Top 5 | Mem Fox Books

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Hello teacher friends!

It’s been a while since I last posted on the blog and I’ve been super-busy with a lot of things, but I had an idea (after discovering the magic of BookTube) and thought it might be fun to film a video sharing my Top 5 picture books by different authors or on different topics.

If you’re anything like me, you may have difficulty picking just five books in any category. It’s virtually impossible for me to narrow down any book category, and my first theme – books by Mem Fox – was no exception, but I did it for the sake of the video.

Mem Fox is an iconic Australian author who has written numerous books for children and they’re all wonderful. Not only beautiful stories, but wonderful characters and language that is so much fun to read aloud with kids.

So, without further ado, here are my Top 5 Mem Fox books… although I’d talk about ALL of them if given half the chance!

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(The links below are affiliate links.)

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The Magic Hat

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Shoes from Grandpa

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Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge

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Possum Magic

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Where is the Green Sheep?

What are your favourite Mem Fox books? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to know which ones are nostalgic favourites or class favourites. If you’re interested in some activities or crafts based on these books, be sure to let me know.

Also, if you’re interested in this Top 5 Books becoming a regular feature, what authors or book themes would you be interested in seeing?

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week and I’ll see you soon!

Finding Your Tribe | Melbourne Instagram Meetup

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Hello, teacher friends!

Have you found your tribe? (Or tribes, even, because there can be more than one for everyone?)

I have, and it’s amazing.

Tribes are those likeminded individuals that you find you share a lot in common with. The kind of people who you can chat to and know that they really understand and that they don’t judge you. Good days, bad days. It doesn’t matter, because your Tribe will always have your back.

I wear a lot of (metaphorical) hats, so I have a Tribes to meet those hats, and I had the amazing opportunity to visit with one of those Tribes yesterday at the Melbourne Winter Teachers Instagram Meet-Up.

You may remember a few months ago when I posted about the first Instagram Meet-Up. It was one of those moments that (as Sarah-Jane reminded me yesterday) you really tell your kids and friends not to do: go and meet random strangers whom you met online in a strange place. So many things could go wrong.

I’m happy to say, they didn’t then, and they didn’t yesterday.

The meet up was organised by Laura (from @littleapplelearning), Sarah Jane (from @thepolkadotapple) and Tess (from @misstessclassroom) and held at BangPop, a Thai restaurant in the city. It was spectacular.

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Okay, so the weather wasn’t so spectacular. Melbourne sure knows how to throw a rain party right when I want to walk around the city. But it’s all good.

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I met up with these lovely ladies: Jem (from Jem’s Bright Buttons) and Paula (from Paula’s Place). I’ve known them for years through Facebook and TPT and I love catching up with them.

We then went down to South Wharf for the meet-up.

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Yes, that is a Duplo bar. Could you think of a more perfect place for teachers to meet? Imagine all the things you could in your classroom with a Duplo wall. I’m already thinking of ways to petition for one.

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All the tables were beautifully set-up by the lovely organisers who added beautiful little details to EVERYTHING, including a wonderful swag bag of goodies that made the event seem almost like a conference. With better food, drinks and a lot more off-topic conversation.

We’re teachers, right? We know how to talk!

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The Photo Booth set-up was super fun and next time I think I just need to drag more people up to it. Of course, that involves being less shy and intimidated by all the amazing people there, but I think I’m getting better.

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The ladies did an amazing job organising sponsors to donate items for the swag bags and prizes (I didn’t win anything but it was super-fun getting a peek at what other people got!). As a way of showcasing and thanking the sponsors, I’ve recording an ‘unbagging’ of the swag bag which is below, so if you want to check it out, go for it. I apologise in advance, apparently I can ramble on!

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It was such a wonderful experience. I loved catching up with Jem and Paula and the other girls I met at the first meet-up. It was also amazing to meet so many new Instagram friends across all parts of Victoria, and even a few from NSW. Teachers are amazing at banding together – stick a group of teachers in a room and you’ll have plenty to talk about!

There’s such a great feeling of collaboration, respect and understanding that came with yesterday and I had an absolute ball.

I can’t wait to see what everyone gets up to in the upcoming term; I’ll be hanging out on your Instagram accounts for sure!

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Font Bundle Update!

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Hello, teacher friends!

It feels like ages since I last posted, but in truth, the end of Term 2 was huge for me (and for many teachers I know, too). An 11 week term? Report-writing? Oh, boy!

It’s the holidays now, and I’m on break for two weeks. I have a few posts planned for the upcoming weeks, and the first one is an update on my font bundle on TpT! I actually have a few more updates planned for this bundle, which is discounted for the next 48 hours before I add even more fonts to my collection!

Creating fonts is quite therapeutic!

If you’re unfamiliar with my bundle, you can click on the image above, or this link here to check it out. There are currently 75 fonts exclusive to this pack, as well as 18 of my free fonts, all in one handy free download. That’s a total of 93 fonts. Early in July there will be over 100 fonts so if you purchase it before the discount ends, you get all future updates as they’re uploaded!

All of my fonts are available for commercial use with credit back to my store

You can check out this month’s updates below. Some of my favourites are MGL Rush, MGL Rushing and MGL Sunday Night!

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Don’t forget to stop by and check out the Miss Galvin Learns Exclusive Font Bundle before it goes back up to full price on Thursday!

Have a wonderful day, teacher friends!

Using an Interesting Words Journal

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No matter what year or grade level you teach, helping your students to develop a wide vocabulary is one of our most important (and fun!) jobs. Words are everywhere, and we want to our students to be curious about words and to know how they work and what they mean.

One way I like to address this with my Foundation students is with an Interesting Words Journal.

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It’s pretty much what it sounds like: a journal for interesting words.

Whenever we do a read aloud, or when we’re listening to conversations or watching a visual or video text, I encourage my students to stop and ask, “Hey, what does that word mean?” when they come across a word that’s unfamiliar or unknown to theme.

This usually prompts a lot of discussion.

And it’s wonderful.

Typically, I try and encourage the other students to explain what a word means – often they get pretty close to the meaning of a word on their own. Between them, my class – just like all of yours – brings a lot of prior knowledge. They may not know all the answers on their own, but collectively? They know a lot and they do a great job or working together to pool their knowledge to the betterment of all.

Once we’ve identified the word and explained the word we can add it to our Interesting Words Journal.

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This journal is simply a scrapbook with a front cover and a page for each letter of the alphabet. We add the words under the correct letter. It’s often a great opportunity to review the previous interesting words as you add new ones.

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We use these words a lot in oral language – we think of sentences to use them in (often the wackier the better!) and share them with our Turn and Talk Buddies. We write them down on the board. I also encourage students to use these new words in their own writing, too.

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There’s a true power in committing these new words to paper in one place. My students truly remember them.

Earlier in the week, we read a story with a lot of ‘h’ words as part of our sound focus for the week. One of the words that came up was heartbroken. We had a discussion around what it meant (the most wonderful description being “heartbroken means you’re super sad!”) and we put it in our book.

At the end of the week we were exploring emotions and looking at photos of people displaying a range of different emotions. One card was a little girl who looked very sad and one of my students put her hand up and said, “She looks heartbroken,” and then went on to explain why she thought that.

It was a wonderful moment and a true testament to the power of building vocabulary with students.

If you’ve gotten this far, thank you. I’d love to hear your stories of the power of building vocabulary with students.

You can find a purchasable version on my TeachersPayTeachers store with lined and unlined options.

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Until next time, happy teaching!

The Maths Box

A little while back I was contacted by RIC Publishing who asked me if I would be interesting in reviewing one of their new Maths Boxes. Last year I received a free sample of the Level 1 box and was eager to see more of this new series of resources that they’re releasing. As with all my reviews, my thoughts and opinions are my own. I’ve also tried to include a few ways that I plan on using this resource in my classroom.

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The Maths Box Series is an Australian Curriculum-aligned resource for Years 1-6. The boxes themselves retail for $275 per box and include two copies of 75 task cards (for a total of 150 cards), two copies of 75 answers cards and a teachers guide.

Each task card is colour-coded and numbered:

  • (Blue) Number and Algebra – Number and Place Value (26 cards)
  • (Red) Number and Algebra – Fractions and Decimals (8 cards)
  • (Green) Number and Algebra – Money and Financial Mathematics (4 cards)
  • (Purple) Number and Algebra – Patterns and Algebra (6 cards)
  • (Orange) Measurement and Geometry – Using Units of Measurement (15 cards)
  • (Dark Blue) Measurement and Geometry – Shape (3 cards)
  • (Yellow) Measurement and Geometry  – Location and Transformation (5 cards)
  • (Black) Statistics and Probability – Chance (4 cards)
  • (Brown) Statistics and Probability – Data Representation and Interpretation (4 cards)

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The front side of each card provides a stimulus material while the back of each card has questions pertaining to the stimulus material.  The cards are very graphic and colourful and include a range of illustrations and photos depending on the subject. They’re a thick, laminated card for durability.

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The Teacher’s Guide includes specific links to Australian Curriculum outcomes as well as Proficiency Strands (understanding, fluency, problem solving and reasoning) for each task card. There are explanations on how to use the cards, possible tasks, student and teacher tracking sheets, and materials required for individual tasks. There are full-colour mini posters for different topics, such as counting on, coins, shapes, etc. There are additional BLM resource sheets that can be copied to be used in conjunction with the task cards, too. There’s also a collected list of answers and a glossary for teacher use, too.

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There’s a lot to like about these task cards – they’re easy to use, easy to pull out, easy to implement. They’re bright, colourful and appealing to young students. Some of those things can also be a negative – sometimes too much colour or too many graphics can be distracting for young learners, however, these are not really tasks I would leave my students to use on their own.

That said, here’s how I plan to use them:

Idea #1: These would make great early finisher’s tasks for students who are confident readers and don’t need lots of teacher assistance – the visuals and the answer cards mean they can use them independently and check their answers.  Alternatively, you could pair students up to work on these (with a highly capable child with someone who needs a bit more assistance).

Idea #2: Assessment check-up. Depending on the skills you’re covering in the classroom, you might pull out a task that covers those areas and use those questions to check your students’ understanding during individual conferencing. With two copies of each task card, the student can have one in front of them and the teacher can have one for the questions.

Idea #3: A variation on the second idea, have a parent helper (or an older buddy) work with individual students to practise different maths skills. Again, use the two copies of each card.

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As a Foundation teacher with students who are already achieving end of Foundation benchmarks in maths, a box like this is great for extension, too, and I know some of my students will enjoy these activities.

Overall I think this is another quality resource that teachers can definitely add to their maths arsenal, and I do look forward to using it with my students in the future.

If you’re interested in checking out this resource, or any of the other great resources available, stop by the R.I.C. website!

Did You Take the ‘B’ From My _ook?

Stop, press!

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If you haven’t seen this book, RUN (don’t walk) and grab yourself a copy because it’s run of the most enjoyable books I have read with my class so far this year.

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you may be aware that I love children’s literature. I love books that make kids think and feel and laugh. Did You Take the B from My _ook? by Beck and Matt Stanton definitely makes them think and laugh.

They also argue back with you, which is the most fun a teacher (or parent) can have when sharing a read aloud story, and this is one of those books that must be read aloud. Trust me on this!

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For those of you who are familiar with the book This Is a Ball (also by Beck and Matt Stanton), this is a book where the adult reader is given instructions by the author prior to reading. In the case of Did You Take the B from My _ook? you love the letter ‘b’ and you’re going to sneeze and all the ‘b’s’ will be blown away.

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Then begins the really fun ‘conversation’ that you have with your child or class of students as you read all the words on the page without saying the sound ‘b’ in any words that begin with ‘b’. It is both hilarious and tricky and a fantastic jumping off point for conversation with children who argue you back at you and tell you that _all should be ball and _utterfly should be butterfly and so on.

When I first read this to my class (a group of twenty-three 4-6 year olds) I had two parent helpers in the classroom. They were in stitches, too, mostly because my class were desperately trying to convince me that I was saying all the words wrong all the time. By the time I finished reading it I had a little chorus of “Read it again, Miss Galvin!” going on (which I would have if it hadn’t been recess time!).

From a teaching perspective, it’s a really fantastic opportunity to talk about the importance of remembering initial sounds in words. There’s a lot of great activities that you could do following a reading of this book:

  • Make a list of words from your Sound of the Week and take that sound away from the beginning of words and read them aloud as a class.
  • Take away the first sound in students names and read them aloud.
  • Create an alliterative sentence using a particular sound (or your Sound of the Week), take away that sound and read it aloud.
  • For much older students, you could have them create their own version of the story with their favourite sounds and then have them share them with younger students.

So, thank you to Beck and Matt Stanton for (again) producing a highly entertaining book with wonderful learning concepts embedded within it. This was such fun to read and I can’t wait to read it again with my students in the future!

If you have any favourite read aloud books, be sure to share them with me in the comments below. I’d love to know what they are!

Until next time, happy teaching, friends!

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(This book was sent to me for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

Why I Said Goodbye to Post-It Notes

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If you’ve followed my blog for the last twelve months or so, you’ll know that I’ve been on a bit of a journey of learning how to be organised and how to manage my paper overflow. I’ve spent a lot of time teaching myself how to plan for my personal life in an actual planner, and while I’m pretty comfortable with how I lesson plan, I’ve found that some of the skills I’ve picked up from my personal planner has had am impact on how I manage my to-do list for school.

I want to preface this blog post with this: I know lots people love post-it notes and can use them really effectively. I can’t. They end up everywhere and it drives me crazy, so this post is really for those of you who are looking for an alternative to using post-it notes for keeping yourself on track!

My Journey

At my school at the beginning of the year we get a pack of post-it notes in our teacher stationery set. They’d sit on my desk and I’d write down random to-dos and things to remember on them and if I remembered, I’d stick them into my planner or onto my laptop so I wouldn’t forget them.

Invariably, I either often forgot to stick them where I would see them. Or they fell off.

Either way, I often forgot the notes that I had made which meant the entire process was ineffective and a waste of time.

Then I heard about two ideas, one which was completely new to me, and one that seemed completely obvious when I heard it: Bullet Journalling and the Master To-Do List. If you want to know more about Bullet Journalling – which is method like daily planning in a single notebook – you can check it out in more detail here. What I liked about this process was the idea of having everything in one book/place. 

The second idea was the Master To-Do List.

The Master To-Do List

The Master To-Do List is a system by which you have one single to-do list that contains everything you need to do. As you think of things, you add them to the list. As you complete them, you cross them off.

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You can have your list in a planner or notebook. You could even have it on paper and put it in a binder or on a clipboard (which makes it easier to throw it out/recycle the paper when you’re finished with everything on your list). It’s a fluid document that is a way for you to find a way to be more productive.

Daily Productivity

Having a Master To-Do List is great, but it looks overwhelming, right? A whole page filled with things to do?

As teachers we have to-do lists a mile long, but what I have learnt to do is to start prioritising things a lot better. If you don’t learn to prioritise you run the risk of being overwhelmed by all the things you need to accomplish.

So here’s my tip.

Pick your top three to-dos each day and write them down.

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Just three. Write them somewhere that will be clearly visible to you so that you can see them.

These are your priority for that day. They are the most important tasks you need to accomplish for the day.

Three tasks are an accomplishable goal and what you’ll find is that once you cross of those three tasks, you might even have time to go back to your master list and pick something else off of it. (But even if you don’t, you’ve accomplished something great.)

I know what you’re thinking: I need to do more than three things a day.

That’s true, but we’re talking big tasks that you need to tick off, not the little things we do each and every day.

They could even be the things you put off doing in favour of ‘other more important’ jobs.

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The other key is keeping these top 3 goals/jobs highly visible where you know you’ll see them. I’ve got my master to-do list on a clipboard on my desk and my daily Top 3 in my planner ready to tick them off. I check my planner every morning and night.

I honestly believe in this system and it works for me. I find I accomplish a lot more in a shorter period of time when I have attainable daily goals. (It also stops me from slumping to a Netflix hole even when I really want to!)

My challenge to use is to pick your Top 3 goals/jobs for tomorrow and put them somewhere more permanent and visible than a post-it note. 

If you’re looking for templates to get you started I have a basic pack listed in my TPT store for teachers. It’s 50% for the first 48 hours and if you’re looking for the opportunity to trial this system, it could be what you need:

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Regardless, I wish you well with your organisation journey!

If you like this post and would like future organisation posts, please let me know in the comments below.

I’d love to hear your organisation tips, too!

Keeping Track of Professional Development

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If you’re anything like me, the thought of having more paper lying around probably drives you crazy. Especially after attending professional development sessions/days when you’re given hand-out after hand-out to remind you of what you’ve learnt. I know that I do in fact return to some of those hand-outs but often? I don’t.

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Here are some digital and non-digital tips for managing your PD notes and papers.

Non digital ideas

I like to handwrite notes at PD, that’s just my preference. I find that if I handwrite notes I am more likely to remember them – but I know not everyone prefers that method. If you are like me, however, find yourself a single PD notebook for the year. Keep everything in one place that way you always know where to find it if you need to refer back to it. This year I’ve started using a traveler’s notebook with a Moleskine Cahier notebook for my PD notes. Everything goes in there, with the title, date, length and presenter’s name. It doesn’t have to be pretty or shiny, but I know it’s in there. Plus, when I finish with it, I can sit it neatly on a shelf until I need it (or I need to get rid of it after calculating my PD hours each year).

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For the hand-outs, find yourself a folder that you can easily add plastic pockets to. A ring-bound or disc-bound folder would work great for this. Depending on your filing system,  you could file by subject, presenter or date. Keep this somewhere close to your desk so you file your handouts straight away. There’s nothing worse than finding handout notes 6 months later in a pile of paper your forgot about!

Digital ideas

I know a lot of people prefer to compile their PD notes/attendance digitally. There are a lot of options out there because the range of programs and apps available are huge. If you do want to just type your notes up, some of the ones I like include:

Evernote – simply create a PD folder and add a new note each time you attend a PD session. You can also add tags to your notes to make it easier to search later on. Plus you can add images, audio, etc as you go (as long as you have the presenter’s permission), which is even easier if you’re using a tablet or your phone.

Google Docs/Drive – this is especially useful if you’re attending PD with colleagues. Create a collaborative document for taking notes and share it with your colleagues. That way you have the benefit of your notes AND theirs and it’s also a great way to facilitate conversations post-PD session.

Word/Pages/Notes – using simple word processing documents can be a really simple option, especially if you’re just typing.

Blog – when I originally started this blog, it was a place to reflect on my professional practise (and that includes reflecting on PD). This is a great platform to go back and revisit what you have learnt and then try and communicate it to others. And if you don’t want it to be seen by others, you can set it to private or even leave it as a draft but you know it’s there if you need it.

Other tips

Scan your handouts and store them digitally. Set up a good digital filing system (perhaps by year, or by subject) and scan your papers and get rid of them when you’re done. This is by far my favourite way to cut down on excess papers floating around on my desk. Do the same with any slides/handouts that presenters email to you. Be sure to have a consistent file name process so that you can search for things easily, too (e.g.: PD_Date_SessionTitle)!

If you don’t have a scanner, take a photo of your handouts (we do live in a smart phone age!) and add them to your folder or Evernote or Dropbox.

I hope that gives you all some ideas to review your PD paper management systems. I’d love to know how YOU manage your PD notes and papers, so don’t forget to leave a comment down below.

If you enjoyed this bright idea, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter for more great ideas.

For more bright ideas, don’t forget to check out the rest of the links below. Thanks for visiting!

Five for Friday | April 8th

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#1

I am a stationery addict. I fully admit that. But I have to say that I am in love with this handmade notebooks for my traveller’s notebook that I’ve been making over the last few weeks. This is my collection as of this week – there’s small and large grid paper in some of them, as well as 100gsm plain paper. Covered in some of my favourite 12×12 papers, of course. I use these for meeting notes and PD notes for work!

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#2

For referring people to GoNoodle, I was lucky enough to receive a tote bag and some stickers and I can’t wait to share these with the kids when Term 2 starts on Monday!

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#3

There weather is cooling down here as Autumn finally starts to settle in. This week was definitely a beanie and (lots of) tea week from Wednesday onwards!

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#4

This week I also went to the Melbourne Museum and saw the Jurassic World exhibit. I loved it. I could have stayed and watched the dinosaurs all day.

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#5

This week I was fortunate enough to catch up with some old friends and make some new teacher friends with the first Melbourne Teacher Instagram meet-up! It was a fabulous afternoon full of good food, company and some of the most entertaining stories (as only teachers can tell them!). Thanks to all the lovely ladies who came out – it was so lovely to put faces to names and I can’t wait to catch up with them all again soon!

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