Exploring the heart and soul of school communities

Students decorate benches they constructed for an outdoor classroom.

Recently, I attended a principal’s tour of a new local school because the time has come to enrol our kindergartener in “big school”. As you might expect, the brand-new buildings were impressive, the furniture immaculate, and the attention to detail shown was first class.

The luxury of this new school is in stark contrast to my own. Forty-five years of neglect has created what I politely call a “renovators delight”. It’s 1970’s brown brick and leaky roofs around every corner. …

What kind of problems do we want?

“Every student should be able to walk into any classroom and decide for themselves where, how, and if to sit.” — Ira Socol, Timeless Learning.

A radically student-centered classroom doesn’t have fewer problems than a more traditional approach, it just has better problems.

Better problems revolve around community building, social justice, and purpose finding. They are rooted in developing trust and agency and choice instead of mindless compliance and distrust. They are usually confounding and exhausting, but also the place where personal growth, lasting memories and joy can be found.

Better problems are also a choice. We should be intentional about the problems we choose to create and open our eyes to the impact on learners. I used to focus much of my time on…

Exploring Acceptance, Access, Abundance and Attention

When students returned to our classroom from a COVID-19 enforced change to how and where we do school, I asked what they enjoyed most about doing school from home. The answers, not surprisingly for middle schoolers, mostly centred around sleeping in! But when we dug into it some more, we kept coming back to comfort, control over time and space, and flexible content.

This leads me to wonder, who might benefit from treating school as an extension of home? What are some changes we could make tomorrow, at little or no cost, that would dramatically improve the experience of school…

Reflecting on a year of writing with a creative, highly capable group of year 4 children

This is a guest blog post from one of the best educators I know. I’ve been pestering Victoria Edwards for several years to let me publish some of her reflections, I’m thrilled to do so here— Abe.

Writing is an ongoing process and children need the time and space to be allowed to do this. It is not a script that needs to be followed nor a set of seven steps. Writing is about engaging the reader, having cohesion between the start and ending as well as interactions between the characters. …

A letter to the class of 2020 from the class of 2019

The last act for the class of 2019 was to pen a letter to the “new kids” in 2020. They were asked to share anything they wished they had known when they joined the class as a year six student.

Dear New Kid,

Prepare to enter a world where you get to take serious responsibility for your learning. You will need to forget everything you think you know about school. In this class, YOU drive your learning, not the teacher.

Perhaps the most important thing you need to understand is that learning is a choice. If you choose not to do it, you’ll miss an opportunity to grow.

Here are some things you need to learn, or unlearn, to be successful in the year 6/7 class:

  • You are trusted to go to the bathroom, eat or to get a drink…

Four simple tips for primary teachers chasing the work/life balance unicorn

When time becomes scarce, teachers are usually asked to pick their guilt trip: ignoring work, family, or their health and wellbeing.

The ‘teaching as a vocation’ narrative suggests the best teachers are willing to sacrifice their personal time and health because ‘great teachers take extra time to do it right’ and kids deserve it’. But buyer beware, embracing this brand of neoliberal toxic positivity is more likely to lead to fatigue and burnout than drive sustainable teacher workload.

“It is dangerous and unfair to romanticize teachers “above and beyond” behaviors… The message is that overwork and self-sacrifice are commendable behaviors…

We ARE capable of taking charge of our learning

South Australian Environment Minister David Speirs planting natives in the Secret Garden

This is a guest post from a year 6 student in my class. His contribution to Project Reimaginate was quite incredible, and his drive and work ethic are unmatched in my time as a primary school teacher. I’m happy to be able to share his story here.

I’m a kid who is good at school and enjoys “traditional” learning, but this year we did things differently. We didn’t just turn up, sit down and listen to the teacher, we took charge of our learning. And I have loved school more and I believe I’ve learnt more this year than any…

Why we should “Let The Children Play”

Photo credit: Trudy Knox (2019)

“The future prepared for is a long way off; plenty of time will intervene before it becomes a present. Why be in a hurry about getting ready for it?” — John Dewey, Democracy and Education (1916)

There is a growing misconception that giving a child the best start in life means unlocking their academic potential as early as possible. Increasingly, kindergartens are sacrificing playtime for greater academic seat time in pursuit of distant future rewards. Career ready kindergarten has arrived.

Below I have paired two contrasting kindergarten videos that caught my attention this week. One shows a “perfect start to…

Snapped at the end of a gruelling month in which we barely saw the inside of our classroom, this photo sums up the colossal effort it took for 25 children and a few adults to completely reimagine where and how children play at our school.

Our project’s mission was to transform play spaces. Not tinker. Transform. And some 30 weeks after the project began, transform they did. …

Bringing risk back to the school playground

Mud pit play — Students collaborating to create a series of pipes & tunnels to drive a Sphero through.
  1. Play is not a reward or break from doing learning, play IS learning.
  2. Recess is NOT a bargaining tool
  3. Homework should be banned in primary schools

What do you think of when you hear the word play? I associate it with joy, innocence, freedom and flow. I picture my littles hard at play exploring, experimenting, falling, and learning. Play makes me smile, shoot nervous glances at my wife, and at times, gasp.

For children, play is timeless. But play has a problem. …

Abe Moore

Education blog. "I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say" - Flannery O'Connor

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