Replied to Are Great Teachers Born or Made? A cheat code for education (

I am convinced that a huge amount of the enthusiasm for AI in education (and for teaching machines historically) is simply the wish for a cheat code, a wish to press ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA, enter god mode, and escape our current condition where it’s hard to understand how to select, train, and support the people most essential to the education of our children. I’m suggesting that if you’re serious about this work, you can’t cheat code your way around teachers. If your work doesn’t account for teachers—the way they work, the way they move through a class, the tools they use, the way they think about their students, their aspirations for their work, the outcomes for which they’re accountable, the vastness of their experiences prior to teaching—you will make a meaningful impact on student learning only by accident. One possibility is that great teachers are born but that good teachers can be made.

Source: Are Great Teachers Born or Made? by Dan Meyer

Dan, I really like your point about artificial intelligence and a dream of a ‘cheat code’. This feels like an extension of ‘Uberification of education‘. I am also reminded of my discussions of greatness over building capacity.

Liked What Teaching Movies Get Wrong About Teaching by Dan Meyer (Mathworlds)

It’s interesting to see how often teaching in TV and movies is characterized as:

  • Easy for outsiders—perhaps even easier for outsiders than for insiders, the people who have studied and practiced teaching for years. (Dangerous Minds, School of Rock, Stand and Deliver, Kindergarten Cop, etc.)
  • Individualistic—a profession where you’re successful in spite of rather than because of your colleagues, most of whom are weighted down by their antiquated traditions or their inadequate beliefs in the potential of their students. (The Wire, Blackboard Jungle, Stand and Deliver.)
  • Sacrificial, indeed to the extent that successful teaching may require you to forsake your marriage (Freedom Writers) or your health (Stand and Deliver).
  • An economic equalizer, where classroom success is the engine of economic mobility, rather than, say, wealth redistribution or a strong social safety net. (Dangerous Minds, Blackboard Jungle, Stand and Deliver.)
  • Cultural discipline, a medium for transmitting cultural and social values from the middle class to the lower. (Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, Lean on Me, The Principal, Stand and Deliver, The Substitute, Blackboard Jungle, and on and on.)
Replied to A day in the life….2022 version by Gill (

So, not normal at all. The majority of colleagues I’ve spoken to agree that this term has actually been the hardest out of the last 2 and half years – the constant pressure between ‘going back to normal’ and it really being far from normal weighing on us all. A final week’s crawl to the holidays to recharge the batteries and a probably vain hope that Term 3 will bring some relief.

Thank you for sharing your new not so normal day. We certainly live in strange times.
Bookmarked The Trouble with Teaching: Is Teaching a Meaningful Job? (

Here’s an analogy that might explain the predicament of a teacher. I’ve long been fascinated by the art of stand-up comedy. Comedians spend years honing their craft. They often play to rooms of people that don’t laugh at their jokes, and may even heckle and abuse them. But if they are good, there’s no denying it. They will get the laughs — a constant trickle of feedback that tells them they are doing their job right. Well, teaching is a bit like stand-up comedy without the laughter.*

John Danaher dives into his frustrations with teaching in a university setting.

There is plenty to like about teaching. It’s just not as noble or inspiring as some people suppose. It’s a job and often a frustrating one.

He provides a series of arguments against the practice:

  1. The purpose and value of education is questionable
  2. Teaching often fails to achieve its purpose
  3. Any feedback you do receive in unhelpful

While on the other side, he also puts forward a series of counter-arguments:

  1. Nothing lasts forever, why expect teaching to buck this trend?
  2. Effective Teaching Cannot be Measured
  3. It’s Not About Outcomes
  4. What do you know? You are just a bad teacher
  5. Surely there is something meaningful about teaching?

Although Danaher’s focus is on tertiary education, it is an interesting provocation to reflect upon in respect to all aspects of learning and teaching, especially the idea of heutagogy.

“Stephen Downes” in Stephen’s Web ~ The Trouble with Teaching: Is Teaching a Meaningful Job? ~ Stephen Downes ()

Bookmarked A Teacher-Led Renewel (Director's eNews – VOLUME 10 – NUMBER 20 – 21 AUGUST 2020)

The remote learning environment has thrust teachers and their professional judgments back in the driver’s seat for making improvements in education. This is arguably a great thing for students and their learning, as it places the location of professional knowledge and decision-making back inside the classroom with teachers, and within the contexts in which teachers are teaching.

The caveat spelled out here is that teacher evidence is most valid when using the four critical lenses on evidence (evidence from students, from colleagues, from research and from teachers’ own experiences). It is this amalgam of ‘teacher evidence’ that expert teachers possess, and it is this type of evidence that we should invest in to support the teacher-led renewal in learning outcomes.

Simon Lindsay reflects on the current situation and the impact that it has on the way in which we collect data around students and learning. With the inability to complete various standardised tests, such as NAPLAN, it has placed the importance of teachers back in the spotlight. This is not necessarily something new, however what will be interesting to see is what happens to what works and whether the new normal will bring about a swing towards teacher agency?
Bookmarked Staying awake to the world: taking time to inquire into and build our own (

I have always been wary of the glib phrase: “Inquiry teachers can learn alongside the children”. While there is certainly truth in that (I have learned SO much simply being part of an inquiry journey with groups and individuals) it doesn’t mean we are ‘off the hook’. Our ignorance can prevent us from asking better questions, helping learners make connections or pointing the way to critical information that can help struggling learners make meaning. In fact I have often observed in my own teaching that the deeper my understanding of something is, the better I am at listening, waiting, questioning and holding back to support the learner. Even when we might be assisting learners in a personal inquiry that goes well beyond our own field of interest and expertise, we need to know enough about how to connect to and locate others with the expertise … and that, in itself, requires us to stay awake to the world around us.

Kath Murdoch responds to the prime ministers mistake in claiming that we have never had slavery in Australia by providing a list of ways we can stay more awake. Whether it be sharing podcasts or connecting with an expert, the intent of this time is to spur our sense of curiosity.

We need to have hungry minds that stay relentlessly curious about the way the world works and the way we understand the world. We need to keep pushing ourselves out of our “comfortable knowledge bubbles” and be prepared to be the geographers, historians, scientists, authors, mathematicians and artists we hope our students will be.

I remember trying to push the sharing of ideas and resources a few years ago through social bookmarking. I think the biggest challenge is legitimising the time. Too often in the busyness of planning things can quickly become about getting it done.

Replied to Crowded Class – Four Stages in One Week by Lee Hewes (Lee Hewes)

One of the things I have noticed over the past week is that my initial concerns about returning to ‘casual’ teaching were actually some of the things that are most exciting. I’ve managed to teach across multiple grades and classes and really test my repertoire of teaching skills, whether that be teaching the content K-6, classroom management in new contexts, or gaining a working rapport with new faces. I’ve actually found it quite invigorating and affirming!

I always loved taking ‘extras’ when I was Daily Org. There was something exciting about continually walking into new classrooms and exploring learning with students of all ages.
Replied to The garden in the mind – Austin Kleon (Austin Kleon)

Liberty Hyde Bailey’s thoughts on gardening and how they relate to creative work.

I love this quote Austin.

I know poets who do not write poetry, artists who do not paint, architects who do not build. I know gardeners who do not garden.

It makes me wonder about teachers who do not teach and the importance of first and foremost caring.

Liked Leaning on Parents Isn’t an Intervention, Y’all. (THE TEMPERED RADICAL)

Sure — letting parents know about the struggles of individual students is a responsible act.

And sometimes, those notifications may result in improvements. A parent might hire a tutor for their child to address academic gaps or a student might change their behavior in response to home-based consequences.

But seeing parent communication as your primary INTERVENTION — instead of as nothing more than providing INFORMATION — is a cop-out.

Liked Let’s talk about job satisfaction for teachers, not just about who leaves and when (EduResearch Matters)

Ideas from positive psychology suggest that intrinsic motivation in a job requires having opportunities for autonomy, competence, and relationships with other humans. The paper that my team published makes a few key points that, along with our findings outlined above, can be understood in this context.

  1. It seems that reshaping preservice teacher education (yet again) would not be the most effective place to put our future efforts.
  2. For all the studies that have been carried out about mentorship programs and their effectiveness, three out of ten early career teachers in Australia in our analysis either had an unhelpful mentor or had no mentor. Yes some states have since established a policy about mandatory mentorship programs, but for some beginning teachers (anecdotally) these can be just box-ticking exercises.
  3. The fact that clerical/administrative burdens was one of the strongest factors considered in linking on-the-job conditions to intention to leave the profession suggests that this may be a place to look for improving teacher satisfaction. The literature suggests that administrative burdens have increased for teachers in the last decade. It is difficult for any study to conclusively show that reducing this administrative burden would improve teacher satisfaction; but it is a proposal that certainly passes the common sense test. Again, this is a point made by many scholars before me; but having solid data to back it up adds to the case.
Bookmarked Imagine if we didn’t know how to use books – notes on a digital practices framework by dave dave (

There are three streams to this model that eventually leads towards people being able to function as good online learning facilitators. The top stream is about all the sunshine and light about working with others on the internet. It’s advantages and pitfalls, ways in which to promote prosocial discourse. The middle stream is about pragmatics. The how’s of doing things, it starts out with simple guidelines and moves forward the technical realities of licensing, content production and tech using. The bottom stream is about the self. How to keep yourself safe, how to have a healthy relationship with the internet from a personal perspective.

Dave Cormier provides a framework for learning on the internet. This is divided into four movements:

  • Awareness
  • Learning online
  • Making within constraints
  • Teaching

I remember discussed the idea of digital literacy as a series of levels a few years ago. In more recent times, I have come to wonder if what matters is being informed and whatever that might mean for users. However, Doug Belshaw would probably argue that it is about an interaction of elements, rather than a linear progression.

Other interesting posts on this topic include Ian O’Byrne’s attack on the online disinformation war and Mike Caulfield’s four moves.

Replied to

‘Relevance’ implies to me that teaching and professional development can be categorically measured. I wonder if it is about purpose and context, rather than the ‘relevance’ of the facilitator?
Replied to School Culture and the Permission To Say No (maelstrom)

Those who marvel at or question the vacations teachers enjoy are unlikely to have experienced the energy drain that the profession involves. There are inevitably other professions that demand emoti…

This reminds me of a recent posts from Bianca Hewes and Chris Wejr. I think that we worry about saying no to additional requests for the students, but I also think it comes back to care for self.
Liked Always On (Jon Harper)

Recently a friend and I were going back and forth about the demands of teaching. While my friend acknowledged that he could never be a teacher, he didn’t agree with me that teachers needed to ease up, slow down, even let a few balls drop in order to perform at high levels. It wasn’t as if my friend was clueless as to what teaching entails. Over the years he has spoken with many educators so he has heard about what it is like to be a teacher.

But he’s never been a teacher.

Replied to What does it take to be the ‘best and brightest’? by Gill Light (

So when you see another media report or education ‘expert’ discussing how important it is that we recruit our ‘best and brightest’ to teaching, consider what attributes being the ‘best and brightest’ might entail. Look beyond their ATAR score to the combination of academic strengths and personal qualities that are both vital in developing teachers that inspire, motivate and educate students.

Well put Gill. What I feel is often missed is that it takes a village to raise a child and a teacher. For all the talk of coaching in the last few years we seem to have overlooked the development of people to instead focus on some odd measurement of success.
Replied to Good Teaching by Adrian Camm (

What I am sure about is that there is no one formula for great teaching and that’s what makes our profession such a rewarding one. Just like learning is a deeply personal endeavour – so is teaching. Teacher quality does matter. We want great teachers teaching the eager young minds of tomorrow. We also have to work with those we currently have in the profession and understand that teaching quality matters more.

I always find ‘good teaching’ intriguing. In part I hear Bruce Dixon/Will Richardson yelling that it is ‘all about learning’, but then I have Gert Biesta discussing the purpose of education. Thinking back over all the different contexts that I have found myself in I feel that ‘good’ was as much about working with the students in front of you or the staff next door. One lesson I learnt early in my career is that not every strategy works in every situation. I wonder then if ‘good’ is as much a verb as it is an act described?
Bookmarked Teaching boys: Part 1 and Part 2 (the édu flâneuse)

Schools and teachers can play a part in what kinds of behaviours and successes are normalised and rewarded within the school environment. Those working in schools can ask themselves questions about how gender is normalised. Are boys encouraged to be alpha competitors or are quieter achievement and ways of being also noticed and rewarded? Is the catchphrase ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘he was just joking’ used to dismiss put-downs of others or the objectification of women? Is strength and success measured by sporting prowess and outward expressions of courage or by a range of possible successes in multiple arenas? What does ‘courage’ mean to the school community? Are multiple ways of ‘being a man’ celebrated and held up as exemplars?

Deborah Netolicky reflects on her experience of teaching boys. She highlights three aspects: boys need a safe and trusting environment with high support and high challenge, boys respond to engaging curriculum content and boys benefit from regular, tangible feedback, a mixture of role-models, as well as hope and persistence. As I think about my own experiences teaching and parenting, I am left wondering why these approaches do not apply for girls too? Another interesting read on the topic is Adam Boxer’s question of boys and competition.