Tuesday, 27 February 2018

MIT Retreat: The Problem

On Friday the Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers were fortunate enough to travel to the Coromandel for a retreat. There we discussed the problems that we had identified in our teaching and the hunches that we held.

My problem focusses on students in years seven to ten as they are not making the same accelerated progress as students in years one to six. During the retreat we discussed the potential causes of this issue; the decreasing level of engagement and motivation to learn, puberty, the students social development and the expectation for the students to work independently. I initially used the data below to investigate the issue, but it became clear that I needed to delve deeper into the issue.

Today I was visited by Lenva Shearing and I had the chance to quickly pick her brain about the issue. She noted that the kids lacked a lot of the language and vocabulary associated with learning. She also told me that students entered the college at around level three and that they needed support accessing level four of the curriculum in year nine. However, she also noted that the students became less engaged and that they were expected to become increasingly independent.

I then went to Tamaki College and I had a quick staff room conversation with some English teachers. Like Lenva, they noted that the students are not able to understand the language of learning - for example they would be unsure of what a noun or perimeter might be. They also had issues with grammar - as many of our students speak English as their second language,  they may follow the syntax of their first language or use broken English. This can affect their sentence structure and their ability to write coherently.

I looked into the sentence structure problem to see what we had been doing to teach it. I found that it was a prominent learning intention from years four to eight. Therefore, we primary and intermediate teachers are looking at it, but it is not sticking with the students. Perhaps we need to look at this learning intention using ESOL strategies, or perhaps we should be tackling it a different way.  

I  also wonder if we need to introduce more vocabulary into our lessons and to ensure that we are not 'dumbing down' the way that we are teaching. I also wonder if we are teaching at the students current level or if we are attempting to bridge the gap into level 4. 


Thursday, 1 February 2018


This year I have moved 1.5km up the road to teach a year 7 and 8 class at Point England School. I was really excited to have the chance to teach year eights again and to gain the opportunity to teach in a hub with four other teachers.

I feel absolutely honoured to be able to work with these strong kaiako, as despite finding the move pretty challenging, I have felt really supported by my team. It is taking me a little while to adjust to the routines and differences between the schools, but I am enjoying the journey and I can already feel myself learning a lot because of this.

This year I would like to develop strategies that I can carry with me from class to class, as I realised that a lot of my management techniques relied on my strong relationships with my students. This year I will have three different classes and I will be interacting with over a hundred and fourty students on a regular basis, so this will be an important skill to develop. I would also like to continue to develop my classroom management strategies as I adjust to the different policies and strategies that are put in place at PES. Moving away from PB4L for example has been a bit of a change, but I am developing my own strategies instead.

I am also adjusting to changes in teaching policies. For example, the students rotate between the teachers for different lessons, so I see a different maths, literacy and homeroom class each day. Within that the school also supports different teaching approaches to what I have used and had professional development in before. For example, we are currently having training in DMIC or Bobbie Maths; a problem solving approach to teaching mathematics. While this is similar to what I have done before, there are several differences between this approach and the one I had PD in at Glenbrae.

I can see that this will be a great year of growth for me and I look forward to reflecting on my learning throughout the year.