How to get the most from your parent teacher relationship

How to get the most from your parent teacher relationship. Tips and hints for building a solid relationship with your student's parents.

There as been so much talk in the press lately about teachers being disrespected at school by helicopter parents and now even lawnmower parents (yes that's a thing now apparently).  When I told my teaching buddy about 'lawnmower parents' she replied '...are we the lawn in that scenario?'. That pretty much sums up how teachers feel about our relationship with parents. It can be tricky at best. 

In the past, teachers were some of the most highly educated in the community and were therefore treated with respect. When teachers contacted parents about behaviour issues, late or missing homework or poor academic performance, parents would turn to their children to ask them to explain what went wrong. 

How to get the most from your parent teacher relationship. Tips and hints for building a solid relationship with your student's parents.

Today, when teachers contact parents they are often (not always) met with the denial ("It wasn't him!"), lack of insight ("He always does his homework!") or flat out accusations ("My child isn't doing well because they don't like you!"). If you reflect on the parents you have to have regular contact with, you know these can be difficult conversations because teachers are just not believed or trusted in general today. 

Right now, many teachers are enjoying their long deserved holiday break. When they return, many will face a gauntlet of angry and accusatory parents wanting answers to why their child didn't get an A on the last report card. 

So what to do.

You can't control these type of parents. Many have often decided early on that their child's teacher is the problem and nothing you can say or do will change that.

However, what you can do is reflect on the parents that DO make a difference

As I was mulling the inevitable upcoming parent teacher meetings when school returns, my mind wandered to those OTHER parents. The ones we don't talk about as much to the public press. 

I have a lovely student, let's call him John, who is a funny character. He arranges and rearranges his desk every day. Comes early to sit in the room for some quiet time. Stands with me on playground duty to chat every day. John is a sweetie but his parents are even lovelier. I've had many chats with both his parents who are very careful to keep John in his place. In fact I often make excuses for him "He was a little distracted I think.." and his parents tell him to "focus properly!". They set high standards for him, are open to discussion and we have a little laugh from time to time. They respect the work I do with their child and want him to succeed on his own terms.

Last year I had a student who struggled to get organised and write clearly. His mother would say "What can I do to help him at home?" and guess what.. she actually did a wonderful job. It made my job so much easier! She stood over him to make him re-do his homework over and over till it was perfect. She was busy and couldn't always find the time but her efforts were huge and TOGETHER we made a difference. 

There are lots of my student's parents who I have regular discussions with and over the years I still see those parents around the school and smile. We were a team, working together to help their child. 

The success or failure of the child is only as good as the team can be. 

So parents, before you march down to your child's school to confront their teacher over some perceived slight, do them the courtesy of the benefit of the doubt and ask yourself 'What am I doing to help my child?' If their teacher tells you they missed homework, ask yourself 'How can I help my child get more organised?' If they receive a D on their English grade, ask yourself 'How can I help him to do better?" Work with, not against your child's teacher and you may find a shared respect developing.

How to get the most from your parent teacher relationship. Tips and hints for building a solid relationship with your student's parents.

Teachers, try not to let confrontational parents distract you from what teaching is about and don't forget those unsung heroes. Those parents working hard behind the scenes, striving to help their child so that together you can make a difference.

How to get the most from your parent teacher relationship. Tips and hints for building a solid relationship with your student's parents.

How Organising Your Teacher Desk Can Increase Your Productivity!

How organising your teacher desk can increase your productivity in the classroom. Teachers help yourself get organised with this handy tool box. Downloadable labels with 5 fun designs.

It's Monday morning and I need drop my photocopying into the office but I need to use the 'official' little note on it so the admin member knows what I want (no a Post-It note is not good enough any more I have to actually fill in a tiny form!). Where are they? Okay, found them. Now where are my paperclips? ugh! Oh awards need to go in today... where are my stickers? 

Is this you?

Teachers. We have so much STUFF on our desk. SO. MUCH. STUFF. When the bell goes and students pour into the classroom, in comes more stuff... forms, letters, notes, money for school trips.. more and more STUFF! 

I feel like 60% of my job is administrative these days.

There are many benefits to having some organisation with your teaching supplies. It adds one less stress to your day for starters. Being able to 'find' something quickly can create a smooth start to your morning. Some people can survive without this level or organisation but I love any tool that helps me get and STAY organised. 

My teacher desk looks like a war zone most days and I'm forever looking for things!

So yesterday I got organised. I took the time, while on school holidays, to get myself organised once and for all!

I've seen teachers in America use these super cute organisers but couldn't seem to find them anywhere in Australia. 

However, my trip to Bunnings let me discover this. Hello baby! Not as big as the American versions but still perfect for what I need. I've left the price and code there if you want to take it to your local Bunnings to look for one. 

How organising your teacher desk can increase your productivity in the classroom. Teachers help yourself get organised with this handy tool box. Downloadable labels with 5 fun designs.

Just one point regarding the size inside the boxes. I've created a little video here so you can see how things fit inside but pens and pencils will not fit. Highlighters and glue sticks do fit but these boxes are for those really tiny fiddly things like pins, tacks, blue-tack and other things that tend to disappear amongst paperwork. 

Next I created some labels that are the perfect size to fit inside. You can download the labels here in 5 different font types (I went for black but you might be one of those 'colourful' teachers).

Once printed I laminated and cut the labels to give them some longevity.

I used these little gems from Kmart to place a dab of glue inside (about $3). You place the adhesive dot on the inside of the box and then attach the label. What makes these so great is you can pull them off easily and replace them any time. So when I was setting up my box I changed my mind several times about which label I wanted to use and they came away easily with no mess and could be reused over and over. So handy!

How organising your teacher desk can increase your productivity in the classroom. Teachers help yourself get organised with this handy tool box. Downloadable labels with 5 fun designs.

Once finished it was deeply satisfying to place all my desk materials into the drawers and the visual labels make finding items again so easy!

How organising your teacher desk can increase your productivity in the classroom. Teachers help yourself get organised with this handy tool box. Downloadable labels with 5 fun designs.
You may not want to use these exact labels, so inside the pack I've placed an editable version with the labels at the correct size. 

I'd love to see your finished organisers! Please Instagram them with the hashtag #TechTeacherPto3 - I can't wait to see which version of the labels you use!

Now there is no excuse for lack of productivity! Yikes!

How organising your teacher desk can increase your productivity in the classroom. Teachers help yourself get organised with this handy tool box. Downloadable labels with 5 fun designs.



How to get your teacher mojo back again

How to get your teacher mojo back again. Goal setting simple steps you can take to make sure you don't lose sight of what makes you a great teacher. Get your passion for teaching back again with these three simple steps.

Every term I help my students create student goals that will keep them focused and engaged. We explore how to set the goal, how to measure the success of that goal and how we know we will have achieved that goal. 

But do you set yourself goals as their teacher?

I'm not talking about data walls or evidence of learning - those are important of course, but I'm talking about the whole teacher.

What drives you day to day?

What makes you want to get out of bed and open that classroom each day?

What gives you the energy to spend your whole Sunday planning rather than Netflix binging another episode?

Teachers are humans (news flash) and this seems to be forgotten about in the push for teachers to undertaken more administration tasks, parent meetings, collection of returned signed forms and other such extra-curricular items. 

Teachers matter (wasn't that a slogan somewhere?).

So how do you get your teacher mojo on again and who has the time to set goals anyway, right?

How to get your teacher mojo back again. Goal setting simple steps you can take to make sure you don't lose sight of what makes you a great teacher. Get your passion for teaching back again with these three simple steps.

Keep it simple.

WHAT
WHEN
HOW

How to get your teacher mojo back again. Goal setting simple steps you can take to make sure you don't lose sight of what makes you a great teacher. Get your passion for teaching back again with these three simple steps.

WHAT
What drives you? This is a big question to answer but be honest with yourself. Personally I get excited when I see a new resource that will engage my students in a way that they haven't been engaged before. I get excited when I see a resource that makes a previously dull subject more interesting. Often I can hardly wait to get to that part of the day when I can introduce my new found exciting little toy/find/resource/printable whatever it is. 

At the moment I have been playing learning with SeeSaw in my class. If you haven't tried it, it's very exciting! Think of Facebook but just for your class and private. My students are so excited as well as we are Vlogging their responses to the reading text in reading groups.

Whatever it is that makes you want to teach. Find it. Find that one thing and hold on to that feeling. Don't let the curriculum drag you down (I used to love xyz until they made us do xyz). Curricula change, staff change, students change but your passion for teaching shouldn't change. 

Write the WHAT down by starting with "What I love about teaching is..."

WHEN
How are you going to hang on to that feeling? There will be times when you don't love teaching as much, how will you get that mojo back again?

I know, myself, I just have to spend 10 minutes on Pinterest searching for key terms for my next unit and I start getting some great ideas. What will you do WHEN you feel you are losing your passion?

Write down WHEN "When I feel I'm losing my teacher mojo I will..."

HOW
How will you know you have your teaching mojo back again? What are those descriptors, that we always teach students, that help us to identify a feeling or thought. 

For me I know how I'm going to feel when I have my teaching mojo back because I will feel inspired, driven, artistic, creative, challenged, passionate and ready to make a difference.

Write down HOW you will feel when you are feeling passionate about teaching again.

Now what?

How to get your teacher mojo back again. Goal setting simple steps you can take to make sure you don't lose sight of what makes you a great teacher. Get your passion for teaching back again with these three simple steps.


Keep those notes somewhere, in your diary perhaps, anywhere where you will see them from time to time. When you're feeling low take a look at them and try to recall those feelings. Follow your own instructions and when you're losing the will to keep teaching, use your go-to remedy you recorded. 

We're teachers. We're not in it for the money. We do it because we LOVE teaching.

Remember, this is about what drives you. Because what drives you is contagious and will drive the students as well. It's a win, win.

Enjoy your holidays and hold on to that feeling!





5 ideas for celebrating NAIDOC Week 2018

NAIDOC Week 2018. Because of her, we can! Celebrate NAIDOC Week with these fantastic ideas you can use in your classroom today, Perfect for students in early primary and assist in their understanding of HASS subjects such as History and Geography.

The theme for this year's NAIDOC Week is 'Because of her, we can!' and what a fantastic idea for this year's theme! Aboriginal women are the key to a smooth running community. They are elders, leaders, sisters, mothers, aunts and grandmothers. They are doctors, nurses, teachers and community liaison personnel. They have marched and protested and have instigated many key changes to Australian indigenous policy. What better way to acknowledge all they have done, than to dedicate NAIDOC Week to their achievements? 

If you're unsure what NAIDOC Week is all about click here to visit their website. Essentially NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

This year NAIDOC Week will be held from 8 - 15 July and there will be lots of celebrations happening across Australia. 

How can you bring this fantastic celebration into your classroom?

The Australian curriculum suggests we explore community celebrations (HASS) and explore their links to our own. NAIDOC Week is the perfect way to look at celebrations students are familiar with and create those early links with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

Here are my five suggestions for ways to integrate NAIDOC Week 2018 into your classroom.

1 Explore the celebration and join in!

Explore the ways that NAIDOC Week is a celebration by creating a class Venn Diagram showing celebrations such as Australia Day and how NAIDOC Week is celebrated. Then, as a class, brainstorm ways that the class could celebrate NAIDOC Week. It is interesting to see what suggestions students come up with and what their understanding is about Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture. 

NAIDOC Week 2018. Because of her, we can! Celebrate NAIDOC Week with these fantastic ideas you can use in your classroom today, Perfect for students in early primary and assist in their understanding of HASS subjects such as History and Geography.


2. Create some art

NAIDOC Week 2018. Because of her, we can! Celebrate NAIDOC Week with these fantastic ideas you can use in your classroom today, Perfect for students in early primary and assist in their understanding of HASS subjects such as History and Geography.
Explore Aboriginal art, their use of colours and styles. Give students some templates and they can create their own stunning art works. 

Here is a dot painting my students did one year. 

NAIDOC Week 2018. Because of her, we can! Celebrate NAIDOC Week with these fantastic ideas you can use in your classroom today, Perfect for students in early primary and assist in their understanding of HASS subjects such as History and Geography.

3. Research some inspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women

Let students research an inspiring role model within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. SBS has a fantastic starting point here and students could select one woman and then create a fantastic wall display with their research.

4. Review a timeline of Aboriginal history

NAIDOC Week 2018. Because of her, we can! Celebrate NAIDOC Week with these fantastic ideas you can use in your classroom today, Perfect for students in early primary and assist in their understanding of HASS subjects such as History and Geography.
Review the obstacles that Aboriginal women have had to face from First Contact till the present day. What is Sorry Day and how did it impact on Aboriginal communities?

NAIDOC Week 2018. Because of her, we can! Celebrate NAIDOC Week with these fantastic ideas you can use in your classroom today, Perfect for students in early primary and assist in their understanding of HASS subjects such as History and Geography.

5. Invite an Elder to your school

Your school is already affiliated with your local Elder but if not, then contact your local tribe and see who the local school liaison officer is. I've always found Elders to be fantastic fun and they have so much knowledge to impart to the children about their local community.

Get students to pose questions in advance (it's a good idea to field questions before Elders arrive) and make sure students understand how to address their local Elder as Uncle or Aunty. If you're unsure what to ask the Elder to do, just ask them to come and talk. They have so many interesting stories. Our local Elder comes every year and give each student their Dreaming Spirit Animal and the students just love this!

NAIDOC Week 2018. Because of her, we can! Celebrate NAIDOC Week with these fantastic ideas you can use in your classroom today, Perfect for students in early primary and assist in their understanding of HASS subjects such as History and Geography.

How to help students make geographic connections to places

How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.

The 1st of July marks a special day for Canadians - Canada Day!

How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.

Canada Day is a great time to make connections to places and the Australia curriculum for HASS Year 3 asks students to explore:

"Celebrations and commemorations in places around the world..."

"The similarities and differences between places in terms of their type of settlement, demographic characteristics and the lives of the people who live there, and people’s perceptions of these places..."

Exploring seasonal celebrations are a great way to reinforce learning and may help make those connects to places for students. In particular, Canada has many similarities to Australia that make it a perfect country to compare and contrast population, culture, climate and geography. 

What is Canada Day about?

Canada Day is the national day of Canada celebrated on 1st July. Canadians have parties, barbeques, parades and fireworks to celebrate their special day. On Canada Day all things Canadian are celebrated! 
How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.

How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.


It’s important for students to understand the difference between a celebration and a commemoration, this resource may be helpful to teachers. 

How is Canada Day similar to Australia Day?


Australia Day is held on the 26th January and just like Canada Day, it's a time to celebrate and rejoice in all things special to our country. We hold barbeques, parties and parades and treat this celebration as a chance to share with the world how wonderful our country is.

How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.

Similarities between Canada and Australia?

There are amazingly many similarities between our two countries and this is such a fun activity to get students to research and then brainstorm their results together as a class. Some suggestions might be to break larger topics down into smaller topics and pair students up to research and present their findings on each topic to the whole class such as:
  • Country status: both were British colonies 
  • Connection to the commonwealth: both are constitutional monarchies 
  • Population: both are spread out across a wide, mostly uninhabitable, area of land
  • Language: both speak English 
  • Population location: both have the southeast as the most populated region in each country 
  • Geographic sizes: both have capitals that are not the largest city
How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.

How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.
Differences between Canada and Australia?

There are some interesting differences between our two countries as well, these include:
  • Geographic layout: Canada has 10 provinces while Australia has 7 states and territories 
  • Population sizes: Canada has around 36 million and Australia around 24 million
  • Geographic neighbours: Canada’s geography means that it has closer ties with its neighbour the United States, whereas Australia has closer ties to its Asian neighbours
  • Continents: Canada sits on the North American continent whereas Australia is its own continent 
  • Industry: Canada has a thriving maple syrup industry where Australia does not 
  • Climate: Canada is cooler all year round where Australia is warmer
  • Language: Canada has a French speaking area called Quebec where Australia does not 
How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.
How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.
Where to from here?

In the past I’ve organised pen pals with a Canadian class and while we studied Canada they explored Australia. Writing to pen pals is the perfect opportunity to get students to pose open ended questions. The students have so much fun learning about life in another country and swapping pictures and can’t wait to get their letters each month. If you’re looking for a good site to find pen pals for your students try here.

If you'd like to download a free copy of the Venn Diagram shown in this blog post just click the link. 

How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.