"He knew? You mean this A thing is a thing Rabbit knew?" "Yes, Eeyore. He's clever, Rabbit is." "Clever!" said Eeyore scornfully, putting a foot heavily on his three sticks. "Education!" said Eeyore bitterly, jumping on his six sticks. "What is Learning?" asked Eeyore as he kicked his twelve sticks in the air. "A thing Rabbit knows! Ha!" AA Milne
I have been a teacher for more than 30 years, but I have been learning since the day I was born. I have had my ups and downs over the years, there have been days when I wonder why I ever thought I could be an effective teacher, but a whole lot more when I have been amazed at the feeling of wonderment I have when lessons go with a zing and there is a buzz around the classroom of joyful learning.
Somebody once said "The secret of teaching is to appear to have known all your life what you learned this afternoon." and my lecturers at Uni said on our first seminar that teaching is like being in a play, in which you play a role, that starts again every morning as you walk into the classroom and finishes as the bell rings at the end of the school day.
I have started this Google Site as part of my research into ePortfolios. We have been looking at our Professional Development at work and refining/modifying/improving the whole process of Appraisal and Attestation. The two words need defining and nobody seems to have a really clear idea of the difference between the two. As a group we have tried to make a distinction between the process of Attestation which is necessary for teachers in New Zealand to renew their practising certificate and is, in effect, a tick box exercise to prove that we are capable teachers, and Appraisal, which we feel is more how we develop our skills to improve our teaching and our students' learning. We think that this should be a robust process but its aim should not be to "tell" somebody else how to do something, it should not be hierarchical and it should not be threatening. We work with our peers, someone we have chosen because we either feel comfortable with them, or because they have skills which we feel can be useful to us in our quest to improve ourselves. We can share ideas, hold up a mirror for them to reflect on their practice and the can do the same for us. We can observe and describe their practice in the classroom but encourage them to come up with answers to their own questions. This is not easy, we are trying to come to terms with the idea of Learning Conversations - for too long we have been used to asking someone for advice on how to do something, waiting for someone to tell us the "best" way to do it - listening, describing and reflecting are not necessarily things we are comfortable doing. Yet, that is what we are asking our students to do - the new curriculum requires us to encourage our students to be independent learners, learners who reflect on their mistakes, on their work, and who find their own solutions to problems with us on hand to guide them but not necessarily to tell them. If we can't reflect on our own learning, how can we expect our students to do it? Going through this process might actually be the key to learning how to getting our students to be independent learners
Please read my reflections in "Thoughts and Musings" although I have recently stopped "musing" here as I have a blog called "A Box of Thistles" which originally was set up at the same time as this site. As mentioned before I set them up so that I could compare tools and have found that I prefer my Wordpress site for blogging although I prefer Google Sites as a portfolio. I am also trying to develop a French section in "Mon petit Coin Francais". There are more specific reports in the Conference sections for Ulearn and Learning@Schools. These simply contain notes taken at Keynote and Breakout Sessions, some of my own interpretations of what was said and links to the presenters websites.
My site has grown as I have used it as a receptacle for other Teaching and Learning Resources. New Zealand Teachers have to re-register as teachers every three years and there is a reasonably robust appraisal system in place at our school as part of that registration process. It is expected that we reflect on our teaching and our students' learning and maintain a portfolio of evidence. I have chosen to put my evidence in here. The whole site, is in effect my portfolio but there is a specific section "Registered Teacher Criteria Evidence Portfolio" which contains the bulk of my reflections directly related to the criteria.