Collegiality and Food

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
― Attributed to J.R.R. Tolkien

There is something to be said for the positive impact that sharing a meal with colleagues in a non-work context has upon your mental state, your happiness, and your stress levels. Term one was eleven weeks long, and by week eight, I was feeling mentally and physically drained. My goal at the start of the year to maintain a healthier balance between work and home life was not going particularly well, and I felt like I was not achieving enough in the classroom.

I and a few other colleagues are what you might term early birds in regards to when we arrive at school to begin our preparation. I am typically in my room at 0600 and the others not long afterwards. Wanting to actually spend some time having social conversations with them as opposed to purely educator conversations, I suggested that we all meet for breakfast one morning at a cafe which is a comfortable five-minute stroll away from school in the last week of the term. There was immediate acceptance and “oh, what a great idea!”

We met up at 0615 on the Wednesday of week eleven for breakfast, and I cannot overstate how enjoyable it was. The food was great and very well priced, and the company was excellent. I learned more about my colleagues over the course of the meal than I have in the last twelve months. We banned any shop-talk and after enjoying our breakfast, enjoyed a very casual stroll back to school in the beautifully warm sunshine, enjoying a nice relaxing and fun start to the day. For me, that short meal changed my mental state. Whereas I had arrived at school that morning a tired and frustrated teacher looking forward to the end of the term, I arrived back in my room an hour later feeling refreshed, invigorated and excited for the day.

Sharing a meal with colleagues can be refreshing. Image retrieved from on 29 April 2016


As educators, we underestimate the importance of taking time out to socialise with each other, and get to know our colleagues without the pressures of listening for the bell to the get to class or playground duty, without the hustle and bustle of students knocking on the staffroom door, or the phone ringing, or trying to contact parents, or complete the never-ending marking.

We are looking to get together for breakfast again in week five of this term, before the insanity that is report writing begins, and I am already looking forward to it. If you have not shared a meal with colleagues, make the suggestion that you all meet up for breakfast, or go out for dinner together. When I was on internship, the Stage Three teachers banked all of their release time for a week into one day and took the day as a collaborative planning day. It was incredibly productive, collegial and relaxed. Share a meal and enjoy getting to know your colleagues. It is good for your mental health and you might just have fun.

Internet Fundamentals Part Two

“The Internet: transforming society and shaping the future through chat. “
– Attributed to Dave Barry

Yesterday I wrote an article about how I had begun to explicitly teach my Stage Two students about the internet, some of the terminology they will hear, how to get the most out of doing searches and some other fundamental skills. Whilst doing some research for the unit of learning I am beginning with my Stage Three students last night, I stumbled across a resource that will make teaching my Stage Two students about the internet a great deal easier than it otherwise might be.

Google has a series of Basic Search Education Lesson Plans broken into three modules, each with three lessons as seen in the image below:

Overview of Google's Basic Search Education Lesson Plans retrieved from on 06/06/2015
Overview of Google’s Basic Search Education Lesson Plans retrieved from on 06/06/2015

This series of lessons is nicely constructed and affords the opportunity to discuss some ideas that I had not even considered, including the very first part of lesson one; asking the students what a browser is. Whilst, yes, there is the presumption that all students are digital natives, and it is true in so far as they are born into a world where digital devices and technology are largely ubiquitous, in regards to their level of familiarity and ability with those same devices, there is a vast array of ability and comfort levels. It is not just those of the older generations who hold some fears of technology.

Having spent some time reviewing the lessons, I think they are a very good fit for my students and a good starting point and will be using them, in conjunction with formative and summative assessment to check for my students’ pre-knowledge and misconceptions using a Kahoot quiz that I have generated based on the lesson.

This is one of the things that I love about teaching now, as opposed to teaching twenty years ago; the internet makes the process of finding resources more efficient, and allows me to draw from a more diverse range of activities than my colleagues in decades past have had access to.

Lip Sync Battle – School Version

“I believe arts education in music, theater, dance, and the visual arts is one of the most creative ways we have to find the gold that is buried just beneath the surface. They (children) have an enthusiasm for life a spark of creativity, and vivid imaginations that need training – training that prepares them to become confident young men and women.”
– Richard W. Riley, Former US Secretary of Education

Wikipedia describes the origins of Lip Sync Battle as a spin off from a segment on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Show, based off an idea hatched initially by Stephen Merchant , and which Jimmy Fallon then developed into a regular segment wherein himself and one or two celebrities, depending on the night, would lip sync two songs each, without knowing the sings that the other had chosen, with the crowd determining who ‘won’ the lip sync battle.

The segment was developed into a weekly TV show in its own right, and has been quite popular in many countries where it has aired. I have been watching it and wishing that I had a class of my own so that I could bring Lip Sync Battle into the  class, as there are a number of skills within Lip Sync Battle that make it a useful alternative vehicle for teaching particular skills and concepts as well as improving students’ self-efficacy.

The competitors, as they are lip syncing, express the emotion and energy of the song through their body language, facial expressions and their energy, which are all skills taught through the creative arts strand of drama. Competitors also need strong resilience and self-efficacy to put themselves up in front of peers and lip sync, which are both key characteristics for getting through life in modern society. There are music skills involved, as the competitor needs to know the lyrics and timing of the song in order to successfully and realistically lip sync it, as well as have an understanding of the timbre of the music as that will influence their body language and facial expressions.

A conversation with one of my colleagues last week has created a situation where we will be running a Lip Sync Battle for our Stage Three students in a range of categories; Battle of the Sexes (boys v girls), Individual Championship, Age Before Wisdom (Year Five v Year Six), and the option for a Team Event if there is sufficient interest. I would also like to see a Teacher Competition but I am not sure whether that will happen or not.

We showed the below trailer to Stage Three students on Friday (July 31) to generate some interest, with the promise that more information would be forthcoming. Rather than have every battle as a live version, the first round of battles will be pre-recorded videos that have been submitted.

All performances will be recorded, and if students give their permission and have publishing permissions, then their video will be uploaded to YouTube. I will utilise the hashtag #PCPSLipSyncBattle on any videos or tweets that I make for this competition. I would love to hear from you if you are doing something similar with your class, or even across the Stage group or the school, what the reaction has been from students and teachers and the wins and difficulties you have faced.