Data Right Now!

Here are some really quick notes on the use of data in my current context. I am sure that these will be far too simple to be of great use to many people!

Obviously the everyday work of the teacher is to improve student learning. When this your overarching purpose then it becomes relevant to ask; what do I need to know to make the biggest impact? What the students know? What they need to know? how they learn? What will make the biggest impact? These are all essential questions that I continue to seek clarity on in daily practice.

At the moment I use a combination of assessment items, anecdotal records, formal assessments,  writing samples, running records, and generally what I see and hear everyday to help make decisions in daily classroom activities. In a whole school sense, a combination of evidence described above as well NAPLAN and On Demand trend data, Staff, student and parent opinion surveys are utilised and Ausvels data help drive whole school decision making.

Decisions that are made using the data mentioned above include from a classroom perspective; what to teach and how to teach it. The whole school uses data to make decisions about strategy, goals and objectives to move forward.

It is important that the data is in fact relevant to the decisions that are made. It becomes apparent that if we are using data to make important decisions that misinterpreted data, or a lack of quality data can have serious consequences when we are trying to achieve our goals.

Collecting evidence for the things we do in school is important as it provides everybody with a clear base for why we do what we do. It is though at times time consuming. If we know what needs to happen, why can’t we just ‘go and get it done’? We need to find ways that collecting evidence is not an extra but that the actual process of collecting evidence becomes an enlightening experience for teacher unlocking truths that otherwise would not have been known.

Out of the way…but close enough..

Picture of lions

The above picture I found on National Geographic’s website and it immediately resonated with me. As a teacher I think it is important that we allow kids to explore their world and learn by trying new things, exploring their own interests and passions, being creative and taking risks. As teachers we need to let them explore their own worlds and give them every opportunity to find their passion. Of course we need to guide them and share our own experiences in that will give them the best opportunity for them to be at their best.

This picture shows a lion cub venturing out into the water, with the parent and siblings (or peers) right behind. Despite the potential dangers the adult lion is giving the cub space to explore and learn on its own. I think this picture embodies some of my thoughts about teaching. At times we will be side by side with our students as we both learn and explore and at other times we must let students find and develop skills that align closely with their own interests.

 

 

Mr Ideal, or Mr Wright?

My favourite teacher was a bloke called Mr Wright. He was my grade 5 teacher. I have always gone through my life with this image of him being my favourite or ideal teacher and now that I am actually put in a position to talk about why he is my ideal teacher I find myself battling a little bit to explain why I liked him so much. I only remember bits and pieces of his class so I guess I can talk about those.  He read the newspaper a lot to us, I guess in a way he kept us focused on real issues and in my eyes he seemed to be teaching us important stuff. There was a regular competitive side to his class, lots of student vs student stuff, top of the class etc. Something that I enjoyed participating in, but now would not emulate. It is funny that the some of things that I enjoyed him for I  would never replicate in my own class.

The article made me think a little bit about perceptions. The fact that pre-service teachers though that personality was a more important attribute than subject knowledge is very interesting. This could be due to the pre-service teachers just relying heavily on their own experiences of teachers (most likely as a student) and rememering their favourite teachers. It was probably the teachers personality that made them appealing in the first place and not necessarily how much they knew.
Content knowledge started to be of increased importance to teachers probably as they were exposed to the reality and pressure of classroom teaching perhaps they found they needed more than their bubbly personalities to help them get through the day.
I definitely think that content knowledge is important but I can’t help but think that somehow pre-service teachers might be onto something that some teachers forget once they are in the everyday hustle and bustle of the classroom.  Respectful relationships are very important and to an extent personality allows positive relationships to occur. Specific content knowledge is important but perhaps the most important knowledge for a teacher to have is where their students are at (in relation to content) ,where they need to get to and how to help them get there.

Reading, Note taking and referencing

After reading about reading I reflected that if I have been asked to read something I generally do the skim and scan technique and highlight important parts but if it something I have chosen I guess I have usually already assessed it as worthy to read so I generally read from start to finish.

I tried some of the techniques that were recommended and I think the are useful. Scheduling time is important. I also think that reading is like lots of things in life, the more you practice the better you will get. So I guess I will just make sure I am practicing reading and will work out what works best for me.

In terms of note taking I have never been a huge note taker which is something that I will have to get better at. I guess with increased amounts of reading, good quality notes may become more important as my ability to recall information and remember where it came from will be tested. I use Evernote quite a bit in my work and think that it could also come in handy when keeping notes on this course.

In terms of referencing I have always though of as a tedious task despite being fully aware of the necessity of it. End Note is on my to-do list as it seems as if it would make  the process of referencing easier.

In terms of whether or not people should cite Wikipedia as a reference I think it most cases it should be avoided as scholarly texts and articles should really be where ideas are generated for assignment work.  Karissa suggested that one of the only times you may use it is if you were writing about the reliability of online sources. I tend to agree with her. What about a blog post? Can you reference that? What about a text message? Can you reference what your butcher said to you last week? Or is that just bordering on ridiculous?

Thanks very much for reading. You have been very kind.

Hume Article

This post includes my reflections an article on reflective journal writing and the benefits that this writing can bring to learning. You can access the article here: Hume

 

Reflecting on Reflecting:
I thought of a couple of different things whilst reading this article. Firstly that it linked with other things I have read about good teaching and learning and namely that is that the best teachers often think about the impact that they are having on their students. This can only happen upon careful purposeful reflection.  I also am starting to see that the ability to be able to carefully and effectively reflect on my own practice is something that is going to form a big part of this module, subject and indeed course.
I appreciated the Shulman diagram as this might give me more purposeful, directed reflection in the future.  I believe I am probably going to have be a little more disciplined when it comes my reflections. I think that the majority of the reflection I do currently happens in my head and is not necessarily written down. Recording it probably gives me a chance to get a little more purpose to it and directs my practice in the future.
I will have to disciplined and allocate time to record my reflections, I think 10 minutes a day is doable. I guess as Hume suggests though quality reflection is important and more important than quantity. As they became more competent with reflective writing they started to be less frequent but more in depth, quality reflections. Hopefully I can develop my own ability to effectively reflect and start to pump out some quality work.

Loughan Article: My Reflections

This is my response to an article written by John Loughlan . You can access the article here: Loughlan

I think a lot of what was written in the article made sense to me. I think that effective reflective practice is an essential part of learning as much as I can from my own practice.

It is true that we need to be aware of and question our own underlying assumptions or the assumptions of our students that may be in play in the teaching and learning environment. As I was reading the aritcle the article it made me think of a quote “we dont see the world as it really is, we see it as we are. At times we need see ourselves, our classrooms and our practice through another lens (frrame and reframe) and anaylse and adapt our practice accordingly to new light that these alternative lens shine on a situation. Wow I feel like that is a bit wordy, but it makes sense to me.

 

Reading this aritcle also made me think of the power of reflection to the actual learners themselves, not student teachers but the students I teach. While we consistently engage in ‘reflection’ activities with students, perhaps the power and effectiveness of this may have gone understated in the past.