My favourite teacher #YourEduStory

This week’s topic for the #YourEdustory challenge: How are you, or is your approach, different than your favorite teacher? got me thinking about who my favourite teacher was and there was one clear winner.

Yes that's me with my eyes closed (back row, left)

Yes that’s me with my eyes closed (back row, left)

Peter Clutterbuck was my grade 5 teacher. I thought he was awesome (although that word wasn’t commonly used back then) and very nearly as silly as his name sounded. My memories of grade 5 are of a slightly anarchic classroom where anything could and did happen. I remember having lots of laughs but I’m pretty sure we worked hard too. School was never dull that year. Mr Clutterbuck was the acting headmaster at the time and was frequently called away, often leaving me, or one of my similarly “girly-swot” friends “in charge”. The trustworthy amongst us also took turns at sitting in the office to answer the phone. Our country school of about 200 students seemingly didn’t have any clerical support and, although every other year there had been a headmaster without any teaching duties, in this particular year we were making do. I really don’t know what the background to the circumstances were but I have to say I loved the feeling of importance, sitting in the office and begging the phone to ring! We got to do many things that would be unthinkable these days. I remember being sent to the shops quite often to buy supplies for science experiments and art projects and also being sent home (almost daily for a while) with my new puppy who didn’t follow me but would arrive sometime after school started and sit whining outside the classroom door.

Mum, Mr Clutterbuck says “If that dog comes to school again…#$%$^&*”

class rules

I remember Mr Clutterbuck as a teacher who inspired and provoked curiosity. He made everything seem exciting although being in his class could be dangerous at times. Mr Clutterbuck was a smoker and, as bizarre as it seems today, he smoked in the classroom, often perching a lit cigarette on the chalk ledge. Occasionally he would pick up a piece of chalk and attempt to puff on it, then, as he realised what it was, he would throw it (quite hard) at a random student. Hanging on a cupboard door was a sign reading “Rule 1 – the teacher is always right. Rule 2 –  if the teacher is wrong, rule number 1 applies.” I know variations of that can be found all over the place but it was the first time I’d seen it and never has it been more true!

It was in grade 5 that I really firmed up on the idea of becoming a teacher, quite possibly because Mr Clutterbuck told my mum I’d be good at it! Many years later, when I first worked in a P-12 school, I found myself cataloguing teaching resources written by Peter Clutterbuck and I’ve often wondered since if it was the same Mr Clutterbuck. Today I did some searching but it seems Peter Clutterbuck the author has successfully avoided having his photo online.

For the purpose of this topic I think it’s just as interesting to reflect on how I am similar, as well as different, to Mr Clutterbuck. One thing I do love to do is give kids some responsibility. The library monitor program which I started last year has been very successful with a long list of kids wanting to have a go. One thing I ask them to do is to answer the phone if it rings when they’re on the circulation desk. This has caused great excitement and led to scripts being written on sticky notes so they know what to say. I like the surprise the caller gets.

I’m not sure that I’ll ever be as successful as Mr Clutterbuck, but I like to make things exciting and fun, to mix things up and try new ways.

How am I different? Well, I’ve never smoked in class, or thrown anything at a student. I certainly can’t draw on the blackboard like he could so I never tried to. I’ve never been confident enough to bend the rules as much as he did (and there’s so many more rules these days) and I know I’m not always right.





Heartbleed. Retrieved from http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/04/09/heartbleed-reveals-a-big-hole-in-australias-cybersecurity-strategy/

As I’ve sat here today trying to get into my scholarly book review my mind has been meandering over a few topics of interest (sadly, not all related to the task at hand)…

1. Why do I find it so difficult to sound even vaguely intelligent when I summarise the main points of my book? Why do I struggle to put into words what I’m thinking in my head? Trying desperately not to simply copy I find I’m using the same tired words over and over. I know that using lots of quotes is not encouraged for a task like this but I’m conflicted about the value of badly-worded summation compared to a well-selected quote.

2. Pondering on the way technology has altered the brain thus allowing us to create new technologies and ways of doing I’m reminded of John Elliott on The Agony of Modern Manners last week when in response to a question about using the internet he said it was “secretary’s work” so he didn’t use it! I wonder how it is possible that any modern (ok a bit of a stretch regarding Mr Elliott who also has never cleaned a bathroom because it is “menial work”) businessman could possibly be keeping up without some form of online engagement. It reminds me too of a conversation I had with a mature teacher a couple of weeks ago. She knows that our early years teachers will soon have a bank of iPads available to use and has been sent into a spin because someone has told her she’ll have to use them. She hasn’t the first idea about what is possible with an iPad, hasn’t even touched one before. She can’t understand why we’d want preps and grade ones to use iPads when they can’t even write yet. I try to explain that the possibilities offered by the iPad don’t depend on being able to write, that that is one of their virtues but it falls on deaf ears. She’s looking for an easy answer but seems unwilling to make any personal changes or commitment to do so. She even says something along the lines of “we went to teacher’s college to learn how to teach, not to use technology”. I’m gobsmacked that someone only a few years older than me seemingly gave up on learning in her 20’s and don’t really know how to help. I can see that she’s scared and almost want to tell her not to bother, she’ll be retiring soon… but I don’t. I know that working with the middle ground, with teachers who CAN see the possibilities but just need some support to get there will reap the most rewards. Perhaps some of their successes will inspire her to try. I hope so.

3. Reports of the Heartbleed security threat, which potentially affects anyone who has used the internet in the last two years, are a little worrying (hmmm, maybe John Elliott isn’t so silly). I’ve been considering doing something with my passwords for a while. Yes, they are mostly different – a couple of site-specific identifying letters added to the same memorable word in most cases – but they are all made up of real words with numbers which apparently isn’t good enough. Just last Saturday a software-engineer friend was telling us that even pass-phrases aren’t strong enough, that the best passwords are gibberish. So with today’s news I’ve made a start and changed my IFTTT (the only website I’ve actually been contacted by) Twitter and Google passwords to randomly generated ones from Lastpass but gee, if you have a few devices (two iPads, and iPhone and a desktop PC) it ain’t that quick or easy to do. Great time-waster when you’re supposed to be studying though!

Cross-posted from Learn, do, teach…


I’ve done it again!

I’m a bad blogger.  My only excuse this time is that I’m near the end of six weeks leave. We just got home yesterday from a three week road trip through NSW and Queensland. I spent the two weeks before the holiday catching up on domestica and packing, and the six weeks of term 3 that I was actually at work were so crazily busy that some things (like this blog) simply got forgotten. No, not forgotten, ignored like a nagging toothache – you know you should attend to it, you know you’ll feel better if you do, but…

This will change!

My priorities/goals/challenges for term four are (in no particular order):

  1. Blog more regularly about the miriad aspects of my role as ICT coach – the projects, the challenges, the successes and the failures.
  2. Be a better online participant – I want to add to the conversation instead of simply nodding my head when I agree, or muttering under my breath when I don’t.
  3. Get started on my presentation for the VITTA conference.  Get over the fact that I put in the submission in a moment of excitement and didn’t really expect to be accepted…this will be fun! (Yes it will, yes it will, yes it will…)
  4. Get mentally prepared to be working at 110 percent as of next Monday morning when school returns.  I am not going to allow myself to be so over-whelmed by all that needs doing that I resort to doing very little (if I say this often enough hopefully I will believe it!).
  5. Get more involved in the PLP program ning.
  6. Prepare, promote and present a lively and engaging program for Brekky Bytes and Afternoon (i.c.) Tea for term four.
  7. Work with CPT teams to encourage more participation by teachers in the year 12 study skills ning.  There is no doubt that the successful subject groups have the most contribution from teachers.  I have to work out how I can guide the non-participants to make their own discovery of how useful this form of communication can be.
  8. Set up the new ning for the class of 2010.  Work with the early commencement planning team to ensure that all our current year 11 students register on the ning before the end of early commencement week.  Work with teachers to ensure that all early commencement resources are available on the ning.

I’m sure there are many more but I am resolved to do everything as efficiently as possible (see point 4), so I won’t dally over publishing this.  Love to hear your tips and advice for achieving any or all of the above!


My new blog

I’ve just set up a new blog to use as a resource and communication tool with teachers at my school as part of my role as College ICT Coach.  It’s going to be private, this is not an advertisement and you won’t find a link to it here.  I want to be able to reassure the more fearful that they won’t be airing their inexperience in too public a forum.

However, I did want to share my first post, so here it is:

Short, sharp and to the point

That’s how I plan to present my regular 30 minute ICT PD sessions.  There will be Brekky Bytes (8-8.30am, come at 7.45 for coffee and toast) and Afternoon (i.c.) Tea (3.30-4pm) rotating between campuses.  In any four week period there should be one morning and one afternoon presentation at each campus.

These sessions will generally cover only one topic, tool or resource.  Hopefully you will walk away with one new skill or an idea that you can immediately find a use for.  Hopefully you will consolidate your learning by passing on this new thing to a colleague who couldn’t attend.  Learn, do, teach – that’s my motto!

So what do you want to know about?  What do you want to learn to do?  How can I help you integrate ICT in your classroom?  Let me know, leave a comment here, email or come and have a chat – I’m listening.

What do you think?



One of the first things I have to do this year is to encourage/persuade/demand that all our staff complete the DEECD (Victoria) ePotential survey.  From the ePotential website:

The ePotential ICT Capabilities Resource supports teachers developing their skills to integrate ICT into their classrooms.   This resource enables teachers to see and use the potential of ICT for powerful learning.  
The ePotential survey is available to all Victorian Government schools… teachers [who] have taken the survey … have access to classroom resources corresponding with their level of ICT capability.

The data we get from this is a great tool for planning for ICT for the college so I’m really hoping that we get a better response rate than the 53% from last year.  This year time to complete the survey has been built into our three pupil-free days at the start of term 1 (our complete quota of curriculum days for the year, but that’s another story) so I’m cautiously optimistic!

To assist staff with accessing the survey I’ve created a screencast which shows how to get to the survey and shows a snapshot of what they can get from the ePotential site. 

I’ve also created a very simple Google form so that people can record when they’ve completed the survey. Unfortunately in Google forms you can’t make the “Name” field a required question so (after experiences last year) I’ve sneakily put in the question “What is your staff code” so I don’t have to ask their name twice!  I’m thinking of having a prize draw – everyone who has completed the survey by 3pm Friday gets the chance to win a bottle of bubbly.

What do you think, do you have any other ideas to motivate teachers to complete this survey?