This reflection discusses Kerry’s last lecture for STS. This particular lecture seemed to many of the Grad Dip students to provide that “practical application” advice for which we have all been hungry. I scribbled two pages of notes but have found that the key points have remained foremost in my mind without having to refer to my scribble.

So here is my list of that which ‘sang’ to me:

1. It’s okay to have some things sacred in your classroom.

I was indescribably relieved to hear this kernel. In my prac school, there is a tendencey – nay, epidemic, of that lovely four letter word, starting with F. I have witnessed it slip out unbeknownst and I have witnessed it used in anger, defiance, comedically and with absolute surrender. In discussions with other “praccies” I have had several replies, some simpatico but also others that advise to ignore it. However, I feel pretty passionate that teaching our students’ life skills is just as important as the content; and appropriate behaviour in any situation is a basic life skill that will actually protect and propel them through life. So I tell myself that my aversion to swearing is about safe passage for them and keep it sacred.

2. Develop class rules collaboratively.

This will greatly appeal to the students at my prac school. I think it might also be a good way to establish some kind of relationship with them early on. The nature of of my observations means that I have not been observing the classes I will be teaching so that leads me to number 3 on the list:

3. Take time to develop a relationship with the class.

I am allowing fifteen minutes at the beginning of class to engage in circle time, check ins, ‘Big Wind Blows” and other games to facilitate a positive learning environment where the ‘getting to know you’ stage is mutual. I think the fifteen minutes will better serve the next forty-five minutes. If the students can begin to trust me (or at least consider trusting me) because I spend fifteen minutes engaging their attention, I have a better chance of engaging them in a qualitative manner for the next forty-five minutes.

4. Choose words carefully when speaking with children and think about the impact of those words.

The thought that in twenty years time, a student will recall words that I have spoken, is a weighty responsibility. Let that memory be positive, inspiring, amusing, mildly anecdotal. But please, let me think through what I say before I say it, and avoid being a memory that burns, hurts or unknowingly belittles.