Hi Everyone! It's Christie from My Mum, the Teacher writing our Christmas blog post for 2016!


Teaching is now recognised as one the most stressful jobs one can do. According to Sir Cary Cooper, it is consistently in the top three most stressful professions - "the hours are long and antisocial, the workload is heavy and there is change for change’s sake from various governments". So don't feel bad when people carry on about teachers getting soooooooo many holidays each year. We are given these for a reason - that being to rest, regenerate and re-cooperate! 

Studies have been conducted, and the results are in - to avoid critical burnout and exhaustion, you need to actually use your holidays as a time to break away from work. The holidays are a time to restore physical, emotional and mental energy. Allowing yourself to step away from work altogether means that you improve your mental health and will recover faster from the demands of work when you do return, as you will have a clearer and stronger mind. 

So... HOW can you relax during the holidays? HOW can you escape the work load that has been with your all year? Well here are 10 ways that we feel you can switch off:

1. SLEEP: Turn off the alarm, install blackout curtains and inform your family and friends you will not be available until after 10am! Now, all jokes aside, seriously turn off the alarm and enjoy some lazy morning lie-ins. If you're like me and you are still up at the same time every day, then get up, grab a book, read it in bed and you'll likely find you'll doze off after an hour or so. BUT, if you're also like me and have little people demanding your attention at the crack of dawn, remind them it's holidays - enjoy some pyjama couch time watching morning cartoons, make a cooked breakfast, read some books together. Unless you've booked something in, what's the rush?

2. MAKE A LIST: Say what? Why? Well, as teacher's we're generally souls who like order and the knowledge of what's coming up next. So, make a list of the things you want to get done in the holiday break. It might be odd jobs around the house, baking with the kids, having regular massages, going to pilates, walking the dogs everyday, getting to the gym, meeting friends, organising the photos on your phone/computer etc. Whatever it is, work your way through the list. 

3. ODD JOB TIME: All those things around the home that you didn't get to throughout the year - well now's your chance! Take the time to work on your home - your personal space, or the place you share with your loved ones. Do those little odd jobs like clearing out the linen cupboard, cleaning the windows, planting that veggie garden you've been talking about since winter! 

4. DON'T LOOK AT YOUR EMAILS: It's tough, I know... but once you do it, you'll wonder why you never did before. I'm not saying to wait until the day before you return to check them, but maybe switch them off for 3 of the 5 weeks. Spend our time with family and friends playing games, baking, reading books, soaking in the summer sun! You'll feel refreshed and ready to tackle anything after a few weeks...

5. MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF: It's not a crime to be selfish - teachers are some of the least selfish beings on earth! We are forever giving of our time to our students, their families, our colleagues... this is the time when you can focus on yourself. You might to just lay on the couch or beach for the next 5 weeks, and be totally antisocial - not advisable, but if that's what you need, then do it! I love soaking in a bath, or going for a long walk with my dogs... whatever makes YOU happy, do it!

6. PAMPER YOURSELF: This links in with making time for yourself - personally, I love getting a massage, a mani-pedi, facial - anything that involves someone pampering me! Ask family and friends for a voucher to your favourite day spa, or local beautician. Maybe you want to indulge in some good food... wine... music... all of the above! Again, whatever makes you feel happy, do it!

7. MAKE DATES WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY: Reconnect with the people you love... Give them the time and attention you aren't able to during term. It's important to maintain good, strong relationships, especially when times are good, so that you have the right people around you in the not-so-good times.

8. GET ACTIVE: Start walking every day, or make more time to get to the gym or your local Yoga or Pilates group - whatever it is that you do that reduces your stress, clears your head and aids in relaxation, find time for it in your days. 

9. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS: We often work with our students on this, and teach them that the importance of being in the moment - but we need to practice what we preach. Our mental health is just as, if not the most important thing to work on during the holiday break. However you take time to just be in the moment, whether its through meditation, walking and connecting with nature... 

10. HOLIDAY AWAY FROM HOME: If you can manage it, even a little long weekend away is better than nothing, and encourages you to be in the moment, remove yourself from the clutches of the workplace and enjoy the world and people around you.

From all of the Australian Teachers Blog team, we would like to wish our readers and fellow educators a very safe, happy and restful Christmas and New Year period!

Hi everyone, Alison from Teaching Maths with Meaning back again.

Today I wanted to write to you about routines and how they have saved me during busy times of the year, especially the silly season. This time of year is crazy, the holiday season coupled with the end of the school year for year round schools. Teachers are guaranteed to be exhausted just dealing with 25 kids a day let alone reports, planning, assessment, end of year chaos and the anxiety of changing classrooms or grade levels.

I shutter when I think about my first few years of teaching. With a lack of routine in my classroom (and honestly, being too scared to ask for assistance), the last month was hard work. I was exhausted, burnt out and looking for new ways to engage my class everyday (with very little luck!). The count down was well and truly on for the end of the school year. Then I went and taught in a US school where routines were tight and I grew so much as a teacher. I returned to Australia more confident to deal with everything having a classroom throws at you and with knowledge of how to implement routines.

So finally after 10 years of teaching, I have routines firmly in place where I could glide through reporting periods, work deadlines and most importantly the silly season with a lot less stress than in the past. For me, if I have strong routines I can survive anything!


1. Have a class timetable and stick to it
If you always structure your day so you have morning meeting, then reading, then writing etc. continue doing this. Your students will know what to expect and it makes it easier for you to plan. If you usually do craft activities in the afternoon, plan ahead and do them in the afternoon. I know it sounds silly to point this out but it can make a huge amount of difference to your day!
Around Christmas time you will always have things that pop up so if you are planned ahead not only can you switch and swap where you need to, but you will have something up your sleeve that you can pull out quickly.

2. Start your day the same way everyday
When I discovered morning meeting, it saved my life. Every day I could walk into the classroom knowing that the first 10 minutes was set, the routine was strong and we didn’t change it. If I had a parent come and see me at the last minute, hadn’t quite got myself organised before school, or had to deal with late students, morning meeting was that bit of breather space where I could get myself into the groove of school and student’s knew my expectations during this time. Some students needed this time as a calm down, I’m at school now, time too.

3. Don’t lower you expectations
While students are often exhausted during busy times, don’t lower your expectations too much. You may have to dish out a few more motivational speeches and show a bit more compassion, but across the board, if writing is usually quiet time, keep it quiet time for as long as possible. If your expectation is that children clean up before coming to the floor, continue to enforce it. Being a relief teacher and going into many different classes at different schools over the last few weeks, those classrooms that have continued to have structure, routine and higher expectations are a lot more calm and there are a lot less tears!

4. Do a mini project to keep student’s motivated
At this time of year a project will keep student’s motivated and make things easier to plan for you. It doesn’t have to be about Christmas either, try a passion project, a matrix about celebrations from around the globe, favourite animal or country research. Anything that keeps the students motivated. In maths, fill your lessons with week long investigations into area and perimeter, capacity, shapes – topics that have hands on activities that can be continued day to day. (Head to NZ Maths for great multiple lesson activities). Keep your expectations high on standard of work and noise level, it will pay off big time.

5. Do Christmas activities, but don’t start too early or just integrate
I always tried to avoid the “it’s December, pull out the Christmas book” syndrome. Other than the obvious (I have run out of printing credits), I find you just can’t keep students motivated for week after week doing an activity book. So why not try to start doing a few writing activities or craft activities to tie in Christmas, then move onto an activity style book in the last week when resources are dwindling and excitement is high! I always have a few Christmas writing, maths and art activities that I can pull out anytime.

Do you want to hear from another teacher’s perspective on routines? Head on over to Christie’s blog at My Mum, the Teacher to learn more. 

Lots of sunshine,


Ahhh the silly season is fast approaching, so today I'd like to share 5 simple Christmas ornament crafts for you to do with your children!


1. Paddle Pop Christmas Tree

This is probably one of the most popular Christmas tree decorations because it's so easy to make! All you need are three paddle pop sticks, some green paint, decorations (sequins, buttons, pom poms, glitter etc) and some cardboard for the base. So easy but super adorable!

2. Reindeer Handprint

This is my favourite Christmas ornament for younger students because parents can look back for years to come and see how tiny their children's little hands were. You just need to paint their hands with brown paint and print them onto light brown card. Cut the hands out, laminate then hot glue some googly eyes and sparkly red noses. So cute!

3. Peg Reindeer

How cute are these little guys? All you need are three wooden pegs, a paddle pop stick, some googly eyes, a pom pom and some brown paint. I actually used a hot glue gun as well to attach all of the pieces so that the Reindeer would stay together. I also cut a few centimetres off the end of the paddle pop stick to make the body a bit shorter. They would look so cute all lined up together or hung from the tree!

4. Beaded Candy Cane

Not only is this a fun little activity for younger students, it's also a great patterning activity! You can get bags of coloured 'pony beads' from your local dollar store. I threaded my beads onto a red pipe cleaner. You might even like to provide students with lots of different coloured beads for some variety!

5. Reindeer Photo Ornament

How sweet is this little decoration?! You could either attach a piece of ribbon so that it can be hung in a tree or add a magnet to the back for display on the fridge. For this craft, you'll need brown paint, 4 paddle pop sticks, some brown card, pipe cleaners, pom poms and  googly eyes. I used hot glue to attach all of the pieces for longevity but you could also use plain craft glue.

 So there you have it! Five incredibly easy but very fun Christmas ornaments for you to make as part of your end of year celebrations this year!

We're hosting an end of year giveaway!!! Enter the competition below for your chance to WIN this fantastic pack of teacher resources - each of our teacher bloggers has generously supplied one of their products that is sure to come in handy in your classroom, whether it be for the festive season of throughout the year!

You've got to be in it to win it!

If you aren't the lucky winner, don't forget you can head to our stores and purchase a copy of these, and many more of our fantastic resources!


 Alison Hislop

It is nearing the end of the school year, which means we're all writing reports and already thinking about getting ready for next year.  For those of us who are uncertain of the upcoming school year, it's about applying for a teaching position!  Depending of where you're applying it may be easy or quite a daunting task.  Here are some tips we have learnt along the way!

Please keep in mind that I'm writing from a WA Teacher's perspective and each state may vary in the process.

1. Start Applying Early

I started applying for positions end of Term 3, and I feel like I was a bit behind.  From my understanding, in my area, schools start advertising for the next school year around Term 3.  However, I've noticed there were much more job postings in Term 4.  A lot of them for reference pools and not actual positions, but it is important to apply for these because it is what the school uses if a position opens up unexpectedly during the next year. 

2. Have a CV/Resume Ready

Where I'm from in the states we call them resumes and when I moved to Australia I had to Google CV. There are three major differences between CVs and resumes: the length, the purpose and the layout. A resume is a brief summary of your skills and experience over one or two pages, a CV is more detailed and can stretch well beyond two pages. (For more information about the differences, click here.)

CV is commonly recommended and often times your department will have an example layout to base yours on. I suggest checking yours out to see what they're looking for, but it is your CV and you can cater it to fit you better. Check out some of the downloadable examples: Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Wanneroo Education Network.

If I missed your state and you know of a helpful link, please comment below to let us know!

3. Write a Detailed Cover Letter

Notice the word "detailed," it is vital.  I have been asking my colleagues about cover letters as I have had conflicting thoughts about it.  For WA teachers, it is recommended for your CV to be 2 pages that is very detailed about you as a teacher.  (I was wrong in thinking my 1 page rule to keep it short and sweet, so I had a friend send me her example and amped mine up.)  Make sure you mention your accomplishments, experiences, beliefs and what skills will make you an asset to any school.

I personally like to address my cover letters to the person mentioned in the job advertisement and include the school's name and pool reference number. 

4. Touch Based with Your Referees

When submitting your application it is common to find a section asking for 3 referrals.  Be mindful in who you choose and make sure you let them know you're nominating them as your referral.  I like to choose someone who is my authority (Principal, Deputy) or someone I work closely with (teacher on the same year level).  Luckily, my partner in my year level is also my Phase Leader, which is considered an "authority" position above me. 

My Phase Leader has received emails to complete a reference check form.  I feel confident that she can fill it out with the best information about me because we work so closely together and she truly knows me as a teacher.  This is why I say be mindful of who you choose.  (But make sure to include your Principal(s).)

5. Read the School's Business Plan

Before completing your application it is important to read the school's business plan.  It outlines the jobs of all staff, especially teachers and is detailed in what they're looking for.  I would just send my short cover letter through with my application and wasn't even shortlisted.  I have heard from other principals that the best tip is to make sure you cater to the business plan. If it doesn't, then your application will be looked over. 

6. EMail & Call the Schools

After I apply for schools, I make sure I immediately email the principal, school email or person mentioned in the application.  I only do this immediately because otherwise I would forget.  However, I do think this is important because it gives you a chance to briefly speak with some of those looking at the applications and gets your name out there.  It also shows initiative and can give you a "one up" on another applicant. 

Calling schools is also highly recommended from a friend who was going through this process last year.  She told me to not let the office give you the run around and at least speak to a deputy.  I'm more timid on the phone, but I've tried a few.

7. Stop By in Person

Sometimes it's easier to remember someone when you put a face to a name.  I had a colleague recommend that I take some time to stop by schools in person.  They might give you the run around like with calling, but you may get a chance to simply introduce yourself and speak with someone briefly.

8. Be Positive

I know, trust me, I know how waiting around to hear something and getting rejected can be hard on you and make you more anxious than normal, but you must stay positive! It will eat you up and stress yourself out.  Keep a positive outlook and send the good vibes out! 

9. Prepare for Your Interview

If you're lucky to get an interview, then make sure you get prepared.  Go back to that business plan and reasearch any unfamiliar ideas, programs and process.  Check with colleagues, principals and friends who have gone through the interview process and ask them what kinds of questions they have had.  Yes, you want to be natural, but you don't want to go in unprepared.  Stay positive (again) so that you have an upbeat voice and the interviewer can have a pleasant feeling about considering you for the position.

10. Consider Teaching Regional

Not feeling lucky and no ties keeping you in the city?  Consider teaching regional.  When I moved to this regional area I was in the process of applying for my Partner Visa.  However, I got relief work right away which led to me getting hired full-time throughout the year. Not many teachers go regional, so it is encouraged to do so for a couple years then head back to the city.  You get a different kind of experience, and although I had taught for 5 years previously before more, I feel like I'm a stronger teacher now.

No feeling optimistic?  Have a Back Up Plan!

If you don't get a teaching job for the next year, don't worry and have a back up plan.  It may not be ideal, but to prepare for future applications and be considered for a job the next year you've got to have gained experience.

Relief Teaching

Easiest thing to do as a teacher is work as a relief teacher.  This is what has gotten me almost all my teaching jobs in the past.  It is a chance for you to show your face and have a variety of schools become familiar with you. I've talked with a few principals and they always say they would rather hire someone who is familiar with the school/hire within.  Just make sure you're professional and available as much as possible.  If you're eager to be at their school and have a good relationships with the principal, deputies and teachers, then someone will speak good on your behalf.

I know it isn't ideal, but relief teaching is such a great way to gain that experience needed for a full-time teaching job.  The pay is also quite good, especially in WA, and you will have less stress if you've got something that comes up during the school year. I like my routine in life, but I don't mind the "not knowing where I'll be at tomorrow" worries of relief teaching.  You get over it and don't have work to take home. 

Teach Overseas

This isn't something I've personally experienced in the sense of teaching overseas.  (Only because I am from the U.S. and I don't count my previous years as "overseas.") However, I had a friend who worked for an agency in the UK and did relief teaching for a year.  She said they set you up in a place and the pay was good that she never had to worry.  She always had work and had to turn down work a bit.  She loved it because she was able to take a couple long weekends and travel while she lived there.  

I have a friend who is leaving this year to like and teach in the UK and she's super excited to visit family and travel while working there for a year. 

Tip from a Teacher:

Chantelle at Miss Jacob's Little Learners:
In VIC, we have Key Selction criteria that applicants need to answer. There are usually 5 questions on average, based around curriculum, teaching strategies, assessment, communication, team work and collaboration and maybe even an ICT or Inquiry based question (depending on the school).

Some Helpful Links:

I love teaching poetry - read on to find out why?
I have included some video links and a Pinterest page link at the end of this post. 
(please note the poems by my students are first draft and haven't been edited at all)

A big hello this week from Paula's Place


These are my ten reasons why I use poetry in my learning space

Poetry is enjoyable

Children need to develop a love of poetry, they need to enjoy reading the whimsical nature that most poetry has.  Reading needs to consist of all types of texts and poetry is one of them. 

Poetry increases Vocabulary 

Choosing each word carefully is a skill that develops over time. 
It is a great way to explore alliteration, personification, onomatopoeia, metaphors and similes.

Poetry impacts on other writing

Other text types become richer, as we work on the play of words, meanings and how to manipulate what the reader build as a picture. 

Poetry gives children the freedom to explore

Children don't often choose poetry to read and the more we share and explore the more they want to explore. As teachers we need to build up a selection of poetry to share and just for enjoyment. They make great read alouds.

Poetry helps to show the writing cycle in a shorter space of time

Writing a poem allows for planning - drafting - revising - buddy edit - conferencing - publishing all to occur in relatively short space of time. 

Poetry supports struggling and beginning writers

As the finished product is usually only a few lines - it supports success for beginning or struggling writers. 

Poetry allows for differentiation and point of need

No matter what type f poetry or skill level all children can write or recite some form of poetry. 

Poetry allows us to have fun with words

Poetry doesn't have to rhyme, it doesn't have to be punctuated like a narrative, it can be long and it can be short. 

Poetry needs to spoken with intonation 

Poetry is a great way to practise fluency, voices and to be able to experiment with different presentation styles. it is a great way to help assess speaking and listening. 

Poetry helps us track how language has changed over time

Ye olde poetry is fun to share and compare with what we read today. We don't need to over analyse poetry, but we need to be able to understand it - what better way to get across the importance of understanding your audience. 

Here are some great youtube clips to use in your class

These have always been great books and they now have updated covers....


Here are some books to motivate you - links from Pinterest


Take the plunge and start exploring and having fun with our crazy language. 
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