My fav edu tools at the moment

My favourite education tools at the moment:
1. Edmodo.
It’s free, unblocked by the DEC, available for parents to see, you can easily embed just about anything into it, and you can even keep your gradebook and marking in there!
My yr 9 classroom is completely paperless because of edmodo-all worksheets are there ready to be downloaded and completed on MSWord or similar.
And it also allows you to create mini-groups, connect with other teachers, and has a calendar function. It also has an iPhone app-essential for me because I hate using my laptop if I can use my phone!
What’s not to love?


2. Slideshare and Scribd.
I love these tools because it allows me to publish documents and PPTs so I can directly embed them into edmodo for the kids or into my blog. They are free and very easy to use, plus it gets you into the habit of sharing your resources-why should someone else reinvent the wheel if you’ve already done it?


3. Infographics (Visual.ly) and graphic organisers (exploratree.org)
I am really into getting kids to develop higher order thinking skills at the moment, which is why I think graphic organisers are great. Getting them to reorganise the information they know in a way which requires them to demonstrate a conceptual understanding is a skill which will translate into other curriculum areas as well-added bonus!

4. Twitter.
Perhaps it’s not so relevant for the kiddies themselves, but for my own professional development and in order to build up a wealth of resources, Twitter is fantastic! The new people I’ve met and new concepts I’ve heard about via twitter are just astonishing. It just goes to show that there is always something new to think about in education!



Preservice teachers: unprepared? Unrealistic expectations?…

For those who started following this blog, you may have shared the enthusiasm I first felt about writing it. Since then I have felt an immense amount of guilt about not updating it as regularly as I had hoped, and thus not using it as thre reflective journal as I had first hoped it would be.

In truth, I now spend every waking moment (and even some sleeping moments) in education world. I have decided that doing a uni load of 6 subjects plus a 2 day a week practical placement in one semester is not a wise move. Now being down to my final two university assessments, I now actually have time to reflect upon what I have been learning over the last five or so weeks, beginning with the realisation of just how unrealistic the expectations of pre service teachers about entering the profession actually are.

I gave up a legal career for a teaching career, with one of the considerations being that it was simply impossible for me to maintain the workload and work hours expected of a lawyer. 16 hour days just weren’t for me. The reaction I faced from many people when I told them about the career change I was making was one of shock. Many people were convinced that teaching was a much better “lifestyle”.

I would now like to dispel that myth. The exposure I have had to the teachers I’m working with over the last 5 weeks has taught me that teaching is all consuming. These people work damn hard for their students before school, during school, after school, late into the night and on weekends. So if you are looking for a work life balance, this probably isn’t the career for you.

Not that this is a problem for me, i really enjoy the satisfaction of putting together a lesson students enjoy or take something away from, and I’ve always been the person who pushes myself to go that extra mile. And I happen to be a geek, who thoroughly enjoys the pursuit of knowledge for it’s own sake.

What I do have an issue with, however, is the way in which teaching is “sold” as a career choice to younger people. Universities and teaching bodies promote it as a viable option for those who need work life balance, and who are after a workload which will allow them to put their family first. Unfortunately, this picture of teaching is so far removed from how involved and consumed in their teaching the good teachers are, that it could be either setting us pre service teachers up to fail (hence the high drop out rate within the first 3 years) or promoting a standard of teaching which isn’t consummate with the way in which students deserve to be taught. If we were a little more realistic in the workload which a good teacher will take on, the hours they will dedicate to lesson planning, assessment planning and marking, and unit programming, perhaps we would ensure the teaching profession attracts only those who are willing to take on this workload.

Maybe then people would stop telling me that I chose the right profession “because I get to knock off at 3:00”. If only they knew….

On your marks, get set…..

Day One of blogging!

I have decided to start blogging to map my journey from student to teacher, and also to record many of the things I learn during my practical experience for others to share.It is, after all, an experience which us student teachers don’t really get the chance to debrief about. Hopefully many of the experienced teachers out there who read this will also be able to contribute to this blog, offer advice or even take some of the ideas for your own classroom use.  It is the perfect platform on which to share resources with other teachers and student teachers, and perhaps it will motivate some of you to start sharing your resources online with those across the world.

As someone who has been at university for what feels like forever, I was of course chomping at the bit to get started on my practical experience in a school. After some considerable delay (I’m sure many of you share my frustration with university administration systems!!) one of the most efficient, dedicated and motivated people I have ever met introduced me to another extremely efficient, dedicated and motivated person in the form of my practical teacher, bhewes (some of you may know her blog).

My first contact with my practical teacher sent me into a whirlwind of excitement and sheer unadulterated panic. Her organisation was out of this world; before the day was over she had allocated me classes, she had given me a run down of the units of work each of her classes was teaching, she had introduced me to something called PBL, directed me to her blog – and all via one email. And she had managed to sound chirpy about having a student teacher practically forced upon her!

Monday morning found me making my way to my first class at 7:30am, and being greeted by Yr 11 students who were surprising alert for that hour of the morning. I was thrilled at the choice of text the class (soon to be my class!) as it was based upon a case I had previously studied in a law degree, and involves a (tragically realistic) view of humanity which sends shivers down my spine. Overall, I felt blessed to have been allocated such an enthusiastic class; they worked well together as a unit and seemed seriously engaged by the text and in the task.

I was introduced to ‘edmodo’ (fantastic teaching tool!!!) which I can already see making my teaching life incredibly less stressful by being able to organise assessment, worksheet, monitor student participation and incorporate technology into the classroom (those of you out there who aren’t on it-organise it!), and was taken on a tour of the school grounds. The tour of the school brought back memories of my old high school, which really impressed upon me the vision the Wyndam scheme had for high school students. The staff I met on my first day were lovely-and even agreed to put up with me observing the behavioural intervention programs.

The encounter with my future year 9 class did not go so swimmingly though. Off task behaviour was rife; students were procrastinating, complaining and even zoning out. I was partially relieved when I saw that my teacher was also stressed about the situation, as I just couldn’t conceive of myself teaching these poor kids anything if they couldn’t even concentrate on an engaging task which was modelled and scaffolded appropriately.

After such a jam-packed day, I went home at a loose end: how could I ever match my master teacher’s teaching? I was so grateful I had been given such a fantastic role model, but the PBL style of teaching was so radically different to anything I had witnessed before, including on previous practical experiences, that I coundn’t picture myself mastering it. This feeling of complete inadequacy was compounded the next day when I went to uni and discovered I had been awarded a Credit for an assignment I worked tirelessly on (I am strictly a HD student).

Yesterday when I received an email from my master teacher though, my spirits perked up immediately. She had used a resource I recommended (so surely my suggestion couldn’t have been that hopeless!) and she directed me to her blog where I witnessed her also at a loss as to what to do with the Year 9 class. Thank god! She assured me that she was restructing the yr 9 unit programs and perhaps even reshuffling the classes to suit a PBL style which would work with the students, and counselled me not to worry. Exhale.

My next day at the school is tomorrow (another observation day), so stay tuned for the next post.