Archive | February, 2014

Reflection is an Important Part of Professional Development

23 Feb question, one of the most important things I do is reflect be it teaching, living or in triathlon training. It took me years to figure this out, but reflection during and after lessons, sessions, presentations, etc. is crucial if I want to continue to grow as a professional. It is something. Everything I do is under constant scrutiny because I want to be better. Reflection can challenge me to change which can be a challenge. Nobody really likes change.

The next step after reflection is making changes where they are needed. Just thinking about what you have done does not mean anything if you do not take action. If something is broke, fix it. If something is not working, do something completely new. Education is a constantly changing creature and our lessons need to evolve with the rest of education to ensure that we are doing what is best for our students. Reflection and change are crucial parts in the process of providing the best education for the students in front of us.

We are all busy. I’m tired of hearing it. We have friends, families, lives, etc. That doesn’t mean we shirk our responsibility to become better at our jobs. Reflection and change is how we can be better. This year I want to take some time this year and reflect on my profession and see where I can make some meaningful changes for me and for the students I teach.

Competent Learners @ 20

23 Feb

While cleaning out my office this week I came across this  pieces which worth reflecting on. Fortunately the link was still working. The Competent Children Competent Learners study has tracked around 500 children in the Wellington region from just before they started school, to age 20. It has looked at the impact of early childhood education and then later educational experiences and time use out of school on children’s development. It has monitored the development of skills such as reading and writing, and also attitudes such as perseverance and curiosity. When they returned to the participants at age 20, the researchers looked at how the young people had got on with NCEA. They looked at the impact of earlier school performance, engagement in school and their experiences of learning.
Some key findings included:

  • More than half those with low performance at age 8 went on to gain NCEA Level 2 or Level 3. That means that children’s support from teachers and parents, the learning opportunities they had in and out of school and their interactions with teachers, parents and peers, enabled them to make real progress.
  • Those who gained NCEA Level 2 did not necessarily have higher levels of mathematics, reading, writing or logical problem solving at age 14 than those whose highest qualification was NCEA Level 1, or who did not gain any qualification. But they did have higher levels of perseverance, communication, social skills, curiosity and self-management.
  • The period from age 10 to age 14 appears to be a time when it is particularly important for teachers and parents to watch for signs that children are turning away from school and learning. This applies as much to high performers at school as low performers. It was clear how deeply memories of school at this time can colour later attitudes to learning.

Starting Out

16 Feb

It was some time ago I started teaching. Back in 1993 to be exact. Gasp. Some time ago I worked with PRTs which gave me an insight into how things hadn’t changed much. So I thought I would dispense the following.

If I could offer you only one tip for surviving your first term of teaching, remembering to eat lunch and drink plenty of water would be it. Here are some other ideas.

Help me if you can

Ask for help. There will be people out there who would love to help.

Take time to get to know your students

All of them have a story and interests. Even the most challenging of students usually have things that they are interests and talents. Take time to find out what they are. The Learning Plans we have developed as a staff have helped immeasurably in this area. Having settled get a mentor or critical friend in to observe you. They can help (see previous comment).

Preparation, preparation, preparation
Avoid trying to attempt any photocopying of resources or finishing up that key IT presentation on Monday morning. Prepare for things to come up. That fire drill. IT failure. Being prepared will help your stress levels.

My pink notebook
I know it’s very old school but I carry a note book with me and write down (scribble) good ideas or things I should know. Invaluable.

Weekends rule

Make sure you step away at the weekend and after school. You cannot be effective if you are focused on school all the time. What example does it set to other staff and your students? There is nothing wrong with going home at 4:30pm.

Students are not your friends they are students

Enough said.


Professional Reading

I was handed this piece this week and found it ideal. It’s great for a Faculty Meeting and I am sure it will spark debate at your place.

The 3 Rs for Coaching


Video of the Week

16 Feb

It’s Superbowl time again and the corporates always produce great ads. My favourites this year are from Radio Shack and Chrysler.



Thought for the Week

16 Feb

“What is success? To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate the beauty; To find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch Or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; This is to have succeeded.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

My Half Ironman Dream

9 Feb

Followers of this blog will be aware of my new passion; for the last 18 months for Half Iron Man. I devoted an episode to it some months ago and this week I would like to re visit it as my event was on Saturday. My story isn’t about breaking records but rather the process of finishing and to go places in mind and body that we once thought of as impossible.

Here is what I learned:

You can’t always get what you want

photo 1

There is beauty in giving something everything you’ve got and never giving up. Swimming 2km in open water is a FAR cry from doing it at the local Aquatic Centre. This challenge got the better of me and I had to make the call to get someone else to do this leg.

I was shattered at first but I quickly understood that maybe I wasn’t meant to do the swim this time. A DNF would have crushed me. I had one previously in a club event and it was tough to handle. As it was the day was long and hot with the other two disciplines.

The Human Body and Mind Is Capable of Incredible Things

photo 4

2km swim, 90 km on a bike followed by a half marathon. It’s a massive task. In addition there is the added mental stress of gear failure or food issues. You need commitment in training, diet and family. My journey has changed the way I think. It has changed the way I deal with staff and students alike. It has taught me with enough hard work, diligence, and effort we can certainly achieve monumental goals we never thought possible. At the 70km mark on the bike I had serious doubts.

The Cadence or Pace

photo 2

You must learn to set the right pace. Come out the gates too fast and you’ll be dead half-way through the race. This is a hard lesson I have learned in the past. I wanted to finish and do it comfortably.

Competitors Make Us Better

photo 3

I love other participants. It is like golf. We are all out their but playing the course not really each other in our own world. These people could be viewed as competitors, but most racers realize that other participants bring the best out of their performance. I love learner and training with those better than me. In my case that is almost everybody.

Just Finish the Race

When it comes to tis, it’s not about what place you earned when you finish the race – it’s that you cross the finish-line. Search YouTube for some classic examples of bravery.

This is my favourite:



It’s not about winning it’s about competing.

photo 5

Okay, so to be honest this is not a mantra of mine before competing but now I understand. After yesterday I understand so much more.

My New Years Teaching Resolutions

1 Feb

I am now officially done with my summer holiday as I prepare to stand before the school and welcome them back to the new year. In my first blog of the new year  I am ready to post the goals that I have set for myself for 2014

 I will continue to be a lifelong learner by..

….completing my Level One Te Reo course.

This has been difficult but a true learning experience. It is hard to be put outside your comfort zone.

I will teach…

…to each individual student according to my learning plan.

I am a firm believer that to reach equality in the classroom everyone must be treated differently. Look at the data. What is it saying about the students in front of me.

…with  drive.

I want my students to build their own thinkers toolkit as the year progresses of knowledge, skills, learning approaches, thinking styles, reflective tools and ways of questioning. I want to help them scaffold answers and be the best they can be.

…and make connections.                                                                                  

Twitter and the VLN helped me become a better teacher in 2013. I want to build on this.

…with innovation.

Building on the above idea of connections. As technology moves along I wish to move with it, not two paces behind. I want to look into augmented reality as a way of getting students to share their learning with visitors and peers.

…and never forget the passion.

My students deserve the best and I shall give them that.

Continue to evaluate and analyse how I can do things better.

…in the 21st Century global village.

No walls here students. I am also open to listening to their ideas. Students have the best ideas.

As per usual I have my other resolutions which include reading 104 books this year, completing a half ironman and no iDevices on Wednesdays.

Wish me luck.


On a celebratory notethis blog is now one year old and this is the 100th post! Yay!



Videos of the Week

1 Feb

This is a useful resource for meetings especially when you don’t seem to be making any progress…


This one pokes fun at the complexities of leadership.


Fitted Storytelling from Edward Roads

Danielle Anne Lynch

Music, Theology, Education, Liturgy

Learn To Love Food

Food Fun For Feeding Therapy and Picky Eaters


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