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SMART SEE Summit – Calgary

What a privilege it is to be part of the SMART family! I can honestly say that I have never experienced such welcome and knowledge in one week! Can you imagine 57 teachers, who are passionate about technology, all from different parts of the world, in one room for 5 days? Can you imagine the conversations, the laughter and the wisdom? All I can compare it to is if you find your favourite hobby (say, fishing) and put a bunch of amazing fisherman from all over the world in one room together for a week, what would you expect it to feel like? Yep! Exactly! This is what the SMART SEE Summit is like – but with amazing, passionate and dedicated teachers! Not to mention the incredible hospitality of the SMART staff. We were captivated at their Headquarters where were introduced to some amazing people and then asked a numerous amount of time for our honest feedback on their fabulous products. How wonderful to be able to ‘pull apart’ software and five feedback to developers?! And the food!! So. Much. Food!!

Thank you – Thank you to SMART for an experience I will never forget. For the time it took you to put something like this together – you must all be exhausted

Thank you – Thank you to my brand new friends – Your wisdom has taught me so much about what classrooms can look like. I can’t wait to collaborate with you all.

SMART – You are just out of this world!

I thought I’d practice what I preached yesterday. Had a brilliant day teaching year 3 students how to use Green Screen. The topic was British colonization and each group had to put themselves in the shoes of someone from that event. They then write a script using their notes on their iPads and practiced their play before they went to work in front of the green cloth hanging up. The results were amazing! They were creative, they communicated, they all collaborated and most of all the used their critical thinking skills! 

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The Flipped Classroom – A Paradigm Shift

Everything I agree with….

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By Matt Burns

A change is here. It is not coming. It is here. It has arrived. And like the wind, teachers can feel it on their skin, and in some classrooms. The way teachers have taught for the last 100 years is undergoing a significant transformation. This article is about a paradigm shift.

Readers have almost certainly heard about the flipped classroom. It is a concept that has been in the educational sphere for at least five years now. At its most basic definition, the flipped classroom is this: the lessons are viewed at home and the homework is done in school. Hence, the standard classwork/homework pattern is ‘flipped’ or inverted. There are more sophisticated and better definitions than this, but that is for another article.

What effect does this homework/classwork shift have on the traditional paradigm of teaching? How does creating video lectures for students open up a…

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A Brisbane teacher’s powerful letter has both teachers and parents cheering

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Kathy Margolis has been a teacher in Brisbane primary schools for the past 30 years.

But the current state of Australian schools has forced her to make an extremely difficult decision. After three decades, teaching, nurturing and loving her students, Kathy is quitting and looking for work elsewhere.

“I have decided to look for another job,” she says. “Not easy for a woman in her 50s.”

Kathy wrote a letter to the Courier Mail, which she also posted on Facebook, outlining her decision to leave her vocation.

“Education in Australian schools is in crisis,” shey says, “and someone has to listen to those who are game enough to speak up.”

“To all my teaching buddies and all my friends with school age kids, I’ve written a letter on your behalf to the editor of the Courier Mail:

Education in Australian schools is in crisis and someone has to listen to those who are game enough to speak up. I have been a primary school teacher in Brisbane schools for over 30 years. This year, after much thought, I have decided to look for another job, not easy for a woman in her 50s. I cannot continue to do a job that requires me to do what is fundamentally against my philosophy of how it should be done. I love my students and they love me. I know how to engage children in learning and how to make it fun. It’s what I do best.

Teachers have very little professional autonomy anymore. We are told what to do, how to do it and when it has to be done by. Never have I experienced a time in my profession where teachers are this stressed and in real fear for the mental health of not only themselves, but the children that they teach. The pressures are enormous. And before we get the people who rabbit on about our 9 to 3 day and all the holidays we get, let’s get some things straight. No teacher works from 9 until 3. We are with the students during those hours. We go on camps, we man stalls at fetes, we conduct parents/teacher interviews, we coach sporting teams and we supervise discos. And of course there is the lesson preparation, the marking, the report cards. Full time teachers are paid 25 hours a week. Yes you read that correctly, 25 paid hours a week. In any other job that would be considered part time. So now that I have justified our holidays, many of which are spent doing the above, let’s talk about what is going on in classrooms across this great nation of ours.

Classrooms are overcrowded, filled with individuals with all sorts of needs both educational and social. Teachers are told we must differentiate and cater to each individual. Good teachers try desperately to do that but it is near impossible and we feel guilty that we are not doing enough to help the children in our care.

The curriculum is so overcrowded. Prep teachers who used to run lovely play based programs (which might I add work beautifully) are teaching children sight words and how to read and write alongside subjects like history and geography. As a teacher and a mother of 3 sons, this scares the proverbial out of me. We all know that boys this age need to be moving around doing things that interest them, not sitting at desks. And what about the notion of readiness? I fear those little ones who are not ready are going to be left behind. And here’s the problem with our crowded curriculum. There is not enough time to consolidate the basics. Every teacher on this earth will tell you that the early years should be about the 3 R’s. My own children went off to year one after having had a lovely, enriching play based year of learning back in the days of pre-school. They didn’t know any sight words; they could write maybe a few letters and guess what? They learnt to read and write without being pushed at such an early age.

In my teaching career I have never seen so many children suffering from stress and anxiety. It saddens me greatly. Teaching at the moment is data driven. We are testing them and assessing them and pushing them so hard. I get that teachers need to be accountable and of course we need assessment but teachers have an innate ability to know what kids need. A lot of it is data for data’s sake. Don’t even get me started on NAPLAN. Teachers wouldn’t have a problem with NAPLAN if it wasn’t made out to be such a big deal by the powers that be, the press and parents. It has turned into something bigger than Ben Hur.

So why am I writing this? I’m writing this because teachers need to speak up but we are often afraid of retribution. We need to claim back our profession but we are powerless. Teachers teach because we love children and are passionate about education. Our young teaching graduates enter the profession bright eyed and bushy tailed, energetic and enthusiastic, ready to make a difference. So why I ask are they only staying for an average of 5 years? Of course that question is rhetorical. I know the answer. They are burnt out and disillusioned. Older teachers like me have seen better days in the classroom so in a way it’s harder for us to see all the joy slowly being sucked out of learning. But we also have a wealth of experience to draw from and we know which hoops you don’t necessarily need to jump through. We occasionally speak out. We are not as easy to “control”. But we are tired and also burning out with disillusionment.

I write this in the hope that we can spark a public discussion. We need the support of parents, who I know agree with us. I write this because I love children and I can’t bear to see what we are doing to them. Last year, as I apologised once again to my class for pushing them so hard and for the constant barrage of assessment, one child asked me “if you don’t like the things you have to do then why are you still a teacher?” That question got me to thinking long and hard. I had no answer except that I truly loved kids and it was with a heavy heart that I realised that wasn’t enough anymore.”
Read more at http://www.mamamia.com.au/