Teaching with a Feather story

featherimage1‘I heard this story at a professional development day and use it as inspiration to develop teaching and management strategies that are new and different. I want teachers and students to open their minds to new possibilities and not be limited by traditional thinking.’

Cheers Robyn

The Feather Story

It was ten to nine on an ordinary Monday morning at school. An announcement came over the school speaker system that all the teachers in the school had to go to the Principal’s office straight away. Well as you can imagine this caused a bit of a stir in the school. This had never happened before. The kids started talking to each other. What was going on, why did all the teachers have to go to the office, what’s happened?!

Of course the teachers were really very curious also. Why do we have to go now, it’s almost bell time, what has happened, has something bad happened in the school, maybe there has been a robbery, or maybe something really awful has happened to one of the teachers? Oh dear, I hope everything is ok.

Steadily all the teachers started to leave their classrooms and head for the Principal’s office. Many kids followed asking questions, ‘What was going on and how come you all have to go to the office?’ This was weird, something was going on.

The teachers all began to gather in the Principal’s office. Now as you know the Principal’s office is not a very big room and as all the teachers went in it started to fill up very quickly and was very squashy. The teachers were looking at each other with curious faces and whispering to each other, ‘What is going on?’ They shrugged their shoulders at each other and shook their heads. No one knew.

The principal was sitting at her desk waiting for everyone to arrive. She just sat, not saying anything. Finally the last teacher arrived and everyone shuffled around to let them into the crowded room. Lots of the kids were gathered outside the office jumping up to see if they could see through the window but the blind was closed. When everyone was finally in the principal stood up and all the teachers became very quiet. Then the Principal pulled her chair out of the way, leaned down under her desk and pulled out a large cardboard box. She sat the box on top of her desk and slowly opened the lid. (Kids will be hanging onto your every word at this stage of the story).

She reached into the box and pulled out – a bag of coloured feathers!

The teachers just looked at each other wondering what on earth was going on. The Principal handed a bag of feathers to a teacher then reached in for another bag. Steadily she handed a bag of coloured feathers to every teacher in the room. She popped the box back under the table then said to all the teachers, ‘Today you must go back into your classroom and you are only allowed to teach using the bag of feathers.’!

Well the teachers just looked around at one another and thought that just maybe the Principal was going a bit nuts. Teach with a bag of feathers for a whole day. Yes she was crazy. You can’t do that!! Suddenly one of the teachers spoke very excitedly, ‘I know,’ he said, ‘I am going to take the bag of feathers back to class and the first thing we will do is count them, there’s a lot of feathers in this bag, that’s maths.’ Then another teacher’s face lit up and she said, ‘Yes, and then you could make a graph about how many different coloured feathers are in the bag and the kids could write questions about the graph using mathematical language and then they could ask one another the questions – that’s maths, writing and speaking and listening’. ‘Oh yes’, said another, ‘I have an idea, you could research to find out why birds have different sorts of feathers on their body and how feathers make them fly.’ ‘What about art? , said another, ‘You could make quills and learn about calligraphy.’ ‘Poetry’, said another, ‘The kids could write a poem or a story about a magic feather.’ The noise in the office became very loud as the teachers started to think and talk about their ideas.

‘Off you go’, said the principal with a smile on her face, ‘Have a great day and Dare to be Different’. The teachers headed back to their rooms and the kids all came running up wanting to know what had happened. ‘Just wait and see’, said their teachers. ‘As soon as we get back to class you will find out’.

When each class was settled the teachers started to tell them about the unusual meeting in the office. They told them how today they had to teach using just a bag of feathers. Did anyone have any ideas about what to do? Well, because kids are clever hands started shooting up everywhere and ideas started to flow. The teacher wrote the ideas down and the ‘Day with a Difference’ started.

At recess in the staffroom teachers were having a great time talking about all the different things they were doing in class and of course the kids in the playground were also talking and sharing about what was happening in their class. There was such a buzz about the school that day – so many ideas, so many achievements.

Now as you know when kids go home after school and someone in the family asks, ‘What did you do at school today – they usually say, ‘Nothing’ – well that day was different! The kids could hardly wait to tell the family what had happened. ‘Oh wow you should have seen what we did at school today. We were only allowed to use a bag of feathers in class and we did …, and I found out … and you should have seen …, and I wrote …, there was just so much to talk about!’ Everyone had a story, everyone had learnt something new and everyone had ‘Dared to be Different’.