Tuesday, February 25, 2020

I will wait, I will wait for you (Mumford and Sons)

Photo by Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash
Currently, there is some lively debate happening within my school around the 'lesson' (teacher led activities) versus 'study' (student directed activities). 

Mainly we are thinking about the balance that is needed for each. What we have agreed, as a school, is that it needs to be flexible,  and it shouldn't be 100% anything.  

However, it wouldn't be teaching if everyone had the same opinion. Each teacher appears to have taken a different approach. And everyone tends to think that their approach is the right one. Interesting.

During my reflecting on all this, I remembered this useful info-graphic.
I like this and it's worth keeping in mind for a few reasons:

  • The student is at the centre, with specific and individualised goals, needs and preferences
  • Self paced implies a lot of student directed activities (study) rather than a lot of teacher led activities, I think
  • The one on one teacher tutorials are an important part of the process
  • Feedback is a key ingredient (John Hattie agrees)

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right (Stealers Wheel)

Photo by Windows on Unsplash

The current buzzword in education, and the focus of my teacher inquiry.

So far, it feels like doing stuff I've done for a while.

I'll backtrack for you: 

Meddler In The Middle is the latest craze because it builds on and/or discards two other popular sayings (the horribly rhyming Sage On The Stage and Guide On The Side).

Each of the three is presented as a model of teaching. The sage is familiar to us all from our university days, and that photo above, but I see echoes of it in some teaching via zoom - notably when a teacher talks for 50 minutes delivering content. Understandably, students hate it.

The guide model is, I guess, seen as a passive one, and that's maybe the danger.

While meddler feels more modern, and I do like it more as it continues the thrust of teaching as a subversive activity. 

Because the meddler is busy asking these kinds of questions (and yes, they are familiar - I have used them before) -
  1. What do you think? This allows students to make sense of and apply new information 
  2. Why do you think that? This pushes them to provide reasoning for their thinking.
  3. How do you know this?
  4. Can you tell me more? This inspire students to extend their thinking and share further evidence for their ideas.
  5. What questions do you still have? 
More meddling to come - did I mention it's my teacher inquiry? As you will be aware, I like to unravel my thoughts via the blog. Caio.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

You say goodbye and I say hello (The Beatles)

Photo by Kristina Paparo on Unsplash
Teaching is such a transitory profession: people come, people go.

I've just heard news of two colleagues in other campuses, both excellent teachers, resigning from our organisation - OneSchool Global, a private school, to head off onto pastures new.

Last week, it was time to offer a sad farewell to a staff member at one of my campuses, who is moving back into the state system. Our students and staff had emotional morning teas and a farewell assembly to see her off with style.

And yet, when one door closes, another one opens.

Staff, like me eventually, will be replaced. Fact of life.

What to do when new people come onboard the crazy train?

John Boitnott has got that covered.

Here are his ten techniques, mainly dealing with establishing good working relationships that aren't covered in the normal orientation procedure.

I've pulled out a few (is four a few? Not sure) I think are the most worthy of a try.

Get coffee

We have a great coffee machine in the staff room, but we also have The 13th Stag coffee shop nearby - great for a social quick coffee or lunch to get away from the hurley burley.

Send them on a scavenger hunt

Give newbies (or the whole staff) a list of tasks, like finding an employee who’s been with us the longest/shortest time,  or who likes to cook, or has the most Beatles records. I've used a colleague's selfie challenge a few times now and it works a treat as a fun icebreaker activity.  

Give them a meaningful gift

OSG does the company branded gift thing really well.

Set them up right

Boitnott: It might sound simple, but take the time to ensure that employees are set up with all of the right software, a functional email account, login accounts and passwords. Ideally, do this before they arrive for their first day. If new employees lack these important tools, it can lead to frustration, delays and a slow start. 
We need to lift our game on this one.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Big man, pig man - haha, charade you are (Pink Floyd)

Being back in the classroom is tremendous fun!

Today's lesson with my Year 9 English class started off with a slight growl about some immature behaviour. That settled things down and I was able to launch into a great activity that the students embraced whole heartedly.

I walked out of the class feeling on cloud 9.

I've been at this game for 36 years now, so I know it's a roller coaster. Tomorrow could be a frustrating exercise in frustration. That's the deal.

During my supervision of the Year 10 English today (yes, I'm also the Principal of two campuses and covering two Learning Centres this term = needs must) their lesson was on literary devices.

Reminded me of this great collection of 21 rhetorical devices. Suffice to say none of these 21 came up in today's lesson, but you may enjoy checking them out

Oh yes indeedy, English is FUN.  

Thursday, February 6, 2020

From my window I'm staring while my coffee grows cold. Look over there! (Where?) (Joe Jackson)

Photo by Julia Kuzenkov on Unsplash
Seth Godin's blog usually has some thought provoking material worth sharing.

Here's his latest, which has me a tad baffled:

“But I can see it!”

Which is closer, the sun or Buffalo, NY?
Something might be vivid and clear and right in our face, but that doesn’t mean it’s nearby or accessible.
If you’re seeking to get things done, looking for the attainable but hidden opportunities is a productive strategy.
On the other hand, if you’re a leader, seeking to inspire, it helps to focus on an iconic goal, one that’s always present, right over there.

Hmmm. An iconic goal. Right over there. Where?

Sunday, February 2, 2020

February made me shiver with every paper I'd deliver (Don McLean)

During February this year (a leap year means it's 29 days before March) I've decided to embrace Austin Kleon's idea of a 29 day challenge.

My challenge is to say a sincere thank you each day to someone at school (my two campuses or elsewhere) who has added positively to my existence on planet Earth.

My first one was to thank Karen Boyes and Meg Gallagher for the daily inspiration they provide via a Facebook group that Meg created.

The second was to our brilliant Year 3 and 4 teacher who brings joy and, via some exceptional teaching, quality learning experiences to her students on a daily basis.

Will you be my third?

Austin's PDF is up top. Feel free to do your own 29 day challenge (and LMK how it goes huh).