Just Saying…

200wIts NOT:

  • implementing a new curriculum
  • 21st century teaching & learning
  • building inclusive classrooms
  • learning through inquiry
  • project-based learning
  • standards-based grading
  • <insert something else you think you ‘have to do’>

Its about all of us getting our collective sh*t together and doing what people have known for decades about what works for learning.

Sure we have a lot of new evidence about what works.  And we have frameworks for making systemic changes so that more of us are doing more of what works more often.

Don’t get me wrong.  The above are not bad things.  As a matter of fact I think they are very good things.  I’m not knocking “new” approaches.  I’m just saying that they are not a new as we think they are and cautioning us to not get caught up with the latest ‘thing’ we are ‘doing’.

Whatever it is we are doing or feel we have to do, what is absolutely essential is that we the adult(s):

And… if there is something that we need to know or know how to do to help our learners learn, then we need to get on our bikes and pedal hard to learn it ASAP.  Because all our learners need us to know it.

*I liked the way Dylan Wiliam put these so I borrowed his wording from p.152 of Embedded Formative Assessment

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Teaching as Hospitality


“Good teaching is an act of hospitality toward the young, and hospitality is always an act that benefits the host even more than the guest. The concept of hospitality arose in ancient times when this reciprocity was easier to see: in nomadic cultures, the food and shelter one gave to a stranger yesterday is the food and shelter one hopes to receive from a stranger tomorrow. By offering hospitality, one participates in the endless reweaving of a social fabric on which all can depend – thus the gift of sustenance for the guest becomes a gift of hope for the host. It is that way in teaching as well: the teacher’s hospitality to the student results in a world more hospitable to the teacher.” (Parker J. Palmer 1998)

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Building a Foundation for Teaching – My Story

Still relevant — shifts in the first 10 years of teaching

Renovating My Classroom


This is an accounting of where I am in my practice, how I got here and where I hope to go.  This is not a how-to but simply my story.   I will use the work I have done in Physics 11 for my examples.  I have done similar work with Science 8, Science 10, and Physics 12 – each are at different points in the process depending on when I was teaching them.

I am not very good at subtleties; I need things to be explicit.  I think this is true of many of our students.  So what follows is my ongoing attempt to be more explicit, both for my benefit and for the benefit of my students.

Early YearsCopyright Matt Chan

My first few years of teaching were those of survival; similar to that of many new teachers.

I relied heavily on the textbook and resources given to…

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Just a Teacher…

collective action

Teacher Leadership (Credit: C. age 11)

This past May I completed a multi-year project called My Masters Degree by submitting my thesis paper titled “Just a Teacher…

Over the coming weeks and months I will tease out elements that I found particularly helpful in my own learning and/or those elements that resonated with friends and colleagues who have read it.

If at this moment you find yourself with nothing better to do you may want to have a look at the literature review where I explored an emerging view of leadership, particularly teacher leadership.  In researching the topic I was pleasantly surprised to encounter well articulated writing about the collective capacity of classroom teachers to effect change in response to student needs and/or opportunities for growth that exist in their school but outside of their classrooms (aka ‘teacher leadership’).

Or you might be interested in my twenty year journey of coming to see myself as a leader — not an easy thing for any of us to do if we use the traditional model of hierarchal leadership.  I wrote stories about key points in my journey where others saw in me the potential for being part of positive change and helped me to see myself as more than “just a teacher”.

Or you might want to jump straight to the end (page 79) to see the Considerations that I was left with after a lot of reading, reflecting, writing and just plain living out how one makes sense of the words “teacher” and “leader” when they are put together.

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Black Box #1

The sheet below is one that a BC teacher uses to great effect in her classroom.

Assume this is the only view we have of the classroom (i.e. its a black box).

What must be happening in the classroom?


HT Peter Liljedahl

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Term Overview Examples

Source of our inspiration: Glenpark School in Plymouth UK
New source of inspiration (HT Dallas Thor)
If you are inspired to do something similar please share back (would love some intermediate examples).  Downloadable Template (word)

K-1 Example (@anniekinders) SD37


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Grade 1 Example (S.M.) SD37


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Grade 2 Example (S.M.) SD37


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Your example here?

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UbD – Stage 1 Example(s)

More to come as time permits and as others generate.

If you have something to share please send to jacob@renomyclass.com and I’ll add it to this post (and credit you of course)


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UbD Lite

Some examples of teachers clarifying and sharing learning intentions

More examples

PPT Slides

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Term Overviews – Elementary Examples

Home page:
Year 1 Fall Overview
Year 2 Fall Overview
Year 3 Fall Overview
Year 4 Fall Overview
Year 5 Fall Overview
Year 6 Fall Overview
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Resources – Aboriginal Perspectives

principlesoflearningthumbWeaving Aboriginal Perspectives into the Curriculum (SD37)

Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives in the Classroom

First Peoples Principles of Learning (J. Chrona)

First Peoples Principles of Learning (BC Ministry of Ed)

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