Sunday, 1 December 2013

Teachmeet Australia

Heard about teachmeets, but unsure what they are?

Teachmeets are voluntary gatherings of dedicated teachers in order to support their own professional learning and that of their students. I first discovered the term "teachmeet" via Twitter in 2011 and immediately set out to try one.  

You can read my previous posts here (Overwhelmingly grand PD 2011), here (Hills inaugral Teachmeet at Oakhill College, October 2011), here (Teachmeet Sydney, please try it we don't want same), here (live meeting; international teachmeet 2011), here (International teachmeet presentation on Pearltrees), here (Handy resources for educators and social bookmarking 2012) here (Crestwood teachmeet and history of TM in Oz 2012), and here (Belief presentation TM Macquarie university; from prac to practioner) 

My first impressions? A warm and welcome bunch of educators who were energetic and driven to help others. This continued far beyond the time frame of the teachmeet session. Conversations carried onto the "teacheat" held after the teachmeet and connections were formed and maintained via twitter, blogs and future teachmeetups.

Teachmeets are attractive to many as:

  • the format is conducive to engaged learning.
  • presentations are short and snappy (2 mins or 7 minute "info snacks" that can be elaborated on via converations in breaks, teacheats and/or blog posts)
  • if a presentation is not to your personal liking, there is another topic presented in 2-7 minutes
  • the presentations are prepared and presented by actual teachers who are experiencing student learning now. They get it. They provide honest information on what works in their learning environment and what doesn't. Teachmeet are for teachers by teachers.
  • you can take away at least one idea to try in the learning space and adapt to suit you eg a primary teacher may present an idea that you can transfer to a secondary setting.
  • important networks are formed.
  • they are free.
  • they are open to all, preservice, new scheme teachers, experienced teachers, leadership, retired teachers.

What do read what other people think of Teachmeets?


More conferences are now holding teachmeets 

These are freely available during lunch, a workshop or after the conference day concludes( for non conference attendees as well as paying attendees) I assisted Al Upton host one during the EDTECHSA state conference: Connecting people-sharing learning in Adelaide (July 2013). Other conferences that have included Teachmeets in their program include (but are not limited to) ECAWA State conference 2013 Teachmeet breakfast and another I presented at The Kings School National Boys conference: Get involved. I applaud these conference in making learning accessible to all. PLANE (Pathways for Learning, Anytime, anywhere a Network for Educators) also held online teachmeets)

Teachmeet Macquarie University

More Universities and TAFES are now hosting teachmeets 

Clever leaders are replacing traditional staff meetings with the Teachmeet format. Love this!

How to find a Teachmeet near you?

Keeping the conversation flowing,
JJ @7mrsjames

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Twitter for Aussie Educators: 15 reasons why educators love Twitter.

Twitter has certainly given me an avenue to grow as an educator. There is no hiding I love it! What do I love about Twitter?
  1. Twitter is there, in the palm of my hand, on my phone, tablet and laptop. Accessible.
  2. Twitter IS accessible, 24/7. Yet, I can control when, how and for how long I access it.
  3. Tweeple (especially Twitter educators) are passionate, energetic, willing and helpful! You can call on your #pln (more on how to build your #pln and the advantages of a #pln here) for advice, queries, hints, tips and ideas.
  4. This extension of the "school staffroom" allows for greater voice and wisdom.
  5. Twitter provides "just in time help". 
  6. Twitter is inclusive.  It doesn't matter what sector you are from, what stage of your career, what level of responsibility (or not), retired, CEO, expert, specialist etc #weareallinthistogether
  7. Twitter allows you contact with the above!
  8. Twitter has allowed me some amazing opportunities! 
  9. Twitter has allowed me to connect with some of my best buddies. It has provided the conduit for networking and professional connections that have enriched my career. 
  10. Twitter allows you point of contact to collaborate with other educators, students and stakeholders.
  11. Twitter for me is a source of reflection and inspiration.
  12. Twitter can easily and rapidly share news, links, ideas and resources.
  13. Twitter puts me in contact with PD opportunities via links and hashtags (for example, following the backchannel of a conference I cannot attend)
  14. Twitter introduced to my other love: Teachmeets!
  15. Twitter = continuous learning and feeding the yearn to know more. What's not to love?
Last year, I gave a guest lecture on "Integrating technology into any classroom" at the Australian Catholic University, Strathfield campus. This included a section on the importance of Twitter for educators.  This is the Storify of the twitter chat that ensued: Twitter4me storify (twitter chat on the importance of Twitter)

Here are some resources you may find handy and/or like to share with those new to Twitter.

Jeannette James

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Invitation: Instagram for Educators.

Dear educator, parent, community member and student,

Thanks for the blog post visit! Over the last 18 months, the #foodatinstagram (see @foodatoakhill) educators community has developed and discovered wonderful support from each other. It has been a blast! Students and parents enjoy sharing their learning experiences with friends, family and the world.  Due to the interest surrounding Instgram use as a learning space, other schools have joined our community (see links towards end of post). Previous posts about Instagram can be found on my other blog:  Food technology learning journey blog (benefits of instagram) and (instagram challenge).

We are now extending a warm invitation to other KLA (Key Learning Areas) and subjects to accept the NEW #subjectatschool invitation. Congrats to @artatbally for accepting the invitation after hearing about the educators instagram initiative at a recent #teachmeet in Sydney.

What IS the #subjectatschool instagram invitation?

Basically, it is an opportunity for you to CREATE a school based account (not using your personal account) and leverage instagram as: 

  • your subjects visual literacy
  • share learning with your students, parents and wider communities 
  • a means to enhance student engagement
  • a site of virtual connection to students (notices, texts and quotes can also be uploaded)
  • a great tool to teach digital etiquette 
  • an avenue to connect with educators and students from around the state, nation and world 
  • documentation of all the amazing learning activities that occur!
In order to connect more fluently, create an Instagram account 
the #subjectatschool formula.

Eg @artatbally @foodatoakhill @mathsatgalstonhigh @PEatpacifichills @dramaatoakhill 

How do I do this?

  • Firstly, have a clear idea as to WHY you would like to establish an instagram account. Jot down a few ideas and spend time researching other education accounts and/or chat to other educators using Instagram. You can use Instagram as a notice board for students, posting screen shots or text using apps such as Tweegram or versagram.

  • Next, it is a good idea to have a conversation with your Head of school/principal or school leadership team regarding permission to create a school based account. The account can be set to PRIVATE or public. ( I had ours on private for about 3-4 months adding only student and parent followers). Perhaps you may like to show your Head of school a few accounts and comments made by students, parents and community members. They may not be familiar with the popularity and usage of Instagram. Do parents need to be informed or has previous consent been given via signed media policies? What does the schools media policy cover?

Oakhill College students taking images of their rice paper rolls in natural light near our garden.

  • Discuss HOW you plan to use Instagram. Is a trial necessary?  The first images I uploaded were all of general school scenes and aerial shots of students working or preparing food.
  • If you have a school device or smart phone, download the FREE Instagram app (available on both android and ios devices). If not, use another smart phone to create an account. (At this stage you can ONLY sign up for Instagram using an app. You can however VIEW the account from a PC-handy for parents, grandma and so on at home!) 
Creating an Instagram account:
  1.  Very simple! All you need is a user name and password. (Navigate to REGISTER)  Keep the handle shorter for convenience. It is also easier for others to remember!  @mediaatgreystaneshighschool is a tad long! A better option is @mediaatGH or @mediaatgreystanes You can choose one person to manage the account or share the account with a few department teachers that will keep the password secure. After you create the account, you will sign in from the bottom box (See below). If you have one account, you do not need to sign out from your device, however if you have multiple accounts you must sign out and sign in. (no adding multiple accounts - AS YET! Fingers crossed!)

  1. Add a BIO (Edit bio) Inform others of who you are. eg The Media department at Greystanes High will post progress pics of the 2013 Rock eisteddfod. Go team Greystanes! You can link a twitter account or class blog here.
  2. Post your first photo by pressing the middle camera icon. (see instagram help: how do I take a photo) Select "choose" (to add photo), then a select a filter. You can add a tilt shift (blur out part of photo or select the "sun" icon to brighten and add detail. If it doesn't look right, change.

The best way to learn is to experiment. Play. It is fun! 

  1. If you are not happy with the photo, press the X on the top RHS.  Have another go. Once posted, you can also delete an image by pressing the three little dots under the image (RHS)
  2. Interact by following other educational accounts, liking certain photos and commenting on photos from classes around the world (see links below). As more educators/subjects join, I will add their Instagram account to the list below...
  3. Inform students of your subjects Instagram account. Link to a QR code and paste in diaries or post on your virtual classrooms. Include in a newsletter home or school facebook page.
  4. You can use hashtags such as #foodtech #homeec #homeeconomics #food #foodphotography #foodpresentation #instafood to tag your photos to these photofeeds.  
  5. Other educational # include #artworks #artlessons #lighting #theatre #setdesign #dramaclass

  6. Go on!  Get on board. Give it a go.  
    Share your Instagram account with your class, mates, parents, extended family...and the rest of the world!  #unitedbylearning

    Sharing our learning with other students and parents.

    Check out the other schools around the world that have accepted the #foodatschool challenge.

    (Hover over school to select link)





Western Australia:




Primary schools?  eg @stage3atepping,  @stage2atstmonicas

NEW #subjectatschool initiative- WHO will be next to accept the invitation?
This is a post in progress and will be adapted and edited over the upcoming weeks. Please share any tips, hints, suggestions that you feel, would benefit others pondering on how to use Instagram as a learning space.  See you in the insta world!

Keeping the conversation flowing,
@foodatoakhill Twitter handle

Ps Please contribute how you use Instagram for education in the comments below.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

How the Partnership Brokers Program can help educators.

Young people make up a fifth of our population and are very important to our society.

(Pg 2 Youth Strategy for Young Australians

National Partnership Agreement on Youth Attainment and Transitions:
This National Partnership was agreed by the Council of Australia Governments (COAG) on 2 July 2009.

Supporting young people is a collective responsibility and one that needs continual growth, support and reflection. The Australian government recognise there are many effective ways to provide an environment that allows students to realise their educational and social potential.  The Youth attainment and transitions program provides such foundational support to schools, families and students. 

The collective capacity of students, staff, parents, extended families, friends, industry and the community is indeed very powerful!

Are we tapping into the potential of Parental engagement? number of studies (including Luneburg and Irby; 2002) have demonstrated that effective parent involvement in schools is a critical factor in students' academic success. Instructional involvement by parents has direct benefits on the learning outcomes for their children. (McGaw, 1992) In order to raise achievement, parents need to be both involved in schools and engaged in learning. (Harris and Goodall; 2007)  Harris and Goodall (pg 67, 2007) go on to argue that parental engagement should be as "essential part of the learning process, an extended part of the pedagogic process".  They maintain parental involvement must be given as much emphasis as teacher effectiveness and other school improvement strategies. 

Hattie (2009) believes that "schools have an important role in helping parents to learn the language of schooling so that parents can provide every possible assistance to their children in terms of developing the child's learning and love of learning and in creating the highest possible shared expectations for learning". (pg33)
Parents and the home environment they create are the single most important factor in shaping their children’s achievements and prospects (Department of Education and skills UK, 2007)
Families are the first educators of their children and they continue to influence their children’s learning and development during the school years and long afterwards (Family-School Partnerships Framework).
The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians  is an important and worthy read. This declaration acknowledges the benefits of family, school and community partnerships, and expresses a commitment on the part of Australian governments to:

…(work) with all school sectors to ensure that schools engage young Australians, parents, carers, families, other education and training providers, business and the broader community to support students’ progress through schooling, and to provide them with rich learning, personal development and citizenship opportunities (p.10). 
Michael Fullan (Three stories of educational reform) has put forward at least five powerful external forces that schools must contend with and turn to their advantage:
  • parents and community,
  • technology,
  • corporate connections,
  • government policy, and
  • the wider teaching profession.
When parents, the community, the teachers, and the students share a rapport, learning occurs. (Fullan, 2000)
More here: 
National Declaration on the Educational Goals for Young Australians.
Mind Matters: Parent involvement in schools.
Family and school engagement in children's education.
Engaging Parents in Raising Achievement- Do Parents Know They Matter?

Role of a Partnership Broker?
Brokering is a complex and yet subtle role that aims to ensure a partnership becomes sustainable. Partnership brokers act as change makers. They are focused on connecting ideas, opportunities and have the needs and goals of any given partnership in mind at all times. Partnership brokers assist in capacity building, facilitating, organising, attracting innovation and ultimately secure a partnership where all stakeholders benefit.  Stakeholders can include community, business, education and government.  In essence a PB will broker strategic partnerships between education, training providers, business, industry, families and community groups in order for youth to engage or reengage in education. 

Schools often do not have the time or resources to establish sustainable partnerships. The role of the Partnership Broker is to create partnerships that support youth attainment, transition and social potential of our youth.  Partnerships harness available resources. An exciting phase includes affirming what schools and industry are already doing well and sourcing hidden potential. 

The planned and structured giving of time, information, goods and services, voice and influence, as well as money, to improve the wellbeing of humanity and the community.

A Partnership broker ensures learning is supported INSIDE AND OUTSIDE the classroom. 

To find a Partnership Broker provider in your area, enter your Australian postcode on this page:  Youth attainment and transitions home page  You will see below an example of the results page. The blue PB button informs that  Sydney Business Education Partnerships in region 1 is the service provider for postcode 2000.  The orange YV button informs that the Salvation Army Oasis youth support network can assit with Youth connection programs. (see below for more information on the Youth connections program).


An agreement called "Compact with Young Australians" aims to support participation in education and training, and encourage young people to "learn or earn". Basically, all young people must complete Year 10 or equivalent and then be in education, training or employment until the reach 17 years of age. The premise being, youth will be afforded more opportunities to succeed in life if they are engaged in education or training prior to full time employment. Read more here: What is learn or earn?  The Partnership brokers program and Youth connections program assist in the Compact with Young Australians.


There are many exciting options and pathways available for youth when deciding their future toward the "world of work".  A vast array of resources can be found here: Career bullseye posters and more like the one to left can be found in this link.  


The goal of youth connection is to help young people overcome barriers and problems that may make it difficult for them to stay at school or training, or return to school if they have left. Services are flexible and can be one to one in the hope that youth ultimately gain a Year 12 (or equivalent) level education. 

Links of interest:
My future (Australian)
My future (USA)
Job guide (DEEWR: Department of Education, employment and relations)
Career information flyers
The young workers toolkit
Youth transitions Partnership brokers program
Rolling in the deep blue HSC:
School and beyond: Youth NSW
National Strategy for Young Australians
ABC radio: big ideas 22nd April 2013. Youth transitions-the journey from school to work.

It takes a village to raise a child.

I am currently working part time as a secondary high school educator and part time as a Partnership Broker with AusSIP (Australian schools industry partnerships link here).  Our facebook page is here: Aussip Partnership brokers Facebook page ("LIKE" to keep up to date with latest news, tips, success stories)  And our twitter handle here: @everyparent  I am finding this new role amazingly relevant and fulfilling, especially in these times of educational reform.

I am incredibly excited about the future and grateful that our Government has strategies and programs in place that are available to our most precious resource: our youth.  I truly hope as many schools as possible are aware of resources such as the Partnership Broker program and Youth Connect programs. These programs are available to ultimately support student learning.

How aware is your school (and educators within your school aware of):

Keeping the educational conversation flowing,
Please share any additional resources, questions or good news stories in the comments below.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Belief presentation at #tmMQ From Prac to practitioner

Believe in daring. Have belief in discovery. DARE TO TRY!
Believe in the power of positivity.
Believe that if you want it strongly enough; you will find a way.

Believe in the WHY.  Why do I believe in this lesson? This learning outcome?  Why do I believe in education? Why are we learning this way? Why is that student looking lost? Believe in reaching out. Believe in asking "How can I help?"

Believe that if a lesson is not going to plan, you can stop and change tact. 
Believe in spicing up your lessons. 
Believe in THE DIFFERENT, the varied; the road less travelled.

Believe that telling is not teaching.
Believe that worksheets are not true learning.
Believe that people matter. #relationshipsmatter

Believe in the fact that if YOU get bored sitting in an hours LONG meeting just listening;  your students are equally as bored listening to 5-6 "meetings" back to back with no control- what is this a lesson in? 

Believe that you can make a change.
Believe that you can and will make a difference.

Believe in action.

Believe it is not your responsibility to listen to the staff room whingers and whiners.
Believe in looking up and beyond! 
Believe in the importance of discovery and curiosity.

Believe it is a gift; 
your privilege to help others.... and yourself!

Believe you must look after yourself before you look after others.

Believe in asking for help and not continuing to struggle.
Believe in experiencing some lows to appreciate the highs.

Know there will be beautiful moments of blissful joy, delight, pride as your students achieve.

Have belief that learning is fun! 
Believe in the adventure of learning.

Believe that you must never stop learning
Be the curious learner you want your students to be.

Teaching is just as important about WHO YOU ARE 
and what you believe, as it is about content.

Believe that....

Edited By Jack Byrnes Student Oakhill College 

Many thanks. @7mrsjames

This presentation is for #teachmeet Macquarie. To support our Pre service teachers and new graduate teachers, please add to the Padlet (Link here -> see Padlet below) or comment below.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Positive Education

Knox grammar  held the first Australian positive education conference on 5th and 6th April, 2013. Positive mindset and psychology are great interests of mine and I was most excited to be able to experience this conference. I attended with colleague Di from AusSIP (see note at end of post). The aspect I like most about Positive education is its proactive approach.  It allows for opportunity to flourish. Positive education includes the entire school community.  We often hear of improving "21st century" learning, pedagogy, andragogy and support mechanisms for students, however how often do we hear about the importance of staff wellbeing?  Positive education is meant for all.  It is far reaching.

To discover more about Positive education read here.  To catch up on all the conference tweets, follow the link to the #auspoed storify.

During this conference I could have quite happily be transported back in time as a student- to experience education at Knox. How I wish every student across all postcodes, could access the amazing opportunities these young men do!

We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.

Keynotes and workshop presenters included: 

-Professor Herb Marsh, Centre for Positive Psychology and Education, University of Western Sydney.
-Dr Dianne Vella-Brodrick,  University of Melbourne.
-Dr Lindsay Oades, Sydney Business School University of Wollongong.
-Associate Professor Lea Waters, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, Melbourne University.
-Professor Vijaya Manicavasaga, Black Dog Institute.
    -International keynote Dr Christian Van Niewerburgh, Director, Coaching Psychology Unit, University of East London 
    -Dr Mathew White, Director of Well-Being and Positive Education, St Peter’s College, Adelaide.
    -Dan Haesler Education Consultant - 'Positive Psychology – A Teacher’s Perspective'
    -Dr William DeJean -‘Identity and wellbeing'
    -Dr Suzy Green, The Positivity Institute 
-Dr Steve Zolezzi, Knox Grammar School

Essentially +ve education allows:

  • Movement forward and is solution focused
  • Reframing of setbacks
  • young people to regulate positive emotions
  • achievement of meaningful goals
  • for supportive relationships
  • young people to thrive.

For those educators and parents that would like access to resources, check out Bite back  - Mental fitness, Blogs, Quotes of the week, Think tanks, Snap Chat and so on. Their "bookshelf" is particularly handy. Other resource links can be found under "Still curious" further on in the post.  Bite Back's quote of the week this week, happens to be one of my favourites:

Quote of the Week

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one."
- C.S. Lewis

If you missed this conference and you are interested in discovering more about how Positive education can enhance your students and staffs time at school (and beyond) try and attend the Positive schools 2013 Mental health and wellbeing conference in Melbourne 6th and 7th June, 2013.

Still curious? More here:


  • The evidence for increasing well-being and achievement through practicing gratitude is overwhelming.
  • Gratitude is? A worldview towards noticing and appreciating positives in life and acknowledging these positives. You find what you are looking for!
  • As leaders, colleagues, students we should SHOW our gratitude more.
  • Gratitude is a choice. You get to choose it. What do I focus my attention on? Thought of the day. Choose positive!
  • The importance of being proactive not reactive.
  • Positive education underpins a meaningful and productive "life at school". 
  • #teacherwellbeing is integral!  How to keep the beachball in air while juggling teaching load and personal life? Think Oxygen mask in a plane- advice is to provide yourself with oxygen first and then assist others. There is a valid reason for that. Is this happening to the extent it should in Australian schools?
  • Seek out this book "Wounded by school" by Kirsten Olson.
  • Building capacity and high expectations can impact positively on learning outcomes equally low expectations....
  • Keep on keeping on. To all those educators and parents that believe relationships matter!
  • Positive education can be seen as "fluff" but is both essential and desired. What do most parents wish for? An academic A+ student or a happy child?  
  • Plan, plan, plan. Train. Accept the cynic- keeps you on your toes. Embrace the change.
  • Positivity is infectious! Positive psychology is very flexible. Start with small and be successful. Listen to kids. Listen to each other.
  • Need to take time. Enjoy the journey. It's not meant to be fast or tick the box. Positive education is ever evolving. Make the investment. Find champions.
  • Positive education is alive and beating in many schools: encouraging!

Tom Harkin
#studentvoice sharing projects with educators

Looking at life with a sense of humour!

 Positive education is all about THRIVING not just SURVIVING. Let's make it happen! 


NOTE:  For the past several years, I have worked 3 days part time at an independent secondary school in Castle Hill, Australia. In addition to teaching, I now also work 2 days a week as a Partnership broker with AusSIP (Australian schools and Industry Partnerships).  You can read more about partnership brokers here and here.  I am thoroughly enjoying this new role and aim to also blog about my PB journey. AusSIP is a non-profit business that establishes, builds and enhances partnerships between schools, businesses, parents and the wider community. 

Want to know more?