Thursday, 26 May 2011

Rethinking our Jargon

Late May and I have 4 weeks left at my current international school. I have made the major career decision to return home after 9 years away from the Australian Education System (well, the Victorian one, since Australia is only just on the cusp of developing a nationwide curriculum).

So I find myself in rather an odd situation! What exactly should I be applying for? I've been a principal for the past 6 years and fortunately, I have been in IB PYP schools, so I have that pedagogy, philosophy and language in common with a handful of Melbourne schools. But in all other areas I am finding that everything has changed - for the better to be sure - but dramatically changed.

First challenge has been getting my Victorian Institute of Teaching registration. For 25 years the system stayed the same, but while I was away, changes were made which meant that I needed to go through the whole registration process all over from scratch. For me that includes a police record check from every country I have lived in for more than 12 months. Pleased to say I almost have all the necessary documentation. If you happen to be in a similar situation be warned - this is a very long and potentially frustrating process.

Next step is to look at the jobs on offer. I feel like Dorothy - certainly not in Kansas anymore. I need to show an intimate knowledge of VELS, PoLT, and e5 not to mention the highly specialized language of the types of positions. Oh ... the international school world is so much simpler!

So it got me to musing - wouldn't it be wonderful if the whole world shared similar terminology for standards of practice, philosophies of education, approaches to assessment, use of information technology and the goals of collegial, constructive relationships? 

In the meantime, I'm off to correlate my own pedagogical experience with the PoLT, make sense of the VELS and show how well I have worked as a e5 proponent!! (You'll have to look them all up like I did!) Don't get me wrong - it's all great stuff and I am impressed with how far Victoria has come in such a relatively short time! But do we have to have such specialized nomenclature?

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Teaching for Creativity

I think one of the most challenging of the Primary Years Programme Attitudes to teach really well is the area of Creativity, perhaps because to many of us, the term initially conjures the idea of being creative in an artistic sense and as this article (and many of the related links on the page) show, there is somewhat more to creativity.

The link below gives some excellent ideas on ways to develop an inventive, divergent way of looking at the world, and also discusses some of the blocks to creativity that occur in many schools every day - I know I have been guilty of several!

Mr Bartel challenges many 'tried and true' approaches to teaching art and creativity, and challenges us to rethink our approach. I hope you find his ideas as interesting as I did!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Talking about being smart!

The staff and I shared this article today. We spent time reading it (and who gets time to read in a busy school day?) and discussing. The rest of the day for many of us was spent really thinking about what we are saying when we say things like, "You're a clever girl!"

Even Geniuses Work Hard

PLEASE take the time to read it and let me know what you think. For those curious how this relates to the PYP - it's almost a guide to developing risk takers. Enjoy!

Sunday, 19 September 2010


I just read a brief article in Educational Leadership about a school in New Zealand that is encouraging students to include household chores as part of their homework alloted time. Part of the reasoning is that it teaches children about the importance of participating and contributing (part of the NZ National Curriculum) rather than isolating children from their family life as they work on their assigned homework.

The idea prompted me to think that there are elements of the PYP curriculum that we often neglect when we send out homework, but if we really believe in the philosophy and IB mission, we maybe should be looking at how we can balance homework in terms of the essential elements.

Following that line of thinking, we expect student input into the units of inquiry, we want students to be engaged, active participants in the unit. Do we contradict ourselves when we then assign homework without student input?

Educational Leadership included another excellent piece on homework. See the link:
Look inside >
10 11
Five Hallmarks of Good Homework

or here:

Monday, 6 September 2010

Save the world .. Look after "Nori"

Here's a bit of silliness!
Picture this: Stationery supplies late, no glue sticks, frustrated teachers desperately waiting for supplies of one of the most environmentally unfriendly products ever used to produce an eco-poster! The wretched glue stick (or nori in Japanese)

At last the long awaited supplies arrive. One per child and that's it until January!

Friday's assembly needed to get across the message that we REALLY need to look after this resource.

Introducing Nori, the endangered species that lives in little colonies in various schools but had altogether disappeared from our school. A rare species indeed that never reproduces. A strange species that has a hat much as a turtle has a shell; should that hat be left off the poor stricken creature will simply dry up and die. A delicate, shy species that needs special care as it likes to hide away in dark corners where no-one can find it, but if looked after with tenderness and care, will be a willing little helper.

Would they like to see the creature?? 'Oh yes,' nod the children (and some bamboozled teachers).

Slowly, cautiously, from out of the folds of its little home, peeps the new glue stick, complete with little beady eyes and a broad smile! Much hilarity later, children assured me that their nori had smiled at them as they put the hats back on. Other teachers are going to have the children build little special 'nori' beds for their tables.

I still think the use of bottles of glue and brushes is much more environmentally responsible, but at least if the nori are being looked after properly, I can ease my conscience somewhat!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Learning how to Twitter

I found this very helpful little tutorial on The Educator's PLN - a great site by the way!

Cell phones - a fast, cheap way to access IT in the classroom?

Just going through my Twitter page and came across this gem that is now almost 18 months old. Definitely time to review our cell phone ban!