Well 2016 has come to an end and it has seemed to be a year where I couldn't find any forward momentum. However on reflection, and after a few slaps to the head from some close teaching friends, there did seem to be a bit of gloss to the year that was!
I started the year with two beginning teacher mentees and that's were the learning curve began and never stopped! I quickly learnt that mentoring is not about telling the empty vessel what to do and them enacting it verbatim. Its actually about relationships! Who would have thought that? I have to admit that I had more of an impact on one of the mentees more than the other because 'Baby Minion', as she became known, had a similar teaching style and personality to my own. We just clicked and we were able to feed off of each other's enthusiasm throughout the year. With my other mentee it was more about being a listening post. She was a deep thinker and analyser and needed support to take risks with her teaching. Coming from a previous career she found the expectations and realities of teaching a challenge. I know my impact with this mentee was limited and I now truly understand how finding the right mentor is vital to the success of beginning teachers.
Teaching wise I took on the challenge of being the pilot teacher for the implementation of the program 'Back to Front Maths' for Year Three. It is a problem-based approach to help children understand maths rather than just memorise it. Firstly we had to identify their misconceptions before using the lessons created by Tierney Kennedy to fill the gaps before extending their thinking. Let's just say teaching maths using web-conferencing, with limited internet connection, could be an absolute nightmare some days, and it didn't help that my own knowledge and teaching skills were also being stretched as I had never taught maths at this level before. That said and done at the end of the year the Year Threes had shown growth with an effect size of 1.33 with highly effective intervention only needing to be between 0.7 and 1.0 for a year. So 'Yay us'!
In the middle of the year I had a slight brain meltdown as this seems to be the only logical reason for why I would apply to be an assessor for Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers. I was one of twenty who were chosen to under go the training and then spent the next six months completing four modules of study through AITSL. The pilot program will roll out in 2017 in the regions of North Coast and Far North Queensland so there seems to be a bit on travel in my future.
During 2016, I continued to work with iAIM to refine the school's physical activity program 'Kilometre Club'. In 2017 there will be a few major changes with the race around Queensland expanding to include parents, Home Tutors and teachers while a trophy will be presented to the victorious house team. I am also working towards simplifying the tracking sheets so the students can complete them independent of adult assistance which is vital on a busy cattle and sheep property.
I also dabbled with Growth Mindset, Whole Brain Teaching and ClassDojo in the later part of the year to support students who were having issues with staying on task and risk taking. I saw enough success in my students' learning that they will be programs I will be implementing again in 2017.
Lastly 2016 had a few big bangs for me with the parents and Home Tutors of my students nominating me for the Office Works 'Exceptional Teacher Awards' and the Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards. These nominations along with the feedback I got back about my organisation and implementation of the annual 'Art and Craft Show' and the school's 'Speech and Awards Day' have reassured me that my dedication to my students and school are very much appreciated.
Wishing you all a safe and happy New Year!!