Thursday, 15 May 2014

Don't be a kangaroo!

Testing is finished!

We are done! 

All of everyone's hard work (children and adult) from the past four years, summed up into 5 different test papers, each over and done with in less than one hour. This morning, I couldn't help but feel a little disheartened (although proud - very proud!).

However, this afternoon, a great gang of college kids came to school to do some sporting activities with our exhausted kiddies, which they loved. As the afternoon progressed and I watched them laugh, run, tease, lead, play, talk, plan, win, lose, comfort, encourage, support, strategise (and enjoy themselves), I started to change my point of view.

What will be will be, and I'm sure they've done brilliantly. But... regardless of the results, all that work has not been in vain, nor does it stop now. Everything they have learnt will go with them into the next stage of their life and we now get to spend the final 8 weeks valuing their other skills.

How sad for O, that she worked so hard but still struggled all this week. That she spent the year losing confidence but gaining in fear about what was coming. That she forgot what a great leader and friend she is but remembered that she didn't know her 3x table.

Well now it's time for a change. Time for her, and all the others, to shine!

My colleague sent me a link to this beautiful video:

It absolutely sums up what the next 8 weeks need to be about. Remembering that all children are unique, talented and special and that our success is not determined by our ability to write an essay, comment on an author's use of imagery or multiply 29 by 316.

Instead, our success is measured in myriad ways. Ooey Gooey sums it up nicely here and, in the meanwhile, I am so, super excited about our summer curriculum and giving them all something to be excited, proud and successful in!

And now, a special note to any of my kiddies, who are reading this...
Well done all of you, so much, on everything you have achieved this year. It has all contributed to making you the wonderful, funny, kind and dedicated young people you are today, and I can't wait to share our final few weeks together. Let's make them the best yet! 
Love from Miss O 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Sorry seems to be the hardest word...

Every class has one. Let's call him Fred. The puppy-eyed, angel-faced, 'wouldn't-hurt-a-fly' Fred, who "would never have pushed little Timmy down Miss because that would be a bad thing."

As soon as your back is turned, thud goes Timmy.

Well, my Fred definitely didn't push Timmy over today, or call him names, or snatch the ball from him. No sirree!

Luckily, I had spent last night reviewing our Behaviour Management Policy and looking around at a more meaningful way to deal with inappropriate choices. Joelen, from cuppacocoa, explains it beautifully in her post: A Better Way to Say Sorry. Her post gave me lots of ideas, particularly about following through any incident with a chance to properly apologise.

A proper apology doesn't mean saying "Sorrrrrryy" or "Soz" or "Sorreeeee" or any of these permutations. It involves:

1. Taking responsibility for what you did... "I'm sorry that I..."

2. Understanding why this was wrong... "This was wrong because..." (note - it is not wrong because you got caught or 'Shouldn't have,' or because you're being told off!)

3. Explaining how you will change your actions in the future... "Next time, I will..."

4. Asking for forgiveness. As Joelen put it:

This is important to try to restore your friendship. Now, there is no rule that the other person has to forgive you. Sometimes, they won’t. That’s their decision. Hopefully, you will all try to be the kind of friends who will forgive easily, but that’s not something you automatically get just because you apologized. But you should at least ask for it.

Anyway, I really liked her approach.  I love that it actually made the children think about what happened, their choices and the consequences of those choices. So when Fred knocked Timmy down and proceeded to tell me that he hadn't done anything wrong, I took him slowly through the apology procedure.

I actually used this program from Kids Skills...

... which took us through the whole process and made it very clear.

After a really formative, restorative and useful discussion, Fred had produced this:

Now Fred is quite a lad and I tried to make it very clear throughout the apology-writing that, this time, he did not have to actually give it to Timmy but that we wanted to think about his actions.

Imagine my pleasure and surprise when, at the end of the exercise, he desperately wanted it printed and to present it to Timmy. I could not have been prouder!

This strategy is now going to become an integral part of our behaviour management in Upper Phase and I cannot wait to see how the children take it on!

I'm currently setting up next year's planner and think I'm going to include a tracking section for apologies and behaviour management, that way I'll be able to see how much progress they make over the year. I'll post it here along with my new planner review as soon as it arrives!

Thursday, 17 April 2014


In the spirit of using this blog to celebrate all the greatness in my life, I just had to share this JibJab video I made of my wonderful family - all except my Papa unfortunately (it would only let me have 5 people so I made it for him instead!) - being Happy! I love it! Enjoy :)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Science Week!


I have decided that I love the Easter holidays. Not like. Lurrrve. If I could, I would fill the room with little heart bubbles.

I love that:

  • I get to spend time with my family (especially my Maman this time round - it was so lovely!);
  • I get to spend time with MJK;
  • I have time to mindlessly catch up on my favourite shows (seasons 1 'thru' 5 of the Good Wife anyone?!);
  • I have time to do some work and that...
    • This work does not need to be frantically catching up or preparing for the next observation or marking huge piles of books or worrying about testing;
    • This work can focus on reading up on other people's ideas;
    • This work can be creative;
    • This work can definitely involve ideas from Pinterest!
I love this holiday!

As part of all this creative fun, I've been focusing on/playing around with 2 things mainly. Firstly, our Science Week!

We're running this straight after SATs. I am so excited! The kiddies deserve a treat after all this push and I can't wait to share some of the amazingly fun activities with them. They will include:

Cholera day!

I know. The look on your face is probably exactly the same as the one my colleagues pulled when I told them! But it's going to be awesome! It is the brilliant idea of my co-blog-author, Miss Helen Peck and she is a scientist extraordinaire so.. 'ya know. 

They are going to be Victorian children living in Soho at the time of the big outbreak (August/September 1854) with a character card each and spend the day in role working out the cause of the disease. Drs Snow and Farr will each be presenting their theories and the children will have different sources (interactive, fun, drama-based sources!) to work out what is happening. I can't wait! If you're interested in having a go yourself - click the screenshot for the download of the plan.

We'll then have a day focusing on each of the following scientists:
  • Marie Curie
  • Isaac Newton
  • Galileo
  • Charles Darwin
(I am super excited for Darwin Day but keeping the lid closed on that for now! Be prepared for greatness!)

Anyhoo, lots going on that I'll share with you in the upcoming weeks! I'd like to leave you with the the song we made to arch over all our topic - there was much hilarity in trying to come up with some of the lyrics! For a while there, we got a little stuck on Marie Curie with...

"Won Nobel Prizes,
Then my husband dies-es'.

Glad we managed to step away from that one! Anyhoo, as we learn about one scientist, we'll learn their verse/chorus. I encourage you to sing along out loud rather than just in your head! 

{sings} "I throw my hands up in the air sometimes, singing Ayo! I'm Galileo!"...

Thursday, 10 April 2014

8 months later...


Well, firstly I'm...

I started this blog in the summer term with full intent, dedication and excitement. Unfortunately, I slacked terribly and dropped everything waaaay back in August! Who does that?!

Anyhoo, I'm back, on Spring Break (or Easter holiday as we call it in good ol' UK) and eager to get stuck back in. I've just ordered my new Erin Condren Life Planner (eeeek!!) and am so super excited to receive it and get my life back in organised mode - hence trying to catch back up with this blog.

Against better advice, rather than making my blog topics teaching only, I'm going to use it as more of a catch-all to focus on my new goal of spending as much time on my wellbeing, health and loved ones as I do on my job. Incidentally, I'm hunting for a snazzy, catchy phrase to sum that up and use as a mini-mantra to keep me on track. What do you think of these?

I wonder if 'you matter' is perhaps a little self-involved? 'A lovely life' seems so apt though - that is what I already have and what to change my choices to make even lovelier!

If you have any ideas, please do post them in the comments below. I'd love some feedback and thoughts!

I'm now going to tail off to clean my kitchen - step 1 in making better home choices :) I've actually been following FlyLady's website recently and my lovely Maman and I have prepped everything ready for a fresh start for zone cleaning. Let's go!

Chat very, very soon.