My brother, a trainee teacher at Waikato University, has just left to head back to Hamilton and his visit raised some intriguing reflections for me. We discussed teaching at length, he has lots of questions based on 2 weeks of training and 10 years of working in education in Japan, plus today I showed him through HPPS. After seeing the school he asked a legitimate question that sometimes I find a bit of a mind boggler: "How did you get a job here?"
I'm only in my 4th year of teaching and my first position was in a school which feels like it was at the complete other end of the continuum from where I now spend my days. I'm lucky, I came to primary education via a few years working in a Private Training Institute. PIHMS (or the Pacific International Hotel Management School) was a simulated hotel environment, the students ran the restaurant, front office, events, did the house keeping & attended classes to learn the theory as well. Being in this hands-on environment was a real challenge teaching tourism, marketing & events. How do you make the theory real for these students? Lecture style simply won't cut it amongst these students. When I compare these students to my primary classes there are some obvious comparisons, variety of learner styles, multicultural classroom, ESOL students and a genuine desire to see the reason for what they're learning. The comparison is useful, HPPS has a lot of quite attractive features to anyone on the outside, but the harsh reality is that the learning still needs to take place and it is our job as learning advisors to make this learning happen. Another comparison that is useful between these two learning environments is the effort we were putting in at PIHMS to understand our learner and how they were changing, I remember reading a book on Generation Y, attending a conference aimed at teaching in this hands-on environment to this learner style. It was worthwhile learning that put me in a good space as the use of different management styles was definitely at the forefront of the topic.
In my first 3 years as a teacher I was empowered to pursue alternative methods for teaching, as I became more confident and passionate about what I did I have become more visible across the social media landscape. Clearly, I'm an active blogger, tweeter, pinner, use Google+, YouTube and have taken part in a few online seminars. All this has helped, I believe, to get myself to HPPS. It demonstrates a willingness to be proactive about my own development and share my learning with others. But I still have to be a good teacher, I think the experience of a tertiary hands-on environment was integral in my development and I had great support at PIHMS to help with this. Once in the primary sector, supervised freedoms were valuable and my DP and Mentor Teacher were always ready to keep me grounded.
Joining the HPPS team is a massive step for anyone and I can empathise with Danielle when she blogs about the underbelly at HPSS or always feeling like a BT.
I still pinch myself when I realise this is now my school, I'm eager to face the challenge of the high expectations, I wouldn't have come otherwise, but it is scary!