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Going Public March 18, 2010

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As of today, I’m releasing this Blog to the public, joining a long line of aspiring and inspiring educators who have already taken this courageous step. 

I’ve still got a lot to learn about Blogging and particularly about my chosen career in education. But what I find great about the blogosphere is the sharing and building together of new ideas and experiences. We all deserve the right to remain critical and skeptical of others’ attempts to make sense of the world, but at the end of the day, commenting on others’ blogs is an entirely constructive endeavour because we’re helping each other to reach higher levels of understanding. 

So, bearing all that in mind, please feel warmly invited to comment on any of my thoughts concerning both my own teaching and this wonderful profession as a whole. Hopefully every now and then I’ll say something that is of use to you, and I sure am looking forward to learning from and with you as well.

First Day at School March 18, 2010

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So… I had my first observation day at school this week. My first step inside a primary/high school classroom for 14 years!

Despite hoping to teach college or at least Year 9/10 Indonesian, I ended up with Year 6/7 classes. To some extent, the image below captures my day. Beforehand, I was worried that I had lost some of my speaking proficiency in the language, but quickly learned that I needed fast-tracked proficiency in another language altogether – classroom management!!!

That said, I came away from the day totally and utterly inspired!!! I suddenly felt that as a teacher I could really do something with the energy, excitability and uniqueness that all of these wonderful kids had beaming out of them. I can’t wait to get to know them all better and I can’t wait to get out there in front of the classroom myself!

clipped from www.panix.com

  blog it

A cycling team’s self-efficacy cycle March 5, 2010

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What I love about my teacher training right now is that everything we learn about learning has real-world applications and connections. This morning I read about the model for success that BMC Racing (Aussie cycling champion Cadel Evan’s team) employ in their approach to competition and commercial success:

“We believe that if you increasingly turn a vision into plans, actions and processes then you will be number one in the world” (Andy Rihs, BMC Racing Team owner)

Alessandro Ballan and Cadel Evans ride alongside one another at the BMC training camp in California

It got me thinking about my recent Ed Foundations assignment on self-efficacy, drawing on Albert Bandura’s social-cognitive theory. Research links improved student performance with teacher self-efficacy, which is the teacher’s belief in their ability to perform successfully the functions and tasks of their teaching role. It’s a ferimone thing I think. rather than smelling your fear, your students smell your efficacy 😉 and therefore feel confident that they might actually learn something in your classroom. Research by Tschannen-Moran & Barr (2004) indicates that a high collective sense of teacher efficacy in a school multiplies this effect, generating a whole-of-school ‘can do’ culture and leading to better academic results regardless of ‘student family and community factors’.

Anyway our assignment had us reflecting on our own self-efficacy beliefs and what drives them. Bandura argues that there are three key elements to strong efficacy beliefs:

  • enactive self-mastery (actually completing a series of tasks successfully, usually on more than one occasion)
  • verbal persuasion (for example, receiving encouragement or positive feedback from a mentor or respected peer)
  • vicarious experience (seeing someone else perform the task and getting that feeling of “if they can do it, so can I”) 

We were asked to reflect on a particularly powerful mastery experience in our own lives and then unpack that applying Bandura. In a systematic way, I learned a lot about what has driven my past successes and correspondingly the sources of my efficacy beliefs in certain domains. I wrote that my past mastery experiences have come on the back of a cycle of targeted planning, extensive preparation, and regular, repeated successes in performing a task (these can be small or large successes). As with anything in life, success may not be guaranteed in this cycle due to unexpected external factors. But hard work in the planning and preparation phases limits potentially damaging variables, is part of the belief-building process itself and sets you up for repeated success. I like Andy Rihs’ idea that one should strive not only for successful actions, but also processes. Successful processes can maintain one’s self-efficacy beliefs at a steady, high state, and see you through the lows that inevitably follow the heady successes of individual actions. Inspiring but also very practical stuff – pity I didn’t get the chance to pack it into my assignment!

This ties into my current enquiries into ICT-supported teaching and teacher expectations. Why? Because there is the very real possibility that technologically challenged but otherwise highly effective teachers might have their self-efficacy beliefs damaged by the kind of expectations of 21st Century teachers articulated by Mishra&Koehler. 

 Here’s Albert Bandura himself discussing aspects of social-cognitive theory: