Finding purpose

I’m not a writer, and have never claimed to be one, but hopefully my posts will show you me, my reflections and thoughts and hopefully I can help others along the way as I discover more about education, life and legacy.

Recently I read a few blogs that had a common theme throughout them, the themes of finding yourself, motivation, legacy and purpose. One of my favourite blogs since starting on this journey has been Cool Cat Teacher Blog, it is truly inspirational and has helped me with my development. I’m realizing in my thirties what my purpose is, what I would like to accomplish and achieve, and what legacy I want to leave behind for my daughter. It has taken some time, and it is an evolving process and it is constantly changing as I discover more along the way. So lets look at some background, as it is always important to know where you are coming from.

From finishing school in 1997, the next few years involved travelling overseas and studying my first two degrees in Logistics, and eventually meeting my wonderful wife in 2003 in London. Married in 2005 and settled down in South Africa, working in Logistics industry, while she was teacher at a local school. We decided to leave South Africa and find a place where we could live and raise a family. In January 2009 we arrived in Australia, and immediately it felt like home. Within a few months here I decided it is time to change direction and started studying again.

 

2010 was one of the toughest and most joyful years I have ever experienced. We finally had a successful IVF cycle, and my wife was pregnant in April. Semester 2 brought full time study to complete the diploma, with part-time work and looking for a teaching position. In the last month of my studies, the sudden and unexpected passing of my dad in South Africa rocked my world. I had to leave a 7-month pregnant wife and apply for extensions for course, while I flew back to South Africa for the funeral. This was one of the hardest times I had ever experienced. Two days after returning I had an interview with a school and they offered me my first teaching position (at the age of 31). In December our baby girl made an early arrival on the 30th and we were truly blessed, excited and nervous for the year ahead. Two weeks later we moved to start the next chapter in our lives.

 

I have now been a teacher for 18 months, and a father for 18 months, and lived in a new town for 18 months. It has been a rewarding, challenging and ultimately an experience that has shaped my thoughts on our future. I’m excited about being a teacher, the role I have in students lives and my own personal development that is taking place.

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Exams, achievement and assessing reflections

At school we have an exam week scheduled every term in week 9. This is something that every student and teacher is aware of, and it comes around quickly each term. This past week has been a rush of getting in assignments, exams being written, report comments being finalised, and marking. It is always great to see students that put in the effort achieve high marks, and it fills me with an immense satisfaction when I see the smile on their face when I hand back their results. Sometimes the marks are not necessarily high, but it was a significant improvement, and that is rewarding. This term has been a mixed bag of students achieving, improving and unfortunately failing. 

 

At the start of term there was a meeting with one my students parents regarding his grades, and the need to improve. He promised me he would work hard, even though all indications of his previous 10 years at school did not support this, and I really hoped that he meant it. He ended up working with a friend in an assignment, and put in a lot of good quality work, and pulled up his grades enough to be able to pass. I look forward to sharing the fantastic news with him this week. 

 

On the other side I have had a few seniors put in so much effort and dedication into their work this year, and they are producing amazing results. I’ve had to spend hours going through their work, not because of quantity, but quality. I also want to make absolutely sure that the marks are accurate, and not reflecting what I think they deserve for their effort, but rather what they deserve for the quality of the work.

 

I think this is one of those learning steps as a beginning (mature-aged) teacher needs to go through. Always making sure that all your marking is never influenced by bias, preferences, preconceived ideas, opinions, or guilt. It is essential as an educator to always remain objective, no matter how difficult it is. Students that make you mad as anything and then students that just do their work obediently, always deserve the exact same treatment with marking. I believe that I have been successful in this, but I know we always need to be mindful of how we view students and how that could affect our grading of their work every time. 

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The car that would not start – craziness of life

At 11:40 this morning I received a frantic call from my wife. The car would not start and she was at a friends house in the middle of nowhere. Jos was getting cranky (its nap time around then) am I was going into class. She managed to get a lift home with a borrowed car seat, and I arranged for roadside assistance. After about an hour, the mechanic found that the car was in Drive not Park. Needless to say my wife was embarrassed and irritated with this, but at least a major crisis avoided. The car is having hassles, but at least it is at home, and not out in the middle of nowhere. 

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Business trip review

Well the students were terrific, and presented brilliantly, but unfortunately they did not win. It was hard to see their genuine disappointment on their faces after the hard work put in. We had a good discussion about the event, the outcomes and what the reasons could be. I still believe that they were very good, and I’m proud of how they performed. Next year I will be even better prepared and we will be ready for the challenge.

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Year 9/10 Business Excursion

Today I’m off with 12 students from my Year 9/10 Business class. They are taking part in the University of Southern Queensland’s ‘Funny Business’ competition. They had to come up with a small business concept, have a trading day and write a business plan. Today they present it in front of a panel of judges. The term has been very interesting, as they have showed great initiative by doing most of the planning, organising and coordinating themselves, with only a small bit of direction and input form me. The end results have been surprising and impressive. I’m not sure how this fits in with PBL (project based learning), but I think it aligns with that model quite well. 

I definitely need to investigate it a bit more and see how to change their assessments/units to focus more on self discovery, project based and cooperative learning. It has been a success thus far, and I’m rally excited to see how they fare against the other schools today.

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And so a journey begins…

Welcome to my first venture into blogging. It will be a journey of discovery, trial and error. I plan on sharing my experiences in teaching, reflections on education and the craziness of life. I look forward to this new step in my digital education evolution and to share this experience with you.

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