A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

Z is for Zoo

Rightly, or wrongly, I often compare my classroom to a zoo. A zoo is full of different and unique animals, just like my class is full of different and unique humans.

I know what you’re thinking… “She’s loopy”. Either that or you think I am the worst teacher in the world. But…hear me out. There are so many similarities between wild creatures and children, and passing up an opportunity to make and share the correlation, was just something I could not do.

Ever seen a Kindergartener or Year One student go full toddler-tantrum on you? BOOM. There is your gorilla.

Ever beg a student to hurry up because it takes them ten million years to do anything, including find a pencil or open a page in their book? That is because they are like the land tortoise who moves at less than one mile an hour.

Oh, wait. Did someone in your class open a snack, that looks tastier than the others? No way they’re going to enjoy that little goodie without the 23 other children asking for some! Children have this sloth-like, keen sense of smell and great eyesight.

And, how about those lorys who have no concept of respect for personal space. Just like children, right? As a teacher you are constantly reinforcing the “bubble” and students just can’t seem to not tug, touch, or demand your attention.

You know what other animal children are like? Giraffes — moody and often resist complying with the requests of handlers. Who does this sound like? Who else can be ill-tempered, rebellious and non-compliant? I don’t think I have to tell you who — pretty sure you have that one figured out.

You also can’t forget about how children, typically stink like a warthog (those farts!) and spit like a llama whenever they talk excitedly to you.

Finally, there is one last comparison to be made. However, this one might surprise you. A butterfly. How are butterflies similar to children? Well, just each child, each is different and unique. Each had different mannerisms, Each one takes a different path and flies in their own way. Each butterfly is beautiful and makes us smile. Just like the children in our class.

Just like animals in a zoo, each child needs to be supported, fed (think learning) and cared for in a way that is specific to their needs. It is this aspect, that truly makes being a teacher, simply…a privilege.

P.S. This is my last post for the A-Z Challenge, 2019. Yay! I made it *insert happy dance*

I hope you have enjoyed my posts on the “A-Z of Teaching”…and now, for a well-earned rest!

A-Z Challenge, 30 April 2019 – Z

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

Y is for Yard Duty

Nearly all teachers in all schools are required to engage in yard (or playground) duty as a routine component of their day. Some teachers despise having to do this duty whilst others tend to enjoy it.

Love it or loathe it, it is a school requirement for teachers to attend and complete yard duties. Teachers have a responsibility to exhibit duty of care that is, what courts would define as ‘reasonable care’.

In some schools, teachers wander out of the staffroom 5 or 10 minutes late, coffee cup in hand (a risk in itself!) and stand with other teachers, chatting, whilst making the odd cursory glance at the children playing around them. This may occasionally be peppered with a loud call to admonish a child for inappropriate behaviour. This always worries me. Do these staff know it is required of them to be vigilant and approachable whilst on duty? Are they also aware that failure to attend duty on time or provide active supervision is a very real breach of their duty of care?

Luckily, at most schools I’ve worked at, teachers ARE aware and move amongst the children, engaging them in thoughtful ‘out of classroom’ discussions such as, ‘How is your baby brother? I bet you are being a great big sister?’ or ‘What did you and your family do over the weekend?’ This garners much more respect when gently reminding children about suitable play or behaviour. As such, yard duty also becomes FAR more enjoyable because time is take to develop relationships with your students outside of the classroom.

A-Z Challenge, 29 April 2019 – Y

#NaPoWriMo, Challenges by Sarah, Other, Poetry by Sarah

A Giant’s Game

A spark. A flare. New ideas form.
You ponder what they might be worth

a plan

Words begin crackling into life.
The die have been cast, and they roll.

you write

Sometimes you’re lucky, and you win.
Sometimes, you need to cut and run.

a chance

Overseers observe, perplexed,
but fervor is not diminished.

a joy

The parts are assembled upon
the factory floor and reworked.

a draft

As lyrics converse in a song.
Gloriously it emerges.

a verse

— ~ —

The writing game can make mice of
men. An encounter that looms large.

go on

The mouse grins. Satisfied that he’s
tamed the giant. A poem now


By Sarah ©2019

#NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day 28; and also, The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 401

Challenges by Sarah, Mindlovemisery's Menagerie - Saturday Mix

Saturday Mix – Mad About Metaphor, 27 April 2019

Mindlovemisery's Menagerie

Welcome to the Saturday Mix – Mad About Metaphor, 27 April 2019!

This week we are dipping our toes into the pool of METAPHOR. Our challenge is all about the use of metaphor in our writing. You will need to use the metaphor provided in your response – which can be poetry or prose.

Our metaphor this week is:

Batten down the hatches.

You may be asking yourself, How can I use metaphor in my writing?

Luckily, yourdictionary.com has some examples for you.

Simply put, a metaphor is a figure of speech containing an implied comparison. With metaphors, words or phrases that are ordinarily applied to one thing are applied to something you wouldn’t necessarily pair it with. Metaphors are members of the figurative language family, which also include elements like similes, onomatopoeia, and personification.

Common Metaphor Examples

Some famous metaphors have become part of our everyday speech and are frequently used in writing…

View original post 361 more words

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

X is for Xerox

The Xerox copy machine is a teacher’s best friend, and also sworn enemy.

Don’t get me wrong, I am quite capable at using the machine itself. I can do the works – double-sided copies, re-sizing, printing on card, you name it! I’ve even been known to clear a few paper jams in my day.

But when things go wrong, they really go wrong – and always at the worst possible times leaving you high and dry right before a lesson. A seemingly simple job can leave you rocking in the corner after repeated misfeeds, error messages, and of course, that ominous “beep beep beep” that lets you know you’re doing something wrong.

Adding to the ongoing complication that is the Xerox machine are access codes and copy limits, as schools nowadays try to minimise costs and unnecessary copying.

“But wait,” one might ask. “Don’t you work in a school? Why is there a need to lock the copy machines?” I have no idea.

I have never seen anyone make massive amounts of copies for personal use — only copies used for classroom or school activities. Why then, if we need copies to do our jobs, must we jump through the various hoops put in place by random school personnel?

Our jobs are challenging enough without these arcane photocopier rules. Can’t we be treated like the professionals we are?

A-Z Challenge, 27 April 2019 – X

#NaPoWriMo, Challenges by Sarah, Pantoum, Poetry by Sarah

The Mirror In The Attic

The reflection is blurred.
I no longer see myself.
I’m somewhat unnerved.
Lost my mental health.

I no longer see myself.
I’m spiralling now.
Lost my mental health.
Yet I don’t know how.

I’m spiralling now.
I need to make this stop.
Yet I don’t know how
To get back on top.

I need to make this stop.
I’m somewhat unnerved.
To get back on top,
The reflection is blurred.

By Sarah ©2019

#NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day 26

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

W is for Writing

When you go through training to become a teacher, often you’re told to ask your students open-ended questions, about their writing. Children’s writing can sometimes be indecipherable until they explain it themselves.

Just like my post “D is for Drawings“, sometimes kids’ writing also warrants a little internal adult chuckle.

Image credits Bored Panda

A-Z Challenge, 26 April 2019 – W

#NaPoWriMo, Challenges by Sarah, Free Verse, Poetry by Sarah

The Great Race

This is a great race.

Though hidden by smog
the sun still radiates.
This summer heat is stifling.

The ground crunches beneath my feet.
Dry, rocky, barren.
The trees have long gone.

The wind tears its fingers through my hair.
It whips against my face as I look back
to where we have been.

I taste the bitterness of
being alone and smell
the fumes of a rotting world.

I strain to hear, signs of life.
I hear silence.

Oh yes, this is a great race.
A race against time.

How long before we ask ourselves,
“Where has our world gone?”

By Sarah ©2019

#NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day 25

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

V is for Versatile

According to data collected by busyteacher.org, the average teacher makes 1,500 decisions per day. To put it into perspective, that’s four decisions per minute!

That may be surprising to some, but in my own experience, many teachers will merely nod their head in agreement with this number. The results aren’t hard to believe when taken into consideration that teachers are expected to be a support system for hundreds of students, manager of the classroom, an educator, a content creator, and so much more.

With so much being demanded of teachers, versatility has become a key job skill. Being able to adapt and change easily from one activity to another, is essential, but more over, it is the teachers’ abiltity to use their skills and strengths for many different purposes that truly demonstrates their versatility.

While it can can excitng to have a career with such variety, it can also be exhausting. Teachers need to ensure they take time for self-care to balance this constant hypervigilence.

Check out this entertaining article by Bored Teachers “If a Teacher’s Day Had a Soundtrack by Queen

A-Z Challenge, 25 April 2019 – V

#NaPoWriMo, Challenges by Sarah, Haiku / Senryu, Poetry by Sarah

The Visitor

tempting the sparrows
the visitor draws them in
with bells and whistles

twittering about
unaware they’ve entered a
graveyard in the mist

like spearing flowers
bodies lie as they’ve fallen
the attack begins

By Sarah ©2019

Author’s note: On MLMM today, Chèvrefeuille has challenged us to write something “different”, based on the Haiku by Yozakura. I have used most words from the original Haiku to create this triple Haiku, based on today’s Pobble365 Prompt.

#NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day 24; and also, Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, Heeding Haiku With Chèvrefeuille, April 24th 2019 – Something Different

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

U is for Unfazed

One of the funnier challenges educators face is keeping a straight face when a student says something inappropriate. Yep, it’s pretty damn hard having to reprimand them, despite laughing uncontrollably on the inside.

For example:

  • It was the end of the day and a student put on a helmet, to ride home. Another student walked up to him and hit him over the head. When I asked her why she did that she replied, “Because he has a helmet on and can’t feel it”. I had to compose myself before telling her it wasn’t OK to hit anyone, even if they had head protection.
  • A student in my class revealed to me that when he sings the Australian National Anthem at assemblies, he sings “wealth for Doyle” in stead of “wealth for toil” (his surname was Doyle). He told me to stop laughing as I was telling him off and every time we had assembly after that I had to make sure I was standing no where near him. We always exchanged a little look as I knew exactly what he was doing.
  • A boy in my class kindly offered to scrub clean our classroom tables for me before school started. He had not been working long before he stopped, looked at the stubborn, sticky, glue marks, and said, ‘Now, how the f*ck do I get this sh*t off?’

  • On yard duty, a student came up to me and reported that someone had said something bad. So I asked the student what he had said. He shrugged, looked sheepish and stated, ‘I just said cows have big boobies. Well…they do!”
  • During a phonics lesson we were brainstorming words that contain the “f” phoneme (sound) and I was writing them up on the board. Students enthusiastically provided me with farm, phone, frog, flat etc. until one little girl, who never usually contributed, began waving her hand madly to offer up a word. Impressed, I called on her and she said, “F*ck!” Shocked, I replied, “I beg your pardon”. So…she said it again.
  • One morning during writing, a student asked me for help with some spelling. He said the word a number of times, but I still couldn’t work out what the word was. When I asked him to use it in a sentence, he looked at me like I was daft and said, “You know. Smorning. Smorning I got up and came to school.”

Sometimes it’s hard to remain unfazed on the outside!

A-Z Challenge, 24 April 2019 – U

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

T is for Teacher Types

One thing is for certain…just as every person is unique, each teacher has their own distinct “style”. Bored Teachers wrote a fabulous article describing 14 different teacher types you’re sure to find in any school. I can say with certainty that this is spot on! The diversity found between teachers is what can make schools the best (and at times, worst!) places to be. You can read the article below.

Fellow educators, what number are you?

14 Types of Teachers You’re Sure to Find in Any School

Me? I’m number 11 – just in case you were wondering!

A-Z Challenge, 23 April 2019 – T

#NaPoWriMo, Challenges by Sarah, Other, Poetry by Sarah


Teeth chattering with fear, I go
Forward into the wilderness.

All the guns in the world won’t help.
I’m out of bullets. I have me.
Just me.

I inhale the smells – pine, dirt, smoke,
Sweat. Earth’s perfume is assaulting my

I feel that I am being followed.
In my periphery, a flash
Of brown.

The hunter is now being hunted.
The irony’s not lost on me.
I laugh.

I’ve followed the river, as taught.
Still, I’ve managed to lose my way.
What now?

— ~ —

The remote chimes as I press pause.
I pick up the phone and ring room

I lay back on the hotel bed,
Comfy. Warm. And thinking of what
I want.

By Sarah ©2019

The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 398; and also, #NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day 22

#NaPoWriMo, Challenges by Sarah, Other, Poetry by Sarah

The Writer

I write these nonsensical words.
Hoping that out of the quagmire
Comes gold.

As I scribe, the words loom larger
Hovering over the page. Loose.

They move around by unseen hands.
Making new sentences. Reborn
as prose.

“But this isn’t what I wanted!”
I think to myself, frustrated.
Full stop.

I scramble to make sense of it.
Like a jigsaw, I place words piece
by piece.

Slowly, slowly, the writing creeps.
Finally filling up the page.
I’m done.

— ~ —

The reader sighs – sympathising,
Relating, delighting, wrangling.

Ne’er do they suspect the battle
Between the writer and the words
The end.

By Sarah ©2019

#NaPoWriMo, 2019 – Day 21

#NaPoWriMo, Challenges by Sarah, Other, Poetry by Sarah

On Repeat

A synchronicity poem has eight three-line stanzas in a syllable pattern of 8/8/2. It is written in the first person with a twist revealed within the last two stanzas

Seabirds sketch patterns through the sky.
The sand darkens with their shadows.

I see grey clouds hold back sunshine
and wonder at their malleable

Cottony fingers streak deftly
Painting shades of the coming day.

Yet this optimism’s not shared.
I trudge wearily in today.

My feet are stuck in yesterday.
In mud that was born from the storm.
My life.

Mundane thoughts swirl about my head.
Or are they snowflakes pretending
To be.

— ~ —

The gnarled branches of the trees catch
The plastic glittery pieces.

The child shakes their precious snow globe.
Not realising life’s on repeat

By Sarah ©2019

#NaPoWriMo – Day 20, 2019; and also, Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, Saturday’s Mix – Lucky Dip

Challenges by Sarah, Mindlovemisery's Menagerie - Saturday Mix

Saturday Mix – Lucky Dip, 20 April 2019

Mindlovemisery's Menagerie

Welcome to the Saturday Mix – Lucky Dip, 20 April 2019!

For this week’s Lucky Dip, I have reached into my mystery bag and pulled out a Synchronicity Poem. The topic is up to you!

You may be thinking to yourself, What on earth is a Syncronicity poem?

Luckily, Shadow Poetry has an explanation…

Synchronicity Poem

“Synchronicity” (The state or fact of being synchronous or simultaneous; synchronism. Coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related.). This form consists of eight three-line stanzas in a syllable pattern of 8/8/2. This poetry type has no rhyme and is written in the first person with a twist. The twist is to be revealed within the last two stanzas. Created by Debra Gundy.

Example of a Synchronicity Poem

Charcoal Shades of Gray

Thin ray of light, parted curtains,
slight illumination within,
he sits.

Age spots rest upon head and hands,
thinning hair…

View original post 129 more words

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

R is for Reading

Many people make the mistake that letters and sounds are how you teach a child to read. In fact, reading is a complex function that requires a layered approach. Reading is not just decoding words – students need to understand and think about what they are reading.

Here are some hints and tips for helping children learn to read:

  1. Use songs and nursery rhymes to build phonemic awareness
  2. Focus on the sounds letters make rather than the names
  3. Play word games
  4. Understand the core skills that need to be developed:
    – Phonemic awareness (the ability to hear and manipulate the different sounds in words)
    – Phonics (recognising the connection between letters and the sounds they make)
    – Vocabulary (understanding the meaning of words, their definitions, and their context)
    – Reading comprehension (understand the meaning of texts)
    – Fluency (the ability to read aloud with speed, understanding and accuracy)
  5. Read and enjoy texts together
  6. Encourage a broad reading “diet” e.g. genre, non-fiction and fiction etc.
  7. Memorise high-frequency sight words that can’t be decoded easily (e.g. who, was, what)
  8. Use a range of strategies, not just “sounding out” – this doesn’t work for most words! Use this in conjunction with picture clues, initial sounds, “chunks” of the word, reading on, flipping sounds, but most importantly – what makes sense!
  9. Ask questions about the book
  10. Be patient and have fun!

Obviously, there is a lot more to teaching reading than just these 10 steps. My biggest word of advice is to heed the warning about relying on sounding out alone! See the video clip below for a clear example of why…

By Sarah ©2019

A-Z Challenge, 20 April 2019 – R

#NaPoWriMo, Challenges by Sarah, Other, Poetry by Sarah

Magic Biscuits

Across the ground you fly.
ounding through life,
omes so easily to you.
aring to rely on wishes and
verything falls into place.
ree from responsibility and treated like
ods. It must be
eaven to be you.
would like to trade even
ust for a day. Your
ind must make some
ovely little
Magic biscuits to
Nestle so deeply into
ur lives.
laying for keeps you
uietly establish your
eign of our houses and
leeping quarters.
aking time to
ndo the chains we
aliantly have placed around our hearts.
e stand no chance against your
enophile ways.
ou are dog. You are family. You are
eitgeist. Larger than life.

By Sarah ©2019

#NaPoWriMo – Day 19, 2019

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

Q is for Questions

There’s no such thing as a stupid question… but sometimes I’m not so sure. While questioning is an effective technique for probing deep understanding and clarifying ideas, at times, questioning can make you face palm and reach for a glass of wine.

Here are some fine examples…

1. Does chocolate milk come from a brown cow or a black and white cow?
2. Why is there so many words in this dictionary?
3. Were cubes discovered in Cuba?
4. Are all of the guys at NASA named Houston?
5. Can you see the equator from space?
6. What are those pyramid-shaped things in Egypt called?
7. Is the Earth round like a ball or round like a plate?
8. When the snow melts, where does all the white go?
9. If there’s a speed of light, then what’s the speed of dark?
10. Did I miss anything while I was absent?

Courtesy of Thought Catalog

Then of course, there are the questions we ask ourselves…

By Sarah ©2019

A-Z Challenge, 19 April 2019 – Q

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

P is for Prose

There are lots of things teachers can say…and there of lots of things they can’t!

Being “politically correct” and professional with our prose is a must in this career. But that doesn’t mean we don’t say things we would love to in our heads!

Enjoy this little clip that expresses all we cannot say out loud…

By Sarah ©2019

A-Z Challenge, 18 April 2019 – P

#NaPoWriMo, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

The Skypath

The whispers of rocks echo in clinks and bangs. The stones chitter in reply, “Here she comes“. Blades of grass crackle underfoot. Dying. She doesn’t realise they are screaming, breathing their last, at the mercy of her boots. The hiking stick she leans on groans as it bears her weight, supporting her every step. It laments its cosy place nestled amongst the leaves and silently curses her for taking it so far from home. Its knotted eye imagines a ladder to take her skyward, towards the light she so desperately seeks. The voices of nature warn that it’s just an illusion, but the haze beckons her on.

Seek what light you will.
Heed the signs along the way.
Don’t give dreams away.

By Sarah ©2019

#NaPoWriMo – Day 17, 2019; and also, Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, Heeding Haiku With Chèvrefeuille – Voices of Nature