On the Merry-Go-Round

Friend: Your holidays started yet?

Teacher: Yes, a few weeks ago.

Friend: Lucky for some, huh.

Teacher: [Pause] I guess so.

Friend: So what is it that you do with all those weeks?

Teacher: Go on holiday for a bit, obviously.

Friend: You get paid for doing nothing?

Teacher: Not nothing. Just different things. I guess it’s a bit like working freelance?

Friend: In that you don’t work at all?

Teacher: Hmmm, well not in the traditional, Puritan, work-must-be-unpleasant sense. It’s a time for creative renewal, before the merry-go-round starts again.

Friend: Merry-go-round?

Teacher: Yep, it’s the curse of teaching, that Groundhog Day paradox of “getting to do it again” and “having to do it again”.

Friend: What?

Teacher: Well, presuming I’ve reacquired sufficient patience needed to see it through, and the law of unintended consequences doesn’t brutally intervene, there are five things I’m going to evolve this year.

Friend: Five?

Teacher: Yep.

Friend: Do you know what, I don’t care. I’ve had my holiday for this year, and it’s my Saturday. Want a drink?

Teacher: Sure.

Merry-go-'round by Greg Westfall licenced under CC by 2.0
“Merry-go-’round” by Greg Westfall licenced under CC by 2.0

My Merry-Go-Round Five

  1. Shared vision. Provide a year long map of the year for the students in a live Google Doc.
  2. Mix it up. Keep coming back to the essentials, using fortnightly quizzes with Kahoot. The rules? After I model the first one, students are placed on a yearlong rotation in pairs to create a five question quiz on content studied in the previous weeks. If the students want it, I’ll run a yearlong leaderboard in Google sheets.
  3. Read more. Students will sign up for a Goodreads account to record and share books. Alongside weekly DEAR (Drop Everything and Read), there will be fortnightly Hot Reads, when, on rotation, a student will make a three minute presentation about a great book they’ve recently read.
  4. Write more. Students will establish and experiment with blogging. This will include time, fortnightly, to blog and comment upon each other’s blogs.
  5. Do less, better. To read more and write more, some content will be removed from the year to enrich essential skills and understandings.

Do you have a Merry-Go-Round five?

On Being a Lighthouse


I am a lighthouse.

Let me tell you what I mean by this.

By teaching, I am a guide as you travel to those important places. I am an example, a warning. I sit, a spinning light-dotted ‘i’ on the edge of your horizon, saying, “By listening to what I know, think. Perhaps, go this way and not that.”

I spin three hundred and sixty degrees, to each degree a thoughtful word. Turning slowly, I reflect. Each flash, a thought, an idea upon which to cogitate.

My job can be solitary, isolated, and yet my purpose is to connect, a bridge between necessary paradoxes. And so I am teaching and learning. I am unique and a collaborator. I am a humble leader, dynamic yet enduring.

I am a lighthouse.

In these ways, this blog, The Education Cogitation, seeks to be a lighthouse. And perhaps, at its best, it might even be that. At others, I suspect it won’t be. However, no post will exceed 360 words, a statistical nod to the circular arc traced by a lighthouse. Posts will consider observations and wonderings arising from my daily experiences, both current, long past and moments upcoming.

And, some acknowledgements to lighthouses I’ve encountered along the way. To Tricia for trailblazing, to Rachel D back in the US for being the first to make me believe in myself, to James for wearing his writing on his sleeve, to my closest colleagues past and present – Mike, Carol, Tim, Glenda, Nicola, Zoe, John, Bob who provoked me to think in so many different ways. At this point, I’m starting to realise that there are many other lighthouses that have lit me on my way, more than I can count or acknowledge.

Finally, as a necessary somewhat self-evident disclaimer, the posts will remain my opinions, and not (necessarily) those of the school at which I am working – you’d have to ask them.

The picture that opens this blog is of Kidston Island Lighthouse, a constant visual reminder of this blog’s purpose. Thanks to Dennis Jarvis for this gently cropped title page photo licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.