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3 Alternatives to Report Writing to Maximise Impact on Learning

Nov 02, 2020
Report writing season is here, and teachers are putting in a huge amount of hours in their own time in order to write report comments for each of their students. 
 
A high school teacher has on average between 120 - 150 students at any given time, and has to write a report comment for each of these students. The average report comment is about 100 words long, so that means that teachers are writing between 12,000 - 15,000 words at report-writing time. 
 
If you are in the zone and can focus and concentrate without interruptions for a large chunk of time, it takes at least 10 hours to write this many report comments. However, as teachers are often trying to write comments in between doing a multitude of other tasks, it can often take much longer than this. Then you have to add more time for proof-reading and editing which can take just as long. 
 
Primary teachers are in a similar position, as even though they have less students, they need to write...
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How to reduce your marking load whilst increasing the impact of feedback.

Oct 19, 2020
Marking must be one of the universally most dreaded part of a teacher’s job. So many hours have been spent at home and on the weekends tediously marking a seemingly never-ending pile of student assessments and homework, and painstakingly writing meaningful, individual feedback for each student. 
 
Whilst assessment is a necessary part of teaching, unfortunately studies have shown that most feedback given by teachers on assessment tasks do not make much of an impact on student learning. If you are lucky, students may read your written feedback but will not implement it in any way. Often, by the time they get the feedback (as it may take you a week or two to mark), they have well and truly moved onto the next topic, therefore your feedback is not really relevant anymore. 
 
What is really important is that you are providing regular, informal assessment so that students can implement your feedback to make improvements BEFORE a formal/ summative...
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How teachers can take control over their professional learning

Oct 12, 2020
Teachers are the ultimate life-long learners. We obviously value education so highly that we decided to become an integral part of the education system. It makes sense then that we would also value professional learning and development. 
 
Our profession also requires us to undertake a certain number of hours of professional development in order to maintain our registration. In order to make sure their employees stay registered, schools have ‘staff development’ days at the beginning or end of term, which are compulsory for staff to attend, where they either conduct their own in-house professional development, or they get a consultant to come in and deliver something. 
 
However, whilst some schools do ensure that their staff get access to high quality professional learning, there can be sometimes be problems with the type of professional development that many teachers have access to within their school settings, including: 
  • It is often a...
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6 ways to create positive learning environments in your classroom

Oct 05, 2020
Today I had a great chat with Atama @teachers.trove on Instagram, all about how to establish positive learning environments (you can watch the full video here). He is a primary school teacher in Auckland, New Zealand, and feels very strongly about this topic - it was a great discussion. 
 
Positive learning environments are critical to effective teaching and learning. I am reminded here of the saying ‘kids need to Maslow before they can Bloom’. In other words, we need to ensure that our student’s basic needs such as safety, security, belonging and self-esteem are met before any effective learning can take place (this is something that we explore in much more depth inside of the Transformational Teachers Academy).
 
We often hear a lot about ‘behaviour management’ - but how much control can we as teachers really have over our students' behaviour? There might be some systems and techniques that we can use to help things run more smoothly in...
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The Social Dilemma - what does this mean for our classrooms?

Sep 29, 2020
Netflix has just released a new documentary called ‘The Social Dilemma’ and it is making waves. It dives into our use of social media, or rather, social media’s usage of us. 
 
That’s right - IT uses US. WE are the product. 
 
The amount of data gathered on us, based on our activity on social media is huge. This data is then used to influence us, whether it be by companies to buy their products, or to vote certain ways in elections for example, without us even being aware of it. 
 
Apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tiki Tok, Twitter, and so on are designed in order to keep us addicted to using them, so that we spend more time on them, therefore giving them more data on us. 
 
Whilst there have been some positive impacts of social media, there are many negative implications for the future of our society: 
  • Mental health: there has been a rise in depression, anxiety and suicide within the teen population that...
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How to get your dream teaching job in 5 steps

Sep 22, 2020
It’s that time of year right now when many teachers and graduate teachers are busy trying to put together applications for teaching positions that will be available as of next year. 
 
Job applications as a teacher can be time consuming, confusing, and somewhat daunting. Teachers’ lives are busy enough, without needing to find the time to write job applications. To make it even more difficult, how you write your application can depend on the type of school, as public, private and Catholic systems all have different expectations, and it also depends on the state that you live in. However, there is a school out there somewhere that is the right fit for you - it’s just a matter of finding it, and then putting your best foot forward so that the school realises just how valuable you will be to them. 
 
Step 1 - What do you want? 
When seeking your dream job, you need to first of all put some serious thought into what it is...
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7 ways that learning intentions and success criteria will make your life easier and improve student outcomes

Sep 09, 2020
 
Professor John Hattie’s concept of ‘Visible learning’ is all about making the learning process more transparent and accessible to students, so that students are better able to navigate and regulate their own learning. In order to do this, we need to make sure that we are providing learning intentions and success criteria to our students at all times. 
 
Let’s start out by briefly defining what each of these are: 
 
A learning intention is synonymous with a learning goal or objective. It outlines what the student will be learning during that particular lesson, and will typically begin with ‘we are learning how to/ why/ about, etc'
 
Success criteria provide the means by which the learning that has taken place can be measured or evaluated. Students and teachers can use success criteria to determine if the learning intention has been addressed successfully. Success criteria must include instructional words to indicate the...
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27 book recommendations that will change the way you think about teaching

Aug 24, 2020
One of the best things you can do for your teaching practice is to keep educating yourself on new ideas and strategies. Lately I’ve been on a mission to read as many books as I can, and I have been posting summaries of some of them on the blog (I’ll post links to them below). Last week I posted this question to a few different teacher Facebook groups: 
‘What book has made the biggest impact on your teaching practice?’ 
I had so many amazing responses, and I am going to be kept very busy trying to get through them all! I’ve put a list of all of them together in the one place, and I thought I would share them here for you so that you can also check them out. 
 
  1. Concept-Based Inquiry is a framework for inquiry that promotes deep understanding. The key is using guiding questions to help students inquire into concepts and the relationships between them. Concept-Based Inquiry in...
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Book review - Teaching for Tomorrow by Michael McQueen

Aug 14, 2020

"If we teach today's students as we taught yesterdays, we rob them of tomorrow." John Dewey. 

Michael McQueen is an Australian futurist and trend forecaster, that advises all kinds of industries all around the world on how to future-proof their businesses. His book, 'Teaching for Tomorrow', focuses on the education industry, and what it needs to do in order to ensure that students are effectively prepared for the future, and contains some excellent insights that we, as teachers, can take onboard.

The key skills that McQueen identifies as being essential for future success are: 

  • Self-direction: an increasing percentage of the workforce will be self-employed or in freelance roles in the future. Furthermore, employers will be looking for employees that don't have to be 'managed' - rather they want people who are life-long learners, who take risks, challenge themselves and grow in order to stay relevant in an age of fast-paced change. Current obstacles to...
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Future Focused Skills - Igniting curiosity in the classroom

Aug 02, 2020
 
Future Focused Teaching & Learning is all about helping to prepare students for the future, as most of the jobs that they will have don’t even exist yet. In order to prepare them effectively, we need to equip them with important 21st century skills so that they can be resilient, adaptable, and deal with future problems or challenges that may arise.
Every month I will focus on one ‘future focused’ skill, where I outline what the skill is, why it is important, and what kind of strategies and techniques can be used to develop them in the classroom. 
 
Curiosity is something that young kids have in spades - constantly asking ‘why’? They are real little philosophers aren’t they. From ‘why is the sky blue?’, to ‘why do we die?’. Curiosity is not something that needs to be taught - it is something that all humans possess naturally. It’s an important part of our development, in...
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