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Data – it’s not about what you didn’t do, it’s about what you need to do.

Data.

data

For teachers, it comes in many forms, from NAPLAN to taking notes, running records to recording observations, from tests to talking – it is all some form of data. But what’s the big deal with data anyway? And why do some teachers find it so hard to see it for what it is?

I know it easy to want to attach a story to data, and yes we can always argue that perhaps a student wasn’t having a great day, they were unwell, or that the unit we planned wasn’t great. Whatever the story though, the data is still the data.

It’s more common than not for teachers default reaction when looking at data to be to justify. I know we all know teachers, have been in a conversation, or perhaps we are guilty of it, where the first response is something like…’Yeah but that was a really low cohort’, ‘Those kids never do well’, ‘It doesn’t matter how I teach it they just don’t retain anything’ or ‘They were very unsettled that day’. All of these are ways we justify the data.

Now there is no denying these reasons do come from good places, we want the best for our students and we want to be able to defend them, but that actually isn’t our job.

Part of looking at data is to do so without judgement, the need to justify or the need to blame. It’s just to look, to note what is there, and to see the data as just that – data. No story needed.

So why is this important? Well once you start to see it as just data, you can begin to use it for it’s intended purpose – to inform your teaching. This might be teaching as an individual, a team or even looking at teaching across a whole school.  Look at the teaching, improve the learning. This is the reason we have data.

The data isn’t about you, it’s not about your story, your justification, your excuse – it’s about the data. Once you have established this, then data really can achieve it’s intended purpose – to help you be a better teacher, so students can learn what they need next.

 

Differentiation – Meeting student needs, not teacher needs.

Differentiation is a bit of a buzz word at the moment, but the more it is talked about, the more we are expected to do it, and why shouldn’t we?

Differentiation really is key to ensuring your students are getting the learning your students need, at their level and with the support or extension they need.

So what exactly is differentiation?

Differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Whether teachers differentiate content, process, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction. – Carol Ann Tomlinson (http://www.readingrockets.org/article/what-differentiated-instruction).

Differentiation is all about making sure we are continually teaching students at their point of need. Yet for some reason, there are still many of us who just don’t get this.

When working with teachers on differentiation, I often find myself having to explain that differentiation does not mean just doing a different activity. Differentiation is not just having the more able students work by themselves or having the struggling students taken out for support.

Differentiation is something we consciously plan for by making informed decisions using summative data. Not something we do ad-hoc because a student can’t complete what we have planned or because a child finished early. It is something we plan for.

This means, as teachers, we need to be considering in advance what our students can currently do, what we want our students to know, what we want them to be learning and what we need to teach to make that happen.

Now not every student will be at the same place, with the same interests, or learn in the same way. This is where differentiation comes in.

So how do we do this? Well it is all linked to the learning.

Take 2 digit addition in year 3 for example, some students will know this already, some will still be using concrete materials and some are working on using a written method – so this is how you differentiate. You give the students what they need. Teach the addition lesson, but differentiate. Those who want or need counters can use them, those who are using a number line can do that, and maybe some are ready to move onto more efficient mental strategies.

Give students what they need – not what you want them to need.

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It’s not that I’m lucky. It’s not that I’m just a ‘good teacher’. It’s not ‘easy for me’.

Earlier today a colleague asked me why my partner and I are ‘so efficient’; ‘You are both so effective at what you do…’ she said. As much as this was a nice compliment, it did get me thinking…

You see my partner is a teacher too, and both he and I love what we do, and I guess most would say we do it well. We are always well planned, have our books marked, know our students and content to teach. We do these things consistently, plus more, and we know that some other teachers find this challenging to managing.

Now having been a teacher myself, also means I know the internal dialogue of a teacher, the corridor chit-chat, and the staffroom gossip.

We all know those teahcers who are ‘just good at teaching’, who are ‘always lucky like that’ or who ‘have it easy’… But do they? Is that really true?

When my colleague asked me our trick I was a bit stumped, (it’s hard to answer without sounding too cocky), so I just rattled off a few things about being organised and using time well…

But to be honest, this question has stuck with me and really allowed me to explore why we are, and I am, efficient and effective at teaching. What I discovered was, it’s certainly not a ‘trick’, it’s not ‘luck’ and it’s we don’t ‘have it easy’.

What we do, how we do it, and the reason behind our efficiency and effectiveness comes down to our thinking and mindset. So here it is…

25 ways to becoming an ‘Effective and Efficient Teacher’

25 ways...

Teachers – You Can Have More Time

 

 

Time.

Time is one of those things we never have enough of. It’s one of those things we always want more of. It’s the thing we always seem to blame when we can’t get stuff done.

When I ask teachers what would help them right now, the answer is always ‘More time”.

But how can that be….??

I mean, we have the same amount of time in a day as Beyoncé, as Richard Branson, as Bill Gates.

The only difference between their time and your time is that they spend it better (OK that may not be the only difference, but you get what I mean).

You see, the same amount of time is available to all of us. It’s just how we chose to spend it that makes a difference.

‘Time is money’. Right?

Well imagine if this was actually true. If you had to pay for how you spend every minute of your day. Would you still spend it the same way?

Probably not.

When it comes to time and money, we think about it the wrong way around…

We see time as disposable, we spend it without really thinking about what we will get back, without really thinking about the impact it will have on us long term.

Money though, we are a lot more cautious with. When we spend it, we expect something back in return. A product, an item, a thing….

Seems fair doesn’t it. If you are spending money, you should get something back.

But what about time?

What if you applied this same thinking to time? What if every minute you spent you expected something in return?

Time is money.

Time can buy you all kinds of things. It can buy moments, memories, progress, results. Time, along with effort, planning and purpose can and is just as value as money.

So with this in mind – what would happen if you started to apply the same thinking you do to money, to time. Would you still continue to spend it the same way?

A second is a cent.

A minute is a dollar.

How will you spend your time now?

I imagine very differently…

It’s not that we don’t have enough time, it really is how we spend it.

It all comes down to time management.

Time management isn’t a new word, a new thing or a new idea, and it’s not just a phase that will quickly pass either. It’s real. And if you haven’t figured out how to have better time management, now is the time.

 

Time management is key to productivity, to ticking stuff off the list, to having better work/life balance. It’s key to living your passion without feeling burnt out or overwhelmed.

If you are wanting better time management but not sure how, email me now to take advantage of my ‘Teachers want more time’ mentoring session for only $20, and I’ll show you exactly what you can do to find the time you so desperately need.

 

 

Teachers – Stop dating and commit!

Are you just dating teaching?

Dating. It’s not really committing is it?

It’s kind of a safe zone – you can have a bit of fun, get what you need out of it, and when things get a bit messy or a bit ugly, you can quickly run away, wipe your hands clean and say ‘not my problem’.

Sorry to say this… but if you are dating teaching you need to break up.

Now!

Teaching is not something you date. You need to go all in. Commit. Give it your all. Be there. Stay strong.

Just like any relationship, teaching has it’s ups and downs, it’s hard, there is certainly a ‘getting to know you’ phase, but once you get past that and all the awkwardness, teaching can actually be quite fun.

Teaching requires a certain level of commitment. It might not be marriage material, but it has to be up there. If you are going to make it through the ups and downs, the late nights, the petty arguments and the miscommunications, you need to commit.

Don’t date teaching, commit, go all in!

commit