Looking Back 2004-2011

I finished university at the end of 2003 and started teaching in January 2004.

Like all graduate teachers, the beginning of my teaching career was a steep learning curve. Fortunately, I felt like I had a lot of role models around me on staff. As I embarked on my career, I remember thinking a lot about what makes a good teacher and what sort of teacher I’d like to be.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how much has changed in the past eight years. I know I’ve changed enormously since 2004 but have all teachers? Are those teachers who were role models for me in 2004 still roles models?

Sadly, in the majority of cases, the answer is no. The simple fact is, some teachers are teaching the same as they were in 2004 when the world was a different place.

There is no denying that technology has changed the way we live. So many of the tools I use now in my classroom, professional learning or administration have only come about in the last eight years.

Here are some examples:

  • Interactive whiteboards – I didn’t even see one until about 2007. Now most classrooms in our school are equipped with interactive whiteboards and I use mine for every lesson.
  • iPod Touch – Launched in 2007, I started using iPod Touches in 2008 and they’re regularly integrated into my curriculum.
  • iPad – Launched in 2010, I started using mine in the classroom this year.
  • Edublogs – Launched in 2005, I started blogging in 2008. Edublogs has now reached one million blogs.
  • YouTube – Launched 2005.
  • Twitter – Launched 2006.
  • Flickr – Launched 2004.
  • Facebook – Launched 2004.
  • Diigo – Launched 2006
  • Skype – Launched 2003.

The world had changed so much since I began. Who knows what the next eight years will bring. All I can say is I plan to ride the wave, embrace change, reflect and reinvent!

Image: 'The tube' http://www.flickr.com/photos/16932921@N08/2161046983
Image: 'The tube' http://www.flickr.com/photos/16932921@N08/2161046983

How has your teaching changed since you started in the profession?

28 Replies to “Looking Back 2004-2011”

  1. Wow, I began teaching a bit further back, infect way back to 1991! Ouch that’s a long time ago. Looking back so much has changed. I didn’t have computers in the classroom, reports and programs were written by hand and you used liquid paper if a mistake was made, along with the ancient spell check method of using a dictionary! Photocopy machines were just out but they were so expensive that we were only allowed to make 1 class set per week. So much has changed.
    I too had excellent role models and I too have sadly watched many of them still teaching students as if it was 1991 and unfortunately some of them becoming a little bitter and grumpy.
    I am proud to say that I have never used the same program without modification more than once, the way I program has changed almost every year, the methods I use in the classroom are constantly evolving as I keep up to date with the needs of my students and don’t even get me started on classroom layout. I can honestly say that in all my years I’ve never had a single day were I’ve felt bored or like the day hadn’t just flown by. That’s not to say in anyway that I’m some super teacher….far from it! What I’ve learnt, is that it’s all about engaging kids in learning and as kids change along with individual learning needs and styles then I need to change to meet those needs. Has it been hard work ? You bet! But the rewards have been amazing and I think the challenge of keeping up to date has kept me feeling fresh about my chosen occupation and help my enthusiasm for doing a better job for my kids high. My most recent find, twitter, has helped me even further identify new ideas and fresh approaches. Without seeking new technologies and communication methods I wouldn’t have found blogs like yours and others!
    So thanks to you Kathleen for stimulating conversation and putting it out there for all of us!

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Debbie,

      I was actually in grade four in 1991, so it is funny to think about how times have changed since I was a student. The changes are just massive! And it was only 20 years…not exactly an eternity in history’s timeline.

      I was looking through some old school reports when moving house recently and was dumbstruck at how simple school reports seemed to be?? Maybe it was just my school but I was actually wondering whether some of the teachers knew me at all. Now there is more accountability.

      Good on you for riding that wave and leaving your former role models behind! I agree with you that hard work leads to wonderful rewards. I also couldn’t imagine how bored I’d be if I was still teaching the same way I was when I started (or even the same as last year).

      It’s great to have experienced teachers like yourself on Twitter too. We need more teachers to join us on Twitter!

      Thanks for your inspiring comment,

  2. Awesome post Kathleen!
    I think that integrating elearning is a bit like going to the gym, if you spend 30 minutes a couple of times a day its not so bad. If you only do it a few times a year for days on end of course you are going to hurt!


    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Stephanie,

      Ahh yes, I agree! And as a “regular exerciser” this is a good analogy for me because sometimes people ask me how I workout week after week. Well, I don’t really think about it – I just do it. And I wouldn’t feel right not exercising. Much like technology!

      Thanks for a new analogy!


  3. I started teaching way out west in 1981 so I have seen many changes. Teachers still smoked in classrooms and there was no technology. I didn’t even have a house phone.
    Things have changed a lot in thirty years but I like to think of myself as a good role model. I have been trying to bring others to 21 St century learning and incorporate more student learning, less teacher talking. I have been trying to enourage bloging with other staff members and am the only one of 30 with a PLN. I am the only person using twitter, even though most of the staff is less than 35. I feel like such a beginner in my ICT journey and my goal is to bring my s hool forward in the next six years of my career. It is thanks to inspitrational teachers like you that I am continuing to learn.

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply


      You started teaching the year I was born so you have certainly seen some changes! Smoking in the classroom? Things have changed a lot in 30 years. My mum tells me people were smoking in the hospital ward when I was born!

      Good on you for being such an inspirational role model and trying to bring others into the 21st century. I too am determined to drag other teachers along with me. We just have to as students can’t wait to have a teacher who is interested in 21st century learning.

      I certainly believe that age is no barrier to embracing change and technology. Some of my closest friends in my PLN are a lot older than me and inspiring me every day.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment,

  4. Mrs. Rutherford says: Reply

    What a fantastic post. Thank you Kathleen. I was just talking about this very issue today; telling my 3/4 students that when I first started teaching (ten years ago) I only had a blackboard. I was so excited to get my first whiteboard…although, I must admit, that as a graduate teacher, writing the date up on MY blackboard with MY chalk in MY VERY OWN classroom every morning was very exciting. Now I can’t imagine life without an interactive whiteboard.
    I remember handwriting reports, and work programs and I also remember planning ‘thematic units’. This was so far away from authentic inquiry learning that it makes me cringe. If you were doing ‘under the sea’, you made a display (lots of blue and green streamers hanging down), and then you made some (hand-drawn) maths worksheets about ‘three fish plus seven fish’ and wrote some ‘reports’ about blue whales. It alarms me that there are still many classrooms where this one-size-fits-all type of teaching still takes place.
    It’s such a shame, when we have all this amazing technology and new understandings about student engagement in the 21st century. And, I have to say, I don’t believe age has anything to do with it. Some of the most contemporary curriculum is being delivered by older teachers, whereas some young teachers (almost digital natives themselves) seem reluctant to climb aboard.
    Thank you for all you do to inspire others, Kathleen. I wonder what we’ll be reminiscing about in another ten year’s time!

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Mrs Rutherford,

      Oh yes, I agree writing on your own blackboard was a fantastic feeling. Although we can’t handwrite reports anymore, I sadly know quite a few teachers who still like to handwrite their work programs.

      Ah yes the one-size-fits-all integrated studies unit. Such a token thing that can really be revamped with some technology and 21st century teaching.

      I agree with you about age and as @beachcat says below “age and years teaching is not a good predictor for who is integrating social media (or any tech) in their curriculum”.

      Thanks for your support!

  5. […] read an interesting post from Kathleen Morris this afternoon, looking back on her life as a teacher since 2004. She reflected on how much her […]

  6. OK, I don’t even want to tell you when I began teaching – long before all of you were born! I’m already past my “Best Before” date, but the technological revolution in education has given me a new lease on teaching, a new passion, a new energy, a new reason not to retire. I got into it because I thought I was becoming a dinosaur — only to discover that age and years teaching is not a good predictor for who is integrating social media in their curriculum. Now, I don’t want to leave until I figure out how use some of these cool tools to help get my kids OUT of the classroom and into the real world. And now I’m not sure where my future is headed!
    Yes Virginia, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks! (-:

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      I couldn’t agree more that “age and years teaching is not a good predictor for who is integrating social media in their curriculum”. Good on you for embracing the “revolution”. Even though I’ve only been teaching 8 short years, technology has given me a new lease on teaching too. In fact, last year I wrote a post about technology saved my career!

      Thanks for a great comment!

  7. Hi Kathleen

    Your post (and the replies) have definitely got me smiling! I have been teaching for ten years and, like others, have seen huge changes in this time. Like Mrs Rutherford above, I started with thematic units that were usually 2 weeks in length! That meant 5 units a term! Thinking back now I don’t know how we did it – I am lucky to get two inquiry “lessons” in a week now. I think we have got much better at integration and the authenticity of our inquiry units makes this much easier too.
    I have always used ICT etc for my own purposes and have been keen to learn which makes it easier to transfer into the classroom. As mentioned above, it is the ‘digital native’ teachers who I find are sometimes the most reluctant. Perhaps they can’t see the links between what they are doing in their own lives and what they could be doing with students? Great post Kathleen, I will follow further comments with interest!

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Janine,

      2 weeks thematic units? That’s funny now isn’t it. It is so funny when you look back at things you used to think worked (that obviously didn’t!).

      I agree, regardless of age, it is important to not only use ICT in your own life but see the link to the classroom.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!


  8. How have things changed since I started teaching? Checking the ancient history diaries…

    Had my BSc and Dip Ed in 1977 and spent three years as a casual teacher before being permanently placed in an isolated primary school in NSW’s far west.

    Casual. No computers, mobile phones, VCR players. I use to carry around an 8mm projector, slide projector and overhead projector for multimedia lessons

    permanent in an isolated school 100km from a town. The phone was a party line so you had to check to see if someone was on before replacing the hand set, winding the lever and speaking to an operator. We had TV and could pick up the ABC if the weather conditions were okay. I took part in a pilot program where six small schools shared one Apple II computer. I bought my first video camera with a huge side pack and lead batteries. Wrote a simple Apple II program to add titles and used a VCR to edit films.

    A new school Sydney and introduced computing there. Children started writing their stories on a computer. One boy, always reluctant to write spent two hours to write a two page story. Still using VCR cameras. Still no mobile phone or internet in my use. Became one of the first people in schools to be a Computer Coordinator

    Another school in Sydney, one I attended as a child. Again introduced computers to the school. One computer at first had to be shared by about two dozen classes. I bought my first computer for my class use. Introduced digital photography, emails, the internet, digital video recorders, photo editing, school networking, a computer lab at first filled with 15 of my own computers but slowly replaced by school computers. Bought my first “luggable” phone. With it’s size and lead battery it definitely wasn’t onw that would fir in the pocket.
    In the final years, I lost the position of Computer Coordinator as it became a more trendy promotion position. Thought it odd as at the time I was president of a regional computer group dealing with a very large number of schools yet I couldn’t be a computer coordinator in my own school.
    Personal computer collection reached 45 with many leant out to children for home use. Use to buy or be given old computers, fix them and allow others to use them. When finally leaving the school, I gave away most computers rather than taking them with me. Many happy families back then. Set a limit of never more than 10 computers to keep things simpler (only 6 now).

    Out of the city to a coastal town. Digital video and photography. Computer based video editing, developing school report cards with pull down menus for progress and comments as well as room for typed comments for use on computers.

    2006 – present
    Retired from full time teaching yet keep in touch with schools now through computing and non-profit video work. Blog, tweet, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and others keep me informed and sharing. Planning to move back into casual teaching to complete the career cycle. Can’t wait to get my hands on the now comment interactive whiteboards in the local school.

    So much has changed on the technology front. My 1981 school now has dial up phones, satellite dish, internet.

    Would I like to go back to simpler times? It would be great for a visit but not to stay.

    The future? Considering how much has changed since my 8mm projector days, bring it on! This is one aging teacher waiting to take on new things.

    Ross Mannell (teacher)

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Ross,

      What an interesting experience! Some things I had to read twice….you shared one computer between 6 schools and then 24 classes?? Imagine back then if you had have known about how common 1:1 programs are becoming now.

      You sure owned a lot of computers and I know how expensive they used to be. I know our first family computer in 1991 cost thousands! I’m certain you made a big difference to the lives of many families.

      I also couldn’t believe that you used to carry around projectors! As for not being allowed to be the computer coordinator, how puzzling.

      Thanks for this fantastic reflection, it was very eye opening for me and (I’m sure) all the readers. It’s great to “know” someone who such interesting experiences with teaching and technology.

      1. Electronics hobby as a teen led me into computing. I didn’t have to pay much for the many computers as they were given to me in most cases. I use to repair them and use them in class.

        Also, as I upgraded at home, my old computers found their way into class and eventually were given away to students. I didn’t realise how regularly I would give a computer away until one year a boy asked which I would be giving away that year. Never could seem to bring myself to seel them when someone needed one.

        Not rich in money but rich from the smiles from children receiving one. 🙂

    2. Mrs. Rutherford says: Reply

      Wow! Ross, that was such an entertaining read. Thanks for sharing. It really reinforces how lucky we are, with our flip cameras and imovie etc. It’s such an exciting time to be a educator, even if we do sometimes get a little wave of nostalgia….the smell of the old ‘crank’ photocopier machines was lovely…!

      1. One thing ‘lucky’ in my career was and is the way I like to embrace the new and see how it can help. From a time when anything computer generated must have been the work of Mr Mannell till now it is the norm in schools has been a great journey.

    3. Thanks Ross!You made me think about how as I was busy raising four children during the 80s, I had only the parent perspective of computer technology coming into the home and trying to get the kids off and outside(nothing changed there!!) As a ‘mature-age’ late starting teacher (trained 96-99) I am just so glad that I have been able to keep up! Actually, going back to study forced the issue of adapting to computers for documents etc – I go way back to golf ball typewriters! Even more special – I used to be the Gestetner monitor in primary school (does that mean anything to anyone?!). Now I am so blown away with EVERYTHING from blogging in the classroom (where I have heard the students authentic voices for the first time ever and have built strong relationships beyond the Performing Arts classroom), phone apps that get me around Paris Metro or make my ordinary photo a masterpiece and social networks that have reunited me with cousins and classmates. As the world gets smaller….imagination and change is exploding….love it…(and also love an open fire, playing guitar, singing and a good sauv blanc!) Marg Vic

      1. Ah, yes, someone who has an understanding of the misty-eyed past. LOL

        I well and truly remember messy Gastetners and spirit duplicators as well as the gel pads I use to make to run off copies at home. Times have changed and the memories are there but bring on the future. 🙂

        These days I’ve become locally known as the photographer and video guy to schools and community groups. I set up three video cameras and man one to do my filming to built-in hard drives. I download the three HD cameras to a computer, edit, add effects, add titles, adjust sound and design DVDs then duplicate and print them and their covers. A huge difference to the early 8mm and VHS tape days.

        My latest work has been three DVDs for a 16 school learning community here. One was a talented musicians’ camp performance. The other two were of their performing arts festival. I sell the product cheaply to parents and give copies away to schools as I work non-profit. About 200 copies have been made for parents so far.

        Some nostalgia for the old days? Possibly but I wouldn’t swap what I can do now for what was then. 🙂

  9. Hi Kathleen,

    You’ve done it again — another amazing post! How has my teaching changed? I’ll give you 5 snapshots:

    1998: After I was hired as a 2nd grade teacher, I was informed that my classroom was the “traditional” classroom and I must keep students in rows. Whole group lessons were expected; and yes, round robin reading. Yikes!

    2000: I learned there were less “discipline” issues if they were engaged in their learning — thus, easier on me and worth every bit of energy in creating curriculum for them.

    2002: Focused on addressing Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences in math instruction — it made such a difference that it spread to all content areas.

    2007: We called my class an “Academy” class because of the focus on PBL and we were starting to integrate more with tech. The Tech Director, Jon Castelhano, asked me for a wish-list of what tech I could use daily in my class. I gave him a list and he allowed me to pilot everything on my list (and even more). That pilot became reality throughout our district.

    2011: I am the one and only Tech Integration Specialist for our district, and my boss, Jon Castelhano, encourages me to use my strengths to help others. My classroom is now 5000+ students, 550+ teachers, and 7 schools.

    I learn and am inspired by educators such as yourself, Kathleen. Thank you for your commitment to learners of all ages and from all places over the globe. Thank you for making a difference.

    Kind regards,

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Tracy,

      Your comment and thoughtful words really made me smile!

      Good on you for leading the way in your district. I am certain you would have made a big difference to the lives of many teachers and students.

      What a long way you’ve come since 1998! I bet you’re glad you went against the grain and did what you believed in.

      Thanks again for your support,

  10. Hi Kathleen,

    What a great post. I nodded my head as I read on and agreed with all that was said.

    I think that it is disappointing that there are some teachers that can’t see the advantages of using a variety of ICT tools in their classrooms and as time goes on they are turning into dinosaurs.

    I remember having lessons at uni for how to write on the black board and white board. I also recall being taught how to make a felt board for visual learners. Did anyone else make them? I still have it packed up in the shed and I have never used it.

    Yes things have changed and they will keep on changing and it’s our jobs as teachers to jump on and ride the wave!

    I am excited.


    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Kim,

      Thanks so much for your comment! Great to have support from fellow staff members. 🙂

      I remember not having lessons on how to write on the blackboard at uni but thinking we needed it! Haha. I don’t remember making any felt boards but I do remember wasting a lot of time in my first few years making elaborate displays and colouring in posters for the classroom etc. Not exactly tasks that will enhance my students’ learning.

      Love your excited attitude!


  11. Mrs. Rutherford says: Reply

    There’s a book in this, Kathleen. Except it would be outdated so quickly, wouldn’t it?! Again…what will teachers be saying in five years’ time? “Remember when we were all so excited about blogging, bahahaha!?” It blows my mind.

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Mrs Rutherford, I have thought the same thing about blogging. I wonder how long it will last!

  12. Hi Kathleen,
    I have a link to your class blog on my blog as we are postcard pals. This morning when “blog hopping” I visited it and found your teacher blog. Wow, I really enjoyed reading it especially your blogging tips. Thank-you for sharing your knowledge about IT. It is always great to read how others integrate it into everyday learning experiences. I will be looking for you on twitter.

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Sarah,

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I remember you from the Postcard Project and I’m glad you found my blog useful!

      I am @kathleen_morris on Twitter. See you there 🙂


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