All entries for January 2012

January 24, 2012

New thoughts for a new year

So I have been somewhat neglecting the blog as other things seem to have taken priority in the last month or so. On reflection, I need to do more reflection.

2011 was massive. In 2011 I got accepted onto this PGCE course, graduated with a First, turned 21, went to Corfu with my friends, choreographed Carmina Burana, visited Canda for the first time, had my one year anniversary, was bridesmaid for my best friend, moved to Coventry and got engaged. Ridiculous.

My head seems to be constantly buzzing at the moment as I deal with being in a constant state of reorganising my priorities. Never before have I been so aware of the fine balance between my personal life and my professional life. The main reason for the increased difficulty of my juggling act is the lovely shiny ring on my finger, put there by my actual fiance! To say that my Christmas engagement has been a distraction is a massive under statement. At first it was a much needed distraction and became part of the best Christmas break I have ever had. But now my much needed distraction has turned into a general inability to think about much other than weddings.

I am yet to find the balance between the personal and the professional and as a result I feel all out of kilter and unable to get my head down during this phase of the course. I have been travelling home every weekend but I feel unsettled and tired. I am, however, thankful that the last few weeks seem to have had more 'space' in them and my evenings and weekends have been fairly free. I need to stop pining, take a deep breath and remind myself of why I am here. This PGCE course now means so much more, it is an exercise in opening doors and giving us the best foundation possible for our marriage. Above all, I know that I want a career that is sustainable and brings me joy. Teaching is still that career.

It is interesting to note that the very first piece of work I was asked to do for the course was a literature review covering some similar themes, particularly the tension between the personal and the professional, and how we allign ourselves as teachers. I am still alligning, and I fear that until I am back in Reading, underway with my NQT year, living wih my new husband I wont really feel fully alligned. Lots of things need to come together and it needs to happen soon. Until then, i shall grit my teeth and get through to July.

So here are couple of prominent experiences from the last couple of weeks:

I now walk around my EP school and feel like a teacher. PP1 has changed me. If you were to take a 'before' and 'after' shot of my self-efficacy levels, the differences would be glaringly obvious.

The contact improvisation workshop was my absolute highlight of our university-based sessions so far. Now I want to see this actually working in schools and colleges. Bring on post-16. The journey I went on during the workshop also rings very true with my overall journey through the course to date. Many parallels can be drawn between the following things:

During the workshop I felt like I was exercising muscles I didn’t even know I had. During PP1 I have been developing skills I wasn't aware I possessed. And I am ready to show off my new teaching 'muscles' in PP2.

During the workshop I was absolutely loving the movement tasks as we were doing them, but I was aching and exhausted by the morning. I have had similar experiences during the course, I have not yet built enough stamina to cope with the workload and as a result I sometimes push myself too hard. I really enjoy myself, but I dont pace myself! As a result, I spent most of Christmas trying to encourage my immune system not to shut down completely. I need to look after my body.

It was really evident during the workshop that the group was growing in confidence and trust. This is also true of my teaching journey so far.

As we explored principles of counter-balance, we worked in pairs to give and take weight, trying to find the most efficient ways of sharing body weight and trusting the support given to us. This is a real metaphor of the process I have undergone in order to lean on those around me. We have all had to give and take weight at various stages during the course.

Reflecting on counter-balance, I am remembering that each member of the partnership needed to be equally matched, and equally committed. I am recognising the same need for counter balance between the personal and the professional lives of a teacher. One cannot be supported without the other, it is a mutual relationship. Each side of this complex and ever-shifting relationship needs to be countered by the other side, thus finding a centre of gravity and offering stability. I am yet to find my centre of gravity.

The rich task we were asked to plan this week was a brilliant experience. I thought trying to tie so many subject areas together would be more difficult than it was. We seemed to really gel as a group and I really enjoyed expanding my thinking beyond English and Drama. I even remembered how much I used to enjoy German and Science! We had a lot of fun planning our task, and this is something I wish to replicate when working with future teams of teachers in schools. A thought: why do teachers spend so much time sat at computer planning in isolation? We don't expect our young people to learn in isolation. Please can we have time in school to plan in groups!? I think this is where great learning happens (Ken Robinson). I think planning can often seem like a grey cloud hanging over teachers as they crave more autonomy in their practice. However, if teachers can have fun planning then the pupils will certainly have fun learning. I want to inject the fun back into lessons right from the early planning stages through to the final assessment of projects. I refuse to stop enjoying myself.

Lastly, the RSA Academy... still mulling that one over. More on that next time.

January 11, 2012

Teaching is…

Teaching is explosive

Teaching is opening a door when all the others are locked

Teaching is climbing a mountain with an incredible view at the top

Teaching is cutting a precious diamond

Teaching is noticing the frown amongst a class of smiles

Teaching is hewing a rock to reveal a statue

Teaching is extending a hand to an enemy

Teaching is a work of art that will never be perfected

Teaching is swimming against the tide

Teaching is a stolen ly-in

January 2012

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