Welcome to my 2021 Inquiry. Where I am on a mission of my own, to understand how I can empower my learners with skills and qualities for their now and their future. Over the last 4 years, I have been working with educators from a range of settings and in 2019 I was very lucky to be selected to be part of the Manaiakalani Innovative Teacher initiative as well as the Google Innovator Programme in Singapore. It was during this time I worked alongside educators across New Zealand and beyond to use the design thinking process to understand challenges we see in education and think of solutions.
As you can see in the slides above, from my inquiry presentation in 2019. Oral language and the ability to express oneself through different forms of story telling has been a big part of my teaching journey so far.
Why do I think oral language and helping learners express themselves is important?
Over the years one common area where I always put a lot of emphasis on and in turn see an impact on other areas with my learners - is confidence and communication.
Yes it is important for our learners to know maths and coding and writing speeches and how the world works and everything else that their world requires of them. But in my own personal experience, empowering a learner to have the confidence in themselves and empowering them with the tools to express themselves unlocks potential sometimes I or they didn't even know was possible.
Why is storytelling important for me?
Empathy is the core of every thing for me. And I think storytelling and empathy are the perfect partnership. How does the character feel? How would you feel if you were that character? What might happen next if the character makes that choice? How could they have made a better choice? What do you want your character to act like?
All these questions allow the learner to walk in the shoes of their characters, to export themselves into different realms and experience a variety of settings. It allows the learner to think about their audience and what they want their audience to think or feel depending on the words or actions they choose.
Over the years, I have been on a variety of committees, in a range of schools and there are many different schools of thought about lots of different subjects and curriculums. This has allowed me to explore the positives and negatives that the range of available methods we try to reach our learners can have.
Throughout my inquiry I have always been looking at these 'schemes' or 'platforms' or 'processes' or 'documents' through the lens of oral language. Many times I have heard 'we are a __________ school.' And I understand this can bring a lot of structure and certainty to the table where teachers and learners can know exactly what their next steps are and what they need to do to achieve. However, sometimes I believe this can close out what other systems can bring to the table too.
My biggest takeaway from exploring all these different ideas is there is a time and place for many of the ideas. But as an educator I think it can be really over whelming to know which platform is right for our child at what time.
So, I have been narrowing down my options, over the last 4 years I have been taking inspiration from Reciprocal Reading/Teaching systems, Phonics templates, the design thinking process and this year I was introduced to the Daily 5 Cafe which I really liked too.
Throughout this #2021Inquiry blog series I am really excited to share with you my project that I have been continuing to develop this year.
Since moving to Japan my class is 100% bilingual/ EAL, (English as an Additional Language). Many learners had minimal English when we started in September 2020 and I am really excited to share some tools and strategies we have been working on as well as fostering critical thinking, creativity and curiosity.
As you can see in the visuals above I have take inspiration from the reciprocal reading process to cover 6 of the main strands of reading comprehension. On each of the areas of T.O. LAND the learners complete missions to boost their character and defeat the evil Neuro that I mentioned in the introduction on this post.
So, this blog post is the first in the #2021Inquiry blog series where I wanted to give you a bit of background to where we have come from and a rough idea of where we are going to.
In upcoming posts I will be sharing activities and strategies that I use with my learners as I develop and refine my practice with the help of student voice, colleague feedback and hopefully insights you will bring to the conversation too!!
In this introduction post, I wanted to share the Empathetic Educators Tree of Life which we will be referring to throughout this series too. I think one of the main things I have learnt throughout my inquiry so far is - as educators we have ALOT to take on when helping our small humans develop into bigger humans.
I love my job!! Some days it is overwhelming. Some days it is the most rewarding thing I could ask for. Some times both of those feelings come on the same day. But as well as helping my learners grow I want to continue to extend my community of educators who are inspiring me to grow too and go through the rollercoaster together.
This video from Mel Robbins is the final takeaway I wanted to share because I love seeing confidence as a skill.
'Confidence is the ability to move from thought to action. Because when you are a confident person you believe enough in yourself and your capabilities that you are willing to try.' Mel Robbins
As someone who use to always want to take the back seat when sharing ideas. Who had the answer on the tip of my tongue but never put my hand up because I was scared of the judgements of others. To now, still nervous and still insecure at times but growing in confidence every day through my own actions but also through the support of my community.
I think confidence is one of the best gifts we can give our learners as well as ourselves.
I can't wait to continue growing with you!
Remember - our choices have an impact - what impact are you going to have?