Thursday, August 5, 2010

What has made me the Professional that I am today?

Part A

Identify and elaborate on the factors that have impacted on your professional learning and have contributed to making you the professional you are at this moment in time.

There are many factors that have impacted on my professional learning and have contributed towards making me the professional I am today. My values, beliefs and life experiences including: Family, Childhood, Education, Situations and People have shaped me into the professional I am in this moment of time.


I was very lucky to be raised in a tight knit nuclear family down in Christchurch. Mum, Dad, my brother Mark and Prickles the cat played key factors to my life. In my family I was raised under a firm stable background, where there was discipline and that consequences were always followed upon. The consequences were having privileges e.g. pocket money taken away, time out and talking about my behaviour. Good behaviour and successful learning was also celebrated by pocket money and having takeaways for dinner on a Friday night.

In my own professional practice, I tend to use similar discipline measures on the children I teach. Consequences for actions are always something I follow up on. I send children to time out, I take away their privileges and I do speak the children and their parents about their behaviour. Positive behaviour and learning are always celebrated through school wide behaviour incentives: Caught Being Good Tickets. I also provide end of term treats for my class.

In my family we would attend the Anglican Church most Sundays. The Christian beliefs of following the Ten Commandments are something I have held throughout my life. As a family we would have these beliefs that it is always good to give as it is to receive, that relationships are based on giving and taking, to treat others how you would like to be treated, and honesty is the best policy.

In my own practice, I try to make my class into a tight knit family unit, where problems are shared, where learning is celebrated and that relationships are built on respect and trust. Education was very important in my family. My parents valued education. As children my mother would drum into Mark and myself that the best days of your life are at school. As a teacher, I also emphasize this statement to my class.


As a child I was very different from the other children. I was born with a speech language problem. This did delay my learning at kindergarten and at school. To address this problem, Mum and Dad would take me to see a Speech Language Therapist. I would see the therapist once a week, over a three year period. As a child Mum and Dad would take me to the library and would read to me every night. They also provided lots of language experiences where I would be taken out to places over the weekend.

Being an ex special needs child that is now a teacher has made me connect better to those children with special needs. I mainly teach ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Language) children. I do show empathy towards them, but as a teacher I have the self belief that these children can make it in society if they are given the right support from home and school. As a teacher, I believe in talking to these children, providing them language experiences and giving them time.


Due to my speech problem I started school at six years. I was a late bloomer with Education. I might not have come out in full bloom the same time as all the other children, but in a way my special needs were held against me throughout primary school. When I was in Year 6, I took part in the school’s Captain Cook Production. My part in the production was very minor. Every body else had speaking parts of three or more sentences, I ended up with one word to say in the play. If I were sick on the night it wouldn’t have made a difference as the main characters would just carry on.

This scenario, has shaped me into the teacher I am today. It is one of the reasons why I got into teaching as I wanted to make a difference and to give all children equal opportunities to learn, no matter whether they have a disability or not. At my school we have class blogs. My childrens’ writing gets made into podcasts or movies and is uploaded onto the class blog. All children are involved. The low ability readers and writers require a lot of teacher time, but the end result is worth it when you see those children’s faces light up when they listen to themselves on the blog. As a teacher I have faith in my children to complete tasks to the best of their ability. Every child deserves a chance and equal opportunities to succeed with their learning. They deserve opportunities that I never got as a student. I believe late bloomers get there in the end, they experience the hard knocks of failure along the way, but overcome it with putting extra effort into their work and proving to everyone else that they make it by believing in themselves.


The situations I have faced have played an integral role to being the professional I am today. In 2001, I graduated with my Bachelor of Teaching and Learning degree. Unfortunately I did not get a job straight away and I worked for the dole. I worked as a teacher aide for six months while I was applying for teaching jobs. This situation made me aware to never look down on support staff e.g. Teacher Aides, as this was where I started -my grass roots. The gift of a teaching job was like winning Lotto to me. Today I still feel this way. I feel that rejection makes you appreciate things more, it makes you a stronger person and it makes you more determined than ever to reach for your dream job.

In July 2002, I managed to get a teaching position at a South Auckland School. I was the third teacher in a Years 5 & 6 class. It was a huge transition for me, as I had to make a new life for myself in Auckland. I had never moved out of home before. The class I had was very multi-cultural and were dynamic with their backgrounds, behaviour and learning. It was a real contrast to the white middle class background that I came from. As a Beginning Teacher, I was authoritarian with the discipline. There were times in which I went too far and ended up being sworn at by my students. I learnt that if I were loud with growling at students, then as a result my children would be loud as well. Over time I learnt that I needed to change. I came to the realization that I had to earn the children’s respect by building positive relationships, for it to become a mutual successful learning partnership.

This school was also a real learning curve for me with regards to relationships with staff. There was a lot of work place bullying at this school. It seemed that the bullying had a domino effect across the school. The Principal would bully the Deputy Principals, the Deputy Principals would bully the Team Leaders and Teachers and the students would bully each other. Excellent classroom teachers were driven out of their jobs, as people at the top were power hungry and had great pleasure in bullying others. This school taught me how not to be a leader and the hard knocks from this school has shaped me to be the teacher and leader that I am today.

Since leaving this school, my beliefs have changed. I believe that relationships are the essence to a positive working and learning environment. I also believe that power is one of those things earned and that leaders need to have the people skills. A healthy and happy school comes from people at the top and it stems down on to teachers, support staff, children, care takers and cleaners.


I have been very privileged to work with some amazing leaders, who have influenced me to become the person that I am. One of the leaders was my ex Principal from Glenbrae School, Sandra Jenkins. When I had my first meeting with her, she told me I could only go so far with my three year degree. She strongly encouraged me to do my Post Graduate Diploma in Education. Sandra took an interest in me with the assignments and gave me lots of guidance. She made me realize the importance of furthering my education and that to be a successful teacher and leader, I would have to be a learner.

Another leader, I have worked with is my E-Learning Facilitator Dorothy Burt. She has shared her ideas with me and has inspired me to try out new ideas with E-Learning. She has given me opportunities to get out of my comfort zone and to present material at conferences and at cluster expos. Dorothy has encouraged me to take risks with my teaching and to enjoy using technology with my class.

Sum up one or two paragraphs, how you believe you learned to teach.

I believe I learnt to teach from Associate Teachers, Tutor Teacher, Facilitators and Cluster initiatives. I also learnt from trial and error, especially learning from my own mistakes.
My Associate Teachers allowed me to observe their practice and they shared their knowledge and ideas on behaviour management, lesson planning, sequence and they also provided me with feedback on my practice.

My Tutor Teacher was able to observe me teach in a variety of curriculum areas, give me regular feedback on my progress and she provided opportunities for me to watch her model good teaching practice with my class and her class. She was able to assist me with my planning, behaviour management and support me with school wide events.

I have been very privileged to work with a number of outside facilitators from TEAM Solutions and Evaluations and Associates. The facilitators were able to observe my practice in literacy and numeracy, give me feedback, model their practice using my class and give me a range of practical ideas/theories. I also learned to teach from cluster initiatives that my two schools have been part of. The Tamaki Pathways (TAP) initiative has provided me with the skills to teach literacy to ESOL students in a decile 1 setting and the Manaiakalani Initiative has taught me how to integrate E-Learning into my programme.

Identify one professional project you would like to undertake for your personal learning as a new teacher, or in your work supporting new teacher development. Elaborate in one or two paragraphs how you might undertake this project, given the knowledge you have about professional learning and the skills you have at this point. Identify any ethical considerations you may need to take into account.

The project that I would like to undertake is on supporting new teachers in using technologies in school. One of the common issues for new teachers when they start a school is coming to grips with the technologies. Today we are strongly reliant on technology to assist us to do our jobs. Technology in education is used for administration, teaching and learning purposes.

Before a technology induction programme is introduced, it might be useful to survey or interview the new teacher to see whether they have had any knowledge or experiences in using Mac and PC platforms, emailing, Web 2.0 applications, programmes, tools, servers, etc. From there, a tailored programme can be introduced. The use of technology is extremely broad and it would be difficult for any new teacher to learn all aspects at once.

I think it needs to be introduced gradually where you focus on introducing the important aspects first e.g. the administration aspects you use these tools every day such as a server, printer, electronic register, etc. Internet and other programmes can come later. These areas could be ranked in order of importance for the new teacher. The programme could run for a year and new areas could be introduced each term. The ethical issues when introducing a technology induction programme is ensuring the teacher understands the ICT / E-Learning policy and privacy issues of the students regarding images/work being posted on the Internet.