In this episode of The Learning Network's Community & Family Studies Podcast, I chat about about the methods to my madness. If you've worked with me before you'll know that there's always a reason or a purpose behind what I do and I want to unpack that with you today!
I explain what you guys can do to work more purposefully and make sure you're maximising everything that you have available in your CAFS realm as well as the importance of making purposeful connections across the syllabus and creating lessons with the endgame in mind so your students have the best chance of success when the HSC come around!
I also chat about my free webinar on Thursday February the 17th at 8pm. Head over to thelearnnet.com/results to sign up and I'll share with you my three top tips to improve student results, fast track success, and get you the results that your school wants.
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Episode Intro - Kelly:
Hey everyone and welcome back to The Learning Network Podcast. This is episode number 15. And look, I hope you've had an amazing start to the year. Please let me know how your CAFS crew are traveling, whether they're enjoying CAFS or possibly being challenged by it. I'd really love to hear from you guys. So if you can head over to Instagram @thelearnnet and also Facebook, I'd really love to hear from you guys, send me a DM and let's chat about how your first couple of weeks have been. Gos, the year is flying by.
This week's episode is all about the methods to my madness. And if you've worked with me before, I feel sorry for you, but if you've worked with me in any my offers you'll know that there's always a reason or a purpose for what I do and literally I unpack with you guys today what that might look like. And I know that, look, we have seven terms with our CAFS kids, time is so precious and I want you guys to be really strategic and really purposeful with everything you do inside your CAFS classroom, from now to eternity, until we don't teach CAFS anymore.
But I'd really love for you guys to listen to today's episode, and start taking some action straightaway to be really purposeful about what you do. And make sure you always have that plan of attack with your CAFS crew. So enjoy today's episode.
Next week, I'm actually hosting a free webinar. So if you've got nothing to do on Thursday night, on February the 17th you can join me on my webinar at eight o'clock on how to improve writing and results to fast track to success in CAFS. And look if your HSC results were a bit disappointing and you would have hoped your kids do better or if you're just starting out you want to know what it takes to get really good results in CAFS, I'd really love for you guys to join me next week at eight o'clock. You can head over to thelearnnet.com/results to sign up. And I'll share with you my three top tips to improve student results, fast track success, and get you the results that your school wants. So head over to thelearnnet.com/results for that webinar.
Podcast Intro - Kelly:
Hey, I'm Kelly Bell. Welcome to The Learning Network Podcast. I guide Community and Family Studies teachers, newbies and experienced, through best practice to improve knowledge, increase empowerment and alleviate stress, to help you and your students to make meaningful connections across the course. I will share strategic and purposeful applications from my 16 years experience in the classroom that I have adopted to increase student motivation, enjoyment, engagement and results. Together, we will grow and transform your CAFS crew to the next level without impacting your sleep and wellbeing process. To join my free how to improve writing and fast track results webinar, head to thelearnnet.com/writing. So tune in, get inspired and let's connect, learn and grow together.
Hey, hey CAFS crew. It's been a little while since you heard me in your ears and I've been really loving your comments on Facebook and Instagram but also the emails that you've been sending me about some feedback about the podcast. So huge shout out to Dom from OLMC, Dom I’m really glad that you are listening, sometimes I think I'm talking to myself over here in Killcare and no one's listening, but a huge thank you for listening to my podcast weekly. And I love that you resonated with a couple of my episodes about teacher wellbeing and look, I hope your term has started well and you are protecting your time and wellbeing in the process. And look everything I provide you guys inside The Learning Network is literally about protecting yourself. It's lessons I've learned along the way, in my 17 years of teaching CAFS, but also, lessons I've learned from you. I get to see 1000s of CAFS teachers and also your students and the common mistakes that many of you guys are maybe making or not seeing the value of and especially your students, I get to see the end game I get to see your CAFS students inside my masterclasses, and so I have lots of other opportunities inside the CAFS space.
So this week's episode is all about what you guys can do to work more purposefully, and to make sure that you're maximising everything that you have available in your CAFS realm, in your CAFS journey, but also kind of, I suppose hearing a little bit about the method to my madness. And if you've worked with me, a huge shout out to the Nagle community, as well as the community that I worked with on the Central Coast, you guys kind of got to see me, you know, face to face. You guys got to see me and how I work. There's lots of other teachers that I've coached and mentored over the last two years, certainly, but also over the last 10 or 12 years in CAFS, on an informal basis, I suppose, you guys saw me present at some PL before and then you grabbed my email and then picked my brain. But look, now I actually get to do this full time. So if you're thinking about working with me this year, I only have 10 spots available, about per term. Look, a one on one coaching day takes a lot of energy and I want you know, I want you guys to have the best version of me. So if you want to learn more about my coaching mentoring, you can head over to thelearnnet.com/CAFScoaching. And you get me to yourself one on one in the context of your own school, if you're allowed to have any face to face, or via zoom, in the current climate is probably the best option.
Alright, so today, I always just used this phrase with my students. They will often say “Miss, why are we doing like this?” or “Why are you making us write this certain way?” or “Why are you getting us to colour code our answers?” There was always a reason for it. I wasn't just doing it because I was pedantic or a bit OCD, but there was a purpose for everything. But it wasn't always like that. Many of you guys have heard my story; fresh faced 21 year old and given CAFS class for the first time and Karen, my beautiful coordinator, absolutely trusted me. I started working at Nagle. I did a couple of blocks, a two week block maybe. There was a job coming up at the school, they obviously saw that I was pretty keen and pretty passionate about teaching PE and I went for a full time job at the school and lo and behold, I got the job straight away, my first full time position I went for. I was scared crapless in my interview and I went home that afternoon, we only lived really close to the school, which was kind of nice. We lived in Kings Langley at the time, and I went home to dad's place and I look I was I was exhausted from that interview. So if you've had an interview recently, God they’re hard. I've only had a couple of interviews in my career, because I worked at Nagel for 14 years and when I got a job on the coast, it wasn't really a formal interview. I've had another interview for another position in CAFS, but look interviews are scary. Anyway. I got a phone call from the principal a couple of hours later, I don’t know what took them so long to deliberate but yeah, she said, “We would really love to have you on the team here at Nagel and congratulations.” I got off the phone and I bawled my eyes out. I don't know why, I was such a big baby. But I think when you have dreams and when you go for them and when you achieve them it's pretty satisfying. I've always wanted to be a teacher and later on in my life, I wanted to be a PE teacher so it was kind of just a silver lining, and I think I was super, super happy with that outcome.
Anyway, when I first started teaching, I had the syllabus, I had the purple textbook, if you remember that if you've been around CAFS for a while. Shout out to the beautiful authors who authored that first textbook, it was actually a lifesaver for me. I dog-eared it, I highlighted it, I post noted it. I would even take it to bed, how nerdy, and read it before class. And I think I spent way too much time on preparing my lesson and I didn't really know what the end game looked like. Fast Track 18 years later, I literally know what that takes, I know what a band six looks like, I know what a band five looks like, I know what kids are doing to possibly not get over that line, I know what it takes to get from a three to a four, what a band two student is doing in class. I've seen it all. I get to support you guys and I see what you guys sometimes struggle with. But I definitely get to see what the kids get to kind of experience.
In the beginning I would literally go to the syllabus, like we were taught at uni. I did a Grad Diploma Education in PDHPE, secondary PE, I did exercise science before that, so yeah, just kind of listened to what our lecturers told us. Got the syllabus out and said, “Okay, this is what I'm meant to be teaching and this is the outcome, this is the learn to.” I didn't really know the impact of the ‘Learn to.’ Now if you’re just starting CAFS, in your first few years of teaching CAFS, the ‘Learn About’ is kind of like the content, this is what we have to teach the kids and then as a result of teaching that they should be able to learn to do something in particular, that's what the ‘Learn To’ is, that's what the intention of that ‘Learn To’ is. And if you've seen a HSC before, if you haven't, please head over to the NESA website. You must be able to see what the end game looks like before you teach the kids. And I think that's a common mistake. CAFS teachers make, they don't see what the end game looks like in terms of the HSC or Year 11 exam, what that looks like. I want to show you guys, I want you guys to be super aware of what that looks like so you know what you're preparing students for.
For me back then, I didn't look at the HSC, I had no idea. I didn't see how everything fitted together. I think It wasn't until I started, writing professional learning, probably in about 2010, which happened to be the year our eldest daughter was born, Cas, and when I started doing professional learning, I kind of went, I have to really make sure I'm being really strategic. There's always an intention for me doing what I'm doing. So I went for six years going well, I'm just going to go to the syllabus and do lots of research and then come up with the most creative lesson I can. And back in the day I would get my kids to watch Castaway, that bloody movie went for three hours, because I would listen to what other teachers were kind of doing. I didn't really know many other CAFS teachers, but I think, I don't know, maybe by osmosis, we didn't really have Facebook, we didn't have The Learning Network Collaborative, which is my private Facebook group that you guys can dive into, we didn't have a lot of professional learning back then. And I didn't do any professional learning in Community and Family Studies. Can you believe that?
No professional learning in Community and Family Studies. What a joke. Like I started doing PL, you know, for a couple of different organisations in 2010, or even before that, so I learned on the job, I suppose. I learned by experimentation, I learnt by doing some writing. I think for me it was by looking at who was in my classroom and what they were like and looking at their HSC results and looking at the characteristics that they displayed, and really working out what it took to get there in the end. So again, if you are in your first couple of years of teaching CAFS or if you've had a little break, go back to the HSC, have a look at the patterns, have look at the way questions are asked these days. It's very different to what it was back in 2004.
Something I mentioned on social media (If you don't follow me on socials, you can follow me on Instagram @thelearnnet and I think it's the same on Facebook with a capital ‘@TheLearnNet’) I shared with you guys one big thing that CAFS teachers aren't doing. And it's not teaching our kids this idea about including wellbeing in our answers just for the option. Because there's a common misconception that we talk about wellbeing in all of our answers. Guys, this is not the case. So if you're still teaching that to your students, like you may have in the early 2000s when the course started. So of course the syllabus was released in 1999, so the first HSC was 2000 or 2001. So back then we literally had to include, the kids had to include wellbeing in all the answers. I think there's still some teachers who are teaching like that. And I actually have seen them, I actually get to hear what the kids do because they tell me, CAFS students tell me in our masterclasses, or I see it, I witnessed it. I see it in online networking things like on Facebook and other Facebook groups, teachers talking about this. Guys, if you're still teaching wellbeing including it into all of the kids answers, your steering them in the wrong direction.
If you'd like to see that in action and what they should be doing, you can join my free webinar next week on February the 17th, at 8pm via zoom. I'm going to show you what you can do to improve student results, improve student writing and fast track their success to get your kids on the same page, where they should be. So you can head over to thelearnnet.com/results and you can sign up for my webinar there. But look, I think for me, early on, like I said, I had the syllabus, a textbook, I didn’t see what the end game was, I kind of put my head in the sand, like a bit of an ostrich, and I didn't see what it actually took.
Look, the HSC is not the be all and end all. However, it still guides our practice. We always need to have that end goal in mind and it's the HSC. Whether we like it or not, it's not going away anytime soon. There is that big picture. There is that grand final, if you're a PE person, or grand finale, if you're a bit of a creative person, bit of a dancer, or maybe even a musician, but there is that grand final that we prepare our students for. And literally now from day dot I get you guys to help your students from the very first lesson when they step into your CAFS classroom to help them with those exam skills. Actually, even before that. Something that I really loved, being in a seven to 12 school, is that once I started to see the end game like, okay, this is what I need to do to get my kids those really good results. And look, we had some pretty good results. We're always above the state average. I think one year we had 9 or 10 band 6s, like that was probably our best year out of the 14 years I was there. CAFS is still, going strong at Nagle, results are still really strong there, but I think that was our best result in one particular year.
But I got to see what the end game looked like, I got to see what my kids were doing, the sort of characteristics that they were displaying to get those band sixes. And that's the preparation that we need to provide our students with, we need to actually prepare them all the way through. And because I was working at a 7 to 12 school, I would literally do exam skills with my 7s. Not boring stuff, but getting them to write, getting them to do different writing techniques, incorporating PEEL in their paragraphs, writing their paragraphs using the PEEL structure. I would show my students how to annotate responses, how to break them down, and how to use the glossary of key words.
And look, all these things are some of those strategies for success and I'll show you exactly why they're important and how we use them inside my free webinar next week. So you can head over to my website thelearnet.com/results to register for that.
And I really think it's something that has been missing in CAFS for a really long time. So in terms of thinking about big picture and the method to my madness, we need to really set our kids up for success from the beginning. And I think we can either stay ahead of the game right from the very beginning, or we can leave our kids behind. So it's important that we really look at our course and look at it from, I think I spoke about this on Instagram the other day, but that helicopter view or that umbrella view of our course.
So where we can actually go is starting to look at our syllabus, our ‘Learn about, Learn To’ that guides us,guides what we have to teach. But our common grade scale and our performance band descriptors help us with that. They give us a clear, a very clear picture of what is actually required for the HSC. What do you need to do to get an A, to get a B? What do you need to do to get in that band five or six bracket. And it's not just one thing. And I think when teachers talk about improving HSC results, and now that our HSC results have been announced, have been published, we can start to have a bit of a hard look at ourselves and go, okay, am I improving my kids’ result? Am I kind of fluffing around a little bit? Am I maybe spending too much time on activities? Am I spending too much time on writing the notes? Or am I actually setting my students up for success from the beginning.
And I think for me, I stripped my content right back, I started to look at our course from like an umbrella or a helicopter view and started to go, Okay, I'm teaching this one concept. It now has connections all the way through the course. So if I'm teaching something like support, I would make sure I work out where it is in the syllabus. So support comes up straightaway in Resource Management when we look at the informal and formal support available in the community and for families and for individuals. So what you want to do is okay, we have to teach your kids informal and formal support, the kids will be able to describe how access to support can contribute to the satisfaction of specific needs in a range of situations. Now, there are so many connections that we can make across a course with that one concept.
So what I've started to do is actually go, Okay, I need to teach my students informal and formal support, it comes up again, in lots of different ways. It comes up again, in Families and Communities, it comes up again, in Parenting and Caring, it comes up again, in Groups in Context, we look at services, that's formal support, either community service, or a government agency. We also look at that, again, in Families and Communities, I said that, and in Family and Societal Interactions. So there are multiple touch points that we need to make with this one concept “support” across the course.
And look, guys, this was intentional. When the syllabus committee came together and actually amended the syllabus, so 2013 was the first year of the amended syllabus, they did this intentionally to embed concepts from Year 11 into Year 12. And many of us who have been around for a while will kind of know that we start to then make those connections. So when I'm teaching my students about access to support in Year 11, I'm starting to bring concepts from Year 12. I'm not teaching the content from YEar 12, I'm teaching the concepts. And what this does, it actually embeds the content better for the kids. They start to think of it from a deeper level, we start to make multiple connections across the course.
Now if, you've signed up for Exploring Year 11 CAFS, there's about 60 teachers across the state who have done this, you would know the importance of this. I show you guys, I provide you templates and resources and documents to help you track that, but also activities are literally done for an intentional reason. And if I'm going to be really honest, I think everything I brought out to you guys, so look, lots of things, I've got a number of different offers, you know, revision cards, my new Year 11 Booklets, they’re on the website, what else? My MasterClasses, my coaching, Exploring Year 11 CAFS, Strive, my writing course, you know all that stuff.
There's a method to my madness, there's a purpose for why I have included particular parts for a reason. I give you examples in those courses, in those resources that are going to help your students in Year 11, but also in Year 12, as well. There's a whole intention for that. So when you go back to teaching ‘support’ in Year 11, we have to teach the kids about “informal support: relatives, friends, neighbours,” what you might start to think about is how can I make connections to you towards content? If I'm teaching this idea about informal support, relatives, so family members, okay. Friends? yep, all right. Neighbours? Not heaps.
I don't know about you, but one of our neighbours is looking at their house right now, he's moved now, but he made our life hell when we moved to the Central Coast. So he wouldn't be a neighbour that I would ever go to. But we definitely have neighbours that we can go to for support, but oh, mate, next door isn't one of those.
But you might start to go okay, well, how am I then going to make a connection with that content right there to the concepts that I'm going to have to teach in Year 12. The big one for this is the formal support part of it; government agencies. I'm going to make direct connections to my Groups in Context content, I'm going to make direct connections to the some of the examples. I'm going to talk about, possibly like Centrelink, possibly the Department of Community Services. I'm going to start talking about those in Year 11 so the kids are already aware of those concepts, those examples.
When I talk about community organisations, I'm going to hammer home those connections to Year 12. I might start to talk about Meals on Wheels, I might start to talk about Orange Sky Laundry, I might start to talk about Karitane, other organisations that we might talk about again in Year 12 to make those embedded concepts so, so clear. And look, some people who are new to CAFS don't get it, they don't get that important connection from Year 11 to Year 12. It's different to PE, it's not as black and white.
There's lots of those connections that we can make across a course and I absolutely love that. Look, even in this dot point in the Learn To: ‘describe how access to support can contribute to the satisfaction of specific needs.’ Again, another connection across the course. And this is something that we're not doing, we're not making every little lesson meaningful, stripping it right back and going, okay, how can I be so purposeful? So when I include those examples of specific needs, I start to talk about different individuals. It says in a range of situations, I start to talk about people with disabilities, I start to talk about youth, I start to talk about age, I start to talk about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, sole parents, carers, primary carers, you might start to talk about first time parents. You're using all of the examples from Year 12. Employees, employers, if you're doing Individuals and Work, you're starting to embed those concepts into Year 11, making it really, really clear for the kids and having those connections across the course.
So if you're part of Exploring Year 11 CAFS, you would have seen that. If you have been involved in Strive, you will have seen this connection. If you have purchased any of my revision resources, you would have seen this connection. If you're thinking about purchasing my new resources for Year 11 this purposeful connection is so, so strong, because we want to set the kids up for success. We want to set them up from the beginning so they’re not kind of backtracking. We want to make sure we have developed a clear end game to our CAFS journey. We want to have a clear pathway to success and all we need to do is have a bit of a 5 or 10 minute plan of attack before we start teaching.
Don't be like me. In the early days, yes, I was fairly organised, but because I was trying so hard to learn the content I wasn't focused on the concepts I was trying to teach my kids. What I want you guys to do is start to carve time out to have really a clear pathway like a clear plan of attack. Work out what you're actually doing. Like if you're teaching stuff on informal and formal support, where does it fit within the grand scheme of things? You can ask things like, what is being taught? When is it being taught? Where is it being taught? Why is it actually being taught, like, why are we actually teaching this to the kids? And how are we going to actually teach it? So what you can start to think about is what that kind of looks like in the end, like where we might go with it in the end.
And look, the one thing I want you guys to take away from this podcast episode is remember in the back of your head, we've got 7 terms, 7 terms to help our kids prepare in the best way, shape or form for that HSC. Yes, make it fun. Yes, make it meaningful. Yes, make it you know, really a great thing to be part of. But remember, there's going to be method to your madness. And things like including peel and teaching the kids literally from Year 7, not when they get into Year 11, it’s too late then, it's too late for the kids to then catch up to everyone else in the state who has already been studying that stuff in Year 7. And I think for us as a school, when I worked at Nagel, that was one thing we did so, so well, we had beautiful curriculum coordinators, who pushed us and reminded us to teach those writing skills.
When I say writing skills, I'm also saying literacy skills. I'm also talking about a clear PEEL paragraph structure. Getting the kids to go from writing a sentence to writing a paragraph, from writing dot points to a paragraph. And look, I know there are many kids across the state who are still writing like that. When I worked at a senior campus, my students literally had no idea how to write a PEEL paragraph. They had no idea. In their middle campuses, they hardly do any PE and in PE they did no writing and it was such a struggle. I literally spent 4 or 5 weeks getting my kids up to scratch. Like they were kind of coming from behind because they hadn't been prepared for that senior study, those senior skills, that PEEL paragraph structure, the glossary of key words, if you've heard me speak before a complete game changer, teaching the kids the glossary of key words from Year 7. I mean, even in primary school it’s so important. I know my own children, our own children, they know how to propose something, they have to do this sort of stuff in NAPLAN, it's called different things, you know, it’s called persuasion for NAPLAN. But we can actually work with our younger, our youngest students in year seven, we can work with our feeder primary schools to help improve these really essential skills that set our students apart from each other.
And look, I know many of you guys have been asking like, what's the magic ingredient? There's no magic. There's no one magic thing. You can be the most amazing CAFS teacher in the world, have the most amazing students. But if you can't work together, you've got no idea. You've got no chance of success. There has to be that happy medium. You have to have engagement. You have to have exciting things for your students to sink their teeth into. And I call it an appetiser and inside Strive I literally show you guys what that looks like, a bit of an appetiser, a bit of a bite to eat, a bit of a hook to get them thinking CAFS, to get them really excited about what they're about to learn about. It also means having that clear paragraph structure all the way through, giving the kids explicit feedback to work out where they are right now to move them forward in their CAFS journey.
So if you love this idea about working more strategically, finding out about this ‘method to my madness’ and what you can really do to improve your students, I'd really love for you guys to come next week on Thursday night at 8pm, 17th of February, you can join me on my free webinar. I literally show you and unpack with you the secrets to success in CAFS, you can head over to thelearnnet.com/results and I'd love to see you on the webinar. Let's get 50 CAFS teachers, that's my challenge to you. I'd love to see 50 CAFS teachers across New South Wales who want to improve their HSC results or Year 11 results, which just goes without saying, but let's get you guys on there next week, head over to thelearnnet.com/results where I show you exactly what it takes to improve student writing to fast track success in CAFS. So, please head over to Instagram and Facebook, let me know what you thought of today's episode. There's always a method to my madness and if you work with me inside any of my Learning Network offers, you'll see that in action. But I also want to say thank you to those beautiful teachers who have worked with me before in my faculty, if I've been your relieving head teacher or if I have been your colleague at the schools I worked with, a huge thank you for your patience, but remember, there's always a method to my madness, there was always a reason for me doing what I was doing. So until next week, I'll see you guys very soon. Take care.
Whether you're a newbie or an experienced CAFS teacher who has been around the tracks for a little while, I invite you to hang out with me next Thursday on the 17th of February 2022 at 8pm via zoom, to learn how you can improve student writing to fast track results and success in Community and Family Studies. So whether you're just starting out and you have no idea what you're doing or where to go, or you've been around for a little while and your CAFS results have kind of, I don't know been a bit stale over the last couple of years, I invite you guys to hang out with me and I'll share with you my top three tips to improve student writing and performance in CAFS. Bringing all of my experience and expertise over the last 17 years including professional learning, writing, lots of different things in Community and Family Studies. So you can head over to thelearnnet.com/results to register your details to join me next week on Thursday for an hour of power where we get to really dive into what you can do right now to improve your student writing and results in Community and Family Studies.
Kelly - Outro:
Thanks for joining The Learning Network, I'd love to hear what connected with you most about today's episode. Take a screenshot and tag me on Instagram and Facebook, @thelearnnet. If you'd like to know more about my courses, MasterClasses, Coaching and Mentoring and Membership, you can DM me over on Facebook or Instagram or head to thelearnnet.com. Don't forget to stay connected by subscribing to Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and if you love today's episode, I would be so honoured if you could please leave me a review. See you again next week. Let's continue to connect, grow and learn together to make a huge impact on the students we teach.
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This land was and always will be the land of the First Nations People.