What are your rules?


We all have philosophies/ideas about how we should teach that help to define us as teachers. Having a clear set of beliefs about how we should approach teaching helps us focus our efforts rather than aimlessly wonder through our teaching career with little direction.

Below is a a link to a list of rules a teacher named Alison Pearse has for herself. These rules form the basis for how she teaches and interacts with students. The rules, although listed 1-10 are not ranked from most important to least.

Some of the rules listed might cause some debate while others I am sure we will all agree with. Some of the rules talk about using reward incentives, being prepared to admit mistakes & say sorry, being flexible, negotiate, professional learning, reporting to parents, respecting students, defining student success, organisation & clarity and allowing students to see something of your life outside school.

Do you have a set of ‘rules’ that defines how you carry yourself as a professional? Do you agree with the ones Alison Pearse has mentioned?

Click here to read Alison Pearse’s list in detail. You may need to read this at home as the site is blocked at school and may not even give you the opportunity to override it.

The Differentiator – using Blooms Taxonomy to structure tasks

This is a great web app. Although its name is a little misleading. Depending on how you use it it doesn’t necessarily make you differentiate your instruction. Never the less it is a fantastic tool to help you design a task statement in any subject area that is linked to Blooms Revised Taxonomy.

Go to the following link and watch the video then create a task using the tool (total time to do this – 1 min. 18 sec for video and 5 min to create the task).

The Differentiator Blooms Taxonomy 

If you like that try Respondo – creative literature task creation.

Both of these tools are created by Ian Byrd

Individualisation, Personalisation and Differentiation?

Differentiation is something that has been discussed at school lately, perhaps spurred on by the literacy diagnostic and report our school undertook and received in 2011.

Very quickly differentiation is about the way we instruct to cater for different learning styles in our classrooms. But are we really clear about what differentiation is and are we aware that there are other terms out there that refer to how we cater for differences in student learning. You’re probably not surprised, it is not unusual for education academics to come up with terms (or buzzwords) to describe every facet of our profession.

I did find the following useful when trying to look at different approaches we can take in the classroom to improve student learning. Please be aware that these are not definitive definitions of individualisation, personalisation and differentiation.

Click on this link to find out how the U.S. Department of Education defines individualisation, Personalisation and differentiation.

Click on this link to look at individualisation, personalisation and differentiation from more of a teachers classroom point of view. By Barbara Bray.

Bad Teacher

Bad Teacher is a Cameron Diaz movie released last year about a terrible teacher. The Knox Professional Learning Blog has deconstructed a scene from the movie explaining all the poor methodology used by the main character Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz). Have a watch and see if it helps you reflect on your teaching. Are there some things that she (the teacher) does that we do on a smaller scale? Maybe when we are in a bad mood, stressed, unhappy, or our focus is elsewhere?

Lesson obs Demo Deconstruction REAP from Knox Grammar School on Vimeo.

Australian Curriculum & TfEL Staff Meeting Wed Week 1

Our first scheduled staff meeting for the AC and TfEL is Wednesday 1/2. Below is an outline of how this meeting time and future AC/TfEL meeting times will run. As teaching staff are involved in a range of activities from AC science R-7, AC science 8-10, AC history 8-10 and TfEL we will not meet as a whole group. I’m suggesting that each group meets in their own area and gets straight into it. Below is an outline of how this might look – if you would like/need to change this you will need to catch the staff you are working with and arrange any changes with them.

Australian Curriculum Term 1

R-7 science familiarisation – All R-7 teaching staff. This group is up to looking at the Achievement Standards. Each teacher will get a copy of these and associated questions in pigeon holes to provide some structure to the discussion. Kim/Paul work together and JP teachers work together? Work in primary classrooms.

8-10 science familiarisation – Tanya and Allan. Will get the Year 8-10 curriculum in pigeon holes to bring to the meeting. Work in science lab.

8-10 History – Justin, Rosalie and Nick. Will get Year 8-10 curriculum in pigeon holes to bring to the meeting. Work in Justin’s room.


I will meet quickly with all staff to quickly chat about this process and help to answer any questions teachers may have.


All teaching staff not involved in the Australian Curriculum process.



What will I need?

SA TfEL Framework Guide

SA TfEL Review Tools Handbook


What will I be doing during the semester?

  1. Read page 8 which shows the overview of the entire TfEL review process.
  2. Read pages 9-13 which outlines working independently – you may want to be in a room with someone else to bounce thoughts, questions, and ideas off them.
  3. Undertake the ‘Personal Reflection’ process outlined on page 10. This is an individual activity but you may wish to work in a room with someone else in case you wish to clarify something.
  4. Undertake the ‘Reviewing Your Practice’ process outlined on page 11. This is an individual activity but you may wish to work in a room with someone else in case you wish to clarify something.
  5. Once this process is completed you will need to make some decisions about what Domains – Elements of TfEL you feel are areas for improvement. You may wish to prioritise these so that you can then select the most pressing/interesting/needed area for improvement.
  6. At this point you will need to undertake some research into the area you have chosen. Start with the DVD but also look for your own resources. This is where communication between staff will become important. If others know what you are doing they may be able to offer resources or help.

Remember that you will be required to include something relating to TfEL in your Performance Plan and also eventually share with staff in the middle of term 2 and at the end of term 3.

The above will require staff to lead their own learning with the support of colleagues. I hope the process is a useful one.

What is so great about schools in Finland?

Lately I have read a few different articles on Finland and its Education system. Described as a model of a thriving, innovative education system that focuses on students the Finish system is being held up as one of the leading education systems in the world. Interestingly it does not match closely with the UK, US or dare I say it Australia’s system which seems focused on places like the UK and US. We have NAPLAN, the My Schools Website and in the near future (2014) our first performance paid teachers. Some of the key features of the Finish system are:

  • No private schools
  • High level administrators have worked as teachers
  • They don’t focus on tests
  • Teaching is revered
  • They trust teachers

From the final paragraph

“You know, one big difference in thinking about education and the whole discourse is that in the U.S. it’s based on a belief of competition,” Sahlberg said. “In my country, we are in education because we believe in cooperation and sharing. Cooperation is a core starting point for growth.”

Does our system encourage sharing and cooperation or competition?

Read the full article by Tina Barseghian here.


Some of you will remember that I mentioned an online tool called Glogster last year. This Web 2.0 tool allows you to create online posters which include video, audio, images, links to documents like word, Power Point & spreadsheets and links to other websites. It creates very interactive documents for students to present their work with.  Teachers can use it to collect together information in one spot as a way of presenting a new topic or use it to provide students with a resource that you create with relevant web links, images, video and audio.

Some of the features of Glogster include the ability for teachers to set up their own classes, create their own projects, have students complete those projects and for teachers to then mark the learning online and provide written feedback that goes directly to the individual student. Links to each poster could be sent home to share student learning with parents who can then access student work online.

The school pays $350 for a yearly subscription to Glogster which allows up to 12 teachers to create accounts (3 of which are taken). Currently Tanya, Kimberley and myself are registered and using Glogster. If you want to access Glogster you need to see me and I will email an invite which will include a link to follow. See Tanya, Kimberley or myself if you need any help. As with most things a little persistence and patience may be required.

Here are some student examples from term 4 2011 and a rubric I created to help assess Glogster posters (feel free to take the rubric and modify it in anyway you like).

Glogster Rubric

Madison – A poster showing the career path Madison would like to follow.

Rick – A poster about Australian Federation.



National Professional Standards for Teachers

Extracts from a statement by The Hon. Peter Garrett, Minister for Education, 25th Nov. 2011 regarding teacher performance and development.

The National Professional Standards for Teachers will be used to develop an accreditation scheme for all teachers which will include reward payments for the top two levels. Personally I am think the National Professional Standards for Teachers are a great thing for our profession, however I’m not sold on ‘Reward Payments’.

“Under improvements to the Reward Payments for Great Teachers initiative, teachers who are accredited to the highest level of the standards will be rewarded with $7500 for Highly Accomplished teachers and $10,000 for teachers who achieve the Lead Teacher level.”

These payments are not that far away!

  • I wonder how this process will work?
  • How equitable will it be?
  • Will it encourage or discourage collaboration between teachers?
  • Will it be divisive within schools?
  • Will it make teachers ‘teach to the test’ more to get great NAPLAN results?

“In line with the Government’s election commitment, the first reward payments will be delivered in 2014 for teachers who have been assessed against the standards in 2013.”

All teachers will be required to undertake a review of their performance. Again, how this process works will be very interesting indeed. Physically observing teachers and collating parent feedback etc for every teacher in Australia will be a big job.

  • Will this process be conducted by people from outside the school?
  • If not what will be the increase in workload to staff?
  • If the process is run internally by schools how will it remain fair when a potential payment of $7500-$10000 is one of the end results?

“The Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework will deliver a yearly appraisal of every teacher in every school.”

Mr Garrett said under the new performance framework all teachers will receive regular and constructive feedback on their progress, as well as opportunities for further professional development. The framework will set out the aspects of a teacher’s performance that will be assessed and will include lesson observations, student results, parental feedback, and contribution to the school community.”

Are you interested in research about what motivates us? Suprisingly it is not always money! You tube video of Daniel Pink who is the author of several provocative, bestselling books about the changing world of work.

It seems the teachers in Victorian trials for performance pay are not jumping at the chance.

Read full release from  the Minister here.

To view the National Professional Standards for Teachers click on the page link on this blog.