Right at the moment my mentor suggested to me that she was searching for a ‘subject’ to coach, the prospect of collaborating with her to enhance my own practice was something I knew I wanted to do. A part of me felt that it was now time, after two years in the system, to be more proactive with my self-assessment and development.
Over the summer holidays, I thought about the ways in which I wanted to improve myself so that I could provide a better learning environment for my students.
Like most 20-something year-old males, admittedly, sometimes my organisational skills leave a lot to be desired. My office desk a shambles. I had files and folders scattered over my computer desktop. My learning space would frequently look like a bomb site, and while it was moderately humorous to have the school cleaners joke about the state of my room, it was in fact a reflection of me, the way I teach and the way my students learn.
I felt I was being pigeon-holed as the ‘young guy who is good with ICT’ by staff, and ‘Mr Kuran is a good teacher because his lessons are fun’ by some students.
I felt like I wasn’t being seen for what I am truly capable of.
So, I sat down and established my goal, which sounded something like: ‘Implement routines and structures to better manage myself and my students thus maximising use of class time for effective learning.’
What did I specifically want to change, improve or modify? It begins with me, and my own self-management. Improve the way I manage myself and that will lead to better management of my students. What did that include? Planning. Preparation. Time management. Tidiness. Establishing (and sustaining) structures. Establishing my role in our teaching team. Modelling respect and responsibility.
My mentor would come in and film me. I would observe the video with her and name and notice the behaviours in my class. Instructions. Engagement. Focus. Modelling. Are the children sitting for too long? Is my instruction repetitive? Have I explained the learning engagement in the best way?
How would I know if I have been successful? Would it be as simple as knowing in my own mind that I have improved? That my classroom management had improved? Would I need to see it documented in the video?
SO MANY QUESTIONS!
Being coached for the last few weeks has already dramatically changed my practice. I’m pleased that the structures I have put in place, linked closely to the class’s essential agreement, have meant that I am beginning to maximised learning time. The 9:10am starts have moved to 9:02. Talking for 8 minutes has become 5 minutes. While waiting for other classes to congregate for our literacy rotations, we have been watching videos on Wonderopolis. We are asking questions and thinking about our learning before our classes begin. We (our teaching team) are maximising the amazing space we have in our open learning area, as kids spread across beanbags, stand at tall-tables, collaborate, investigate and create.
Regular meetings with my mentor, in which I think about what I have seen on film, reflect on my actions, planning, management and goals, have made me feel more confident in my own practice. One of the strengths of this program, in my opinion, is that I’m not told ‘how to do things’. I am assessing myself, with support, and analysing data to inform my teaching. Yes – just as we do with our own student assessments!
As I think back to this time last year, and even further back to my first year of teaching in 2013, it is heart-warming to actually see and hear myself now.
The reflective process through filming, noticing and applying change, is an absolutely beneficial one that teachers, new and experienced, should try. Even just once.