What’s your go to dinner on a Friday night? Do you whip something up or, like many families around the Australia (including mine) the end of another busy week is a good excuse to get a take away. In the little town I grew up in we were limited to fish and chips, dimmies and chiko rolls, pizza (not delivered), or Chinese. Getting pizza delivered TO MY HOUSE still blows my mind. And it turns out, the Ancient Romans were partial to a take away too.

This week, on Thursday November 11th, we remember those men and women who sacrificed for their country. Those who served, those who administered to the sick and injured, those who knitted, baked, donated and raised funds, those who waited for their loved ones to come home, those who were filled with grief when they didn’t, and those who welcomed home loved ones only to find a stranger had returned in their place.

Recently my eldest, B1, was diagnosed with dyslexia. His reading and writing has been something of a concern since he began primary school, and there hasn’t been a year that I haven’t gone in to the school to raise concerns with his teacher. Since he got his diagnoses I’ve joined some Facebook groups to support parents and the question, ‘how do kids leave school not being able to read’ is one I’ve seen come up.

But, if you’re a teacher, it’s not that surprising.

Ah, it’s that time of year again when it’s not alarming to see bones scattered in your neighbours front garden, and children start salivating of the lollies they’re going to collect. It does seem incongruous celebrating Halloween in Australia – there is nothing remotely spooky about a warm spring evening – but of course Halloween has travelled to us from a time and place not our own.

Three types of people baffle me. People who say they don’t have time to read, people who don’t like magic, and people who say they find history boring. 1. Always prioritise reading over housework, 2. Magic is literally the impossible made possible, and 3. How can the story of the world and everything in it be boring? Answer, it can’t!

Of course, the way we’re taught history can be boring…

Your worth as a teacher is not measured by how tired you are. It’s not measured by the number of projects you take on for the school. It’s not measured by that creeping feeling of desperation you feel as ‘report writing’ gears up. It’s not measured by how often you say yes to your principal, or colleague. Spending the first week of the holidays run down, sick and sick-of-it, is not a badge of honour.

So, why do we do it to ourselves?

If you ask my mother-in-law (who is one of the loveliest people I know, but not a woman to mince words) Day Light Saving is a scourge on farming communities – particularly dairy farmers like her (before she retired). Not only does it take the cows a couple of days to get into the new routine (don’t laugh. You try waiting on a bunch of cows at five in the morning) but just as the mornings are getting light, you’re plunged back into darkness again.

There’s nothing like that feeling (is it pride, or accomplishment, or honest relief?) of looking out over a classroom engaged students. Sometimes that feeling can be all that gets you through the rest of the week without taking a mental health day, and staying home with Dr Phil and a tub of ice-cream. And of course, we want our students to be engaged because its good for them too. It means they interested, switched on, and learning. But often we hear people, both inside and outside of education, conflate engagement and fun.

But our students don’t need to be having fun, to be engaged.

I was explaining to my kids the other day that when I was in primary school, we only had one TV. It was set up on one of the walls in the juniour block corridor, and when our teachers wanted us to watch something like an educational program on the ABC, or a video about Stranger Danger (did we call it that, then?) we’d all shuffle out there and sit on the floor and watch. Luckily for you and I, for most schools in Australia those days are gone and we have all manner ways of integrating multimedia and videos into our lessons. In fact, sometimes the problem is not finding how, but what to show our students, which is where being able to make your own videos can come in handy.

Part of teaching is assessing. It’s not the best part – that is special morning tea day in the staffroom – but it’s an important part because without assessment neither you, nor your students, know where and how they’re improving. And for me the humble rubric is the champion of assessment tools. Let me tell you why (come on, you knew this was coming).

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