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CRT (Casual Relief Teacher) Part 1: So what’s it really like? Maybe I should call this post… its not personal!

thB0875SHDHaving left fulltime service (teaching) with the department and moving to a new area, I wondered if I would find being a Casual Relief Teacher (CRT) satisfying. I have the energy, passion and drive but was initially concerned about being a CRT. My concern arose from joining a number of CRT forums and reading numerous and I mean numerous posts from dissatisfied and disheartened teachers.

I’m one of the fortunate ones because I’ve found being a CRT far better than the reviews. The role is certainly different. CRTs develop a new range of skills… and just maybe, all teachers would benefit from spending time in this role.

I don’t have permission to name schools I’ve worked at here, so I won’t. Having said that, my writing is always about the positive influences of schools, programs, teacher learning and student learning. Not being with the department has enabled me to work in different education systems within my home state Victoria. I’ve been able to experience working in specialist school settings, state schools, private system and even delivered some presentations.

There are a number of challenges faced as a CRT and I’ll give my honest assessment of these challenges here! This is not about positives and negatives, just challenges.

The Challenges:

Finding a school which you love working in is a priority. Having a school where you can build relationships with teachers, students, parents and administration staff helps give that continuity most of us want. Getting to know a school, its routines, programs, who to speak to and its teaching philosophy takes away that ‘unknown’ at the beginning of the day. Equally, if that school shares your philosophy of teaching and learning then you’ll be happiest in that setting.

The trade-off… and it’s real! Your availability to other schools is minimised and schools will stop ringing. It’s not personal!

Availability is a huge factor…even at your regular schools. Once again, it’s not personal! If you are constantly unavailable, they will stop ringing. Schools also have to share employment days around so they keep a bank of CRTs.

Colleagues will make judgements about you, your teaching and student management. So prepare to be assessed! Once again, don’t take this personally. You will have fantastic days, good days and not so good days.

There are amazing educators who really do support you as a CRT. Tip: If you are unsure of something… don’t ask the same person twice. Spread your questions around, and I do have a sense of humour. Also, some teachers are struggling themselves, so it’s best to ask the person in the room next door to them. BUT… remember, there is no such thing as a ‘dumb’ question! So ask away!

When you teach a group of students, be prepared to be tested. It’s not personal and most CRTs experience this. As a CRT, you don’t know the students like their teacher does! Schools do leave notes and these are very helpful, but even with this knowledge things don’t always go to plan.

Flexibility is definitely something to pack each day. As many new teachers are about to become CRTs, I’ll keep adding here. I’ve also had some excellent material shared with me which I’ll share in the next post.

Cheers Nina



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DOES flipping reading and writing strategies lead to improved reading comprehension and writing? DOES linking punctuation symbols to movement, colour and emotion lead to greater use of and understanding of punctuation? I’m flipping…

A number of years ago I started thinking that having a dedicated reading block and writing block could encourage students to make less connections between reading and writing. Challenge me on this!

I would conclude that flipping reading strategies to writing and writing strategies to reading does build stronger connections between both. I  also wanted to combine visual and emotional links to explored strategies. Would this enhance student writing and reading? This initially came from a discussion I had with a psychiatrist who specializes in dementia.

The psychiatrist said that people with dementia often remember events if they are linked to an emotion. I already know that movement triggers memory, so why not combine emotional, visual and colour cues and flip strategies to enhance connections.

It makes sense… because if emotion can enhance memory in people with memory loss, surely this would enhance learning for all. Thinking…

Questions, questions and more questions…

  1. Does combining flipping with emotion & visual  strategies enhance learning? When inquiring into punctuation as a reader and punctuation as a writer, will students better understand the power of punctuation to create meaning?
  2. Will enhanced use of visual cues, hand movements and colour/emotion linked to punctuation symbols, paragraphing visuals and visuals for simple and complex sentences lead to greater transfer of each into writing?

FPwheelThe Fountas & Pinnell Network of Processing Systems for Reading became my guide for flipping strategies.

For example: The narrative writing genre strategy ‘Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then’ was flipped to become a reading strategy for summarizing (Thinking Within the Text). When reading a text students used SWBST  to retell what they had read. Using short sharp narrative texts also enables students to unpack and explore a text within a timeframe.

Analysing (Thinking About the Text) was flipped to explore craft and text structure across reading and writing. I know the notion of flipping strategies is not new, but its worth exploring further.

Something to think about…

Cheers Nina


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Specific Learning Difficulties: DYSLEXIA- SPELD Professional Development

Yasotha V, Senior Psychologist at SPELD Victoria presented at a PD I recently attended. The organisation has given me permission to share part of a slideshow used during this presentation.

I walked away from this PD knowing that students with Dyslexia may be missed and that all teachers should know when to worry! 

Slideshow: Link below…

 SPELD Teacher Conference 4Jul18 – Presenting Features

SPELD: About the Organisation

SPELD Victoria is a Not for Profit registered charity which commenced in 1969. SPELD Victoria provides information and services to children, young people and adults with  and those who care for, teach and work with them. We want to see Victorians having the opportunity to achieve their highest learning potential.

We aim to ensure that:

1. Children achieve their highest learning potential supported by empowered and informed parents

2. All Victorian children understand their learning difficulties and relative strengths (learning profile) and their traditional literacy potential

2. Children with SLD’s use effective interventions and strategies to achieve their traditional literacy potential as quickly as possible

3. Children achieve their academic potential; supported effectively by capable schools and informed teachers

(SPELD Website)

SPELD offers a range of PD for teachers.

Cheers Nina

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The IB-PYP: Futures Planning & Learning

This post is attracting a lot of interest!

Nina Davis -Teaching & Learning in the Australian primary classroom

World Economic Forum The World Economic Forum 2014 -Skills needed in the 21st Century The World Economic Forum 2014 Skills needed in the 21st Century Video 1: What will learning look like in 2028?

video 2: How do we plan for 10, 20 or 30 years time?

These videos are worth viewing. As a trained IB teacher having extensive experience working in an IB-PYP school, I believe the IB program provides the education our students need now and will need in the future.

Video 1: Why 2028? Students at my previous school are already partaking in many of these initiatives now!

The World Economic Forum 2014 -Skills needed in the 21st Century – developed this diagram outlining the skills students will need for future employment.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 11_21_55

Link: World Economic Forum

What do you think?

Tomorrow is the first day of school for students in Victoria, Australia. Some young learners will be starting…

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Student Agency Part 1-#EduTechAU What the twitter feeds are telling me: The Student!

Student Agency: What are the behaviours exhibited by a student when they have agency? I’m receiving questions about agency, so here are some ideas…

Nina Davis -Teaching & Learning in the Australian primary classroom


Bill Ferriter  Follow the link to read more from Bill Ferrier

Learner Agency is something we talk about often, but what does this look and sound like? Engagement is a word teachers use but has its meaning changed? So what is Learner Agency and why do we want our students to be empowered?

A student developing Learner Agency strives to:

Identify their learning goals using appropriate tools e.g. Learning Cycle, pre-tests, continuums, rubrics, exemplars, reflection, etc.

Identify their learning goals based on previous learning, reflections, evidence, etc.

Be open to and explores possibilities for appropriate learning goals.

Use learning goals to monitor and advance their own learning.

Manage a number of learning goals at the same time – incorporating different transdisciplinary skills.

Identify ‘stretch’ goals and understands the incremental steps to achieve them.

Focus on the process, in addition to the product.

Articulate why they are learning it and how it connects to previous and…

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Student Agency Part 3: The Teacher

Research is now claiming that the role of the teacher is critical to learner agency.

Nina Davis -Teaching & Learning in the Australian primary classroom

Student/Learner Agency is essential if we are preparing our learners for their future. Student/Learner Agency starts from a child’s first year of school for the teacher. In previous posts I’ve talked about the student and the task and now I’ve added the teacher. All three components are crucial to Student/Learner Agency. Student-Teacher-Task

The Role of the Teacher

Plans collaboratively for student needs based on a sound knowledge of curriculum and students.

Refers to the 5 essential IB elements – Knowledge, Concepts, Skills, Attitudes and Action.

Provides tools and strategies for students to be aware of, and monitor, their own learning e.g. pre-Assessments, continuums, rubrics, exemplars, etc.

Supports students to use evidence when personalising and revising their learning goals.

Clarify students’ misconceptions, in order to refine individual learning goals.

Discusses connections between learning goals, learning activities and assessment requirements.

Help students make sense of connections within and between curriculum areas.


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What are the connections between reading and writing? How best can we take advantage of those connections when planning?

I’m using the word ‘flipping’ a lot when talking to educators about literacy planning. Is it better if students are taught in a way that provides stronger connections between reading and writing?  Do students view reading and writing as separate subjects or ‘things’ we do at school? Do students make better connections when strategies are ‘flipped’ to show how the strategies are used when reading or writing?


For example, when viewing the Fountas and Pinnell model, one can see how easily the processing systems for reading can be flipped to the processing systems for writing. For example, inferring and summarising can be easily ‘flipped’. Therefore, should reading and writing be taught concurrently incorporating planned focus sessions for the teaching of ‘flipped’ strategies? What do you think?

Should planning base itself on the ‘read like a writer and write like a reader’ concept?

Example: Flipping – Inferring & Summarising

Inferring also known as reading between the lines requires readers to use prior knowledge and the information stated in a text to draw conclusions. Good writing enables the reader to infer as they read. 

Summarising can be taught using the Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then (SWBST) strategy when reading a text and flipped for teaching the writing structure of a narrative.

Would focussing on the same strategy when teaching reading and writing enable students to make better connections?

Below: Steve Peha – Integrated Literacy Model

Integrated Literacy

Steve Peha’s Integrated Literacy model provides an excellent framework for discussing ‘flipping’. This model enables educators to build ‘flipping’ connections under each of the six sub-headings for reading and writing when planning.

How do you plan? How do you take advantage of the connections between reading and writing when planning?

Cheers Nina


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