I am in my 2nd year of teaching full-time (1 year of casual before that) but I’m not like other beginner teachers. I have several years of teaching at TAFE behind me and many years (OK over 20, but let’s not be specific please) of managing law firms, including running my own practice. So I like to think of myself as unique.
I also like to think of my students as unique, and when I take this approach it means that when I assist them, I have to do it individually. One thing I’ve found with my students is they love my podcasts. They ask for them all the time now. When we have a lesson and they aren’t clear on something they ask for me to make a podcast so they can go back and listen again and work it out for themselves. That’s right, they want to work it out for themselves. They don’t want the answer. They want to find the answer.
The other thing they want is feedback, and lots of it. I’ll admit, I have some who just aren’t interested (let’s face it, to get feedback you have to produce work), but the ones that do the work, work hard and relentlessly.
The question is, what feedback works the best? Feedback at the end of an assessment task is no good to them; the task is finished and buried. Although one thing I have been doing is getting them to redo the assessment task once they have the feedback and to see if they can push it further. It makes the feedback mean something.
But how do I help them before that without totally burning out myself by marking 30+ essays a night? It’s time to admit I’m an online ‘stalker’ of Bianca Hewes. You’ll find her blog here Bianca Hewes Blog. She’s a few years ahead of me in teaching and research and quite inspirational with her approaches. She suggests Goals, Medals and Missions, based on Petty’s work. I won’t go into detail on it today, you can read about it in Bianca’s blog if you want more info, but I will say that I’m introducing it into my classes in 2017. My new year 12s are doing their first Discovery essay this week. I’m going to work out where they are at and award medals and missions to each of them. I’m going to turn it into a game and I’m going to push them to earn as many medals as they can between now and their HSC. These kids are great. They are competitive and they are willing to try anything. I think they will love this.