Category Archives: Teaching

Life as a Teacher

Being-a-teacher

Recently, I was contacted by The Footnotes, a website that strives to provide revolutionising career and study advice in order to help women to not only follow their dreams, but how to actually get there. I was lucky enough to be asked to join the conversation and share my thoughts on what it is like to be a teacher. Below is a snippet of the article, click here to read the entire article.

Teachers have it all. They only work from 9-3, get all those holiday breaks and play with kids all day, right?  Wrong. So, so wrong. It amazes me how many people seem to believe this blatant untruth.

Mark Twain said it best in his quote ‘teaching is like trying to hold 35 corks underwater at once.’ A teacher’s work doesn’t begin when the bell rings and certainly doesn’t end when the holidays start. Teachers learn to become experts at timing their toilet breaks and inhaling their lunch. They spend their free time planning engaging activities, scouring the internet to find useful resources, differentiating for each ability level, creating and marking assessments, setting homework, keeping up with countless emails and paperwork, meeting with parents and making displays. Not to mention running clubs at lunch time or after school, chasing students who missed assessments, attending meetings and writing reports … and that’s barely scratching the surface.     

Teaching is an innate desire. It isn’t just a job and you definitely don’t become a teacher for the money.

To keep reading, click here. Take a look at The Footnotes and share this great website with the women in your life

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Filed under Student Teachers, Teaching

Back to School: Teacher Edition

2016.PNGAs the summer holidays come to an end, it won’t be long before we are back in the classroom with our new students. Take a look at the 7 tips below to give the best first impression and kick off 2016 to a great start.

#1 Clean out your emails

If you are anything like me, you probably have many unread emails sitting in your inbox. Take the time to sort through them and mark them as unread. It will help you to let go of last year and start fresh. Does anyone else love reaching inbox zero?? Click here for a useful article about keeping your inbox organised and here for a great Gmail tip   

#2 Organise your work space

Ensure your classroom is ready for the children and it feels welcoming, positive and inviting. There should be enough chairs and tables for the children and everything they will need should be there.

If you have a work space at home, clean it out and get everything ready for a new school year. Get rid of any clutter and dig out anything you need to start the year. Buy a pot plant or put up a motivational poster to brighten up the space and make it a nice place to be.

#3 Plan

Plan the first few days of school. Organise and plan all of the activities you are going to do in those first few days. Think about how you will set up the rules for the year, explain the behaviour management systems, set up a positive climate and what activities the students will complete.

#4 Buy a diary

Buy a diary and record important school dates to keep you organised. I just love the feeling of a brand new diary! Click herehere, here and here for some ideas.

#5 Rest!

Enjoy the holidays and truly rest. We all know that we could work forever and still never finish our work. Your students will know if you are rested and relaxed, so ensure that you take time for yourself, catch up with friends and family, read a book, take a bath, spend time with pets, go for a walk, go somewhere new – do whatever it is that you love to do!

#6 Get inspired

Learn something new! There are so many great books about education and a million interesting articles and blog posts on Twitter. Hop on and get reading to get inspired. I’m currently reading ‘Teach Like a Pirate’ – stay tuned for a blog post! Click here and here for more ideas.

#7 Set a goal and be positive

Were you feeling stressed last year? What wasn’t working? I always found myself feeling stressed on Sunday nights because I hadn’t prioritised well or organised my time very well over the weekend. This year I am aiming to set aside blocks of time during the weekend to get the important things done to avoid that horrible Sunday night panic.

I have also come across ‘Happify’. It has been scientifically designed to help people overcome negative thoughts and everyday stress through activities and games.  Click here or download the app today and give it a go!

Looking for more tips and tricks? Check out this fantastic article by Kris Carr – it’s a must read!

Enjoy the rest of your holidays and have a great 2016!

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Filed under Happiness, Teaching, Wellbeing

Making a Difference

Capture“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou.

Above is a quote that you have probably heard many times before, but have you ever really thought about it?

 

 

Have you ever applied it to your daily life? Your family members? Your work colleagues? Your students?

Do you make your students (although this could be applied to anyone in your life) feel:

  • Inspired?
  • Motivated?
  • Supported?
  • Welcome?
  • Empowered?
  • Valued?
  • Loved?
  • Responsible?
  • Positive?
  • Happy?

This list could go on forever and each item means something different to each individual. They don’t necessarily require grand gestures, it could simply be getting to know a student and asking them about a sick pet, greeting the students with a warm ‘good morning’, complimenting them on their hard work, having a go or for a kind gesture you witnessed them perform, laughing with them or giving them a genuine smile.

Truly think about it – how do you make your students feel?

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Filed under Happiness, Teaching, Wellbeing

Failure

FailureSo many adults are afraid of failure, myself included, but is it really that scary? What is it about failure that we are so afraid of? Is it that we think we will look silly or stupid? Do we have a need to be good at everything? Is it all tied in with our insecurities? Whatever the reason, the fear of failure is often present in our daily lives.

There are so many quotes about failure, including the following.

  • I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying – Michael Jordan.
  • My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure – Abraham Lincoln.
  • Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement – C.S. Lewis.
  • If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative – Woody Allen.
  • Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street – Zig Ziglar.
  • If you’re doing your best, you won’t have any time to worry about failure – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
  • Achievement is not always success, while reputed failure often is. It is honest endeavour, persistent effort to do the best possible under any and all circumstances – Orison Swett Marden.
  • Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again – Richard Branson.

Too often I see students who are so afraid of failing, whether that be getting an answer wrong in Mathematics or missing the soccer ball during sport, that they just don’t try to begin with. Inspired by the above quotes, I think it is really important that we let our students know that it is okay to fail. In fact, failure is a good thing and, dare I say, it’s actually fun to fail (Gretchen Rubin, 2011).

Teachers need to ensure that their students know that they don’t need to be good at everything and not only is failure a part of life, but it is an essential part of life. Put posters up around the classroom and refer back to them when you notice a student feeling afraid of failure, let your students know that you believe in them, share your mistakes and what you learnt from them, praise students for trying and giving something a gono matter the end result, and work with students to help them learn from their mistakes.

How do you accept and/or embrace failure?

How do you encourage your students to accept failure?

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Filed under Happiness, Teaching, Wellbeing

Tired? Exhausted? I hear you.

ID-10089545As a teacher, and like many teachers I know, I find that I am often feeling exhausted. (Image: imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.Net)

The first chapter of Gretchen Rubin’s ‘The Happiness Project’, suggests the following:

  • Go to sleep earlier (ensure that you get the recommended 8 hours of sleep each night)
  • Exercise (go for a walk, there are also great (free) apps that you can download e.g. The 7 minute workout)
  • Organise the clutter in your house
  • Tackle the nagging tasks that you always leave to do later
  • Act more energetic

Click here for more tips from Gretchen Rubin.

Things that also help me:

  • Listen to your favourite upbeat song while you’re getting ready and/or on your way to/from work
  • Stop complaining about how tired you are – it only brings yourself and others down.
  • Ensure you allow time in your day to relax and shut off from work – it might be an hour before you go to bed to watch a TV show or getting up an hour earlier to go for a walk or read the paper.
  • Take time out to read for pleasure.
  • If you have lunch to prepare, prepare it the night before.
  • Laugh out loud.
  • Be realistic and break tasks down into smaller jobs
  • Remember that it is okay to ask for help
  • Remember that not everything has to be perfect
  • Be nice to everyone around you
  • Make time to talk to positive family members or friends
  • Find something nice in every student in your class.
  • Think about the happiest moment in your day, every day.
  • Make peace with the fact that a teacher’s work is NEVER done.

Gretchen Rubin also talks about energizers and de-energizers in her blog. Click here to read about energizers and de-energizers and take the test!

Do you have any tips or tricks that help you when you’re tired and feeling run down?

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Filed under Teaching, Wellbeing

A New Year

It’s a common tradition for people to come up with a new year’s resolution regarding their personal lives, but have you ever thought about creating a resolution for yourself as a teacher?

For me, 2013 has been a year filled with learning – more than I could ever have imagined! Someone once told me that once you think you know everything as a teacher – you should retire. On that note, I hope that 2014 teaches me even more than 2013 has. It wasn’t until the very end of this year that I truly realised how much of an impact I had on my students. The little comments they wrote in their Christmas cards and their notes revealed the difference that I made in their lives without truly realising it. Written in their Christmas cards were the small words of encouragement that I said to them or my small actions throughout the year which I had long forgotten.

My goal is to create a classroom where students can feel free to learn and take risks, feel inspired, confident, safe, heard, welcome and happy. I ultimately want my students to want to come to school and to enjoy being in their classroom.

Inspired by this post by Mathew Green, below are 5 things that I aim to achieve in 2014.

1.       Radiate Positivity

I want to be a positive teacher. It is really important to me that I begin and end the day on a positive note. I want to make my students smile and enjoy learning. My students will feel welcome and safe within their learning space and they will know that I believe in them with all of my heart. I would like to remember to have more patience and remember how much they look up to me and the difference I am making in their lives.

2.       Be a Facilitator

I want to be more of a facilitator and let the students jump into the driver’s seat. Inspired by Thoughtful Learning, I want to be continually thinking about how the students can question, plan, research, create, improve and present. I don’t want to lecture and provide the students with the information they need, instead I want to be a collaborator and encourage the students to help themselves gain the information and skills they need to succeed.

Facilitator3.       Encourage Students to Take More Responsibility For Their Own Learning

I want my students to feel responsible for their own learning. I am going to set up a Google Site which clearly outlines the expectations at the beginning of each term. The students will then be expected to access their homework from the site and upload assessments and tasks by the provided dates. The students will not be spoon fed and they will be continually encouraged to find the answers to their questions through research and not by simply asking a teacher. They will also be encouraged to ask non-Googleable questions and think outside the box. Their curiosity and creativity will be fostered, not squashed.

4.       Encourage Students to Learn From Their Mistakes

I want my students to know that making mistakes is a good thing and encourage them to learn from their mistakes. I really love the acronym below.

FAILI want my students to know that just because they made a mistake, it doesn’t mean that they are stupid; it simply means they made a mistake. I won’t be afraid to show them that I make mistakes, too.

5.       Cater to the Variety of Students  

I want to ensure that the students who need assistance don’t feel worried, anxious or stressed. I want them to feel supported and know that I believe in them. I want to encourage them to take risks and believe in themselves.

I also want the gifted students to be challenged in creative and purposeful ways so they do not become bored and both, use and develop their strengths.

Eleanor Roosevelt

I’m so lucky to work in a school where students are inspired and encouraged to dream. I couldn’t agree more with Mathew Green as he stated “classrooms are wonderful places … they provide a place of refuge and encouragement, which they may not have elsewhere … places of unlimited possibilities … that should encourage students to dream and be more than they could have ever imagined.” I really believe this also applies to all who work within schools and within education.

With that thought, I wish you a very happy new year and ask – in 2014, what dreams will you believe in?

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Filed under Classroom, Creativity, Goals, Teaching

Education Technology Hits and Hopes

Take a look at this great article in The Australian Teacher Magazine (@OzTeacherMag) about education technology hits and hopes that I was lucky enough to be a part of! Click here to download  the magazine on your iPhone or iPad (it’s free!). Also, be sure to follow Summer Howarth (@EduSum) on Twitter.

ELEARNING

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Filed under ICT & Technology, Teaching, Teaching Strategies