As the school year of 2012 draws to a close, it is time to look back at the year and reflect on what I have learnt.
Here are the top 5 lessons I have learnt as learner and leader:
Lesson #5 – It’s all about students and learning
I have always put my students’ learning first but this year I had the opportunity to work with a group of amazing year 7 students for 14 hours a week. So instead of the traditional high school way of having students in separate hour blocks, I had the got to learn with my year 7 class for continuous blocks of time. I taught this year 7 class for English, Maths, Science, Geography and History and it has allowed me to explore the following:
- Project based learning that are all cross-curricular
- Games based learning
- Various ways of providing student feedback including Geoff Petty’s goals, medals and missions
- How learning spaces can be and should be used to complement teacher instruction and student activities
- How to create an online learning community
Overall this year really allowed me to focus on learning and students as individual learners rather than pushing content. Having to teach year 7 in this way almost killed me and this year has been even harder than my first year of teaching in terms of workload pressures. But I learnt a lot.
Lesson #4 – It’s not enough to be a hard worker with good ideas
To be an effective leader, you need to do more than just work hard. I always knew that, but this year I have implemented quite a few changes in my faculty. Some of it have been really successful while others have not been as successful as I would have liked. From these experiences I have learnt that:
- Sometimes it is necessary to move in baby steps
- Teachers need to be brought into a learning journey for significant change to occur, tailored to their individual professional learning needs.
- Not everything can be done at once. I’m one of those impatient people who like to just do everything in one go, but that isn’t always feasible and if it was, it might not be productive for others. I learnt that it’s usually better to do one or two things each week that lead to bigger changes.
Lesson #3 – Look after yourself
One of the things I struggled with this year was a healthy work-life balance. Year 7 integrated curriculum and other aspects of work took up much more of my time and effort in comparison to previous years that it did affect my physical health. At times I wasn’t eating as well as I should have been or exercising as much as I should have been. While the workload wasn’t forced upon me by anyone except myself. As I write this post, I am recovering from a rather bad case of the flu. It has probably become worse because I knew I was sick but still went to school for two days because there were things “that had to be done”. While the ultimate aim of my work was to improve student learning, I was reminded that we need to look after ourselves in order to look after others when I read this post by Summer Howarth.
Lesson #2 – Believe
Believe in yourself! I have learnt this year that my opinions, my gut feelings and my knowledge is just as valid as others with a bigger reputation, more experience, etc. Don’t get me wrong. I value, respect and sought the expertise from these people but in the end I know my students, my team of teachers and my school context best.
Lesson #1 – I have the best job in the world 🙂
Not much need to be explained about this lesson. I work in the best school. I work with the best team of teachers in my faculty. I work with very awesome students.