As I began to write this blog I was on a flight to Sydney heading to an Apple Partner event. Not long after the flight departed I took out my iPad and began to work on a presentation for it. However once the meal service began there was no room for both the food and the iPad – so of course the food won out 😀. As the iPad had to take a break, I began to watch ‘Rocketman’, Elton John’s story, and was struck by a line in the movie; ‘You only get so many chances in life and this is one of yours – so take it and make the most of it.’ It got me thinking. How often do we do this in our classrooms?How do you make the most of the chances your Ss have in your classroom? #utbPD #teachers Click To Tweet
Quite a few years ago now I worked in a small rural school – at the time we only had 3 teachers plus a teaching principal. One afternoon a hot air balloon gently drifted overhead. We could see it had begun its descent and figured it was going to land somewhere nearby. So yes, the whole school abandoned ship and followed it. 🎈
Hastily we downed our pencils, donned shoes, and left in pursuit of the balloon. Across country roads, traversing dirty ditches, climbing farmers rickety fences, dodging cow pats we went. We had just we teachers, the principal and a couple of parents who happened to be there at time with us. 50 odd pupils and a few adults – what an amazing time we had!What adventures have you had in your classroom lately? #utbPD #teachers Click To Tweet
Of course we found the pilot and his balloon – and yes, he was a little surprised by our appearance. But he took it all in his stride and was amazing. He let the kids jump into the basket, he gave us so much great information about how hot air balloons work and even let some of us help him to fold up the balloon 🗣. We could never have learned all this as meaningfully from a static textbook or a website.
And you know what – we had such motivated writers after that. For the next few days everything focused around that little adventure. We wrote about it, we did balloon experiments, we worked out the area of balloons, we created colourful balloon artwork and we investigated all sorts of flight/balloon concepts.
We had filled out no RAMS, no health and safety forms, we adhered to no adult/pupil ratios but we did make sure the kids all put their shoes on 👍. We seized the moment and recognised our opportunities.Is paperwork stifling the opportunities you can seize with your Ss?#utbPD #teachers Click To Tweet
All this got me thinking – how do we seize these moments in today’s classrooms? I acknowledge that safety is important and there are rules needed, but how much have these rules constrained a teachers ability to grab these precious moments for their students?
By the time I began this job with UTB at least 15 years have passed since our great balloon adventure, not to mention a move to a different school.
Times have changed dramatically. In my last school we could no more have followed that ballon than we could have cancelled school for a week. The days had become heavily timetabled, subjects were siloed and the paperwork needed to even step beyond the school mailbox was exhausting.
At the heart of this narrative though are the students we teach.
We only had one chance to follow that balloon and we took it. We made the most of it. And everyone loved it.
How do we find these moments in today’s classrooms? How do we keep the student’s inquisitive nature alive? How do we keep students and teachers alike engaged and excited about learning?
I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that those students who came on our balloon adventure were engaged, motivated, excited and stimulated. The teachers were enthusiastic and excited about the learning that was happening.
As many schools begin to think about designing local curriculum, maybe it’s the perfect time to think about how you might incorporate balloon adventures into your classroom life today. What could you do that might allow teachers more freedom to seize those moments, how could you encourage taking opportunities as and when they arise?
‘You only get so many chances in life and this is one of yours – so take it and make the most of it.’
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