Choices #MonthlyWritingChallenge

Too many choices?

What a topic! The area is just huge. When considering what to write I thought about all the ways I make choices in my daily life of teaching.

I realise as a teacher we are told early on that we make hundreds of decisions every day. True, I teach 4-year-olds! I guide them on their own decisions as well as maintaining mine. But how about choices?

In teaching, we have to make a huge number of choices. The tremendous effort of multi-tasking every minute of the day is an incredible skill. This is how I know that not everyone can teach. We make in- the-minute choices, and decisions, which can hugely affect our professionalism, the children we teach (socially/emotionally and academically), as well our own well being.

For example, in approximately 5 minutes on any given day in a school, these are a selection of choices I may have:

Some children are not distracting one another, do I pull in the positive wording or do I change task, or do we stop for now?
(Insert name) has placed themselves on worried, do I address that now, in learning time (and possibly distract the whole class) or do I continue teaching?
(Insert name) hasn’t brought snack again, do I message parents or raise this with a line manager?
The children aren’t showing interest in this, shall I open a discussion out, sing a song, show a video, or act with puppets?
Admin staff is at my door, I’m in the middle of teaching, do I stop and lose the focus and flow or continue?
I’ve forgotten to do the register (as above)
(Insert name) has a cut on their finger, do they go to the nurse now leaving me to support the others in transition, or can we wait…
We need to transition, do we return to the carpet calmly or try to leave the class in small groups?

Then how about my own wellbeing?

I’m in the middle of a task, do I take a toilet break and risk not getting it done for the deadline (this one happens far too much!)

Working with young children is incredibly rewarding, I can not imagine myself doing anything else. But I realise also that every task needs to be broken into steps, clearly explained and modelled. If I do not make this appropriate choice then a simple action (pack your bags) can turn into a disaster. This is why I see, the longer I teach, the more it is such a refined, complicated, multi-faceted profession. Choices are guided by the needs of the class but also through knowing the children really well. This means a choice made with one class may not pan out in the same way with another class. In fact, a choice made on one day may not be so successful the next! This keeps teaching so exciting and challenging.

Finally, helping young children to make ‘good’ choices is another area of my role. This aspect is so very interesting to me. We always create a common ground of what, as a collective community, we decide is a good choice and otherwise. The children explain what they consider good choices to be (such as kind hands, feet, and words), in order to feel safe. Guiding children in this way fulfils me often as an educator, as I can see when they slip up (as we all do), the look of disappointment in their eyes. Being almost a moral guide, empowering children to make these informed choices to become kinder, more thoughtful citizens is just about the most rewarding aspect of being the teacher of ‘choices’.

My book will feature in the World Education Summit!

I am excited to announce that my book has been chosen to be part of this huge world summit in March!

I will discuss my motivations for the book and share tips from each chapter in the 15 minute ‘Living Books’ section of the Summit. So if you have signed up, or will sign up, check it out!

New Radio Show!

I’d like to introduce a friend’s radio show, who is an international teacher. She will be recording a show every two weeks which everyone is free to call in to to ask questions and share ideas. I will be joining her this week to discuss international teaching along with Lydia from INTA Education, who will give us the current situation on international teaching. All the details are contained in the flyer. Hope to talk with some of you this Sunday!

Jaya’s radio show, Sunday 9th Jan @ 9am GMT.

Reflections on 2021 #Highlights21 #WomenEd

As we near to the end of 2021, I was pleased to be given the challenge to record my highlights this year, including how I have been #10PercentBraver and what I have achieved. Upon reflection, I can honestly say that 2021 has been my most career driven year to date, except for my PGCE year (2006-2007). So what have I achieved?

A sense of confidence and realisation of ‘self’

This is a big one to start with! But through my writing, which includes articles for Diverse Educators, WISEducation, Times Educational Supplement and my book, I have found my voice. I realise that what I have to say and offer matters, is of value, and of interest. This re-ignited passion for writing has preoccupied my mind and fulfilled my spirit.

A step into the limelight

So I joined Twitter, one of the most amazing educational communities I have ever been part of. I have learnt so much in terms of education but also comradeship. I connected with fantastic people and soon realised that many were part of #WomenEd. As Taiwan does not have an active #WomenEd community, I set one up. I connected with an amazing colleague, Jaya Asmi, and reached out to a friend, who is a marketing and design extraordinaire and full-time mum, Jessica Wang Simula, to make the WomenEd Taiwan team. I couldn’t have organised our initial meetup and zoom event without their help. Teamwork, as my daughter always says, truly does make the dream work. Building this community has been a dream.

A huge decision to move on, out of my safety net

Although I still love Taiwan, there were both personal and professional reasons that make it a good time to move on. I made the decision early, in August. Although I have doubted the decision, I live in a society free of Covid19, I have had many ‘fated’ experiences which continually prove I need to spread my wings. Originally I was searching for a teaching role, but after speaking with colleagues and working with #WomenEd, I realise I AM GOOD ENOUGH. Even better than good, I’m an excellent practitioner and a team member who naturally leads. I would be an asset to any school. So now I am applying for middle-management roles also.

Schools Out! Where will you be in 2022?

Where will you go in 2022

For many of us we pushed ourselves to the end line yesterday! Christmas shows, parties and now we try to wind down.

I have enjoyed this term and have been lucky enough to land several pre~interviews, but I’m gearing up for more in January.

I already feel excited about my new possibilities, will Christmas be in the snow? Will I be able to spend both Summer and Christmas with family? What new adventures will I have?

For those teachers who are still considering international teaching, it isn’t too late. The next recruitment round is coming up and there will be even more jobs. If you are in your safe space, but want adventure for 2022, then start looking at your alternatives. There are many!

My book, Becoming a Successful International Teacher, is a one~stop easy to read, direct guide to researching and finding your new adventure abroad. It is now available through major bookstores, book depository and of course, Amazon.

Well being in Early Years, within an international school with a high percentage EAL of children

International schools, which have a high percentage of local native language speakers, there is a juxtaposition between the language of the school (English) and the first language of the children (Mandarin). To support these children, I have reflected and developed techniques of working with these students in a supportive way, valuing their native language, and ensuring their well being is of utmost consideration when I plan and teach.

In this talk, delivered at 21CLHK Online, I was able to share strategies I use to improve the confidence and self-esteem of young, EAL children.

Here is the link:

OR use the QR code

Fulfilment @DiverseEducators #MonthlyWritingChallenge

Is she fulfilled?

This month is an interesting blog title. When I first reflected upon this word, I considered it as ‘happiness’. But is being fulfilled being happy? I decided to consult the dictionary definition:

noun: fulfillment

  1. the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted,”winning the championship was the fulfilment of a childhood dream.”
  2. the meeting of a requirement, condition, or need, “the fulfilment of statutory requirements”.

I find myself currently caught between these two definitions, as perhaps many of us who are actively seeking a new role are. Having scoped out schools and attended a recruitment event, often I am presented with a dream. The dream is embedded with the requirement to find a suitable place of employment for my family.

When I research a prospective new school, I imagine my life within a new society and workplace. I visualise it: my daughter, laughing in the playground with a group of new friends, care-free and without pressure. I imagine myself, in an Early Years unit, one where the children are exploring, laughing and full of joy. Where I am an active participant with them in this new environment, expanding upon my own practise and learning from others. I even imagine autumn, a season I haven’t seen in many years due to living in Asia. I can picture the leaves turning colour on the trees outside the school, beyond the gates where the forest school begins.

These musings I know are idyllic. But my way to begin step closer to fulfilment is to search for a great place to call home. One where I can settle, build a community, and thrive. A place where my ethos is shared, to build and support others and to consider every action through the lens of kindness. I know that the new location will be likely not able to tick every box, as the imagination paints the grandest of pictures. But I know my move to a new environment, school and home will be one of adventure. In this I will feel fulfilment. I know for sure I can predict that the move will bring me closer to love, my family, who have waited for the connections to be re-established for more than two years now. A third Christmas holiday separated.

Covid 19 has tried to strip away all dreams. In its wake lies fear and worry. I too felt this for a long time, weighing up my choice to move on. But the pandemic will not stop my desire to move to a better place for all of my family. It will not stop my dreams at being part of an amazing school and community. The move promises a change.

Fulfilment is taking risks, living life to the full, and not looking back. When a decision is made, the change must be embraced. Unless you already consider yourself fulfilled. I would say when fulfilment is reached in a certain area, you would consider yourself happy. Otherwise why would you change it?

Job Hunting: Part 2

As I search for my next position, I promised to let other teachers know my processes at each stage. At the moment, I have narrowed down the countries in which I would really like to work, would be an excellent fit for my family, and which I aspire to live. Within these countries, I have closely looked at the schools. My first point of call is always the mission statement and ethos. Then the message from the director. Following this, I check the curriculum offered, any community/well-being initiatives and where available, data on the students and faculty.

This week I will write some prospective applications. At this point, I feel my job search has real direction. However I didn’t just decide upon certain countries and schools by chance or on a whimsy. My info graphic should hopefully give other aspiring international teachers ideas on what to do after joining agencies and creating a great CV.

Presenting at 21CLHK Online: Wellbeing and Pedagogy in a EAL, young learners classroom

I am excited to announce that I will be delivering at this upcoming, 2 week conference, with a host of fantastic speakers, including Guy Claxton and Dr. Darya Yegorina, as well as Twitter colleagues, Annie-Jane Finch-Johnson and Louise Heard. I will be sharing this presentation with my school team also in November. Check the site for more information: a great resource for all educators.

Voice and Choice

This article, “What makes employees empowered to speak up”, is so interesting to me. It would appear that participation is based on choice.
“We found that thinking about choices makes people feel stronger and more powerful, which makes sense because the act of choosing allows people to influence their environment while expressing their preferences, values, and beliefs.”
I certainly can relate to this and agree: in the workplace, where employee voice is important and valued, I have felt much happier and willing to contribute and volunteer.
Then I thought about the classroom I wish to create. I have always loved #EYFS as the children have voice and choice in their actions and learning. This I feel becomes limited in KS1, within the confines of the National Curriculum.
A second aspect of article was also interesting. #Agency and #empowerment decreases when there are far too many choices. On Friday, I stood back and looked at my provision and told my colleague, there are too many provocations here. The children were scattering around each area, unable to focus as they usually do in one or two.
These parallels between my Community of Learners (my class) and wider organisations for an employee shows in Early Years at least, we have got #learning right.

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