Just A Teacher Podcast: Episode 1 – Whispering Jack

Source: Just A Teacher Podcast: Episode 1 – Whispering Jack


Teaching – The Universal Language

As part of Microsoft’s E2 Conference MIE Experts have had to take part in a team challenge.  I have learnt so much from taking part in the challenge but the biggest lesson I have learnt is that teaching is a universal language.

My team consisted of teachers from China, Japan, Canada, Argentina and Thailand.  Although we spoke different languages and came from different cultural backgrounds, something we all shared in common was a passion for teaching and learning.

A passion that allowed us to overcome the evident language and cultural barriers to collaborate and skilfully communicate to complete the challenge.  A challenge that required us to embrace a Hack Persona and then use the mindset of that persona to come up with a new addition to a Microsoft product.

Through completing the challenge I got to participate in many substantive conversations with my teammates about what they enjoyed about teaching, the challenges they faced and their visions for the future.  Conversations that confirmed  that across the globe teachers are making a difference.

My professional learning network now stretches to corners of the World that I never before envisioned.  For that I say a BIG thank you Microsoft!




Looking Through Green Coloured Glasses

Each Friday I take a group of Year 4 students and we focus on developing our persistence, resilience and confidence.  I thoroughly enjoy teaching the group as I have watched them develop a mindset that has more green thoughts than those that red.  Green thoughts mean we find the positives in the variety of situations we face and focus on them.

As an adult we can take it for granted that we can just do that – find and focus on the positives.  Two examples over the last few days have demonstrated to me that a positive mindset is something we continually have to work on.

“A positive mindset is something we continually have to work on.”


I was talking to one of our wonderful cleaners and during our conversation she mentioned how she couldn’t stop thinking about the Dream World tragedy and the unfortunate drowning of two children in a pool.  I agreed they were tragic accidents but we can’t allow our red thoughts to dominate.  I asked her what are some of the positives from the week, the green thoughts?  After a little deliberation she explained her son just got a job, her children were healthy and happy and to top it off she was getting her hair done tomorrow.  As I left for the night she exclaimed “Hey I really like the idea of green thoughts!”

We can have permission to have red thoughts but I think the issue is how long we let them dominate our thinking and ultimately our behaviour.  Recently an issue got brought to my attention and I went into full red thought mode!


My initial reaction was one of frustration and disappointment with a good dose of anger thrown in.  With the red thoughts dominating I was thinking irrationally – I’m going to send an email to address this right now (10pm at night) or pick up the phone and unload.  Actions that would probably have made me feel good in the interim but would have left me regretting my decisions in the long run.

“With the red thoughts dominating I was thinking irrationally.”

On the advice of my life coach aka wife, I decided to sleep on it.  With as good a sleep as you can have with a five month old baby, I reflected over a morning coffee on the issue and the red thoughts that were dominating my mindset.  I had taken the easy route by allowing negative thoughts to outnumber green.  When in fact, yes the issue was disappointing, but there had been many positives to come out of it.  I then realised if I continue to focus on feeding the positives and the people who have a positive impact then ultimately we will all be better off.

Looking at our world through green coloured glasses is something we continually have to work at.  Just like we work on our fitness, practice an instrument to get better, we must work on the skill of turning red thoughts into green ones.


Getting my ClassFlow on…

I was trawling through education blogs and I came across a link to a site called ClassFlow and thought that sounds interesting…

As I investigated further I thought this could be a great tool to use during my Mathematics extension classes.  A new way to deliver content for myself but also a new way of receiving content for students .  The assessment component also appealed to me.  The cherry on top was I could use my Office365 details to sign in!

Like I do with any new program I jumped straight in and started creating a lesson on the “Draw A Diagram” problem solving strategy.  One and a half hours later I had turned into the incredible tech hulk and was in a midst of tech rage.  For the sake of my laptop I walked away.  The next day I decided to watch the short video tutorials on YouTube and sign up for the ClassFlow support community and this helped me return to normal.  Why didn’t I do this at the beginning???

I finished my lesson in ClassFlow and it was now game time – implementing the lesson with my Year 3 students.  They were so eager to use the program and it was amazing to see how quickly they took to navigating the student site.  Their favourite feature of ClassFlow was completing the practice assessments I set.  They enjoyed the immediate feedback and ability to progress at their own speed.  The feature I liked most about the assessment tool was the data analysis feature.  It was easy to see who had answered the questions, correct responses and what their actual response was.

Needless to say we have been getting our ClassFlow on regularly…


Year 3 engaged in their Classflow lesson.  Make the hulk moments worth while.
Year 3 students engaged in their Classflow lesson. Makes the hulk moments worth while.