This is my confession. Hi, my name is Megan and I am a hypocrite.
Why? I have been pushing with students at HPSS the importance of self-assessing and reflecting on learning, I stood in front of my learning community at Hobsonville Point Secondary and extolled the virtues of “looking back to look forward”, of the power of their voice as an assessment agent. Yet, I haven’t written a blog for well over a month and have instead attacked my “to-do” list like a marathon runner who can see the finish line in sight.
FYI – for me that is only a metaphor, having never been involved in anything that could resemble a marathon.
Where has my reluctance to reflect come from? I woke up early this morning and couldn’t get that question out of my head. I think that there are several factors. One has been the dreaded to-do list, and the reality that some of that stuff was very important and actually did need to get done, as a result I lost sight of why reflecting was important. That it is a valuable use of my time and an important part of my learning. Yesterday, I cracked a KAMAR related problem, with online help, which had been plaguing me and several other staff members for weeks. I was elated, that had been a good use of my time. I’m not going to apologise for all of the hours of planning, making mistakes, working with the KAMAR people that led us to this point. Instead, I am going to reflect on the fact that shorter, less exciting summaries of my learning journey – even at that point – would have helped me to process my thinking.
Another reason has been that I haven’t been able to trust my voice over the last term. I’ve really struggled with one of my modules, and have felt completely incompetent and useless, I wasn’t ready to write about that and share how I was (and to be honest am) feeling about teaching well outside of my learning areas, to have the realisation that all those academics were right, there is a fundamental difference between content knowledge (which I have) and pedagogical content knowledge (which I don’t). A lesson two weeks ago brought me to a puddle of tears as I stood there thinking “I don’t know how to help you” as students floundered and struggled to figure out the problem/challenge I had set for them (the tears came the next morning, did manage to keep it together until there were no students around). I have never been in a situation where I felt so incompetent.
Another reason is end-of-term-itis. For me, this has been impacted by my usual trick of leaving for the northern hemisphere a few days early (adding to the rush), of solving problems by reverting to my default position of “I can fix it so I know it gets done on time”, and of trading hours in the school term (weekends, late nights, early mornings) for the promised land of two weeks exploring, not working, and relaxing on my overseas holiday. I kept thinking, I’m going to reflect on this in the holidays, I’ll take my draft reflections which I have been storing up and turn them into something good that people want to read.
But I know that if I don’t reflect on my feelings around my teaching, or give reflecting the kudos and gravitas it needs, I will wallow in a pit. What brought me out of the pit? My wonderful critical friend at HPSS, the realisation that the awful module was nearly over (it is the end of the term), the fact that our students so honestly and thoughtfully reflect on their learning and, if they have bought into my vision around empowering students through assessment, why can’t I?
They are learning in a new way, in a new school environment. I promise that reflecting will help them. Yet I am no different, I am nearly one year in on my journey as a learner at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. I’m learning in a new way, in a new environment, teaching like I have never done before, using my time in completely new ways. Of course, I need to reflect.
Right now, I feel like less of a fraud. Over and out.