My-learning spreads to the capital.

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to visit another school who has adopted the My-learning approach. Two year 7/8 teachers have jumped wholeheartedly into it and I was incredibly pleased to hear that they had had such a positive experience with it, both last and this year.

The teachers launched straight into My-learning after 2 days at school, after a meeting with parents to share what they planned to do. It was hard work at the beginning for the teachers as they had to get their heads around how they would see groups, how many tasks they would set, and so on. But I was happy to hear them say that, following the initial set up, it has proved a much easier way of teaching for them as you know you’re all sorted and planned ready for the next week in advance. In this respect, with two teachers working close together, My-learning seemed to lend its self well to team planning and also teaching between the two classes.

As for the children, I noticed many similarities in the way that they spoke about their learning, with my own class. The children were motivated and excited. They said that they thought this system would prepare them well for college and beyond as they were more independent, they managed their time well and they were enjoying the challenge. Though some children needed extra help with planning and staying focused, the teachers felt the flexible nature of the programme allowed for the necessary scaffolding.

Although the teachers were overwhelmingly positive about how this was working in their classes, they did find it challenging to check all the students work at the end of the week. To combat this, the teachers had developed a tick sheet for students to show they had completed tasks. Another suggestion to help with this problem is something we have done for a wee while at our school, which seems to make it easier for me to check all the student’s work – using just one book. The children have one book for each unit of inquiry (i.e. 6 books per year) in which every subject (bar maths) is worked on. This works well both for ease of checking and to ensure integration across subjects.

Overall, the experience at this school has been a positive one for children and teachers alike.  I was particularly pleased to see that teachers with a style so different to mine could have just as much success with their classes as I have.

Have you tried My-learning? What has your experience been? Please email me – emma-winder@hotmail.com

P.D. – Past, Present and Future

After attending the Emerging Leaders Summit in Wellington during the past weekend, I got thinking about P.D. My approach has changed a fair bit over the past few years and I think this is worth sharing.

The old situation: I would wait for school instigated P.D opportunities which were irregular and didn’t always appeal to me specifically. I wasn’t at all proactive in my learning.

The result? I got bored and uninspired with teaching so picked up French lessons so I would be learning something.

The new situation: We have to be more proactive with our P.D. How can we expect our senior management to supply us with an endless stream of conferences and guest speakers tailored to our own individual needs on the school’s limited budget? An impossible task. Most of my P.D now comes from blogs I follow and a few select websites that have good resources on. As a start, perhaps have a look at the Committed Sardine blog, the VLN and the eLearning framework. The other thing I have got into recently is Twitter. When others have said that they get a fair bit of their P.D through Twitter I scoffed at the way people can get so carried away with such gimmicks. I’ve subsequently had to eat my words. As a P.D tool, this is well worth a look.

The result? I think I am much more of an inspired, motivated, analytical teacher who feels like she has her finger on the pulse with current education trends (to a greater extent anyway!)  and who is constantly questioning and reflecting upon her practice.

 

The future: I’d really like it if the teachers at our school shared ideas and pondered questions more. I don’t think we utilise each other’s expertise sufficiently at the moment and therefore get ‘stuck’ in our own little insular teaching worlds. This makes it difficult to innovate as all new ideas are built on old ones… At the Emerging Leaders Summit two ideas were presented by Mark Osborne (D.P at Albany Senior High) that could help with this and I’m sure could work in other schools – World Cafe and Ignite Talks.