Welcome Back to Term Two

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
― Attributed to Lao Tzu

Welcome back for term two! I hope the mid-semester break was a chance to recharge and be ready mentally as well as within your program, for term two. It was, for me, a busy break, and the return to school has also been busy.

I spent the first  Monday and Tuesday of the break attending a Foundation Level course for THRASS, a phonics-based literacy system. It was an absolutely fantastic two days and I feel much more confident that I can have a positive impact on my students literacy levels than I did previously. I will write a THRASS-focused article  at a later date, as I genuinely believe that it is a highly worthwhile system which can have highly positive impacts for students’ literacy abilities and understanding of the use of English.

I spent some time planning for the upcoming term, getting my program in order, and after having attended the THRASS course, am not happy with it. I feel that the value in certain aspects of the program is not particularly high, and the course has made me question why I am implementing that spelling program in that way. I hope to be able to invest some time over the coming three days solidifying that program for the term. I also would like to spend some time revising other aspects of my overall literacy program.

Mrs Mitchell reached the halfway mark of her pregnancy during the break, and we attended the clinic for the appropriate scans to check up on Youngling. It is this scan where the ultrasound technician can provide high quality three-dimensional images of the baby, if, that is, the baby cooperates. Youngling decided to wave her/his hands a lot while we were there and so the arms covered the face. We have elected not to determine the gender, and so will have quite the surprise in a few months time.

I spent the entirety of the second week of the holidays working on an application for a full-time permanent position, which I will be submitting this afternoon. I have had some incredibly valuable and useful feedback from my Principal which has helped me refine and strengthen the application and as a result, I feel that I have a good chance to reach the interview stage of the process.

Yesterday, I returned to school for our staff development day, and discovered that the school rebuild progressed significantly during the break, with foundations and footings now being in place for a number of sections. I have included a short video clip below.

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There's been a few changes! #PCPS #buildingsite

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The day was quite productive overall, with the whole staff meetings completed quickly after the relevant sessions had been delivered, allowing us to break into Stage meetings. Stage Three have a large number of events occurring this term, with PSSA Knockout events, the annual Year Six Canberra excursion, weekly coding being lessons delivered by ScopeIT, a bicycle safety and awareness excursion, a First Aid course, planning and preparation for the Year Five excursion to the NSW Sport and Recreation Point Wolstoncroft site in term three and planning and practice for the school athletics carnival. A busy term indeed! That is all before you factor in the semester one student reports.

I have also been successful in gaining consent for pre-conference interview from a number of speakers at the Education Nation conference in June which I am excited to conduct. I have already completed one, with some others in progress. If you have not yet completed your registration for Education Nation, I would urge you to do so, particularly if you are interested in the Elements portion of the conference as registration numbers for that aspect are limited. Click here to register.

I spent some time yesterday rearranging the room in an effort to improve the flow and functionality of our learning spaces, which has been received well by students thus far, and was excited to hear that my sister gave birth to a healthy baby girl yesterday morning.

I hope that your break and the return to school has filled you with excitement for the coming term, and that you are filled with enthusiasm and excitement for what is to come. As always, thank you for reading, and I would appreciate any feedback via the comments section below, or via Twitter.

Holiday Time!

“I’m a minimalist. I don’t really need much to enjoy a good holiday – just my family and the bare essentials.”
– Attributed to Jean Reno

Today is the last day of term for me, and what a term it has been. We have had Education Week Open Day, Book Week Character Parade, the 2016 Kindergarten Transition process has started, Peer Support Training for Year Six and Peer Support Groups on Thursday afternoons, various sporting teams have competed in their respective knock out competitions, the Zone Athletics Carnival (from which we have had a few students progress to represent the Zone at the State Athletics Carnival), the Lip Sync Battle….it has been an incredibly busy term.

I had planned to sit and reflect on this term via this article, but I need more time to process the events, look back through my day book, re-read the articles I have published this term, and reset mentally. With that in mind, I plan, currently, to publish something during the latter half of next week. Mrs C21stT and I are going away with some friends for the weekend and I will be without any internet access for the majority of the time, which will be a fantastic break. I plan to take some time to unwind, and relax until I return home and get back into planning mode.

I am hoping to catch up with my friends from university during the break, as well as catchup with the Central Coast members of my PLN. I am visiting the Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning (SCIL) to explore what their open learning spaces look like and to find out more about how they function in preparation for the move to those spaces when our school rebuild is completed, and to plan for next term. A teacher’s life is certainly not nine to three! I will be taking some time out to spend on myself and plan to get stuck into pre-season training as well, ready for refereeing again next season.

Until I am back online, have a safe and happy holidays.

Graduation and Welcome Back for Term Three

“It makes little difference how many university courses or degrees a person may own. If he cannot use words to move an idea from one point to another, his education is incomplete.”
– Attributed to Norman Cousins

Welcome back, everyone, to term three of the 2015 school year. I hope you are all well-rested after the two week mid-year break from face-to-face known as the July holidays and are ready to return to the classroom, either today or tomorrow, depending on when your school schedules the staff development day. Personally, my mid-year break was an intense, emotional period, that was physically, mentally and emotionally draining, yet I find myself filled with a sense of renewed vigour and excitement for the coming term.

The first week, as my regular readers would be aware, consisted of my graduation from university on Thursday, July 2nd. I graduated with a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) / Bachelor of Arts with Class One Honours in Teaching, and the 2014 Faculty Medal from the  Faculty of Education and Arts, and was selected to be make the Graduate Address, which my American readers would know as the Valedictorian Address.

I have edited, and included below, the video of the full graduation ceremony to show my actual graduation, i.e., the presentation of the testamur by the Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, along with the Chancellor’s introduction of myself as the Graduate Speaker, my Graduate Address, and the Chancellors remarks in reply.

When I was writing the speech, I did so from a place of wanting to find a balance between humour and my own tendency to be overly serious, which I believe I was successful in doing. However, what I did not realise, until I actually began to deliver my speech, was that I had, in essence, articulated my Teaching Philosophy in a different medium and with different words. I am someone who sheds excess emotional energy, nervous energy, adrenalin, nerves in an outpouring of emotion. At my wedding, I was so overcome with emotion that as my soon-to-be-wife walked down the aisle, all I could so was cry with happiness as excess nervous energy and adrenalin bled off through tears.

I desperately wanted to avoid that on this occasion. I felt my message was important, and I wanted to get it across without those same tears, which I knew, within myself, would threaten, as I knew there would similar levels of nerves and adrenalin building up. Particularly given that the Graduate Address was not due until the very end of the Graduation Ceremony. Thus, upon realising how close my speech was to my Teaching Philosophy, and how dear and close to the heart my message truly was, I battled the whole way through, after about thirty seconds, to stem the tide. I managed to hold it together, but goodness, it was a close call. I had not realised how strongly I would be affected articulating the sentiments that are behind the reason I teach, to approximately four hundred people. The audience included my fellow graduates of course many of whom had become close friends, but my wife, mum, grand, my brother and an aunt, as well as the family and friends of my fellow graduates, and of course the members of the University hierarchy, and many lecturers and tutors who had most impacted my tertiary studies, including my Honours supervisor.

From the feedback I received immediately afterwards, from the person I was sitting next to on the dais, the Chancellors remarks in reply, the other VIPs in the green room after we left, my fellow graduates, my family and form others, I feel like I was able to impart a powerful message and perhaps reinforced the seriousness and gravity of our profession, and the impact that our mere words can have.

Retrieved from http://www.kangacup.com/sites/default/files/2015%20NSR%20Event%20Banner%20slider%20website.jpg on July 13th, 2015.
Retrieved from http://www.kangacup.com/sites/default/files/2015%20NSR%20Event%20Banner%20slider%20website.jpg on July 13th, 2015.

The second week of the mid-year break, I spent in Canberra at the 25th Kanga Cup, acting in my capacity as a Referee Assessor, providing coaching, feedback and mentoring young referees at the largest youth football tournament in the southern hemisphere. It is a long, intense and emotional week, as the eight live-in Referee Coaches at the Kanga Cup Youth Referee Academy form strong bonds with each other and the referees whom are part of the Academy, and in my additional role, as the person entering all the data from the referee assessment and coaching forms each day, there is little sleep to be had. I arrived home from Kanga Cup on Saturday at around midday, and that night, was in bed and asleep by 7.30pm, and did not wake until around 9am the next day. Sunday night, I was in bed and asleep by around 9pm and did not wake til 7.30am this morning. I clearly need more sleep to catch up.

It was an amazing week, and as always, it served to remind me why I am involved with Referee Coaching specifically, and football in general. As physically, mentally and emotionally draining as it all ways, however, it still served to refresh me and I feel ready to go and excited for the coming term. There are many photos that can be viewed, if you are interested, on the AusRef flickr account, within the Kanga Cup 2015 album

Today was spent at a staff development day with the schools that are part of the Gosford City Learning Community; Point Clare Public School, Gosford Public School, Gosford High School and Henry Kendall High School. We heard from three speakers, all of whom were excellent, and the next few blog articles will be a review of the learnings from those talks.

As always, thank you for reading, and I look forward to hearing how you spent the mid-year break.