I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for over a year now. Being a primary school teacher librarian is the best! I’m teaching stage three mostly so I’m using all my high school training to bring big ideas into the classroom. I sometimes feel like I might be over stretching the kids but so many rise to the challenge and produce amazing work that I figure I’ll just keep giving them challenges and they will keep on reaching higher.
Year 6 looked at critical literacy this year, which could be a very dry subject but starting with Shel Silverstein’s beautifully simple picture book The Giving Tree and moving through the news media, politics and on to social media made it more relevant and engaging. Trying to get the kids to recognise the importance of thinking about what they read, hear and view was sometimes difficult but what a privilege to be able to implant some of these ideas in their heads before they enter the social media maze and the minefield of news and politics! Hopefully some of it will stick and they will become intelligent consumers of information.
Year 5 produced short films for their own short film festival. I gave them the tools, invited a friend who produces films to speak to them and sent them off to complete the project. I know that usual practice is to scaffold every step of the process, and I understand this would have led to more success across the board. I know that if I had assisted in the writing, casting, directing, filming and editing we would have created 4 films with solid story-lines and more perfect angles. What we ended up with were amateur films, some unfinished and unedited, one that became a trailer due to the fact that the class couldn’t co-operate enough to film the required scenes. For me, what was important was that they made decisions independent of their teacher and created something they could take full ownership of and know that every bit was their work.
The point of the exercise, as it always should be, was learning. The students wrote reflections about the project and all but one (who found it all boring because she didn’t get to be in the production team. Note to self: next time more involvement from the whole class!) managed to see the good and the bad and learnt so much about what goes into making a 3 -5 minute film. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted them to fail and to see why they failed. I wanted them to see that failure is always a possibility and always a learning experience. I’m not the teacher who ‘fixes’ the kids’ art with a little outlining here or carefully cuts out their shapes. In adult life we don’t get someone who jumps in to fix our mistakes, we have to find solutions and we have to learn to move on from setbacks.
I had my friend Shane, a filmmaker, give a masterclass before we started and also give awards on the festival day. He asked me, ‘Can I be honest or is it every child wins a prize?’ Sadly these days the latter is often the case. I asked him to be honest and he presented 3 out of 4 awards to the same class. He also gave positive and negative feedback which I presented to each class. Nobody burst into tears because they didn’t win a prize. Everybody enjoyed the day. Next time, I will do things differently as we had time and space issues but I will definitely repeat this exercise. The teachers have suggested it could become a bigger competition for all of primary. Hmmmm, now that could be interesting!
So I’ve got myself a gig. Six weeks at a primary school as teacher librarian. I’m a high school English teacher… A good (?) friend recommended me for the job and talked me up so much that it was offered to me with very little fanfare. I know I can do it but it will be completely new territory. The focus is to be visual literacy and project based learning, as the school is pushing new approaches to literacy. I’ve been teaching myself about PBL for the last year so I have loads of knowledge about the process and can’t wait to help implement it. I’ve seen how it’s done in high school so can it be so different in primary? I hope I don’t get any of the established teachers offside as I know some are resistant to change. I love change and learning new things so I’ll have to tone down my excitement at first if I feel it’s going to be a hard sell. After the six weeks there will be a job and the way it’s been presented it’s mine to lose. No pressure… Thank goodness for the government and ‘Local Schools Local Decisions’. My school should be able to employ me if I can do the job, even if I don’t have a library qualification.
So there’s the other part of the job I’ll be studying hard to learn. I know the basics of the computer system and I’m sure I’ll be able to learn the rest as I go. Back on that hill that appeared in a previous post… Ah well, if there’s no climb life gets boring, wouldn’t you say?
A bit of a diversion for today. As an unemployed teacher, until schools reopen and rush at me with offers of fruitful employment, I have little of value to offer the reader in terms of teaching experience thus far. I have therefore turned my attention to one of my other interests; educating teachers on special needs, particularly Tourette Syndrome, as I have a son (and possibly two) who has the privilege to live with TS. I hope that in the future I will be able to spread awareness from the inside to help teachers understand the needs of our kids.
Due to a small amount of interest from the TS community I have decided to publish on this nascent blog a paper I wrote on the subject of adjustments that can be made for students with TS. If it helps just one teacher, parent or student, my job is done! I hope you get some use from my research. All the references and links are searchable on the internet so you don’t have to traipse to the library (I am a lazy researcher). The assignment gained me my one and only HD so I think it’s ok. I don’t think anyone but me is reading the blog so I feel a little nervous to go public!!
Tourette syndrome Assignment
Well…it’s all over. I have been getting back to ‘normal’ over the past couple of weeks; getting over the shock of finishing a whole degree in about 8 months. I’m feeling a little lost without essays constantly occupying my mind and almost feel like I’d like to write one just to keep the brain ticking over. I can say the house is cleaner than it has been all year and I’m reading for pleasure again. I’m definitely making the most of this small window of opportunity before I get back to the workforce.
Back to the workforce. Sounds good but in reality there are not that many jobs for newly graduated English teachers available within an hour of home. I have applied for one job, 4 days a week at the local Catholic high school but, as yet, have heard nothing. Applications closed yesterday so I hope to hear by the end of the week. We are going to WA next week so I would like to get it sorted before then. I’d hate to have to rename this blog long term unemployed teacher….
Twitter is keeping me in the education loop so I still feel like I am learning but I am starting to think I am a bit of a fraud without any paid teaching experience. Come on employers, you know you want the wisdom and experience I can bring.
I started the week with a trip to the city on the ferry with my lovely mum, hoping to check out the Police and Justice Museum for an assignment. Maybe if I’d taken the time to read the website I’d have known it wasn’t open during the week. So we headed for Government House. Only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not our day. So we decided to have a look around the Opera House on its 40th birthday and reminisced about the opening day; my sister’s 8th birthday. I remember a car driving across the harbour – in the water, not on the bridge. Where did those 40 years go? Turns out you can’t wander around the House any more either, unless you pay $35 for a guided tour. Fortunately you can still eat at the Harbour Kitchen so we had a light lunch and relaxed under the sails, out of the 38 degree heat.
So, in other words, I haven’t started my assignment. I’ll get there…eventually… Getting to grips with other assignments though. I think I might just get to the finish line yet.
Right, pretty pleased with how things are looking and pretty pleased that between getting dinner cleaned up, ensuring number 2 got ready for jiu jitsu and number 1 for soccer while number 3 had a bath and I collected number 1 (oh and I put number 3 to bed) I have built a blog page. Looks like I’m going to have to start sounding knowledgeable about various subjects and upping my output. Now to find the hours in the day. 18 uni days and counting.
Literally and figuratively felt like I was climbing uphill today. I had to park way down the hill from uni and lug my heavy backpack for the walk to class and then I had to sit through 5 hours of classes. Three hours of listening to advice on applying for jobs, interspersed with reasons one wouldn’t want to be a teacher (mixed messages?) followed by Digital Learning where, instead of creating our projects (constructionist learning) we talked about Papert’s theory of constructionist learning and looked at how other people have constructed their projects…hmmm…more mixed messages? We really need some time to DO instead of listening. Confused? Me too.