Every once in a while, when I’m cleaning out my papers, I like to look through my Teacher’s memory journal- a place where I collect letters and cards given to me by students or staff with a special message. This journal is important to me because it helps me remember why I am a teacher. I’ve only been teaching for 6 years, but at times when I feel like I haven’t accomplished a lot, this journal tells me that I’m wrong. I find that reading through it helps me recall the good times I’ve had in the past 6 years and the students I’ve taught. Reading the journal again two weeks ago, made me think about the new school year and what I wanted to focus on. It is a good reminder of all that I have achieved so far and how much I have learnt in the past 5 years at my current school. I came so close to quitting teaching after my first year, but my experiences in the classroom since 2010 have firmly reinforced my decision to be a teacher- I couldn’t think of anything else I would enjoy doing.
Keeping in mind my #oneword for 2016 “Create”, my first goal aims to create opportunities to get to know my students not only as learners, but also as individuals. This year I will have 2 new groups of students to get to know. The first will be the new Year 7 students, who I met briefly in 2015 during their Orientation day. The 2nd class will be my year 10 English class comprising of 50 students from across the 7 houses. I will only know 3 or 4 as they will be from my 2015 Year 9 class. In addition to the new classes, I also get to teach the Year 9 students in my house, who I have taught since Year 7. I like to get to know all my students – my aim is always to learn names within a week. Throughout the year, I try to get to know each individual student- what they like, their hobbies as well as how they learn. As a teacher, it is important to me to know that, as it allows me to tailor the work to suit their needs. I like to sit with groups of students during the lesson, not just to help them with the work but also because it gives me the chance to talk to them about what’s happening in their lives. This has been a useful technique as my students feel more comfortable talking to me whilst I sit with them, than if I were to stand constantly in front of the classroom. Outside class, I will often initiate a conversation with them about a book they are reading, or chat to them in the yard. Getting to know the students in my class is always a priority, so creating those opportunities to learn more about them is an important goal for me. It allows me to connect with them and show them that I’m willing to learn about what is important to them.
My other goal is to work with 2 senior English teachers to improve my teaching practice. Before this year, I have always been a junior English teacher, but I want to start teaching senior English. Whilst I have taught 2 Year 10 classes, with the changes to the VCE English and EAL study design, this has brought about a restructuring of our Year 10 English curriculum to fit in with the demands of VCE English and EAL. With the help of my mentors, I hope to improve how I teach English at the junior years, so that I can develop the necessary skills of my students that will allow them to tackle senior English. Although I have been teaching for some time, I feel that I need to work with other English teachers outside my team in order to strengthen my own capabilities. This will become part of my appraisal process, but one that I’m eager to start, as I feel it will make me more confident in teaching senior English.
One of the main things I want to focus on this year is my teaching. Whilst it is a big goal, I want to ensure that I’m fully engaged in every experience. I need to be more prepared for my classes, in order to develop a positive learning environment for my students. I don’t want my focus split on a variety of responsibilities. Whilst being a leadership role is a good learning experience, I found that it divided my attention. It was difficult to put in 100% for everything I was doing, as I was also worried about what else needed to be done. This year is one where I will do what’s best for me- that is teaching my students as that’s what I love to do. I want to focus on that- my students are important to me.
#YourEduStory: What are your three most pressing goals between now and the end of the school year? @bjornpaige