT. Year 12: connected with Lisarow HS. Year 11: geocaching and VC with Rolf deHeer.
Looking over this list I just wonder what the hell I did this year if I couldn’t achieve all of these goal? I’ll start thinking about next year’s goals but to be honest, at this point, I’m thinking that it’ll just be one goal: teach.