Tuesday, 31 December 2013

January Wallpaper

It's the start of a new year.

New hopes and dreams.

I hope all your wishes come true in 2014.

Just click on the image and download the size you would like from Flickr.

This wallpaper was created in Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using DSP Walk in the Park II - 6 and embellishment Finest Simplicity - cloud. The calendar font is KG Ten Thousand Reasons.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Thank you Nelson Mandela...

Nelson Mandela has impacted on all of our lives. At school I was fascinated with what was happening in South Africa and have celebrated Nelson Mandela's journey from 27 years imprisonment to President.

His loss affects us all.

My thoughts are with his family and all South Africans.

This poster was designed in Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using DSP Hello World - chalkboard 1 with Stamp Fall Memories - wheat and font KG Makes You Stronger.
Saturday, 30 November 2013

December Wallpaper

It's December already.

I can't believe how quickly the year has gone by or how much the landscape in Education has changed.

I have learned so much this year and am grateful that I am not the same person I was this time last year. I have grown and developed and changed.

That is what it means to be a learner. That is what it means to be a teacher.

To download the wallpaper click on the image above to go to my Flickr account to choose the right size or alternatively right click the image and save to your computer.

This wallpaper was designed using Stampin Up's My Digital Studio using Stamp's Beautiful Today - frame and Santa's List - santa. Fonts include Doctor Soos Bold and Janda Truly Madly Deeply.
Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Aussie students deserve better.

The last few days have once again shown just how Australian students and children are regarded by the Australian government.

They don't matter.

It's OK to lie to them and to their parents.

The needs-based funding model, a well-researched model, that was agreed to by some states, (who with that decision showed how much they genuinely cared about their children) with the Commonwealth government would have meant targeted funds to all students in all schools with additional dollars for students from areas of disadvantage.

I find it absolutely shocking that such a model can be argued against.

It should be about funding all our schools so that all students have targeted resources to support their learning. No matter their background all students should have the opportunity for the best education possible.

Teachers shouldn't be trying to make up the difference with money from their own pockets to buy the resources that are needed so that students have what they need to learn.

There should be more staff in schools not less to ensure that all students have targeted support like literacy and numeracy teachers, like ESL teachers and real guidance officers and counsellors with genuine qualifications who can support students.

The Gonski $$ would have provided these opportunities.

Any idea that there is another 'better' funding model, most especially the proven failure of the Howard SES model which was only intended to put money into one sector of schools is a farce. This model doesn't address the needs of the sector with the majority of students or the majority of students with learning needs or who come from disadvantage.

The way we treat our students and our children reflects on our entire society. I for one am shamed by the Federal Government's decision - to lie to the Australian people and to short change the students in our schools.

I think Nelson Mandela puts it most appropriately and it's a reminder to those making the decisions that their decisions reflect on all Australians.

It's time to stand up. Do we as a society care about our children's future...or don't we? Time will tell.

This poster was created using Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using DSP Beautiful Today - 4 and embellishment Do Your Best - chalkboard. The font used is KG Be Still and Know.

Monday, 4 November 2013

I choose my own way to burn

Sophie Scholl, was a German revolutionary and student who worked against the Nazi's in World War 2 as part of a non-violent movement. She and her brother were convicted of treason prior and executed by guillotine for handing out leaflets.

When I think about what the Scholl's were fighting against in Germany her courage and bravery are something that I am inspired by.

We can't just sit back and watch when things happen. We can't accept the bad. We need to fight for what we see as right. Those who we work with or spend time with who look at the world through an apathetic lens frustrate me. Surely everyone has an opinion about things. Surely we can see a right side and a wrong side (although these might differ from different perspectives). 

Recently I've been part of a conversation where the words, "Oh well, what can we do", or a variation on this theme have been stated. 

There is always something we can do. Sitting back and taking a kick in the guts is not acceptable. I know that while my head is on my pillow when I go to sleep at the end of the day, I'm concerned about how things that are happening impact no those around me. I know we need to fight. I want know that my actions matter. That I have done something. Then I can go to bed with a clear conscience. 

Sophie Scholl talks about choosing her own way to burn. That's how I want to live my life. I want to have an impact. I want to make a difference. I don't want to sit on my hands and watch the world go by.

This poster was created in Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using DSP Fall Memories - 2, with font Lunchbox.
Saturday, 2 November 2013

Teachers are informed professionals...

This poster was created in Stampin Up's My Digital Studio DSP Newsprint -11 and Stamp Back to School - paperclip.

Teachers are smart everywhere

Something to keep me grounded in the chaos...

Teachers are smart. They work hard to have the knowledge and skills they need to do their job well. 

It's how those outside of schools move the goalposts and change expectations that is the problem. Policy that is being done to schools not for schools is not good policy.

This poster was created in Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using DSP This and That Epic Day - 8.
Wednesday, 30 October 2013

November Wallpaper

I can't believe that it's almost November. What a topsy turvy year. It's a time to reflect and to think about what possibilities we can get ready for in 2014 - cause let's face it; once we hit December, we're all about Christmas...

This wallpaper was made in Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using DSP Timeless Portrait - 11; Stamps Month by Month - November and Forever Young - tree. The font is Lunchbox.

Friday, 18 October 2013

A classroom is a place for...

What is your classroom a place for?

What does it look like?

Classrooms are a place for teaching and learning... 

But the important thing is that it goes both ways. It is a place of teaching and learning by students and by their teachers.

Teachers who learn from their students can build better relationships with them. They can develop their skills with their students to meet the needs of their students.

Good teachers remember that they can always learn new things. 

That's the kind of teacher I want to be. In my classroom I want to teach my students and have them teach me. I want to learn from my students and they learn from me and each other.

This poster was made using Stampin Up's My Digital Studios DSP My First Day and Stamp Amped Up Ampersand - ampersand header. The font is Stacked.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Beginnings...they are an opportunity...

This poster was designed in Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using DSP - My First Day - chalkboard; Stamp Post Card - place stamp here; and font KG Second Chances Solid.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Oh the places you will go...you are strong enough to get through change...

Change leads us to think about how things will impact on us. When we are faced with a new situation, we wonder how things will affect what we do and how we operate. That's natural. Sometimes we can feel alone and wonder how we are going to get through the change. How we can determine a way forward that will be the best for us, both personally and professionally.

This quote from Dr Seuss' "Oh, the places you will go" provides a positive perspective about going through the change and that as individuals, we can be strong enough to get through the changes that are happening and to move on.

This poster was created using Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using DSP - On the Go - 12 and font Doctor Soos Light.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Inspiring - Malala Yousafzai

How can anyone not be inspired by Malala Yousafzai?

Her fight for all to access education no matter their gender or where they are from is one that as teachers I know we all work for everyday. I wanted something I could put up so that I would always remember her words. It is going in my office.

Also there is Zen Pencils comic that is well worth a look. I will be sharing more with you about Zen Pencils in another post as I really enjoy them.

Please have a look at the comic at Zen Pencils and more information about Malala.

Malala has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her fight for education as a important tool for peace makes her more than qualified for such recognition.

The poster was made using Stampin' Up's My Digital Studio DSP Old School - 5, Stamp Forever Young - Tree; Punch - Oval Bubble and fonts, York Handwriting and Sketch Book.

Friday, 4 October 2013

World Teacher's Day

October 25 is World Teacher's Day.

At a time when the profession is being bombarded by negative press about the quality of teachers, it is important to take a moment and reflect on why we do our job; why we know it is important.

It is about learning. It is about the students.

We recognise that teaching affects the lives of our students and has an impact on them that is lifelong. 

That is why we teach.

Have a great World Teacher's Day.

This poster was created in Stampin' Ups My Digital Studios using DSP My First Day - chalkboard, Stamps A is for Apple and Extreme Elements - Stars and font KG Next to Me Sketched.
Thursday, 3 October 2013

Oh the places you will go...

I am about to go through significant change in my personal and professional life.

Change is something that happens to all of us.

At times it is thrust upon us in ways we never expected.

But we need to stay strong and work through change; to find ways to overcome new challenges; to take advantage of opportunities.

Because we never know where we might end up. It's about being confident in ourselves on the journey. Being optimistic that everything is going to work out and that we'll manage any issues that may arise.

I think Dr Seuss has put it best in his children's book "Oh the places you will go". I want to share with you some of the passages that are resonating with me at the moment as I begin my own journey into the unknown over the next few months.

Here's the first.

This poster was designed using Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using Stamp - World Map - map; Embellishment - Bon Voyage - hot air balloon and Font - Doctor Soos Light.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

October Wallpaper

It's a bit late I know... I have been trying to be tech free for a couple of days to have a rest. Kind of working...

But here it is...the October Wallpaper...something cheery for the month ahead.

This wallpaper was made using Stampin Up's My Digital Studio DSP Flirtatious - 3 and font Waltograph.
Monday, 23 September 2013


I really hadn't quite realised how much of a slave I had become to my phone. When an email came through I would hear the alert on my phone and drop everything to go and see what it was. Sometimes it was important and sometimes it was the latest deal on at KikkiK.

So one day, I made the decision to turn the alert off my phone.

And let me tell you what a difference that made to my life. I still check my emails - about 20 times a day; not the 75-100 times whenever an email came through on my phone.

It is freeing actually.

So I started to think about where else I could free myself.

Do you notice that little message at the bottom of emails? Please click here if you want to unsubscribe. Well...I've started clicking it.

I am actually surprised at some of the emails that I have been subscribed to that I don't know anything about. It's easy to make a decision about which ones I want to keep and which ones I don't. My work inbox is also not filling up as fast and that's always a bonus.

I am choosing who I want to receive information from. I am taking control back.

So I made a decision - if it doesn't add value to my day, I'm going to click unsubscribe.

And that got me thinking. How much of our day are we dealing with things we'd rather not. Being given a task that has absolutely no real use except a compliance test. Getting stuck in that conversation with a colleague who sees everything as half full and never wants to see another point of view. When you're losing control because you have lost focus of what is important.

So I realised, I could unsubscribe from that too...I could make a decision not to engage in that conversation; to not put all my effort and energy into the newest compliance measure because I know I'm already doing my job well. I can take back control.

This poster was made in Stampin Up's My Digital Studio using the Embellishment What A Day - apple and fonts KG Beautiful Day and KG Flavor and Frames 1.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Wisdom from Twitter and TED Talks Education

Sometimes we just can't say things as well as others. That is why there is such a huge following I'm sure on Pinterest for Quotes and Sayings.

Reading through my Twitter feed this week I came across this tweet from @venspired who is someone who I love to follow.

And I realised that it wasn't enough to retweet this; I needed to do something bigger. I wanted to share it so that it could be spread further than the followers I have on Twitter. It needed to be on the blog; it needed to be on Pinterest.


It says everything that I'm feeling. I, like many teachers, can't understand why our classrooms are having creativity, problem solving and learning removed and replaced with strict processes and curriculum that leaves no room for the things that create life long learners.

I've heard reports that our new Federal Minister of Education thinks we should go back to textbooks and just ignore this technical stuff; that kids should sit in their seats and learn while the teacher teaches.
We know this doesn't work. We know that the best classes are the ones where the students are engaged and thinking for themselves; the worst classes (hmmm Yr 11/12 biology when I was at school) are when you have to sit and copy things down off the board, there's no discussion, no explanation. The attitude that if you write something on the page you'll learn it. 

Haven't we moved past this attitude yet?

Our classrooms need to be places where we're engaging our students in learning. They have to want to learn. And we have to want to help them learn.

I recently was shown the Rita Pierson TED Talk "Every Kid Needs A Champion" which I've embedded for you below. If you haven't seen it, please watch it. It hits the nail on the head. As teachers we know what works; we know why kids don't learn. But we have to put up with decisions about education and schools being made by those who only worry about the bottom dollar or who aren't interested in education.

I was really inspired by Rita Pierson and saddened earlier this week when I saw that she had passed away. Your influence will continue through your TED Talk and I know that I will continue to share your words with my own world. Thank you.

There is an essay by Rita that is also powerful. Have a read.

The poster was created in Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using Embellishment What A Day - paper airplane and font KG Alphabet Regurgitation.
Thursday, 19 September 2013


I really love the MDS Software that Stampin' Up have released. There is so much potential for its use in schools by teachers. It is very reasonably priced and the stamps and other resources you buy are also good value and you can use the resources on programs multiple times.

This stamp was this week's purchase. I want to frame it in my office...yep I love coffee.

Click on the image above to download the poster from Dropbox. 
This poster was made in Stampin' Ups My Digital Studios using DSP Back to School - 3 and stamps Perfect Blend - cup and Perfect Blend - rule the world temporarily. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Twitter as a Search Engine

My search engine of choice is Google - basically because my browser of choice is Google Chrome.

But in my learning journey with the use of Twitter, I have found that I am starting to use Twitter more to search for things.

An example would be the school closures announced yesterday. I wanted to know as soon as possible which schools were going to be closed. It was on Twitter very quickly and I was able to get the list which was then verified in the online newspapers.

You know how much I like free fonts. I have now taken to using the hash tag #freefont when I've read all the Twitter posts on my homepage. A list comes up from a range of sources, many who I don't follow, and I can go from there to the links that are being provided to find out new things. 

It's definitely another way that people are marketing themselves online and trying to get their products out there.

You get some hits that aren't useful (kind of like any search engine really) but there are always a couple of gems.

Other search terms I'm using are:

- educational technology

- #designresources

- #educhat

What I am finding really interesting is the idea of hashtags. People actually identify as the person who came up with the hash tag. How cool is that!

In the learning journey I have been on I keep finding new things I haven't engaged with before on Twitter. After this post I am going to go online and look for more resources about how to use Twitter. My learn how to use twitter in 10 minutes book didn't go past what I needed to begin using it. And that's all I needed at the time. 

I think Twitter has a lot of potential to engage and collaborate with others. There are pitfalls, but if we are careful it can help us to engage with a much wider audience. That has to be a good thing.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

TeachMeet Brisbane - What works in Education?


Today I'm presenting at a TeachMeet session being held at QUT Kelvin Grove. I haven't come across TeachMeet before but the concept really interests me - educators interested in education talking about education and networking and meeting new people.

Essentially...it's all about collaboration.

The topic for the TeachMeet session is "What works in education?" The answer for me was quite simple - collaboration.

When we collaborate we get more done. We find out new things. We learn from each other. We work as a team, and aren't isolated. We make networks. We get outside our comfort zone.

I started to think about all of the things that I do to collaborate with educators outside of my workplace through Twitter, Pinterest, the Learning Place, blogs, YouTube etc and realised that without planning to, I have created my own Personal Learning Network (PLN). My ideas and strategies that I have for developing as a teacher and working with my students are better because I am looking for new ways to do things, because I am willing to be open-minded and see what is out there.

So...I came up with this infographic. This is how I see collaboration. Why I think it's important and how we can do it.

What do you think about collaboration? Leave me a comment and share your ideas.

This infographic was created using Piktochart.
Monday, 16 September 2013

Famous People Fonts

A few days ago I came across a font that mimicked Jane Austen's handwriting.

As a fan of Jane Austen's novels, most especially "Persuasion" I had to download it to use on my computer.

But it got me thinking about what other fonts were available that mimicked the handwriting of famous people.

There are quite a few that you can access for a fee, but there are some that are available for free.

I am aware that the Shakespeare font is the typeface of the published manuscript not his handwriting. If you are interested in looking at what other famous people fonts are available you can have a look at the following sites, but there they have a cost attached:

Friday, 6 September 2013

Myth #3 "Those Lazy Teachers"

No matter what your job, when you do it well, you work hard. You make sure everything is on track, that all the i's are dotted and t's crossed.

I don't pretend that I can understand what it is that a doctor does, or an architect, or a bank teller. They aren't jobs that I have had personal experience in.

What do I know? I know what it's like to be a teacher.

This week's myth (and apologies that it is a couple of days late - things have been a bit hectic) is about the attitude that exists that teachers are just lazy.

"Teachers don't do anything...they just stand at the front of the class and talk".

Where does this come from? It comes from a perception with the media and society that all at teacher does is stand in front of a class and talk; maybe ask a questions and then have a students say something; and then it's back to talking again.

Yeah right!

That in no way resembles what happens...and even if you're what has so politely been described as a 'chalk and talk' teacher (although we may need to rethink that with the number of blackboards in schools disappearing) there is still a lot more that you do.

Let's think about this sensibly for a minute. Let me give you a window into what a teacher may be doing while there standing at the front of the room just 'talking' and being lazy-like.

A new unit has started and with the changes to the curriculum coming again and you've been up late at night reading to make sure you're on top of everything that has changed before your class. It's straight after morning tea (yay, you had 5 minutes to go to the bathroom) and you have already had to address an issue as students have lined up outside. A quick look at one of the students you have been keeping a close eye on shows that once again, they don't have a school bag with them, but they've bought their tattered book. You smile as the student beside them passes takes it upon themselves to lend a pen to them. While there are some up the front of the room - paid for by you - you've been encouraging students to share with their peers when needed and it's rewarding to see that happen. You will need to chase it up with the Office again to make sure that everything at home is OK.

The unit is about the media. You start the lesson by asking students to work as a class and brainstorm the different types of media that may get the news from. Hands fly up; examples are called out. You remind the students, that in this class we respect each other and raise hands; and ask for a student who has sat with their hand raised for the first example. "Twitter" you're told and you write it on the board. "Do many of you get your news from Twitter?" you ask. Lots of hands go up. "What's another example of where we can find media?". "The Internet" another student who has their hand up states when asked. And it goes on until the board is filled with ideas. You consider what it means that older versions of mainstream media 'television' or 'newspapers' were the last to be raised. While asking students for contributions to the discussion you have asked students with their hands up, students who aren't contributing and students who look a bit off task to get more engagement in the room and make sure everyone understands what is going on.

So far, so good. Then it comes. The knock on the door. You're 10 minutes into the lesson and a member of the Administration is at the door. You ask students to begin to write up the list from the board in their books as you walk over. You are asked if a student is in your class. When you nod in the affirmative, the Deputy Principal asks to speak to them. You go over to the student and ask them quietly to go out to speak to the Deputy Principal. The class starts to chatter. You hear words from them like 'what did they do now' and quickly pull the students back to their task by talking to them about the different types of media that they have identified from the board. The Deputy knocks on the door again and you make your way over. The student is struggling not to cry and the Deputy simply tells you that they will be fine and can go back into class. You acknowledge the Deputy's words but stay blocking the door so that other students can's see what is going on. You quietly ask the student if they are OK and they shake their head. You ask them to go over to get a drink, take a few deep breaths and then to come back into the room when they're ready. 

Your lesson needs to move forward. The data projector is set up, and you are planning to show the students a YouTube clip about how teenagers engage with media. As you press play the data projector doesn't turn on. It was working earlier. You check the cords and they all seem to be where they are. You go back and check the cable to the computer and unplug it an replug it. The students are starting to get restless. What started off well is quickly going off the rails because of interruptions. You notice two students who are shoulder-bumping and ask them to stop. You unplug the cable again. The data projector comes to life. You quickly press play on the clip asking the students to watch it through the first time. You go back the door as the clip plays, noticing that the students are settling down again. The student who has gone to collect themselves is standing by the door. You smile and they re-enter the room and take a seat. 

The clip ends and you ask for some thoughts about what was seen. One student raises their hand and says "Miss why are we learning about this? Doesn't the media lie about things?". And there it was, the question that just threw your lesson plan out the window. Quick thinking and a new activity to come...and it's only been 20 minutes.

Is it physically exhausting like what I would expect a builder would be doing on a work site? In most cases no, although I'd like to point out that there are teachers on hot ovals with students...

But it is exhausting. The specific focus that needs to be paid to what is happening, the quick change in activity when there is a change in circumstances. That is exhausting. And the whole time you need to have a smile on your face. You need to be aware of what every child is doing. Class sizes at 25/28 still mean that there are a lot of bodies in a small space that need to be supported. The example above doesn't even begin to look at what goes into the differentiation so that all student learning needs are catered for in the lesson. It's just a very 'normal' start to the lesson. The rewards are the students. Their support of each other and their curiousity to find out more.

A teacher is on show. A teacher has to always be alert and focused about what is happening in their classroom. That includes what happened at lunch, what you need to be aware of with students and what's happening at home. 

Do you know how to manage more than 20 people in a small setting at a single time? Do you know how to keep them interested and engaged in the lesson? Do you know how to support their individual learning and social needs?

It's not easy. That's OK because we're there for the students. We're not there for anything else. 

But some respect for the genuine complexity of the role; the many facets that make up a teacher's role need to be acknowledged.

And for those who simply sprout up with the line, "Teachers just stand there" I say this to you. 

If it is so easy...why don't you do it?
Thursday, 5 September 2013

Design Resources #1 - Creative Market

There is so much out there and available for us to access to 'pretty' things up or to make a statement with our work in classrooms. I think I'll take a break from blogs of the week to share some design resources for a while...

This year I have fallen in love with "Creative Market".

Why...well for starters they release 3 freebies per week. In Australia, they come through early on a Tuesday morning. The best for me are the free fonts and the images/backgrounds. This week they have "Groovy" font...nice.

But there is so much more. I've said it before; we have lots of very talented people in the world. 

On "Creative Market" designers share their products, and they aren't all that expensive. So why is this good for teachers.

They have lots that will interest you..

I love Mr Chalk. I've used it on designs before.

Today I saw their "Back to School" range (obviously in the US...we're getting closer to our holiday break). There were some fantastic items.

Check out these when you go to the site.

Hand drawn book clip art...lots of potential there - $5
Back to school cute characters - $8
Mr Chalk (of course) $19

And the best part is that they come with a "Creative Market" simple license. You need to read the fine print, but essentially this means you can use them in products you create. 

And once you've bought it, then it stays in your account.

They give you the opportunity to make your own stamp on your work - just keeping things that bit different...
Monday, 2 September 2013

Favourite Fonts #7

There are lots of very talented people who create fonts for us to use, and many who generously create them for free for us to use.

Have you ever thought about making your own font?

Below are a list of sites that allow you to create your own fonts, whether it be based on your handwriting or completely from scratch.

To make something that you're happy with takes time and a clear idea. You need to strategise and design.

What do you want to make?

A font...letters...images...dingbats?

This image was made in Stampin' Ups My Digital Studios using DSP Old School - 2; Font KG Primary Penmanship and KG Empire of Dirt and Embellishment Back to School - mixed ribbon.
Sunday, 1 September 2013

Teacher Print

There are so many ideas around. So many really clever people with creativity oozing from them. I don't work like that. I need to see something and be inspired and interested. I need to then have a go myself.

This project might be quite simplistic, but it was what I was going for.

I think, as teachers, we should be proud of the work that we do. It affects lives.

These prints are something that you can frame for yourself or give to a friend or colleague.

I will be working on them to turn them into cards too. They will be great for thankyou cards that I can give my colleagues. Once I have worked that out I will share it with you.

There are nine colours to choose from. The prints were made using Stampin Up's My Digital Studios with the word window punch and colours as outlined below. The font is "Outstanding"

Saturday, 31 August 2013

September Calendar Wallpaper

Here's this month's wallpaper.

September is the best month of the whole year...yep you guessed it. My birthday is this month.

This calendar was created in Stampin' Ups My Digital Studios DSP Be Awesome Today - 7, Embellishment Back to School - black note, Stamp Back to School - paperclips and fonts KG Next to Me Sketched, Janda Curlygirl Chunky and Janda Curlygirl Serif.
Thursday, 29 August 2013

I can't control what others do and neither can you.

There are days, sometimes, where things seem to spiral out of control. Or out of my control.

When I am to blame; when I am at fault, then I have to take it on the chin and try to right the wrong the best way that I can. It is important to acknowledge when something hasn't worked and make an effort to change things.

But when it doesn't matter what you do, when it is the actions of others around you that mean things are spiralling out of control, that's when it is hard.

I find that on days like this I worry. I strategise in my head about how to fix things. I focus on different scenarios about how things might happen. I make myself stressed. I don't sleep.

There has to be a better way.

We need to self-talk. We need to make sure that when it is something we don't have any control over, that we recognise it and don't take any blame on our own shoulders.

We have to acknowledge, out loud, that there are some things that happen that are out of our control. That there are things we aren't responsible for.

Only when we do that, can we move forward.

This poster was made in Stampin' Up's My Digital Studio using Embellishment sweetly nested framable - bird 6 and punches oral bubble, round bubble and thought bubble. The font is Citizen Slab.
Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Myth #2 "Teachers get 10 weeks paidholiday a year"

The second myth I want to discuss is the idea that teachers get 10 weeks holiday a year.

This one frustrates me I have to admit. I would love to have 10 weeks paid holiday a year.

Overall it's more like the 4 weeks on average that many people have. Why? It's simple.

Teachers can't do everything they need to in a term. Over their 'holidays' they are planning their units, writing assessment, getting report cards written, marking assessment...

And yes, many teachers go to school on the holidays to get their work done.

Just because students aren't on campus doesn't mean that teachers aren't working.

And the stickler...the holidays are at the most expensive time of the year, because it's when students are on holidays. Teachers can't simply go on a trip whenever they want to access the cheap off season times and prices. They have set times that they can have a break. While that might be great for families, with parents off at the same time as their kids, it can be very expensive. The number of students who disappear during a term for a family holiday for two weeks...

So let's get to the facts. Teachers are usually on a salary, when permanent employees. Our 10 weeks 'holiday', paid, is an acknowledgement that we work more than a 25 hour week. It is an acknowledgement of the hours we've put in during the term on top of what we are actually being paid.

The irony is if we were to look at last week's myth - that teachers work a minimum of 27 hours a week outside of 9-3 then in one term of 10 weeks, they make up their holidays. What about the other 30+ weeks.

Don't jump to conclusions about 10 week's paid holiday. There's a lot more to the story, just like there always is.

Again, this isn't a complaint. It's reality. Please have all the information before rushing to a snap judgement that teachers are lazy and all they do is have holidays.

We'll talk about 'lazy teachers' next week.

For further background to this project please visit the original post.

The image above is created in Stampin' Ups My Digital Studios using DSP Amped Up Ampersands - 3 and font Citizen Slab.
Monday, 26 August 2013

What a teacher should know for the upcoming election?

Over the past few years, Gonski has taken main stage in the debate about education. I for one think that needs-based funding - the full 6 years - is needed to ensure that students can be better supported by more teachers, specialists and resources.

As teachers we all have to come to the table about that and see the value in that. Imagine how our workload would change with more specialist staff to support our students. Just $500 000 in a year would be 6-8 teachers in our schools with money left over for more resources.

But there's more at stake at this election for teachers than Gonski.

On 20 August, 2013 there was a debate about education in Australia at the National Press Club...except Opposition Spokesperson Christopher Pyne didn't bother to attend. Apparently having a national conversation about education isn't important.

I beg to differ.

I have provided below two different views about education and teaching. One is Bill Shorten's words from the National Press Club Address. As Christopher Pyne failed to show, I have looked elsewhere to find words that describe his view on education.

Teachers everywhere - think about what these two opposing views mean for you.

These were created using Stampin' Up's My Digital Studio DSP Back to School - 3 and embellishment White Simple Stitches, Line 7. Fonts are KG Primary Penmanship Lined and KG Next to Me Sketched.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Are apps taking over my life...or making things easier?

A few years ago I had a solid 60 minute drive to and from work on average. I wanted a way to make use of the time, so I began listening to audiobooks.

A favourite is Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Private Life". I can still remember the point on the trip when I heard about the electrical box and how electricity rolled out in New York.

Audiobooks have become a staple driving item for me. I have travelled the world and learnt about a lot of things including "A History of the World in 6 Glasses." And...time does go by more quickly.

I have moved over to Audible. I subscribe for one audiobook a month with others at a lower cost. An Amazon company, it works with my kindle too.

So what does this all have to do with whether my life is ruled by apps or not?

It's simple. Looking for the Audible app on the iPhone, I double clicked to get the run of apps that are open across the bottom of the screen and began working through them to find Audible.

I was surprised...actually I was gobsmacked at just how many apps I had used from 7 this morning when I arrived at work and had last listened to the Audiobook, until I left was ready to listen to the book on the drive home that afternoon.
I do pretty much everything in my daily life through apps. And this list doesn't take into account a lot of other apps I use on a daily basis either, that I hadn't today.

My life is represented by apps. My banking, organising meetings, answering emails, writing posts, taking photos, searching for new ideas and stimulation, finding out what is happening around the world and the list goes on.

Is anyone else coming to this realisation?

Are apps taking over my life? More importantly, is this a bad thing?

It wasn't until I thought about it that I realised that I was using my laptop to do all of these things, and still are, but that having the device I use whether it was an iPad or iPhone was changing the way that I did things sometimes. 5 years ago it really was all about my paper diary and my paper life...now not so much. Everything is synced across devices so I am not trying to find that lost piece of paper as often.

With my life now basically organised by apps, it makes me wonder just what things will be like down the track. What will 2018 look like? Will it be apps or something else?

I remember being really excited last year when Audible became an app I could use on my phone. It doesn't jump around like my iPod when I accidentally bump something. 

And I have found myself thinking...is there an app for that?

I have to admit that in recently putting up a shelf in my house, I did use the level app...much to disgust of my helper who had to go and get a real one...

I guess I am really OK about apps taking over my life in this way...

I wonder what the next technological instalment will bring and how it will change how I think and work...
Thursday, 22 August 2013

Covering your notebooks...

Really, this is bit frivolous and I am sure someone else has already thought of it, but it looks so pretty.

I like covering my books so they look nice and are protected from my rough handling; tossed in bags; bent etc.

The brainwave I just had was to use some of my scrapbook paper that I have in a pad. 

Usually that is reserved for posters I put up in my classroom, so this was a new thing.

Doesn't it look so much nicer than the original...

At the craft fairs and shops you can get pads of scrap booking paper for about $20; and it lasts for ages. Much cheaper than the wrapping paper I usually use to cover books...

Favourite Blog #9 Classroom Freebies

Teaching is a collegial and sharing profession.

Classroom Freebies is a blog that really underpins this with lots of teachers bringing together their resources to share with other teachers all around the world.

There are resources to meet the needs of different year levels and content areas and to give you inspiration for ideas to use in your own classroom.

Have a look.
Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A Must Read for all Aussie Teachers

I was sent a journal article today by Stephen Dinham "The quality teaching movement in Australia encounters difficult terrain: A personal perspective".

It talks about the 'quality teaching' agenda in Australia, and calls for all educators to find their voice and to have a say about what non-educators are doing to teachers and schools.

It puts into perspective the competing agendas currently occurring in Australia and provides a real context for some arguments that have been at the fore for change in Australia. 

It's worth a read.

Quotes created using app Visual Poetry.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Myth #1 "Teachers Work 9-3"

The first myth I want to discuss is the idea that teachers only work 9-3 on week days.

This has to be one of the most ridiculous myths that exist. Let me provide reasons why...

A teacher's job is more than standing in front of a class. The hours that teachers work differ from school to school, but let's say for the sake of argument that 9-3 are the hours that students are at school. The 'typical' teaching may occur from 9-3 where students are engaged in activities in a 'typical' classroom setting. But this doesn't take into consideration the following activities that have to happen outside of the time that students are at school. Another important fact; teachers are only recognised as working 5 hours per day on their payslip...so I guess that means 1 hour for lunch...we'll get to that later. Yep, teachers are paid for a 25 hour week; not even for the full 9-3.

Preparation time 

A teacher doesn't just stand up and teach. They have to do a lot of work to ensure that they are meeting the needs of their students prior to the lesson. For a primary teacher this means preparation for each content area they are covering in a day; for a secondary teacher that is for each different class they are taking in that day. Preparation means thinking about what will engage students in the lesson as a content area is being covered. How the teacher will ensure that the needs of all students are met e.g. what resources need to be created different to the other students in the class; what activities need to be included to cater for the learning needs of the students in the class; what tools are needed in the class; how it all fits into the overall unit and meets the assessment requirements; how it is being tailored to ensure all students are engaged in the lesson and it's meeting their learning styles.

Let's put that into some real perspective...minimum of 3 subjects taught per day x minimum 1 hour preparation = 3 hours outside of 9-3, per day; 15 hours outside of 9-3 per week.

Assessment and marking time 

A teacher has to ensure that they are able to provide parents with information about how a student is progressing and meeting the achievement standards for their content area/s. This again, happens outside of 9-3. Marking a piece of work is more than a quick glance and a guess. All student work is assessed against specific criteria. This takes time and occurs throughout a term, depending on what is being done. Feedback needs to provided on drafts so that students can make changes to improve their work. This can't happen between 9-3 when teachers are teaching; it takes time and focus to make sure that things are done properly.

Let's be conservative and say that on average per week a teacher spends 5 hours on assessment and marking processes = 5 hours outside of 9-3 per week.

Extracurricular activities

Schools need to cater for the interests of their students whether these are sporting or cultural. Debating, music, football...need to be managed by teachers in schools. This mean coaching, practice and support for students. And teachers want to do this. They want to see their students excel in something that they enjoy e.g. sport or music. But again, this happens outside of 9-3 or during lunch times (which they aren't paid for).

So again, let's be conservative and say that on average per week there's an hour for coaching/practice and an hour for the event. That's 2 hours additional per week.


There is a mandatory 1 hour staff meeting per week. That doesn't include the meeting with a concerned parent on a Wednesday morning. A meeting after school with the year level teachers about assessment. The Year 6 teacher meeting about behaviour issues. The meeting with your line manager about concerns or feedback.

Let's say there is something on 3 days a week - that's 3 hours outside of 9-3 per week.

Individualised support

Students benefit from extra support. With cuts made to specialists working in schools, that means that teachers need to fill this role. That means tutorials before and after school. That means working with students individually to help them improve and to give them more confidence.

Lets say two students a week for 1 hour each. That's another 2 hours outside of 9-3.

So that's an additional 27 hours on top of the 25 hours per week that teachers are 'paid' for on their pay slip.

Just because you can't see it, it doesn't mean it's not happening. And the items listed here are almost all, only ones that can actually happen at school. And I haven't mentioned the bureaucracy that teachers are required to do e.g. recording parent contact; behaviour management processes; or the professional development that they do in their own time to make sure they are up to date with current practices and addressing specific student learning needs etc.

These numbers are conservative. I've never worked 9-3 a day in my life. An average day for me is 10-12 hours, plus a full day on the weekend. I haven't worked with anyone who only works 9-3 either. I don't have a family, so I admire those Mum and Dad teachers that can do all this and try to have a work life balance.

People in different occupations work hard. This post doesn't dispute that, but asks those who aren't in teaching to better understand what teachers do. There are some myths that deserve to be debunked.

No teacher can possibly work 9-3. Schools are too complex for this to happen.

And before we get into 'holidays'...that's Myth #2 for next week.

For further background to this project please visit the original post.

The image above is created in Stampin' Ups My Digital Studios using DSP Amped Up Ampersands - 3 and font Citizen Slab.
Monday, 19 August 2013

Myths About Teachers Project

Join with me over the next 10 weeks as I work to debunk 10 Myths About Teachers.

There is a lot of misinformation about the work that teachers do. Instead of sitting back and just listening to the same old, same old, I want to try and provide a different perspective. Every Tuesday I will have a myth that I believe is important enough to debunk.

This isn't a whinge-fest. Instead I am taking an opportunity on my blog to provide a different viewpoint.

There are two jobs I feel confident talking about. One is being on a checkout at a major retailer, and one is teaching. Why? Because I've done both jobs. I have an understanding of them.

I am not qualified to sit back and make judgements about anyone else's job, because I don't do that job.

I ask that when you read these posts, you consider that the opinions are those of a teacher who wants to share the reality of their work with others and that perhaps you consider your judgements and opinions before you simply believe what I see as 'myths' about teachers.

And while I have my 10 myths, I know that other teachers might have their own. Share them with me. I'd be interested to see if we have the same thoughts or if there is one that I haven't considered already. Leave me a comment.

The header is made in Stampin' Ups My Digital Studios using DSP Amped Up Ampersands and font Citizen Slab.

Everything is a learning opportunity

Every day we are faced with different challenges and experiences.

A day doesn't go by that something happens that makes us question our beliefs or understanding, or where someone questions us.

And that's OK.

It's important though, that we recognise these to be what they really are.


Every day we can learn from the challenges and experiences that we're faced with. When something doesn't happen the way we want it to. When someone sees things differently.

We need to see these as opportunities.

But more importantly opportunities to learn. To think about things in a different way. To be open to new ideas. Because that's what makes us great teachers.
There is a new app I've fallen in love with "Visual Poetry". I think it's the English teacher coming out in me. It makes words nice and pretty. Check it out.
Sunday, 18 August 2013

Teachers do remarkable things

I recently heard the Federal Minister for Education, Bill Shorten speak at a forum in Brisbane.

I have heard a lot of politicians speak about teachers over the last few years, and generally walk away disappointed that they don't understand what it means to be a teacher.

I was thrilled to listed to Bill Shorten. Others in the room had tears in their eyes.


Because he gets it. Everything that came out of his mouth recognised the work that teachers do. I was furiously trying to get it down on my iPhone as he spoke, and have a few quotes I want to share with you.

It's important that teachers can see what their Federal Minister thinks about them and their work.

Thank you Bill Shorten. I am so proud as an Australian teacher, that you are our Federal Member and hope you stay there long into the future.

This poster was created in Stampin' Ups My Digital Studios DSP Back to School - 3, with the Stamp Back to School - circles 2. Fonts include Citizen Slab and KG Next to Me Sketched.
Saturday, 17 August 2013

Favourite Fonts #6

Select the link below to access the font to download.

Without realising it, these are almost all Kimberly Geswein fonts. If you haven't had a look at her site, there are heaps of fonts and dingbats to choose from.
Friday, 16 August 2013

Learning from each other

The thing I love about teaching is the opportunity to keep learning. It's the best part of the day when a student grasps a new concept, or when they share something with you that you didn't know before. It's learning. And it's not all one way.

We learn from each other.

This will be a great reminder to print and frame for my classroom and office.

Click on the image below to go to the .pdf version to download. jpeg can be found in Flickr from the buttons on the right hands side.

These prints were made using Photoshop CC. The font is Doctor Soos Bold and the background is Medialoot Chalkboard Seamless Textures Chalkboard-gray-5.

Pinterest for Teachers

You will know from looking at my posts that I love using Pinterest. It is the best place to bookmark sites that are of use and interest, and to see what else is out there.

This week, Pinterest has announced that they now have "Teachers on Pinterest".

While there is a primary focus, there are a range of resources that can be used across the year levels. From reading the blog from Pinterest, it would seem that a secondary focus is coming later.

These boards are organised by different people and groups and so there are lots of pins being included.

Have a look and follow the boards that interest you.