Mean girls’ behaviour

As  parents, what do we do when our child is excluded, is on the receiving end of “mean girls’ behaviour“?  Perhaps they even feel that what they are receiving is bullying.

A colleague (a mother of three children) shared this post with the staff a few weeks ago. I read it, feeling rather sad. Why do children (people) do this to one another? How often does it happen in our school?

Then, today, a mum of a young girl called me, at an absolute loss. Her daughter has been excluded – not once, in very covert way over the weekend, but twice. Texts are sent, calls are made and fingers are pointed. Yes .. it is happening in our school!

Where are the parents?” you might ask. I do too. But it seems that some of them are there. With their heads either facing each other, or hidden in the sand.

What would happen if this treatment was directed at their child?

What do they do to advise their children …how does one teach  empathy and compassion rather than cruelty, rejection and shaming? How much do children model their behaviour on their parents’?

What happens to the victim of “‘mean girls’ behaviour” ? Do they retreat? React? Mimic?  Lash out? Hide?

How do schools effectively deal with this behaviour?

How do parents effectively deal with this behaviour?

How do friends effectively deal with this behaviour?

Is there a way to find resolution?


Posted in Thinking | 2 Comments

Creating and consuming …

Recently, I wrote and shared a post about wanting to join with other educators to bounce around and grow ideas. I started my blog two years ago, after my mentor and friend gave me a few (not so gentle) nudges to share what was happening in my classroom and my head.


I had been working with a couple of people who felt that blogging and Tweeting were a way of people “blowing their own horn” and I was really reluctant to be viewed in this way. So I began a little journey – following people on Twitter, reading blog posts and talking a great deal about what I was learning from doing this.

“What are we consuming; what are creating online?”my mentor and friend asked in one of her workshops. “What if we only consume?”

My questions stemmed from there …

  1. What if I create something that people don’t agree with?
  2. What if I say something that upsets someone?
  3. What if people have different opinions?
  4. What if no one really cares about what I have to say?
  5. What if I have nothing to say?

I am struck by how many other people share my thoughts, especially numbers 4 and 5.

I put the questions aside, thinking “SO WHAT?”. I decided to start blogging because it was a way of documenting things; a way of recording ideas; asking questions; generating conversation and most of all, for me, reflecting.

I am fortunate that I have made connections with many new people. I learn  from and consume what they say. I am on this journey now with creators from different parts of the world. People with differing ideas, different jobs and differnt styles. How much there is to consume – and to be inspired by to create more of our own! There is so much to gain by sharing what we are doing and thinking – and someone (or many) will connect to, question and learn from our journey.

Here are some of the blogs I am following and being inspired by:

Step-Up in the World of Tech
Honors Grad U


Posted in Jina, Teams, Thinking | Leave a comment

Who’s listening? Who’s talking?

The much discussed concept of learners identifying problems – not only solutions is at the forefront of mind today. There is much talk around teachers who talk too much. We know this is real. We know we all do it. So why is it that teachers feel they should reword, finish sentences, provide their perspective  and step in so often? It puzzles me.

Today I sit with a Year 6 child who is on her PYP Expedition. Her teacher feels that she might be a bit lost. She starts off by reading “her questions” to me. They seem rather abstract and I dig a bit deeper. She tells me how someone helped her “make them up”. We chat a bit more. It seems like in forcing her to ask questions, rather than view her area of interest and analyse the parts (the thing routine Parts, Purposes and Complexities, shared by Project Zero’s  Agency by Design would have extended this thinking), has hindered her from exploring what she really wants to find out about.


I listen while she talks and I create a mind map of her thoughts and suggestions. When she is finished talking, I ask her to think about the lenses that she will be using in her exploration and she immediately identifies the concepts that will scaffold her thinking.



When our time is up she says,”This feels more like what I want to be doing”.

I am left pondering some of my own “big questions” …

Who’s  doing the listening when children are talking?

Who’s  doing the talking?

What message do children get when their voices are shut down?

What buy in is there from learners if there questions are forced; paraphrased and contained?

Do we all have an idea of why it’s important to know ,”Who’s listening and who’s talking”?



Posted in Inquiry, Jina, Learning, learning support, PYP | 6 Comments

A blogging alliance

My colleague, mentor and friend shared the idea of a blogging alliance recently, showing me this post about how her alliance began in 2010. I guess what she was politely saying was that it’s time for my humble blog to spread its wings a little.

I did the readings and came up with some questions for if, how and why an alliance should be formed.

  • How can participants improve their blogs by doing this?
  • What will draw us together?
  • How will our readers benefit?

I don’t have all the answers, only a few thoughts.

How could the Alliance work and what would we be doing?

  1. Comment on each other’s blogs – this will stimulate great conversations – not only between the group, but it will extend the thoughts and ideas for readers.
  2. Link to one another to enhance the content of our posts.
  3. Tweet about posts – to spread the word.
  4. Have guests posts – a way to grow profile with each other’s readers.
  5. Develop greater networks – expand and deepen one another’s networks through introductions when appropriate.

Maybe we can go from this … 



…to this! And then grow even more!

If you are interested in forming this blogging alliance with me, please complete this short form.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

The power of time …

The Zine I have been part of creating with one of my  Year 5 learners is making progress.

I only have the pleasure of connecting with B once a week – for around 30 minutes. Every week, for the past four school weeks, B and I have planning. He has been photographing, talking to teachers, collecting images from people and throwing ideas around.

He asks things like :

  • Should I put captions?
  • Should I change the background?
  • Is it okay to  have only  primary school children in photos?

I never answer. Neither does he. He just makes decisions as he goes along.

He never asks things like:

  • When will this be finished?
  • Can we do something else?
  • Why is this taking so long?

Neither do I.

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You see, B sees the purpose. He wants it to be the way he wants it to be. He wants to use the colour palette to create just the right tone for the background. He wants the font to be vertical and the pictures to be grouped. I see the purpose too!

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I am left wondering many things …

  • What would it look like if learners made important decisions about what they are doing and how they are doing it more often? Would they learn more? Less?
  • Is it meaningful and purposeful to create time to do things once a week? Does the time allow us to reflect or does it hinder the process?
  • Do we allow learners enough time to think or do we jump in to save them; finish their thoughts and add to their ideas?

B has his next idea hatching! He has told me what we will be doing next …



Posted in Learning, learning support, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Creating inclusive classrooms: Access for all students in the PYP

I always consider myself a learner, and sitting in PD for two days reminds me what many learners go through daily … The highs, the challenges, the need to move around, the need to construct meaning and my need to talk through ideas.

The two days of “Creating inclusive classrooms: Access for all students in the PYP” are no different to any other PD days. I grapple with my usual inability to focus for too long while loving the thought-provoking content and thoughts that are thrown my way.

This video generates a great deal of thought about how we view children and we find ourselves thinking about which child we know is like each animal.

The mission statement of the IB is unpacked and then we look at our school’s mission statement and highlight words that we feel show that inclusion is valued. It is clear to us that this is clearly an important element for our school and we think about:

What do we stand for ? What do we aspire to be?

How will the work I do contribute to our mission?

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A small portion of our mission statement

The idea of viewing children through a strengths (rather than deficit) based model, by using the PYP learner profiles is one of the approaches that really resonates with me. Often, I use them as part of report comments and conversations, but this forced us to really analyse the profiles and the children we are working with. Using a simple outline of a gingerbread man as a structure, we share our ideas, make notes and discussing what we see. Some people realise that there are many lenses with which we are able to view children and others realise that not all students (especially academically “smart” ones) possess all of these traits. Every learner has something(s) to work on ; we all have strengths.

We watch a video clip about an amazing creator, whose self-belief initially hindered him from creating. This leads us to  consider  Carol Dweck’s notion of fixed and growth mindsets.

This leads us to ponder what inclusion is. It is interesting how the IB defines inclusion. We read …

Inclusion  in the IB:
“Inclusion is an ongoing process that aims to increase access and engagement in learning for all students by identifying and removing barriers. This can only be successfully achieved in a culture of collaboration, mutual respect, support and problem solving. Inclusion is the learner profile in action, an outcome of dynamic learning communities. Inclusion is more about responding positively to each individual’s unique needs. Inclusion is less about marginalizing students because of their differences…”

The days provokes us to consider how we can allow students choice, voice, an entry an exit level for all learning engagements and how important it is that every child in every class is catered for, has their learning acknowledged and is  guided to embrace who they are and how they learn best.

Some messages stand out clearly:

  • Problems need to be discovered before they can be solved.
  • We need to repeat things so we remember.
  • Fair is giving everyone what they need.
  • It doesn’t mean you understand something because you have learnt it.
  • Inquiry takes us from one level of understanding to another. It’s an approach, not a subject.- Kath Murdoch
  • We should be creating different groups all the time. Labelling children (even with random names) is damaging.
  • Have high expectations of all children. Allow children to have high expectations of themselves.

I supppose there is only really one question left to answer after the two days …

How will we go about ensuring that we include every child in a meaningful, realistic and engaging way – every day?

Posted in Inquiry, learning support, PYP, Thinking | 1 Comment

Modelling being explorers on an expedition…

Graham Baines (aka @PYPChef) shares a great blog post that questions whether the PYP Exhibition should be viewed as an exhibition or an expedition. It raises a great question – one that makes us carefully consider the way in which we name processes. We chat about it informally in a year level meeting in the morning and then we all head off in different directions.

I feel fortunate that I get to spend my days with lots of children and lots of teachers, in different classes. The first class  I  go into today is discussing the five essential elements of the PYP for their personal inquiries. They spend a great deal of the time thinking about what action means. They decide that it is when something changes …

So, when I go into another Year 6 class later in the day, the action I see, taken by the teacher to start, is like a ray of sunshine in the day. She has taken the discussion from earlier in the day (exhibition vs expedition) and she has asked the children to discuss what they think their learning is about.

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I have to say … there is no doubt in m y mind that the Year 6 teachers are taking action! They are modelling what it means to be inquirers and they are true example of what explorers on an expedition do, before they share in their exhibition!

Posted in Inquiry, Learning, learning support, PYP | 1 Comment