Tag Archives: featured

10 tips to collaborative conversations in your staffroom

Encouraging Teacher Conversations

Quick bites of practical insights and exercises for building collaborative expertise in schools through constructive conversations.

Vivienne Neale hosts this podcast with ETC creator Allison PegusAllison Colour AP_Logo_MONO

and selected Educators who will share their experiences with us!

Grab the summary ,listen to the professional conversation on our podcast and ‘blab’ and start a discourse with your colleagues or staff.


Interview with Allison Pegus

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And Special guest interview with Matt Estermann Twitter_email_link_logomatt estermann

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One way to apply the reverse thinking strategy

Get teachers talking about contemporary research frameworks, school contexts and their own beliefs and practices. This is a walk through of one way to apply the reverse thinking strategy using expert teacher mind frames.

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Creating Learning Environments -Working from the known to the new.

Validate teacher judgement. Relieve the impression that we are continually responding to ‘new successful ideas’. Look at what we already know through evidence and what we currently do – as the context for building teacher judgement.

This conversation starter tackles critical ways by which to examine new evidence through explicit association, assimilation and contesting of ideas in collaborative models.

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Marzano and Pickering: 4 Essential Questions About Engagement.

A teacher conversation and classroom ready strategy for understanding the questions:

How do I feel?     Am I interested?     Is it important?     Can I do It?


Behaviour reflects needs.

A practical co-operative conversation and simple action research for all teachers working with cohort of students. This can also become a catalyst for longer team collaborations into student engagement and teacher judgement.


Drop in for 5.

Collaborative feedback for teachers.

Fun and relatively non-threatening 5-minute observations model conducted between pairs or small groups. Develops shared understanding and defines constructive feedback as a collaborative practice.


Take The Autobahn

We know that the emotional brain has the power to open or close access to learning and memory. How do we use the affective route to teach the intellect? How do we put the ‘hook’ into learning culture? Great staff conversation with practical applications for student engagement.


Student engagement and ‘no hands up’ in practice.

How does it work? What do I need to do to scaffold? A practical conversation in experiential (beta) mode. How does it feel for the learner? How might you start or experiment?


Scaling up success and facilitating innovation.

A practical introduction to the ‘beta’ mode concept of school teams. Transfers directly to classroom use. Powerful way to encourage innovation, action and reflection.


Collaborative conversations for PD planning

Teacher’s value professional conversations that build their expertise and enhance their students’ learning. Focus the conversation by looking at your student data. Question-storming generates short and long term ideas for exploration and beats a PMI hands down for creativity


What are we doing to celebrate our work?

End of term problem-based project. Validate teacher judgement and build collaborative expertise whilst solving a genuine school need. This is an authentic task for school staff professional learning and fun for the end of the year or the end of the term. Great piece of super-modelling of engagement, collaborative expertise, fun, teamwork and difference.

Vivienne Neale Twitter_email_link_logo


Allison Pegus ETC_dot_limeGreenlinkedTwitter_email_link_logo

Allison Colour


What is a knowledge worker?


Have you ever thought what the word’ teacher’ really means?

Is it appropriate in the 21st century?

Having one ‘teacher’ in the room assumes transmission. ‘I’m in charge’ ‘I’m the one that knows.’ ‘I am going to teach you.’

Anyone working in classrooms today knows it is highly unlikely the person in charge of a learning group is going to have all the answers. In a world where students have the capacity to learn any place and any time the relationship has changed. So should conventional teaching be abandoned, or just tweaked? Should we now see ourselves as knowledge workers?

Anita with kids on floor

― Jim HensonIt’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider


There was a time for many students where the teacher was the only person with the information. For many that had no access to books outside of schools or libraries, teachers were vital for knowledge transmission.

― Margaret Mead

However, with life being transformed at a pace the human race has never experienced, this surely requires some revision. Why? It’s simple: if we invest in curricular and make decisions that are set in stone, by the time we bring these tablets down from the mountain they will be out of date. Flexibility and the ability to review, reappraise and reflect at speed, must surely be the role of knowledge workers? After all the concept of ‘teaching’ is almost an anachronism.


“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
― Hermann HesseSiddhartha


Consider what is now core knowledge? Can you truly answer that? Is the advice you gave to students six months ago still appropriate? Some may well be relevant, but how we frame questions, perspectives and our own narrative arch is in a constant state of flux. That’s why being a knowledge worker that constantly questions the whole notion of epistemologies is a more appropriate model for the here and now.

“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.”
― Aristotle

We are all know the problem with epistemologies is that the moment we create these systems of knowledge they solidify. They often lose their ability for flexibility and end up excluding as much as they include. We can’t keep ‘teaching just in case’. Students want to learn, apply, discuss and teach one another ‘just in time’ This ‘need to know now’ culture must fuel wholesale and dramatic transformations in two, three or four way knowledge transmission.

Teachers PL FFPS-1 May2015

The frightening, challenging and exciting aspect of all of this is: we are all teachers and learners. So isn’t it time we chose a term that reflects this flexible and creative relationship and consign the conventional teaching model to a museum?

Should we see the profession as knowledge workers and knowledge designers? Or is this just a storm in a teacup?

images   Written by Vivienne Neale Twitter_email_link_logo

Vivienne has an extensive educational track record having begun teaching in 1983 and has written for the UK’s Independent newspaper and the world famous TES. In addition she has published articles and books and been passionate about technology in the classroom over the past 15 years. She has made the creative leap from full time education professional to social media and digital marketing specialist.

AC Teach PClg-2 2013 edited resized Featuring Anita Chin  facebook

Anita has a passion for hands-on activities that engage learners of all ages. She strives to model practical ideas for differentiating instruction and to support school leaders and classroom teachers with curriculum implementation. With over 20 years experience as an educator across Australia and the USA, she currently runs her own Mathematics Education Consultancy company. She has been both a secondary mathematics teacher as well as a primary and middle years consultant with the NSW DET in Sydney. Anita has conducted research into the use of concrete materials to teach Number and Algebra concepts in the Middle Years 5-9 and holds a MEd in Teaching and Curriculum Studies. Whilst teaching pre-service teachers at the University of Sydney she was nominated for a Teaching Excellence Award.

Anita’s whole school/faculty approach to providing tailored on-site professional learning across Australia K-10 encompasses in-class demonstration lessons, workshops for teachers and parents, small team curriculum planning meetings and long-term project work. In conjunction with TTA, she developed an innovative blended model of month-by-month PL for whole schools or clusters of Primary schools that enables communities of practice to learn, implement, reflect and share their knowledge for up to a six-month period of time.

Anita’s workshops and online courses are designed to be highly engaging, practical, thought provoking and relevant to current teaching practices and curriculum. She is a highly recognised speaker at both national and state mathematics conferences in Australia.


So, what’s so cool about ‘cool burning’?

NRW-logoNational Reconciliation Week (May 27 – June 3, 2015) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements. To explore how each of us can join the national reconciliation effort.


In recognition of this event, we have invited Thea Nicholas from Cool Australia to introduce the concept of Cool Burning and the innovative professional development course designed to equip secondary Geography, Science and English teachers with the skills, knowledge and confidence to teach about the importance of Traditional Knowledge in caring for Country.

Australians know all too well about the devastating effects of fire on our country – its landscape and inhabitants. Less well known is the ancient land management strategy of ‘cool burning’ used by Indigenous Australians for thousands of years in Australia’s tropical savanna regions.savanna trees lge2

Cool Burning in the Australian Savanna

In Australia, almost 25% of the land is covered in tropical savanna. Each year in the late dry season, hot bushfires sweep through a large proportion of this area causing significant damage. These burns destroy everything in their path, including the vital forest canopy.

For tens of thousands of years, Indigenous Australians have actively managed the savanna using cool burning techniques. Their knowledge of the seasons and local conditions have enabled them to manage the land through the effective use of fire.

Traditional cool burning has been shown to dramatically reduce the incidence and intensity of hot fires later in the dry season. This reduces the amount of damage done to ecosystems, shortens recovery time, promotes new growth, clears waste materials and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

There are also social and economic benefits. The re-introduction of traditional management practices has given many young Aboriginal Australians greater respect for their Elders, their wisdom and the knowledge that has been transmitted through the centuries.

Indigenous groups who own or manage their land can also create projects and employ young Aboriginal people to earn carbon credits. This generates a viable form of long-term income and enables young Aboriginal people to remain on their land.Cool+Burning+(Secondary)+TTA-1200x670-340x190

New Cool Burning Online Professional Development Course for Teachers. 

Indigenous land management is the perfect vehicle for meeting the cross-curriculum priorities of ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures’ and ‘Sustainability’.

Cool Australia has designed a new 2-hour online professional development course called Cool Burning to guide teachers as they develop their understanding of Indigenous land management practices. The course provides teachers with classroom-ready materials and is filled with supportive teaching tools including videos, graphs, additional reading materials and more. Teachers can also use these materials in their own classes.

This course enables teachers to enrich their curriculum, and share with their students some of the incredible knowledge possessed by the world’s oldest continuously living culture.cool australia logoOL

Course cost: $89 (excl GST).

For further information and to enrol:
e: pd@coolaustralia.org
t: 1300 853 810
w: http://tta.edu.au/products/1526/3288

Cool Australia is an award-winning, not-for-profit organisation that provides educators and teachers with resources to help young people Learn for Life. For further information: www.coolaustralia.org


By Thea Nicholas
Curriculum Manager, Cool Australia

“Connection – The Foundation of Learning”

louise gilbert

One of the reasons that I feel so passionate about education is because I know deep in my heart that teachers have the most important job in the world.

“It is not simply about educating minds.”

It is more than that. Education is about developing human beings and creating a better planet.


What we do in the classroom not only impacts the children we teach but a teacher’s work ultimately influences the world. These students of ours grow up to become future citizens and leaders. What we do today in our classrooms touches the planet in ways that, quite possibly we might not even realize yet. A teacher’s work is about creating a better world. And it all begins with the connected relationships that we create in the classroom.


Once upon a time, before you became a teacher, you were once a student.

Cast your mind back to when you were at school. Take a moment to remember one teacher who made an impact on you in powerful, positive ways. Remember when you were in his or her classroom you were attentive, you were engaged in the learning and interestingly enough, your academic results were favorable?


Now what was it that made this teacher so great? How did he or she impact your life? And how is it that you still remember his/her name all these years later…




When you think back to that one great teacher who impacted your life, it is certain that you had a great relationship with him or her. You felt connected, you felt seen and valued as a person and there was a mutual respect between the two of you.


Great teachers understand that there is one critical foundation to effective teaching and learning that comes before anything else – connection with students. Skilled teachers create positive relationships of respect and trust. From a place of connected relationship, students learn effectively, feel valued and will be far more readily engaged and focused in class.


A significant body of research shows that positive relationships between teachers and their students are paramount to effective learning.


Studies show that, “Academic achievement and student behavior are influenced by the quality of the teacher and student relationship.”[i] The more the teacher connects and communicates effectively with his or her students, the more likely they will be able to help students learn optimally and accomplish quickly.


One particular study out of The University of Nebraska concludes,

“Teachers must never overlook the importance of cultivating student-teacher relationships in their classrooms. Student-teacher relationships are built through purposeful and continual effort, primarily on the part of the teacher. It is in the relationship between teacher and student where learning takes root and begins to grow; and the degree to which a teacher invests in those interactions not only affects learning outcomes and student behavior in the classroom, but also potentially impacts each student’s future achievements and success.”[ii]


One reason why positive relationships improve student learning is due to what happens in the brain when a student feels good. Positive relationship boosts a student’s sense of well-being.


The brain releases dopamine when an experience is pleasurable, such as a positive interaction with a teacher who is liked and respected. Dopamine is one of the brains most important neurotransmitters and turns on all the learning centers in the brain! And researchers have now discovered that how quickly and permanently one learns, is directly related to how much dopamine we have available in our brains.[iii]


Research aside, it’s common sense isn’t it? If the relationships with your students are positive, then your students are more likely to listen, less likely to disrupt, more likely to be engaged and open to the learning because of the strong foundation of human connectedness that you’ve built between you. The relationship is like a bridge. You are on one side with the learning outcomes you wish to share with your student. On the other side of the bridge is your student. Without the relationship, there is no bridge to cross together or to meet in the middle. Instead there is just a wide, cavernous gap.


Building this bridge is a daily focus. It takes skill and attention. There are many ways to go about it and in my work I get to see countless teachers out there making a difference, building these bridges with their students and creating positive, flourishing and respectful relationships as the foundation of learning.


As educators, it’s important to remember how significant our work in the world is. We are in the business of human development – nurturing lives, developing hearts and minds, making a difference in the world that impacts the future of humanity. And the foundation of it all begins in the classroom – with our striving to create connected relationships with our students.


[i] Jones, V. & Jones, L. (1981) “Responsible Classroom Discipline.” Boston: Allyn and Bacon, Inc. Page 95

[ii] Knoell C.M. (2012) “The role of the student-teacher relationship in the lives of fifth graders: a mixed methods analysis.” PhD Thesis, University of Nebraska. Page 86

[iii] Pleger B, Ruff CC, Blankenburg F, Klöppel S, Driver J, et al. (2009) Influence of Dopaminergically Mediated Reward on Somatosensory Decision-Making. PLoS Biol 7(7): e1000164. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000164


Join Louise Gilbert to learn more at her TTA workshop, “Transformational Teaching Tactics – A 5 Step System for Quality Teaching with Effective Learning Outcomes” on May 26th 2015.in Melbourne

Teachers GIVE and GIVE and then GIVE some more



You have possibly heard of many of the volunteer organisations that work to effect the lives of the people in other less developed countries. One of our presenters Jenny Osler has a close connection with a special volunteer organisation ‘Teachers Across Borders’.

Jenny can you tell me more about what got you involved originally?
I got involved with Teachers Across Borders because it was an opportunity to use the skills I had built up over my years teaching to work alongside a group of teachers who work in very difficult circumstances in Cambodia. I liked the idea of an organisation run totally by teacher volunteers with no hidden agendas. It has been a wonderful professional development experience for me where education is pared back to the essentials.

What is the essence of the work of ‘Teachers Across Borders’?
The work of Teachers Across Borders is to work alongside Khmer teachers to develop their teaching and learning skills to improve the learning outcomes for their students by running a workshop program in three locations across Cambodia annually during term holidays. More than 200 teachers attend each of these programs. A Train the Trainer program is also run as part of the workshop program with the goal that Khmer teachers will co present alongside their volunteer colleagues and to their colleagues in their schools and districts.

Karly Thaw
is a young teacher from Strathmore Secondary College in Melbourne and has recently traveled to Battambang in Cambodia..to GIVE professionally to her colleagues overseas.

“I had travelled to Cambodia first and fell in love with the country and saw the need. A teacher in my school was already involved and it was an easy next step to get involved. I found that the cambodian teachers were hungry for the same things as we are..how to engage their students.”

Listen to more from Karly and Jenny and their work with teachers in Cambodia in this podcast.

Taken during a creative writing session where the teachers were asked to move outside and write about what they could see, hear and feel.
Taken during a creative writing session where the teachers were asked to move outside and write about what they could see, hear and feel.
This is at Angkor Wat walking along the outside of a temple called Ta Prohm, famous for the the huge figs growing amongst the ruins and keeping it up!
This is at Angkor Wat walking along the outside of a temple called Ta Prohm, famous for the the huge figs growing amongst the ruins and keeping it up!
This picture was taken at the end of the workshops with my colleagues, our translator and teaching assistant.(Karly 3rd from the left)
This picture was taken at the end of the workshops with my colleagues, our translator and teaching assistant.(Karly 3rd from the left)
Working with the Cambodian teachers, the workshop leaders and their translators.
Working with the Cambodian teachers, the workshop leaders and their translators.
The gang! This is a photo of all the teachers involved in our workshop taken on the last day.
The gang! This is a photo of all the teachers involved in our workshop taken on the last day.
Working with the Cambodian teachers, the workshop leaders and their translators.
Working with the Cambodian teachers, the workshop leaders and their translators.
Every morning the students at the teachers college, where we were running our workshops, lined up for an assembly where they sung the national anthem and heard important announcements for the day.
Every morning the students at the teachers college, where we were running our workshops, lined up for an assembly where they sung the national anthem and heard important announcements for the day.