I bet children will be cursing every day this month, if only about having to take exams and needing to revise for them. Exams are often seen as a necessary evil to be able to assess what children have learned throughout the year. However, exams imply marking, and for time-poor teachers of big classes, it can quickly become a nightmare. So what to do?
If you are reading this, you are no doubt privy to the expectations heaped on teachers and school leaders about the importance of feedback in driving student success. If you hear the word “feedback”, and are haunted by images of lengthy, scribed comments that go ignored, much to your distress (how many hours of your life that you won’t get back?) and to the student’s peril, you are not alone.
Over the past five years, I have had some big changes in my life: I became a dad for the first time; I left my position as a Primary school deputy headteacher; I became an SLE in formative assessment; I set up my own education company with my headteacher... These changes were all massive, but the thing that has made them manageable for me was the smaller, more marginal changes I could make, all of which which contributed to the bigger picture.
The infamous saying “tax shouldn’t be taxing” is something that I feel rings true for its synonym, to assess. Assessment is a key element of teaching and learning, both in its summative and formative forms, and enables for a review of progress. Assessment is most valuable when it translates into effective feedback which supports bespoke, personalised future-learning, both empowering students to take ownership for development and equipping teachers with the ability to facilitate this. However, with full teaching timetables, a growth in the amount of assessments set within schools, and the melting pot of other duties, it has become even more pertinent to find ways to make assessment and feedback not only effective, but also efficient.
Technology has captured our collective attention as a society. Everybody needs it: individuals, companies, and schools. Definitely schools. We have to teach the kids of today how to function in, and how to lead, the workplaces of tomorrow. The recent push for students to develop digital skills has led to a mad rush to procure the latest and greatest classroom devices, including interactive whiteboards, flat panel displays, laptops, tablets and touch tables. The potential benefits of these tools are endless – when used correctly, they can cater to all students’ skills, abilities and interests.
With over 150 schools and 18,000 teachers beginning to use Teacherly over the last 12 months, we wanted to showcase some of the best ways the platform is being used, as well as the impact it has had on departments, teachers and schools as a whole.
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.
Gary King is deputy headteacher at Devon’s Isca Academy, as well as a blogger and frequent TeachMeet speaker. As his school goes from strength-to-strength, we pick the mind of one of the UK’s most enthusiastic educators.
Mrs Christina Bury, director of learning at Felsted Preparatory School, shares her thoughts on new, free interactive learning platform Unio By Harness.