2009 has been a strange year at school with lots of changes along the way.
The main difference has been my change in roles. No longer confined to my classroom five days a week, I roam across the school now. Four mornings every week are spent in other classrooms, working alongside teachers or working with specific groups of children. From shiny, new 5 years olds to crusty 11 year old veterans and their teachers – I’ve worked with them all. I’ve really enjoyed it, though I still miss the time I had with Room 9, and I sometimes feel like I have no base to call home. Our classroom blog has been sadly neglected because of my new responsibilities, it hasn’t quite fitted with what’s been happening in class and in the afternoons there is so much to do in so little time. Next year we’ll make it work.
A few highlights stand out. The trip to ULearn09 in Christchurch was a major event in our school calendar and we were lucky enough to take nearly our whole staff. Twenty-two of us descended on Christchurch from the sky, hit the road running (we landed 45 minutes before the first Keynote) and spent three days soaking up the fresh ideas and collegiality. I met up with some of the internet freaks that my mother would have warned me about, my twittering friends. It as great to meet so many of them in person. Tony Ryan says it much better than I can, but if you’re considering going to ULearn next year – just do it! We returned to school in Term 4 energised and enthusiastic. If we weren’t quite reading from the same page we at least had the same book open.
Working with new-entrant children is an education in itself… a reminder of just how much they assimilate in those first few years of school. They’re, for the most part, eager, fearless and engaged learners. Nearly everything has a wow factor for them and they are a joy to work with, their energy seems to soak into you. I watched as a boy (at school for two days) took up the IWB pen and started using the shape tool to draw circles. Within a few minutes he’d covered the board with a rainbow assortment of circles of varying sizes. I looked away for a minute ( I was helping one of the other 5 year olds record their story with an Easi-Speak ready for sharing). When I looked back at the IWB he had sorted the circles into groups, by colour or by size. There were three left that didn’t obviously fit his criteria… so he promptly changed their colours and sizes and sorted them too!
I’ve seen massive shifts in attitude and ability in staff and I credit our trip to ULearn with a lot of this. In particular there was one teacher who openly admitted her technophobia (you know who you are). For 45 minutes a day, four days a week, over 8 weeks we slowly chipped away at her fears, building skills in a “just in time” way that meant everything she learnt was immediately relevant, useful and used. Success!
At the end of Term 4 I found an envelope in my cubby hole. In it was a note from the Junior Syndicate, thanking me for my help… it was worded so positively that I had to sit down and blink to stop the happy tears (I’m a big softy).
To wrap up the year I’ve been given ICT responsibility for the whole school. I still have a classroom role, I’ll continue to provide professional development for teachers and work alongside students too. I also have to focus on integrating ICT and IWBs across the school and curriculum and developing a tiered support network for colleagues. With this comes the onerous job of outlining a three year ICT strategy for the school… something I’ve rarely thought about, but I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into the challenge.
Oh yeah, to top it all off I’m moving rooms; same age students, different location. We’re moving to vertically organised groups of classes, Years 2, 3 and 4 supporting each other and learning together. You wouldn’t believe the “resources” that a teacher can accumulate after nine years in the same room. Or maybe you would!
So, goodbye Room 9, hello Room 13.
Goodbye 2009, hello 2010. Bring it on!
Happy New Year to you all!