Students: Problem Solvers

During a lesson this week, we encouraged students to help us with a new technology tool we knew would help us publish and celebrate the end of our unit. What transpired motivated students and gave them so much ownership.

At the end of the day, when we asked what the best part of their day was, the students enthusiastically shared that lesson, when they were the problem solvers.

These experiences, are teaching us many things and I have a long list of the learning that I believe happened:

That nobody knows it all.

We are finding solutions together and can rely on each other’s expertise.

We should not be complacent and use only the tools we are familiar with.

There is strength is collaborating, using the know how that individuals in the room have.

That we are working as a team.

Listening to each other’s ideas.

Trying things out in different ways: when we did that we realised the first and second methods did not work, we tried a different way.

About patience, reliance, humility and trust.

In the physically distanced room, it felt like a community, the quote “It takes a village to raise a child,” came to mind.

The students were being exposed to a life-long and authentic experience which should be transferable and motivating.


Curly Locks

What does curly make me think about? Hair.

Well if I am to call my locks curly that would really be interesting, but I just do. My hair is tightly curled and ends up being thick and unmanageable. The thought of running a comb through it used to put me right off.

I sometimes tell my friends my hair is like a carpet: tightly woven, taut and dense. I so love my natural hair now, untouched and full of love.

When we were in our early twenties we straightened those curls which made the kinky turn silky. It was rather easy to comb and style. It harmed the natural beauty I know, as the hair line got brittle and sometimes shed like leaves.

As the years went by and the chemicals had done their damage we donned shorter hairstyles, that was the trend. We still styled, artificially curled and dabbed it with different creams.

I will not exchange my fifties natural curls now. Untouched, dotted with grey and softened by my daily pat of shea butter and natural oils!


Notebook Celebration

This evening’s celebration is because of a considerable feat: the last leaf of my very first ‘official’ Notebook.

This has been an enjoyable ride till Day 79 of my ‘100 days of Note booking.’

Some days, I felt really empty and other days I was rather full. Full of words, ideas and innuendos.

I owe my commitment to my Teach Write colleagues and to M for the workshop and guidelines for the newbie I was.

Starting off thinking my notebook had to be perfectly manicured, I even dared to draw a few illustrations. Some of my drawings were renditions, others from my imagination, those interestingly turned out quite well.

Tomorrow, will be my day of cracking open my next (official) Notebook, hopefully it will be another enjoyable ride starting on Day 80.


Work and Rain

My prompt for day nine was to use these words ; birch, salt, drip and wing for a scene.

What I loved about the ten day challenge was the time limit, to write. #10mins10days

Large tears of rain suddenly started falling, we knew it would rain when the skies had darkened from a distance and the darkness was slowly moving towards us. As we walked hurriedly from work towards the station, nobody stopped to chat, it was a swift wave at the regulars along the pavement. The newspaper seller looked disappointed as his customers totally ignored him, in their hurry to catch the train and dodge the rain.

The birch tree was shelter for many on rainy days. People would gather for a few minutes to avoid the rain, but today the ‘drip, drop’ of the rain pushed everybody towards a better shelter. 

The station master who normally greeted everyone in a loud butch voice was mute this evening. He had his work cut out. Moving the wet crowd along and keeping them moving. He had on a yellow raincoat that had wings. They looked like massive elephant ears, as he waved the wings moved. Actually, that helped him direct the passengers along. The rain continued falling heavily, causing puddles at the edge of the station floor. 

The floor tiles were getting muddy and slippery. The station master shouted to the guards: 

“Pass the salt!”

They all looked at each other.

“What would he be doing with that?” They smirked. 

He knew the salt would help make the floor less slippery. He poured batches of salt and spread it all over the edge, quickly.

That seemed to help keep his moving clients proceed quicker. Soon his job would be done. At the end of the rush hour, when he would take that heavy yellow plastic off and have a large cup of tea, for a well deserved break.


My First Etheree: Zoom

My first etheree had to be simple. Interestingly, I noticed it sort of made sense reading it in reverse.


It is


Can be draining

When you have worked hard

In the morning with them

Instructing, interacting

On Wednesdays when we are all here

Joining break-out rooms expecting them

To participate in conversations


My Weekend in Five sentences

Who ever thought that a teacher’s work starts and ends in the school building?

Of course, this weekend was packed with work, I had a tall list to tackle.

On Saturday, my PD on Zoom was exceptional, I am loaded with tools and strategies to attack my planning and teaching of writing.

I came up with an excuse and ordered the best chicken and bacon salad in town.

After my daughter’s revision lesson, during pick-up, I was able to steal a masked chat outside with a couple of parents.



Reading with my local group of students, on Zoom yesterday, my colleague decided to begin with a riddle.

One of the children read it aloud, this sparked them all up. I was glad to see a screen full of lively, passionate children, each of whom wanted to share their solution.

Of course they had similar answers, some of them thought deeply and came up with more complicated combinations of ideas to solve the riddle.

The very quiet, passive students popped up, very animated and had the hands up reaction on.

This has never happened before, with so many students wanting to share at the same time. Siblings prodding each other and having their own discussions before unmuting.

As an observer, I was excited to notice the interest the children showed in trying to find solutions.

Could it be because the riddle had a familiar subject, animals and something they have experienced before?

We question and reflect, especially when the response to our delivery causes a different reaction. Before sharing the answer with the students, my colleague mentioned the examples that were closest to the right answer.

I took the opportunity to share with the students how I solve such problems: by drawing the steps, I explained. I pretend the story is a movie and draw it to help me process what is happening. My colleague said she also visualises the story.

We concluded by stating that all the methods help readers monitor their understanding of any text, especially when the story or text is long or complicated just like our riddle.


This Week: 5 4 3 2 1

I found this structure from my TeachWrite Notebooking group earlier this year:

It is a very good way to reflect on your week and yourself, looking ahead

with purpose.

5 things that made me smile

My students’ words

Being with students face to face and starting to enjoy teaching ‘physically’ again.

On screen messages from my boys

My power walks with K

Friendship with colleagues: We had a brief masked birthday party, danced a little, ate a yummy cake and worked!

4 words to describe my week






3 things I plan to do this weekend

Enjoy my healthy food

Work: I have an all afternoon PD

Write: I have many writing groups and some challenges to fulfil

2 things I learned this week

‘Silence is golden’

That you can’t do everything or take on all the load.

1 goal for next week

To be positive and give myself the opportunity to notice “stars.”


My Dear Friend Jo

A deleted WhatsApp message refreshed our friendship!

My friend Jo did not know which Julie it was. She told me later she was sending a message to another friend called Julie and realised she had sent it to me by mistake and deleted it, quickly.

Well, that was how our one hour conversation started when she phoned later.

I met Jo for the first time a couple of years ago at a seminar. I had watched her on a local Television program and thought what a dynamic lady she was.

Jo was one of the leaders at the seminar.

At the end of the meeting, on the windy morning, she saw me off. It gave us the opportunity to stand outside and enjoy the breeze. We stood chatting for over an hour. We have a lot in common and conversed moving from topic to topic.

The phone conversation was just like the previous time we met. She indicated she had thought about me recently.

Our conversation went on and on and was like a junction with many turnings. We drew from each other, sharing ideas, topics and solutions.

That was a real treat and welcome reunion, for my morning, (although we were miles apart).


Hello Teacher, Hello Mum

“Hello Ms. Juliette,” beamed from the lady whose eyes shone above the mask.

It was the end of a school day here, in the scorching heat after the long flight down the stairs, from our third floor tower.

Our route down the narrow stairwell at the side of the building, cleverly earmarked for second and fourth grade students, to keep us socially distanced.

Following the green arrows plastered on the pavement, that takes us to the assembly area for each grade: I trotted to my station along the raised paved path where students walk in line to their cars.

On my trot, I heard a faint, “Hello Ms. Juliette.”

I stopped and noticed my student, with a woman that looked like his mother, (a parent I have chatted with on Zoom a couple of times) and his sister.

This is the first week of face to face school, it is also the first time his mother has seen me, away from the screen. I’m sure O had tapped his mother;

“Mum this is Ms. Juliette.”

Mother had a smile in her eyes and whispered daintily, “Thank you Ms. Juliette.”

As sweet as her son, I could tell where he acquired his passion and love of people and school.

It was a few seconds and a few words but that meant everything. I waved, mimed, “thank you too” and ran off for my duty.