PD Hours: 1:00-4:00pm Presentation Time, and additional hours for creating content for this presentation, research and preparations.
Trish Tynan, an EAL/D specialist and IPSHA Network Hub President, from St Peter’s Girls School and myself, Jade Peartree, EAL/D Teacher, from St Andrew’s Primary School, have collaborated to present at the 2022, IPSHA EAL/D Collegial Group Meeting.
Please see the agenda attached below. We presented about all things EAL/D in the Independent School Sector including:
Data Collection and Assessments
Enrolment Processes for EAL/D families
The Teaching & Learning Cycle
Quality teaching and assessing using LEAP levels (Learning English: Achievement and Proficiency) and ACARA National Literacy Learning Progressions, using Moderation Benchmarks.
Sharing Digital Tools and Resources we can use with EAL/D students, including examples like Seesaw, Lexia, and Humanoid Robots.
This was my first time presenting to the EAL/D community. I have had previous experiences running professional development opportunities about digital technologies but this was different. I have been an EAL/D teacher since 2020, I am new to this area of teaching and learning and Trish Tynan has been my mentor for the last few years. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to collaborate with Trish and gain insights into the EAL/D profession. I have learnt a lot from Trish, especially in regards to our school processes for enrolments and the importance of data collection.
Whilst the PD itself was only 4 hours, there was a lot of behind the scenes work. Trish and I had multiple Zoom meetings to go over the content for the presentation. We created the Google Slide together and discussed the areas we would cover individually. Time was allocated to go over our own documentation, provide samples and evidence ready for the participants to view and engage with. We also set up digital files for our participants to have access to once the day was over, including assessment tools, the curriculum documents like the ACARA National Literacy Learning Progressions and the LEAP Level documents.
The experience for me was reaffirming that I am developing and building a solid EAL/D Programme within our school context. The feedback from my EAL/D colleagues was positive and supportive.
Below is the link to the LEAP Level documents which we use in the EAL/D Programme, and I have also attached the assessment tracking sheets. My next goal is to share these documents with all teaching staff at my own school. These would assist with planning, teaching and assessing for the benefit of our EAL/D students.
Today we began our St Andrew’s inquiry journey with Kath Murdoch! To say I am excited is an understatement! I wrote five pages worth of notes (sadly, I’m not kidding!). Here is a summary of the day and my key take aways that I think are worth sharing.
Cannot wait to continue the process together as a staff. There were so many wonderful moments from today’s PD, it is impossible to document them all. I will say that it felt like having professional conversations with a friend, everyone was open minded, eager to contribute and passionate about the topic at hand. Aren’t we lucky to have such a great opportunity to work with great minds.
What is Inquiry?
Kath described inquiry as such, “The essence of inquiry is absolutely about wonder, curiosity and seeking answers to our questions”. Inquiry is a way of being, a stance. It is not a subject or a lesson. Inquiry is a sustained, perpetual curiosity. Cultivate this curiosity.
What does inquiry based learning mean to you? (my reflection)
Discovering answers to our questions
Exploring ideas, questions and concepts
Forming understandings through an inquiry process
Lessons from today’s session:
These were four of the practices for inquiry teaching and learning that we focussed on today. These come from Kath Murdoch’s The Art of Inquiry cards.
Cultivating Curiosity: When do we give children the opportunity to share their curiosity and wonderings? Not just classroom topical wonderings, their life wonderings.What materials and opportunities do we provide in our classrooms to spark that curiosity? Try to be that genuine person who shows interest in their curiosities and share your own curiosities.
Notice: The practice of noticing, it is such a significant part of the inquiry teachers repertoire. If I stay curious I am better at noticing. What helps us to notice? Slowing down, observing, taking time to have individual conversations with students. Have space to get inside student thinking.
What gets in the way? Over planning, noticing but not having time to dig deeper or address this.
Grow Learning Assets:Changing the word “work” to “learning”. “We need to finish our work: becomes “We need to continue with our learning”. Creating an awareness of building a learning toolkit, developing skills for learning and focusing on those Approaches to Learning in our inquiry journey. Using the What & How Method (see below)
Release: We need to release responsibility, give students the opportunity to do the heavy lifting themselves. Who owns the learning? Children have the right to own their own learning. Be responsive to those moment in your classroom. Give yourself permission to go with the flow. What can I release myself from? What do I leave behind and how can I move forward? What will best serve my students? I owe it to myself and my students to release.Flipping the gradual release model to rapid release.
The practice I will be focussing on first is “Grow Learning Assets” but I was also very much drawn to “Release”. One step at a time! Slow down.
Grow Learning Assets and the What? & How? Method.
The what is what we are learning about, the how is an approach to learning skill.
Eg. What: What can we do to help others belong? How: As thinkers, how can we analyse information to understand it better.
I will use the What and How method to actively engage my students in their awareness in their learning and inquiry process.
I work in small groups or 1:1 with EAL/D students. I wonder, in a classroom setting is it easier to release? When working in small groups for language intervention and support, we have goals for our non-English speaking learners, based on their lack of language and communication skills, we need to assist and model a lot of the language and learning. How can I employ more of my inquiry based teaching skills in what I do?
I already use a play-based approach. Usually I set up a provocation or something to play with that will naturally encourage conversations and play. These playful scenes usually mirror their own classroom settings, or units of inquiry to help front load some vocabulary. From here we introduce new vocabulary and practise saying new words, sentences and phrases that accompany that type of play. I play alongside the learner and model the language. This is a starting point and I am eager to explore this further in our future sessions with Kath.
Schools are People Places: Building Trust is Essential
By Steve Francis
Today we had a staff professional development day about the importance of building trust in our work place and finding a good work life satisfaction and balance. I really enjoyed today’s PD and found it quite useful to have time to reflect on our current skills and what we could do to improve our individual situations. We also spent time unpacking effective teams and how to work efficiently and collaboratively.
Here are some of my notes and take aways from today’s session:
People Skills vs Technical Skills. In our profession you require people skills to be successful.
How do we build trust relationships?
Having credibility in other people’s eyes. 4 Cores: Character & Competence
Integrity (Do you do what you say you’re going to do?),
Intention (What they think our intentions are, assumptions about our intentions),
Results (Do we deliver, do we follow through with what we plan to do?)
Building Trust Relationships, 13 Behaviours
Talking straight- balance between sugar coating and addressing issues
Create transparency- no hidden agendas
Confront reality- address issues
Rights wrongs- when we make mistakes, own it, apologise
Listen first-be a good listener and understand what other people’s concerns are
Get better- strive to be our best and improve
Keep commitments- delivering on the promises we make, following through
Show loyalty- talk about people as if they were present
Deliver results- do the things that matter, that make a difference
Extend trust- trust others, we are a team
Parents see moments of truth and base their trust about ourselves and school in these moments of truth. These can be simple things like the way your classroom looks, the atmosphere in the yard before school, how a teacher greets people in the morning, what their children say about their day at pick up time etc.
Why work as a team? Lightens workload, shared experience, develops relationships, working to our strengths, feels good to be part of a team and feel trusted and to trust others.
Efficient, Effective and Consistency of good practise. Gives people a sense of connection and belonging.
Challenge others and ask them if they are living above the line of life. Below the line, we see blame, excuses and denial. Above the line we own our decisions, are accountable for our own actions and take responsibility in the role we play in our lives. I found this quite useful, and thought about applying this concept to student thinking. I have discussed the “Blame Game” with my students before, this could link in nicely.
How to respond to change: 3 choices
head in the sand
complain and deny
Stages of Change/ Concern
Information: What is the change, what do I need to know?
Personal impact: how will this impact me and my workload?
How to implement this change: what will we need to do to get this going?
Impact concerns: What impact have happened since the changes have occurred?
Collaboration: How do we work together to manage the change?
Refinement: Redo something that we didn’t do before, tweak and refine things.
You get to choose your attitude!
Attitudes are contagious. Is your attitude worth catching?
I loved this. It’s all a state of mind and how we deal in any given situation. I find that when I get into a negative headspace, feel pressured or stressed, my class picks up on my mood and we end up having a more challenging day. I want to bring this to my students’ attention. All of our attitudes are contagious, act with kindness, be treated kindly, act with anger, receive anger etc. Something to think about.
7 Steps to Successful Change
What would I need to accomplish today to feel good about the day?What is the most important thing for me to do now?
Email warning: Email Survival Rules
4 D’s: Delete, Delegate, Do it Now Or Decline. Deal with it, Decide and move on.
7 Tips to Increase Work Life Satisfaction
Monitor your self talk
Stop Feeling guilty about what you haven’t done
Stick to your golden rules (Own family rules that suit needs of all, create with partners)
Use your time well
Keep perspective: in a year from now, will this matter?
Look after yourself: self care routines
Avoid DHS (Deferred Happiness Syndrome)
Overall, I had a great day. I had time to reflect on my personal work life balance and satisfaction and identify the areas I need to be more mindful of. In particular, I need to think about self care, exercising and having some me time. All very well and good however, I find excuses or busy myself, especially when I’m working/ teaching full time, have a 2 year old and two teenagers at home, am planning our wedding (happening this Saturday!) and running a household cooking, cleaning, etc. Luckily I have a great partner at home and we support one another. Both of us being teachers, we understand the pressure, workload and needs required to be successful and manage.
The point from today is, we are all busy and we need to prioritise what’s important, address what needs to be done first and don’t sweat the small stuff. Make time for the important things and use systems to be efficient with our time. Teaching is a demanding and highly rewarding profession. I get great work satisfaction as this is my passion, however it can also be draining and mentally challenging. Finding a healthy balance is key.
Here’s to a positive start to Term 4, starting refreshed after a holiday, excited about our wedding this weekend and looking forward to a strong and rewarding finish to a wonderful year back with my Year 3’s.
Professional Development Monday 16th September 2019
My team and I attended this professional development today with the intention to learn, develop and build positive mindsets in our students and in our school community. Here are a few of my notes from today and the key messages I am taking back with me.
Healthy Relationships: Essential Goodness, every person is born with goodness, try to see this and harness it in every child. No one is going to learn from being constantly criticised. We build connections, see the child for who they are and their essential goodness, then build from there. Children won’t learn from people they don’t like. Developing good, trusting and healthy relationships is key.
Emotions are contagious. Be mindful of the emotions you bring to the room. Talk about this with your students, be aware of the moods we bring to the classroom.
Compassion: In moments of sadness, you are not alone. Building communities that want to care for each other. Compassion is crucial for the thread of society. Compassion starts with Self-Compassion. Self care and self forgiveness. Compassion doesn’t come naturally to everybody and this can be learnt.
What are the things that you do for yourself that make you feel good?
Empathy: It isn’t all about you! How are other people feeling? Can we care about other’s feelings and put ourselves in their shoes? We teach this by being empathetic beings ourselves, model this for our students.
App suggestion for meditation, gratification practise and set an intention for living: Buddhify: https://buddhify.com/
Taming the Inner Critic: What does our inner critic say? Is this true? How can we challenge that inner critic? Write down 5 nice things you can say about yourself. Inner Critic vs Inner Hero get into the healthy habit, don’t believe every thought that comes into your head. Reflect on your inner critic comments. Are those thoughts true, are they helpful, would you say it or think it about someone else?
Using EQ and Disagreeing Gracefully: It is hard to disagree with others, and usually when we disagree we have big emotions, so our thinking is low.
The Fixed Position: Letting go of the need to be right. Meeting people half way.
Respectful disagreements framework.
Win-win:The art of compromise.
Optimism: Rational Optimism. Try to find something good and rational. We are born with a negative bias. Brains were designed to look out for problems or dangers, the fight, flight or freeze mode. These are good indicators of how we are feeling. If you don’t feel right, it’s probably not right. Trust your gut instincts. Tune into your own feelings, are they rational or irrational feelings?
Top 3 things to be happier and more resilient:
1. Gratitude Practice
2. Identify 3 things that went well in your day/ life (This improves levels of optimism)
3. Swapping the phrase “Have to” to “Get to”. “Do we have to do this?” to “Do we get to do this?” I have to go to school today, I have to clean my room, I have to eat my dinner, I have to do my homework, I have to hang out the washing etc These are negative mindsets about our day and the jobs we need to do. But if we changed the dialogue to “I get to” then it becomes “I get to clean my room, because I have so many toys to play with, I get to eat dinner, some children don’t have food to eat, I get to do my homework because I’m lucky to receive an education, I get to hang out the washing because I have clean clothes to wear” Etc.
Being productive and capable in hardship. Children need to feel capable, because it’s the opposite of feeling insecure, less confident and hopeless. Is there anything you can do to turn this around? What actions could you take to make things right again? Moving past the victim mentality. Teaching children to think: I am hopeful, powerful and capable.
Problem Solving and Decision Making through Agency and Self-Efficacy:
Strengths. Self-Efficacy and Poise. How to weigh things up. Every time we tell our children what to do or solve their problems for them we do not allow them to wire up their thinking to solve problems for themselves. What are you going to do to solve your problem? Give them ownership, don’t jump in to solve their problem. We won’t be there to solve their problems in all situations, we need to let them feel disappointment, be upset, experience pain, so we can learn how to sit in those feelings and be okay, and then work out how we could solve or work on the problem for next time. To become a good decision maker as an adult you need to have experiences, make mistakes when they are little to learn from them.
Poise: If you are angry, upset, overwhelmed etc the BEST thing you can do is to not do or say anything at all! Wait until you are calm and can think clearly.
Group Meetings, Family Meetings, the importance of getting your group together regularly to meet and discuss how things are going. Structured and safe opportunity to catch up and discuss how your group is functioning. All groups/ families have problems, normalising this and giving everyone the opportunity to enter a discussion to address these problems. Once a week is ideal. Give children the opportunity to share their opinions and suggest ways to solve their own problems. Student voice, we all function at our best when we have a voice. The goal is to solve the problems together, we don’t solve their problems for them. Student ownership.
Challenging Feelings: Emotional regulation, in order to get good at handling your feelings you have to know yourself well and you have to be compassionate towards others. Acknowledge the feelings, name them. What is it you’re feeling? Accept that feeling. Do not resist that feeling. Key lessons to help us manage and deal with our challenging feelings: Gratitude Practice, Movement, Laughter, Music, Acts of Kindness, Watch what you watch (video games, social media, television programmes and movies that desensitise us to violence, negativity, it will leave negativity within you and decrease your empathy), Mindfulness, breathing & presence.
What can we do to help you with your wellbeing? Always ask the students what they want/ need to feel okay.
Meaning and purpose in everyday things and life. Help children to tune in to who they are, what is your purpose?
Fun for the sake of fun. Flow, knowing how to enjoy your life and lose yourself in the moment.
Choose who you spend time with, sleep, fire to wire.
Turning on your happy hormones:
Dopamine. Set small achievable goals. When we set a goal we give ourselves a sense of achievement, a reward.
Endorphins: Movement, exercise.
Oxytocin: Trust and receive trust, improve your social bonds.
Serotonin: The “one up” feeling. Have an awareness of this, self-confidence and self-esteem is impacted by this. Comparing ourselves to others and feeling we are “better” than others.
Here are a couple of videos from today I thought were worth sharing with students about their minds and acts of kindness.
Sentis: Neuroplasticity Clip: Our brains change based on our choices of behaviour and what we feed it.
Random Acts of Kindness: Colour Your World With Kindness
Smiles are contagious. Activity 1 minute smile with a partner, try not to smile. I will be doing this with my class. I found it so challenging not to smile when someone was smiling at me. Smiling is contagious and so are our moods. Come to school with a positive mindset.
It has been a while since my last blog post, I’ve been rather busy adapting to full time work after returning from maternity leave this year. I feel I’m managing quite well but my blog has been sadly neglected. Until now!
Recently I stumbled across this link to Julie Smith’s Blog called The Techie Teacher:
I have always wanted to do this with my students and thought Term 3 was the time to start this process. I have had staff at my school ask me about sharing how my class did it, so this blog is dedicated to my coworkers at St Andrew’s School.
Firstly, I decided what my intention for learning would be for this task. I have been focusing on developing greater fluency, expression and pronunciation when my students read aloud. With this in mind, I decided to create audio books for our school library. I told my students they needed to choose a picture book, read it for a week and practise their reading, keeping their fluency, expression and clear pronunciation in mind. We would be recording their voices, reading their chosen books and sharing them in the school library. Their books needed to be suitable for young children (ELC to Year 2), however older children may also enjoy listening to them.
After reading their books at home all week, they were ready to record! We used iPads and an app called Book Creator, which is a way of creating digital books. If you’ve never used it, I would highly recommend giving it a try.
Students took photos of each page of their picture book and then recorded their voices on each page. We then shared our digital books from Book Creator to Seesaw. Our school uses Seesaw as a tool for communication with parents and to document student learning in a digital format. If you haven’t used Seesaw before and would like to learn more about it, please visit my previous blog post about it. I presented at EdTech SA a few years ago about using Seesaw as digital portfolios. Here is the link:
We exported the book as a video to Seesaw, which meant it would automatically play for our viewers. All we needed to do from here was share the QR Code, which Seesaw generates for you.
I screen shot their QR codes, printed them to a suitable size for our display and the children stuck them on top of the photos I’d taken of them, holding a mini whiteboard as shown here:
Once this was done the children cut out their pictures, glued on their QR codes and we laminated them and attached a large black binder clip to the feet to help them stand up. I also asked my students to write a brief summary of their book and a 5 star rating, we used Comic Life to get the speech bubble template.
Here is what our library display looks like:
I also created a step by step instruction guide for students to help them learn how to view our stories using the iPads. You can find the attachment of that document here and download it and adapt it to your task. It’s as simple as opening the camera on the iPad, holding it up to the QR code and then clicking the link that pops up to take you to the story.
I hope you can see the value of this task and adapt it to suit one of your learning intentions within your classroom. The possibilities are endless! I was speaking to our school Italian teacher, she could record students speaking Italian and share their dialogue with students and parents, create a translator or a set of phrases to assist with Italian pronunciation. Then I was talking with a passionate science teacher and suggested he use it for recording the methods of experiments, videos of the experiments, documenting the scientific process along the way. What about Music lessons, Art, Dance, PE? So many possibilities.
ACARA Links: English Content Descriptors:
Use software including word processing programs with growing speed and efficiency to construct and edit texts featuring visual, print and audio elements (ACELY1685 – Scootle )
Use interaction skills, including active listening behaviours and communicate in a clear, coherent manner using a variety of everyday and learned vocabulary and appropriate tone, pace, pitch and volume (ACELY1792 – Scootle )
I often remind my students that I do not have all of the answers. Teachers are not the keepers of knowledge and we are also learners. A good teacher learns with their students, demonstrating the traits of a good learner. I thought I should blog about my recent learning journey and what I feel are traits of a good learner.
As I’ve been on school holidays, I’ve had the opportunity to put myself in the shoes of the learner in an area of personal interest. My wonderful partner (Andy Peartree) gave me the BEST Christmas present, it was a full day Watercolour Art Class, taught by Karan Hudson (http://cmla.org.au/pdf/Karan_Hudson_Artist_Bio.pdf )
Before the class I was quite nervous, especially as I hadn’t been to an art class in many years and I wondered if I still possessed any relevant skills. This helped me to remember that my students this year may be feeling rather nervous on their first day of school or at the start of a new lesson. I will keep this in mind and try my best to put their minds at ease.
Karan Hudson is also a primary school art teacher and she believes in play based learning and inquiry methods, something I also believe and practice in my own teaching. Karan began by sharing her knowledge and experiences, directed us to gather the tools we required, and then allowed us time to set up, explore and play with the watercolour paints, various papers and brushes. I loved having the time to play and explore.
At first I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to paint, but I didn’t feel pressured, I was given some guidance along the way and then it all just happened. Before I knew it the day was over, I felt completely relaxed and in the pocket of learning. I was applying new techniques, seeking guidance from my teacher when I was unsure, experimenting, making mistakes and learning from them to enhance my next attempt. It was such a wonderful day and I left with a sense of real achievement, reconnected to my love of painting and creating.
Here are some of my paintings from the day:
My pear, for my partner Mr Peartree. I wet the page without paint, outlining the pear first so that the colour wouldn’t run, then I added the colour gradually, blending all of the different tones. The Poppy painting was created using leaves to print with. I quite liked the effect.
Landscape experiments, I loved how the paint moved and spread on the paper, it created wonderful natural lines.
The rock salt creates an effect on the paint, drawing the colour to the salt creating darker, grainy patches. I used the splatter effect by flicking the bristles of a brush on the page for the crashing of waves on the rocks. I also loved learning how to use glad wrap to create the lines on the rocks.
Glad wrap method.
A photo of the class at work. Everybody was so engaged and busy creating. I loved the opportunity to stop and wander around to look at what everybody else was doing. Not one painting was the same, we were all using the techniques taught but we were all creating our own uniques pieces. I often saw what someone else was doing and became inspired to try what they had done. I have used this technique in class with my students, it is a great strategy, especially for those who are a bit lost, need inspiration or if I want to share something that someone in the class has done as a good example.
Enough about my lovely art class!
Here are my Top 5 Traits of a Good Learner:
Curiosity/ Inquirer: Someone who likes to explore their world, asks questions, tries new things, plays and investigates.
Risk- Taker: Someone who is willing to learn, make mistakes and learn from them.
Persistence: Someone who isn’t afraid to experiment with learning. Someone who tries something, fails, learns from their mistakes, then tries again.
Open Minded: Someone who has an open mindset and is willing to try new things. Being willing to have a go, even if it’s something you’re not feeling confident about.
Reflective: Someone who thinks about their own learning. What’s the point in learning something if we don’t reflect on what it has taught us? Share what you have learnt with others, teach somebody else a new skill, take the time to appreciate your own efforts. Most importantly, use what you have learnt to make connections with new learning.
Before I finish, I want to point out that I am aware that my Top 5 Traits of a Good Learner are some of the IB Learner Profiles. I believe in the IB Philosophy and have seen these traits in my students. I like to help my students identify these traits in themselves throughout our year together.
Also, if you haven’t put yourself in the position of a learner in a while, I challenge you to take a class, be a risk taker and enjoy the ride. Lifelong learning makes living worthwhile.
Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you found it interesting.
This morning we had the ANZAC Day Assembly. Students of every age across the school campus Reception-Yr 7 all seemed to understand the significance or importance of showing respect during this time of reflection and remembrance. The stillness in assembly was something unlike any other day in your typical primary school.
Following the assembly we returned to class and watched this clip on You Tube about the significance and symbol of the poppy. This helped students to understand why we make poppies on ANZAC and Remembrance Day.
We then made a poppy using this template:
To do this in your class you will need the template, some red and green paper or card, scissors and glue sticks.
We have been looking at procedure writing in English so we also watched a video about how to make a poppy. This was quite handy.
This is the final display in our classroom of our ANZAC poppies.
Some children chose to look at and draw or colour in pages of ANZAC soldiers and nurses like this image below.
After recess we returned to class and read a book about the ANZACS.
I was fortunate to have a parent find and lend me this lovely book called “Lest We Forget” by Kerry Brown. We read in it class today to give the children some context as to why we say Lest We Forget and why it is a day that we choose to remember the ANZACS. It has beautiful illustrations and puts things into perspective for children. The link below takes you to a review of the text.
Following the reading of the book there were many questions and discussions about the soldiers, nurses and animals in war. We reflected on the importance of acknowledging all those brave men and women who served Australia and fought for our freedom and rights today.
We had a lovely day reflecting on the significance of ANZAC Day and many students were keen to attend ANZAC services tomorrow for the centenary.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
A useful resource and good read for anyone interested:
In my holidays I have a lot more time to think and reflect on myself as an educator. A thought occurred to me whilst I was reviewing some parent feedback from 2014. I was discussing my experiences and feedback with a colleague these holidays and I questioned how educators use records and anecdotal notes to their benefit?
I don’t know about you, but I keep quite a lot of notes and records about my students each and every year. These involve individual goals, incidents, behavioural observations, records of achievements to track progress, records of meetings, conversations with parents etc. Usually these are all taken to provide evidence for reporting purposes and parent meetings and discussions, and to track student progress both academically and emotionally. But it occurred to me that I was lacking something…
Where are my positive notes about the interactions I have with my students, parents and colleagues? How am I showing that I am building healthy relationships with those I work with? Where is my evidence of this?
After reading lovely letters, emails and Christmas cards at the end of the year, educators are often given that feedback from parents. I also like to make sure that my students have a voice in this process, but I have never had these things written down or recorded.
Should educators be recording these positive moments? And if so how can this be managed on top of everything else we do? Is there a real need for this?
Well, I think there is. My perceptions of my relationships with my students and parents vary for each individual and when faced with difficulties, I’d like to be able to have evidence of the efforts and positive interactions I have had with my students, parents and fellow educators.
There have been times where I have received some negative feedback about myself as an educator, (I know it’s hard to believe!) It may sound easy to say, “You can’t please everybody, I’m learning and I’ll try this next time”, but quite honestly it isn’t. I receive more positive feedback and praise than negative, yet I still focus on that one negative statement or nasty email… I question my practises and think, where is the evidence that shows how I made the effort to resolve this issue? Was I doing everything from my end to make this experience a positive one for whoever was involved? Educators need to be backing themselves by recording those positive interactions and efforts.
Too often we play the record of negative feedback over and over in our heads, trying to figure out if we could have played the situation better… lets play the positive record and balance it out.
Three Positive Interaction Record Goals for 2015:
Start a positive interactions notebook/ file. This can be as simple as Date/ Time/ Name and Positive Interaction. These can be kept as my own personal records and used for interactions with students, parents and colleagues. I will aim to do one per week for each. This could also be used with students too, as a reflection tool about the positive interactions they’ve had with others in the week.
Give students a voice in positive feedback. Maybe a video message on the class iPad, or a letterbox of nice things to say to one another in class. This could work for everyone in the class, so one positive comment for each person, including the teacher, probably once a week. Or the idea of a positive interactions reflection journal.
An opportunity for positive parent feedback at frequent intervals throughout the year, not just those sentimental end of year letters and cards. This can be done via email, sharing blog posts with parents, communication books in class, or simply my taking notes of the verbal feedback given to me by parents etc.
I also found this website, which is a good read about how we can connect and bridge the gap between parents and teachers. I personally like “Have a Blast or a Blog” section. Check it out:
Towards the end of a term I find that many students are feeling a little run down and tired (as are the teachers!). The result of this tends to be students who are a little less tolerant of others. Small things that usually wouldn’t bother them before now really irritate them. So towards the end of the term I like to do a confidence building activity to boost the confidence of students and assists in developing an awareness of how they are interacting with each other.
Here is an example of the brainstorm the Year 6’s did today:
Students were then given this template and asked to write a Confidence Booster on everybody else’s page in their class.
The Confidence Booster needed to be specific, genuine and considerate. We discussed what each of these meant before allowing students to start the task.
I posted the following instructions on Edmodo for my students to direct them in the process.
Once each child had commented on each other’s pages they could decorate their image and post a reflection on their personal learning blogs. Some lovely examples:
The reactions from my students have always been positive ones. Faces light up when they read the comments made by their peers. Each comment is genuine, specific and considerate. It makes a real difference in attitudes towards each other at the end of a busy term. I noticed students being a lot kinder towards one another after this task.
I also think it is important to participate in this task as their teacher and comment on each page. I created a page and had my students give me some feedback too. Gave me what I like to call “Warm Fuzzies” meaning a happy feeling in my heart. I too hope my students experienced this feeling today.
So if you’re looking for something to do with your class to boost their confidence and build on positive attitiudes and interactions, you might like to give this one a go.
For the last two years my team and I have been developing a Middle Years Programme (MYP) unit of inquiry in Language & Literature based on the novel and film “Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence” by Doris Pilkington and directed by Phillip Noyce.
I was introduced to this inquiry unit by my colleague Andy Peartree (http://anderspearz.edublogs.org/) who had historically taught this unit to Year 6’s in previous years. Paul Huebl and myself enjoyed team teaching this unit in 2013, but this year I have been teaching the subject to all students across the year level on my own.
I have adapted the unit and made some changes and thought it was worth sharing with others. I have attached the following documents:
Within this unit we have been exploring the MYP Statement of Inquiry: Films and novels convey the same message to an audience.
We have been comparing different texts to see if the same messages can be conveyed. I have used the film and novel, “Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence” and the picture book, “The Rabbits” by John Marsden and Shaun Tan, to see if the theme and messages about the Stolen Generations were conveyed similarly and which medium was the most powerful.
We have had some pretty amazing and powerful reactions from students, especially after watching the film and looking at the following clip to anaylse the director’s work about the abduction scene:
My students are now in the process of analysing the film, doing guided reading sessions and making text connections with “The Rabbits” by John Marsden and Shaun Tan.
The final assessment and response to this unit will be a written piece (comparative essay) responding to the following questions:
Did the novel or film communicate the story “The Rabbit Proof Fence” better? Why?
Compare the ways the film and the novel explore your chosen theme.
Explain why you think that one communicated the theme better than the other.
This is the first essay my Year 6 students have written so quite a bit of scaffolding has been required. I’m looking forward to reading their completed responses and final reflections about the inquiry statement after this assignment.