IF is but a little word that sits in the corner!


You may wonder how this post fits into education, but hopefully by the end you will see the link. Recently, my siblings and I had to put our mother into residential care. A huge challenge because although she knew she was no longer coping, she is an independent woman, ex Director of Nursing with post graduate studies in gerontology.

This is a complex journey for any family and if you are ever in this position you will understand that aged care is a minefield.

Firstly, the best advice I can give is find a consultant who will help you understand this system and help you find the right place for your parent.

Our parents took us to school on our first day and I have now taken my mother to her first day at her new place. So what does she want from this experience and what do I want for her?

My vision was a place where the aged are treated with dignity and respect. My mother deserves that. She is an intelligent woman who has worked hard to ensure the aged are recognised in our community. Equally when looking for a school, the best school is most likely the school that is closest to you, but if you’re not sure put some questions together, visit and ask!

My mother’s new residence meets 99 percent of anyone’s needs and it would be hard to get better than that!

Many parents are now wondering how their child will settle into school next year and if the school they have chosen will meet their child’s needs. Will my child make friends? Will the teacher help my child to settle in? What will my child do in such a big playground? How will my child react to other students less or more capable than he/she? So many questions and so many concerns… and as a teacher I understand each of these concerns. One, I’ve taken my two children to their first day of school and both survived! Two, I’m an experienced teacher and greeted many students on their first day of school. And they survived too!

Letting go of our children and older parents is similar. You have to be positive and resilient and build this in your child or older parent so they become confident in their new surroundings and routines. It’s difficult because you want to hold their hand, but you can’t always do that.

This might help: My grandmother had a little saying and it goes like this….

IF is but a little word that sits in the corner. If we worry about the IFs in the world, we won’t go further!

So let’s not worry about the IFs.

Cheers Nina


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Successful people have certain behaviours: The IB Learner profile and its conection to the traits of a successful people. Year 1 and 2 students explore and respond!

Recently I was introduced to the traits of successful people compared to the traits of unsuccessful people. Having reviewed the traits myself, I decided to introduce this document to my students. My students are in Year 1 and 2 in Australia and very capable of looking at and discussing this document. My school is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school. The IB introduces students to the Learner Profile so my students already have an understanding of what being a successful learner and person encompasses. We are now unpacking the successful traits and connecting them to the IB Learner Profile and attitudes.

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Link: http://www.workingmomsonly.com/2011/07/25/eliminate-the-jealousy-factor-and-success-will-follow/


My students discussed the traits and were given one trait to respond to and make connections to their life.






This is what I call thinker’s writing. The learners aren’t using a set genre and have to structure their own response. Many made connections to their own life. These are examples of first drafts written independently by my students.

Cheers Nina


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When you know you’ve met an inspirational education leader! Vale Dr. Elizabeth Mellor

Last week Australia lost a true advocate for early childhood education. Doctor Elizabeth Mellor was a passionate driver for improved early learning for children and much of her recent work was in this area.

Having completed many professional development courses, there is still one standout for me: The Leadership for Community Engagement Program. Elizabeth was a co-presenter and one of those educators you meet and sense instantly that you are in the presence of a leader!

What did I learn from Elizabeth and the course about leadership?

I’m calling it YOU!

You, as a leader, will be different to a manager, you will be finding solutions, you will use your courage and confidence to influence others, you will speak a common language and find that common language so you can move forward. You will empower others and be an enabler so you can shift barriers. You will encourage others to ‘think big’ and work towards delivering transformational change. You will coach others on how to measure change, be respectful and a listener so you understand and collaborate.

You will not shy from anything and you will get in and learn. You will empower others to solve problems because you can’t fix it all. You will take risks and from taking risks you will gain experience to put into other aspects of your role. You will give others a voice and act on what they want and work side by side with them to achieve your common goals. You will be capable of ‘unlearning’ and not be judgmental. You will build a ‘treasury’ of good practice to help you evaluate actions and capture what has been learnt so you can measure the impact of changes and improvements.

And finally, you will deliver to every child and family. Your flexibility will be key to you being a leader, as without flexibility you will impede innovation. You, as a leader, must leave the profession in a better state and by building the capacity of others you should do yourself out of a job!

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Cheers Nina


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IB-PYP: Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. Benjamin Franklin – Inquiry is an approach to learning not a method.

Inquiry as a pedagogical approach is not a method of doing something. It is an approach to learning which is about posing questions. Inquiry starts with a question, wondering, problem or idea which engages learners into investigation, the creation of knowledge and testing of what they know.


Recently, a group of young learners ( 7 & 8 year old students)  asked me if they could spend time on their personal inquiry. Naturally I was excited that this group were personally motivated and wanted time dedicated. I decided to watch their progress and photograph their work. I also made a conscious decision to sit back and evaluate their use, and my teaching of the school’s Inquiry Process.

This group of young learners surprised me by their understanding of the process. They set about planning, focussing and preparing their inquiry. They were developing a central idea and had created a list of wonderings.  They wrote what they called a big wonder (How do wars start?) and had a number of key questions, some which they said they will park in the Parking Lot. The Parking Lot is a place where questions and wonderings are placed that are not part of the focus but may be answered later or as part of their learning.


They discussed their questions individually and chose the big questions they wanted to investigate. Then they talked about how they would find information (Finding Information). I was impressed by their confidence and ability to talk about each part of the process.

This is where the learning process results in true Learner Agency- student choice, student responsibility for learning and actions, a meaningful curriculum and learning initiated by learners.

Cheers Nina

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IB-PYP: Maps – Gathering prior knowledge: Show me the way to your home from school. What did I learn? I should have known more about this student!

We’re learning about maps so I asked my students to show their way home from school. They could choose how they would show their journey. One of my students started drawing…. What did I learn? I know that how we ask children to show what they know is incredibly important and when gathering prior knowledge we can’t assume what a child knows. One of my very quiet 7 year old students started drawing their map.

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Kids and Graham Morgan Senior 014

Can I find the way to my student’s home? YES How did this student know what they know? Would I have discovered what I now know about this student and their thinking if I’d presented my initial question a different way? QUESTIONS!

Cheers Nina


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The IB – PYP: That’s where we’ll hang our hat! Part 1 – At the grass roots…

This is the year of the circle.

My father always said children need something to hang their hat on and something bigger than them.

So what does this mean in terms of learning? Schools are our young peoples’ community, something bigger than them and where they can hang their hat. Primary schools exist for young learners, but they are also children (so keep that thought). A school has a greater responsibility than just teaching the 3Rs. Schools are where our young people learn about relationships, community and develop a sense of self.

My school is an IB-PYP school. So why be an IB school? It’s a question I’ve thought about for some time and relates to what my father told me. Children need something greater than themselves and so does a school! Schools are an important part of their local community, but where does a school hang its hat and be part of something bigger than it?

Example 1. Developing a sense of community: The IB Learner Profile.

The IB has developed a framework known as the Learner Profile. The Learner Profile relates to all learners, teachers, administrators and wider community members. The IB Learner Profile recognizes the broad needs of young learners and young people across the world.



Let’s take a look at the IB – PYP at the grass roots – my Australian Year 1-2 classroom…

Example 2. Developing a sense of community: Being part of something bigger.

My students understand that we are a team and being part of a team has associated responsibilities. Our team is part of the school community, local community, government education system and IB World Community. Young learners (6, 7 & 8 year olds) need to grow their understanding of responsibility by being part of a community and the classroom is where they start.

Two Simple Diagrams:

Two simple diagrams underpin my students’ learning about being part of a team and managing relationships.  I bring everything back to the IB Learner Profile and attitudes. The picture below is our Learner Profile circle and ‘working wall’.

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The learner Profile represents our classroom essential agreements. My students know that as learners we make mistakes and learn from them, however, they also understand that being a member of the team is about demonstrating the Learner Profile through our actions. The Learner Profile is part of our daily learning. It’s not just a pretty display, it is a living and growing record of our growth as learners and young people.

Diagram One: The Team Circle

Sometimes someone may not have exhibited the Learner Profile and as a consequence moves to the side of the team. The young learner then has to develop the trust of the team to move back. Being a member of the team is very important to these young learners and they are incredibly supportive of each other. It has become a very positive approach to classroom management. It would require another post to explain how students learning self management is powerful for their confidence and learning.

Diagram two: Friendships and relationships

This one was developed to show how ‘he said, she said’ works. Two friends have an argument and involve others and rarely, but sometimes parents get involved. However, by the time the two best friends have sorted their differences, the outside circles are still arguing! This is where we learn CHOICE and my students are now thinking about the choices they make. They will help sort out problems but rarely become part of the problem. They are incredibly mature and honest! Simple diagrams but visible…

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Cheers Nina

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What Edna Saxton taught me! It’s OK!


I BLEW IT – Cameron Paterson

I’m hoping Edna Saxton is ok with me posting this on my blog. Her recent post about her colleague Layla made me reflect and that’s what a great post does.

Layla, my colleague and friend, has retired very suddenly for personal reasons. Processing my sense of loss, I have this to say…

Would you like to work in a place where you have time to absorb and process one idea before racing on to the next? I’d rather work with Layla.

Would you like to work in a place where you have the space to just be, without disagreement and constantly being challenged? I’d rather work with Layla.

Would you like to work in a place where things are always crystal clear, precise and well mapped out for you? I’d rather work with Layla.

It’s easy to work with people who think in the same way as you do (or don’t think much at all) – You make a suggestion, they agree. They make a suggestion, you take it up. No argument, no raised voices… no progress?

New staff witnessing dialogue between Layla and me are often taken aback. We argue, we disagree, we force each other to examine our beliefs, clarify our goals and adapt our thinking. This is real collaboration and what grows out of it, is dynamic and exciting … often leading to meaningful change.

It’s easy to relax and go with the status quo, accept things because they are good enough or because they have always been done a particular way. It takes courage to constantly question and to fight for what you believe in, even if you upset people along the way.

I’ll miss my thinking partner. I’ll miss pushing her into a corner and making her explain her thought process, examine her motivation and justify her thinking. I’ll be looking out for someone passionate with strong beliefs about learning, who’s not afraid of change… because I need to be pushed in exactly the same way myself.

If you’re someone who doesn’t like being challenged, who doesn’t value debate, who isn’t able to take the seed of a creative idea and use your imagination to grow it yourself into something flourishing… then you might not miss Layla.

I know I will.

Edna Sackson What Ed Said

My Reflection!

It’s OK!

It’s ok to have a number of things on the go!

It’s ok to have professional disagreements and challenge each other!

It’s ok to have ideas that are in their infancy and not crystal clear and share them!

It’s ok to have a voice!

It’s ok to discuss, debate and reflect to grow ideas!

It’s ok to speak up for what you believe in even if you upset someone unintentionally!

It’s ok to ask someone to explain their thoughts!

It’s ok to change what you’re doing!

So I’ll keep doing what I believe is ok because education needs to be questioned. Right? By the way this does not always make you popular. So if you want to be popular don’t question…. just sharing that! :)

Cheers Nina

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