Trumpet Blowing



Thanks to Mr Kemp, this week I have reason to blow my own trumpet ! He included me in his list of top 50 MUST FOLLOW educators from Asia!

Last night I shared my ‘achievement’ with a colleague. She inquired, “What did you do to make the list?” When I think about it, I’m not really sure! Although, I am proud to say this year I have seized the opportunity to grow my PLN and share often on twitter, yet so do so many other teachers! So, why me? Surely there are other more worthy educators in the twittersphere, out there?!

I now feel the need to blow the trumpets of the other inspiring educators I believe deserve recognition. The folk I have in mind are way too humble to share their greatness with the world!

Here’s a few of my colleagues that are on ‘MY LIST’ of AWESOME EDUCATORS I feel other teachers will also learned from.

  • @apmango is an experienced and very dedicated Early years teacher who sets up thoughtful provocations for play in her learning space for 3-4 year olds. Amy is passionate about nature and finds creative ways to use natural materials. Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 4.31.54 PMIf you join Facebook Group: The Reggio Emilia Approach, you may find her sharing tidbits of wisdom there!
  • @mmatias is my wonderful, calm and patient Edtech coach. She is passionate about learning ways to innovate with technology. She is the one who gives me the confidence to feel empowered with tech, to take on new challenges in my teaching and learning. She gently nudges me out of my comfort zone, and supports me to push myself into my ‘stretch’ zone. (For example, she encouraged my ‘Becoming a Networked Educator’ presentation at the recent Vietnam Tech conference.)
    • Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 4.36.28 PM.png
    • @mjslaughter My buddy Mindy, has like-minded, innovative ‘rebel’ PYP WSL mindset. Her Grade 4 class and my Kindergarten class are buddies and our kids regularly learn so much from each other. I feel the urge to share this: The Hundred Languages- A Maker’s Mindset
    • @ang_meikle  Is the best PYP coordinator ever! So professional, so knowledgeable, yet so good at being humble! With such a positive attitude, so full of gratitude.Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 4.55.43 PM

    I know there are many excellent teachers who say they are too busy to spend time on social media. Or some are content to stay ‘lurking’ yet do not realize just how awesome and inspiring they really are. ‘Tis a real shame that so many educators are yet to discover the power of a #PLN. Here’s a link to a padlet if  you know anyone who wants to  learn more about how to use Twitter to make global connections. Please share and/or add links to resources.

    We, who have joined the #ibrebelalliance, already have the confidence to share our voices on twitter and via this blog, so I encourage you to ‘speak out’! I wonder: Who are the quiet achievers in your school? If you were to create a Top Educator ‘list’, who’s trumpet would you blow? And Why?


Yellow Hat, Black Hat, Red hat

Greetings from my bed! It is 7 am on a Sunday morning. Yes, I do wake up early! I’ve been laying here, just thinking about this time last week.  This time last week I was in HCMC, eating breakfast with TeacherTom’ ! 

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Are you wondering ‘Who is ‘Teacher Tom?’ If you are interested in Early Childhood education, I recommend you check him out! He was the keynote speaker at last weekend’s Early Years Conference at Saigon South International school, and  my opinion, he is a wonderful example of a ‘rebel’ educator.

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Exactly one week ago, I was feeling rather nervous. ( I was presenting my ‘Voice choice and Agency, What do teachers ‘do when children play’?workshop) I had put in a lot of thought, time and effort to create a workshop where teachers could have PD agency.

I am very happy to share these with any interested Early Years Educators:

  1. A link padlet for other early years educators to add images, article, wonderings
  2. Choice Voice Agency – Link to Google slides I shared this with participants
  3. Padlet to add your examples of Learner Agency (3-6 yr olds)

On Monday morning, I returned to UNIS Hanoi, to 18 little eager faces, feeling inspired, tired, yet keen to implement some of the playful ideas I’d just learned at the conference. However, I was feeling under pressure. I had just 2 days to prepare my kids for their Student Led Conferences.

I sat with each child, ready to help them be reflective. So with the red, yellow and black hats in hand, I scribed their thoughts. What are you proud of? What compliments do you give yourself? What are your challenges? What can you do now that you couldn’t do at the beginning of the year? Look at the IB Learner Profile- which ones are you already good at ? What are some things you cannot do yet that you want to learn? What is challenging for you? How do you feel about your learning? Are you happy at school? Why? 

After school on Monday I posted this on twitter:

Tuesday morning I found this reply: ( Oops, excuse the typos !)

The #SLC’s on Wednesday in K2C were successful. I felt a great sense of pride as I watched/listened to the parents learn from their five and six year old ‘teachers’!

On Wednesday night, I joined the #KchatAP Twitterchat. The topic was Student Led conferences in the Early Years, so I shared this iMovie of How to prepare for SLC’s with my #PLN in the twittersphere.

As I said before,  it is Sunday morning and I am still in bed, reflecting on my week ! I am reflecting on my own successes, challenges and feelings about my role as a teacher, and as a workshop leader.  I’m using the coloured thinking hats to think about my own learning/teaching. ( If 5 yr olds can be reflective using DeBono’s thinking hats, so can  grown ups!) Yet- right now I’m wondering: Why is it so hard to compliment yourself- without feeling like ‘blowing your own trumpet’ ? ! ? !

My Yellow Hat- compliments

  • Being a risk taker- by leading a workshop at Early years conference @SSIS #EYC2018.
  • empowering my students to independently teach parents during Student Led conferences
  • organizing a meeting for others who attended #EYC2018 @SSIS, to plan how to share the learning from Teacher Tom
  • contributing to #KchatAP twitterchat
  • registering for Webinar: Learning and teaching in the enhanced PYP
  • encouraging others to join me bringing back the Social in Social Media #PDPubAsia
  • starting to read The Innovator’s Mindset, by George Couros.

And- this feedback from my workshop participants made me feel proud too !

I liked that this session included a lot of participation. At the same time, I left wanting to learn more ideas and best practices directly from the presenter.
The presenter has given a variety of tips to evaluate yourself as an educator.

I also received a Gratitude Card from my boss ! She wrote: ‘With sincere thanks for representing UNIS Hanoi at the #EYC and for so willingly sharing  your learning with others. Your commitment to investing in the professional growth of others and giving back to the teaching professional is truly appreciated.’

My Black hat-  Challenges.

Teacher Tom has prodded me to think more about:

  • Risky Play  Teacher Tom said, You can’t define play without talking about risk taking. Tell parents to expect their kids to come home covered in paint, blood, and snot !” ( Hmm.. wonder if I’m rebel enough to actually say that out loud at parent orientation?)
  • Are the problems today due to lack of play? Teacher Tom defines play as “a freely chosen activity!” Teacher Tom said. “True play is open ended. Play is what kids do when adults don’t tell them what to do.” So, why do I still feel guilty when I let the kids have ‘free choice’ ?
  • My most challenging student  ( Yes, The one who’s mother I blogged about in my last post).  Do teachers have to control children’s emotions? Quoting Teacher Tom: ” Let your feelings flourish and get on with your life of doing. Children are the masters of that. Emotions have a beginning, middle, end. Let kids feel full emotions, allow them to cry.” Why do we teach children not to trust their own feelings? The only person who is an expert of feelings is the person him/herself.
  • Commands Why give kids unnecessary commands? 80% of words adults say to children are commands. (This week I have been very mindful of the instructions I give to my students. Yes, It sure is challenging to not boss kids around!)
  • Tidy Up Time after a free play session, is probably the biggest challenge! I feel myself getting frustrated when I see the child who made the mess, just standing there, not helping and letting classmates to the clean up!  I keep saying to my self ‘Teacher Tom’s words:“It is only our adult sense of justice who says all the kids should help.” and tried to implement Teacher Tom’s Tidy Up Time tips. “Give ownership if we want children to take care of things. Don’t be bossy. Give informational statements. Focus on supportive behaviour. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. ” As tweeted:”be conscious of the language you use with children. Instead of using commands use informative statements. Commands put children in a position of either obeying or disobeying. We want to nurture citizens who can self govern.”
  • Teacher Questions Teacher Tom says “Most questions teachers ask children are stupid questions!”( e.g.What colour is that? ) Why do we turn kids from being testers of the world, into test-takers.” My challenge is now to try to NOT ask questions I know the answer to. and replace my questions with “I wonder statements’
  • How can I inspire others at my school to also learn from ‘Teacher Tom’?
  • Finally, as the school year is coming to an end, I can’t stop thinking about the challenges of assessment and reporting! I must  follow the essential agreements that are documented in the teacher handbook . I’m feeling the tension between what ‘my school administrators and team members say I must do Vs. my gut feeling of wanting to be more play-based, like ‘Teacher Tom”! How can I confidently be more of a ‘rebel’?

My red hat- feelings

  • I’m feeling proud!  I’m feeling tense ! I am feeling excited! I’m committed! Im feeling tired, yet inspired!


Now, I am challenging others in our #ibrebelalliance to reflect on their week, using yellow hat, black hat, red hat thinking!




Author: cathconnects

I’m an expat Aussie, teaching PYP to 5 and 6 year olds at UNIS,Hanoi. PYP Workshop leader. Wannabe geek. Love travelling!

How do you say what a parent doesn’t want to hear?

A few weeks ago I had a very uncomfortable conversation with a mother of one of my kindergarten students. During the school day her child was involved in four separate incidents where he needed reminders to calm down, to play safely, respect his classmates and teachers. ( An example: This child was threatening to stab a classmate with scissors and then ran away when asked by our teacher assistant to put the scissors down). I explained to the child I would need to talk his mother about this after school.
So, when I shared what had happened, instead of supporting me, the mother sat her child on her lap, gave him a big cuddle, and then glared at me and said, “He is only 5 and you expect him to behave like an adult!” She accused me of “always picking on her child” and then continued to say: “You wouldn’t know because you haven’t got any children of your own.”This comment has been on playing on my mind ( and replaying over and over again)! Yes, it is true. I have never been a parent so I don’t really know what  it feels like to have such a strong bond/ love for one child. However, I have been teaching young children for over 30 years now, and think I do know when a child ‘stands out’ as being a little extra special and I believe it is my duty to communicate honestly with the parents of children I teach.

I connect with Victoria Prooday ‘s perspective that there is a silent tragedy developing right now, in our homes, and it concerns our most precious jewels – our children  What are we doing to our children 

I wish I had seen Prooday’s article earlier ! She says: “Today’s children are being deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood…..Instead, children are being served with….

  • Indulgent parents who let kids “Rule the world”,
  • Sense of entitlement rather than responsibility,
  • Endless stimulation, technological babysitters, instant gratification, and absence of dull moments

Do you agree? What is the perspective of teacher parents vs teachers who have not had children?

Right now I’m thinking about the Reggio Emilia ‘Image of child‘ concept. In Reggio Emilia, the ‘image of a child’ views young children as strong, capable, competent, and full of potential. However, in this particular case I feel the parent of this 5 year old has a very different image of her child compared to mine. This leads me to wonder:  How does a parents’ image of a child influence how the child learns? and What if the parent’s image of child differs greatly from the teachers?

In reference to the IBPYP ‘Learner Agency’, I’m keen to find out more. How do other Early Years educators help children of ‘indulgent parents’, the ones who ‘stand out’ as needing extra support to develop resilience, self management skills and social and emotional skills.

So, to my experienced fellow #IBrebelalliance educators in my #PLN. I’d love to know what you think.  How do you say what a parent doesn’t want to hear?

Connections, Confessions and Reflections

Thanks for joining me! I’m Cath! I’m an International School Early Years Educator, a PYP workshop leader and I’m a wannabe geek. I’m excited by how technology enables me to make global connections and I recently presented my journey on becoming a Networked Educator at the Vietnam Tech Conference. From Lurking to Collaborating

This year my #oneword2018 is CONNECT, so I’m taking risks, and discovering ways to make global connections, in as many ways as I can. Its becoming very addictive!

Confession time: It’s my Spring Break. I’m physically away from school but my brain is still in teacher mode. I’ve escaped the Hanoi chaos and smog and come the beach to soak up the fresh air, sunshine and sounds of the sea. My aim was to just relax for a few days, find a peaceful chill out place to recharge the batteries. Unfortunately, I cannot, CANNOT switch off my brain! I am constantly thinking of work, school, my profession, my role as an early years educator.

Second confession: I am an addict! Yes, I behave more like a teenager, using most spare moments looking at my iPhone, frequently checking Facebook and Twitter. I’m addicted to Social Media !

More confessions: I feel like an imposter. Although I add to my school’s weekly blog, I really don’t know what I am doing with this brand new WordPress site I have created. I follow @makinggoodhumans on Twitter, and when I saw Taryn’s call for IB people who are interested in being part of a shared blog, I signed up. I love the idea of  a place for to share/celebrate risks, big&small, in the ways they’re pushing boundaries in pursuit of  I’m excited to be just ‘One Voice’ of this new  #IBrebelalliance .

IMG_5800I teach at UNIS Hanoi, and as part of our professional development, we all choose a Teacher Inquiry. I wanted to find out about the new PYP enhancements and implement more student agency in my kindergarten classroom. Here are my reflections and connections 

I have volunteered to lead a workshop at an Early Years conference on 14th April and yes, here comes another confession! I am not yet prepared for it!

Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 11.02.16 PMThis might look professional, but I wrote this workshop proposal months ago, following an inspiring PD with Fiona Zinn. Now I am feeling that imposter syndrome kicking in. At least I am modeling how to be a risk-taker!

I intend to give the participants advice on how to look for learning when children play, however, I must confess: I don’t always practice what I preach! I regularly ‘preach’ about how children learn best through play, yet I rarely use playtime to look for the learning! When my own class of 18 students are happily and independently playing, I seldom use this opportunity to listen carefully, or observe closely. I tend to take lots of videos of students during play to capture ‘student voice’, (with the intention of watching/listening once the kids go home) in order to inform my next steps for teaching, but honestly after a busy day,  Im tired! Although I often create iMovies to share with parents on the weekly class blog, I rarely take the time to really listen to individual student voices and seldom use this kind of documentation to inform my teaching.

Right now my mind is busily trying to organize next week’s workshop into 90 minutes worth of relevant, significant, engaging yet challenging and playful provocations and learning engagements for an unknown quantity of Early Childhood educators that I do not know! I also intend to provide opportunities for the adult participants to make choices, share their thinking, feel comfortable with being out of their comfort zone and experience learner agency.

So, now I think I my workshop title should be: It’s OK for teachers to not always practice what they preach OR  It is OK to make mistakes, try new things and share the challenges of teaching young children.