Teaching Isn’t Rocket Science

Teaching Isn’t Rocket Science but It Is Surely Harder (Ryan Fuller)

When I solved engineering problems, I had to use my brain. When I solve teaching problems, I use my entire being—everything I have.

Yeah, I cut the end of that quote. Let’s not go there.

I think it does a good job of starting to get to what can make teaching ‘tricky’. Where ‘tricky’ means all-consuming.

One of my go-to thoughts is that it’s often just the volume of things you have to do and the accompanying stress of trying to do all of them, often simultaneously. If I just had one thing to do, to teach this one lesson I’d be fine, I could give that my focus.

But it’s not just one thing.
And yes, I should probably write things down.
And I have an ongoing, developing, evolving list somewhere in my head of things that need doing.
And important varies moment to moment.
And tasks vary from the simple to the complex.
And sometimes, I’m a frog in pan of water as starts to bubble.
And boil. And more heat is added and added…
And sometimes I’m right there, present.
And sometimes I’m a million miles away.
And it’s just a job?
And what of my own family?

Advice for Teachers, Policymakers, and Donors | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

I only read the advice for teachers but I liked the three suggestions. Even if I struggle with the speaking out part.

The - UK - government wants to cut ‘unproductive tasks’ from teacher workload. What happens if you ask 9,000 teachers to give examples of the unproductive tasks they spend most time on?

Lots of teachers didn’t answer and instead wrote to say that everything they did was productive, it was just that there was too much of it. Ultimately, the government either must reduce expectations on schools or reduce teacher timetables.

I just feel weird about teaching at the moment.

I struggle with feeling like I’m not doing my job well enough, because I don’t have enough time. But I don’t have enough time because I go to the gym for my physical and mental health or because I go home so I can spend time with my children.

A busy day at school. Lots of things popping that involved lots of talking to colleagues. I could go home and do more work after working from 7:30-5:00 and it would certainly make tomorrow a little easier. But I need to stop and take a mental break.

That’s a question isn’t it!

Screenshot of a Tweet saying: "Just out of interest... what was the last thing you did with your class that was just for fun?"

Had a whiskey and burgers, played Mario Wonder with Yumo - he is really good, played Mario Kart with Elise and Yumo, signed up for a webinar on Enhancing Classroom Talk to support multilingual learners, about to watch Echo with Lyra. All going on!

Welcome to the circus

My old biology teacher once said that revising was like spinning plates, you have to go back to it occasionally to keep it spinning. As it is with remembering stuff. It’s always stuck in my head.

I was thinking about it today. I feel that, as an primary teacher there’s a lot to be doing, that is, a whole lot of plates to keep spinning.

Except… I realised that it’s not the same, since each of the things is so different. If they were all plates, then they just need a push in the right direction to keep them spinning.

Except, they aren’t all plates.

I’m spinning plates - and to go with a circus theme - juggling, lion taming, keeping the audience happy, working on a new routine and am jumping between these tasks constantly. And if any of the things I’ve read about multi-tasking are true, it’s not great for getting things done well!

Reading Comprehension Round Table - YouTube

Interesting discussion about teaching reading.

A concise post about what teachers can be thinking about in the lessons.

Three Checks: For teachers and observers. – teacherhead

How should we teach writing in schools? | Tes

“Did You Like School? I Didn’t” (David Labaree)

I’m bringing this up because people like me – educators and educational researchers – need to remind themselves that school is not an unalloyed good.

10 Classic Klaxons… Things to avoid doing or saying – teacherhead

This gave me some things to think about when i’m teaching.

Really think about it. What’s the smallest number of hours you could work per week and keep your boss happy?

Funny this came up because we had a conversation at work and a colleague told me they felt bored. After a moment, I realized that I don’t ever feel bored. There’s always more I feel like I should be doing. That if I dared to feel bored it was because I wasn’t working hard enough or doing my job properly.


Sitting at my desk at 7am feels both better than being grumpy at home but also, overall, worse.


The few hours Lyra and I just had were just what I needed. A chance to reset my mindset and for me to start again.

I’ve found it difficult when I’m either with my own children before and after work and other people’s children between 6am and 9pm. Much as love my own children and I do enjoy my teaching other people’s.

It’s one of those things about teaching that, when you’re working, yes you’re in charge but your time is very much not your own. You can’t leave the room to go to the toilet or go speak to someone, you can’t sit and have a think. While we do get some ‘free’ time during the time, it’s incredibly difficult to switch off. When you’re teaching them there’s a million other things to do.

Anyway. I feel very much better for the evening off of parenting and teaching.

Best thing you can do for your children sometimes, is to be away from them!

24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When your job involves working with young children (I teach Year 1(kindergarten)) and you have small children of your own at home. So your life involves the associated testing of patience before, during and after work. It’s a little emotionally taxing.

In other news grass is green and water is wet.

This is also me thinking I should be a little kinder on myself.

Deep breath

The classroom is nearly as set up as it’s going to be. We have new students coming in tomorrow for a short while to meet us. Then we start in earnest on Monday. Most of our students will be in school, with a few not because they’re unable to get into the country.

It feels like this will be the last pause before everything becomes chaotic next week. Trying to take a moment to breathe before that all starts.

Welcome back for the 2020 school year! [A letter from your local superintendent and school board]

Welcome back for the 2020 school year! We are incredibly delighted to have our children and educators back in school again, particularly after such a challenging spring and summer. We couldn’t be more excited to see your kids’ smiling faces back in our classrooms!

As you know, some things will be different this fall. We wanted to share a few things for us all to think about over the next few months…

First, some of our children and families probably will become very ill.


School finished today.

Students had their last day yesterday and teachers finished today. We did a little more packing up and that was that.

It’s always a strange day. In international teaching, there’s always staff leaving as contracts end. As well, this year, some teachers are still out of the country. Of whom some will return and others won’t. The last we saw of them was them was the end of January. Those who won’t return, we likely won’t ever see them again.

I’m trying to dampen the anxiety of next year. There’s going to be so many changes and I can’t help let the worries build, a little at least. How will I do this or that and how will things work out? I’m trying to let them go, for now at least.

Instead, to try and relax a little. To maybe reflect on the last 5 months. Of our the quarantine, e-learning programme, of going back to school again.

Morning jealousy

I’ve always been a little jealous of other’s morning routines. Since, these days, mine rarely involves, peace, quiet or stillness. Instead it involves 1 or 2 small children, argy-bargy, nappies, a rushed coffee and getting out the door with my head-not-right at 7am.

It wasn’t always like this, and I’m sure it won’t be like this forever but for now, it’s hard. Especially since work is especially is, how to put it - time-consuming at the moment. We continue to support out students not coming into school, while some students are in school.

With all that said. Every morning, either in the Didi (Uber) or sitting in the car park after driving to work, I’ve been putting a few words into my Day One journal. And it’s been good, actually. Not all of it has been positive but I’m hoping it’s a start of a habit…

a list

I meant to start a list of things I was going to start doing in the coming school year. I just never got around to finding the time to do it. I had a thought that I might do it tomorrow but realistically, I’m just gonna dilly dally. I want to do overhead squats and burpees but I think the school gym is under construction still.

I was going to meditate more, stick to the strength programme that I’m now paying for, write more, practise my Chinese more (especially outside in the real world), to try and get my head around teaching Year 2 and the particular requirements that our school presents.

Maybe I should just do all of them.

irate, of late

My patience is worn thin.

I think it’s because of work. Just for a change I feel like I’m not completely in control of everything I wish to be in control of. Of my teaching and all the things related with it - assessment, planning, the actual teaching, all the little things that go with it. Nothing new I suppose. It’s just couple with having co-teaching issues and issues with other teachers and I just don’t know where to start.

I would like to feel more organised, focused. I don’t like this feeling simply all over the place. And while I appreciate I should make better use of my time I don’t really feel like I ever have enough of it. The students start to arrive at 7:45 and, at the moment, Lyra and I get the school bus which gets in at 7:45. Then suddenly it’s 3:30 and I’m done.