Friday, 16 November 2012

What a week...

Wow. It seems that the longer I teach for the harder it seems to get and the more work I have to do.

That is it. Not very imaginative but it is about all I can think of. Here's to a lovely saturday at my allotment and then refreshed for monday.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Tech in the classroom group

During my line management meeting today with my AHT we got onto discussing setting up a group for 'using technology in the classroom'  Kind of like a SEN / G and T etc kind of group but one that is there for people to help / support and encourage people to use different technology and try out different things when teaching.

I am quite keen, as I have seen how well #ukedchat works and how it encourages people and gives them ideas for how to improve their own teaching,  Have also been involved in sharing ways for lesson starters etc.  I would envisage the group meeting around twice a half term to discuss ideas, share what has worked, encourage and, god forbid (coming from a union rep) observe each other using the new techniques,

Does anyone have any experience in this kind of group and could give me any advice / ideas on how it would work? 


Sunday, 28 October 2012


Homework in our school is becoming a bit of an issue / debate.  Whether we set too much or too little, whether it is actually useful and whether it gets marked at all.  One of my PM objectives that I have set this year is to evaluate our faculties use of homework and to develop a new policy which both enables students to continue to learn outside the classroom but allows for differentiation and no adverse affect on teachers workloads! Maybe an impossible dream.

Anyway, this post is more about my initial thoughts about homework and why we set it at all.

If asked now, whether I think homework is useful I would probably say no. It is percieved negatively by students, I get fed up trying to chase homework not done and trying to set homework that is useful for say the next lesson is always dangerous qs you can guarantee that some wont have done it.  I think to often it is seen by both staff and students as a bolt on, not an essential part of learning - esp at ks3 and ks4. So, do we need it?

Increasingly I am thinking yes. If only to foster some independent learning skills and commitment that is needed at ks5.  However, it does, at least in my experience and use at the moment need a change. And that is my main reason for focussing on this for a PM target.  My aim next term is to assess what students think and to also trial some ideas from the ukedchat on thursday.  Specifically I am going to try and get kids to choose thier own homework from a list - see if letting them choose an area might encourage them to actually do it.

I am also going to investigate the idea of a learning log for students to encourage them to think about what they are doing and why.  Hopefully this will have a positive effect and try to change the perception of homework being a negative part of school.  We shall see

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Ukedchat - what is marking

A great time on uk chat on Thursday looking at marking and assessing work. Some good ideas and good discussions had.
It made me think about my marking.  The ICT courses we teach are coursework intensive and a lot of my time is taken up with that rather than assessing learning. I am going to think about and reflect on ways to do more assessing learning and less marking.
I am a strong believer in peer assessment and it is something I use a lot to check against criteria based tasks. It does require training but I do find that it improves there own work as well as helping peers learn.
This week I am going to see how much marking I do compared to assessing learning and will post the results here.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

3pm - time to go home!

Surprisingly, it's not very often that the above is true.  As you can probably guess this post is in response, or about Michael Wilshaws newest statement in his role as Chief Inspector for OFSTED.  I have been reading a few different blog posts about it - Chips of Brookfield has made an excellent post - well worth a read.

My reaction comes down to a few points.

  1. I have been teaching now for 10 years, and this is the first time in my career that I could name without really thinking about it the Chief Inspector.  I know that Mike Tomlinson did it years a go, and Chris Woodhead before him, but I did have to search Wikipedia to find out who was before Wilshaw.  (Christine Gilbert for those who didn't know like me!)  Surely that says something about how much attention he is getting from his press statements and interviews at the moment.  That is something I do not think is in the best interest of OFSTED.  OFSTED is not or should not be political at all.  All it should be interested in is seeing if schools, and teachers are doing their job properly, and that the government is getting value for money from them.  That is it.  I have no problem with inspections, as I do think that schools need to be held to account.  But when political interference occurs you then start getting problems where only above average is good enough!
  2. This whole thing about going the extra mile.  Why should it be expected from any job that you have to go above and beyond the job you are paid for in order to progress?  I'm not saying that teachers should not go the extra mile, but surely it should not be expected.  If it is expected then it really shouldn't be called the extra mile, it should just be the job you get paid for.  
  3. Wilshaws recent statement, like a lot of his others, focuses on negativity.  He focuses on the few teachers who might leave at 3 and do not do their job as well as others (Although, in 10 years of teaching I have not met many like that)  Why couldn't he say that a thank you, or look at the positive side of all the teachers who stay till 5pm, mark work and plan lessons in the evening, give up weekends and holidays to enrich students lives etc.  But these don't get a mention.  In saying what he did, in the way that he did, he reinforced the view that teachers are lazy, that they only work between 9-3 and have very long holidays.   
  4. If he is serious about raising standards (and being Chief Inspector he should be) then belittling teachers and getting their backs up is not the right way to go about it.  I have often said that a happy staff will get better results.  By saying what he is saying, he is continuing the government attack on teachers and making them feel worthless or second class.  This will only end up in them losing motivation and commitment.  He needs to be building them up.  After 2 years of pay freezes, more contributions to pensions, more work and changes to the education system then I can remember, the GCSE situation this year then more negativity does not help.  Give teachers some praise for once and see what happens...
So, there you have it.  Not really much, but a few observations.  Lets hope that over the next few months Wilshaw decides to focus on his main job, not building himself up for a knighthood at the end of this parliament.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Ouch... Finding time to blog

Well, I obviously haven't yet found time to blog on a regular basis.  Which is a shame, and I think I am going to have to set aside time each week to reflect and blog if I want this to work.  It's a bit like my running - if I have no race to aim for I struggle to get the motivation to go outside.

My aim for the next week is to work out the 'race' for this blog - how am I going to keep myself motivated to write it and how am I going to make it influence how I teach and what I teach.    However, looking back over the past year there have been some successes that I can remember!
  • The use of facebook with my Post-16 students.  They really seemed to like having their own group and being able to see that I was willing to answer questions etc not just in lessons but also at teh weekend  They also liked the more personal side they could see and made the relationships in the class a lot stronger.  Posting test results / coursework grades up (or letting students know where to find them) encouraged them to check the VLE regularly as well.
  • VLE's  I know a bit old hat but the year just gone was the first proper year that our school has used one.  I love paperless marking.  ANd the interactivity they give you.  I don't love it when halfway through a great lesson the server crashes!
  • Twitter - I started this year really using twitter a lot to get ideas and as a resource.  A bit like this blog though time got the better of me and it was one of the things that I dropped.  Again, I think that has to change and I am re-discovering the joys of twitter again.
My aims for this year are to really get the blogging bit sorted.  Both me and with kids.  We are also teaching GCSE Computing for the first time so looking forward to re-discovering my programming skills (or lack of them!)  

So, we'll see if this is really a new dawn or not...

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Teaching and Learning strategies and sharing in the classroom

The #ukedchat on Thursday night was on the subject of the best teaching and learning strategies you have used in your classroom.  The actual discussion on twitter was incredible - so many good ideas being shared, discussed and suggested that it almost made me feel sad that we as teachers do not do this more often - especially in our own schools.

I think that it is a real shame that we as teachers do not share more often - there is so much that we can learn from each other and so much time that can be saved by not reinventing the wheel each time.  In my school over the past few years we have started MOT training sessions, which stand for Moving On Together.  They are led by staff members (SLT, Teaching staff and support staff) and we can sign up for hte one we feel will be most helpful.  This is a start, but there are only 5 a year.  The discussion on Thursday night was a real eye-opener for what could and should be happening in schools across the country.  There must be some way of staff sharing ideas more regularly - is it that we don't want to share our work as we put the hard work in?

We need to be sharing and piggy'backing on ideas more often.  One of the best bits of the #ukedchat discussion was when an idea was suggested, then other people said 'but what if you add x to this' , or 'have you thought about extending it like this?'  This shared owneership and shared creation needs to become more of a feature of our professionality if we are to keep on moving forward. 

I am thinking about trying to start a discussion board at school for this - will let people know how it works.  Anyone got any other ideas for how we could hsare more effectively? 

Tom Day