As her Instagram name suggests, Jane really does believe that the classroom environment is the third teacher. Scroll through her page and you will fall into a wonderland full of thoughtfully curated treasures and learning experiences. It is equal parts magic and learning - and we can't get enough!
We were lucky enough to have Jane share her thoughts about teaching with us, she is our first guest blogger in the Classroom Chat series! If you would like to be featured in our Classroom Chat series, send us an email or reach out on our Insta or Facebook!
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With so many demands in our profession ie curriculum expectations/keeping up with changing technology/balancing play based, hands on learning with explicit teaching/assessment requirements/meetings/emails/PL’s/ etc etc and then there are all the ideas we are bombarded with on: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc it is very easy to get swallowed up by it all and not only forget why you first joined this profession but also you can start to feel inadequate. I just want to say YOU ARE AMAZING!!
Surround yourself with a network of colleagues and friends who keep you grounded, who encourage and uplift you and help you to believe in yourself and stay true to who you are. Don’t lose your personality in the demands of what you feel is expected of you! Don’t compare but instead celebrate with your colleagues your uniqueness and what you offer to the profession!
My training was all about integration, we did not plan under subject areas but rather developmental areas.
Even though we are required to cover outcomes under each curriculum area I would like to suggest that wherever possible try to tick off more than one outcome in a learning experience (which I’m sure most of you are doing ). For example our topics are mostly driven by the HASS outcomes (of course drawing on the children’s interests too) but we brainstorm learning experiences under all subject areas which can be covered in this topic ie Geography learning about our place, cover mapping – which can include covering positional language (maths), visual arts- representing places using 2D artworks, digital tech- coding a beebot to follow directions etc etc
It saddens me that we have to have a ‘literacy block, maths time etc but lets make it work for us and of course for what we know works best for ‘our children’!
Look around for inspiration. Nature never disappoints both in colour, texture, shape etc so why not use natural materials instead of mass produced often plastic resources for learning experiences. Many companies are now marketing the popularity in ‘nature play’ hence if you can’t go outside and collect your own resources I’m sure you’ll find a supplier who will.
Having studied colour and design I draw inspo from interiors and even places like florist shops for the way I present things in my environment. I also like to check out second-hand shops for unusual pieces which can be used in a variety of ways.
Keep it simple and sensory. A learning experience does not have to be elaborate to be engaging or to be successful in it’s learning outcome. One of my favourite pastimes as a child was sorting the buttons from my Mums beautiful button tin. I had no idea I was learning how to classify in the process.
Although there are ever increasing demands on us as educators it still excites and overwhelms me at the same time, the notion that there is ‘always something to learn’.
I love that I am surrounded by colleagues who are so generous and patient with me in learning the new technology available. A little while ago I didn’t know how to ‘air drop’ mirror or ever think I would be on a journey to going paperless in my planning.
On the other side of the coin I’d like to say to those new in the profession, there are also things to be learnt by your older colleagues. It’s all about being open to trying different things and acknowledging we all have certain strengths.
I’m probably not the best person to speak on making sure you balance your work with ‘leisure’ as I (like a majority in this profession), often find it hard to switch off. (I think we need to start a knew movement with the hashtag #ilivetoo not #iteachtoo. )
To be an effective teacher we need to balance our work life with our personal. For those of you with small children you don’t really have the choice (which is sometimes a good thing). But for someone like me whose children have left home, it’s easy for work to become your life. Please for your health and wellbeing take time to ‘smell the roses’.
Go for a walk, catch up with friends for a meal, read a book/mag, buy yourself a bunch of flowers, watch a movie. It can be something simple but it can make a world of difference! Be time smart, attempt to get a majority of your planning done in your DOTT time. Collaboratively plan with your colleagues who teach the same year group as you and even just stay back at school a little each day rather than take work home.
Last but not least laugh a lot. It always makes things better and it helps you to remember we are in a profession that can change lives!!
Huge thank you to Jane for sharing a little snippet of her classroom with us. Be sure to check out her Instagram page over at @environmentasthe3rdteacher and prepare to be inspired!