Today Victoria, Lauren, Adam, Anastasia, Charlotte, Tayla and I attended the beginning teacher’s professional development for English, Maths and Religious Education. It was beneficial to be able to share this time with my colleagues and we definitely enjoyed our time spent at St Therese Sadlier- Miller. Having the opportunity to discuss our concerns, questions and knowledge of curriculum has made me feel more at ease as I was able to receive clarification and also provide my team with my insights and ideas on theirs.
The wonderful Tina Biviano began our first session which focused on EAL/D learners. What stuck with me from her session is that we are all teachers of wellbeing and if we strive to lift students’ wellbeing, then we automatically lift their learning. Oral language is such a powerful driver of development of English for our learners. A challenging question was posed to us- How long does it take to learn English? My initial thought was that no time could be placed on such a task, it’s more like an ongoing process. In actual fact, it takes between 7-10 years to obtain cognitive academic language proficiency- WOW. This made me think of my own personal experience with learning the English language. Having an ethnic background, growing up my grandparents communicated with me in Italian. I spent most of my childhood with them and so I was only engaging in English completely when I began my first year of school. This made me think about the learners in my class- what are their experiences?
We also explored ESB and LBOTE. If I have learnt anything so far in my teaching year, it is to always be honest when you are unsure of have absolutely no idea what is going on- I had no idea what these letters stood for.
ESB- English speaking background
LBOTE- Language background other than english
I will leave these here just incase my mind somehow forgets!
Another aspect that has sparked my thinking- The Southern region accounts for 72% of EAL/D learners. This is something I believe is worth celebrating! We are so lucky to live, breathe and teach in a multicultural and inclusive environment.
Sue Bombardiere shared her knowledge of Literacy with us and I have honestly walked away feeling like I am 100 steps ahead. She was right in saying- there is no age limit to a picture book. This led me to somehow giving advice to myself- Tameeka, yes you have year 6 but remember they are still only 11 years of age so they still enjoy picture books! Sue demonstrated how powerful reading can actually be. She brought a book to life right in front of my eyes and my attention was solely on her delivery. How did she do this? She combined animate, role play, actions, sound effects, percussion and voice- something I aim to be a master of by the end of this year.
Note: To achieve a balanced English program, speaking and listening must be embedded in reading and writing.
Guided reading label/title = boring ….. Let’s change it to Ready, Steady, Read! (or something that doesn’t lack excitement)
Diana Young spoke to us about the impact storytelling has for our students’ understanding of scripture. Children are introduced to the faith and practices of the Church through stories from both Scripture and Tradition. In order for our Religious Education learning experiences to be more authentic we need to allow students to engage in and communicate the stories. I have always been under the assumption that it is our role to present the story and the role of the students to be on the receiving end. It is still is important to allow students the time to reflect and wonder but they should also be given the experience of presenting the stories. Another thing that has challenged my thinking- Godly play is not a time for comprehension but rather a time for silence to be present for students to make sense of everyday life experiences in the broader contexts of mystery, complexity and awe. This brings me to another thought I have left with today- What does religious literacy look like in a classroom?
Maths has always been a subject I enjoyed during my schooling years and is a subject I love to teach. During this session with Paul Abela, I was able to work with year 6 teachers from another school. I was able to gain insight as to how other teachers structure a maths lesson and I had the opportunity to share mine. It was rewarding to be told from others at the table that the way in which I have been engaging my students is maths is inspiring and will be taken and implemented. Paul made his passion for teaching this subject very clear as he spoke with great interest in what we wished to achieve by the end of the session. I have walked away knowing that manipulatives are essential to every single maths lesson and that we need to evaluate the way in which we are categorising students (structured, core, extension)- if we are able to create authentic tasks then all students will be able to successfully achieve conceptual understanding.
I look forward to continuing the journey of my professional development. Today’s presenters have really inspired me to take the time to appreciate the work I am implementing and to involve myself in more reading around these KLAs.