Thursday, 10 December 2015

Term 4 Final Inquiry Presentation

Looking back, the year in Rm14 started with an overload of reward based management systems. We had The Throne, Teams, The Marble Jar, Brian the Bear. I found that these tools were successful to an extent: Children came to the mat quickly, they tidied their desks quickly, lined up well - but they were making my life too complicated with tallying points, making sure the same team didn't win week after week, nominating people to take Brian the Bear home etc The reward based system also wasn't something I was 100% sold with. I want to see intrinsically motivated children and I don't think constant chocolates is encouraging this. I also could see that many of the kids who i was really trying to target with these rewards were often indifferent to them. My lack of total buy-in also may have been evident to the kids. I also had too many systems running at the same time and for too long a timeframe. The kids possibly also lost interest I can appreciate the usefulness of an extrinsic reward as it DOES work, to an EXTENT. I think it could be useful to have 1 form of simply run reward system for the first term to help entrench routines and expectations. But it would have to be extremely simple and very easily managed. 

 I also had an incredibly useful piece of feedback from Helen King, one of my mentors at PES, who noticed that although I had expectations of classroom behaviour, I was not insisting upon them being met in the classroom. Specifically, I wanted the kids to sit quietly on the mat while I introduced the next stage of the day's learning. Some children were quiet while others were not meeting this expectation. So keen was I to carry on with the lesson, I would talk over them rather than insist on their quiet. This was a major learning for me and guided my classroom management for the rest of the year. This is also the key learning I will take into Term 1 Day 1 next year. 

Through my term 1 inquiry group chats with Russell Burt and Rob Wiseman, I came to see the role that an engaging activity can have in managing behaviour. Consequently I have spent lots of time working on creating engaging and challenging Explain Everything Activities to follow on group reading sessions. My first activities were too complex and not scaffolded enough and didn't encourage learner autonomy. They have come on since then with recorded audio instructions, making full use of digital affordances, repeated slide templates etc.  

What I need to do more of next year is provide more constructive feedback on the finished EE, share good EEs on blogs more and direct the children to them. My data was interesting. kids made more of a shift in the 2nd half of the year better readers made bigger shifts than average readers So what? get routines and expectations down quickly so learning can happen take regular running records of children and act on what i discover record the data beautifully and work with it use EE templates regularly and change up as we shift to a new term.

And finally ... I tried hard to create positive relationships with every child in room 14. Shaking their hand every morning and high fiving them on their way home. For me this felt like the right way to go about forging a classroom environment from which to build good behaviour, engagement and a love of school, and some learning.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Off to the museum: Managing at the museum

Room 14 went to Auckland museum last week. Our timetable was pretty full on, which meant we had 2hrs of self-guided museum time. This was a lot of time. Our team had put together an awesome scavenger hunt booklet which helped engage and guide the children during this time. The class was split into groups of 5/6 and allocated an adult. I took 2 of the most interesting boys who were tired but engaged throughout. I found the best way to help my group was to make the tour as structured as possible with them lining up, boys at the front, in between each stage of our visit and being very aware of their need for a rest or food. I also tried to take a genuine interest in what they were telling me about their experience at the museum and that I was enjoying being with them.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

A "Yay Moment"

Ever since watching the Jim Henson's TV series "The Storyteller" as a nerdy 10 year old, I have loved stories and have been wanting to really tell a story to my class since day 1. I read to them everyday after lunch from a picture book and this engages the vast majority but until today I hadn't told them a good, old fashioned story.

I had read the fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast" to my 7 year old son the night before from a book and he really enjoyed it. So I thought why not give it a go with room 14?

I localised it to make it a bit more relevant to the kids (eg. the prince was a successful rugby league player) and it really worked. The whole class was totally engaged, some of the boys had never been so engaged in a story; to the point where the one boy who is rarely capable of sitting still long enough to follow a story was crying out "You see girls, that's what will happen to you!". Eyes were wide, faces looked worried and shocked in the right places. The transformation of prince into beast was greeted with a round of applause.

A few girls recognised the story as "Beauty and the Beast" but this didn't seem to stop them from enjoying it again.

Now, what to read next?

What can I do with the one slow reader in my guided reading groups?

In as couple of my guided reading groups, I have readers who are processing the texts much more slowly than the other readers in the group. Consequently, they are reading much more slowly and finishing texts much later than the others in their group. This is creating a problem in my management of the guided session. Do I cut them off before they have finished? Do we all wait patiently? 

Suggested remedies included:

putting them down a group
  • child wont be challenged by the text and therefore may make less progress.
reading the same text before class
  • child may see this as a punishment. The child also often arrives late.
having the child become aware of their reading speed 
  • could be quite easily achieved as a post reading activity. Would she hear her "slowness"?
encourage a buddy reading time
  • easily do-able. Paired with a more fluent reader could enable her quickly to compare speeds. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

End of Term 3 Inquiry

Before entering the classroom on day 1 of being a BT, I had these lofty dreams of creating autonomous, self-regulating children.  3 terms on, I realise that these were indeed lofty dreams that need scaffolding and support strategies and routines to help their realisation.
I have started to implement techniques and tools to try to ensure that the children are able to work successfully, independently from the teacher. These include having audio of instructions embedded in Explain Everything slides, going through follow up activities as a group before-hand, keeping follow-up activities straightforward and replicable and creating expectation where children realise that they need to work independently of the teacher.

I fear that I may have been responsible for encouraging a degree of dependency on the teacher but I have been made aware of this; of how some children will attempt to monopolise their time with me. I feel I am making positive steps away from this and i think that the children are benefitting.
Looking to term 4, i will persist with the strategies I have implemented and more than anything try to discuss "independence" and "autonomy" with the kids so that hopefully they can see where I am coming from and what i want to achieve which is, ultimately, children taking charge of and responsibility for their learning.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Great Expectations ;)

Learning has been non-stop since day 1. Having spent lots of time reflecting on classroom management and ways to engage learners, my major learning to date has been a growing awareness of how I do or don't enforce my expectations in the classroom. I am now making a conscious effort to make my expectations clear to the kids and behaviour. I am hoping this will ensure work gets done and the classroom becomes more in-line with how I would like it to be and I will become more available to push, help or direct kids as need be.  What I need to work on right now is making those expectations clear at the right time.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Term 2 Reflections: What I've Learnt and What I Need To Do

As Term 2 draws to a close I can honestly say that I have spent 11 weeks reflecting on my practice. I have been lucky to get so much support which has been an incredible help to me. My main focus for the term has been in continuing to nail classroom management of this group of children. I feel I have made a lot of progress particularly in realising how I need to be in the classroom so as to be true to myself and be the kind of adult I want the children to be around and thus be the best and most effective influence, role model and authority that I can be to these 28 kids.

I feel I have forged relationships with the children, but I am aware that the balance of that relationship making was weighed in favour of the "interesting" few and to the expense of the angelic majority. I need to redress this in term 3.

I believe the kids know what I expect of them and I must make sure I constantly stick to my guns and enforce these expectations. By doing this I hope that more academic learning can happen in Room 14 and that the kids can be pushed intellectually as a result.

I have also learnt that a LOT of scaffolding is needed to enable the children to work independently of me. However some kids are very able and they need to be given room to fly as well.

I need to push the class more. To really encourage them to do their best and think as much as they can. I need to make the children know that their BEST work is what I expect and I need to ensure that I give them the time and opportunity to do that

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Gwyneth Pt.2

From this PD what hit home was how important it is for me to really implement the prompts. I can see how helpful it can be to a cohort of children if teachers are using the same terminology. This aside it got me thinking how i really need to make more of my reading time with my kids because i don't feel that they are getting the quality time they should be having, which would involve me using these prompts effectively. This is because other children are preventing me from fully engaging with my group. This comes in various forms which may include: 1. The disruptive child who refuses to engage with work 2. Tech problems preventing a child from beginning work 3. Children who don't know what they should be doing. My task from now on is to minimise these variables and make sure I have done everything I can to ensure my groups have the quality teaching time they deserve. To do: 1. Ensure each group's weekly rotation is well-thought through. That they are given sufficient time with me to complete EE activities independently. 2. Ensure EE activities are appropriately graded and do-able. 3. Make the reading rotation sequence clear to the class - to minimise the "Mr, I've finished" conversations. 4. Constantly enforce "the zone" 5. Be clear in my own mind about the WALTS of each session and what I want to achieve with each group in that timeframe. 6. Make this clear to the kids. 7. Share good work with the class.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Term 2, week 5: A few thoughts

Am trying to make the most of my group time and this is requiring me to create engaging, do-able follow-on activities. I also want these to be of value to the kids. I also am more aware of what is the best use of Explain Everything and am trying to create activities that are more suitable. I am also needed to engage the kids who are not working with me more as some of them are not engaged and being disruptive. I am also trying to: -Make the WALTs clearer to the kids. -Encourage more accountability through sharing reading activities on the blog. -Touch base with parents more often. -Be more free with my praise :) -Keep reinforcing my expectations. My throne (the sofa for kids doing the right thing to sit on) needs to go for a while. It has become a place for kids to throw themselves over and marshalling who should be "on the throne" has become a daily issue. I am hoping I can bring it back in term 3. I would like to introduce a hands-on word work activity in my reading rotation that gives kids practice in spelling or grammar and I am looking out for and thinking of what to bring. This might engage some of my lower level readers more than other activities.

Monday, 11 May 2015

The ongoing challenge.

Have had a challenging few weeks since Easter. My interesting boys have upped the tempo and day in - day out seem to be trying everything on to get a raise and get attention. They have not been responding well to how I have been dealing with the situation. I feel like I am not being respected by 3 or 4 of them. Seeing the principal & detention are almost regarded as a reward and there has been no change in behaviour. Growling results in a minutes silence - that is all. Positive reinforcement is hitting the edges but not the main players. -I think I need to strongly reinforce expectations through rewards as reinforcement. -Some of these boys may be unreachable and by focusing on them too much it is disrupting the learning of the others. -Will have conversations on Wednesday with parents re. reward systems for daily good behaviour.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The 6 week point

Having tried to set up and maintain boundaries with my class, I have discovered some things that do and don't work.

To engage behaviour I need to:

  • implement engaging tasks
  • reward children
  • move swiftly

In order to maintain harmony, I also need a roving eye and the ability to prevent disruption from happening. Nip it in the bud. This means:

  • keeping a very careful eye on my interesting kids and where they are seated, how they are being and what they are doing.
  • manage transition effectively with clear expectations and careful control
  • put strategies in place to settle children when coming in from lunch/morning tea

As a teacher, I need to:
  • be positive
  • be calm
  • be serious
  • see everything
  • be understanding
  • be interested
  • be very prepared
A small ask.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Some thoughts

By morning tea today i realised i had had an engaged class.  Why?  I think I had set up the activity and my expectations in a way that the students saw as me meaning what i was saying.  I was serious about what i wanted them to do.  There were some flaws in the activity (too long, even with my scaffolding, more was needed, my expectations re spelling were not made clear) but many of the children in the class were doing exactly what i had wanted them to do.

I had also set up a new reward "The Throne" which may have played a role.

Again, I am seeing that the key to behaviour engagement is in the activity. Those children unable to do the activity/lose interest act out or disrupt.

However, they need to value their work and finish activities and not cop out.  I will be working on strategies to ensure children make finishing their work to a good level a priority. This could also help with creating an engaged class.


Thursday, 26 February 2015

Reflections on Reading (2)

My reading rotation could have been better today.

What happened

Some kids didn't stay at their stations and wanted to be doing other things which was voiced from the get go. There were problems with technology.  I felt there was too much noise. The children were confused at one point which station to go to.


I am starting to think that the range of picture books for SSR is too hard and becoming repetitive for some children, and as a result they are losing interest.  The reading rotation that i keep online was showing the wrong day. One of the iMacs was having difficulty connecting to the internet.

What to do?

  • Ensure Reading Rotation is always accessible and correctly displayed (use Spreadsheet) - print out 1 copy daily.
  • Many books are too hard for SSR - I need to come up with an alternative for some kids.
  • IDEA: Have a pre-reading station where the kids read the book they are about to read with the teacher - would this not enable them to go further when working with me?
  • Need to reconsider where kids sit - signposts?
  • Ensure that I follow up on all kids post "Activity" to ensure work has been done - especially with some boys.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Reflections 1

I believe I have engaged the behaviour of most of the class. They consistently meet my expectations and, provided the task or activity is appropriate, complete work to a level I would expect.  However, there is an element in the class with whom I am not at where I would like to be.
  • Some boys seem to relish the negative attention 
  • I find it hard to ignore their ignorance of my expectations of classroom behaviour 
  • Their behaviour is at its best before the start of the day (i have nice conversations with them)
  • They have shown the ability to focus on work when working far from each other
  • They become almost incapable of self-managing after lunch
  • They need very simple activities
  • They have varying degrees of self-management but can easily set off each other
  • They show little respect of authority (having been sent to Senior Teacher/AP)

So what?

  1. I will try to ignore/give as little attention to their negative behaviour as possible.
  2. I will not let their behaviour "win"
  3. I will ensure that tasks they are given are simple and followed up on by myself with them in class time.
  4. I will make sure that they are put in situations where distractions are minimalised
  5. I will give them attention for positive behaviour and deal with negative in a non-disruptive way.
  6. I will celebrate their successes

Storm Troopers - See no Evil by IamTHEdarthVADER

Friday, 20 February 2015

Observation Notes (20.2.15)

Observed another Year 3 teacher today setting up her reading session.  I had been told that she has a very calm presence, and this was true.  She did not raise her voice and at all times remained at ease. The children were eating their fruit while she was reading (in her words a rather "long story") and some listened intently while other were more interested in their watermelon.  She didn't jump on the people who were clearly not listening because, I assume, she simply wanted them to eat their fruit.

She had some challenging behaviours from some children and she dealt with these by simply telling them to stop that action - this was not always successful however.

What she had in were some strategies to reduce the chances of misbehaviour:

  • a taped out area within which they should sit.
  • clear responsibilities for some children (handing out fruit/sanitising hands).
My room will be taped out today :)

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Inquiry

Along with establishing the routines and expectations with a new class and a new teacher, I am finding it a challenge to engage the behaviour of a core group of boys in my year 3 class. Their lack of engagement can manifest itself in a way that takes me away from the other children and consequently can be detrimental to their learning.

Inquiry Focus and Action Plan

The Haka Stance

An awareness raiser in how to hold yourself with authority.

Day 1 - with an inquiry in mind

Having thought a lot and talked about my stance and voice as a teacher here I was determined to enter the classroom today with more authority and less "softness" (where appropriate).  I am aware that I don't come across as an authority and for some of these boys it seems like that is necessary to ensure complicity.  I was aware of how I physically stood and of my eyes and made an effort to truly show that I meant what I said without putting on an act. It seemed to work. It felt like it worked.

Although I had prepared an activity that i thought was engaging for the children (most did seem engaged), my priority learners were generally less so.  Scaffolding helped but there was a lack of desire to finish the piece (a written recount).  Perhaps by celebrating the finished work by others that might encourage them more.

To try next week:

celebration of completed work - tied into theme of matapono e