Stories

How to choose a school for your child – Part 1

My husband and I, both teachers, often get asked for advice about which school people should send their kids to. One of our closest couple friends are expecting their first child in 2 months and the father wanted to know whether they really needed to get their son’s name down at a school as soon as he’s born. We then started discussing the types of schools available in Perth and what their options were.
What I always assume is common knowledge is really not known or understood by most parents. Since we get asked this sort of thing so often […]

Either you’re good at maths or you’re not

Yesterday I went to the dentist and met my new dental hygienist. With my mouth open for nearly 40 minutes, you wouldn’t think we got much of a conversation in. After asking how my day had been and me explaining it had been great since I’m a teacher on school holidays, we got down to talking about which school and what I teach. And then the conversation went something like this:

Hygienist: “Wow! I always think maths teachers must be super smart. I’m terrible at maths and not very smart.”
Me: Using facial expression as best I can to indicate that […]

The Art of Counting Backwards

In my younger, student years I remember excitedly landing a great casual job for new years day. For those youngsters who are happy not to have a big night on New Year’s Eve and happy to work on New Year’s Day, a job at the Perth Cup behind the bar is an awesome way to make some good money. The catch was, I arrived, had a quick orientation, no training and was then thrown behind the bar and the crowd of people screaming to be served was about four rows deep. Then the real clincher was that the tills […]

An Irish Maths Joke

This is an oldie but a goodie! And it will make young and old chuckle!
An Irishman applied for a job on a construction site, but the foreman wouldn’t hire him until he passed a simple maths test.

Here is your first question, the foreman said.  “Without using numbers, represent the number 9.”

“Without numbers?”  The Irishman says, “Dat is easy,” and proceeded to draw three trees.

“What’s this?” the boss asked.

“Ave you got no brain? Tree and tree and tree make nine,” said the Irishman.

“Fair enough,” said the boss.  “Here’s your second question.  Use the same rules, but this time the number […]

Teaching Kids to Work Hard

Working hard and applying effort is not something that kids usually encounter when they are young, nor is it something that most children develop naturally as the need arises. Of all the life skills that a child can develop, applying consistent and significant effort to achieve a goal is something that is valuable to learn from an early age. In fact, it is something that I spend a lot of time teaching my younger students in Year 7 and Year 8 to develop and establish by making them accountable for their class work and homework each day.
Let me share […]

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    How to Approach Your Child’s Teacher Without Being Confrontational

How to Approach Your Child’s Teacher Without Being Confrontational

Recently a parent of a Year 12 boy asked me for advice on how best to approach her son’s teacher to inquire about the low course average. She was unsure as to how to do this without putting the teacher offside. Parents definitely have a right to inquire about how things are going in the classroom and request more information about things like course averages and student results, but there are definitely some key do’s and don’ts, which if adhered to, can help you get the information that you need without creating an uncomfortable, confrontational situation. Here are some tips […]

Why kids are scared of NAPLAN and how to help them

The other day I asked the students in one of my Year 7 classes “who’s a bit worried about NAPLAN this year?”

About 70% of the students’ hands went up and a few students had genuinely worried faces.

I then asked them to explain to me and the class what they were worried about. Their responses provide insight into student perceptions of NAPLAN and what we can do to help them feel more confident and self-assured this time around.

Here are some of the common responses and ways in which we can help our children overcome their fears.

“I’m scared I won’t know […]

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    Should parents be involved in their child’s formal education?

Should parents be involved in their child’s formal education?

A few weeks ago I was at the Year 11 Parent Teacher Interviews at my school and I had a great chat with the parents of a student in my form group. They’d heard me give a talk at the school where their son attends and they were very interested in just what parents can do to assist their children in achieving success at school. We chatted so much about these things that we barely talked about their daughter at all!
They told me about an interesting remark a friend of theirs had made, and it is a comment that […]

Patterning – The Foundation Blocks Of Algebraic Thinking

Patterns serve as the foundation blocks of algebraic thinking. Through patterns and sequences children learn predictive reasoning and logic, which forms the cornerstones of Algebra.
Patterns exist naturally around us in everyday life and add a symmetry, beauty and comfort to the world around us. The simplest pattern that babies learn from an early age is day, night, day, night. When babies learn and understand that this pattern exists, they have a sense of security as they can predict what comes next.
We can start teaching our babies patterning from very early on and build on the complexity as the child […]

Maths Anxiety is Real

A recently published study by Sarah Buckley on mathematics anxiety indicates that it is a very real phenomenon and may affect around 20% of Australia’s population. In a typical classroom then, around 6 kids feel anxious on a daily basis when faced with the study of mathematics.
From my years of teaching mathematics to students aged from 12 to 18 years, I would estimate that the proportion of students experiencing real stress is at least 20%. As such I have seen my role as primarily being about building the confidence of whole classes so that they are ready and receptive […]