This much I know about…why putting your family first matters

johntomsett

I have been a teacher for 25 years, a dad for 17 years, a Headteacher for 10 years and, at the age of 49, this much I know about why putting your family first matters.

To publish this has been a tough call. After a week of talking it through with him, my son Joe agreed to me posting this article. The tipping point came when one of my closest colleagues read it and said, It MUST be published at some point soon because too many of us are working ourselves into the ground. Joe remarked that what happened to him and me probably happens to lots of people…

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An Arthur Miller Life Lesson

“People are much more similar than you think. As I go around the world and ask those I meet what matters most to them, they all say their family comes first.” So said the CEO of Barclays, Antony Jenkins, to…

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Northern Powerhouse #NRocks Education to the Foundation Stones

Having attended yesterday’s Northern Rocks conference I just wanted to blog a few thoughts.

Firstly, I went to the conference with high expectations and without any doubt those expectations were massively exceeded. The buzz throughout the day was infectious, and generated a vibe that lasted well beyond the day. Although I’ve met only a handful of people who attended in person before, I felt amongst friends and colleagues that I knew implicitly. I heard someone mention throughout the day we were the ‘teaching rebels’,  a group of like minded, but challenging professionals that are taking education forward as a group while it’s kicking and screaming.

On entry to the University, we were handed a set of teaching union propaganda, reminding us all, as if was necessary that teaching seems to be in crisis. The propaganda warned of looming austerity cuts; highlighted battle lines being drawn between Leadership Teams, Ofsted, frontline staff and the Government. But was it necessary? I walked through the revolving door and met the people who are passionate about driving through the fog of cuts, targets, accountability and downright denigration of a great profession to make the lives of young people better.

The first session set the scene, a balanced debate, launched by a passionate speech from Kevin Courtney @Cyclingkev the Deputy General Secretary of the NUT. It highlighted again the challenges every school face in modern Britain. The responses from various ‘think tanks’ and academics gave counter balance to the argument, but I had heard it all before. I agree that teaching, the recruitment and retention of staff and austerity are big problems that have to be solved. But how?

The answer is patently clear to me, it’s by days like yesterday. The workshop sessions offered breaths of fresh air into my teaching lungs.

@Cijane02 and @Psychologymarc gave an academically focussed pitch into the world of Growth Mindset. I enjoyed it throughly, because it reminded me of that I am (like almost all teachers) University educated. And using the foundation stones of academic research is essential in a suite of techniques to improve classroom practice.

@Hywel_Roberts was a tour-de-force, he enlightened me, delved deep into my own inner passion about why I teach? Like most teachers, I love working with children, they inspire me as I should inspire them. It was that edge of a seat moment that you so rarely get in a CPD session, it made me tingle and laugh out loud. The #JawsforLearning parody was just sublime.

Hywel’s guarded message about not wanting to work with people who suck the life out of us, reminded me of those who do that in my life, sometimes daily. The message was clear, challenge them, work with them but importantly don’t let them win. Teaching our young people is too important; so we can’t let the zombies win.

@ICTevangelist gave that calmness under pressure that is required when convincing people that embedded use of technology will help in the classroom. The way he developed and engaged the audience so quickly and gave everyone a tangible ‘take away’ idea was just brilliant. I follow Mark avidly on twitter and he was even more engaging in real life.

@MaryMyatt was just a serene voice of knowledge that helped everyone secure their own understanding of the role of Ofsted, but most importantly what they are looking for during an inspection. Her message was clear, plan good lessons, that engage young people and they will progress over time. Your marking and feedback should assist this progress not hinder it.

She rebuked and clarified some of the scare stories that have been peddled over the years, and certainly made me leave the session thinking that Mary Myatt’s view of what Ofsted should be gives hope for the future. Even if as I type this, I have yet to see first hand evidence of that across the entire Ofsted spectrum.

The final session of a fierce debate between the @maryboustedATL and and @harfordsean from Ofsted gave some additional food for thought, but for me felt like it drained some life out of a positive day, fortunately, the entertainment from various twitterati re-generated the positivity within me.

And that is my final point, I tweeted this after the event:

Andy Calvert

@MrACalvert

After #NRocks I’m just reflecting on the massive impact Twitter has had on education. Would a day like today ever have happened without it?

And for me that is it, Twitter has changed the educational landscape, it has opened doors, conversations and developed a team of staff from all parts of the country, that will never let our education system crumble, no matter what.

Thanks to all the organisers and I look forward to #NRocks2016

Andy @MrACalvert

KS3 New Exploring Science Example Lesson Plans

fantastic work

Robert Brooks

I have uploaded example lessons to the TES for the new KS3 Exploring Science.

These can be used to get a general overview for the lesson before referring to the unit guide provided by Pearson (which is quite lengthy) and are also idea ideal to refer to as a starting point for non-specialists, trainees, NQTs, last-minute cover and for (hopefully rare!) last-minute planning at certain times of the year when other priorities exist, e.g. BTEC moderation!

I have used the @teachertoolkit 5 minute digital lesson plan format to create these example lesson plans. This is a really quick and easy way to present the information clearly without having to format e.g. a word or PowerPoint document:

7Ce Example Lesson Plan-page-0017Jd Example Lesson Plan-page-001

Here are the links to the units I have done example lesson plans for so far:

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Google Classroom in a UK school: My First Thoughts

Google Classroom promised to be the perfect antidote for work flow issues when you have a whole school like ours using 1:1 iPads. After a few false dawns the Beta version was released just before the summer and now is fully operational but still being developed. An app is promised soon which I think will allow greater integration with the iPad.
As expected Google although a bit late to the party (Showbie and Edmodo got there first in my opinion) I think they have developed a interface that looks good and i think most importantly links directly and automatically with your own and your students Google Drive account.
All our students have Gmail addresses and you can invite you students via email or via a class code (like Showbie)
Work flow is great, it’s easy to post announcements before, during and after a lesson and this helps enormously with differentiation at all levels. I have particularly enjoyed starting a topic to gain an insight to prior knowledge band any misconceptions that have to be challenged.
being google of course you have to live with the americanisation of language such as ‘Turning in’ for the more anglican ‘Handing in’, when the students deliver their work to you.
Setting assignments is easy and these can be downloaded directly from your google drive or elsewhere, just be careful to test on an iPad as I fell foul of this and had to have a rapid rethink when a video wouldn’t play.
I am using Google Classroom for Classes in a broad ability range and I have to say the students have quickly adapted to the new web based system and love the link to their Google Drive, as it’s all automatic. A ‘Classroom’ Folder with all the work set and links added for revision later is posted onto Google Drive. They post their work in their folder and ‘Turn it in’ to me when the deadline is reached.

I will post again when I have got to grips with the marking and feedback of student’s work.

Part 2 to come soon

Andy @MrACalvert

Who are the new GCSEs for?

Teaching: Leading Learning

The first post on this blog, in December 2012, was a tirade against the English Baccalaureate Certificates proposed by the then education secretary Michael Gove. In my first foray into the blogosphere, I was furious with the proposal for two-year linear courses assessed only by terminal exams, awarded numerical grades, only available in selected subjects and accessible only to some students. Fortunately, Gove saw sense and in February 2013 he performed what Stephen Twigg called “a humiliating climb-down” in parliament,  claiming that the reforms were “a bridge too far.” The profession breathed a sigh of relief. I too am mightily relieved that instead of those awful EBCs we now have reformed GCSEs – two-year linear courses assessed only by terminal exams, awarded numerical grades, only available in selected subjects. Politics, eh?

Michael Gove in the House of Commons, February 2013 Michael Gove in the House of Commons, February 2013

In truth, the most hateful part of the EBC proposal was…

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