38 Years of Teaching Fifth Grade!

38 Years of Teaching Fifth Grade!

Hello everyone,

I used Edublogs in 2017 as part of a teaching assessment at Federation University, Melbourne.  This post follows on from the discussions in ‘Edublogs PLN Course – Using Blogs as part of your PLN’.

I’d like to focus on teaching strategies, and see how this develops,  in relation to building a more permanent PLN around teaching Political Science, Philosophy, History, Literature, and Psychology.

This is a discussion of Todd Whitaker’s ‘What Great Teachers Do Differently: 17 Things That Matter Most’ (book and study guide).

Feel free to comment on any of the sections below.



38 Years of Teaching Fifth Grade 

In small groups of three to five, ask participants to consider the following two points:

(1) Some teachers have twenty years of teaching experience; others who have taught for twenty years have one year of experience that they have repeated twenty times.

(2) Students want to know how much you care before they care how much you know.

On page 5 of the text, there is a description of a teacher who taught the same grade effectively for thirty-eight years. Have participants use the scenarios above and discuss how they apply to this particular teacher. Have groups create a list with three categories: what she knew as a teacher, who she was as a teacher, and what she did as a teacher. Based on the description of this effective veteran teacher, ask participants to brainstorm possible outcomes within each category that would likely have applied to her and her knowledge, passion, and practices as an educator. Participants should be prepared to share these lists with the entire group.

Whitaker, Todd. What Great Teachers Do Differently: 17 Things That Matter Most (Study Guide) (p. 4). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

Quotation – pg. 5 – for discussion:

“I knew a teacher who taught fifth grade for thirty-eight years. She was absolutely phenomenal—the teacher you wish your own children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews could have. Her spark and energy never gave out. One day I asked her how she managed to stay inspired. She replied, “This is my thirty-eighth year teaching fifth grade, but for these students, it’s the first time around.” That teacher brought her skills—especially her people skills—to bear on new experiences every day, and her students reaped the rewards. Whether we teach fifth grade or first, whether we have seventeen weeks of experience or seventeen years, we can learn from her.”


My own response – Effective teaching and the iGeneration, Comments on points 1 and 2

Looking back on my own school experiences…

As students, we were never concerned about our teachers’ education or years of experience. We did, however, notice effective teaching.  We noticed when lessons were engaging.  We noticed when teachers showed genuine concern, (beyond just a report card or an upcoming parent-teacher meeting).  We noticed when they used humor or made lessons practical and relevant to our own experiences.

Having said this, my high school years weren’t influenced as much by technology.  Mobile phones weren’t around and our exposure was limited to weekly touch-typing classes on an old green-screen apple computer.

Perhaps these days it’s more challenging when our students have developed in a completely different way?

What are your thoughts?

I’m drawing on some older concepts here, such as the terms ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’:



In relation to effective teaching, what do you think about this comment, taken from the article above?

“Our students have honed their skills in retrieving and analyzing information rapidly, so why don’t we advise and teach in the same way? Should we wonder why students are bored during lectures that supply information one topic at a time and move at a snail’s pace? While Immigrants grew up learning one topic at a time, everything in order, following a linear and logical progression, but Natives do not think that way. They are adept at jumping from idea to idea as they think of things; they explore their world as burst thinkers. Natives can study with the TV on and their iPod blasting in one ear; they have been practicing these multitasking skills their entire lives. Immigrants often believe that students cannot learn in that sort of environment. It’s another example of the “accent” that Immigrants carry with them.”

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