Weekly Reflection: The Last Post

New Zealand Graduating Teacher Standard 7.c

“Graduating Teachers are able to articulate and justify an emerging personal, professional philosophy of teaching and learning.”

What my Diploma in Teaching helped me Learn

45 weeks
6 exams
13 assignments
2 teaching placements
169 posts
29,311 hits

And as of 2.13pm on Thursday I’m done.

When I enrolled in this diploma almost 12 months ago I thought I was training to be a teacher. Little did I know 11 months later I think of myself more as a learner.

But that’s not the only thing that changed.

This time last year I was in a profoundly unhappy place in my life. When the clock struck midnight for 2011 I wasn’t all that psyched about the year ahead. I thought my studies would be something to be endured not enjoyed.  I didn’t even know if I wanted to be a teacher.

How wrong I was.

For me there is nothing more amazing than seeing a group of kids take an idea and making it more awesome than I ever could imagine. This year I watched the year 8 class I was placed with take a discussion of leadership and turning it into a bollywood inspired flashmob on the school field and the juniors in the next Teaching Experience take a simple maths warm up and turn it into a powerful learning moment. I may have struggled a lot to find those teachable moments but finding them is, to quote the amazing @annekenn, MAGIC!

So there’s the first important lesson I’ve learned this year, we all need some magic in our lives.

The second is the importance of people.

Over the course of the year I’ve watched the network of people supporting my learning transmorgifiy from a couple of friends and classmates to a global network of hundreds of teachers.

I’ve been humbled at how unbelievably generous the innovate educators I’ve met both virtually and in real life have been with their knowledge. I want to thank you all, especially the ones who gave up their time to give me advice online and more importantly in real life. Your generosity has been life changing and something that I will forever be indebted to each and everyone of you for. I can’t bake you all a cupcake but I can promise to Pay it forward.

In fact I’ve already started.

I’ve always said from the outset that purpose of this blog share my experiences for the benefit of others. I don’t pretend to be an expert at anything except being a student teacher in New Zealand.

But I think there is a need for more of this sort of sharing.

The most popular post on this blog is the Graduating Teacher Standards E portfolio which attracts a steady stream of visitors looking information about the standards and they end up here. They might not be commenting but my site statistics tell me that they are out there.

If there is one lesson teachers, student or otherwise, could take from my work this year it would that I think more teachers need to tell our stories and make our learning visible. More importantly we need to share the experiences of our students beyond the walls of our classrooms and borders of our nations.

As I look towards the future of education in New Zealand I can see the storm clouds of educational reform gathering overhead. I often find myself getting pessimistic at the current state of what often passes for education debate in this country. I ponder why policy makers in particular seem so determined to not listen to the very people working in the educational system and I start thinking that the work that teachers do just isn’t that important.

But perhaps it is.

This Tuesday I watched my reflection on the introduction of charter schools generate nearly 1,000 hits to this site in a day. At the time of writing this post has generated almost 1,300 hits and is now the second most popular on the blog. I don’t pretend my post made a huge difference, it’s just a small ding in a wider debate.

But then I’m just one student teacher.

There are of others of course.

New schools, new ways of thinking, people willing to be positive deviants. They are the true reformers of education.

But what if more teachers stood up and said pay attention, this is important work, this is hard and, at times, frustrating work but we’re not sitting around on our hands waiting for permission to do things differently.

What if we declared that our voices matter?

Because despite the best efforts of those outside the system to bring about change, ultimately the most effective educational reform will come from within.

I speak of the amazing power that the internet and mobile learning has to revolutionize and personalize education.

I know that there are still plenty of doubters out there wondering what the value is in students spending time in front of a screen during class. Some of this resistance may come from not knowing how to use the internet for learning. More likely stems from the fear that teachers might soon be replaced by a computer. I guess that’s natural when you feel threatened you retreat to what you know.

Ultimately our future depends on teachers embracing this new way of learning but more importantly new ways of engaging with our community. I just hope education doesn’t have to hit rock bottom to find the courage to change.

Which brings me to the final lesson I’ve learned this year, the importance of failure. I’ve lamented in the past that our society doesn’t do well with failure. We don’t speak of our own setbacks hiding them away in places we hope others can’t find them. Yet learning how to the heed the lessons when life doesn’t go to plan is by far the most important qualification I will ever gain.

When I look at my first post I’m reminded of the starting point of the journey wasn’t all that great.  2009 was a horrible year and despite the grand world trip, 2010 wasn’t that much better. But the bonus of the setbacks I faced during those two years was a stripping away of the inessential in my life.

I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than who I was, and began to direct all my energy into the only work that I had enjoyed doing, teaching. Had the setbacks of the last two years not occurred, I might never have found the courage to change course nor the determination to succeed. As my studies draw to a close I find myself ending this year feeling happier and more excited about the possibilities in life than I’ve felt in years. That is the power that learning has to transform lives.

Of course the end of one journey is really just beginning of another. I might not know where I am going but the purpose of this post is to document how I’ve come to this point.

Therefore it seems fitting that I dedicate this, my last post as a student teacher, to The Child, who turned 8 yesterday. Happy birthday kiddo. I miss you heaps and love you lots.

“Words have no wings but they can fly a thousand miles.”
Korean proverb

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16 thoughts on “Weekly Reflection: The Last Post

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  1. i’m so glad to hear that you’re in a better place, and also love the post. just shows that what you learn from an education is more than just the subject matter that your teachers put in front of you. which is why i think all education should be free – teritary, ACE, industry training, whatever. the overall benefits, both economic and social, are way more than the cost.

    good luck for the future, and i hope you’ll be blogging somewhere else.

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  2. Stephanie
    I have loved reading your posts and if you ever want to extend teaching you are a fabulous writer and would also make a great Minister of Education! But enjoy the teaching, one thing no day is ever boring in teaching, it can be at times stressful and challenging but NEVER boring.

    Hope you will continue to blog next year as a teacher, I need my ‘fix’!! I am addicted to your posts.

    All the best for next year.
    Kathyn

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    1. Hi Kathryn
      I enjoy writing but more do it as way to keep my writing skills up. In fact I think it’s improved my teaching of writing because of it.

      Thanks for your comments and support over the year they have been most appreciated.

      Stephanie

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  3. It is so true that life is a learning journey, perhaps this has been your biggest takeaway of the past year? Stephanie, reading your blogposts is always a total highlight for me. You have an insightful and refreshingly honest way of putting what we are all often thinking! I will be checking twitter for the link to your NEW blog – the 2012 one where you reflect on and report all of the ‘new learning’ as a BT! Rock on!

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  4. To quote Kimberley, “Rock On!” lady!

    One of the most memorable & moving posts I’ve read all year.

    Here’s to a great teacher starting out in our profession. We’ll be here, to help you along the way. You have a lot to offer, and you’re not afraid to share it.

    Life ain’t easy, but the people and memorable moments of our ‘teaching journeys’ make it all worthwhile.

    Like

  5. Hey, my lovely – I’m trying to elicit some comments out of you on whether maths is perceived as something not just for men, but for white men. Your training may have stopped, by my nerdy expectations of you never will … xo

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