Knowing How To Do It

(Beginning to Make Tracks)

If you’re anything like me you’re either 0 or 100 percent skin in the game. If you try to go 100 percent all of the time you will burn out and likely develop a few unhealthy habits to cope. There are ways to help prevent this from happening but it can be a hard line to balance.


Making sure that you know what you need to achieve and how to get there through small increments makes the often overwhelming jobs so much easier to achieve. You do not have to have everything perfectly completed and up to date all of the time. 


When goals are not clear Flow becomes harder to achieve (Csikszentmihályi). We know this as teachers! So why is it not always executed and how can we do this better?


The goal I chose for my graduate year was to bump up every single student to hit their reading benchmark or become very close to it. Guess what, I worked, HARD. I was strategic. I embedded opportunities everywhere I could. Transitions and opportunities throughout the curriculum were vital. Every student saw progress. I had 10 out of 27 students who were well below and only 3 didn’t reach their reading level. I saw students move from a PM4 to a 14. This is the power of a goal. So what can you do to reach your goals?


Firstly, Identify what you want to achieve: 

1. What is the goal for your teaching in Term 1?

2. What is the goal for your students in Term 1?


Once you identify the needs of the class you can create a path for their learning. Focus on identifying the needs in areas of Reading, Writing and Maths. These areas underpin many other Key Learning Areas (KLA) of the curriculum and if students aren’t able to achieve a benchmark level in their Literacy and Numeracy it’s likely they will struggle to achieve success in their other KLAs. 


What has worked before for these students? Gather evidence. Talk to parents and arrange time to discuss with previous teachers. I say this with caution not to take on other teachers' opinions of students and ensure there isn’t a deficit thinking applied to students. Each student is capable of incredible things and what has or hasn’t worked for one teacher may be different in your classroom. 


Identify what the next steps are to help students to reach their goals. This can be identified through the progressions in the Australian Curriculum, First Steps, Big Ideas in Number (Di Siemon and I particularly like the Big Ideas of Reading Instruction


Next, you need to ensure that students have clear expectations and goals of what is required. These need to be explicitly taught. Some great questions that I try to ask myself in my planning are those that I discovered in the podcast Education Research Reading Room (a wonderful resource of evidence and research based practices): 


Think about what is happening in students minds?

How are you checking for understanding? 

What did you hope the students could do by the end of today’s lesson that they couldn’t do at the start?

https://www.ollielovell.com/on-education/inquiry_explicit_difference/


How will your students know how to improve? Feedback provides students with the next step to focus on. Limiting feedback can reduce motivation and students will be unaware that they are doing a good job or requiring improvement. Feedback ensures that students are continuing to be challenged. Without students, they miss the opportunity to improve. 


Lastly, YOU are your greatest resource. You need to make sure that you are taken care of and find a system that works for you. Remember if you’re in your first year this will take time. Whether it’s paper, notes on your phone, a diary, post-it notes or OneNote online, remember that you’re in a transition period of finding your feet. In my first year I moved from my diary to my phone to my notepad and back to my computer to OneNote and I still didn’t feel like I found what would work for me. This year now I have a to-do list on my iPhone, my paper diary for school events and my OneNote for planning. I’m more organised than I have ever been and not missed anything.


I have included some resources below to assist in how to plan explicitly in your lesson as well as tips and tricks on staying organised and on top of your tasks. 





References

Csikszentmihályi, M. (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-016253-5.

Lovell, O. (2017) Inquiry Vs. Explicit: Is There Even a Difference? Retrieved from: https://www.ollielovell.com/on-education/inquiry_explicit_difference/