Jane Basnett is head of MFL at Downe House, a successful Independent Girls School in Berkshire. She has been teaching for almost 20 years and is still learning. She achieved an MA in Digital Technology for Language Teaching at Nottingham University.
After 24 years as a teacher you learn a few things about the job. Within this 24 years I have had time as a head of department (four as Head of French, and the last ten as a head of a large, vibrant modern languages department) and this has really enabled me to learn about myself. Just as with teaching, as a head of department I am still learning but have collected a few top tips. So here are my top nine things I’ve learnt about this job.
I have just finished my 22nd year of teaching. By rights, as a teacher, I should be pretty stale now. Most classes should groan when they realise that they will have me as a teacher. They might imagine that I am one of those teachers who goes back to a folder of worksheets, digs out the most appropriate one for the class, wipes off the dust and makes enough copies of it for my students to let them complete it and so on. After all these years my students might think that I should know how to teach everything and that teaching grammar topics is something I have mastered and can do off the top of my head. Surely, they imagine, I have mastered the job and do it the same old way as I have always done - the job is easy for me and perhaps my students might think that I am a little boring.
I always love using technology in the classroom. Making the most of digital tools allows me to bring another dimension to my teaching, and gives me the opportunity to enhance those pedagogically-sound practices that teachers know, trust and use on a day-to-day basis.
Terms come and go, and those good intentions to achieve all sorts of goals can easily fall by the wayside as you and your team succumb to a multitude of everyday activities and chores that need to be accomplished if your students are going to get the grades they need. Add to this the all-important planning and marking - which are integral to student success and which make you a more effective practitioner - it seems nigh on impossible to find the time to do anything other than teach, mark, give feedback and report. These are, of course, key elements of our job. However, what about the targets that are going to impact positively on these key elements? When do we get the time to consider these?
Originally published on 7th September 2015
A new term is always an exciting time. It is not just a time for new pens, new mark books and a new set of classes. A break away from the chalkface has meant that teachers are relaxed, full of energy and bursting with new ideas. Holidays for teachers often give them a burst of energy, a renewed sense of purpose and a chance to get their creative juices flowing. Thus, it is not unknown to return to work after a long recess and find departments all over school starting new initiatives and putting some great ideas into place.
These days, as often seen on Twitter, there seems to be examples of great CPD going on all over the place. Inset is delivered by teachers expressly for teachers, TeachMeets are organised and carried out by colleagues all over the country for other like-minded staff keen who go to learn from each other and take home great ideas.
Pupils have a huge amount of technological potential at their fingertips, but how to best go about making sure that they’re fully-set to take on the digital world beyond? Downe House’s Jane Basnett gives her top eight tips.
What if, like many schools, your school has not gone down the tablet route? What if your school is simply trying to make the most of the excellent web-based tools that are available? It really does not matter whether you are or you are not a tablet school; a programme still needs to be made to ensure that students leave school digitally prepared for what lies ahead.
We always hear about the squeezed middle in the press. They are hard done by economically. In education, I tend to think the squeezed middle equivalent are the heads of department who often find themselves in the line of fire from all directions but who can be overlooked when it comes to concern and care.
As a sequel to her original piece on handling newly qualified teachers at the beginning of the year, Jane Basnett's former pastoral colleague, now an NQT, returns with thoughts on how we might support such teachers at this time of year
This post has to begin with a huge thank you to everyone who has supported an NQT in their first few weeks of Proper Teaching. You might have given someone a warm welcome, made timely cups of tea, given advice, asked probing questions, shared resources, sympathised with teacherly woes, or invited an NQT to observe a lesson. Or you might be one of the wonderful people who offer your time and patience to mentor a new teacher. Whoever you are, thank you!
It’s a brave new world for education, particularly with the growing popularity of portable devices and flipped learning. Teacher and digital strategist Jane Basnett gives her finest tips on how a school can fully embrace the future.
A digital strategy must take into account what makes an excellent lesson, and will then plan to ensure that teachers make use of technology in a creative and meaningful way that enriches the teaching. Successful use of technology in the classroom goes hand-in-hand with other good teaching techniques, all of which can be enhanced by technology. The two (technology and traditional teaching methods) are not mutually exclusive. There must be a blend of the two strands in order to bring about successful and effective teaching. Schools will need to spend time training teachers to use the latest digital tools in conjunction with relevant methodologies to ensure ultimate success.
In 1994 I started my teaching career. I am a modern languages teacher. I love languages, and I love inspiring my pupils to learn about other languages and cultures. When I first entered the classroom all those years ago, my main aim was to be a good teacher. I had not given much thought to how I was going to achieve my aim, or indeed what it even meant to be a good teacher. I was young, enthusiastic, full of energy and positive. Surely, with these attributes, I would achieve my goal, no matter how idealistic it may have seemed?
Following on from Jane Basnett’s recent article on NQTs, a pastoral professional-turned newly-qualified teacher (and former colleague of Basnett’s) gives her advice to veteran teachers dealing with newcomers.
I'm about to embark on my NQT year teaching English in an 11-18 academy in the South West. Before doing the PGCE, I worked in other areas of education for four years, first in university outreach, then in a pastoral and academic role in an independent school, where I was a colleague of Jane Basnett. Following on from Jane's very welcome and gratefully received ideas in an earlier post - 'Be prepared: A veteran's advice for NQTs' - here's a view from The Other Side: an NQT's guide to handling NQTs...