A new way of supporting teachers

Jul 06, 2020
I’m so excited to share with you something that I have been working on for quite a while now. 
I started Future Focused Teaching & Learning for a couple of main reasons. The first was that I wanted to continue making an impact on the world, and contribute towards creating better outcomes for our students, as well as future generations. The second was that I wanted to find a way to help as many teachers as I can, because I know what a challenging and demanding job teaching can be. The fact that 1 in 3 teachers quit within their first 5 years is testament to the fact that there is a huge lack of support out there. So many teachers unfortunately become run down, burnt out, overwhelmed, frustrated, disillusioned, or a bit lost along the way. 
My first year of teaching was pretty tough (if you want to read more about it, go here), but no doubt very similar to what thousands of other first year teachers go through. The experience of first year...
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On a mission - the value of a good mission statement to guide your teaching career

Jul 02, 2020
When I was studying to become a teacher at university, I remember that one of the assignments was to write a mission statement, that outlined why I chose to become a teacher and what it was that I hoped to achieve. I remember it being a really worthwhile task, as whilst I knew that I wanted to become a teacher and had an idea of why that was, this assignment gave me the chance to articulate it in detail. It pushed me to delve deep and really consider my values, beliefs, motivations, hopes and dreams. 
Unfortunately, I now have no idea where that mission statement ended up. It’s such a shame, as I would really love to be able to re-read it and look back on it. I’m sure some of my statements may have been somewhat naive and some of my values and beliefs may have changed over time, but it would be really interesting none-the-less. 
Looking back on it, I now know that I underestimated the value of having a mission statement that I could regularly...
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Future Focused Skills: Problem Solving

Jun 22, 2020
Future Focused Teaching & Learning is all about helping to prepare students for a successful future, however many 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. 
The skill of the month for June 2020 is real-world problem solving. 
As the name suggests, real-world problem solving is all about tackling authentic, relevant problems that exist in the real world today, and into the future. Some examples include: 
  • Climate change
  • Food security
  • Water scarcity
  • Racism 
  • Gender...
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Future Focused Issue - Zoonotic Viruses

Jun 16, 2020
Part of the mission here at Future Focused Teaching and Learning is helping teachers to create a better world for future generations. In order to do this, we need to delve into the types of issues our future generations will face so that we can have more of an idea on how to prepare them. 
Each month we will focus on one future focused issue. A future focused issue is a problem, challenge, obstacle or hope for the future, that our students will likely have to deal with within their lifetimes. We will discuss what the issue is, why it is a problem and why it is important that we equip students with the skills and knowledge to tackle it. We will also discuss ways that these issues can be incorporated into the curriculum, in order to make learning more relevant and meaningful for our students. 
June 2020
This month, we will discuss the topical issue of viruses. At the moment, the world has been in...
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'Limitless' by Jim Kwik - a book review for teachers

Jun 10, 2020
Jim Kwik’s new book ‘Limitless’ is a great book for any teacher to read, because it is primarily focusing on ‘learning how to learn’. Kwik believes that this is the most important skill that we should be developing within our students, because in order to succeed in the future workforce, our students will need to become self-regulated, life-long learners, capable of adapting and learning new skills when required. The fact is that we are trying to prepare our students for jobs that don’t even exist yet, so anything that is going to help them be able to navigate this uncertain future is going to be beneficial. 
The main premise of the book is that everyone’s potential is limitless, with the right mindset, motivation and methods. He then goes on to focus on each of these three areas throughout the book. 
First he delves into mindset and explains the important of mindset and how to develop a more beneficial mindset that...
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Book review - The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

May 26, 2020
“Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are - your guide to a wholehearted life” 
This is a gem of a book that is SOOOO applicable to teachers - both in how they live their own lives, and also in regards to how we should be teaching our students. 
Brown goes through the findings of her research regarding what it takes in order to live a ‘whole-hearted life’ - if we are to help to develop ‘the whole person’ in our students, then the wisdom that this book offers is very relevant. 
If we are to guide our students to be their true selves and to follow their dreams and their passions, and to fulfil their purpose, then the guidance in this book is very relevant. 
If we are to teach our students to embrace failures, to learn from their mistakes and to take risks, then this book is very relevant. 
If we are to help our students to develop a growth mindset, so that...
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How to get the most out of your teaching practicum - a guide for pre-service teachers.

May 17, 2020
It’s that time of year when teaching pracs are about to begin! First of all, can I just say how amazing it is that you have chosen this career path. To be able to make a difference in another person’s life is so rewarding, and as a teacher you will get the opportunity to do this every day for so many of your students.  
Teaching pracs are an invaluable part of teacher training and it’s important that you get the most out of the experience. I have mentored a number of prac/ pre-service teachers in the past, so I thought I would put together a list of handy tips that will hopefully make your prac less stressful and more rewarding. 
  1. Be intentional - before you start your prac, think about what you want to get out of it. Are there any particular areas of focus for you?  Write out some goals, and when you meet your mentor teacher, let them know about them, and ask for feedback on those areas regularly. If you aren’t sure what...
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Phenomenon based learning in Finland

Apr 29, 2020
Finland has gained a world-wide reputation for it’s educational system after repeatedly performing well in the PISA rankings, as well as it's high level of teacher job satisfaction and retention. Other attractive things about the Finnish education system include the level of respect and autonomy given to teachers, the lack of standardised testing, shorter school days and a more flexible curriculum. As a result of this, many educational researchers have studied the Finnish education system in order to see if their principles can be applied elsewhere in the world.
A somewhat recent initiative in Finland is the mandatory incorporation of Phenomenon Based Learning (PhBL) into the curriculum. This involves choosing real-world phenomena to study, such as ‘human’, ‘water’, or ‘energy’. It is integrated across learning areas and includes the use of inquiry, problem based and project based learning. All subjects are taught within the...
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Utilising a 'flipped classroom' approach

Apr 18, 2020
Have you ever tried a ’flipped classroom’ approach to teaching your students? It can be a really useful way of maximising the benefits of class time with your students. 
Traditionally, content is delivered in the classroom by the teacher, and students are given homework questions that are designed to help them process the content learnt during the lesson. Flipped learning reverses this model - instead, content is delivered either via reading, recorded video, or audio, to be consumed at home during ‘homework time’, and then the lesson time is used to help students process the information. There are various benefits of this: 
  1. If students miss a class, they can easily catch up on important content. 
  2. When content is delivered in class, students may become distracted or lost.  With flipped learning, students can pause, rewind or rewatch as needed.  
  3. When students are completing homework questions, they may run into obstacles...
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Success criteria for assessment

Apr 15, 2020

Part of visible learning is making sure that students are aware of what they need to be able to do in order to demonstrate the learning that was intended. This helps to make the learning process more transparent, and gives students more ability to set learning goals and monitor their own progress. 

Success criteria are basically the judging standards used to determine if a learning intention has been achieved. When conducting assessments (be they formal or informal), it is useful to provide students with a success criteria rubric in advance of the assessment so that they know what will be expected and have a better idea of how to prepare. 

By putting success criteria in a rubric, it shows students what they need to be able to do or know in order to achieve a certain grade. This is helpful for students when they are goal setting, as it makes it clear to them what they need to do in order to meet their goal (such as move from a C to a B grade for example). It is also...

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