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  • Writer's pictureDanny Hyndman

Issue #26

Hi Colleagues,

I hope this week’s edition finds you well.


“Teaching is a complex act. Charlotte Danielson (1996) estimates that a teacher makes more than three thousand nontrivial decisions every day. No list can capture the extraordinary subtlety involved in making instant decisions about which student to call on, how to frame an impromptu question, or how to respond to an interruption The late Madeline Hunter compared teaching to surgery, “where you think fast on your feet and do the best you can with the information you have. You must be very skilled, very knowledgeable, and exquisitely well trained, because neither the teacher nor the surgeon can say, ‘Everybody sit still until I figure out what in the heck we’re gonna do next.’””

(Hunter quoted in Goldberg 1990, 43)

180 Days; Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents. XV Kelly Gallagher & Penny Kittle





With everything that I have done in education (and continue to do), I still see myself as a secondary English and maths teacher at my core. That’s not to say that I don’t love my primary school work, but there are days where I really miss implementing the content of the professional learning that I’m running. For me, this happens more in relation to secondary. However, if you asked me about leadership, the opposite is true, and I would lean towards primary.

Today I’m going to share my thoughts on teaching secondary English.

In Victoria, the VCE gets in the way of teaching English, as it does in other subject areas. There are two ways of approaching the teaching of English that I see in schools.

1. We map back from Units 1-4 in VCE and replicate (watered down) the requirements of VCE in years 7 – 10.

The trouble with this model is that for the vast majority of students, they read very little during this time, and the little reading they do (at school), they don’t tend to enjoy. Students also don’t tend to get to write for an authentic audience and purpose either.

The argument presented for this model is that it prepares students for the demands of VCE English.

2. An alternate approach is to let students choose what they read and write, or at least have guided choice.

The strength of this model is that engagement and motivation go up, and you prepare them for units 1-4, by instilling a love (too strong?) of reading and writing that best prepares them when they arrive at VCE. Also, there are still opportunities to teach the skills required at VCE using this approach.

As you can see both approaches are poles apart from each other. Option number one is the path that I see an overwhelming number of schools following (and have done for a long time).

I’m a big advocate for option number two, but to be fair there needs to be resources for teachers to support them in doing things differently.

The text 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents by Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle is the resource I would recommend. In fact, I often recommend English faculties use this text in a Study Group.

180 Days is the collaboration of the authors over an entire school year (in America). It includes planning, teaching, and reflecting in their own classrooms making the resource very practical. It also includes videos.

Anyway, something for English teachers and secondary schools to think about as we start to make plans for 2023.


Have I got your attention?

As you know there has been a lot of media about the current shortage of teachers. I could write a book regarding the reasons why, but that will have to wait for another day.

I posted the information below in the last edition of the newsletter. There has been obvious interest, but it’s not too late if you are still looking for a quality addition to your school.

Principals are starting to think about 2023 and their staffing profile. I used to set August 1st as my date to get feedback from staff regarding their intentions for the following year.

Obviously employing quality staff is one of the key actions you can take to realise your school improvement agenda.

One of the quality teachers at Cobram PS (award winning school) is moving to Melbourne at the end of the year due to personal reasons, and will likely be based in inner east Melbourne. If you are in the market for such a teacher, then get in touch.


Way back in May (where did the time go?) my talented Study Group team had our first get together.

Through the support of Reid Clarke we turned this into a podcast, and now it is also available via Youtube.

Depending on your preferred medium, you now have a choice on how you would like to engage with this content.

I do recommend that you purchase What’s The Best That Could Happen by Debbie Miller that we’re studying to get the most out of either resource.

I’m planning on expanding the podcast/Youtube channel when I have some more time available. Let me know who you would like me to interview in education (or wider), and I will see if I can make it happen.


I’ve recently been made aware that for some of you the newsletter hasn’t been landing in your inbox. I’d really appreciate it if you could add my email address to your contacts so hopefully it goes straight to your inbox each time.

Another option is to reply to this email with ‘Hi’, or a personal message.


Thanks for reading and see you next week, Danny. P.S Feel free to provide me with any feedback regarding the newsletter, or anything for that matter via email.

If you would like to check out previous editions, you can access them here.

In case someone forwarded this to you, you can sign up for the newsletter here.

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