Split Screen Moment

3 Jul

I’m having an interesting split screen moment.  

I haven’t blogged in such a long time.  It’s been partly due to the business of teacher life and projects which fight for priority. But it’s also been much much more personal than that. 

I’ve had lots of ideas.  Lots of exciting, wonderful, challenging, thought-provoking moments.  There have been stories to tell and achievements to celebrate.  But I’ve been paralysed.  

How often do our students feel the same way.  Scared that their ideas are not valuable? That they’ll bore their audience…? That they’re really not very interesting and others are probably thinking about much more exciting things…?

How often do we push for students to speak up? Cheer them on through the tears…? Fight for their opportunity to share their voice…?
The truth is, I’ve been scared.  I’ve been playing it safe.  As teachers, we care so deeply about what we do that letting others in to see our passion is frightening.  But we ask our students to take risks, to be vulnerable, to build relationships and share their passions. 

So, I’m challenging myself to be a risk taker.  In actual fact…despite self doubt and fear of caring too much, I’m presenting two workshops at a conference on the weekend about things which I’m really excited about.  

Am I worried that no one will be interested…? Yes!

Am I scared that I’ll forget what to say or bore my audience? Totally!

But I’m also motivated by the opportunity to share my own experiences of risk taking with my students, to encourage them to care about things and believe in themselves.  

It’s all about relationships, right?

Before You Give Letter Grades, Please Ask Your Students

20 Jan

A great post reminding us of something that is important to think about BEFORE we get to grading time… These conversations about success criteria are powerful ones to have during the learning process. Why do we feel we need to leave talking with kids about assessment until the end of the semester when it’s almost ‘too late’ for them to work on the things we are reporting on? Student-led formative assessment supports students in developing self-assessment skills as well as helping them to see purpose in their class work as they work towards goals that they have personally identified. I think my own blog post on this might need to happen in the not too distant future.

I have had a problem with letters grades for a few years now.  I used to write about it all of the time, and then stopped because I felt like all of the words had been written.  But now, I am back facing having to give letter grades for the semester as my district transitions from them to standards based grades.  All of those old thoughts of why letter grades say so little about a students knowledge, effort, and accomplishment have been hounding me throughout my days as the deadline for giving them nears.  But then I remembered; I need to ask the students what grades they should get.

It is rather simple process.  As a class we discuss what makes an “A?” What should a child be able to do in class and out of it to get that elusive top grade?  What does “A” thinking, writing, reading…

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Classroom Reveal

27 Jun

It has been SUCH a long time since I’ve posted anything.  I guess it just goes to show what a demanding, busy job teaching is.  I am having a lovely year with my beautiful little class and (especially now that reports have gone home) can’t wait to spend a fabulous term 3 with them… Term 3 is my favourite – no reports, great relationships and lots of fun!

I have a couple ideas for things that I would like to share with you during the holidays but in the meantime I would love to share with you some pics of my classroom.  It’s my favourite place in the world!

Below are some pics of what I started with…

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And here are some recent images🙂

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Do you have pictures of your special space? I would love for you to head over to my facebook page and share them🙂

It’s always great to be inspired by other peoples classrooms!

Kath Murdoch on: Planning for inquiry (reblog)

26 Jun

A wonderful blog post by Kath Murdoch dealing with a subject close to my heart – collaboration and planning within the context of an inquiry approach to teaching. Yes, we are student lead and cannot expect to stick rigidly to a plan BUT quality inquiry teaching – where we as teachers are challenged and sharpened by one another – requires that we take the time to plan, reflect and question with one another.


It’s mid-year planning season in many Australian schools. Each term, around this time, I  find myself more often working with small teams of teachers around a planning table rather than in a classroom or at a podium. I admit, it’s one of my favourite things to do. I love the creative energy that inquiry planning demands of us. I love the challenge of connecting the children’s questions and interests with the resources we have, the curriculum and the teacher’s bigger picture view of where he/she wants to taker her students. I also love the fact that, in the schools I am fortunate enough to work in, teachers are prepared to have real conversations about the concepts the children will be exploring. We take time to ask ourselves what WE understand…over the last week I have had fascinating conversations about the nature of ‘work’, the true meaning of sustainability, what the…

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A Joyful Day – Back to School

4 Feb

How would I describe today? JOYFUL!

Well, the words that I started the day with were NERVOUS EXCITEMENT but 5 minutes into having my beautiful class in our room the word was JOYFUL.

I regret that I didn’t do a first day reflection post last year so I have decided to do a quick brain dump for future posterity.

When you receive your class list, they are students that you learn about and make name tags for but when you call their names in assembly and see their smiling faces ready to go and they become ‘yours’.  There is something magical about students walking through the door of their new classroom with their parents – eyes lighting up when they see their name tags and activities to begin the day.

A school tour (even in the freezing winds) was a wonderful way to have a bit of an adventure, give new students with important information and practice working as a team to move quickly and quietly around the school.

A game that I love to begin the year with is “Find someone who…”.  Not only is this a great get-to-know-you activity but it also provides an opportunity for me to suss out students literacy skills, reading and writing.  There is no pressure on students to get things ‘right’ and they just loved interviewing one another.  It was a beautiful chance for my older students to take the younger kids under their wing – helping with spelling and finding people to interview.

We finished the day by brainstorming what we would like the year to look like – things we would like to learn, things that will help our classroom run smoothly and words that we use to describe what our class should be.  I just adore hearing students’ ideas and feeling their growing sense of one-ness.  This is such an exciting conversation to have; knowing that these expectations, expressed by the students, are what will support them in doing their best and being successful in their learning.  The team vibe grew so quickly today and I just cannot wait to nurture it as we create a supportive classroom community.

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So, I am buzzing after a day of laughter, friendship forming and pleasant surprises.  Future self – please remember this day…in all of the nerves, sleepless nights and restless anticipation – remember that meeting your new class is joyful (and exhausting). I love how my dear teaching friend describes it: “It’s like Christmas for teachers; you are given 20 presents to look after for the year”.

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