Day before D-day

The highlight of today’s curriculum day was CBL team planning on the concept of “community”. PLT in each year level huddled up and induced as much creativity possible.  I was introduced to an inquiry-based learning program called Challenge Based Learning (CBL: another acronym to remember), an alternative way of calling personalised learning. It is apparently better than Kath Murdoch’s inquiry-based model due to its emphasis on taking action. I remember back to uni days when we agonised over a subject called Designing Personalised Learning, which was all about student driven learning. Today, I was glad I persisted through that subject. It helped me to speak up.

Although arduous MTeach course prepared me well for this, there were still lots to juggle:

  • iPad protocols and behavioural management policies
  • getting access to edumail, internet, printer and photocopier
  • odd time schedules
  • student stationeries
  • Compass system
  • yard duty rosters
  • staffroom birthday rosters
  • evacuation procedure (particularly if you are nominated as a warden)
  • term planning
  • list of workbooks to hand out
  • student profile
  • and… assessments.

I realised you cannot prepare enough in this career… At the end of the day, I thought I was ready. Fired up, ready to go. That was until I checked my pigeon hole. One new student was to join our class last minute and this meant one more of everything, including laminated name labels for the door, the tub, birthday calendar, job board, etc.

This career is sure teaching me to be flexible and training me up to become a workaholic.


Expect the Unexpected

Last time my muscles ached this much was during my gym phase. I have spent last three days crafting away, laminating, moving furnitures and putting up displays. I’ve even recruited my parents to come and help me because it was actually that intense!

A kind colleague next door acting as my mentor literally saved my life. I only had bare minimal idea of what I needed to prepare at the beginning of the year. She came in on the same day as me and modelled what was expected and even shared her resources with me. I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by a friendly and supportive team.

While my classroom is no where near finished, I would like to share what I’ve achieved so far. Hope this is useful for first year grads starting up just like me. Good luck!

P.S. Ask a lot of questions! The more you ask, you save time and effort: Teachers have no time to lose. I consider myself quite independent yet today I asked someone to show me how to construct a magazine holder. I’m glad I asked as I have 21 of them to make.

Owl themed name labels: (Sourced from teachers pay


Mini stationery station: Sourced from IKEA and Officework

teacher office

Handchair (sourced from eBay)


flower clock

Things I purchased: storage boxes, pencil holders, magazine holders (Sourced from IKEA/They are all reclaimable on tax)


Reading corner: grass carpet and cushions (IKEA), cloud and rainbow display (handmade)

Classroom display

Welcome door display (handmade)

Classroom door

Alphabet Chart to be used as word wall:

Classroom alphabet chart

Birthday cupcakes (sourced from teachstarter)

birthdays and number

Teaching important life lessons using narrative

In my career as a teacher, I wanted to go beyond just teaching kids English and maths and expose them to essential life lessons that I have only come across recently. Coming out of MTeach (University of Melbourne), I realised how much I have missed out on and how better equipped I would be if I learnt these back at school.

So, I thought about the best method of teaching without sounding preachy. One of the approaches I thought of was teaching through narratives and storytelling; this triggered me to collect three sets of books that could facilitate meaningful discussion with my students.

Also, I realised these were perfect books to tackle the added strands in the new Victorian Curriculum replacing AusVELS; metacognition, building resilience and wellbeing have been emphasised.

Here are the three books I have added to my collection:

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett illustrated by Jon Klassen 

Story about an epic journey of digging for treasure and coming out with a change in world view. Themes covered include imaginative possibilities, growth mindset, resilience and having-a-go attitude. 

sam and dave


Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty illustrated by David Roberts

Story about a rebel who does not fit into the traditional classroom structure, finds his niche and becomes a great inventor. It is a great story that teaches kids to become square pegs in a round hole. 




Dust by Colin Thompson

Story that juxtaposes lives of children suffering famine in Africa and negligence of the privileged. Teaches global perspective and builds great awareness through critical literacy. 



Some of the Victorian Curriculum Links:

Ethical Capability

  • Analyse and evaluate ethical issues, recognising areas of contestability
  • Identify the bases of ethical principles and ethical reasoning
  • Engage with the challenges of managing ethical decision making and action for individuals and groups
  • Cultivate open-mindedness and reasonableness.


Personal and Social Capability:

  • recognise, understand and evaluate the expression of emotions
  • demonstrate an awareness of their personal qualities and the factors that contribute to resilience
  • develop empathy for and understanding of others and recognise the importance of supporting diversity for a cohesive community
  • understand how relationships are developed and use interpersonal skills to establish and maintain respectful relationships
  • work effectively in teams and develop strategies to manage challenging situations constructively.


Critical and Creative Thinking:

  • understanding of thinking processes and an ability to manage and apply these intentionally
  • skills and learning dispositions that support logical, strategic, flexible and adventurous thinking
  • confidence in evaluating thinking and thinking processes across a range of familiar and unfamiliar contexts


English:  (Below is based on level 2 but this text can be used at all levels)

Literature and context

  • Discuss how depictions of characters in print, sound and images reflect the contexts in which they were created

Responding to literature: 

Expressing preferences and evaluating texts

  • Identify aspects of different types of literary texts that entertain, and give reasons for personal preferences
  • Personal responses to the ideas, characters and viewpoints in texts
    Compare opinions about characters, events and settings in and between texts



List of children’s books to read

List I’ve gathered from literacy subject from my teaching course I did at the University of Melbourne, to entice students into reading:

WARNING: some of these books can be quite dark but who doesn’t love reading about death?

list of booksPicture books:

  • Alison Lester – One Small Island
  • Anthony Brown
  • Colin Thompson – Fearless
  • Dave McKean & Neil Gaiman – The Wolves in the Walls
  • Istvan Banyai – ZOOM
  • Jon Sciezka – The Stinky Cheese Man & Other Fairly Stupid Tales, Squids will be Squids
  • Li Cunxin – The Peasant Prince
  • Margaret Wild – Fox
  • Neil Gaiman – The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish
  • Shaun Tan’s books- Rules of Summer, Tales from Outer Suburbia, The Arrival, Eric, The Red Tree, The Lost Thing
  •  Tobby Riddle – My Uncle’s Donkey, Unforgotten, Nobody Owns the Moon
  • Wolf Erlbruch – Duck, Death and The Tulip


  • Barry Jonsberg – My Life as an Alphabet
  • Carolyn Coman – Memory Bank
  • Gabrielle Wang – The Wishbird, A Ghost in my Suitcase
  • Morris Gleitzman – Once
  • Natalie Babbith – Tuck Everlasting
  • Pamela Freeman – Victor’s Quest
  • Patrick Ness – Knife of Never Letting Go
  • Rebecca Stead – When You Reach Me
  • Rosanne Hawke – Shahana
  • Ruth Starke – An Anzac Tale
  • Sherryl Clark – Sixth Grade Style Queen
  • Stephen Baxter – Flood

List of 100 fiction books  all children should read gathered from a survey of teachers:–

Embarking on my 1st year of teaching

If there is a perfect word to combine anxiety and excitement, that will be me right now.  Going into your first classroom is like being given a blank canvas to paint on with limited perimeters. I’ve blown my bank account this summer holidays, not from Christmas shopping and boxing day sales, mind you: I’ve been filling my shopping bag with furnitures, classroom decorations, stationeries and children’s books. Pinterest became my new Facebook! I’ve flicked back through my near illegible uni notes as a refresher and it has been quite handy so far. Do I feel prepared embarking on this new journey? Not enough.


This is what I am envisioning how my classroom will turn out:

Reading corner where kid’s can drift into their imaginary land

reading corner

I’ve started a Grade 2 children’s book collection that I bought from Camberwell market for $2-3 each! What a bargain!

children's books

How I would like to organise my shelf… (a bit ambitious on my behalf)


Days when kid’s hold their heads up high

birthday chart

I will let you know how it goes 😉