This TWAF journey follows the pathway of Rachel, a dedicated Year 2 primary school teacher. Rachel is going ahead in leaps and bounds.
Rachel, What do you think?
I have grown so much as a teacher under Robyn’s ‘wing’ and she has given us the control and has stepped back and allowed us to implement the strategies she has taught and reflected on them with us. Although the school terms can get very busy Robyn completely understood and was flexible to suit our timetables and worked around any obstacles. I feel my teaching has improved immensely with Robyn’s guidance.
What changes have you made with your own teaching since beginning your TWAF Journey?
Am I allowed to say everything Robyn has taught me? 🙂
While working alongside Robyn I have attempted to use as many strategies as I can to improve my teaching and students learning. There are so many small but very significant changes I have made in the classroom. When planning I am now thinking of ‘engagement for all’ and changing tasks to keep students’ engaged and learning.
After discussions with Robyn about lessons I have endeavored to improve my planning and implementation of lessons. I am often in my teacher chair ‘on stage’ talking at students and I have made an effort to reduce my talk time, increase student input and put responsibility on the students.
Instead of roaming during writing time Robyn suggested a ‘Tips and Feedback’ area in which I sit and students come to me with any questions they have or if they need reassurance they are on the right track. This has been really useful for a lot of my reluctant writers as they are not singled out as ‘needing help’ and they can come to me to check they are on the right track and I can keep an eye on their progress. I am also able to do one-on-one conferences which I found so difficult when I was roaming or working with a small group. This is a strategy I will be taking with me to any year level as it has been so effective.
What changes have you noticed with your students?
Robyn has given me such simple but effective strategies to put the onus back on students’. Students ask questions and I reply with questions to further their thinking. They can think independently and they need to make their own decisions rather than always having me decide for them.
I still see my teaching philosophy as building relationships but working with Robyn has reinforced how important it is to strengthen those relationships more and more and never give up on students. She has helped me create a really welcoming culture when greeting students in the morning with our mini whiteboard messages and area of interest as well as our morning meeting which the kids love. The absolute joy on their faces when they get to share a care, concern or celebration each day is fabulous and they all look forward to hearing the ‘thank you’s. It has improved my students’ attendance and there are fewer latecomers each day.
The students’ also have really enjoyed the Five minute break and ‘Golden Ticket’ reward Robyn introduced. If students earn a ‘Golden Ticket’ by upholding the school values we play a quick game like silent ball or ‘Fast Ball’ (throwing balls into buckets – the kids love it!). The winning team/students get to have their snack first or go out to play first. It really improves class morale and even the kids who don’t win have enjoyed a fun game and it leaves us all smiling.
The best thing I have started using is a little reflection at the end of the day. Before leaving for the day I ask students to think of a highlight or something they’ve learnt etc and I get them to tell me as they walk out the door for the day. This again leaves us all smiling and ends the day on a high note. I am also going to use this strategy after lessons before kids go out to snack and lunch play to gauge how much they got out of a lesson.
What challenges do you see in future?
There is so much more Robyn has shown me and I could keep going on. I am constantly using strategies Robyn has taught me, sometimes without even realising it.