How I am teaching with more purpose and meaning this year – Part 1: Curriculum design for the whole person

When you first decide to take the plunge into teaching, you have these wonderful visions of being Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society and inspiring young people with your words of wisdom! Now don’t get me wrong, I still love to get up in front of a group of young people and deliver a motivational speech, however the longer I have taught, I have also realised those magical words generally lack any sort of long term impact.

Previously, I have written about How meeting your new class is like getting married on MAFS and that the initial impressions can set up or set off students for the rest of the year. So, with that sort of pressure, how do we set ourselves and our students up for success?

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Why we need systems to optimise learning

When you sign up to become a teacher, no-one ever tells you that one of the most important things you need to teach students is how to enter a classroom! Every teacher joins the profession to make a difference in the lives of young people. Teachers want to inspire and motivate! They definitely do not dream about how exciting it’s going to be putting their class into a seating plan! However, if you can get your routines, structure and organisation right, you might just be able to teach that amazing lesson that you prepared!

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How the Dunning-Kruger Effect continues to get me!

Have you ever walked into a cafe and been disappointed with the service and overall experience? You look at the costs of their products/services and think, “How hard could it be?” That’s basically the Dunning-Kruger effect. It’s been described as “a cognitive bias in which people wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability in a specific area.” 

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Bring the cafe to the classroom

My happy place to go to is the cafe. I love sitting down with my strong flat white, ordering the most outrageous meal on the menu and chatting with friends and family. However, we can’t go out to a cafe at the moment, so bring the cafe to the classroom! Our students need to feel like they are in their happy place when they return to school this week. How can we recreate that feeling we get when catching up with our BFFs in our favourite cafe? 

It doesn’t matter what your own personal beliefs are about the current schooling situation and Phase 1, we need to remain positive and model the attitude we want from our children. To facilitate this and ensure their wellbeing is okay we need to bring the cafe to the classroom. As well as creating an environment that becomes their happy place, the acronym I have created for CAFE is a set of rules we can follow as teachers in Phase 1:

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Why Australian education needed COVID-19

Despite most people having devices that can (literally) answer any question asked of it within a couple of seconds, many schools in Australia have still been handing out worksheets and working from textbooks older than I am! COVID-19 is the disruption that education in Australia needed. Without a doubt, it is terrible what COVID-19 has done to individuals and communities. However, as the latest PISA results show, academically Australia have been on a downward slide for the past 20 years.

GRAPH: Australia’s slide backwards source: abc.net.au

Do all students in Australia have access to a good education? 

I hope that things never return “back to normal” in the classroom, because somewhere along the way we have forgotten what the purpose of school actually is. The Australian Curriculum website states that it, “is designed to help all young Australians to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens. It also mentions that they should be able to achieve this regardless of where they live or which school they attend.

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How meeting your new class is like getting married on MAFS

Walking into a new class is just like walking down the aisle on Married at First Sight! You need to make a good first impression! Look good, smell good and feel good. That’s your classroom that I’m talking about. When your students first walk into your classroom, you want them to immediately feel comfortable. 

Love at first sight

There’s nothing worse than having your students excited to learn after the holidays and ready for a fresh start. Then, they walk into this room that smells like your grandmother’s wardrobe and looks just as boring! Now, I know there some next level instagrammable classrooms out there and we don’t need to go that far. However, as teachers, we need to look at ourselves as salespeople and our job is to sell the importance of education!

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How to make every minute meaningful

If you are not spending your time improving, then you are just losing time.

So, spend your time on the things that matter.

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The frustrations of wasted time

Whether it is working in a business, teaching in a classroom or even being at home; every minute should be meaningful. We all know what it feels like to be sitting in an ineffective meeting. Your mind is constantly drifting off to your endless list of jobs to complete and all that the meeting does is cause more stress and anxiety.

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Why I won’t hold my child back from starting school

How do you know when your child should start school?

That crazy-weird feeling you get after first being asked, “What Primary School will she go to?” All you can think about is, my little bubba’s not ready for school! Yet, in Australia, it’s a decision that needs to be thought about from an early age. Will it be your local Public School, Catholic or Independent? If you are looking at going to a school other than your local one (they must accept your child), then the enrolment process can start quite early.

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Why Project-Based Learning should be used in every class

Project-based learning is a way of developing students’ learning through having them “engage in a real-world problem or answering a complex question,” as stated by PBL Works. The structure of traditional teaching methods means that most lessons blur into one. I always think back to my time at school as a student and ask myself, what do I remember learning? Unfortunately, the answer is – not a lot! It’s not because I didn’t have great, passionate teachers, but rather the way I was taught. 

Traditional teaching methods struggle in being long-lasting, memorable and developing students’ creativity, problem-solving, communication and critical thinking skills. Answering questions from textbooks and copying down notes will always be vital for learning and remembering information, but it is difficult to develop deeper-learning and higher-order thinking through them. Continue reading “Why Project-Based Learning should be used in every class”

How to communicate with your child like an FBI negotiator

Image of an angry child

Do you ever feel like you just can’t win with your kids? Picture this, you have five minutes before you have to leave and all of a sudden your little darling, decides they no longer want to go to their friends party. Even though, they were just raving about how excited they were ten minutes earlier! How ridiculous! Continue reading “How to communicate with your child like an FBI negotiator”