Posted in wellbeing

The story of a successful school ‘buddy’ program.

This post has been floating around in my head since the first day at my new school this year, however seeing @kaz_phi on Pinterest today prompted me to put my thoughts into action.
On the first day of school for the Foundation students, their week-long swimming program started. Me: “What the actual heck? Are these people (staff) crazy? What a nightmare!”

However, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. Each new Foundation student had been given a buddy. They had met their buddy on the Orientation day last year and had a photo of them to look at over the holidays. On the first day of school, the Year 6 buddies collected the Foundation students and ate recess with them. They were in charge of helping their buddy get changed for swimming and changed again after swimming. This process lasted all week.

On the third day of school was the first whole-school Assembly. The Year 6 students collected their little buddy, walked with them to Assembly, showed them where (and how) to stand in line and then took them to the Year 6 classroom afterwards to show them where they do their learning.

At the end of Week 3, I noticed a few key things:

-Foundation students rarely approached a yard duty teacher if they had a problem in the playground – their first port of call was their buddy, or another Year 6.

-The culture and atmosphere at the Swimming Carnival was incredible and took a lot of weight from the teachers shoulders, as Year 6 buddies ran and helped organise events for the Foundation-2 students.

-The Year 6 students love to spend every moment possible with their buddy.

True, it’s a small school with only about 100 primary students & 50 students in Year 7-10. Yes, all of the Primary students have the same area to play in, at the same time. There is also a dedicated ‘buddy’ program on a Friday afternoon in every class, run by the school chaplaincy workers.

But the credit must go to the Foundation and Year 6 teacher…who investigate ways to support and nurture these new relationships to bring the buddy program to such a high level of success. I have never seen such a strong bond between buddies! In my previous job, it seemed such a hassle to organise a buddy time in the crowded weekly timetable…and then who would organise an activity…and run it…and what would the educational outcome be?

This…just works.

Does your school have a buddy program? Structured or unstructured? Successful or unsuccessful?

Posted in iPads, Learning, Technology

Technology for relief teachers.

Today was my first day of relief teaching in the school that I’m not actually working part-time at this year. So, I was not connected to the school wifi, or have log in details or anything. For someone who loves integrating technology into lessons in any way possible, I was slightly ‘meh’ about my day in Year 6.

Regardless of this, I had packed my iPad in my handbag. What was I planning to do with it? No idea! But I was determined. I pulled out my folder of ‘Break’ apps, courtesy of @DaleSidebottom. I had ClassBreak, MathBreak, TeacherShake, QuizBreak, BrainBrea, ScienceBreak & LiteracyBreak. All of these can be purchased from the iTunes App Store, search: The Ultimate Teachers App Pack.

But which ones could be used without an internet connection?

  • LiteracyBreak – a great range of Introduction Games, Nursery Rhymes, Brainteasers, Debating Topics, Writing Games, Bus Activities (think: school camp and long excursions!), Group Games and a section for ideas on Organising Groups.
  • ScienceBreak – all sections except Science Videos (links to Youtube videos) will work offline. Great ideas for lesson starters, simple low-prep experiments, fun facts…and the list goes on!
  • ClassBreak – a plethora of activities and games: icebreakers, PE, team building and time filler! Subject games & classroom activities, riddles, jokes, quotes of the day, brain gym & a true and false guessing game.
  • MathBreak – this was my go-to app for the day and my favourite section was the riddles! Most of them were maths-related, but some were just good old fashioned logic thinking! This app also features a list of dice games and times table tricks.

Anything else? Well, I asked another teacher if there was a CRT log-in for the Interactive Whiteboard & classroom computer, and there was. (Always pays to ask!) Right – logged in and ready to go!

This was perfect, as I had 7 statements for the students to write out in their books and then decide if they agree or disagree with them…and then the good old discuss and compare, most popular responses etc. Perfect to do as a Kahoot survey! (You don’t have a free Kahoot account? Why not?!)

So, at the beginning of lunch, I whipped up a Kahoot survey (it took all of 4 minutes) and once the students had done the required work of writing the questions down, they decided on their answers – survey style. It was a great way of gaining a whole class snapshot of their beliefs & opinions and provided a healthy discussion board for us to chat about.

Aaaaand, just because I love inspiring students with clips from Youtube, this clip tied in really well with the topic of our afternoon lesson – serving others.

So never fear, relief teachers can use technology successfully! Anything else to add to my list?

Posted in Learning, wellbeing

My start to relief teaching in 2016.

This year my weeks are planned as relief teaching on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and teaching all grades at a school from P-6 over Thursday and Friday as I provide release for school leaders and graduate teachers.

I’ve had 3 days of relief work at my part-time school so far, but went and visited 5 other schools to offer my relief teaching services. The results were all positive, but one school stood out. See if you can see why.

All of my conversations began at the school’s front reception, and went exactly like this: *smile* ‘Hi, my name is Fiona and I was wondering if there was anybody here I could speak to about relief teaching?’

School 1:

‘Tom’ is out at the moment, but I’ll pass your resume on. Thanks.

School 2:

Sure, come through and see ‘Tom’ in his office.

Tom: Lovely to meet you Fiona. I’ll pop your details in our file. Do you have your VIT card here with you so we can photocopy it? Speak to you soon.

School 3:

Oh wonderful, I’ll call ‘Tom’ over the speaker immediately.

Tom: Great to meet you, we’re looking for some reliable CRT’s this year. The days your available suit us perfectly. That’s excellent. Thanks.

School 4:

‘Tom’ is teaching right now, but I’ll give him your details. Thanks.

School 5:

Certainly, I’ll grab ‘Tom’ from the staffroom.

Tom: Lovely to meet you Fiona. Thank you so much for bringing your details in. Do you have your VIT card to photocopy? Actually, would you like to have a tour of the school? Here is the staffroom, tea and coffee available for all, plus there’s some lockers here to pop your handbag in when you come in. All of our student medical information can be found here, as well as in the staff toilets, which are here. There are 3 senior classes, so there’ll always be another teacher to ask if you have any questions or problems; the same in the 3/4 unit. We eat our recess after play and the same system for lunch, which we find works well. This is our principal, Mr X *shakes hand and smiles*.
So, that’s our whole school, plus the 4 different yard duty areas, which are A – here, B – out this window, C – the basketball courts, and D – down the end near the toilets, plus an inside first aid duty.
Now before anybody starts working here we have to do a 5 minute OHS induction – we can do that when you bring your paperwork back, like your bank details…or, do you have time to do it now? Excellent. Do you have any questions for me at all?


Now, School 5 might seem overwhelming to some people, but I had never felt so comfortable and at ease upon walking into a school for the first time.

First impressions – invaluable.