This year I am stepping away from the classroom into a role as literacy consultant for the DEC. This is a shift that will see me learn a lot more about the inner workings of regional office (and let’s face it it is a beast we know very little about at the chalk face) and allow me to work with a wide range of schools in my district, both primary and secondary. I am really looking forward to the challenges that this job will throw my way and one of the main ones will be getting my head around the primary experience.
The first difference I have noticed so far is the TIME I have to get things done in working hours. I mean for the past 25 years I have spent a large part of every holiday researching, reading, designing and creating engaging and challenging units for my students. At this time of the year, especially as a Head Teacher, I would be: tweaking classes, inducting new staff, organising teams, working through a million demands on my time so that I wouldn’t get time for my own classes until late at night. This year there was very little I could do in the holidays as I had no brief on what I was to do and in my first few days I spent my day reading through files, courses etc waiting for meetings with my bosses to set the year’s directions. I actually didn’t even take my briefcase home – there was no reason to!! Trust me, this has been a very weird and unnerving experience and I have sat on the lounge twitching nervously wondering what to do instead!!! Sad, but true.
The end result of this was that I had time during the day, let alone after hours, to set up an new blog/website for primary teachers in my area. I started with a post on the National Year of Reading and then, thanks to the K-6 group on Yammer and other finds I did one on Digital Storytelling. I sent the link out to the district principals in my “Let me introduce myself” email. The feedback so far has been great and the number of hits the site has got from primary schools in my district has been really impressive. One principal emailed me to say that what she thought would be a quick look ended up being over 90 minutes exploring the links. That is a win in my book. I plan to keep this going with posts on persuasive writing, comprehension, spelling etc etc. (Very keen to get ideas for posts if you have suggestions)
You can see my literacy blog here.
The slow start is set to speed up now that I have my brief and I start creating and presenting courses to schools around the region. So far that will include “Explicit Teaching of Writing”, “Focus on Reading” and “Prioritising Grammar”. I am really looking forward to seeing how these courses work and how I can adapt them to a secondary setting. This relevance to secondary KLAs has been missing previously, in my opinion and in my personal experience, and one of my hopes is that I can engage with secondary schools more and assist KLAs to more explicitly embed the teaching of literacy within their courses – after all, if they want Band 6 responses in the HSC it comes down to how well the students can comprehend what they are reading and how articulately they can express that understanding. Content knowledge will only get them so far – high order literacy skills will get them to the rest of the way. Hopefully, I can go some of the way to ensuring that – that is one of my key hopes for 2012.
So week one almost done and dusted. I am remarkably fresh and still pumped about this opportunity to support teachers in my region. The latest stage of my educational journey has well and truly begun and I actually have time to enjoy it. For now, it is a nice change of pace before I leap into the wave of demands that are to sure to dump on me soon.