About pooroldhenry

I was a long term Northern Territory (NT) Educator, commencing my teaching career in WA in 1970. We came to the NT in July 1975 and worked in remote, town then urban communities. My tenure in the NT was at Numbulwar School (1975- 1978), Angurugu Community School on Groote Eylandt (1979-1982), Nhulunbuy Primary School (1983-1986), then Karama School (1987-1991) and lastly Leanyer School (1992 until retiring in January 2012). I filled the position of school principal from 1977 until my retirement. My career started at Warburton Ranges in WA as a teacher in 1970 then as headmaster in 1974. My major focus on and belief in education is that it develop children and students holistically, preparing them for the whole of life. Educational partnerships involving staff, students, community and department have always been important. I am a Fellow and Lifetime Member of the Council of Education Leaders, a Life Member of the Association of School Education Leaders (recently rebranded as the Northern Territory Principals Association) and was awarded the Commonwealth Centenary Medal for contribution to education. A member of Toastmasters International I am an Advanced Toastmaster Gold (ATMG). I hold a number of degrees and remain actively interested in and contributive to education. A highlight of my 'recent' life (from 2011 until 2016) was contributing to Teacher Education at Charles Darwin University. This has involved marking, tutoring and lecturing in a part time capacity. I was also involved with our Department of Education (NT) as a member of the Principals Reference Group (2012 until 2016) and have worked with others on the establishment of a Principals Coaching and Mentoring program. From 2014, I was the Education Minister's Nominee on the NT Board of Studies until its reconstitution in July 2016. Prior to retirement from full time work I represented the Education Department on the Board (2009 - 2011). I was working in support of students enrolled with the School of Education at CDU from 2012 until 2017. I enjoyed the chance to give back to the profession which over many years has done much for me. From July 2013 until the end of June 2019, I wrote a weekly column about educational matters for the Darwin/Palmerston /Litchfield 'Suns' Newspapers and then the rebranded 'Suns Newspaper' with Territory-wide circulation. This newspaper ceased publication in June 2019. I occasionally write for other papers and am a contributor to professional magazines and online discussion about educational matters. Included were regular contributions to the Australian Council of Education's 'e-Teaching' and 'e-Leading' publications, which ceased as communications organs in December 2017. I hold retired member's status with the Australian Education Union (NT), contributing occasionally to union publications. I am presently working on developing a series of vignettes, aimed at providing information that pre-service and beginning teachers may find useful. They are oriented toward assisting with an understanding of practices that may assist meet professional and teaching needs. To date, 89 of these have been completed. I contribute to general conversations and various groups on ‘Linked In’ and am also a contributor to ‘The Conversation’. I have a blog site at henrygrayblog.wordpress.com and invite you to access it at any time should you so wish. Henry Gray February 28 2020



I weep for the way in which spelling has been discounted in this modern day and age. Too often the elements of word study are neglected and ‘anything goes’. Teacher too often do not know how to teach spelling and do not know how to spell themselves. Spelling. grammatical constructs, word usage and application including meaning are discounted.

When I trained as a teacher in 1968 – 69, one of our ‘method’ units was the teaching of spelling. Furthermore, we were required to sit a test of 100 spelling words and were allowed one error. An error included writing the word, realising it was wrong and correcting that word. Failure required the test to be sat again and again and again. The test HAD to be passed before trainees graduated. Failure meant one did not graduate until the test was mastered.

A far cry from then until now, when it often seems anything goes. Dear teachers of today and tomorrow, how I hope you will help reverse that trend by teaching spelling.


When dealing with issues, try to avoid extreme responses before considering the substance of the situation. It is easy to go from being very very excited and euphoric to very very downcast and despairing when considering things without proper digestion and comprehension. Never rush. When presented with issues considered carefully the ramifications of your responses, making them as evenhanded as possible. Never be impetuous or rash; when looking at issues consider all things carefully. Show wisdom up front of making decisions. Try to avoid being a person who is wise in hindsight because what has been done could’ve been done differently and better.



Technology with all its advances is better understood by children and young people than teachers. Students in terms of their intimate technological knowledge are often streets ahead of their instructors. teachers worry they can’t keep up.

In 1996, Heather Gabriel wrote in ‘The Australian’, that teachers should not stress out about this factor. She suggested that the classroom be like unto a ship, the teachers the captain and students like unto the crew. A good ship’s captain does not try and try to do everything. He or she delegates to the crew and oversees the totality of function to ensure the ship safely negotiates from the start to the end of its journey.

Similarly, teachers can engage students to oversee aspects of the classroom’s technological challenge while ensuring that technology enhances learning outcomes. That to my way of thinking is an apt analogy



The myriad of educational initiatives constantly coming at us, means schools could always be in a state of flux. We are constantly urged to try this, that and the other idea, meaning there can be little time to settle on an agenda. Organisations deserve predictability and steady state. Schools also need to be places where deep learning is offered.

Rapid movement from one idea to the next to the next means there is little time for stabilising the agenda. Rather than deep learning, schools become like a frog hopping from lilly pad to lilly pad to lilly pad. One slip, and the frog is dunked. In the same way, schools can become places of instability. Students and teachers need both predictability and surety.



The work done by teachers, school leaders and others connected with schools is metaphorically like an iceberg. One tenth of an iceberg is visible above the water, with the other nine tenths below the water. It is invisible to the casual observer.

Similarly, 10% of what educators do is visible to parents and the community. The other 90% is not seen, hidden from view, but essential if their roles are fulfilled. The depth of education is not seen. But without the devotion to planning and preparation, then follow up to teaching and visible management and leadership efforts, our roles would be far less effective.



‘No one on their death bed ever regretted not having spent more time at work’ is something I heard many years ago. Work IS important and we need to do our very best. However, there needs to be life after work, a time for family, friends and relaxation. We need renewal and revitalisation. That does not happen if our noses are forever on the grindstone. We need to do our conscientious best at the coalface. We also need to live life.

Teaching should be a joy. I hope that all pre-service teachers are going into the profession because because they want to, not because they feel under qualified to go into any other profession. Teaching is challenging but it should also bring joy. Teachers need to be ‘wannabees’ not ‘gottabees’. All the best to all those who are preparing to enter our classrooms as teachers of tomorrow



Please consider being teachers and principals who appreciate the efforts of students and peers. “Thanks’ is a little word, hugely appreciated by those deserving recognition but so often overlooked. It is easy to pick, find fault, criticise and throw brick-bats. It seems that too often we overlook the bouquets.

THANKING people and meaning it creates a warm glow within others. The benefits of this positive remembrance lift offerers as well as receivers.

There is room for all educators to give and receive genuine thanks for appreciation is positive and uplifting.




Should the development of speech and speaking programs be part of the curriculum available to children and students of all ages? Is ‘speaking and listening’ becoming an extinct form of expression?

My concern is more with the qualities of speaking and LISTENING than with the mere speaking of words. There is speaking and speaking. Listening as a part of the speech platform seems to have gone by the bye. Too often people listen for pause, so they can begin speaking. They listen but don’t hear or comprehend.


I asked AI


AI Responded

In the past, teacher education programs often emphasized teaching methods that were specific to particular subjects. For example, a math teacher might learn about different strategies for teaching algebra or geometry, while an English teacher might focus on teaching writing or literary analysis. This approach was based on the assumption that different disciplines required different pedagogical approaches in order to be effectively taught.

However, in recent years there has been a shift away from this subject-specific approach in many teacher education programs. Rather than focusing on subject-specific pedagogies, programs are placing greater emphasis on generalized teaching methods and strategies that can be applied across different subject areas. This approach emphasizes the development of transferable skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration, which are seen as valuable in all academic disciplines and in life beyond the classroom.

There are several reasons why this shift has occurred. One reason is that the traditional subject-specific approach may not be as effective as previously thought. Studies have shown that students who learn through approaches that emphasize transferable skills and critical thinking tend to perform better academically and are better prepared for future careers.

Another reason is that teaching is becoming more interdisciplinary. Many of today’s challenges, such as climate change or social inequality, require a multidisciplinary approach to solve. Teachers need to be able to integrate knowledge and skills from different subject areas in order to address these complex issues effectively.

Finally, there is a growing recognition of the importance of diversity, inclusivity, and equity in educational settings. Teachers need to be able to create learning environments that are responsive to students’ individual needs and backgrounds. This requires a different approach to teaching that places greater emphasis on cultural responsiveness, social justice, and student voice.

While specific subject-specific pedagogies may not be explicitly taught in teacher education programs, many programs still offer courses dedicated to teaching methods for particular subjects or subject areas. Additionally, teachers may receive additional training throughout their careers in order to develop specialized knowledge and skills related to teaching specific content areas