Taking Pause

That was a big ten weeks. It seemed to go well. The classes seem like ‘mine’ now.

And it is the holidays. I have an open fire roaring, talk of snow coming, a bottle of cider open and a wee pile of marking nagging away at my conscience.

So, what did I take in over these past ten weeks? After stepping out of the classroom for two years, the very two years that technology really swept our classrooms, and ten years out of the state system, I returned to find everything in really bloody good shape. And collaboration between teachers within the department, within my school and around the country and the world is key.

Resourcing isn’t equal, not even between state schools. Potentially not even between teachers within the same school where trial BYOD classes are happening. And right now, in terms of technology, and as an LTR seeking a permanent home, I have less that my lesson planning ambitions would desire. Yet, I also have more than enough.

One term back in, after a break from a career that held all but senior management positions – deaning, Hod-ing, NZQA contracting – I remain freaking excited about focusing fully on the practice of a classroom teacher. I want to master it.

Some months ago I snuck myself into an eLearning conference at St Margerets’s College here in Christchurch. There I saw @mattynicholl present on filming and flipping his lessons. I can’t quote him verbatim (since I wasn’t teaching at the time and wouldn’t for more than a year later it was a little like reading a great book on learning the guitar, without a guitar), he said, ‘Don’t wait u till you think you are good at it to start. Or you never will.’

Once I made my strategic decision to take on a mid-year maternity leave position and get back in the classroom the words, when it came to trying new things other than my 18 year old skill set (some pedagogy of which still works as brilliantly now as it did in 1996) spurred me on.

I took up the whiteboard pen again at the start of last term. Ahead of that I attended the English Conference while sitting on the bed at home, cup of tea in hand, my own children feral around the place but knowing not to disturb me. In reality, it probably wasn’t pedagogy that I took from watching those Twitter streams, but more an understanding of how valuable a PLN is in teaching anywhere in the world in 2014 regardless of resourcing. In fact, I built my PLN over those few days as I was welcomed to the conversation by dozens of impressive Kiwi educators.

So what do I have? I have a laptop. Issued. I have an iPhone and iPad and Kindle. Self-funded. I have 31 desks (and in most classes every one is use), a whiteboard and a data projector. There is a COW with bookable laptops of variable reliability and computer suites around the school which are also book able. By bookable, you needed to have started there before I did as the bookings are spoken for terms in advance.

The staff I work with are fabulous, innovative and grateful for this much resourcing. Teaching as inquiry and technology is valued at the school and while there is a sense that we don’t have it all yet, even as an LTR covering maternity leave perched in a department I may not ultimately stay with long term, there is a strong sense that the school is marching, sensibly and methodically towards it.

Undoubtedly, my decision to hit the ‘on ramp’ has been a rewarding one.