Strive for Greatness!

Over the last eight years I have had the privilege of listening to and reading from the work of some very well respected educators on what makes the biggest difference to student progress. Hattie, Fullan, Khan, Benson and Wilson are all surnames of people who wrote books about education. I am sure at least a couple of them have argued for the point that having great teachers is the thing that gives our students the best chance of success.

Ultimately we can introduce different intiatives, programs and technologies in our school but it all means little unless we have great teachers in our schools. Part of the challenge for all of us is how do we ensure that we get the most out of ourselves and each other everyday. What steps can we take to ensure that we are taking a step towards greatness that is going to help our students? I emphasise here that this lofty goal of greatness is not something that anyone I know would comfortably admit. Perhaps it is a hallmark of great teachers to be very critical of themselves and hence unlikely to describe themselves in that regard. What is important is the journey and the constant and continued improvement and refinement of practice that striving to be great (to steal LeBron’s motto) entails.

We all have ideas about what makes a great teacher, building positive relationships, high expectations, passion, knowledge and adopting the growth mindset of a lifelong learner are all traits that come to mind and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees that these are characteristics typical of great teachers. If we want to obtain a deeper understanding of these things so that we can learn adopt and share our learning with colleagues we need to be constantly looking at and learnng from our most effective teachers.

I want to try and make a conscious effort to learn form the most effective people not just in my own school but also in other schools. It is no good…I will rephrase that, the amount of influence of great teachers is severely limited if they teach in isolation. With their impact rarely escaping the four walls of their classrooms. We need to involve great teachers in important decisions in our schools, we need support, encourage and praise them for their efforts so that they will feel more inclined to share some of their insights. We need to be thinking creatively and be careful with our interactions so that our great teachers feel valued and their influence spreads in our schools and beyond.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I really enjoy myself when I am learning something new. I want to keep doing this as much as I can so why not learn form the best!


Sharing is Caring

I recently stumbled upon this article by Dkerr for connected principals. It highlights the importance of us, as educators sharing our experiences, successes, failures and everything in between.

Historically teachers have been left alone in isolation to run their classrooms using their own experience, knowledge and judgement to make an impact to the kids in the class. Surely in 2016 we have an obligation to share the professional knowledge that lives inside the walls of our own classroom and give it to colleagues not just across the corridor from us but also across the world from us. If we truly believe in the ability of the students in our direct care then surely we must also care about students everywhere! We  should make time to explore and connect with what’s out there through blogs, tweets, videos, and anything else we can get our hands on.  We can learn from each other and if we can contribute our own little bit then we can truly become a cog in a very exciting moment in the life of the teaching profession.

Do yourself a favour, read the article, start a blog (I need to get better at this one!), tweet something worth sharing and keep on learning!




A couple of trophies and a speed hump!

At a recent staff gathering we were given an opportunity to reflect on our year and discuss a couple of successes and also talk about one hurdle that we had to clear to have a good year. In terms of my role as Digital Learning Leader a couple of the success I thought of was the role out of our BYOD trial in the year 5 and 6 area. We had around 80 students sign up to the program and so far it has been a very smooth process. Of the 80 over 70 students opted to bring iPads into the school and we have now taken that into consideration for the expansion of the program.

The new look Digital Learning team in our school decided to expand the program to years 1-6. Next year will be a very exciting time when we see how the program will evolve and develop.  We planned and held a well attended information night and there is definitely a buzz around the program.

We also just recently became an officially recognised E-Smart accredited school. This is the culmination of over two years worth of work of auditing and formailising our teaching and wellbeing practices to ensure that we are giving our students access to the best online safety advice and education. We are now looking forward to not only maintaining our good practice but keeping in touch with the latest trends and advice from online safety experts that we have built connections with.

Our E-Smart Journey

A couple of years ago our school signed up the E-Smart Schools program overseen by the Madeline and Alannah foundation. The program has involved us following a process that has been really great for our school to follow, We started the journey with a thorough audit of our current practices and from this audit we worked out the areas we needed to improve on. Following the audit way back then we established a bit of a to-do list. Included in that initial list were:

  • Forming an E-Smart committee
  • Conducting regular E-Smart meetings
  • Including E-Smart updates in our sections and while staff meetings.

We have come along way since the initial planning stage of the program. Two years on and we feel as a whole school we have a much better direction in terms of a coherent whole school approach to teaching kids (and the community) about staying safe online. As a result of the program we now have a number of initiatives in practice in our school. Some of the items that have been implemented as a result of our E-Smart program include:

  • Establishment of an E-Smart policy
  • Updated Internet and email policy
  • Updated enrollment forms-to include sections about the responsible use of technology
  • New whole school behavior/incident tracking system.
  • The introduction of ‘Cyber Safety’ Shows for our student shows.
  • A P-6 curriculum document that outlines the explicit teaching of cyber safety behaviours
  • Regular professional development for teachers (from both internal and external providers)
  • Information sessions for parents and students from the same providers.
  • Regular presentations not just from ACMA’s outreach program but also from local police (cyber crime unit) to share information with our students.
  • Regular E-Smart meetings and updates
  • A parent communication program where they get regular cyber safety tips and updates via email and the school newsletter.

We are very proud of how far we have come as a school but we are also aware that the technology is changing rapidly and will continue to do so. We know that we have to continue to learn about new online technologies and more importantly how people use these technologies. Overall, we know that the internet is a fantastic tool and we want to encourage our students to use it for the many positive things it has going for it .

Aussie Teacher Standards…

Today we sat down as a whole staff and led by our principal went through the our new (although we have been practising quite a bit of it already) Performance and Development process. The whole process that each teacher undertakes is based upon our schools teacher performance and development plan. This plan set out two main whole school goals. Currently our school’s goals are:

To improve individual learning outcomes for all students with a focus on literacy, numeracy and curiosityTo develop a student centered stimulating learning environment that motivates and engages students in their learning

With these over-arching goals we have then formulated a series of SMART goals. For more information about SMART goals visit my classroom blog here for a post about SMART goals. (Yes, we use SMART goals with kids too!). We then reviewed our schools performance and development plan. Which included SMART goals in each of the following four domains of teaching four domains (more info available here) :

1. Student Outcomes

2. Professional Knowledge

3. Professional Engagement

4. Professional Practice

Our whole teaching staff managed to read through the SMART goals that were set and discuss strategies that we can implement to achieve these goals. There was also a robust discussion about the evidence that we can collect to be able to validate our claims to have achieving all of our goals. This was a very interesting session and one that I feel we all left feeling a little more informed (or at least reassured) about the whole process. We found that a lot of our current performance and development practices are closely aligned with the future direction that we are taking, so in a way our journey is very much already on the way and we think we are travelling in the right direction.

There are some absolutely fantastic resources on the aitsl website including loads of information about the standards and what the requirements of teachers are. They even have a very well laid out smartphone/tablet app, where you can register an account and keep a record of artefacts of evidence and directly attach them to the aitsl standards. It also has illustrations of evidence for each of the teacher standards, it really is a great tool for any teacher in Australia and is well worth checking out.  Here is a animated video explaining the standards and a little of the research behind them:


The Aitsl website has loads more resources including a self assessment tool, which allows you to diagnose your current progress on each of the standards and gives you direction for individual goal setting.


What do you think of the AITSL Website? What is one way you could use the website to help you in our performance and development process?

Using technology to inspire writing…and more!



This post is just referring to an a Professional Learning session our staff attended recently on using ICT in the classroom. The session was primarily about using technology to inspire writing in the primary classroom. A lot of the ideas were taken form Lee Parky’s excellent blog  I am a massive fan of Mr Parkinson’s work. He writes simply and his site is filled with imaginative ways to ‘camouflage learning’ as he puts it. Some of the ideas were also mentioned on particularly the stuff about using music to inspire writing, which I believe Mr Parkinson also contributed to. Here is the presentation that was used during the session our staff attended:


Feel free to check out the two great sites I mentioned above and or use the presentation above for ideas.  I would love to hear from anyone that is using any of the ideas above or has any other great ideas as well.


Leave a comment below…Please.