06 September, 2018

the realm of whelm

I am currently working as a Teacher of Year 10 Science, Year 11 & Year 12 Biology.  In my spare time, I am the Year 8 Year Level Coordinator at my school.  I am also writing material for the 2019, Year 11 Psychology

In recent weeks, I have been working with students on reducing their anxiety and stress, through some basic principles of project management.

Here is what we have been discussing in classes.

Towards the beginning of term, students can be a little bored, perhaps to the point of being a little underwhelmed.

At this time of year (week eight of ten) many students are overwhelmed with assignments and pending exams.

From the outset, I have been working with my students to whelm.

I ask Student to get out a calendar and plot all their assessment due dates.  If there are clusters of assignments and exams falling around the same dates, students need to bring forward some of their tasks, to adjust their level of whelm,

In Year 11 Biology we have added addition terms to our meta-vocabularly.   We have named extreme levels of whelm as #Hyperwhelm.

Very low levels of whelm, might be considered to be #hypowhelmed.

We are aiming to adjust the levels of whelm towards a target of iso-whelm.

The secret is to keep chipping away at small sections of larger tasks.  One need to eat the metaphorical elephant, one mouthful at a time.

The final component in the realm of whelm is co-opting the wombles' song from the 1970's tv show.

"Underwhelmed, overwhelmed, wombling free......"

31 August, 2018

Pre-servce and beginning Teachers

I have fresh memories of being a novice teacher and spending almost every waking moment juggling:

  • Caring for a high needs young family - now aged 7, 9 and 47
  • my activities of daily living (eating sleeping, bathing, ablutions),
  • Coming to school from 9 to 3 then more recently 8 to 2 and
  • endless lesson preparation.

Up until this year, I would spend every morning tea and lunch break, in lesson prep.  I would go home to busy family times, then after my children were in bed, I would do lesson prep to 23:00 most nights (five or six nights a week).

I spent the first three years of teaching in some sort of Post Traumatic stress induced depression.  I had to work longer and longer hours to maintain a reasonable level of productivity.  It was a vicious circle.  The more hours I spent in lesson preparation, the less productive I became, just through sheer emotional and physical fatigue.

In 2018, I have turned a corner.  I took on a role as  Year 8 Year Level Coordinator.  I am teaching 2 or 3 classes a week instead of 5 and I have access to a bank of 3 or 4 years of pre-prepared lessons.  I have colleagues around me developing and sharing their lesson materials. 

My children are now more independent, can do a lot more for themselves these days.  They are a joy to my soul.

Life is pretty good these days.  However, it makes me wonder: is there more that we can do to support pre-service and beginning teachers?