How is your teaching, classroom or school positioned to help your community? 

Teachers and staff who are mostly new to the classroom have multiple goals to prioritize- classroom management, assessment, teaching strategies, differentiation and many more.  As the world changes and moving toward unpredictable and innovative directions, it is inevitable that we teachers add to the priorities, or even change the priorities we once had.  The world now demands for something greater and our skills and interests should also develop in such a way that we don’t just help solve issues in the classroom and school but also help address concerns of the society and the planet.  This is why I decided to have a new conviction- to Go Green.

Little things I take for granted:  I feel that for the past years, I haven’t been very practical about my teaching. My belief was to get whatever resources and whatever it takes to help the students and the teachers inquire.  Yes, I was into printing and photocopying numerous graphic organizers (both in A4 and A3 papers), articles, practice sheets, differentiated assessments and other classroom materials.  Am I a part of a culture or generation that can’t live without the 2 P’s- printing and photocopying? (Yes, I’m the type of teacher who panics when the photocopying machine and the printer are not working.)  I often asked myself how a low-budget school can afford this kind of teaching or how great teachers can teach without using so much paper or even electricity.

Yes, our world is experiencing rapid and disturbing political and environmental changes and here I am, unable to think long term.

A Unit on Energy: I and my Grade 4 class inquired on the different forms of energy, conservation and sustainability.  We got to learn about the alarming state of our planet, issues about renewable and non-renewable sources or energy, pollution and CO2 emissions, other consequences such as child labor and political wars and what organizations and individuals are doing about it.  What really inspired me to Go Green was learning about the different Green Schools especially in India and in Thailand.  These are local and international schools that truly care for their communities and the planet.  They truly act upon their learning— with or without sufficient or perhaps similar resources other international schools can afford. We don’t need to be super experienced teachers or be part of the world’s most respected schools or organizations to make a difference- we just really need to act.  The unit on Energy was very meaningful and inspiring for all of us; however, if we want to start making waves, it is not enough to just inquire and finish a unit.  Having a sense of social responsibility involves commitment, sustainable actions and inspiration.  I’m not saying we make radical changes in our teaching practices and in our lives (or maybe we do?). I’m merely calling for individuals to empathize for our society by making the conscious effort to do what we all can- big or small- to save and conserve. Small measures go a long way!

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I now believe that a part of becoming a great teacher is having the empathy and concern within and outside the classroom.  It’s also having a deep connection with others, with the past, present and the future.  How is your teaching, classroom or school positioned to help your community?  Or even the world?

The SY 2014-2015 challenge for me:

  • Educate myself further and others on why and how we could Go Green
  • Be mindful of my actions and decisions (no matter how small they may seem)
  • Help build a Green Classroom culture where students initiate actions
  • Initiate Global Green projects and collaborate with other classes and schools



Share Your Goals With Your Students!

We all know that goal setting is an integral part of our profession.  There are different ways of setting goals and different paths of reaching them.  I think however we do it, the first important step is to reflect where we are and understand why we are setting a particular goal.

Goal Setting Tool Im Currently Using:  What is Happening in Your PYP Classroom

So that’s what I do.  I choose one aspect that I want to improve on, set action plans and reflect again.  At some point, Id feel successful because I see myself improving.  However, I felt something was missing.

I thought- I make goals to improve my teaching, but how can it be just about me when I’m in class filled with these little people.  So this year, I tried a different approach.  I shared my professional goals with my students.   Of course, not all professional goals can be shared with the students, but why not do it with those goals that you can share? This time, it’s not just me working to reach my goals, it’s my whole class.  We started to have a more accurate picture of who we are and we all feel responsible moving toward the next level.   Doing this has more positive inputs for me and the class, like modelling how to set goals, reflecting and showing more cooperation.   There is more ownership for our learning and goals.

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Haha, the level of honesty of the kids is just too cute! But it’s a more accurate picture of our performance and the reflections showed how we are all willing to improve.  After all, their stars are my stars.

Are you a “Jugaad” in the Classroom?

I’m currently reading a book called Jugaad Innovation, authored by Radjou, Prabhu and Ahuja.  “Jugaad” in Hindi means ingenious solutions to problems or turn adversity into opportunities.  The six guiding principles behind the Jugaad Innovation are a)  seek opportunity in adversity, b)  do more with less, c)  Think and act flexible, d)  Keep it simple, e) Include the margin, f)  Follow your heart.  I’ve seen different jugaad-in-action classrooms and schools all over the world- from the biggest things like having a non-traditional approach to education and starting an education revolution, to the little things like using old mineral water bottles as pencil holders.     Big or small, they equally inspire me to be a classroom innovator.

As I read through the different stories of individuals and companies who succeeded through innovation, this line made an impact on me:

“When you listen to your customers, you merely react to needs; when you empathize with customers, you anticipate their needs; but when you truly love your customers, you surprise them by introducing them to products they can’t even fathom.”–  Mauro Porcini, 3M Head of Global Strategic Design

This made me ask:

  • How often do we surprise our students?
  • What do we do to make our students go ‘wow’?
  • What something new do we do in the classroom?
  • How often do we do something new in the class?
  • How is innovation celebrated in our class?
  • Are there any new ideas we are willing to fight for?
  • What ideas do we have that seem outrageous but are helpful?
  • Have you done anything risky for the betterment of the students?
  • Do we follow our hearts in the classroom?
  • How else do we show our love for our students?


I think we educators should consider ourselves not only as people who facilitate the class, but as artists who are capable of designing and engineering to solve problems, to do something for the marginalized, and to do something…inspiring– not only for our students, but for everyone else who cares.

Maybe the true signs of love for students are not just measured by how much we listen and feel for them.  Love for students is also measured by how we apply creativity in the classroom- to think out of the box and go out of our comfort zone for solutions that will address the issues in the classroom despite limitations, risks and personal struggles.

Are you a ‘jugaad’ in the classroom?

Read aloud with a Twist!


Last March 6, we celebrated the World’s Read Aloud Day with a twist!  My class celebrated it by reading aloud the Indian folktale “How the Summer Queen Came to Kashmir” to a Grade 4 class from an international school in Hong Kong.  The read aloud was done through Skype.  We thought that by reading aloud the said tale, it will help students from Hong Kong know more about the rich culture and places of India.  The other class read aloud poems from the book called Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman.  We had a great time listening to the poems as they read it creatively.

It is the first time that my class had this engagement.  There were challenges like communication, arranging the schedule and the quality of the internet connection.  In the actual read aloud, it was hard to hear and understand each other, but somehow we got through the event smoothly.  Everyone seemed to enjoy, especially the part when my students and the other class were given the opportunity to say hi to each other.  I think in away, my class was amazed seeing other kids from another part of the world.

What I love the most about the engagement is that first of all, it promoted global mindedness by taking part on an event that is celebrated worldwide.  Tanja Galleti, a primary Librarian from an international school in Hong Kong, just twitted about the event.  I replied back as I was interested with it.  She had this wonderful idea of reading aloud through Skype, and I thought that was a good opportunity for my class.  Without her help and initiative, this event would have not been possible.  She was the one who arranged the schedule between me and Andrea Onken, the Grade 4 teacher from Hong Kong, despite her busy schedule.  Of course, much thanks to Andrea as well, as she was also open to do the read aloud with my class.  With this simple interactive activity, we know that we have encouraged reading around the world.


Secondly, I like that we showed that education is border-less.  In that simple 30 minutes read aloud from both classes, my class learned how to observe and listen, how to model certain behaviour from other students from a different country, and how to use technology to help us learn.  That simple 30 minutes was an opportunity for my students to be communicators, to be open-minded, and a chance to develop self-management skills.  That simple 30 minutes gave us the opportunity to have new friends.

Thirdly, I like how the three of us- Tanja, Andrea and I- were all strangers to each other, yet are united by the same aim and love for collaboration, technology and a global approach to learning.  I don’t know them personally, and I’ve never even worked with them before, but this certainly showed that when there is a goal, openness and some sense of familiarity, strangers can be great company.  Thank you Tanja, Andrea and your wonderful students.  More and more educators are collaborating on-line and I believe that this is one of the best practices a teacher could ever take advantage of.  So thank you for all the selfless teachers out there who keep on sharing and sharing and sharing!  It’s a small world after all, and there is this simple girl in India who highly appreciates you all.

Like what I said, simple as the engagement may be, it brought things that are essential to teaching and learning.  Simple effort like this gives an opportunity for us and our students to be internationally minded.  I’m definitely looking forward to doing this again.