Saturday, 3 February 2018

Experiential Learning -

 When I started writing this blog I wasn't sure where I wanted to go - as I know I am no where near the perfect teacher - I consider myself a life long learner - so when I share what I do I am not saying what I do is best practise - it is what works for me and my students,   I have taught in many different systems with so many different classes with wide ranging demographics and ability levels. This is my favourite way of teaching and I think the kids like it too!

Experiential Learning 

I find the experiential learning is at the heart of all my teaching whether I teach Mathematics, Study of Religion or Biology.  When the student can see, touch or do something then they engage with the curriculum at a deeper level and in my opinion retain important teaching points in their long term memory.   It is learning by doing - reflecting and creating a piece of work based on the experience .


From way back to my first year of teaching I have searched and searched for ways to bring the world into my classroom, to create meaning for the learning in my students minds - Have you ever heard " why are we doing this, I'm never going to use it" for me that is a sign that I am not meeting my kids where I need to, its a sign they are bored and not engaged. 

SO what DO I do !


I try to do this in many tasks in my classroom - I have  created an audience for an assessment  and I have created audiences in my formative lessons.  Giving the students an audience that is directly related to real life engages the students as there is a real reason that we are  striving for a certain learning goal.  A few examples from my teaching practise :

- My students were on a Vocational Pathway and many had English as a Second Language and the task - pre written and provided - was to complete an environmental assessment  of a resort in a remote location -  the assessment would be presented as an oral. For ESL kids this is a complex task that could lead them to lose motivation and feel like the task was bigger than them.  I changed this task and made it experiential for them by organising to spend time with a local ranger - in his workplace and in our school -  he told them about the features he managed and then when it came to presenting the assessment the students presented it to him - he came back for 2 hours to listen to the kids !!!! how amazing for them, to really be considered.


- As a part of the Earth Sciences unit we were studying the effects of climate change - I added into my lessons a real time live link up with a research vessel in the Pacific Ocean that was studying historical data on Climate change by taking core samples . The kids spoke to scientists who explained what they were doing, the data that they were taking and then  showed them the equipment used ! It was phenomenal - the scientists Rocked they definitely knew how to work the crowd and the kids did something that was

out of the ordinary and related to their learning.

I am a Biology teacher so this is where a lot of experiential learning comes from - But I also have a contact with a teacher/missionary/Nun who spent time on Kiribati and she comes to my class every year  and teach my students about rising sea levels, and environmental refugees with pictures and  a song and she explains her life on the island.


With maths I love bringing in food! who doesn't  - FRACTIONS who loves teaching Fractions ME  _ I get choc chips and count them into my cookie mix - and then we deconstruct our cookies finding out who has  what fraction in their cookie - I use cookies too for probability.


However it doesn't only have to be science based to be experiential - In study of Religion I find the religions I am teaching about students may have never ever met a person of a religion different to them. On this occasion when teaching about sacred texts I put together a panel of my friends and they came in on the same day - there was an Atheist, a Jew,  Muslim and a Hindu person as well as an Anglican person. They made a panel and told the students about their religions sacred texts and the students got to touch them and look at them  and ask any questions.  It was a really great experience for me also.

All you need to do for this is look at your staff - there are experts among you that you can tap into I'm sure - when teaching Diabetes - I ask the diabetic staff member to explain a day in their life and why - when teaching about IVF and GIFT and adoption I get a staff member who has adopted a child to come in and explain her amazing experience of adopting her beautiful son - we have a staff member from another state who has completed a doctoral thesis and when the topic of her thesis comes around I invite her to teach the lesson - she brings the PhD shows the kids and then delivers the lesson !


Lastly I use excursions - I find these days expenses and time out of class are hindrances to taking the students out to experience different scenarios that are not based on the assessment.  I know that there are a lot of costs of getting kids to school and I don't like to add to that burden for the parents if I don't have to. I do remember an awesome excursion I organised once in Marine Science - we were learning about marine agriculture  which was very relevant as it was in Broome and I organised for my 13 boys to go to Willie Creek Pearl Farm (check out Willie Creek here) for the day - it was fabulous they learnt so much and it engaged them on the topic - we then took our ideas and grew out Barramundi fingerlings to sell onto the Intercontinental Hotel for their water features -
Photo Credit :

Lots of  research on experiential learning can be found when you do a quick search and there are models to follow and different processes that can be undertaken. Names such as Hahn, Joplin, or Kolb can be a good starting point when you are looking into this way of teaching. Some schools such as Scots College in NSW use this way of teaching  as a whole school approach and their website is very interesting to read.
You many also like to investigate John Dewey and Jean Piaget  whose early work explained the four elements of experiential teaching.

Thanks for reading my third Blog - Next time I plan to share a little but more about me and who I am and how I came to be a teacher and leader in  the College where I work.

You can follow me on instagram @ima_teacher_of_the_world

If you have a topic that is burning for you or you would like me to write about in a future blog be sure to drop me a line at My Email  and I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Second Chances

Everyone deserves a second chance.

Second Chances are often a source of conflict and disdain in the teaching world  between students and staff or internally between the groups- Why should we give the kids another chance? Shouldn't they have learnt their lesson the first time ??

I have a few reasons why you should give kids and young adults second chances.

 One is a physiological reason - 

Teenagers brains are just not wired to work to make rational decisions all the time - this is something that is learnt - in fact the brain wont be finished developing until the age of 25.  Adults and teenagers use different parts of their brains to assess situations, make decisions and act -

Have you ever thought "what was he/she thinking????? Why did they do that?"  - Well lets just say the kid doesn't know either.

They are thinking differently to you and using a totally different part of the brain.  Teenagers process using their emotions not the rational part of the brain- 

The connections that are made  between different parts of the adult brain that let us be rational ( sometimes!)  and direct  adult decision making are still being forged in teenagers.  

                      Yup so it really isn't their fault. 

So sometimes when they tell you  - they don't know why they did something - its probably true. The teen was probably experiencing emotional input overload -  they weren't thinking - they were feeling the emotions and acting from them.  

Knowing this - how can you not give the teen the second chance?

Two is the emotional reason 

Giving a  second chance is a sign of forgiveness and forgiveness is an essential part of human relationships. (Hanke & Vauclair, 2016).

If the child student doesn't feel supported or that they can take emotional or educational risk then I don't think that there will be growth or a nurturing of a relationship.   Kids need to know that should they make a mistake then there are ways forward -    So giving a second chance  is recognizing that students have made a mistake and we  will learn from it and move onto a new way of doing things through communication.

Saying this....the mistake could lead to a consequence that the student doesn't naturally like or it could build relationships. 

- My school is using restorative practice and implementing more and more consequences that are meaningful and I am so for this -    So when kids make mistakes and they do --- that is why we love them, they are forgiven and given a second chance, a third chance or however many is needed in my classroom. 

 This doesn't negate the need for consequences   rather, 

-the consequences are meaningful to the kids.

Practical ways I do this in my classroom:

I find the kids currency and work with it in my classroom.

What is a currency? 

To use a crude example -
 take my Dog buddy :) - here he is in his younger days - 
 He will not go outside, ever! once he is in the house, he is in. Under the table, under the kids beds ripping up the kids toys!!!

 but HEY HEY HEY - break out the Cheese   or 
say  Cheese  
and that dog will do a triple front sault and shake your hand all in one go!  He is outside before you say "OUT Buddy".  His currency is Cheese - I can get him to do anything for that cheese - 

I will give kids as many chances as they need but I rarely need more that one  - because I work out their currency even before they have made  the mistake -  it will be different for each kid.

  • Is it the length of the tuck shop line? 
  • Is it time on the Computer? 
  • Is it sitting next to their friend? 
  • Is it a night off homework? 
  • Is it making them hand write the lesson OMG !!! no imagine 
and that is what I work with them on -  

They know they come back with a clean slate, that I don't hold grudges and we move forward instead of backwards in my class - you can lose anything you have earnt, but it could take a little longer than others - I'm talking the R word here RESPECT.

Students will always tell you if they are treated differently by different teachers - they know who is consistent and who is unfair and they know who cares and who doesn't? If you didn't know this just ask them, they will tell you, I am sure of that. So it is really important to let the kids in your class know how you work - 
be consistent and also be transparent.  

Equity and Equality  are terms the kids in my class groan at!  but I also make sure the kids know what this means - I do it at home too - age appropriate equitable treatment of students is essential and that means second chances. 
There are a load of images that explain this concept - I found this sciencey one  & then another  & there are soo many more. have a look for yourself.

What is fair for one is not for all - getting your students to understand this helps when giving that kid  the second chance that they need to succeed. 

Hanke, K., and Vauclair, C. (2016). Investigating the human value 'forgiveness' across 30 countries: A cross-cultural meta-analytical approach. Cross-Cultural Research: The Journal Of Comparative Social Science, 50(3), 215-230. doi:10.1177/1069397116641085

Here it goes - Ticking off my bucket list - - my first post in my teaching from the heart and to the core Blog

Well here I am - and I have done it.

I have always dreamed of having a successful blog that influenced people and helped me make friends in my professional life - there have been so many blocks to this along the way.  I need not mention them because I am breaking down those blocks one by one.

Not any more, no more blocks here I am - Yep that is me in the pic there holding my beloved turtles. I am a mother of 3 and step mum of 1 - that means 4 gorgeous girls are in my life as well as a wonderful partner who accepts me for who I am - all my baggage, experiences and emotions - he is there for me. 

I love biological conservation and I love the ocean and beach but then I love the desert for all its beauty color and vastness - so my loves are a bit like me really at opposite ends of the scale from each other but connected to my life experiences and loves. I cannot wait to share my desert experiences with the readers of this blog - and also my marine experiences - little thorny devils, echidnas, tiger sharks and crocodiles ! 

At 25 years old I went back to Uni and complete a Graduate Diploma in Secondary teaching to complement my  Bachelor of Science and my Bachelor of Arts Degrees.  It was a five year plan ...... and here I am today - still teaching and still loving the job  - 

In this blog I hope to share my ideas, my educational philosophies and my experiences in and out of the classroom.  A goal of mine this year is to embrace the now, find the good in all I see and be good in all I do - Big one I know - but I never did things small. Just ask my Mum :) I know she will be here somewhere supporting my work and this blog  the only way that she knows - I take this positivity from my Mum, and the changes that she has gone through in the last two years - a transcendental experience and two grown kids who still need her on a daily basis - she is amazing, and strong and positive - my inspiration and my Mum. 

I strive to find the good in all I meet - for I know that the power of the human spirit is enduring and special - I do this in the classroom because I know that the kid looking at me is special, is someone's child and someone's world  - their parents may have waited a lifetime for them to arrive - like some of my friends waiting 10 years  - or their parents may have lost someone and this is who they have now - I try to treat all with respect and acknowledging their own individual spirit - I know I can improve here -  I have high expectations as I know what is able to be achieved if you set your mind to it -  but expectations do not negate kindness and care -  I am always willing to give a second chance and I will never tell a kid that they cant do something - gets me into trouble but I believe you can do anything you want - you have that power to get your second chance.

So I will leave my first post there - and my next post will be on second chances - why I offer them in the classroom and how you can give a second chance without appearing biased or losing respect of colleagues and students.