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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

N is for Next

Teaching is a dynamic career – full of surprises and unexpected twists and turns. You never know what is going to happen next.

One thing that changes constantly is how you feel about this. This little video clip below captures perfectly the different phases of teaching, as you move from one state of being to the next.

Thankfully it’s a never-ending cycle and year after year we move in and out of these phases. As I’ve gained more experience I tend to spend most of my time in Phase 1 amd 2 and don’t dwell too long in Phase 6 if I can help it!

Enjoy the clip…

By Sarah ©2019

A-Z Challenge, 16 April 2019 – N

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

M is for Misbehaviour

It is difficult for learning to take place in a chaotic environment. It is therefore not surprising that one of the most challenging aspects of teaching is managing student misbehaviour.

Teachers have enormous influence over student behaviour, however, most behaviours are learned and occur for a reason. It is our job to determine those reasons and manage with appropriate strategies.

Prevention is the most effective form of behaviour management. That is, the most efficient way to eliminate misbehaviours is to prevent their occurrence or escalation from the beginning.

We need to ask ourselves, “What is the function of the misbehaviour?” or more simply, “What does the student get from the misbehaviour?” Students’ misbehaviour serves a purpose, otherwise it would not occur. Once the motivation has been determined, appropriate strategies can be applied.

The most important thing is, if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Don’t give up if a strategy that worked with one child, fails with another. Behaviour management is 99% about relationships. Spend time building relationships and let students know you care, and want them to be successful.

By Sarah ©2019

A-Z Challenge, 15 April 2019 – M

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

K is for Kindergarten

I am a primary trained teacher and over my 20 year teaching career, I have taught every year level…with the exception of Kindergarten.

I have the utmost respect for Kindergarten teachers. They are a special kind of person indeed. After years of watching from the sidelines, I know this is a role I am most definitely not suited for!

Saying some of the things below, are an everyday occurrence…

  • “Stop eating your shoe.”
  • “I don’t care that you are having fun, you are not allowed to poke people with pencils.”
  • “Just because your finger fits in your nose doesn’t mean you should put it there.”
  • “Please don’t staple the tape!”
  • “Why are you rubbing a glue stick on your shoes?”
  • “Don’t lick the keyboard.”
  • “Why did you glue your sandwich to your desk?”
  • And the movie “Kindergarten Cop” is literally a preview of the reality. Bravo to those brave people who tackle the Kindergarten years! I applaud you.
  • By Sarah ©2019


    A-Z Challenge, 12 April 2019 – K

    A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

    J is for Juggling

    Most teachers feel their juggling skills are worthy of a Barnum and Bailey Circus act. At times it is a struggle to balance life as a teacher – school, home, friends and family.

    For me, the name of the game is prioritising. Teachers must find the balance between what is realistic and what is expected of them. The “to do” list never ends but can be managed, one thing at a time.

    With ever increasing demands placed up on teachers, it’s important to understand we wear many “hats”. The actual teaching aspect sometimes takes second place to the social and emotional needs of the students, or to just manage crowd control on those full moon, or windy days!

    By Sarah ©2019

    A-Z Challenge, 11 April 2019 – J

    A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

    I is for Improvement

    Hands down, the most rewarding thing about being a teacher, is the improvement you see in your students every single day. Whether it be a small achievement, or milestone moment, there is nothing better than sharing in that feeling with your pupils.

    High impact teaching strategies have been fundamental in developing my own teaching performance, and have had a direct effect on my ability to influence student improvement. The HITS are “10 instructional practices that reliably increase student learning wherever they are applied.”

    They emerge from the findings of experts, such as John Hattie and Robert Marzano, who have synthesised these studies and ranked hundreds of teaching strategies by the contribution they make to student learning.

    If you are an educator, I highly recommend looking at the link provided to find out more. You won’t regret it!

    By Sarah ©2019

    A-Z Challenge, 10 April 2019 – I

    A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

    H is for Holidays

    Nothing makes my blood boil more than ignorant people casting aspersions about the “holidays” that teachers get. I have been involved in many a “discussion” spent justifying and defending my profession as an educator. The lack of respect about the hours teachers actually work, and our entitlement to holidays, is truly infuriating.

    So rather than get all hepped up and say what MANY other teachers have already said, I will leave you with some others who have put it into words, so well.

    Read…(no. 2 is particularly apt)

    Also, be sure to check out this “never-a-truer-word-spoken” speech by Jane Caro“. She is my hero.

    By Sarah ©2019

    A-Z Challenge, 9 April 2019 – H

    A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

    G is for Glitches

    Technology can make or break the best lesson. You spend hours planning, incorporating rich, adventurous digital tools. You test it beforehand, several times, just to be sure. You are ready.

    Until the day of. The technology in the classroom that you rely upon, fails. Hours of preparation wasted because no one could get far enough to learn a thing. You blame yourself. Why didn’t you stick with what you’ve always done? Now, everyone is disappointed.

    Implosions like this happen every day in tech-centric classrooms. Sometimes it’s because the network can’t handle the increased traffic, students can’t log in due to a glitch, or the website server goes upside down. The reason doesn’t matter. You know you’re in trouble the second you see that “spinning circle of doom”.

    Tech problems are common, varied, and incredibly frustrating. I’m not fatalistic. I’m realistic. Technology fails often and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. Always have a back up plan or alternative lesson ready in the wings. Also, become familiar with basic troubleshooting and problem solving in the IT domain.

    What else can you do? Google it.

    By Sarah ©2019

    A-Z Challenge, 8 April 2019 – G

    A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

    F is for Friendships

    Teaching can be a lonely career at times. You, in your classroom, alone with all those children!

    Many of us wouldn’t survive our teaching jobs without supportive coworkers by our side. Things are different between your regular friends and teacher friends. There are unspoken agreements and understandings, communication in just one look, and they always have your back. Sympathy flows for seemingly small annoyances, even when your regular friends don’t think it is a big deal.

    When you have a bad idea, good teacher friends will tell you, “Hell, no!”. You can also run notes, lessons, and emails by your teacher friends before you make a million copies. Nothing is more embarrassing than having your students inform you of your mistakes!

    Your teacher friends will always have a good stash of snacks at the ready… chocolate, bananas, cake—you name it. We know we will need it.

    Having teacher friends who are passionate about teaching will also rub off on you. You’ll notice the various things they do in their classroom and take a little bit of that with you to your own classroom.

    When you’ve had a less than perfect day of teaching, your teacher friends will be there to listen to you vent. They’ll be there to tell you that tomorrow will be a better day and that you are an amazing teacher. We have all been there.

    By Sarah ©2019

    A-Z Challenge, 6 April 2019 – F

    A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

    E is for Energy

    Teaching requires lots of energy. Being able to cope with the demands of a day in the classroom, isn’t as easy as it sounds.

    Burnout is “a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.”

    Generally, Teachers are high achievers who like to work hard and are always looking for ways to improve. These traits are commendable but it can mean that educators fail to live up to their perfectionism and don’t leave enough time for rest and their own wellbeing.

    To avoid becoming a victim to teacher burnout, teachers need to build balance into their lives. One way to do this is by setting clear work boundaries. I have some “rules” that I follow to ensure I maintain my energy and enthusiasm throughout the year.

    I won’t check emails after 6 p.m. I temper marking with TV time as a reward, and allocate a set time on Sundays for preparation.

    Whatever schedule you set for yourself, stick to it to ensure balance in your life.

    Or if all else fails, just drink wine!

    By Sarah ©2019

    A-Z Challenge, 5 April 2019 – E

    A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

    D is for Drawings

    There is nothing more delightful, imaginative, and endearing than children’s drawings. And at times, nothing more hilarious.

    Everyone knows that fine motor, drawing, and colouring skills develop in the early years of childhood. As teachers, we play a vital role in allowing opportunities for this. These are innocent times where, sometimes, they see things differently to us.

    There’s a reason we also refer to some drawings as “doodles”…

    This is a picture of dolphins in the sea
    Mum holding a shovel
    This is a tap with running water
    A can of…(ahem) Coke?
    Still life (fruit and flowers in a vase)
    Butterflies and mushrooms
    Dad mowing the lawn
    Man blowing a whistle

    Now that that’s over, get your minds out of the gutter!

    By Sarah ©2019

    * Image credits to Bored Panda

    A-Z Challenge, 4 April 2019 – D

    A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

    C is for Calling Out

    Calling out, otherwise known as blurting, is infuriating for teachers and students alike.

    Unfortunately, some children just love to call out – saying exactly what’s on their minds. They may call out for several reasons including stress, lack of impulse control, competition with others, or simply because it’s what they’ve always done (and got away with).

    Luckily there are so many fabulous resources available on sites such as Pinterest, or TeachersPayTeachers that can help with this problem behaviour. Despite the annoyance of constant interruptions, sometimes it’s also a case of “kids say the darndest things”…

    Teacher: So if we use the jump method to work out this addition problem, what is the answer?
    Blurting Student (totally off topic): Did you know my dad got drunk on the weekend?

    Teacher: Can you please turn and talk to predict the answer with a partner?
    Blurting Student (exuberantly): It’s 58! No, 60. Oh wait, no, it’s definitely 59!

    Teacher: When writing our narrative, make sure it has an complication that doesn’t send your reader to sleep…
    Blurting Student (looking confused): Mrs Whiley, Where do you sleep at school? Is your bed in that storeroom?

    Teacher: It’s important to eat healthy so you don’t become overweight…
    Blurting Student (triumphantly yet innocently): Yeah, like you.

    By Sarah ©2019

    A-Z Challenge, 3 April 2019 – C

    A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

    B is for Ball Handling Skills

    A surprising aspect of my teaching career has been the absolute need to develop adequate ball handling skills. To some degree, this has been necessary for the sport/physical education side of things, but more often than not, it has been for self-preservation.

    Imagine if you will, casually patrolling the playground on yard duty. Amidst the solving of multiple “they’re being mean to me” issues, prying apart wrestling children, and putting bandaids on knees, we need to have a sixth sense for inbound missiles – ready to duck and weave when all of a sudden, a football (basketball, soccer ball, cricket ball, tennis ball, *insert type here* ball) comes flying at your head!

    Unfortunately this happens more than once…Every. Single. Play time. In fact, I believe if dodgeball were to become an Olympic sport, teachers across the globe would be best suited to form the team.

    Coupled with these evasive manoeuvres, teachers also have to have skills in the kicking and retrieving departments. That ball that “accidentally” goes over the neighbouring fences/ onto the road/ onto the roof/ into the trees. Yep. We can get ’em all. Just try us (and they will).

    Don’t be fooled into a reverie if things are quiet in the yard. I have made that mistake twice in my twenty years of teaching, and was rewarded by a basketball in the face and a soccer ball to the side of my head. Look lively teachers, and always be ready to enact those ball handling skills…

    P.S Also, a bit of advice. If trying to demonstrate ball handling skills via an Internet search or YouTube clip, be sure to vet your options carefully and/or ensure your school has high level filters before you click. You have been warned by someone who didn’t. Use your imagination.

    By Sarah ©2019

    A-Z Challenge, 2 April 2019 – B

    A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

    A is for Assessment

    Assessment. One word, three syllables. Seems harmless enough, right? Who would think this concept could become the thing of nightmares? Teachers, that’s who.

    Don’t get me wrong. Assessment is essential. Assessment is worthwhile. Assessment is integral to the teaching and learning process. It’s when people who don’t understand teaching get their hands on things, assessment becomes synonymous with proving one’s worth – which is, for anyone with common sense, fundamentally flawed.

    When we don’t value teachers, and have them constantly required to provide evidence of their capabilities, what possible learning can occur? Teaching is a magical thing. The majority of teachers have excellent knowledge of their students, with or without the data. 

    By putting so much emphasis on assessment, we risk losing sight of where the data came from in the first place – that is, what it actually tells us about how much students understand and where they’re struggling. By changing certain elements of the assessment process, we can make it more meaningful.

    We need to keep data tracking in perspective, giving weight to teachers’ judgments, quizzes, tests and assessments at classroom level. We want assessment to provide enough detail to inform teaching and learning directly – because this is what drives student outcomes. So let’s not fall for the illusion that accuracy is created simply because assessments are logged and tracked on a flash new database that spits out colourful graphs.

    Assessment needs to work for students and teachers. Let’s choose methods that make a real difference to learning – and cut teachers’ workload in the process.

    By Sarah ©2019

    A-Z Challenge, 1 April 2019 – A

    A-Z Challenge, Scribblings by Sarah

    A-Z Challenge Theme Reveal, 2019

    Last year was the first time I participated in the A-Z Challenge (although my visit to the site today informs me that this challenge is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year!)

    I thoroughly enjoyed the A-Z Challenge in 2018, as I blogged my way almost daily, through all 26 letters of my theme, “Anxiety“.

    I have had many trials and changes over the last 6 months, and it is my hope that by joining in the challenge again this year, I can reinstate the blogging routine that has taken a hit in recent times.

    And so….after much deliberation and finally deciding to join, I am “revealing” my theme as a taster of what’s to come.

    As many of you know, I am an educator and love what I do. I also have a passion for writing and am a firm believer in writing what you know. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to combine the two and my theme in 2019 will be:

    • A-Z of Teaching

    I anticipate this theme will illustrate the highs (and lows) of my profession, but more importantly hope that it will bring readers an understanding of the day to day life of teaching – warts and all. As such, I’m not sure how to classify this…whether to put it under entertainment, memoirs or education. It possibly fits all three but rest assured, none of it will be fiction!

    Stay tuned for my first post on April 1!

    ~ Sarah

    Month Of Mini Writing Challenges 2017, Scribblings by Sarah

    Another Planet

    Sometimes I feel like the teaching bureaucracy is from another planet.

    In fact, most days.

    Ok, all the time.

    And now for some teacher sympathy, I mean, humour…

    By Sarah 

    Prompt: Sammi Cox, A Month Of Mini Writing Challenges, Day 13. Task: The prompt is “another planet”. Format and length is your choice.

    Stories by Sarah


    Image credit Dev Benjamin via Unsplash

    The lecturers at teacher’s college always advised, Try out the lesson yourself first – so you know what you’re doing and have a good model to work from…

    So I did.

    Unfortunately, it took so many attempts, there was no origami paper left for the children!


    By Sarah ©2017

    Prompt: Only 100 Words, Three Line Tales – Week 83

    Scribblings by Sarah

    Days like these

    I am very fortunate to have a number of volunteers who help out in my classroom. Today, I checked in with one who is relatively new to my class, to see how she is finding things. As a retired Occupational Therapist, she has been working with one of my students with Autism and helping him with some writing and fine motor skills. They appear to be a good match and getting along famously. So her reply, was somewhat unexpected!

    Yes, she loves being in the class. 

    Yes, she gets along well with her buddy student. 

    But what she is enjoying about the class most is…me!? I was so flattered and happy to hear I had made such an impression on her as a teacher. If I could do that to an adult, hopefully the experience is ‘next level’ for my students. 😃

    It’s not often I pump up my own tyres but at times, as teachers, the only feedback we get is all the things we are doing ‘wrong’. 

    It’s days like these… *happy sigh*

    Image courtesy of IdeaGo at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Prompt: Daily Post, Word: impression

    Scribblings by Sarah


    Every strand of my hair felt frazzled. My vertebra, compacting and crunching, under the weight of my world; ready to collapse. Catching a glimpse of my oscitant* mouth in the window’s reflection, I decided reform was in order. Syncretism** must prevail (The rabbit warren of my mind has an uncanny propensity for optimism).

    As I reached for the handle and opened the door, I stared down the barrel of the gun.

    Lunch was over and my class began trickling back in.

    I won’t lie. It would be tough. But I had this.

    After all, they were only five years old…

    (and I have a tendency to exaggerate)

    By Sarah ©2017

    Prompt Source: Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, Wordle #156
    Words used: tough, strand, vertebra, collapse, catch (ing), oscitant, reform, syncretism, warren, uncanny, barrel, tendency

    Image by foto76 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
    * Oscitant (adj.) yawning, as with drowsiness; gaping. drowsy or inattentive. dull, lazy, or negligent.

    ** Syncretism (n.) the attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing principles, practices, or parties, as in philosophy or religion.

    Scribblings by Sarah

    Breaking through

    I had never experienced such behaviour from a seven year old, in fifteen years of teaching. What a disgrace! I thought to myself, Little weed!

    He continued to curse and cuss at me. I struggled to push aside the angry responses that threatened to engulf me.

    Inside, I was fuming. Outside, I remained calm.

    I eyeballed him, saying nothing but refusing to back down. He was short for his age with a light sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of his nose, a shock of brown hair and startling eyes, blue in colour.

    A chair whizzed past my head, missing me by mere centimetres. Suddenly, shaking, I realised the magnitude of the situation. I looked around at the thirteen other children in the room. They were terrified, gaping at me wide eyed and huddled together on the floor. Thank goodness I had so many students away today. Thank you flu-season, I thought.

    “Let’s go outside for a break. You guys have been amazing,” I said, and hurried them out the side exit door of the classroom. I locked the door behind me. As I peered through the windows, I noticed he had now picked up a shard of wood that had splintered from the chair he had thrown. He waved it at me menacingly through the glass.

    I shook my head. All those strategies and classroom management tools that I had learnt over the years! I racked my brain, searching for one that would help. A solution eluded me.

    How am I going to get through the year? Through to him? I despaired.


    The keta* disappeared as I looked up from my desk, at the approaching student. His striking blue eyes were shining with excitement rather than rage. The brown shock of hair was flattened where his hands had been resting against his head, whilst he worked. I smiled at him as he handed me his book.

    A quick scan of the page and my smile grew even wider as I noted all the correct answers.

    “Well done Mikey, you are just nailing these three digit numbers. I’m so proud of how far you’ve come!”

    He beamed and visibly swelled with pride, “Thanks Mrs Whiley.”

    It wasn’t just about the numbers. We both knew that.

    Funny, I thought, I had found a solution in the end.

     I had broken through.

    By Sarah ©2017


    Prompt: Wordle #155, Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie; Daily Post Daily Prompt, survive; retrospective 

    Words used: never, disgrace, weed, engulf, short, colour, chair, magnitude, thirteen, share, elusive (eluded), keta
    *Keta   (noun) an image that inexplicably leaps back into your mind from the distant past