A step into my second year of teaching!

A full year in the classroom and half way through the first term of my second year, I am certain about one thing, teaching does not get any easier. Well not at this point for me right now anyway.

Before I started my career, I was told that if I can survive my first year of teaching I will be ok for the rest of the years to come… In some ways that is true with all the ups and downs, excitement, positive energy and all the learning that comes with being a first-year teacher, although are my ‘training wheels’ really off now that I am a second-year teacher?

I use the term ‘training wheels’ as teaching is like learning to ride a bike for the first time, you sometimes fall down but get right back up and try again. I definitely feel as though my first-year experience has really helped shape who I am as an educator and has led me to go into teaching this year with a completely different mindset to last year.  Although I am in my second year, there are still so many things I don’t know and things I am still yet to learn.

It is important for all teachers who have past their first year of teaching to remember that it is ok to still ask for advice and support when teaching in the classroom. When I am unsure of things or even just wanting some advice on where to next, I know that I can turn to my ES1 team, fellow colleagues and learning coach. No teacher knows everything, although every teacher brings different experiences, advice to give and support to provide. No matter what amount of experience a teacher has, no one should feel embarrassed to ask for help.

This year, ES1 has had a significant increase of students, from 29 at the end of last year to now being at roughly 85 (with the potential to take up to 120 as the community grows and expands). Not only have numbers increased with students in ES1 but has also gone from two teachers to now four Early Childhood and Primary teachers working together to meet, prepare, deliver and evaluate lessons in the classroom.

How do four teachers work together across the stage? There are two teachers in each space with roughly 44 students (being able to take up to 60) and the ratio being more than 1:30. Although there are two teachers in each space, the four teachers make the time most afternoons in order to share and evaluate the way lessons went and prepare for future lessons we will deliver. Communication and collaboration is the key to successfully doing this. We ask our students to do this on a daily basis as part of our 6 pillars of learning therefore we are expected as teachers to also model this through our own teaching and learning. The question is, have we mastered it yet? We work well as a team and work really hard to ensure consistency across both classes although we are still in the process of making this work even better to ensure the best learning for our students.

ES1 team…

We meet, prepare, deliver and evaluate together.

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I survived my first year of teaching!

A few things I have learnt as a beginning teacher

The final days of the year are approaching quickly and as I look back to reflect on the year I have had, the first thing that pops in mind is how fast 2017 has gone by. I survived my first year of teaching in a brand new school, teaching kindergarten yet it feels like I am only just beginning my journey as a teacher.

2017 has been a wonderful experience which has helped shape me into the teacher I aspire to be. One word to describe my experience would be… a rollercoaster!

Late last year I joined the ride of being part of the foundation staff who helped build the St Luke’s community but what a journey it has been, not only being a beginning teacher overcoming many challenges and obstacles of teaching but starting at a school which is only just beginning. I can definitely say it has been a year I will never forget and I am very fortunate to be in the position I am in.

Being a beginning teacher amongst experienced teachers in the profession, I felt as though I needed to be perfect, making no mistakes. I quickly came to realise that if I don’t make my own mistakes and fail then how will I learn and improve my skills? Teaching is messy, but without mess how will I create the craft of teaching and be a unique teacher for my students.

I have learnt that colleagues are friends, we are all at school for the same reason, to teach students of our future. My advice to beginning teachers is get to know your colleagues, don’t be afraid to ask for advice, feedback or even just to chat with. I have learnt so much, shared the delights of teaching and survived all the obstacles that have been passed my way mostly because of the supportive staff I work with.

One of the challenges that I have faced this year is creating a work and home life balance.  As a teacher starting in the profession it is easy to get caught up in the world of teaching and spend a lot of time in preparing, marking, thinking about school and students whilst also creating all the exciting resources! I have been so engrossed and dedicated to my work that I forgot about the balance. I will always thrive to do my best when teaching and completely dedicated to my students but I feel as though any beginning teacher out there needs to remember that limits and balance is essential to a healthy and happy life. I am not saying that you will not work outside of school hours, any teacher can tell you that is impossible but finding that balance is crucial to enjoy the journey of teaching and not burn out.

My first year has been full of memories and amazing experiences which have taught me so much. I look at my students and and how far they have come and it brings me great joy to know that I was a big part of their learning journey and was their to support and guide them along the entire way. Looking at where I began, I feel as though I have grown as an individual but mostly with the confidence in my ability to teach. I still have a lot to learn but I look forward to continuing and sharing my adventures of teaching as I head into my second year.


Coding and Robotics are two words which tend to make people feel nervous and anxious if they are not confident in this area. What about coding and robotics in the curriculum for primary teachers and students?

If you have read my first blog you would know that I am a first-year teacher and felt as if I was not prepared for half of the things I have experienced with my Early Stage One (ES1) class this year. Just imagine, I felt unprepared then, what about now when primary teachers are beginning to implement coding and robotics in the classrooms with students as young as Kindergarten!

Yes, people do tend to feel apprehensive about this although before I continue writing the rest of my blog I want to reassure all the teachers, especially primary teachers out there that you DO NOT need to be an expert at coding to implement it within the classroom. I have only been exposed to it this year through professional learning days and I am already TREMENDOUSLY excited about implementing it within my classroom, sharing my journey of coding, how it links to the curriculum and how my students are working with certain aspects of coding in the classroom providing them with endless possibilities!

So why coding?

It is more than just students playing around on a computer, ipad, robotic equipment and as teachers we are certainly not asking or even expecting students to become proficient programmers. We want them to be excited about learning but it is the message and attitude that teachers pass on to students that will engage the students minds and make them want to create amazing things using coding and robotics in their everyday experiences. It provides students with authentic learning from the real world developing and shaping creative and logical thinkers of today’s society who have the problem-solving skills to persevere in everything they do. In ES1, my grade partner and I have implemented and integrated coding into various KLA’s.

A few examples of this include, using beebots in order to explore and understand the concept of length in mathematics and developing literacy skills with the endless opportunities to retell, change the sequence of stories or even developing their own e.g. Rosie’s Walk or The Very Hungry Caterpillar. ES1 have also just been introduced to bluebots and are exploring, investigating and critically thinking with a small group based on the topic of how objects move through our science unit ‘On the Move’.

I have only briefly discussed coding although throughout my blogging journey I will ensure to report back on coding in the curriculum and write in detail, the ways in which I have integrated it within my classroom, how it links to the curriculum, what the purpose of the task is as well as ways in which I have structured and programmed specific tasks for students to explore through developmental play. 


Kindergarten Developmental Play

Play is a word which often gets dismissed as ‘something’ children do to have fun and is not as important as other KLA’s for Early Stage One. Play is actually something which starts at a very young age but is an essential part of a child’s developmental growth and wellbeing. It allows students to be a part of active learning, exploration, negotiation, risk taking, socialising and encourages students to create meaning of their world.

How does play fit into my ES1 class? From the beginning of the year until early this term, play was part of our morning routine. We would come in, say our prayer, mark the role and then students set off for 10 minutes of unstructured play. This meant that students were able to select what they wanted to play with, who would be involved in their play (if anyone) and what space they would like to use in the room. As all teachers should do, my stage partner and I reflected on the effectiveness of play and discussed the purpose of which we were wanting to gain out of the unstructured play.

Yes, play does assist in the social skills of students although what happens to those students who like solitary play (independent), those students who don’t have effective communication skills or those students who have difficulties with their oral language. On a daily basis, we would have to remind certain students to select another activity as they would only select the ‘drawing table’ or we would place a student with another because they both liked solitary play. Reflecting on these points, it was evident that some changes needed to be made to increase the advantages and effectiveness play can have on young children.

In my ES1 class there are quite a few EAL/D students who come from diverse backgrounds and their first language is not English which therefore impacts on their oral language. There are also a significant number of students who do not know how to effectively communicate and collaborate with one another.

I am sure you are eager to find out what we have changed in ES1 to ensure these skills are incorporated into play on a daily basis so here it is.

We began by playing around with a google document trying to put ideas, information and evidence/ links to the six pillars together in order to see how we could best accommodate for the class. We needed to think about the purpose and what we want to achieve out of developmental play experience.

 As part of developmental play, we decided that for the first few weeks we would structure different activities which would promote team work, collaboration, effective communication and most of all targeting students with their oral language skills. Having two teachers in the class has been amazing and really benefits the students in many ways. Both my stage partner and I work with a small group of students to focus on each day to ensure we model how to communicate and collaborate effectively, encourage students to question and problem solve through tasks. We then record our observations in a separate google document to ensure we monitor each child’s growth over time.

Evidence are also then hyperlinked to the developmental play document with a short blurb of how the lesson went so that we are able to go back and refer to any comments, images or videos we may have as part of evidence. Overall one important aspect which I have mentioned is to ensure there is always a PURPOSE to students learning, even for ‘developmental play’ and continue to act as a role model demonstrating the ways in which we do certain things such as communicate effectively. It is crucial that we remember that students are still learning and have their ‘L plates’ on. We are the educators of the future generations and need to support and guide our students to effectively communicate (oral language), collaborate, think creatively, be innovative, and develop problem-solving skills to assist them with their everyday lives.

Example taken from the first 2 weeks of ES1 developmental play document.

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Images taken during developmental play 

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Students questioning and describing what they think/feel is inside the mystery bag! Great communication and oral language task!

Ownership of learning…

As a beginning teacher I have had little experience when it comes to reporting on students learning and parent teacher meetings. I can say that I was fortunate enough to have sat in various parent teacher interviews on my practicums as part of my studies. Although when I think back to them, how would I describe them? Were the students involved in the process? The answer is no. Students would arrive with their parents and listen to the teacher discussing the students academic results, behaviours in class and the effort put into their learning. I think to myself, does this put the emphasis back onto the students and their learning?

Being a part of a beginning school has provided me with many amazing opportunities to share my ideas, thoughts and to voice my opinion when it comes to planning, programming, structuring of the classroom environment and students learning. These are only a few examples.

One exciting journey which St Luke’s has embarked, is in fact the changes in the way we report on students learning and how we wish to meet with parents in regards to the usual ‘parent teacher interviews.’ After many discussions and meetings, as a school we decided to follow the path of ‘student led-conferences’. You might be asking, what is a student led-conference. It is a form of parent teacher interviews although the teacher is there to support the students as they take control. This is something, which did not happen right away. There was a process that involved a lot of preparation for students and teachers.

For Early Stage 1 (ES1), my grade partner and I created a document with a few different examples relating to the 6 pillars and next to it consisted of faces. (Students have been exposed to these faces in other reflections of tasks.) As this is a very new concept for the school, especially for ES1, students were broken up into small groups and were guided through the pillar elements together. Students were asked to think back and reflect on their learning and colour in the face which best describes where they sit. (Examples provided in the pictures below.)

Students worked with teachers to find the evidence to support the coloured face and were then photocopied and placed in a folder ready to show to their parents. Some of the evidence wasn’t necessarily found in students workbooks, examples were also displayed though the ‘seesaw’ app, photographs and/or videos. After lengthy discussions, my grade partner and I have decided that we now have a better understanding of the 6 pillars and how they directly link with the curriculum we teach, next semester we will have the evidence uploaded as digital portfolios to all students files. The next step is to have students reflect and select their evidence with less guidance and support from teachers as an ongoing progress for future conferences.

At the beginning of this process if you had asked me how I thought this would work in ES1, I would respond by saying it would be a challenge. I can confirm that yes it was a challenge, but what a wonderful, exciting and purposeful challenge it was. Yes the students needed prompting and reminding of what to speak about next, but it was all the students. The students took control of their learning and discussed with parents their strengths and what they’ll be working towards next to improve their learning. I must say the students did an AMAZING job at their first ever student led-conference!

I believe this experience has helped to shape our students for the better and will only continue to assist them in growing as reflective 21st Century learners and thinkers. I look forward to the next student led-conferences in semester 2!


19620037_10156280958475744_429194539_oDefinition of faces to assist with reflecting.

19578551_10156280959070744_748621291_oSelf evaluation of 6 pillars.

19619959_10156280958590744_1861640594_oPrompts to remind students what comes next during the student led-conference.