Peaceful compliance or noisy engagement?

Mar 13, 2020
What would you prefer to see in your classroom? Peaceful compliance or noisy engagement? 
Often, behaviour management is all about achieving peaceful compliance - that is the goal. Students completing the set work in order to avoid negative consequences. And yes, this is much better than a chaotic, off-task classroom for sure. 
I used to work in an all-girls private school, and here peaceful compliance was the norm. These girls LOVED PowerPoints and worksheets - because they knew how to comply with this. For them, it was a simple as listening, note-taking and then completing the activities. It was in their comfort zone, and it didn’t take a huge amount of effort or brain power. If you didn’t want them to talk, you asked them not to, and they complied (I know, this is the dream right?!). But you know what else it could be? BORING! And the minute that you did ask them to step outside of their comfort zone and try something different, or actually do...
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Engaging your students - what teachers can learn from social media influencers.

Mar 09, 2020
Social media influencers are in a constant race to gain followers and capture the attention of their audience - and in this world of constant scrolling, it is a struggle to keep someones attention for more than 10 seconds.
High school teachers, on the other hand spend on average around 4-5 hours a week with approximately 150 students throughout the year. There is so much potential here to use this time to 'influence' our students (although a better word might be 'impact'). However, whilst we are guaranteed this face-to-face time with our students, the struggle can often be keeping their attention, and more importantly, their interest, as this makes all the difference to their learning and the impact that we can have.
First, lets look at some of the features of successful social media influencers: 
  • Data analysis - social media influencers love their data. They use it to work out what demographic their audience is, what their interests are, what their...
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Getting through your first year of teaching

Mar 06, 2020

The first year of teaching is tough - kind of like a trial by fire kind of tough. It's such a shame that 1 in 6 teachers quit in their first year of teaching, and 1 in 3 quit after 5 years. 

I remember my first year of teaching being one of the biggest challenges of my life - it was pretty much just about survival. But the good news is that you can get through it, and once you do, it gets easier every year. 

My first teaching placement was in a 'hard to staff' school in the city, and boy was it hard. There were many students with behavioural issues and learning difficulties. I remember the first parent-teacher night, and I had requested around 60 interviews (yep that's how many students I had serious concerns about), and only 2 parents showed up. What hope did I have if there was no support from parents? 

I was told by my head of department that the best approach was 'don't smile until Christmas' (this is the worst advice by the way). It felt terrible, like I had...

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What are future focused skills?

Feb 13, 2020
Our world is changing rapidly, at an unprecedented speed. Our students will be entering a very different workforce, and a world full of various environmental, political, social and economic challenges, by the time they finish school. The teaching practices that may have served us well in the past may no longer be relevant for the current generation. 
So what are the skills that will be critical to students for their future success? How can we best prepare our students to deal with the unique challenges and issues that they will face? These are all questions that we need to be asking ourselves. It is our duty as teachers to ensure that we are adequately equipping our students with these skills, by allowing opportunity to develop them at all times. 
How to do this is undoubtably an important question. Many of us are already overwhelmed by the amount of content that the curriculum requires us to teach, and the mere thought of trying to allow...
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End of year reflection - 2019

Dec 22, 2019
As the year (and decade!) comes to an end, it’s a great time to reflect on how the year has gone before setting goals for the new year. 
Reflection is such a worthwhile thing to do, as sometimes I feel like I haven’t really achieved all that much, but when I really stop and think about it I can be amazed at what I have managed to do in the space of a year. 
Whilst its very useful to reflect on each of your teaching programs and make note of any changes that you would like to make for the next year, I’m more talking about your growth as a teacher in general here. '
Some questions that you could ask yourself would be: 
  • How did you react to challenging situations? 
  • Did you step outside of your comfort zone? 
  • Did you challenge yourself? 
  • Were there any limiting beliefs that held you back from doing something you wanted? 
  • In what ways did you grow or transform?
  • What was something new that you...
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Book Review: A Whole New Mind - why right brainers will rule the future by Daniel Pink

Dec 20, 2019
Daniel Pink’s ‘A Whole New Mind’ is a must-read book for all of the future focused teachers out there. He delves into the science regarding how the left and right hemisphere’s of the brain work, and explains why a ‘whole new mind’ is going to be needed in the future. 
To briefly summarise, Pink outlines how in the past (and especially since the Industrial Revolution), we have relied predominantly on the left hemisphere of the brain. This is the part of the brain responsible for logic, sequencing, reason, reading, writing, maths and so on. Most jobs during this time has heavily relied on these skills. Then, moving out of factory work into more of what he calls the ‘knowledge era’ - think lawyers, engineers, doctors, etc, we further relied on the left side of the brain. 
However, the world - and the economy - is changing (or has already changed). Just as many people working in factories in the western world have...
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What will Australia be like in 2060? A report by the CSIRO.

Dec 19, 2019
This year, the CSIRO  published a report to address the question: 
‘What will Australia be like economically, socially and environmentally in 2060?’ 
The report outlines 6 key challenges that Australia will face over the next 40 years: 
  • Rise of Asia: by 2030, the Asia-Pacific region will be home to 65% of the world’s middle class. 
  • Technological change: the rise of artificial intelligence, automation, and biotechnology will impact heavily on the nature of work. **This has huge implications for education**
  • Climate change and environment: unprecedented global warming will take place, resulting in social, economic and environmental stress. Soil health will continue to decline. 
  • Demographics: both the growing population, and the ageing population, will put pressure on existing services. 
  • Trust: people don’t really trust government anymore. They also...
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How to deal with curriculum overwhelm

Dec 09, 2019
Does the mere thought of ‘covering’ the curriculum make you anxious? Overwhelmed? Stressed? Me too. I hate that word, ‘covering’ -  it seems like we are just going through the motions, ‘ticking off’ each content descriptor as quickly as possible, just so that we can move on to the next one. It seems relentless sometimes, and there just seems to be SO MUCH CONTENT to teach. 
Whew. Deep breath. What if there might be a better way? Because I think there is, and I think that taking a future-focused approach is key. By focusing on the skills first, and making project based learning the vehicle through which both skills and knowledge can be developed together. 
I always thought that in order to cover the curriculum, that it was necessary to teach each content descriptor equally, or to the same depth (which often wasn’t very deep due to time constraints). In addition, each subject within my learning area (Humanities...
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Being a future focused teacher

Nov 21, 2019
So, what exactly is ‘future focused teaching and learning’, and why is there a need for it? 
Well, the main concern is that we are not preparing kids for their future effectively. Many teachers have followed the ‘20th century’ way of teaching - the classroom typically is set up with desks facing the front of the room, or maybe in groups, with the teacher up the front of the classroom delivering the information (albeit with new technology such as a projector screen or interactive whiteboard), conducting question and answer sessions, and directing students though a series of activities, perhaps involving a textbook or worksheet, or an electronic version on their device. Students consume knowledge and are required to reproduce it in varying ways, however rarely actually do or create anything new with this knowledge - they are merely assessed to determine if they ‘know’ it, and then this knowledge is presumably stored up for...
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