Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Moving Forward

People who know me well know that I'm a big fan of Australian Football - AFL. My suffering wife is, thankfully, supportive of the must-see 6 to 7 games per week that I usually try and watch. It works well for us at the moment that we live in Switzerland because the games are usually started and finished by mid-morning so we still have the rest of the day to devote to 'regular' weekend activities. Anyway, the team that I support has had a recent surge up the ladder and is looking like having a successful year. This has come after 3 years of dismal performances that made me glad to be away from Australia! There was a lot of pressure on the coach to resign during these dark years but he stuck to his beliefs and the results are now beginning to show. He is regularly questioned about the (relatively) quick improvement that his team has made over the past year (they went from dead last to 3rd last season). As they are sitting second on the ladder halfway through this season, the questions arise about how the coach is now guiding the team. The general feeling is that there should be some period of 'resting on one's laurels' seeing as they've put in a lot of hard work risen so quickly. The answer that the coach has been giving throughout this year is that he is always looking for continual improvement from himself and his players.

This got me thinking about my own improvement. Over the past two years at my school here in Switzerland I think I've improved in a lot of areas in a relatively short period of time. This has been due to my own initiative and being involved in as many development projects as possible, and also due to the support of my Principal and colleagues. During my first year I developed a much better understanding of curriculum and worked on improving my leadership skills. This is has served me well in my role as Team Leader as I am regularly called upon to chair grade and subject specialist meetings that involve discussions about all aspects of the curriculum. This has been an interesting area to explore and I find that the more I delve into it the more there is to discover.

This year I have been extremely lucky to have the guidance of one of the best mentors I've ever had. While I was never really a slouch at IT, our IT Co-ordinator has helped me to discover the real power behind the ways that we can use technology today and I feel like my teaching has improved dramatically as a result. Part of this rapid improvement has been due to the fact that I knew she would be leaving our school early on this year so wanted to make as best use of the remaining time as I could. I feel very lucky to have had the chance to teach with Maggie and am sure that I'll be contacting her next year at her new school with many more questions!

Recently I have been thinking about my improvement focus for next year. I have a couple of things in mind that I will address and am narrowing these down as I prepare to write my goals for next year. Earlier on this year I blogged about inquiry and analysed the facets in relation to my own teaching. Encouraging my students to problem-pose was an element that I felt I needed to improve at. With that in mind, I was happy to discover a nice graphic organiser about questioning not so long ago. I think this will be a great tool for me to enhance the questioning skills of my students next year and my prediction is that it will lead to greater problem-posing. I discovered the Question Quadrant through Twitter and also found that the author - Phil Cam - has written some books that look interesting. I created an adapted version of the Question Quadrant to trial with my current students this year and so far the results have been positive. I need to use it more in order to help the students guide, improve and answer their thinking about each type of question they pose. I'm looking forward to seeing how this will work out next year.