With GCSEs starting in May, it’s important that dyslexic students are provided with support and assistance from teachers to help them achieve their best grades.
My role has changed. From being a non-descript member amongst the staff audience, it is now me who is at the front of the hall when it comes to teacher training sessions. I always try to remember my place as a guest and consider what I look like from the back of the room (who said back of a bus?!) and sound like to Mr Cynical Teacher with his arms folded and his lips pursed (and that’s before I have turned the computer on or given out leaflets). Sigh. It is hard work, but when the light-bulbs start twinkling, you really feel that you can give yourself a “self-5”. One of my favourite things is to help teachers find their passion for learning again, but they do make you work for it.
Results from a report published at the beginning of March shows that in Year 7, when students are making the transition to secondary school, children are choosing books six months below their chronological age and from then on reading difficulty plateaus or declines. However, in primary schools both the difficulty levels of books chosen and the accuracy with which they are read is on the rise.
Every year, teachers attend professional growth events. We go, learn lots of theories and techniques and then often leave wondering if what was fed to us was really what we needed. Wouldn't it be nice to have a professional growth where you create the learning experience based on your individual needs? Edcamps are exactly this.
Great poetry can be the kind of art that stays with you forever, be it Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney or Daffodils by William Wordsworth. However, given the old-school nature of poetry means that a lot of students will need a great introduction from a teacher. James Harlan discusses some cool ideas for getting students into the artform. Rereading and performing poetry are two of the most common techniques used in poetry-introductions. Others would require students to conduct their reading on topics, like meter and rhyme. These methods are effective.
The theory of Marginal Learning Gains is inspired by the philosophy that underpinned the extraordinary success of Team GB Cycling at the Beijing and London Olympics and of the Team Sky Pro Cycling Team at the 2012 Tour de France. The philosophy is simple: focus on doing a number of few small things really well. Once you do this, aggregating the gains you make will become part of a bigger impact on learning. For students, for teachers and schools.
How can you be an outstanding teacher in 2014, against strikes, changing school forms and new curriculums? How can you be, and why would you want to be, outstanding all of the time? I have been graded at this level several times in my profession, but I started teaching well over a decade a go. I suppose my question is… since leaving the classroom in 2011, would I be ‘outstanding’ today and what would I change?
As a school improvement coach and consultant, my heart always goes out to teachers ‘in the field’. I know of the pressures – I have been there – but feel that there is more of an edge in 2014 than there was at the start of the Millennium. Today, there seems to be a shift in morale in schools as a result of the changes in education – politically, digitally and as a professional generally. I don’t recall ever really feeling a huge impact of outside forces, nor watched the news to find out what I would be teaching in September.
Last week, new research was published by Booktrust (and later featured by the Guardian and the BBC among others) which suggests that Britain is a nation divided on reading habits. At this point, in the interest of full-disclosure, I should say that I am a voracious reader. I read anything, and I read a lot – despite recently being asked if I was a ’14 year old girl’ because I’m halfway through The Hunger Games.
For this reason, I found it quite distressing that almost half the nation would prefer to watch television than read a book and that even more (56%) said that the internet and computers will replace books within two decades. Reading is exercise for the brain; utilising memory, imagination and generally increasing vocabulary and improving the way in which people express themselves. Reading books is a great way to step away from work and school, which involves an increasing amount of time spent looking at screens for many of us.
After working in the education system for last ten years, and teaching in a range of different schools, I have noticed many teachers and departments isolated in their own practices and areas of the school. I was fascinated when I read a quote from Professor John Hattie which stated:
"Too many teachers believe the essence of their profession is autonomy. We hardly ever get together and look at each other’s teaching or practices."
We’ve all been observed whilst teaching, whether it’s by mentors, mentees, colleagues, SMT or even the dreaded OFSTED. We’re given feedback and we try and implement changes to improve our teaching. However, it is often difficult to remember which part of the lesson the observer is referring to, or which student in particular is being criticised for not being focused enough.
Videoing yourself teaching can change all that. Either by setting up a camera at the back of the classroom, asking a colleague to film it for you or investing in more professional hardware designed for schools, you can transform the way you approach professional development.