goodbye 2011, bring on 2012

Another year gone and, as always, I’m amazed at both how much I’ve done and how much I intended to do but didn’t get to this year! Trying to cram a full time job into 3 days a week so that I could spend 2 days doing my PhD was a challenge and one that, in the end, was too much. However it’s certainly been a full and busy year and it seems the right time to reflect.

Memorable bits of 2011

  • Ultranet successes. It’s been a slow and steady process and, at times, I didn’t feel we were getting anywhere. However, looking back, we have achieved a lot. All students in my school regularly log in and interact with different aspects of the Ultranet. Grade 3/4 students created their own pages, Grade 5/6 students collaborated with each other in an online environment and Preps managed to master their complex 7 passwords and log on independently (mostly!). All of our staff log in daily to check our bulletin, upload their work programs and add meeting minutes. The journey is by no means complete but we’ve begun and are definitely moving in the right direction. Thanks so much to the great PLN that I’m part of through Twitter and the blogosphere who have been a constant source of encouragement and inspiration.
  • Learning to learn. This has been a big focus in my ICT sessions this year and is something that I’m proud of. Grade 3/4 students in particular have become more confident in managing their own learning around the Ultranet and Superclubs. Hearing students support each other and echo some of the strategies we’ve been developing has been really rewarding and most have thrived in this more open environment. Watching them take their learning home and eagerly eat up opportunities to extend what we’ve done in class has been an absolute highlight. Definitely something I intend to build on in 2012.
  • Scratch. I know I sung its praises in 2011 but really, once you’re a convert, you’ll never stop talking about it. Grade 5/6 students again used this program to explore, create and share but, more importantly, to learn how to learn. I encouraged them to take risks, test things, fail miserably but pick themselves up and try something different. It was always enlightening to watch the students who shone and those that struggled – not always the ones I expected. It was often students who were used to achieving great results found Scratch hard because its not about learning the right answer and providing it at the right time. There is no one right answer. An important lesson not just in ICT but in the life they’ll encounter beyond Year 12 exams.
  • Starting and withdrawing from my PhD. Again, I’ve already blogged about it but, having had some distance from the decision, I’ve still got no regrets. Mostly, I’m really glad to have had the opportunity for focused study and to have a go at something that had been on my list for a long time. My research, reading and thinking certainly hasn’t been wasted effort and I was lucky enough to present a PD for ICTEV based on some of the work I did. I’ve been exposed to ideas and ways of seeing the world that I hadn’t seen before and it’s changed my teaching, my learning and my attitude about education and technology. So, definitely worth it.

2012 will see me return to full-time work as well as a modified role where I’ll be teaching ICT as well as mentoring colleagues, supporting them to successfully and meaningfully integrate ICT into their classrooms. While I’m already feeling exhausted at the thought of full time work again, I’m really excited for what the year might bring. Bring it on!

another year over…

I started the year as a Grade 5/6 teacher, mildly excited about my new grade but already becoming jaded with politics – both those within my school and those being forced on us by various levels of government.  I spent term 1 loving every moment with my students but knew it wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing.  Not quite.  I saw a job advertised as an ICT teacher and leapt at the chance to apply.

I finished the year with a huge smile and an energy that I haven’t had since my first term as a teacher.  Teaching ICT to Prep through to Grade 6 students hasn’t always been the easiest task but I have loved it all, especially learning and developing my skills along with them.  It took me a while to get my head around the role but, like I have always done in the classroom, I fed off my students.  I listened to what they liked to do outside of the classroom and tried to weave that into what we did inside it.  I don’t want the students to get bored and don’t want to suffer from boredom myself so it’s important that I keep the ICT lab lively and up to date, not bogged down in ‘old technologies’.  This is a goal for next year – I’ve started along the path but need to improve.

I was also a bit worried that, leaving behind my regular class, I would also leave behind the bond you make with children you teach every day.  However, despite only having each grade for an hour a week, I feel I have made a connection and look forward to continuing to build those relationships next year.

I would not have been able to have such a challenging and fulfilling year this year without the support of colleagues – both those within my new school and those in the twitterverse who gave me ideas, encouragement and a sense of belonging that is absolutely invaluable.  I can’t state it strongly enough – that PLN has made such a difference to my experience of being a teacher this year and it will be something I will be fostering and encouraging others to participate in next year.

So what’s ahead for 2011?  Becoming a better ICT teacher, albeit in a shorter time frame.  I’m reducing to part time hours so that I can undertake my PhD and the thought is both exciting and terrifying at the moment.  I have so many ideas and things I want to try out with the students but also look forward to the chance to get my teeth into some research – the theory to support my practice.  Roll on 2011!