Welcome to my Professional Learning blog.
My name is Matt Nicoll and I am a high school teacher in New Zealand, interested in improving the classroom experience for my students. I am open to trialing new approaches and hope to use this blog to reflect on my ideas and practices.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Balancing Act

I am loving the way my senior classes are running right now. My students are managing their own learning having been given some direction from me so they know what they have to learn and by when. It makes my job easier and more fun, but it is a careful balancing act.

How do I know that they are learning things well enough? How do I know that they are learning the skills required to answer an exam question? How do the parents know that their child is learning?

The Guide

Students need to know what they are expected to master and by when. I need to be a guide who shows them how to use tools such as planning and researching. I need to model some different ways to learn so they can use the ones that work best for them. I need to help them be critical of their own strengths and weaknesses so they can set realistic goals for each topic, or each aspect of a topic.

The Mentor

A key thing I do to walk this exciting tightrope is to make sure that I do not just sit at my desk during lessons. I move around and check in with the groups in my classroom. Check in, not check up on. How can I help? Is there anything you need explained? Are you on track for timing? Are there any resources you need tomorrow? It can be tough to identify students who struggle unless they are honest and proactive, but it makes me feel useful, if nothing else. It also makes the students aware that I am not being lazy, I am trusting them and there if they need me. This also allows students to work at their own pace, knowing i am there to help when needed, but will also leave them alone if they are doing just fine without me.

The Assessor

I use weekly online assignments, based upon NCEA questions, to check the level of understanding of my students. This is the part of my balancing act that stops me feeling insecure and helps me identify students who are bluffing in class or struggling with the work. Without these assignments, I would struggle to "sell" what we are doing in class to the students, to my colleagues, or to parents. Already, these regular assignments have helped me identify students who need support and I have made time to mentor them in class more than the students who are already coping well.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Matt

    Fabulous to see a secondary school teacher reflecting on their practice and sharing.

    Long may it continue!