Pulling apart education and trying to fix it can be a totally overwhelming thought. Teachers are already notoriously thinly-stretched, and getting students the results they need to succeed later in life at university and in the workplace can seem like the only thing to focus on. However, if we take a moment to breathe and think if there are better ways of doing things, we might just come across ideas that could help students to succeed later in life and may in fact help their grades along the way.
Every teacher surely thinks of Robin Williams’ character, John Keating, in Dead Poets’ Society, who said, “There’s a time for daring, and a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for”, who then dreams of standing up on the desk and generally being truly inspirational in an effortless, lesson-plan-thrown-out-the-window kind of way (or is it just me?). That sort of maverick behaviour is perhaps possible when it’s the last few weeks of the summer term, or when the government inspection has just finished and nobody is looking to observe anything beyond the speed limit on the driveway out of school. But surely the rest of the time is ‘a time for caution’, right?
Since I was a teenager, I have always looked forward to the In/Out List published in the Washington Post right before the start of each new year. So, as Innovate My School discusses the ‘Hottest EdTech Trends’ this month, I thought I’d have a little fun and put my own spin on the idea.
Regular readers of IMS will be familiar with nationwide literacy and filmmaking initiative LitFilmFest, which transforms the written work of KS2 pupils across the country by bringing it to life on the silver screen.
In the autumn term of 2015, headteacher Jenny Taylor ran a new, two-week initiative at her school, Horfield Church Of England Primary in Bristol. A trial of literacy platform ReadingWise saw major improvements for the 10 pupils involved; so much so that the school now runs three intervention groups of ten pupils daily, helping them to reach many struggling readers.
Here at The Kindergarten Starters in Dubai, we recently ran a collaborative venture with Laurus International School of Science in Tokyo, leading to a change in the way our students learn. Over a period of one month, both schools created storyboards. We used the Lego story starters and Scratch Junior to help construct these stories they told. The written outcomes were quite alike, but the engagement of four and five year olds as they learned to code made us adopt an exciting new approach: to begin coding in kindergarten.
There is no perfect way to lead. An effective school leader adjusts their leadership style to improve results within their school. A leader with a breadth of pedagogical knowledge, who provides hands-on support, will often win the respect of their staff. On the other hand, a relaxed school leader who delegates tasks and mentors individual teachers can also create an amazing teaching and learning environment.
There has been a wealth of studies examining what shapes the perfect leader. One of the traits of authentic leadership is the consideration of soft as well as hard data, but are decisions based on non-quantitative data possible in the current funding climate? Since Sound Training was established in 2011, we have worked with hundreds of schools with the same goal - to raise literacy levels and achievement across the curriculum. The school leaders and teachers we work with may have lots in common, but one thing that stands out is innovative leadership.