Reflections from working with a Whole School Responsibility
This post attempts to outline my own reflections from what I have learnt this year in the hope it may be able to support or prepare others in similar positions. I strongly believe reflecting should be a process that is embedded as a continued part of our practice.
Improving wellbeing and limiting workload stressors
There has been a lot written in the last year or two about wellbeing and supporting staff workload in education to avoid ‘burnout’. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about quite a lot, particularly in the last week or two as I look to evaluate and streamline our existing systems and explore avenues for potential improvement. Last week, I put a thread together summarising some of my key views and suggestions, much of it isn’t revolutionary and is currently being used within school systems around the country but this blog will attempt to summarise my opinions relating to this topic, while offering suggestions for practical application in school and questions for leaders to consider.
The Power of Observations – Teaching and Learning Reflections
This week I conducted a number of developmental observations in school, both as a requirement of particular staff courses or through requests. As Teaching and Learning Lead, this is something I enjoy immensely and it’s great to witness some brilliant work in our classrooms. Upon reflection, I found it so eye-opening and it really strengthened my position on a number of pedagogical debates.
Initially, I had written up and shared my reflections on Twitter and this gained a lot of traction and appeared to help many, but in order to help explain my points further, to outline some of the wider points raised through responses on Twitter and for it not to ‘disappear’, I have decided to place them below into this blog post.
What I learnt from the first week back
Week one physically back at school is complete. There were smiles, there was tons of excitement, there were chats and catching-up, there were lessons and there was lots of hand gel. I loved it. In previous posts, I have written about the importance of continually reflecting on our own practice to help inform development. I think this is important now more than ever. Therefore, here are some reflections about the first week back. This post is quite personal to my own experiences this week and what I found and learnt in school.
CPD ‘Breakfast’ and ‘Expert Panel’ Events
This week, we hosted two new CPD events within our current structures. I’ve had a few questions on Twitter about both of them and so this post aims to rationalise the approaches and offer advice for anyone looking to implement something similar in their school.
Remote Teaching: Reflections and what can we use in the classroom moving forward?
Depending on your viewpoint, next week we will be emerging from the shadows of remote teaching to the spring of classroom-based practice. However, I believe it is too simplistic to treat both of these entities as entirely separate and not interconnected. As I’ve stated in previous posts, the principles of ‘excellent teaching’ in a remote setting are also the principles of ‘excellent teaching’ in the classroom, it is just we may prioritise certain areas or certain parts at different points. Therefore, before the 8th March, I think it’s of vital importance to reflect and think about what we have learnt and gained from this period of remote teaching and what it has done to potentially improve and develop our practice. What also has a place in the classroom? What can be used to help bridge the gap?
What questions do we need to consider for ‘catch-up’?
I find the term ‘catch-up’ interesting in itself. What does it even mean? Who are pupils catching-up with? Their predecessors? Their peers? An imagined view of themselves if we were not in a worldwide pandemic? How can we know where they are ‘meant to be’? What questions do we actually need to consider here?
Using podcasts in teaching
I’m a big podcast fan. Every morning I try and start my day with one and I’ve recently started to document this ‘journey’ on Twitter, partly for my own interest but also to help anyone else looking to use podcasts but who, maybe, are unsure of which ones to select and listen to. My podcasts topics encompass a wide range of topics from politics to sport to mindset and to education. In the last year, I’ve attempted to use podcasts as much as theoretically possible in my lessons and have started the process of explaining the purpose and rationale to my pupils.
Remote Teaching: ‘less is sometimes more’
We need to ensure that a school environment is fostered that is not judgmental to staff who decide not to utilise the latest online resource that has been shared. Effective teaching doesn’t need to be all singing and all dancing, especially remotely. It can be simple in its intent and structure. What does empowering staff to do their job to the best of their ability actually mean? Should we select and then simply focus on one thing at a time? Less is sometimes more and that’s okay.
Remote Teaching: Support and Tips
This post is going to attempt to address four key areas within our current context in the hope it can help anyone reading this:
- Strategy and Planning Support
- Teaching and Learning Guidance
- Key Areas to consider
- Remote Teaching Tips and Tricks
Planning and Creating a CPD Session PowerPoint: My Approach
CPD PowerPoints. I love them. I love the topic selection. I love the planning. I love the research. I love the design. I love including examples. I love the art form. I love the challenge.
But how can they be put together?
Formulating a strategy for Year 11 Revision: How could this be achieved?
The PPEs. Three letters and one acronym that can either instigate fear in a particular year group or… instigate numerous questions from different pupils asking ‘so does ‘PPE’ simply mean ‘Mock Exam’. Or both. How can we prepare Year 11 pupils?
Teaching within the ‘New Normal’: ‘Nothing drastic, just the same but better’
The ‘New Normal’. I’m not entirely sure what I think about the phrase. Although potentially quite apt, at its core, it ultimately implies that our teaching and pedagogy should be drastically different to what we, as teachers, have been doing previously. It has to be ‘New‘. I appreciated and understood the uniqueness of the current situation but I strongly believed that we didn’t need to massively reinvent the wheel or drastically change course. Keep Calm and Carry On?
‘Setting the Standard’: Establishing routines and rapport in the first lesson
I’ve always found the first few days and weeks in school intriguing. Everyone in school is attempting to set a ‘standard’ – whether this is the Headteacher with their staff, pastoral leaders with their year group or a teacher in their classroom. How are we going to begin? What will this year look like? I take a lot of pride in how I approach the first lesson with any new class. I think it’s vitally important that you transmit your rules and expectations to pupils as effectively as possible and that all pupils in your class understand these as soon as possible. But how can you do this?
The potential power of a Retrieval Pack (Part Two)
In order to further help people create their own, this post has been designed to further explain the potential power of a Retrieval Pack and to outline and champion the different ways they could be potentially adapted, utilised and implemented within the classroom. It finishes with a few thoughts about how they could be used in the future.
Planning for September: Technology, ‘learning gaps’ and a ‘Recovery Curriculum’
In the first of a potentially new series, I spoke to Dr. Flavia Belham from @SenecaLearn about their reflections on remote learning, advice in identifying and analysing the extent of ‘gaps’ in education and offering guidance and resources for schools in September.
The Power of Collaboration: Reflections from the Virtual History Conference
I believe that is the true purpose of an event of this scale, collaboration by everyone, whether a keynote, a speaker or a listener. We all have great ideas to share.
Should we stop PEE-ing all over the page?
In the last academic year, I applied for and was successful in gaining a borough TLR position that commissioned a piece of school-based research. This post outlines my findings and conclusions.
Do writing frames and scaffolding have a negative impact on More Able students because, firstly, there is an assumption that pupils fully understand what constitutes a Point in their writing and that pupils focused more on the structural requirements of each question as opposed to developing their knowledge and evaluation?
‘The Next Step’ – Eight ways to potentially prepare for future progression
How can you use this current period to potentially prepare for the ‘next step up’?
‘Education, Education, Education‘
“Pupils want to learn about this history. They want to be educated. They want to share their views. They simply need to be given a safe and educational environment to do this. Schools can offer this.”
The potential power of a Retrieval Pack
How can we ensure that retrieval activities are not standalone functions of a lesson but in-built within a scheme of work?
“A ‘Retrieval Pack’ can retrieve retrieval”
‘Continuing a Curriculum’ at Key Stage 3: A manageable approach
How do we ensure that the curriculum is still being delivered in the current climate? How does teaching ‘carry’ on? What does assessment and feedback now look like?
How can you ‘GEL’ together your planning in order to create an effective scheme of work?
Your Head of Department has asked you to put together a new scheme of work for a topic within your curriculum. This could be during this lockdown period or in the future. How can you approach it?
This Blog offers a step-by-step and simplified guide to aid teachers.
‘The Common Threads that bind us’ – summarising a week of Leadership CPD
What are some of the principles that bind effective school leaders together?
‘A case study into Dual Coding: Could students effectively lead their own learning through a shared understanding of the multimedia effect?‘
How can the Dual Coding Theory be sequenced into a series of lessons through the use of graphic organisers?
‘Creating a simplified Curriculum model for teachers ‘new’ to the profession’
How do you simplify the planning and potential implementation of a new curriculum? How can this be communicated to ‘new’ and inexperienced teachers?