Saturday, 17 March 2012

A day in the life of a teacher

Even though my day was jam packed and hectic,  it was rich in experience.  It is tempting to say it was a blast, but in truth, it was a challenging day.  Today was assembly day, which means our normal five lesson day PLUS the addition of a 60-90 minute assembly.

After the feat of seating over 1660 students and 140 plus staff, the format is usually as follows:
Welcome by school leaders, acknowledgement of country (overseas visitors see here) funky video prayer reflection, address by our principal, presentations of awards (sports, debating, pastoral care, social justice) showcasing of talent (fantastic singers, musicians, drama) and wrapping up proceedings with a slideshow (pictorial presentation) of the weeks that were.  Observing and appreciating the talents of students, I am in awe. I am AMAZED at the talents of these kids!.  Our creative arts department never ceases to stage and pull off terrific numbers.  How fortunate are the students, to blossom where their talents lie. I often wonder though about the students that are never directly involved.   I would love to see some other presentations such as student photography, a mini debate or public speaking piece, examples of students online creations or other products (we do see some of this via the slideshow at the end-the Italian masks were spectacular!) a student read out their work of fiction or present a reflection of their project.  I send emailed images of students learning in RE and Food technology to be included in the final slideshow, however I am feeling I need to provide more of an opportunity for the students that, apart from being in the audience, may love a chance of being afforded their "15 minutes of fame".  Perhaps a dramatic representation of what we have learnt in Food Tech or RE so far or a sample of the Year 7 and 9's podcasts, created on their new Android tablets or our Year 11 Food technology learning journey blog (click here to take a peek) or the collaborative google map that has circulated the globe bringing first hand accounts of countries staple foods into our learning environment in Sydney? (Click here to view) There is a tutorial link on the map as well, if you are interested in creating one for your classes. We received drop pins from 19 countries (29 comments of Staple foods and so far over 6,500 views. You do require a google account to edit).

Next assembly is Term two- I have set myself a goal of facilitating a Food technology or Religious Education student piece/s.  Hopefully by students that have never been involved before. #newexperiences #newchallenges

Image by @7mrsjames
Then the madness begins.  Five lessons compacted into under 4 hours plus recess and lunch.  I made green cookies last night to celebrate St Patrick's day and hopefully inspire some conversation around the questions why do we wear green? Who was St Pat?  The students LOVED the colourful cookies, some saying they were better than the birthday cupcakes we shared last week. Nice! Recess duty then (this photo was my view during recess duty Friday) and another lesson. Period 4 was a non teaching period. Bathroom! I organised my on line attendance rolls and checked student drafts before lunch (two classes submitting next week another class the following week).  

Preparing cookies for St Patricks day @7mrsjames

During lunch I walked across the school to check my pigeon hole prior to the weekend and on the way back came across a younger student crying as he has been teased in the canteen line. This breaks my heart. To see someone so upset over comments that are unnecessary.  After consoling him and spending time chatting about options, he decided to go to his next class.  Needed to grab a coffee and eat before next two classes. By the time I walked back the bell had gone. Two more lessons. The final lesson started with "housekeeping" and checking kids were organised with tablets, books, folders, diaries and water. Next, we had a little fun trailing a game called  Ninja Kitchen game teaching concepts of food safety and cross contamination via a challenging online game. (Thanks to my new Home Ec friends at Home Economics Connect Ning.)

The school day draws to a close and I wish I had time to process and plan for the week ahead. To file. To sort, to create engaging lessons. Instead this is achieved at home. Although  the learning experiences provided at school are mostly intended to be academic, I dream of a day where we can allow students to engage in the direction of their own learning AND learn how to manage this, I dream of more time- not more pay, I dream of a curriculum not so content heavy, I dream of a KLA called LIFE. A KEY LEARNING AREA that is dynamic and evolving. Which encompasses the basics of not only functioning in life but living a satisfying one. A KLA that focuses on relationship, communication, emotional health, dealing with random issues that arise, building a PCN (pastoral care network), effectively managing time and resources, smartphones, technology, dealing with school work/time management, cybersafety, digital citizenship.  A KLA of fun and laughter.

Are the present KLA still "current" to today's youth and tomorrow's leaders?  Are we adequately supporting and equipping our youth with the necessary skills they require?  On the day of the announcement, that Alex's family are te receive a SIX figure payout from the NSW department of Education (read story of Alex's suicide here) I wonder what truly matters to kids (and their families).
To belong. To feel safe. To feel encouraged. Something Alex did not. How terribly sad. We all know kids learn best when they feel confident and inspired. When there is passion. A spark.  I want to be able to create more opportunities of building capacity in those entrusted into my educational care. There is so, so MUCH more I would like to achieve as an educator.   Just not feeling I am there.....YET!

Driving home, I see these clouds above me.  Hope.

Keeping the conversation alive.


  1. Oh my I loved reading your post because it filled me with a sense of hope and love for education in the secondary setting. I do not know enough about our local non govt schools but I do know I'd like to.. Such a great way to tell about your day. How good were those cookies!!
    Enjoying your posts in my RSS now!
    Warmest wishes
    Denyse x

  2. Thanks for stopping by Denyse! It is lovely of you to take the time to comment as well. You are welcome to come in any time. Perhaps during the last week of this term when assessments are winding down (or first few weeks term 2). I would love to show you around and introduce you to our wonderful students. Perhaps you could even dem a favourite recipe of yours? (nudge, nudge) Seriously, no pressure. You are welcome to hang out with us and observe a secondary school setting. :)

  3. Sounds like a plan! I'd love that. Is last week for you the first week of April?
    Shall Dzm you my mobile! Cannot guarantee to cook!

  4. Your words echo the sentiments of many teachers. It is so gratifying to know there are people like yourself who do more than simply talk about what they want. You write about it, share strategies to improve learning and offer support to those around you. A busy day for sure. :)

  5. Hi Nicole! I really enjoyed meeting you the other night at St Augustine's Teachmeet. Who was it that once said
    "Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity" - I am so glad you took the opportunity to come along! Was meant to be; for sure.