Tuesday, 30 October 2012

What Makes a GREAT Teacher?

IMAGE: Facebook/Thoughts For Teachers

World Teacher Day was celebrated in Australia on Friday (October 26th).
This got me thinking about the true value of teachers and about the attributes that distinguish a good teacher from a really GREAT teacher.
Professor Robert Lee Madison, Institute Founder of Western Carolina University believes that, ‘The true value of a teacher is determined not by what he knows, nor his ability to impart what he knows, but by his ability to stimulate in others a desire to know.’
This is true of all good teachers. However, I believe that what makes teachers GREAT, is not only about what they DO, it's about who they ARE.
GREAT teachers are BORN to teach. They have an innate passion and ability for drawing out the strengths and talents of their students and inspiring them to WANT to learn.
Great teachers are dedicated to enabling their students to be the best that they can be, and have a way of making each student feel valued and that someone BELIEVES in them.
Astronaut, Sally Ride, shares this story, ‘ When I was a girl, I had a teacher who encouraged my interest in science. She challenged me to be curious, to ask questions, and to think about things for myself. She helped build my self-confidence. All of these things helped me to become a scientist and an astronaut.’
What a wonderful tribute to an inspirational teacher!
IMAGE: bing.com
If I were to name ONE truly inspirational teacher who influenced the course of my own life, I would say, without a moment’s hesitation, that I would look no further than my own father, Francis Joseph O'Hanlon.
As with all great teachers, he taught by example.
Dad was kind, patient and loving. A humble academic, in possession of a fine mind and rapier-sharp wit, he instilled in me a life-long love for singing, writing, and the beauty of the English language.
A man of simple means, he shared everything he had - his time, his knowledge, and his love of learning. As with all great teachers, he inspired his students to settle for nothing less than his/her best.


Image: Facebook/Thought For Teachers

Great teachers CARE, and it shows. The impact and influence of their caring extends far beyond the classroom.
Each year, when the School Leaving Certificates rolled around, our house would become a veritable drop-in classroom for Dad's high school students (for whom he provided – gratis- last minute coaching lessons).

The love and gratitude of his students was evidenced by the smiling, triumphant faces that would roll up to our door on exam results day, excitedly waving their bits of paper – proof that their extra work had, indeed, paid off.
The student guard of honour at his Irish funeral, to celebrate his 64 year life, was a very moving and fitting tribute to a truly great teacher.
He loved his work and his students, and, even though he cautioned his 5 children against entering the teaching profession (3 of us did), he was the first one at school every morning, and the last one to leave in the afternoon!
Image: Facebook/Marie Suk Body Mind Spirit Integration and Healing

My daughter, TNT (The New Teacher) has now taken up the mantle. A born teacher, she wants to make a difference. Having recently returned from volunteer work in a South American orphanage, something tells me she already is. 

Here's to all teachers, everywhere! Ours is a privileged profession, and let's never forget that (to borrow a  quote from 'The Education Of Henry Adams', U.S. author, autobiographer, & historian, Henry Adams (1838-1918):  

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.’  

Insert image: Facebook/Ripple Kindness Cards

Yours in Teaching,

Q: What do you consider to be traits of a GREAT teacher?


HEART OF A TEACHER by Paula Fox:  A short, inspirational movie from Simple Truths:

An Inspirational Teacher Quote Presentation: 

♫  ♫  ♫ ♫  ♫  ♫  ♫ ♫  ♫  ♫  ♫ ♫  ♫  ♫  ♫ ♫  ♫

Sunday, 14 October 2012

'Bullying is NOT OK - NO WAY!'

"There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want, and that they can grow up in peace.’ ~ Kofi Annan
 IMAGE: KESTONE CREATIONS ~ Educational Songs PICTURE: Paul Pearson

Have you ever been bullied?

Bullying is nothing new - it has certainly been going on for as long as I can remember.

My first experience of this type of behaviour was back in the ‘olden days’ when, as a 10 year old, I became what is known as an ‘immigrant’.

My family (Mum, Dad, three sisters, brother, and I) had farewelled all of our family, friends and neighbours in Ireland and England, and set sail for our new life in Australia, where Dad was to take up a teaching post as Head of English Department in a country high school.

Migrants were still rather a novelty in country NSW in those days, and certain students in my new school saw my minority status as an open invitation to tease, ridicule, and humiliate the ‘new kid on the block’.

They repeatedly mimicked my accent, made fun of my English clothing and whatever Mum had put in my lunchbox for the day. I began to hate going to school.

It was a very lonely, distressing, and unhappy time (until they got to know me and we became friends) and to this day, I still cringe, whenever I recall the time that the nun on duty at playtime, rang the bell to command the other children to include me in their games!

IMAGE: coolcarl.com

Bullying then, is nothing new, however, what IS new is the frequency with which we are hearing about this behaviour, and the alarming rate at which it appears to be escalating, in our schools and wider society.

Bullying occurs in many different forms - from verbal, emotional, and racist bullying, to psychological, physical, and  the now, all-too-prevalent, modern day phenomenon, cyber bullying – but one thing is for certain, whatever form it takes, it is NEVER OK!

IMAGE: hispanicallyspeakingnews.com

Mahatma Gandhi once stated that ‘If we want to create lasting peace, we must begin with the children.’

There is great wisdom in this, and education is KEY. 

Parents, schools and wider communities have major roles to play in helping to achieve this. We do it by:
  • Creating and promoting peaceful, safe, and secure environments for children
  • Modelling positive behaviours built on mutual respect, trust, and empathy
  • Setting very clear behaviour expectations and guidelines
  • Helping children to understand and take responsibility for their own behaviour and consequences of their own actions
  • Providing children with coping strategies for dealing with distressing behaviours, if and when they arise.

Looking back with adult eyes, I’m sure the behaviour of that handful of students from my school stemmed more from a lack of understanding than from any conscious malice on their part.

This belief prompted me to tackle the issue of bullying head-on, in  a way that would make it easy for children to understand - the non-threatening medium of song.

Drawing on my childhood and teaching experiences, I set about writing lyrics to address various types of bullying behaviours, including the ever-increasing cyber bullying - with an emphasis on the right of every child to feel safe and protected.

My colleague, Kathryn (Radloff) worked her usual magic with the music, and the result is 'BULLY-FREE ZONE!' - a whole school positive behaviours approach to addressing unacceptable behaviours in primary schools. 

We are very grateful for the support of a wonderful local primary school principal, Mrs Terri Paterson who, together with the parent body, graciously allowed us to work with and record some of their children on the song’s chorus:
Bullying is not OK - NO WAY! It’s never a solution, 

Deal with problems as they rise with conflict resolution. 

Caring isn’t optional, it’s what we all expect; 

Everyone is welcome here, but bullying we reject! 

©Lyrics, Nuala O’Hanlon/Music, Kathryn Radloff. 
All rights reserved.

 IMAGE: Facebook: Live Well Laugh Often Love Always

We are very proud of the students, who have now taken ownership of the message, some even going
as far as writing to a local newspaper to urge other schools to become bully-free zones! 

This is the video we recorded on the day – I hope you enjoy it!

Yours in Singing To Learn,



·      My Radio 2UE interview


·      Bullying In Their Words by TeachHUB.com
·      It’s My School Too - Empowering Bystanders by Cornerstore Media Oz


·      Details (Including Suggested Activities…)
·      Song sample

‘Bullying is a problem borne of dysfunction whereby the perpetrator and the victim are caught in a negative cycle of fear and control. We, as caretakers and educators have a duty to interrupt this cycle and facilitate change through early education and intervention. This song, 'BULLY-FREE ZONE!' addresses the issues in a positive, child-friendly way. It not only provides strategies to help empower the victim, but also raises awareness and accountability in the perpetrator.’ ~ Eileen Condell,