My WINS for the term would be getting 28 individual student blogs up and running (wow was that an epic adventure), bedding down some classroom practices, having an awesome assembly, teaching my students how to use chopsticks, holding a cake decorating class as a reward for getting through the term and starting up a budget news show with my kids.
My first attempt in learning would definitely be paperwork and record keeping.
A lot of people outside of teaching, myself included, don’t see the job within the job when it comes to teaching. Sure there are those hours between 9 and 3 when you are responsible for a classroom of students and are expected to teach them something but there is also a whole myriad of duties which go along with teaching, the paperwork, the meetings, the emails, communication families, etc. which I have really struggled with this term. It took me a week to remember to consistently read the daily notices (a job which I have long since farmed out to the kids to do) and about a month to remember to take the roll after lunch without a phone call from the office. Perhaps next year these things won’t seem so mentally draining now that I’ve worked out a way to collect money and notices and keep a track of them.
And that was definitely my biggest surprise of the term. How much paperwork each student generates which then need to be filed away and recorded by me somewhere. Don’t get me started on the number of information systems in education which don’t talk to eachother or spending an evening entering data into e-asstle. Suffice to say the task I enjoyed the least this term would be setting up paper-based learning portfolios. There has to be a better way of recording student learning than this.
I suppose my points of frustration are inevitable to those who know me or my writing. I tend to be more of a big-picture thinker. The stuff that gets me excited is coming up with new ideas and solving problems while I have a very low tolerance for anything resembling busywork and loathe filling out forms with the fire of a thousand suns. Perhaps the reason I’ve enjoyed doing the digital stuff is because it has involved a whole lot of creative problem-solving both for myself and my students.
Yet as I look towards the 2nd and 3rd terms slightly less frantic but still wanting to do much more passion-based learning and teaching. When I think about the most meaningful moments I’ve had with students this term, they’ve come when I’ve shared my interests and hobbies with my students and vice versa.
Watching the students chow down on ramyen using chopsticks was so surreal because they reminded me of my students in Korea who loved slurping down on noodles after school. But perhaps the biggest suprise was the cupcake decorating class I held at the end of the term. I never saw any men at the cake decorating classes I’ve attended as a student and had assumed that the boys in our classroom might not have much interest icing cupcakes. Yet the boys bought just as much creativity and engagement to the task as the girls. So there’s another reminder to never assume that your experience will match that of your students.
I was also reminded of the importance of passion. From the outside it looks like passion is almost becoming a dirty word in education. Instead we talk about outcomes and student achievement and have stock footage photos in newspapers kids sitting in rows staring at the teacher. In my experience passion is loud and messy (especially when icing cupcakes), it requires lots of movement and it is really, really tiring.
So yah to having a holiday. As one of my flatmates remarked, she never really understood why teachers have two-week breaks until now.