End of the year

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As the year wraps up we are enjoying the harvest (I guess) of our work all year. We’ve sown a lot of seeds, planted a lot of ideas, and now we are celebrating what has come of our hard work.

This year (my first back in the classroom in five years) has been really rewarding. I’ve loved being with a small community of students (instead of the 1000 or so I usually work with) and it’s been great growing and working with them.

As this year is coming to an end, and a new year, in a different grade level, and a slightly different role start to take shape, I’m really wondering about how teams grow.

We’ve (some of the school leaders for next year) recently attended a leadership workshop. It’s been great getting to know people in a similar position, but also just having a whole school approach to how we grow together. I’m thinking about how I can best apply my learning for next year, and what that means for the future teams I’ll be a part of.

My biggest take away is that hierarchy can be good. I’ve always kind of resisted that type of leadership, but after this meeting, I’ve come to better understand the benefits that a hierarchy can provide. We don’t want to be purely hierarchical, but knowing when and how to establish authority and then swing back towards a more dynamic form of work relationships is something I really look forward to trying to implement.

Working in teams

IMG20170913085153So I’ve still been really focused on what it means to work on a team or group. I’m more or less planning for next year and how I can help my team be a little more group oriented.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of developing team identity and what that means. Senge was big in organizational development earlier in my educational career, and now I’m wondering about how best to work with a small team in a big organization. What does that mean, how do we develop identity and how can we work with our team to make a difference in our team.

I think first for us is identity development. Not just grade level, but actually understanding who we are as individuals and what that means for us as a group. What do we really know about each other, how can we bring about bigger change as a group, seeing ourselves as part of a bigger whole? I’m not really sure of everything just yet but that’s my plan.

Adam Grant’s give and take is also going to be a part of my summer reading, trying to get things moving for a more successful team. We’ll see how it goes.

 

What’s a team?

 

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I used to be a coxswain, the small (I can’t believe I used to weigh that much) person steering the boat and getting the team working together. I’d never been a captain before, or someone who led something, and this was a strange position because I was doing something other than what everyone else was doing, but I was essential for keeping people moving together. It was an amazing opportunity and a ton of fun, mostly I learned a lot.

We just finished the exhibition, one of the major reflections we have from this is how to pick teams? How can you pick an effective group (can you)? I guess what the boils down to is, what do we really want from the groups?  PE teachers want teams to be fair as in equally matched, previously we picked our exhibition teams surrounding what passions do we share, we are looking to picking groups that will have people contributing equally (if that’s even possible).

When we were rowing, your team had be aligned. We had to move together. So if your stroke was outpacing the rest, they had to slow down. Is that what we really want out of our students? Of our grade level teaching teams? Of our schools? I wonder really what a team is in this regards, or if the term team is really what we’re looking for.

The Exhibition

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This is my first year teaching a class that is going through the PYP exhibition.  For the past seven years I’ve been a part of it, either as a mentor or as someone who helps prepare the presentations. I’ve always loved it, and always wanted to play a bigger role in it.

This year, especially with my class, I feel like it’s been pretty great. The students were pretty good at finding a problem and being able to look at something they felt was important to them. They’ve come up with questions and lines of inquiry. It’s been exciting to watch.

I guess most exciting of all, especially from my point of view, is when the students encounter problems with their group mates. It’s interesting to see how they go about approaching the person they think is the problem, and how they come up with solutions to figure out how to make something work.  Sometimes it’s been really successful, other times, not so much.

Some of the groups have really changed their focus and ideas, while others have stayed pretty consistent. It’s just interesting to see the amount of effort that goes into it from a student point of view, and makes me wonder how well I manage my time.

One of the most rewarding aspects for me so far has been seeing how their idea of action has evolved. It started with just wanting to raise money and now it’s going for more personal transformation. Instead of students working to raise money for a cultural group, they are looking at how we can recognise racist thoughts in ourselves. One group is taking students into a green screen room to talk about how some people don’t get access to education using visual displays, it’s great to see action taking on personal aspects.

 

Pursuing Narratives

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I’m at the paper writing time of my school work. So things are full on, and it’s difficult to find time and desire to write about things. Especially school things.

For one of my assignments I have to choose a methodology that supports my research questions.  I’m mostly interested in the how we are regarding where we are.  Why do we act certain ways in different places, how does the interact with our idea of teacher identity and maybe what does that mean for learning?

I think pursuing narrative inquiry is the way to go for this type of work.  I really want to know who the teachers are, I want their story and I want their ideas.  I want to know how we are linked together, not just because we work together, but because our stories are connected. Stories are woven together, and nothing is isolated, so I hope that this path works out.

Why do we teach?

 

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Through the studying these past couple weeks, we’ve been looking at some of the reasons why we’re teaching. Most of us started with the idea for the students, or learners, but what are we explicitly try to teach them, or what are we teaching them for? What’s the curriculum really about?

One of my presentations is about Paulo Friere and the pedagogy of the oppressed. In order to teach for liberation we need to make sure that we are open to learning about ourselves and using dialogue to empower all learners.

When we really get down into our teaching, when do we oppress some of our learners, who do we silence, whose voices aren’t we listening to or appreciating?

It’s been a lot of reflecting these last couple of weeks, but interesting ideas.

Aikido Conflict Management

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This week as our exhibition unfolds we’ve been looking at what to do when people disagree.  Since we are in groups discovering our own process, there are bound to be disagreements, and we were wondering what are some of the more interesting ways to interact with each other when these types of situations arise.

When I was doing my master’s we looked at the idea of using aikido as a conflict management style. The hope in aikido is that the relationship matters. There should be a win-win resolution. When we are working with others, physical conflict might not happen but if we can apply the same principal of win-win to our verbal conflict we can hopefully work towards a better resolution.

Aikido also hopes for resistance and letting force flow through the situation. When we think of disagreements from this point of view, we can hopefully focus more on what the problem really is (not what is superficially being presented) and we can let the negative feelings or connotations flow past us.

If you’re interested in learning more, there’s lots online, or you can check out this article