In a little over a week the familiar sound of the school bell ring as we start another year. It is always an exciting time, a time to take stock and reflect on the previous year to guide my practice into this year. There are two main parts to my role for this year one is my role in my own school in leading the Mathematics faculty and in teaching a Year 8 Maths class, the other role in working as a numeracy coach across all levels of schooling in my town in partnership with a local university. In this post I want to talk about my goals for this year, what I hope to achieve from each of these different roles
In my working life my first and foremost love is the classroom, I love the energy of it the activity, the unpredictability, the difficulties they are persisting through, the conversations they are having about the work and the fantastic work they are completing. But teaching is a career choice in which you can never become complacent, you can never stop improving, you can never just say "I think I will just do what I did last year". If those words ever pass my lips I know that it is time to choose a different career.
Each year I set a goal, one that both I and my class can work on, something with a solid evidence base that can be used in any class regardless of subject area or age. This year I am looking at the role of reflection / meta-cognition in improving student outcomes and in improving my own practice. In relation to students too often they get a score and feedback from an assessment task, ignore the feedback, look at the score and then thrown the task in the bin or in the bottom of their bag where it joins the giant amorphous pile of other tasks. They see that score and feedback as an ending point to their learning rather than another starting point to learn more about it. They don't take the time to reflect on what their mistakes were in both their preparation for and their execution of the task and consequently the same mistakes persist throughout the year. My attempt at a starting point for this are reflection tasks that can be found here and that are completed with every assessment task. They aim to get them thinking about their effort and mindset leading into the task and during it. To get thing thinking about how they prepared, and applied themselves, what mistakes they made, and how to avoid them in the future. Further to this our discussions in class will focus less on answers and more on discussing approaches to a problem, how they decided to do it that way and how they would change their approach in the future. I want them to be more concerned about being sure of their approach and less about being sure of their answer.
In relation to my own reflection I reflect often but not in any formal manner. I am relatively new to blogging but with only one class this year I think that documenting my work with this class in this space would be a great way of putting a formal face to my reflection, but also a way to share the work with parents at home and with the students themselves. I think that looking back over a year of posts on this blog will be a great way of getting a handle on what I achieve and what needs to change. Hopefully it will also reflect how my thinking may have evolved as the year progresses.
Senior Leader of Pedagogical Innovation and Mathematics Coordinator in Regional South Australia.
Opinions in this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer.