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 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.

***

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 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”

iOnTheFuture6 Conference – Review

“If you drive all day looking in your rear vision mirror, you’ll crash.”

Young Rusty, came up with this profound analogy while sitting in the truck on another road trip. A routine trip that would have seemed so far from reality without Backtrack Boys. Rusty openly admitted that he would probably be dead without this amazing program that focuses on its core principles on the Circle of courage – belonging, independence (own your own s**t), generosity and mastery. Bernie Shakeshaft, Rusty and James Knight sat on stage to cap off an inspiring day of high-quality professional development. Continue reading “iOnTheFuture6 Conference – Review”

Learning = Superpower

Image of a young boy reaching for the sky in a dress up super hero outfit.

A lot of focus in education is put on the curriculum, teaching methods, the ability of the student and behaviour management. However, what is often neglected is teaching kids how to actually learn. We go straight into teaching the content, without thinking about how the students are actually going to learn.

Learning is the infinite superpower that we all have. Amazingly, our brain is able to continually absorb new information, no matter how old we are. We can learn even better when we put the magic COAT on! Every year there are different buzz words in education – critical thinking, 21st-century learners, pedagogy, grit, agile, bloom’s taxonomy, high-order thinking. All of those phrases have worked in various ways, I have tried to condense many of those aspects into COAT. The acronym that I have put together that will guide my teaching in order to ensure that my students learn! Continue reading “Learning = Superpower”

Every child should have every chance, but they don’t

Promise me you'll remember, you are BRAVER than you believe, STRONGER than you seem, SMARTER than you think.

Think back to a time in your life when you were a starry-eyed youngster with all the hopes and dreams for your future. You had goals and aspirations and believed that anything was possible. Hopefully, you were able to get onto a pathway that led you to achieve success. However, for the majority of us, we somehow ended up in a real-life version of Groundhog Day! Due to the monotonous nature of life, sometimes we lose touch with what really matters and to me, that’s the kids.

How can we ensure that today’s generation of young people, not only hold onto those hopes and dreams but gain an education that gives them the skills needed to succeed in life? Does that mean being able to ace an exam and then forget everything that was in it? Or does it mean they have the leadership skills that can inspire their team to achieve their goals? Would you be more proud of your child if they became a lawyer because it’s what you wanted for them or if they became a train driver because that is what they had always wanted to be since watching their first episode of Thomas the Tank Engine? Continue reading “Every child should have every chance, but they don’t”