Reflecting on my edu-dreams for 2011 – what didn’t I do?

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.

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13 thoughts on “Reflecting on my edu-dreams for 2011 – what didn’t I do?

  1. Bianca, when I feel like this I remember that schools, classrooms & goals are not static. Humanity isn’t either. Part of QT is recognising that goals shift. I think you kicked quite a few here and maybe a few others that you didn’t include. I reckon that you deserve your own celebration of learning 🙂
    Cheers
    P.S Love your goal for next year !

    • Thanks Carla 🙂
      Yeah I reckon there were a few things I managed to do this year that I didn’t foresee at the beginning of the year …
      I also think that focusing on teaching should be paramount for all teachers – there’s far to much ‘rah, rahing’ happening from people who don’t teach and that distracts those of us who do.

  2. Hi Bianca,

    Interested to know more about the Google Docs thing. Did you use Google Docs as part of the Department of Education’s student portal offering… or did you do something separately?

    I saw Google Docs used pretty effectively when on teaching prac this year – but it was in a non-Government school so had a lot more control over internet filtering and school systems.

    Any info would be interesting.

    Cameron

    • Hi Cameron 🙂

      With Year 12 the students used g-docs at home. With my current Year 12 Extension 1 students I signed in for them using my teacher p-word (they didn’t see it and the browser was closed and password deleted after our session).

      G-docs are currently being piloted at some DEC schools so hopefully in the near future they will be unblocked for the all!

      🙂

  3. Bianca, thanks for your honesty! I’m glad I’m not the only one who starts off with a whole bunch of amazing dreams only to forget half of them by the time the swimming carnival roles around or to implement things for a few weeks and then things get busy and stuff falls to the wayside. I like your goal for next year!

    And fingers crossed they unblock google docs.

    • Thanks for the comment … yup, it’s hard to have dreams and know that not all will be achieved in a year’s time, lol!
      Yay for google docs – fingers crossed with you!
      🙂

    • Yay! That is SO cool … I love being a ‘fly on the wall’ of your PBL discussions – seems that it’s really humming!

      TY for your kind words, Paul – we must get together again soon! 🙂

  4. Bianca – love the ‘realness’ of this – don’t we all feel the same?
    I started all gung-ho with my low ability Yr 9 this year, introducing KWL tables etc — like you, I didn’t get back to them (too busy trying to get them to understand what was happening in Taming of the Shrew!!);
    My Yr 12 were all excited about Edmodo initially, but then just wanted me to post notes for them and didn’t want to contribute much to discussion on-line or reply to the (what I thought were humorous 😦 ) polls I posted.
    Still – there’s always next year, and remarkably we are re-energised come February!!

    Sounds like you’re doing some great stuff 🙂

    • Thanks Maria!

      It’s really, really tough changing the culture of your classroom – especially one that privileges doing with understanding over doing for the sake of doing.

      Keep at it … the edmodo love will roll in soon and the KWL charts will become a tool used more confidently by students each time they get the chance.

      🙂

  5. Hi Bianca,

    I’ve just stumbled across your blog – what a find! I am just about to finish my ‘first year out’ and while my number one edu-dream for 2011 was SURVIVAL, my edu-dream for 2012 will be to find and follow amazing educators like yourself! I have been blown away by the number of educators who are embracing technology as a tool for innovation and creativity. During the year I tried out a Wikispaces page for my Year 10’s with a fantastic response so I’m looking forward to trialling some new stuff next year too.

    Your blog has been marked for some holiday reading!!

    Thanks again, Maddie 🙂

    • Hey Maddie!

      Cool – you’re a teacher-baby … I kinda think I am one too, but not as new as you! You need to keep your sense of wonder – don’t let experience and the ‘experienced’ change your way of seeing the world, your classes or your profession. There’s so much benefit in a ‘can do, screw you’ attitude than anything else … kick it young thing!

      If you’re not already on, get on to twitter and connect with some other baby teachers and the cool experienced ones too. Follow me: @biancah80

  6. Pingback: Edu-dreaming 2012 | Bianca Hewes

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