I am guessing many of us remember at least one teacher who really stood out from the others, someone who has made a real impact on our lives. I am often tempted to define a brilliant teacher as one who passes the thirty year test: when you catch up with them thirty years later, you want to go up and talk to them, because they made such a difference to your life. The thing about making a difference is that you can never unmake that difference. Once you are "that" teacher for a child, you will retain a special place in their hall of fame for ever.
Sitting in the department meeting, lists of issues are being fired at you from the usual agenda. Your colleagues’ eyes are rolling, arms crossed and lips pursed in distaste at the never-ending problems. You are sweating! Your cheeks burn and your hands tingle as you choke back the solution you think just-might-work. You can barely hear the rest of the points as you run over and over in your mind, how you might disrupt this meeting with the solution that is buzzing to be heard. If you could just bring yourself to lay the creative idea on the table… or is it a stupid idea? No matter, the meeting is over. It’s just another idea that you didn’t dare share.
“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you find some way to break the rules, and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”
– Nora Ephron, 1996, commencement speech at Wellesley College.
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.
The only time black history is celebrated is in October. This connotes a separatism between stories in history, which creates an implicit understanding of ‘our’ history and ‘their’ history. I do not agree with treating the black experience as a separate entity. The black experience should be interweaved throughout the curriculum when possible.
Looking for a way to boost writing progress amongst your pupils this year? Searching for that elusive hook to inspire reluctant writers, or a way to showcase pupils’ work to a global audience? Step forward LitFilmFest - the Primary school festival, sponsored by YouTube Kids, that offers Key Stage 2 teachers free, fully-planned and resourced literacy units on a whole range of writing genres.
By the time children finish at Primary school they will have written stories, poems, factual accounts, autobiographies essays and plays. But their own song? Hmm, possibly not. It just seems too difficult, too personal and, for many years, way beyond my comfort zone! And yet I’m aware children know hundreds and hundreds of songs. Their whole lives are wrapped in sound, from early nursery rhymes to the latest chart hits. Access to YouTube means that they don’t have to step outside to access songs and music from the whole world over.
On Friday 7th July, Shireland Collegiate Academy in the West Midlands hosted their very own Innovate My School LIVE event. This was the first stop on a school budget-centric roadshow showing school leaders how to do more with less.