Last year, in the last week of school I had my classes write a report on my performance for the year. I like to get students feedback about what their favourite topics or lessons were and if there is anything they think I can do to improve my performance as a teacher. In the rush of the years end, I only really glanced at them and today as I was moving into my new office I came across the pile and read them.
There were lots of heartwarming and positive feedback, which was lovely. Some kids wrote some really funny things and alluded to jokes we’d made throughout the year, which was fun too. It was great to hear the lessons they’d really enjoyed and the skills they felt they’d mastered this year.
Many of the SOSE students felt they’d learnt to appreciate how fortunate we are and not to take their lives for granted when we studied ‘Poverty’. Some of my Year 9 English students thanked me for giving them an appreciation of reading, and said they loved it now because I ’always harped on about’ great books, so that was really encouraging. There were lots of individual responses that were interesting and most enjoyed the variety of learning activities.
The learning feedback I got was that I need to be quiet more. Quite a few kids wrote that I was great at getting the class to work quietly or read quietly in wider reading and then I tended to talk and spoil the space. Some students found that annoying and distracting. I know I do that. I will get them all settled into their reading and then when it is all quiet and peaceful, I will remember something I forgot to tell them and impatiently blurt it out.
Quite a few of them mentioned I go off track easily, some found this a positive trait and others were critical of it. I do this. I think I have improved a bit though, I remember one year, students would frequently raise issues about the environment or media, which would lead to a big discussion or rant from me and they used it as a tool for ‘getting out of work’. I took a while to realise I reacted in predictable ways to issues that I am passionate about. Predictable reactions can be deadly in the classroom.
The other criticisms and complaints were poor spelling, not paying enough attention to quieter students, lateness to class and swearing occasionally. Most students put their names on the report, which was optional.
I felt the feedback was fair and accurate and I am going to list the areas for improvement and pin it up where I can see it this year so I remember to watch my progress in these areas. I felt it was a really good process to use with students and I think I will do it at the end of each semester from now on.
Next year I have been given an Integrated Projects class that consists of teaching students Mosaic tiling. I am not an art/technology trained teacher, although media studies was considered in the art stream when I did my course and I did those teaching rounds with an art teacher. The Art/Technology people definitely don’t consider me to be ‘one of them’. I am more confident teaching English. I have taught Humanities though and had no training at all in that area.
I am excited because this week two of the teachers are going to show me how to grout and what better project to grout than my unfinished mosaic table! So, no matter how this experiment (me teaching an arty subject) goes, I will have finally finished this project! That’s got to be good.
I enjoyed making the table and I love mosaics, so it could be fun from that perspective. It will no doubt be a learning curve and hopefully not too steep. I am confident that I will be supported by the teachers, because they are good people.
Last night we had the Christmas concert in the park in the middle of town. It was great. I walked down, enjoyed the kids music making and walked home.
It’s been frantic at work. My Digital Storytelling class are undertaking to make a short film for each homeroom to be shown to the whole school next week and as these things always happen, at the last minute, there are still some that aren’t complete yet. I am rushing around to get that organised in lunchtimes and feeling very flustered about it.
I still haven’t started my report writing yet, but am making a lot of progress with my marking, in snatches here and there. We have a public holiday on Friday for the local show, so I expect, I will spend it writing reports.
Today we went to an ‘adventure’ park with our year nines as part of a transition program. They are going to the senior campus next year. It was exhausting.
My team talked me into participating in a couple of things. So I did the ‘Leap of Faith’ which involved walking a plank with a harness on, up very very high.
I also did one of the team activities. We had to all as a team get over this really high wall. There was one student left who hadn’t done it and as I was attempting to convince her it would be fine, some bright spark suggested I show her, for extra points for the team. I would have gladly disappeared, yet instead allowed my students to boost me up and drag me up over this wall.
Bruises galore! Why do I always fall for these things? The kids are younger and braver than me! I am so tired, but it was great to see the kids push their boundaries. Some of them are amazingly strong, brave and fit. One more day of teaching and then a marathon report writing weekend, including my birthday somehow. Oh, I have to make my wish list!