Category Archives: Uncategorized

so what’s the deal with teaching after lockdown?

It's difficult to process the fallout for students and teachers after two disrupted years of school during Covid19 "iso", and for me it's because there's been no "party" in between. I feel like we've slid in, hopeful but cautious, heads down and no time to stop and reflect. Along the way, random conversations raising concerns about students' lack of motivation or surprisingly low levels of literacy have ended in uncertainty: have they always been this way or is it Covid? 
Professional conversations at school continue to focus on rubrics and measurable data, and time is not set aside for a collective reflection and the sharing of what teachers are seeing and how they're dealing with it. But, more importantly, students are being taught the way they always have been, so they scramble and so do we, and that's the way the system works in schools. 
Something a colleague and I talk about quite a bit since we both teach VCE English Language (I teach Units 1-2 and she teaches 1-4) is how much - or even how much more - scaffolding our students require when writing essays based on a question, a range of stimuli and wide reading.  I say "scaffolding" but it always makes me wince a little. There's something cold and restrictive about the word, something dry and limiting.  Still, as much as we both assumed our year 11 students would know how to unpack an essay question and respond to stimuli, we were prepared for their essays to have room for improvement - just not as much room. 
And the same for rubrics. Yes, we strive to differentiate, yes we provide feedback (which our students don't read?) but my rubrics, at least, fall short. In the end I feel my rubrics are missing at least half the picture. I've been marking essays and making a checklist of what's missing from the rubrics - too many to fit, although they could be an accompanying checklist. Next term I plan on spending a fair bit of time on essay writing, starting by getting my students to read through their exam essays and tick off what they've done or not done in the checklist. My students are noticeably passive, waiting for me to tell them how to do things; they need to be an active part of the learning process.
These things worry me: Will a student who starts with a significant disadvantage in terms of writing, and who sees low average ratings in the rubric realise that his rate of improvement has been amazing? I can tell him in my feedback, but his focus will be on his rubric rating, that's for sure. And his report will focus on his percentage. Even a 10 in his capabilities for "progress" will not tell him how impressed I am by his effort to take on board my feedback and move forward in leaps and bounds.  The rubric still rates him at the lower middle point of the scale, with many of his classmates way ahead of him.  Where is the capability for "rising above debilitating lack of motivation" or "getting something submitted even though you're feeling depressed"? These are the human aspects of the feedback students deserve.
It's not easy to teach writing. At some point in the learning process I provide some model essays from past students. That's not enough in itself although I've fallen for the assumption that it might be. Some students are not capable of picking out from a high quality example what actually makes the writing noteworthy. Should I be doing that for them? 
Here are some of the dot points I created for my students as a checklist after reading their English Language essays:

Have you used words precisely?
Have you used the best word for the context?
Have you used colloquial or informal language in the essay?
Have you used words that sound impressive but perhaps you don’t actually know what they mean or how they’re used?

Have you checked your grammar, eg subject/verb agreement or consistency of tense?

Have  you used relevant metalanguage when the opportunity arises?

Have you checked for repetition of words, phrases or sentences?

Is your sentence confusing? Is the point of your paragraph clear or confusing?

Does your paragraph include too much/too little (information and examples)?

Flow – can you join shorter sentences and ideas with each other using connectives (and, however, although, therefore)? Or are you making a shopping list?

Are you making too many general statements rather than providing examples and context to support your general statements?

Have you used the best examples?

Have you missed important examples?

Have you forgotten you are focusing on language? Are you going on a rant about issues that do not focus on language or the essay question?

Are you using general, sloppy phrases and sentences instead of making sure you say what you mean in a precise way? 

Have you articulated your ideas clearly and then unpacked them comprehensively or is it just an introductory thought that goes nowhere?

Have you used stimulus material to spark ideas or have you just quoted or included stimulus material as your main paragraph content?

Have you paraphrased quotations in stimulus material rather than using the quotation?

Conclusion: Are you using the same words/sentences as previously stated or have you integrated your summary analysis of ideas presented?

Have you included ideas you’ve developed as a result of wide reading or just described what the stimulus material says?

Have you come to your own conclusions or just rehashed what I told you in class? Have you thought/read widely?

I'm torn. I'm aware that teachers need to balance the amount of assistance they provide to students with a certain amount of room for them to work through things on their own so that they learn from that process, otherwise they are so used to us feeding them what they need that they are under the impression that learning is consumption of skills on a platter, whereby they learn things they are given by rote and follow a formula to the end result. Even if that were the case, how engaged would they be? And without engagement they won't have a source to draw from - a source of interest and self-confidence, a thirst to understand and learn more. Isn't that the point of teaching and learning, that balance?

What do you think? 

So much has happened…

It’s been quite a while. This happens, not unlike Covid19. Life takes over even well versed routines and plays around with dimensions of time. Time has passed – so much time that this space, previously so comfortable and welcoming for me, feels foreign and resists writing. And yet, I’m here now.

The photo above is one of the spots my husband and I liked to visit, in our 5 km range during lockdown last year. We visited this year too during our recent shorter lockdown. Lockdowns loom until we are all vaccinated. In Australia that process is slow and not yet available to all…

Work has thankfully been an environment of positive changes and exciting proposed futures. In the library and also in the school as a whole, (with a new principal and new head of library) an alignment with my own values and beliefs about what education should and could be has taken place. Quiet internal celebrations.

Reflections later, but for now a snapshot of the webinars we’ve been creating. These were initiated by our beloved head of library, Monica, as a way of making things happen during lockdown, and have continued to be a fabulous way of drawing on the talents of students and student leaders and giving them a voice and platforms for the sharing of their expertise, but also an effective way for us to do the same. Sadly we can’t share these webinars because of student privacy, but I’ll just share screenshots of the topics we’ve covered.

Enough from me for now. I hope to reignite my desire to write and share.


Alexander Calder mobile

If all you have is nada
You should try a little harder.
If your mind is going blank
And it’s not just one big prank
That you play so’s not to play
Then you must go straightaway
To a doctor for a cure
To a good one to be sure
That the cure will really work
Or you might try your network
Fire the brain cells to connect
To become an architect
of words, ideas, forms,
magic places, unicorns,
Or an artist, a magician,
A word artist on a mission.
So instead of having nada,
You could try some Neo-dada,
Art and life could become one
If you just try to have fun.

Unofficial CV #digiwrimo

I’m going to join DigiWriMo for the first time. Our first task is to write an unofficial CV. What is DigiWriMo?  For me it’s a chance to join people I know (or don’t yet) virtually to do some writing together and have some fun.

There have been some creative Unofficial CVs. I’ve been stuck but finally made myself whip something up.

Unofficial CV #digiwrimo – Tania Sheko


Kindergarten, primary school, secondary school, Russian Saturday school, university, Life. During moments of brief lucidity;  through hard times, mistakes, reluctant lessons.

Professional Development:

Life: Life has been a constant teacher and the course is quite comprehensive and rewarding although, at times, relentless. No clear outcomes provided so flexibility required.

Motherhood – learning from my children; getting a second and third chance to grow through stages of development with some distance.

Partner: Rewarding course with fulfilling outcomes;

Teacher: Not very different from being a student, and not limited to the classroom.

Friend: More experience with single friends than groups; some experience with virtual friends (and much enthusiasm).

Teaching experience:

Teaching English, French, German, Russian and English as a Second Language in schools.

Teaching my 2 sons how to be thoughtful, respectful human beings;

teaching them how to stand up for themselves; that there are always other options; that they should go with their passion; that happiness is more valuable than success (and what is success anyway?)

Skills summary

Listening skills especially reading between the lines; noticing details; having big and slightly unorthodox ideas; creative alternatives; ability to create environments that make people feel comfortable and respected; ability to be alone and not get bored.


Understanding myself, other people and life; finding people to play with; finding stimulating ideas and tracing them back to people I can get to know; finding the wonder in small, everyday things; developing compassion.


My most rewarding achievement was attracting the attention of some very creative and generous people who played with me to remix a quasi play I’d written as part of Rhizo15 MOOC.

From the DigiWriMo website, some unofficial CVs:

How Seinfeld and Maria Montessori influence me as an educator #twistedpair

I really like the way Terry Elliott started his #twistedpair post and so I’m going to re-use his opening:

In the spirit of infinite play I am following a recent prompt from Steve Wheeler.

Thanks to Steve Wheeler’s blogging challenge I not only have a reason to write but also something different to contribute to our professional exchange at school (more about that later). Steve’s post paired Socrates and Julie Andrews as influences on his teaching. Terry Elliott paired Epictetus and Mojo Nixon.

Are there any other strange (twisted) pairs that would inspire people to write thoughtful blog posts on education and learning? Well, if anyone is up for this challenge, here are a few very strange pairings to get you going. I bet you can think of loads more.

Batman and John Dewey
Michaelangelo and you
Paulo Freire and the Hunchback of Notre Dame
Eddie Izzard and Pavlov’s dogs
Jack Sparrow and Nelson Mandela
Pablo Picasso and Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Micky Mouse and Adolf Hitler
Han Solo and Queen Elizabeth I
William Shakespeare and Buzz Lightyear
Marshall MacLuhan and Madonna
Tarzan and Jean Piaget
Paddington Bear and Barack Obama
Jean Jacques Rousseau and the Easter Bunny
Walt Disney and the Grim Reaper
Sir Winston Churchill and the entire cast of Frozen
Doctor Who and Snoopy
Jack Bauer and the Teletubbies
Mr Spock and Margaret Thatcher

So, challenge accepted albeit quite late (which doesn’t matter in the hashtag world). I’ve been reading some of the responses and enjoying the twisted pairings.

I’ll be talking about my #twistedpair in terms of myself as an educator. The teacher librarian role is different to the classroom teacher; I learn to locate and mine the best networks to glean and curate what is needed by teachers and students, so what I do every day to support teaching and learning depends a lot on my own learning and learning behaviours.

In a twisted way Seinfeld (the TV series) and Maria Montessori have influenced my thinking and development as an educator.

When my sons were very young (and I was also younger) I was switched onto (as all parents are) how my boys were awakened to the awareness of new things and how they responded to these things, how they were engaged and wanted to understand things and to develop knowledge of things. My boys were not alike in any way so I was able to observe two very different examples.

I was fascinated by the focus and determination to grasp, understand and expand knowledge, by the passion. Since I had been teaching in secondary school before that time (English, French and German) I could see the enormous difference between the desire to learn in children of preschool and early primary school age and the common disengagement with school and learning manifested in the secondary students.

I was determined to do everything I could to keep that desire for learning going in my boys for as long as I could. In my research I came across Montessori preschools/schools and the founder, Maria Montessori. Her description of Sensitive Periods in children interested me.

We have already seen that for Montessori, growth from conception to adulthood is not a vague “progressive accumulation of material”; nor an “inherent hereditary necessity”, shaped by our genes towards a limited set of pre-determined characteristics. Rather, she saw growth as “… a process meticulously guided by transient instincts which give an acute sensibility and an impulse towards specific forms of activity …”. Furthermore, these acute sensibilities and specific forms of activity “often differ very plainly from the activities of the individual in the adult state”.

Richard Restak offered a description of what could be happening at the cellular level during these “critical periods” or “windows of opportunity”: “… the brain literally creates itself during our earliest development. At various times in the developmental process from fetus to newborn to infant, nerve cells migrate, many die off, and many others stick to one another and send out processes whereby neuronal connections are formed and re-formed. ( in Brainscapes: An Introduction to What Neuroscience Has Learned about the Structure, Function, and Abilities of the Brain. New York: Hyperion, 1995, pp. 93-94. )

Origins of the Term The Dutch biologist and geneticist, Hugo DeVries (1848-1935), first identified and named Sensitive Periods in 1902, through his study of insects. In The Secret Of Childhood, Montessori cites DeVries’ example of a Sensitive Period in the caterpillar of the Porthesia butterfly. Here is Montessori’s description: (The caterpillar) must feed on very tender leaves, and yet the butterfly lays its eggs in the most hidden fork of the branch, near the trunk of the tree. Who will show the little caterpillars hidden there, the moment they leave the egg, that the tender leaves they need are to be found at the extreme tip of the branch, in the light? Now the caterpillar is strongly sensible to light; light attracts it, summons it as by an irresistible voice, fascinates it, and the caterpillar goes wriggling towards where the light is brightest, till it reaches the tip of the branch, and thus finds itself, famished for food, among the budding leaves that can give it nourishment. It is a strange fact that when the caterpillar has passed through its first stage and is full grown, it can eat other food, and then loses its sensibility to light. This has been proved in scientific laboratories where there are neither trees nor leaves but only the caterpillar and the light. 4

Montessori’s use of DeVries’ example of a Sensitive Period in the caterpillar made an impression on me, and I started to think about trusting the child’s innate, instinctive desire to learn. I appreciated the way that the Montessori classroom welcomed one child at a time to give the teacher time to guide the new child until he/she was familiar with the routines of the class. I liked the quiet order of the classroom which seemed to run itself while children appeared to be largely deciding their own order of activities and selecting whether they wanted to work on their own, in pairs or in small groups. The teacher would rarely address the whole class but instead chose which individual child or group to work with or guide. I saw children develop skills, knowledge and confidence through activities which embedded the discovery of knowledge and skills. For example, for the very young children (aged 3) there was an activity for which the child would fill a bowl with water and then place different objects into it and then observe whether they floated or sank.

Sometimes the teacher observed from a distance to make sure that children spread themselves across all types of activities (eg spelling, counting, science, art, etc.) over a period of time, and sometimes she took a more active role when new things were taught. The child who desperately wanted to concentrate on a particular activity was permitted to concentrate on this activity for as long as he/she was absorbed. In the mainstream classroom there is counter-intuitive interruption of activities and separation of separate ‘subjects’ into preordained time-slots. There is no willingness to allow a student the opportunity for deep learning during the period of intense desire for this type of learning.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have this vision for learning because it creates a dissonance with everything school stands for. I wonder how we can expect engagement and a desire for learning when we have created a system and routine which cuts everything up into separate chunks and hurries them through a study program in preparation for tests and exams.

And now, to Seinfeld. I keep saying that there is at least one PhD in the series (and there are probably theses in existence). It seems you either love or hate Seinfeld. My family and I adore Seinfeld and happily watch repeat programs. I think that the writers of the program have a wonderful grasp of human behaviour, usually the things we try to conceal. The series identifies human quirks and failings or weaknesses and unpacks these in a very funny way. Somehow the humour and absurdity enhance and even intensify the illumination of these human frailties.

I like to think that teaching and the creation of teaching resources/lessons can be enhanced by humour and a sense of fun. And I like to amuse myself if I’m teaching, otherwise I bore myself. You don’t have to be entirely serious in your demeanour when exploring serious issues. I love the way you can always think of a Seinfeld episode that corresponds with situations in life. Seinfeld lovers share this language and quote from Seinfeld prolifically in the same way as some people quote the literary greats.

Maybe this is a wide sweep, but Maria Montessori and the Seinfeld series both use play to instruct. The Montessori classroom sets up an environment in which students play to explore and to construct understanding. In Seinfeld insights into character studies and life situations are beautifully illustrated through comedy. The playful depiction reveals complexities in a seemingly simple way. At school, also, play is an ideal vehicle for learning, not just teaching, and allows students/audience to discover their own understandings and expand on these in concert with others.

So, that’s my #twistedpair story. I decided to do a similar thing in a professional exchange session at school. Originally I was going to show different ways to annotate text online but then I thought – when do teachers get a chance to do something which they may have enjoyed doing – like writing – instead of always learning discrete skills which are all about their TEACHING.  This is how I justified this session in the Google doc:

Outcomes (and incomes):

  • to have fun (we deserve to once in a while)
  • to exercise that writing muscle
  • writing as modeling (not just marking)
  • creativity – another muscle
  • possible ideas for your own class
  • remember when you loved writing and then you became a teacher?

The only thing is I have a feeling I won’t have any takers. Will they think it’s not helpful/relevant?  Will they be afraid of the challenge? Do they think I’m nuts? We will see.

How to really get to know people in an online course – ask a child #rhizo15

(This post was written as a transcript of a short presentation I gave at a Melbourne TeachMeet at Melbourne High School September 2015).

How do you really get to  know people in an online course? Ask a child! What would a child do? A child would play.

And so we did in Rhizo15, the connected MOOC. It was new to me and I loved every minute.

I wanted to be playful so I wrote a play. In response to the weekly prompt: “Learning subjectives: designing for when you don’t know where you’re going.”

I was unsure about how people would feel about the play – and if they would read it at all – so I was surprised when I received lots of positive comments (blog comments don’t always happen for me) and Terry Elliott suggested we make it into a radio play. Simon Ensor added the comment: “I second Terry. I’m in for rhizoradio or other play. Do we have to do casting for the role of Mr X or do we crowdcast?”

I felt encouraged and sent out an invitation to a Google Doc so we could write the play collaboratively.

Hello there. My name is Tania Sheko. Thanks for responding so positively to this short piece of fiction/non-fiction. I’m taking up the suggestion to create something for #rhizoradio (suggested by Terry Elliott and seconded by Simon Ensor) and other suggestions to do a collaborative rewrite eg include a larger cast so we can actually (somehow) create a podcast for #rhizoradio (which is going to be a thing I think). Hope you can join me here!

But how would we bring everyone together to produce the radio play/podcast?

Maha (from Cairo) was thinking about a live reading:

It’s near impossible to organize across timezones but if you sleep really late and I wake really early we might catch the ppl in the US ? or the opposite, if u wake really early and I sleep really late we can make it at a good time for everyone. Usually around 10pm my time that’s 2pm EDT and I think early-ish morning for you?

In the end we decided to record our own parts on SoundCloud and send the file to Kevin Hodgson who generously took the time to put it all together.

Other things also happened – you can’t keep up with the rhizome.  Actually, so much happened while I was sleeping last night:

Autumm Caines created a really neat video promo.

Autumm used the image created by Angela Brown in Pulp-O-Mizer.

Kevin Hodgson used Thinglink for his promo.

Sarah Honeychurch had fun remixing a popular Christmas tune forher promo.

Here’s the final version of the play (although I wouldn’t be surprised if the Google doc version continues to evolve).

My original story, Mr X loses his battle for objectivity, has been stormed, hacked and now exists as an evolved creation belonging to those playing and learning in the rhizome (#rhizo15). It is no longer mine and that’s a fantastic thing, something I’m excited about. Thank you, everyone, for the experience – in particular to Kevin for putting together the audio files – but also to those contributing voices, to the voices in the chat comments for the evolving Google doc, to those on Twitter and other social media platforms, to the creative people designing promos, and anyone else I’ve forgotten.  I know it sounds as if I’m accepting an Oscar (haha) but I really do want to thank all of you for the fun we’ve had together.

#Rhizoradio presents a radio play courtesy of the #rhizo15 community:

A Multitude of Voices

(aka) Mr X loses his battle for objectivity ( original unevolved title fromthe original story)


Was this a success in educational terms? We had fun!

Maha: it was some of the BEST fun I ever had… wish I could find a way to encourage my students to do something like this of their own initiative, but that’s not thinking rhizomatically… so I should think of how to create an environment that encourages the spirit of this kind of thing and see what emerges from their work!!!

We unpacked rhizomatic learning collaboratively and creatively. We got to know each other through play. We were amazed by each other – as each person initiated ideas and created things because they were inspired to do so. We keep in touch – in subsequent MOOCs, through hashtag conversations on Twitter. We reach out to each other with questions and challenges. We jump in when we see requests for collaboration and opportunities to do things together. I learned about different tech tools but more importantly why and how to use them. I added their blogs to my Inoreader, so I could keep reading them, I followed them on Twitter and made sure I added a Tweetdeck column to see what they were saying/doing, I explored what else they did online eg Soundcloud, Slideshare, Google +, in Facebook groups, and wherever else they were.

Don’t tell me that you can’t form friendships online.

How to really get to know people in an online course- Ask a child.

Hacking the school system softly: first hack #clmooc #systemhack

Day One of #schoolsystemhack. If you are confused please read previous post explaining this.

Location: Staff room.

Limitation: Staff stay mainly in their faculty staff rooms but some use the central staff room occasionally eg lunchtime.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, before anyone else was about, I executed the first hack in the main staff room.

And then I lay low. And waited.

Feedback on the first day: We got some good feedback from a teacher who will remain nameless. She loved it. We were amused by her retelling of general staff reaction at this early stage. People were not sure how to react and so they pretended it wasn’t there and didn’t talk about it. They didn’t touch it (too risky; no instructions). She grabbed one of the colouring in templates and coloured pencils and started – “What are you doing?” from a teacher. Shock. Uncertainty.

Feedback on the second day: Things had been moved around. Another teacher told me he suspected I had set this up. He reported that the magnetic words on the pizza tray had been moved to a different table and play had begun. The principal had been seen moving words around before the staff meeting. Teachers had been heard saying that they intended to play during the meeting.

It’s a start. The Way Things Are is perhaps not the way The Way Things Will Be or Could Be.

I’m content. I have more things to add but all in good time.



Hacking the school system softly #clmooc #systemhack

#accidentalalliteration  Make Cycle #4 for Making Learning Connected Course.

Susan Watson cracked me up with her comic, The Systems of Comics. She is very clever and funny.



That’s too small to read but you can see the original here. Terry must have made hundreds of these. Here’s one. I decided to try and make my own. It is the first in a series of Personal Conversations at Melbourne High School.

I’m sure that’s illegible so take a look at the original.

I have a plan for this series and also for another to give our students voice. I’ve already asked some of our students for help. This should be fun.

And the Bigger (AlmostEvil) Plan is to infiltrate learning spaces in my school like a stealthy villain.  One of my recent posts expressed frustration about the school system which resists reform and may have to be levelled first in order to be rebuilt. After reading Terry’s comment

I think I am done with reform as a way of re-thinking. I put a lot more faith in kind subversion, asking forgiveness and not permission, under the radar, subrosa, authentic learning.

I decided to act on an unformed idea I’d had nagging me for a while.

Taking the library out to the school is not a new idea but I think I need to up the ante with it. My new, as yet embryonic, idea is to hack the staffroom in a surprising way. Something along the lines of setting up a small and changeable pop-up shop/library when nobody’s looking. For example, mark the space somehow with a few artifacts, then leave things that beg to be played with and change these regularly. Some ideas so far: puzzles, gorgeous design pages for colouring in, quirky articles – and comics! Like this one. So I envisage leaving one comic per series and updating regularly. Series like ‘Professional conversations at MHS’ and ‘Student conversations at MHS’, and so on.

I’m trying a soft approach to hacking the school system. If, as I’ve said in a previous post, teacher librarians find it challenging to collaborate with teachers because teachers are driven to keep up with the curriculum, then we can entice them, seduce them in a way, with curriculum-irrelevant playful things that help them slow down, make things, laugh, and take a break from the system.  Why not? My aim is to distract teachers, disrupt their single focus so that they might be more open to joining me in collaborative play in class.

And if that’s too ambitious, at least their (mis-)perception of teacher librarians (another blog post) might be popped like a giant bubble containing nothing but air. And that created space is something I will try to inhabit.

All ideas for a soft hack of learning spaces will be taken seriously and collected in a special container.

Oh, and true to villains who leave calling cards, here’s  one I made with Notegraphy for my library.

Of course, it could just as easily look like this.

I’m looking forward to sharing this idea with my colleagues in the school library.


Re-imagine secondary schooling while still in the system. What if…?

Photo by Duncan Rawlinson on Flickr

So if we are dissatisfied with the secondary school system in Victoria, the VCE, and we are teachers of sorts in a government school, are we trapped in the push through the congested pipe to the endpoint, the VCE, especially at my school, which is even more focused as a 9-12 school, and with a reputation of ‘getting’ the students the highest possible ATARs – which are the holy grail because (and now I’m a slave to sarcasm) the all-important goal in your life as a secondary student who wants a good career, a good life, is the final placement within the VCE system. And after that it’s smooth sailing, everything has been determined, you’re either a winner or a loser, and you’d better suck it up.

So if we are dissatisfied as teachers, as parents maybe, then are we trapped in a system that leaves us no choice? Bearing in mind that I’m now talking about my own school and its high-ATAR reputation…Do we have no choice at all? We are doomed to cram kids’ craniums with all the information they need, the right way to write, while they focus on the right way to take the UMAT, etc.?

What is the worst that could happen if we started to think for ourselves about what was important and essential to learning? What if we questioned the relevance of subject content to life? What if we decided to forgo some of the content in favour of skills? What if we realised that practising making mistakes was even more important than achieving high marks, that we would be doing our students a favour if we didn’t give them all the answers?

Would the sky fall?

[16:25] fallen

Photo by Frank on Flickr

Would the students fall behind? Would they score lower on the ATAR scale? Would it matter?

What if we really believed we had a choice. No, stop – really, really believed? What if the leadership team really believed and supported changes that would be more important to our students’ overall success in life after school, and instead of reviewing how well our students did retrospectively on the first day back of the new year, they chose to promote a different agenda? Would the reputation of that school plummet as the students’ marks plummeted?

Or would the school develop, over time, a new reputation, as a place of learning, of respect for thinkers and researchers, of a love for discourse, of a desire for dialogue across subject areas, of creativity, innovation and making. What if the spirit of student-led interest groups became that of the academic life of students? What if students could decide which aspect of set topics they wanted to do, and had choices about how to do it, with a maker bank of contemporary options to explore and play around with?

What if the principal decided that teachers were over-worked and exhausted, with no time to nurture themselves, cynical about change because they had no voice, disappointed about superficial requests for the use of technology without the time to play together and really understand its potential?

What if the principal changed the relentless cycle of weeks, terms, semesters, and created spaces for relaxation, communication, activity and creativity. What if teachers remembered their love of their subjects, and rediscovered their passions in other areas? And what if the whole school community saw this, and students would see another side of their teachers, and the relationship between them would change?

What if these things were possible? Why are they not possible?