Once upon a time teachers had to rely on taking students to culture, rather than bringing culture to them. These days, with more classroom technology than ever before, teachers can bring the whole world to their students without them ever leaving their desks. I certainly grew in the generation who were excited by this:
I must begin by giving my definition of ‘learning’. Learning is not remembering facts in order to pass an examination: learning is understanding. By understanding, the learning is not forgotten. The times I have heard it said “you must learn this” is countless when, in fact, what should be said is “you must understand this”.
So many of our schools and classrooms involve a multicultural mix of students and staff. Taking opportunities to include these cultures in lessons and other enrichment activities can help to teach tolerance and tackle prejudice. One way that I get to do that in my classroom, being an Aussie, is through the Australia Day Curriculum Olympics.
Think about what brought you into teaching in the first place. The opportunity to continue to work with / learn more about your specialist subject, and to communicate their enthusiasm for this subject to others, may be high up on the list of reasons. For those in the primary sector, the chance to teach a range of subjects, and to spend time in the company of younger children, may feature strongly. We may want to build relationships, to make a difference to people’s lives – something which doesn’t really feature in a number of professions. We may see schools as places where we will continue to learn and to stretch ourselves; there will be variety and the opportunity for a wide range of experiences within and beyond the classroom.
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
As a very young child, like so many others, my school reading consisted of Janet and John-style reading scheme books. Whilst these undoubtedly helped me develop my reading skills, the plots were a bit dry, and not particularly inspiring. I was fortunate, though, as my parents and grandparents bought me books, and we paid regular visits to our local library. I particularly enjoyed Paddington Bear and The Mr Men Series, and as an older child, I discovered Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, and other authors whose writing still endures today.
After enrolling on a mindfulness course, I embarked upon a personal journey into mindfulness and its benefits. It is something I felt so passionately about that I decided to bring mindfulness into the classroom. There are many definitions of mindfulness out there, but the one I choose to share with the children is “Mindfulness is paying attention to your life, here and now with kindness and curiosity” (www.mindfulnessfoundation.org).
Different students have different needs, but how do you go about catering to these requirements? Essex-based teacher and tech-entrepreneur Richard Canning discusses how each student is unique and constantly evolving.
As teachers we’re fully aware that each child has different strengths and weaknesses. In our classrooms we employ every trick we know to try to meet each of their needs and move them forward in their understanding. We’re familiar with the term ‘differentiation’ and know that it should be included within our planning for every lesson. But we’re also aware that effective differentiation in every lesson is often a difficult task, given we need to vary our approach and resources in order to ensure that we cater for what is often a diverse group of around 30 individuals. We don’t attempt this in isolation of course; today’s teacher has a myriad of data, information sources and professional networks to help them.
Bowie. David Bowie. Yes, that’s right, the chameleon of pop music. What would Bowie do if he was in charge of the education system? This is a question I have been coming back to over the last few months. With all the educational changes, upheaval and strikes, I have been thinking more and more about what would happen and change if Bowie was in charge.