Thursday, April 27, 2017

Work/life balance???

At the start of this year I had an idea. Nothing amazing, but it sounded like a great idea all the same. The idea? Not to do school work in the weekends. Awesome I thought, I'll get all my work done during the week so that I can have my weekends free and get rid of that nagging guilt and panic feeling I get on Sunday evenings. Totally doable, after all some of my co-workers seem to make this look easy and my husband thought this was equally a great idea.

So 11 weeks down, how's it all going for me? Well, not so flash but one could argue that I haven't really set myself up for success on this occasion. The old saying 'doing what you've always done and expecting a different outcome' is definitely alive and well here!

After speaking with a specialist about a minor health issue, her advice (one of many) was to lower my stress levels and strive for a better work/life balance. "But how?", my 'poor example for a work/life balance' mother asked when I spoke about it with her. How do you get a balance for a job that is never done? How do you maintain a professional standard, while not answering emails at 9.30 at night? How do you manage your extra work responsibilities while leaving work before 5pm every day? Of course every time I work in the evenings or on weekends it is my choosing and my want to provide the best for the students I teach. I also don't always see this as an issue and the perfectionist in me is alive and well but it has got me thinking again about my idea from the beginning of the year and the way I 'sell' the 'learn, create, share' learning philosophy with others. No ones going to want to try using a multimodel approach to teaching reading if they think it will take them longer to plan than their current programme!

I started watching a series very long winded video about an American couple (created for learning) who discuss this very idea of work/life balance. In a nutshell these are the ideas that I found the most useful, not necessarily rocket science but food for thought.

  • Make the decision to arrive and leave on time every day (with a few exceptions of course). What time will work best for me, my colleagues and provide the time to complete what I need to get done?
  • Where are the pressures/expectations coming from? Or more importantly what unspoken pressures have I instilled upon myself? For example, the idea that I should work in the evenings or I have to get everything looking good on our class site.
  • Make to-do list and actually use them. I envision that for this to be most effective, I would need a longer term to-do list and then to-do list broken down into aims for before and after school. I also like the idea of completing a to-do list for the following morning before you leave for the day.
  • Watch out for 'water cooler' talk. As much as I love to catch up with my colleagues I know that an hour can very easily slip by and I will have been unproductive. I get caught in the whole 'came to the staff room to get a drink and ending up sitting and gossiping!
  • What can I trade. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I like things to look good, but I know that this is effects my time management. Sometimes I like to ask myself "will this have an effect on the children's learning?" Chances are that the pretty background on my slideshow will not have any effect and therefore doesn't really need to be done when time is short!
  • Use any spare moment effectively. Refer to to-do list and make the most of the opportunity.
  • Do similar tasks at the same time eg set aside time to respond to emails 
  • Work at work. Sounds simple but it is drawing a line in the sand and saying when enough is enough. 
As  I said not necessarily rocket science but it has got me thinking about some things I need to make better attempts at in order to get a better work/life balance.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Meet Des and Troy.

Mark Maddren taught me a new wee saying today that was quite appealing to children was using Des and Troy when walking around with their chromebook. Des and Troy refer to your arm and more importantly how they should be used to support a chromebook while being carried. As part of the Kara of Care the children are expected to carry their chromebook with a closed lid and to use the crock of their elbow to support a corner of their device while crossing their other arm across the rest of the chromebook. Definitely my new favourite saying for the next few weeks to get our children back into this habit.

This year I am lucky enough to have support from Mark Maddren as part of the Manaiakalani Outreach programme. Today was our first session working with the children and the main focus was to introduce the children to the Kawa of Care.

The task for the session was to read critically the expectations for looking after their Chromebooks and how to use them correctly as a tool for their learning. The children needed to go through and highlight the different points using a three coloured code for order of importance. It was a great opportunity for the children to begin expressing their critical thinking and giving reasoning for their
decisions. After re-colour coding the children were required to select what they believe to be the three most important aspects of the Kawa of Care and create a DLO (Digital Learning Object) to explain their understanding of the expectation.

Mark and I spoke briefly about giving times limits on creation tasks and encouraging children to use Google Drawing and creating their own image as opposed to simply finding an image on line. These fits in nicely with two points I have been thinking about recently when dreaming up create activities for my reading lessons. In order for the task to be worthwhile I want it to be something the children will actually complete in a timely fashion, as well as, being meaningful and fit in with some of the higher levels of the SAMR model.  A task that is not given to the children for the sake of creating but enhances and/or affirms their learning. I believe it is also making sure that the tasks doesn't take more time than the learning is worth or at the expense of other learning.

An example last week was trying to come up for a meaningful create activity about an article a group of children will read about motocross. For a similar activity in the past I got the children to design their own track but I wasn't entirely happy with the meaningfulness of this task. Simon (my work husband) suggested that the children make a track using dough and then make a video explaining why they have included different aspects of the track. By filming and explaining their creation the task itself is more meaningful and enters the transformation zone of the SAMR model. Plus at a guess the children will find this highly engaging!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

New Year, new me???

I must say since I last posted there has definitely been no shortage of ideas for post.... getting them written down has been another story! 2016 was a massive year of learning for me in two areas in particular literacy and the affordances of learning through digital technology.

For the first time in almost 10 years I began studying again towards my Masters. The three papers I completed where all focused on Literacy. Although a tad stressful at times, I really enjoyed focusing on one of my teaching passions and have been excited to implement my new knowledge, knowledge that I could have written many great posts about!

Last year was my school's second year as part of the Manaiakalani Outreach programme. Learn, create, share and the affordance of digital technology has been an amazing gift for us, a wonderful challenge and we have already seen great gains in our students achievement.

My goal this year is to get back into writing on my blog and using this as a way to record evidence towards my registered teacher criteria. And look at that, first post done!