Goal four asks us to reveal their strengths. This means talking to a student or colleague and sharing with them traits that you admire about them.
I had a student that lacked confidence. He didn’t dare answer any questions in case he was wrong and was so afraid to speak in class I wondered when I would hear him speak. He rarely smiled and just looked scared most of the time.
I quickly realised that he was that one student who I knew I had to continually talk to and make him feel like he had something to offer the class. I would highlight all the things he did well and if he struggled to understand a task we would work together until he understood.
Maths was an area that I knew he enjoyed and felt more confident in. He had some really strong mathematical understandings and I slowly encouraged him to share these. When finally he shared something with the whole class I was so excited. He smiled a cheeky smile that said ‘I did it!’, and that made my day.
He was also an amazing artist. He would draw little pictures at the bottom of his page to avoid writing. I told him how great his pictures were and he looked shocked. The class quickly worked out how good he was at drawing and were often asking him to draw for them and to share his drawings. I made sure I included lots of activities that involved drawing.
As his reading level improved his confidence grew. He knew he could attempt tasks on his own and felt empowered by this. Other staff started to come up to me and say how happy he looked and that they would actually see him laughing. I was so happy to see his attitude towards school changing!
I continued to encourage and support him over the year and was asked to teach him for a second year as we had seen so much progress. I knew that I had to keep encouraging him so that he didn’t lose the small amount of confidence he had gained.
The following year we saw drastic improvements in his reading and writing and he became more and more confident. At the end of the second year I was sad to see him move on to a new class and a new teacher but I knew that he was going with a positive attitude and a smile.
Goal number two asks me to think about a magical teaching moment when I have reached a learner and made a difference.
*I have made up the name of the student.
My magical teaching moment is the story of a boy called Henry. I taught him for two years and worked through a lot of learning difficulties. Henry had a background other than English and struggled to control his behaviour. He was disengaged and wanted to do whatever he liked to do not what the class was doing. He had problems socialising with his peers and was often upset because it was all too hard.
Over the two years Henry remained one of my most challenging students, however the change I saw in him made it all worth while. Gradually Henry was able to attempt the tasks that the rest of the class were doing. His behaviour settled and his learning increased. Henry enjoyed Maths and that was one area that I tried to tap into his enthusiasm and show him that if he worked hard he could understand what I was trying to teach him.
Literacy took a lot longer. Henry made some progress but still required a lot of support. Henry needed the most support with writing. He had no intrinsic motivation for writing and the concentration it took to form letters correctly made writing tiring and boring.
Apart from the excitement that I had in helping Henry succeed in learning one of the most magical moments in this story was when I wanted to get a better picture of Henry’s comprehension when reading. I didn’t want him to have to write so I gave him an iPod and asked him to retell the story orally using Voice Memos. The results were amazing. Henry was able to retell the story from start to finish with expression and humour. He made the story more interesting than it was originally with his voices for the different characters and the excitement in which he told parts of the story.
I was so amazed at what Henry could do, that as soon as it was recess I ran around playing the recording for anyone who would listen. Everyone was so excited. I showed my principal and he said lets get 8 more iPods, that was a response I wasn’t expecting but it showed the power of what Henry had done.
Henry achieved a lot in two years and made a smooth transition into the next year. He still had a long way to go with his learning but his behaviour was no longer a problem and he had made some very close friends.
This year one of my professional goals is to keep up to date with my blog. This blog started as part of the Vic pln course run by the State Library of Victoria. In the course we started a blog as a way to reflect on each of the units which were mostly based around web 2.0 tools.
This year I am doing the 30 goals challenge and I hope to reflect on each through the blog. I am hoping that this will keep me on track with regular posts.
I recently changed the theme of my blog and with it I hope to be re-energised!