I just hated getting my son’s report card these last several years. Funny, too, since I was a Middle and High school Language Arts teacher for 16 years and sent out report cards very similar to the ones I was now receiving. I guess that we get a more clear-eyed view of things as a parent. I just did not feel that these report cards helped me understand what our son excelled at and what he needed work on. Sure, there were the letter grades. But just what went into that A- or B, beyond the grades on a set of assignments?
“Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally about what to do or what to believe. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking.” Lau and Chan (philosophy.hku, 2015)
For me the use of video analysis in teaching is, and always will be, an essential tool to improve teaching feedback and develop outstanding practice. As a link tutor within a PE partnership, I see feedback, and the effectiveness of feedback, as one of the most important factors in developing initial teacher training (ITT) students. I also believe this should not be limited to just ITT students. Videoing a lesson and watching it back, although uncomfortable at times, can have a bigger impact than any observation or learning walk that you will take part in. With video analysis, what you see is what you get and a lot of the time, the realness of what you see can have a profound impact.
Anyone who has worked with Early Years Foundation Stage will understand the importance of learning through play. Play-based learning is encouraged in primary schools and included on the curriculum, and parents use play as a means of teaching children when they are young. However are we missing a trick by completely eliminating play from lessons for older pupils? There will certainly be times when a traditional teaching approach is called for (when preparing for exams for example), but would our students show greater engagement, a deeper understanding of concepts, creativity and resilience if we also tried to embed new pedagogical techniques with them?
Here we are in a new academic year. For those in leadership last year, analysis will be done regarding the success of the initiatives under their remit in bringing about positive changes in staff and student performance. Inevitably, there will be room for improvement somewhere, and so we start the vital process of listing our existing initiatives, programmes and tools in order to sort the wheat from the chaff.
First of all, for those unfamiliar with ‘flipped learning’, my presentation will help explain. Flipping is not new, as back in the 80s, before the days of the World Wide Web, I would give my students handouts to study in preparation for the next lesson (hence the term ‘prep’, as opposed to ‘homework’). This then freed up the lesson for learning where the content of the handouts could be discussed, questions on the handouts answered and practical work done to reinforce the handouts.
For those of us of a certain age, a school library was a place where you had to sit quietly, under the watchful gaze of a stern librarian who’d “shush” you loudly if you dared to try and have a conversation with your friends. Walk into a library in any school or college today and you might have to walk right out again to check you’re in the correct building.
As teachers we are notoriously hard on ourselves. It’s a common trait amongst the profession. After all, how often do you hear a colleague say they are “really good” at something? More often than not they will be playing down what a great job they do, often in challenging and changeable circumstances. This feeling of “can I really get it right again this year?” often creeps into the consciousness towards the end of the summer term and can lead to sleepless nights during the summer break.
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.
I have been asked many times why I moved to Australia. Aside from the lifestyle-related responses (weather, sport, and more of which you can read about on my blog), there are a number of professional reasons I wanted to teach in a different environment to the UK state school system. I have only taught here for a month, and it is now the school holidays, so this is only a first glimpse.