Who’s your awesome teacher?

VeniceAsk any teacher why they became one and the most common response is that they once had an awesome teacher that made them want to become an educator themselves. Mine was Zacher a wonderful art teacher who made me want to learn about how art came about, about egyptians and greeks and romans and romanesque and gothic and renaissance and baroque and then some. I can still see clearly in my mind the wonderful notebooks she put together and the very special times we spent huddled around the art tables going through the history as she told stories of what had happened and invited us to contribute, to question and to seek our own responses. I still have my essays, hand written on foolscap lined paper. More importantly, I never forgot those learning sessions and to this day I teach, I learn and I question. I also make art – not in any common studio form such as painting and ceramics like I did in university but I think and do art works – differently. I have a collection of diaries, for examples, one each for my adventures overseas. In them I poured out my thoughts and feelings, I described my adventures, I drew and I tore paper and images and pasted them in. Then I drew over the top and even used water colour pencils something I had dismissed due to my experiences in that same university. You see I don’t particularly like rules, nor do I think that there are always ‘right’ answers. I approach everything through a visual, emotional perspective. Some might say that that, is why I get into trouble! And that’s true I get emotionally attached and then it hurts when things don’t work out. At the same time that’s okay too, because I like capturing those moments when you’re suddenly struck by a new thought and take the risk regardless.

As an educator, I value uppermost the importance of relationships. I suspect that the teachers mentioned by my colleagueArt educators have this gift to connect with their students in many ways. These are the teachers that become the ‘awesomes’. They seem to be always the ones that make the effort, that give a damn about how and who you really are. They’re not superficial, they really do want to know. They are also the same ones who do everything in their power and then some, to allow you to succeed. They take opportunities to connect with you. They seek your learning preference and find out what you like and then they ingeniously combine and blend, mingle, amalgamate, and intermix them strategically within the content to get you hooked – all of us – hooked into learning.

So, if you get one message from this post it’s that tomorrow when you get to school you make an extra effort to connect with that kid who always gets away. I recommend 5 simple things to get you started:

1. Make eye contact and smile 🙂

2. Greet them individually by name

3. Notice something they do well and let them know about it

4. Tell them what you like to do and why.

5. Ask them what they like to do and why.

I’d love to hear what you do to form your learning relationships with students.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Are boys’ brains different from girls’ brains?

Where would you stand on the following statements?

  • People react differently to girl and boy babies (agree/disagree)
  • One year olds don’t distinguish between boys’ and girls’ toys (agree/disagree)
  • Five year old girls play with both boys’ and girls’ toys alike (agree/disagree)
  • Environments bias boys’ and girls’ behaviour (agree/disagree)

This is an interesting scientific exploration by Lise Eliot of the differences between boys and girls that breaks down damaging gender stereotypes – Pink Brain Blue Brain

Click on photo below to view the video. You can watch the whole 40 min or jump to sections that interest you.

Pink brian blue brain







5 top tips to try in your classes this week

take-a-smile1. Surprise them – Greet each student individually at the door, ask them how their day has been – smile!!

2. Be unpredictable – Post a sign on the door asking your students to meet you in some other place around the school – preferably where you have never held a class before! AND tell them to RUN!

3. Ignite their curiosity – Instead of giving the late student the third degree, make a fuss about how happy you are that they have finally made it and how sorry you are that they missed the best part of the lesson…then just continue on with the class without faltering!

late4. Connect with them – speak and/or make eye contact with each student in the class – three times – remember that some students have difficulty meeting your gaze, ensure that you are not making them uncomfortable but rather think of some other way to make contact, maybe you could ask them to show you their learning, or ask them a direct question about that learning once the class has settled into the task-at-hand.

5. Change your tune – instead of calling it WORK call it LEARNING – see what happens.

Drop me a line and tell me how it went… 🙂

What to do when you have a great idea

light_bulbShare it of course!

Don’t expect that everyone will come on board or even think it’s a good idea.

That would be too easy.

Don’t be discouraged but instead, plan to develop your idea and find a few people who are willing to listen and help you do it.

Begin your journey with small steps, be prepared to take one step back, but never underestimate your ability to move forward.

Remember, not all things begin with a bang, sometimes it takes time to nurture and grow and establish deep setting roots. Go quietly and be humble, but always have the end in mind. Share your idea around and see what happens.

As the idea begins to grow, share the story, make others who may be in higher positions aware of what you are doing and get others to tell of their success.

Show them your ideas work, bring the evidence.Reflecting_over_the_ocean_1

New ideas bring change and not everyone likes to change. Your idea may take a while but if you’re patient and your idea is valid then things will eventually change.

Never give up!

Thanks for reading 🙂