About This Blog

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I am an IB Educator, currently working as a PYP Coordinator in India.This blog is a space to explore thoughts as a teacher, a parent and a learner. I'm interested in different ways of imagining and realising education and present this blog as a platform to explore and share ideas.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

No Chair Day



Browsing through the website of The Early Years Alliance, I came upon a piece by UK-based music and movement specialist, Helen Batteley (https://www.eyalliance.org.uk/music-and-movement-encouraging-physical-activity). She was advocating for ‘No Chair Day’, an initiative to provoke teachers to think about the importance of physical activity for children and about alternatives to sitting in classrooms. The simplicity of the campaign appealed to me and I floated the idea to the Junior School staff. To my great pleasure, many took up the challenge, pitching the idea to their students and brainstorming ways learning could be re-designed without the need for sitting.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Creation of a Children's Garden




I'd had my eye on a particular patch of greenery for quite some time and had been observing it through the seasonal changes to gauge its potential as a children’s garden. It sits at the end of the Junior School corridor but the puzzling fact that it was surrounded by a thick hedge meant that we couldn’t access it. A number of reasons why we couldn’t use it had been given, but only ever anecdotally and none of the reasons seemed insurmountable. So I designed a proposal as a part of an outdoor learning and play spaces revamp, got the go-ahead and, one fine day, a entrance way cut appeared in the hedge and we were allowed in!

Friday, 8 February 2019

Joining in with Global School Play Day

(https://www.facebook.com/globalschoolplayday/)


One of our new focus areas in our Junior School is that of play so I was really keen for us to take part in Global School Play Day this year. Each class from Grades 1-5 were involved, incorporating play into the school day in the form of free play and more teacher-led activities. 

This wonderful grassroots celebration of play really aims for children to be engaged in purely unstructured activities as this is increasingly stolen from them in our race for them to be achieving and busy the whole time. I took this as an opportunity to also encourage our teachers to come up with ways they could design play-based learning engagements during the day in addition to the free play. It was also another invitation for more movement-based and outdoor activities. 


Of course, the children had a really fun day, and the teachers also enjoyed the challenge too!


Friday, 1 February 2019

Loose Parts Playground Launch




This week sees the launch of our ‘loose parts playground’! I’ve been working on a re-vamp of our outdoor spaces with a focus on re-directing the way we play and learn in them. One initiative I have been keen to bring in is the concept of providing children with outdoor play items which will provoke creativity, new ways of using the body, teamwork and communication. These items will supplement the existing fixed-to-the-ground playground equipment pieces and will consist of collections of random items which children can use to build structures of their own choosing. Logs, planks of wood, tree branches, tyres and fabrics are just some of the things we are including in our loose parts playground.

Friday, 25 January 2019

An Enlightening Visit



For a teacher, a visit to another school always brings in fresh ideas and perspectives. This week I was privileged to visit a very special school indeed, a Waldorf school in Hyderabad, India. It is one of those schools where, as soon as you enter, you are aware of a tangible atmosphere or energy and, by the end of the visit, you feel slightly changed in some way. This school radiated a distinct feeling of calm and happiness and both the children and the staff welcomed us with smiles and openness.


Friday, 14 December 2018

Real Tools and Materials



Being the daughter of two exceptionally skilled craftsmen (jewellers, to be precise) I might have also developed fantastic artistic skills but, sadly, these largely passed me by. However, I did develop a deep appreciation for the value of craftsmanship and design along with transferable attributes of creativity, perseverance and attention to detail. Now, as a mother of young child and educator I am all the more cognisant of the multiple values of handwork and exploration of diverse materials. Two skill areas I have been particularly keen to explore with my own child are sewing and woodwork, both of which he is really hooked on. Dexterity, focus, muscle strength, perseverance, problem-solving, joy... just some of the many benefits I can see have been developed in him. 

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Changing Teacher and Student Roles



Two texts I’ve been reading recently have led me to reflect on a thorny issue within teaching and learning - the gap between what the teacher intends for students to learn and the learning that actually takes place. The studies I’ve been reading are The Hidden Lives of Learners by Graham Nuttall, published posthumously in 2007, and the fascinating study of reading, Inquiry into Meaning: An Investigation of Learning to Read (2001) revised ed. by Bussis, Chittenden & Sallinger.


Nuttall’s research tracked students in classrooms through hours of detailed data gathering involving audio/video recordings, anecdotal records, observation, and interviews. The findings showed that what was typically learnt from a lesson varied considerably from student to student and in most cases was indeed not at all what the teacher had planned for them to learn. Reasons given were various - insufficient knowledge of students’ prior knowledge, lack of student motivation and students retaining little from the planned engagement.

Reading this, I connected with the theories of Kelly (1955), used by Bussis et al. as a framework for their study of reading. Kelly proposed that an individual’s personal constructs dictate the way he/she perceives information. Here is an explanation from the first edition of the book by Bussis et al quoted in the revised edition:

...two people exposed to the same events may construe them in very different ways and come away from the same situation with two quite disparate sets of learning and experience. Likewise, individuals may construe different events in much the same way and thereby share similar meanings and exhibit similar behaviours. It is similarity in the construing of events that provides the basis for similar perceptions and actions, and not similarity or sameness in the events themselves. (Bussis et al., 1985, p. 15)


Saturday, 13 October 2018

On (Re)discovering The Golden Rule


In this world of information overload which we navigate daily, it’s so rewarding to come across something that resonates with you for its sheer simplicity and deep worth. While listening online to Karen Armstrong’s enlightening speech at the Global Centre for Pluralism’s annual lecture, I was re-introduced to the The Golden Rule; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I’ve only known this as a bible verse but I was delighted and and humbled to learn that this principle is to be found throughout the world’s religious texts and has been used by the the greatest thinkers and writers throughout history. 

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Positivity and Passion Towards Nature


Today I was glad to come across an interview on YouTube with Richard Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder", in which he highlights the need for positive interactions between children and nature. One of his key messages is that rather than filling young minds with a doom and gloom portrayal of the future in regards to climate change and environmental destruction, we should aim to generate positive feelings in our children towards the natural world. His point is that if children have developed a love of nature, then they are going to be more likely to want to protect it. It's a pretty simple theory really but an essential one for educators to get to grips with.

Here he is in an interview for Global Voices for Justice:


Sunday, 30 September 2018

Tree Climbing

"Leaves rustle softy and whisper and sway: Can you see in the tree who is hidden away? Green branches, green birds' nest, green grass or green sea, there's nothing so green as the world of a tree."

This is a page from one of my most-treasured childhood books, ‘A Child’s Book of Seasons’ by Satomi Ichikawa. Her enchanting illustration shows the wonder of tree-climbing, one of my favourite pastimes as a child. My young son has suddenly become fascinated by climbing trees and, for me, watching him scrambling up amongst the branches has been bringing back so many memories of special trees I delighted in exploring. Each tree offered unique gifts - a spectacular view, a hiding place, a thinking spot, even fruits to snack on at the right time time of year.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Edubabble

“What does a lessin look like? Lessin.
Sounds small and slimy.
They keep them in the glassrooms.
Whole rooms made out of glass. Imagine.”

This is an extract from the wonderful poem, First Day at School by Roger McGough, illustrating a child’s confusion regarding school vocabulary. I was reminded of it during a heated discussion recently on the choice of a particularly difficult word used daily in our curriculum which one colleague in the group felt was far beyond the comprehension of children. The word was, ‘transdisciplinary’ which is at the root of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. Though me and my colleagues staunchly defended the use of the word during the discussion, I did begin to reflect afterwards on exactly how much of the curriculum jargon our students actually understand and to what depth.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Listening to Students


A new angle I am actively pursuing this year in my teaching is encouraging students to drive their own learning. One of my first steps is a commitment to taking feedback from my students. Having recently been involved in a number of research projects in which I had to gather data on student views and experiences, I’ve been really awoken to the importance of listening to students and trying to see things from their perspective. 

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Auditory Attention Span


These days we are repeatedly hearing that the attention span of the young generation (iGen/Generation I) has reduced immeasurably and they can no longer focus on a task for more than a few minutes. Technology is, of course, the accused in this case, with instant messaging, instant shopping and the world of information at our fingertips. I’m not really sure where I stand on this but some musical experiences I've had recently led me to wonder if there might be some truth in the claim. 

No Chair Day

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