If you are teaching remotely…

To the teacher who is struggling with personal, health or family issues, while showing a brave face on Zoom for remote teaching, you are seen.

To the teacher valiantly dividing attention between the needs of your students and your own children at home, you are seen.

To the teacher who is feeling isolated and disconnected  in these difficult times, you are seen.

To the teacher who worries about what everyone else is doing but has the courage to try something different, you are seen.

To the teacher who agonises over how to respond to the diverse needs of your learners, despite the challenges, you are seen.

To the teacher who agonises over how to respond to the diverse needs of your team, without jeopardising the learning,  you are seen.

To the teacher who agonises over how to respond to the diverse needs of parents, without compromising your beliefs about learning, you are seen.

To the teacher who finds the strength to change yet another thing in your approach to remote teaching, thereby making a difference to the learning, you are seen.

To the teacher juggling to balance the needs of students at home with those attending school, you are seen.

To the unassuming teacher who quietly gets on with things without complaining, you are seen.

To the teacher for whom technology is challenging, who persists to overcome this hurdle in remote teaching, you are seen.

To the new teacher who barely had time to learn the processes of our school and build relationships, before being thrown into remote learning, you are seen.

To the teacher who is filled with self doubt, always thinking you could have done better, not realising that’s how all good teachers feel, you are seen.

To all of you doing your best, despite the challenging circumstances, thank you.

(Written for teachers at my school, but applies beyond.)

To teachers everywhere…

Inspired by this post to children, by Colleen Wilson.

In case you think it goes unnoticed…

To the teacher who changed one small thing in your classroom thereby making a difference to the learning, I see you.

To the teacher who struggled to communicate difficult news to parents and managed to make them feel supported, I see you.

To the teacher who found technology challenging but overcame fear and got the children blogging, I see you.

To the teacher who wrestled with the option of an interesting job offer and made the decision to stay and make a difference, I see you.

To the teacher who had to deal with complaints, yet has risen to the challenge and decided to become the best educator possible, I see you.

To the teacher who thought she was ordinary and had to be pushed to realise her incredible potential, I see you.

To the teacher who was afraid to let go, but is gradually beginning to hand over control to the learners, I see you.

To the unassuming teacher, reluctant to put herself out there and share the amazing learning taking place in her classroom, I see you.

To the teacher who finds difficult situations intimidating and often blames herself, but works tirelessly to make things better for other human beings, I see you.

To the teacher who worried about managing what everyone else was doing and instead had the courage to try something different, I see you.

To the teacher who shifted from ‘doing school’ to observing carefully in order to be ready when the special moment happened, I see you.

To the teacher who measured herself against others and didn’t see herself as a leader but is ready to step up now, I see you.

To the teacher fearful of change, who clung to old ways of doing things and finally leaped out of her comfort zone, I see you.

To the teacher who is filled with self doubt, always thinking he could have done better, not realising that’s how all good teachers feel, I see you.

Thank you.

(Back in 2016.)

10 principles of effective professional learning…


Apparently this random comment (my response to a tweet in last week’s #edchat) was well received!

This got me thinking (again) about the principles of effective professional learning for educators. In no particular order, the following points are based on my own experience.

Effective professional learning needs to be…

1. Conceptual

Effective learning for teachers is not always about things you can try tomorrow, but rather big ideas that shift your understanding of teaching and learning.

2. Self directed

Teachers need opportunities to set their own goals, choose their own learning and follow their own interests. (Sometimes the most effective medium to achieve that is social media.)

3. Inquiry driven

The most effective learning isn’t usually ‘delivered and received’. Teachers need to question, experiment, apply, find and solve problems, engage in action reasearch.

4. Collaborative

Learn with and from others. build a personal learning network. Create communities of practice in your own school, your neighbourhood, the world…

5. Creative

Think beyond one-size-fits-all PD delivered by ‘experts’ on special days set aside for the purpose. Create your own learning opportunities. Visit other classes. Start voluntary groups. Participate in Teachmeets. Engage via Twitter and blogs. Find your own people!

6. Personalised

How often are teachers compelled to attend one-size-fits-no-one sessions, not relevant to their current programs, practice, interests or experience? Even on school wide ‘PD days‘, teachers can have a choice.

7. Reflective

Too often, teachers are expected to shift rapidly from one ‘topic’ to the next (@lisaburman called it ‘Hit and run’). Effective learning includes sufficient time for reflection, application… and further reflection.

8. Active

Learning is often less effective when the expectation is for learners to listen passively. There need to be active participation and engagement, opportunities to interact, reflect and construct meaning.

9. Enjoyable
(I crowd sourced this one). Teachers like their professional learning to include humour and a sense of fun. It doesn’t need to be a boring chore!

10. Challenging

Professional learning (like any learning) can be messy. There should be tensions to work through and big ideas to connect. It goes beyond solutions and formulae and things to try out tomorrow… which takes us back to where we started!

Of course, all of this applies to any learners, not just teachers. Try replacing the word ‘teachers’ throughout the above post with ‘students’, or simply ‘learners’… which takes me back to a post I wrote a while ago about adult vs child learners. What are your thoughts on that?

What’s been your best professional learning experience? Did it fit the above criteria? What have a I missed?

What’s it all about?

If I paste the URL of my blog into Wordle, I get the cloud below. Predictably the key words are learning, thinking, inquiry, creativity and community – I write about what matters to me.

What Ed Said

I’m curious what the key words might be in some of my favourite (and less favourite) blogs and spend a bit of time investigating some well-known ones. The results are interesting and I confess to being a little surprised that learning doesn’t feature more in educators’ blogs.

Here’s a sample… (Guess which one is a class blog!)

Blog1 Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 6.12.35 PM

Class Blog Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 6.14.28 PMBlog2

10 people whom you might know…

It’s the start of the school year and we are organizing planning times. Collaborative planning is one of the things I like best about the PYP. A team of teachers gathers to plan the big ideas and key learning experiences for a coming unit of inquiry. There are usually at least six participants; the grade level teachers, ICT facilitator and librarian. Where possible, there might be other specialist teachers present too and if not, they will be consulted.

Facilitating these sessions is both rewarding and challenging, sometimes exhausting, sometimes exhilarating. It depends on how much the big ideas excite us, how much pre-thinking has been done and the level of collaboration and creativity on the day.

And it depends on the members of the team….

Disclaimer: The characters in this post are fictitious and bear no resemblance to real teachers. Unless maybe they work at your school?

1. Innovator
Suggests new and exciting ways to do things.

Carefully considers all angles to find the best approach.

3. Risk Taker
Willing to give anything a go. Not intimidated by the possibility of failure.

4. Waiter
Comes unprepared. Waits passively for others to do the thinking.

5. Blocker
Actively blocks others’ ideas. Talks about why they wouldn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t work.

6. Provoker
Asks valuable, thought provoking questions that ensure a productive outcome.

7. Distractor
Interrupts. Talks about irrelevant matters. Might even sing in the background.

8. Historian
Likes the way it was taught in the past. Talks about old ideas and old ways.

9. Resourcer
Shares great resources to support the learning. Knows where to find treasure.

10. Know-it-all
Talks knowledgeably in a loud voice and rolls eyes disapprovingly when others express different opinions.

Do you know any of them?

Effective professional learning…

I listened carefully. PD

I thought about the subject matter.

I looked at my watch.

I focused for a while.

I checked my email.

I tried to listen.

I thought about other things.

I asked a question.

I wondered why the question wasn’t answered adequately.

I disengaged.

I thought about effective professional development…

Have you ever been to a PD session like that? (Rhetorical question! I know you have.)
Staff at my school spent some time last year developing shared beliefs about learning. Why shouldn’t these principles apply to teachers’ learning too?

  • We learn in different ways, depending on abilities, learning styles, preferences and interests.
  • Learning takes place through inquiry: questioning, exploring, experimenting and problem solving.
  • Learning includes acquisition of skills and knowledge, constructing meaning and transfer to different contexts.
  • Learning is active and social and is enhanced by collaboration and interaction.
  • Learners need to feel secure, valued and able to take risks.
  •  Learning needs to be challenging, meaningful, purposeful and engaging.
  • Learning includes meta-cognition and reflection, which support learners taking ownership of their learning.
Help me write my latest post in the ’10 ways…’ series. I’ll start and you can add points via comments…

10 ways to ensure effective professional learning…

1. Teachers need to be responsible for their own learning. 

To inspire others to learn, you need to be a learner yourself. Actively seek out professional learning opportunities.  Engage with educators via social media. Read blogs. Sign up to Twitter.

2. Differentiate.

Don’t plan whole staff sessions for teachers with different levels of experience and varied needs. Include choice.


Are you in Africa?


I was born in South Africa, although I haven’t been back for more than 30 years. Blogging about teaching and learning, I find myself recalling my school days, enjoying the view of Table Mountain through the window, instead of paying attention in class. My first job as an enthusiastic, young teacher was in Cape Town, a lifetime ago. I sometimes wonder how my old school is progressing. I wonder what teaching and learning are like in South Africa today. And I wonder a great deal about access to education in all of Africa…

My global PLN (personal learning network) has expanded in the past year and I have established meaningful connections with educators in so many countries, on every continent, except for Africa. Yet, looking at the clustrmap which records visitors to my blog, I am aware that people not just in South Africa, but in Nigeria, Namibia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Algeria, Morocco, Ghana, Tunisia and Egypt have visited!

I would love to hear from you and about you. It would be great to connect with you. Leave me a comment, if you will…


Does your school…?

Does every school have…

moments that are exhilarating, when the excitement of learning is palpable, everyone has an opportunity to learn and express themselves in their own way and teachers and learners are collaborators in the learning process?


moments of despair, where nothing goes to plan, technology fails or unexpected interruptions hinder learning?

Does every school have…

teachers who understand learning, who love to learn themselves, who provoke student inquiry and aren’t afraid to try new things to move learning forward?


teachers who go through the motions, with their eyes on the clock and who think teaching is just a job?

Does every school have…

units that inspire teachers and learners, provide opportunities for creativity and collaboration, engage the learners and excite them to want to inquire, explore and learn?


units that fall off the rails because of poor planning or misunderstanding or shortage of time or lack of motivation?

Does every school have…

leaders (at all levels) who are passionate about learning, who motivate, empower and innovate, who instigate change and shape culture?


leaders who dictate and enforce, focus on what’s expedient instead of on the learning and possibly don’t even care?

Does your school?