Growth and Development Goals: Semester 1, 2017

“Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.”                             Dylan Wiliam In line with our College practice of setting, working on and reflecting on professional growth goals each school semester, I have set my own goals for Semester 1 2017 as follows: Facilitating the use…

Quiet

The classroom can be an overwhelming place for an introvert. Those students who crave quiet and do their best work while being reflective and solitary are likely to visibly shrink every time they enter the collaborative, bustling and often LOUD place that is the 21st century classroom. Why are classrooms so loud? Do they have…

Helpful praise is descriptive

“There is no value judgement more important…no factor more decisive in [a person’s] psychological development and motivation – than the estimate [they] pass on themselves.” Nathaniel Branden The psychology of self-esteem. While it is essential that children build a positive and realistic self-image, praising children can be a ‘tricky business’ that brings about unintended consequences…

Student surveys can be illuminating

Student Surveys Student surveys can provide very useful data for teachers regarding their own teaching practice. In particular, they can help teachers to reflect on their teaching strategies, planning processes, lesson activities, assessment instruments and their rapport with students. This year I took a two-pronged approach: A short ‘tick and flick’ survey asking questions such…

Book review: In the Middle by Dr Michael Nagel

One of the most interesting trends in pedagogy in the last decade or so has been the increased interest in cognitive neuroscience and its implications for classroom practice. Neuroeducation is the term used by those in the know to describe how neuroscience is being used to inform our knowledge about how students learn. While a…

Start with student thinking

One way to ensure active (rather than passive) learning is to start with student thinking and then make this the focus of the learning experience.   The best designed lesson can miss the mark if the teacher does not firstly have a grasp of where students are at in terms of their thinking. One suggestion for…

Improving student resilience – Judith Locke presentation

Last week I was fortunate to attend a teacher professional development session run by Judith Locke, clinical psychologist. Judith’s recent research (aptly titled ‘Can a parent do too much? An examination of parenting professionals of the concept of overparenting’) focused on the counterproductive effect of extreme parental protection and responsiveness. Extreme overparenting can lead to…

Zero tolerance on mobile phones the key to academic success?

Recent research out of the UK has demonstrated that banning mobile phones in schools significantly increases academic results, particularly for the battlers. The results found an overall 6.41% improvement in exam results school wide, as well as a 14.23% improvement in results for the lowest prior quartile of performers, where a no-mobile-phone policy was strictly…

Professional Growth Goals 2015

As part of the framework for Teacher Growth and Development at St Rita’s College, staff set professional growth goals each year. I have chosen this year to focus on the following: Greater integration of ICT (faculty goal) Incorporation of student centred approaches to learning Focus on improving literacy In the process, I hope to be able…

Scaffolding inquiry – evaluating sources

The strength of a hypothesis lies in the strength of the evidence used to support it. Therefore, useful, reliable and trustworthy sources can make or break an inquiry task. We can assist students to find good evidence by giving them the skills to evaluate the worth of their sources. These skills follow a developmental progression,…

Scaffolding inquiry – research questions

The focus of historical inquiry is a significant question or issue. Students need sufficient scope and depth of research materials to fully respond to such a question or issue. Students should ask, What else do I need to find out before I can answer this question? The ‘what else’ takes the form of research questions…

Scaffolding inquiry

One important skill in the social sciences is independent inquiry or research. On a general level, the aim with independent inquiry is for students to frame and conduct their own investigation into an issue of significance, demonstrating a number of skills, including questioning, data-gathering, interpretation, analysis, hypothesis-formation, evaluation, justification and reflection. In history, the curriculum…

Finland leads the way (again)

The Finnish school system has long been seen as a model for the rest of the world due to its innovative policies and stellar results on a global scale. Now it seems that the experts are making big changes, not because the system is not working, but because they want it to continue to serve…

Guess Who? Building connections with students

Getting to know our students often starts simply: in the beginning we are focused on learning names, familiarising ourselves with the health alerts, catering for the diagnosed conditions and remembering miscellaneous details. While this is going on, we are trying to determine where our students are at as learners. An equally important (and often more…

Terrific Teaching Tool – Spiderscribe

Spiderscribe is an online brainstorming and mind mapping tool that students can use to record their ideas and engage in a number of higher order thinking activities.  There are a number of advantages to using Spiderscribe in the classroom: It is very straightforward to use Students have their own login so all mind maps are…