Wednesday, 3 May 2017
Thursday, 24 March 2016
Over the past few years I have increasingly explored the aspects of positive psychology in empowering young people in managing their way through the modern world. It was great to spend the day exploring Empowering Young People to change the world with @RWBAHolocaust. #EYP2CtW is a fascinating topic and it has taken me over a week to write this blog due to the additional ideas explored in the conference.
Peter Hall Jones @PeteHJ opened the day with the first Keynote of Leading Upwards. My take away top tips from his speech was that Hong Kong Universities test EQ for entry before IQ. Considering the amount of time we spend in schools working on IQ and passing exams there is an international viewpoint that EQ aspects of individuals also needs to be developed beyond the initials phases of education. The second take away tip was about how much money or time do we spend selling our vision upwards and to our teams? Do we only look at these on occasional teacher training days or when writing admission materials? Do we ensure that this is within the fibre of a school so that everyone is completely aware of our vision and values every moment of the day from staff to students to visitors? Do people need to ask about our vision and values?
The second keynote speech was delivered by Dr Neil Hawkes and his wife Jane @NeilHawkes. This looked at values based education. Again a thought provoking speech. Top tips were that beliefs divide – values unite. We also look at the idea that students need to develop as self-leaders and whether schools are producing a large amount of conformity. Are there times when conformity needs to be challenged? Do we develop this aspect of learning in our students? My top take away from the speech was to start building an Ethical Intelligence. In addition to British Values, IQ, EQ there is indeed space to consider values to ensure that there will be an ethical future community in all aspects of employment on the planet.
Having worked with the United Nations in Poland on two occasions I had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz and Warsaw. This is indeed a lifelong memory and they came flooding back during the third keynote speech by Ruth-Anne Lenge@ralenga. Learning about Janusz Korczak’s pioneering educational approach was thought provoking. “Children are not people of tomorrow but people today” and how they can be empowered to make decisions. The work the Centre for Holocaust Education is doing to ensure future generations are aware of real stories from Holocaust lives is empowering and enriching student knowledge and values.
During the first breakout session entitled Innovators, laggards and pyramids. The risk of pupil independence with Paul Day @paulday30. We considered how we make learning stick. My take away from that session was creating memories works. I have set happiness homework in the past but would consider setting a holiday homework entitled memory homework where students had to go on a visit a historical site, have a picnic outside etc. Something to make a memory and learn. The other take away was that success breeds motivation.
I’m really pleased that Juliette Yardley from Laughology was presenting. @Laughology is an area I have been wanting to explore for some time. Since completing a Science of Happiness course this area of wellbeing seemed to fit well with the Positive Psychology programme I have been developing in school. The idea of Happy Centred Schools sounded delightful. Science and the psychology of laughter seems to be a perfect antidote to the stress and poor wellbeing we are seeing increase in young people. My first take away was that having fun embeds learning – therefore how do we build happy environments in our classrooms? Interactions with students as an adult need to be reasonable, logical, rational, not-threatening and non-threatening. Happy children, having fun in a classroom will learn and remember happy memories. If you think of the stress, anxiety and lack of smiles in some classrooms in secondary school can we really say those students will have happy memories of those classrooms? Will they be releasing the chemicals needed to help memories or hinder memories? Happiness is a feeling of well-being. Are we doing enough to promote this for staff and students? If not how could we improve on it? The reality will be no fun in the classroom, no learning. Staff and students need to have good relationships with people to ensure that the stress hormone is marginalised – it impairs their ability to learn. I can’t wait for our next teaching and learning briefing when I will be sharing the power pose from Amy Cuddy and the added Laughology element : ) I just need to work out which member of staff will play the role of cortisol! The final take away will be the good humour ingredients of facial expression, body language, voice, tone, pitch and the type of words used.
I was pleased to see a breakout session about School Improvement through staff wellbeing by John Rees @PSHESolutions. We have put staff and student wellbeing onto our development plan this year, however there is still a long way to go to reach the ideal situation. John talked about how students will only truly flourish and thrive if staff are cared for too in our educational establishments. As school leaders what is our moral purpose? Do we have that unconditional regard for staff? Can they see, hear and feel it on a daily basis? By improving the emotional and physical environment we can improve staff wellbeing. So take away tip number 1 is it worth stopping buying coffee for the staffroom to save a few pounds on tight budgets if you look at the cost of staff illness – maybe not. I was horrified to listen to statistics of teachers leaving, self-harming etc. The system may be stressful but I for one will be continuing to ensure that wellbeing stays on the development plan as it is too important to ignore.
My final breakout session was run by Andrew Foster @Tougherminds and @AFosterTeach. Indeed this was the reason I had booked to attend the conference. Again the theme of #EYP2CTW continued. We heard about how healthy, happy and high performing students often get stopped by their inability to self-control. A fascinating whistle stop tour through the 6 week programme for kids and parents sounded like a great way of dealing with some aspects of wellbeing.
The day ended with the keynote by John Rees discussing how to enable young people to flourish as they are more than a number, more than a grade. As education continues to raise the bar higher and raise aspirations as well as outcomes, there is still a need to stand back and realise that these are human beings in our schools. Every individual of every age in educational establishments need to be able to flourish, from the youngest student to the teacher nearing retirement. Can we all say as teachers and leaders that this is the system and establishment that we are building? What will you go out and change?
I plan on embedding key learning from the conference into our about to be relaunched revamped PSHE curriculum, build on the positive psychologies programme further and ensure that CPD/development plans enable students and staff to flourish. That’s my plan.
Monday, 22 June 2015
Thursday, 30 October 2014
After driving for 3 hours the scariest part was arriving in the dark to a youth hostel with no phone signal. I also had never met any of the people who had signed up. I had looked up participants' profiles on twitter in the hope that I would then recognise people when I arrived. I shouldn't have had any worries. As soon as I arrived a fellow camper said I was in the right place and that the teachmeet would be starting in a while, once food and people were ready. Some people had even flown in for the weekend. We were all expecting a great weekend.
Everyone had arrived expecting to participate in healthy discussion and "Chatham House" rules were in place, providing a safe environment for sharing and debating issues and solutions. The Friday evening teachmeet sparked lots of post-presentation chats and many campers stayed up for long discussions and building networks. Evening entertainment, helped break any ice that was hanging around and set the tone for the entire weekend. PPD in a fun environment. Where else can you go to spend an entire weekend building personal learning networks and focussing on your own PPD? @SLTcamp was that opportunity.
I learnt so much from my time with sparky SLT campers that I have signed up again for @SLTcamp 2014. I'm even prepared to drive for over 4 hours this year just to have my PLN and PPD top up for the academic year. As a veteran my expectations are high. I know that if I get as much out of it as I did last year, I will leave with a book full of notes and take another year to implement things that I have learnt.
If you have not signed up for SLT camp 2014 then do read some of last year's blogs. If you are a long standing Headteacher, aspirant senior leader, senior middle leader or even an established member of SLT then the weekend will have something for you. Who knows what "golden nuggets" will end up being shared this year?
From Easter 2013 to the end of August, I read, read, read. I knew the success of launching BYOD lay in my trailing and reflecting on how to make best use of the technology. With no student Wi-Fi I asked to teach Year 9 German in an IT room with flipped learning as my pedagogical tool. Attempting to use Edmodo to get students and parents engaged in learning at home to enable practice at school. Student feedback was good and in June 2014 the entire school were enrolled and staff trained. In preparation for BYOD all students signed the newly updated Digital Citizenship agreements and had an assembly on how to use e-learning sensibly.
During summer 2014 I downloaded as many apps to my phone and tablets. Making the most of the long summer break I was able to see which apps worked well on android and apple devices. Day 1 in September staff and students were welcomed back to a Wi-Fi network. Year 7, of course had to be signed up to the agreements and then we were good to go.
In just 38 days at school the amount of use our student Wi-Fi is experiencing is on the increase across all curriculum areas. Without specific training pioneering staff have had the flexibility to trial what works in their areas. ICT Guru certificates have been handed out in our Teaching and Learning briefings and nano-presentations have shared ideas across staff.
Students in my class have used phones, mini ipads and android tablets too. The knack I have found is being flexible and making sure that there is a back up plan. Maths have found QR codes linked to explanation videos on their own Youtube channel allows for students to get "help" as many times as they need it explaining, as well as clear differentiation. Tutors have used the Edmodo app for literacy whole group story writing challenges. MFL colleagues are using it for memorisation techniques using Tellagami, visioprompt, Yakitt kids and early evidence suggests it is helping increase confidence in speaking techniques. Science staff are enjoying padlet, socrative and wordwall to gain quick starter and plenary data to help find out what students have remembered or need additional input for in the following lessons.
After many years I have also moved to an electronic markbook. Having visited Bett 2014 I decided there was a much more powerful way to mark. I use idoceo and it has been a great way to share data, seating plans etc with shared groups. Even staff who only have 1 lesson a fortnight are as up to date with the day to day marking for homework and tests as they can be. I hope my next shared group is with a colleague with an e-markbook.
All of this has been achieved via personal professional development, one CPD course and lots of perseverance. The first set of staff CPD on BYOD begins on Monday. With three tiers for opting in green for using teaching apps, amber for using student apps and red for using teacher/student apps in the same lesson.
BYOD is simply another pedagogical tool, however it is interesting to hear student responses to a non-digital lesson as they begin to get used to using apps to aid learning. I like the ability to use ICT without having to book an ICT room and sharing information immediately via an app reduces delays in learning and feedback. It would be interesting to compare BYOD with 1:1, however the early signs are that BYOD is enhancing the learning experiences without rolling out an expensive 1:1 programme.
A class set of ipads are due to arrive next term. This will be the test to see if we need to consider pushing the parameters of e-learning even further.
Thursday, 4 September 2014
Thursday, 7 August 2014
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
Thursday, 10 July 2014
Teaching group issue.
I have been teaching a group of Gifted MFL students this year, who have taken their GCSE German in one academic year. As a group they are great at reading and writing. Their controlled assessment grades in reading and writing were up to 2 grades higher than their speaking and listening grades. I had tried no hands up, lollipop sticks, specific role cards, group work, think, pair, share and was in need of inspiration. Once they sat their GCSE German they immediately flipped to learning French - as they need to take it next year. How was I going to hand them onto their teacher for French with equal skills and confidence?
As has been the case throughout the past 12 months, twitter came to the rescue. PedagooSW was launched and I signed up for the day. I was so pleased to see a session which appeared to be the answer to my problems. Kagan strategies run by Crista Hazell (Head of MFL).
Strategies for students to learn from each other, collaborate, communicate and be confident
The 4 strategies explained were introduced in Crista's school to get rid of the fear factor, they are embarrassment free, less pressure for students and there is no room for passengers in the classroom.
Inside, outside circle - students are provided with questions in the inner circle and the outer circle answer the questions, then immediate peer feedback and swap roles. Then move to new partners. All students must participate and they get feedback to act upon straight away.
Talking chips - buy a box of poker chips. Give a certain amount to each student, which they spend when they contribute to the lesson. It enables quiet students to contribute. In MFL you can differentiate by colour - blue (answer in English), white (answer in French). Penalty (red) chips can be given if students have not spent all their chips and next lesson they are given extra chips.
2 stay, 2 stray - groups of 4 work on an activity and then 2 can go and steal answers from other tables, the remaining 2 have to talk to other stealers about the responses they have. Again risk free as they are sharing information before the teacher asks for answers.
Round Robin - In pairs students have to provide rapid, multiple answers to their peers. A great starter, plenary or progress point. Again all students have to participate and it is a safe risk free environment to build confidence.
Did it work?
PedagooSW was on the Saturday. I was so enthused, and had just been told my formal lesson observation this term would be with this group, I decided I had to try all 4 techniques. Monday after school I headed straight to Argos, as they were having a sale on 200 Poker Chips. The next day I introduced Talking chips to the class - they didn't like it as it meant they had to participate, but the first question I asked that lesson saw a class of hands up! Amazing. The next lesson I ran talking chips and inside/outside circle - they were beginning to get the hang of participating. It was a boiling hot day, so went to the hall (right by my room) to take the activity out of the classroom. In two lessons students who used to shyly put their hands up / or didn't participate at all were trying to get my attention to use their chips.
On the third talking chips lesson 7 girls had not used their chips, so I asked them to stay behind and explained that they would have extra chips the next lesson. (Formal observation!) I set up at lunch time and made sure that the girls had the correct amount of chips. When they arrived they knew what was expected. My Head of MFL had heard me talking about PedagooSW and the Kagan stratagies I had been trying. The lesson had students participating and whether they had confidence in speaking or not, they had the appearance of speaking with confidence. Over time they are improving each lesson.
I cannot say that the class are raving about the techniques but they are speaking increasingly in French. The lesson observation could not have gone better and I will be using these tips with my groups next year. In fact I am now looking into learning more about Kagan stratagies. My Head of MFL is keen to try them too. As I'm on SLT I will run CPD sessions next year but I also know that our open door lessons will help cascade the information in Term 1 too.
Massive thank you to Crista for her session at PedagooSW and @ictevangelist for organising the day.
The impact of teachers training teachers in massive.
Friday, 27 June 2014
Wednesday, 28 May 2014
Tuesday, 20 May 2014
Thursday, 23 January 2014
My top tip so far has been +Edmodo as it has enabled me to flip learning for 1/3 of lessons with my Year 9 group. Teaching German in an ICT suite once a fortnight was always going to be a challenge and I decided that students needed to be able to work independently, collaboratively with me facilitating as any good ICT teacher would run an ICT lesson.
Thanks to +Sarah Findlater and fellow colleagues @sltcamp talking about how google docs could be used for collaboration and teacher comments I thought I would partner both together. The bad news was we had a school challenge consultant coming to do a faculty learning walk, particularly to look at student engagement and independence in the very lesson I was trialling the whole thing.
It was with trepidation that I set up the entire lesson via Edmodo. The class was split into pairs and sent the link to different documents they were going to construct together, with my comments to help them edit level 5 upwards. Students did not know who their partner was until they started to log on and type the document together. They also had a powerpoint of grammar uploaded to the class page on Edmodo incase they had forgotten key grammar from the previous lessons.
At the same time I was analysing the quiz starter on how students had done on their tenses recognition homework. Thanks to Edmodo marking the quiz straight away I was able to call students up for individual support. Then quickly take a look at the co-construction of texts pairs were working on.
I had no idea what the consultant was going to think about this as I was purely trialling an innovation with the hope that student would learn independently. The feedback was great - in fact he suggested that it should be rolled out across the MFL faculty and then across the school.
So in 7 days time I will be training up my pioneering digital leading teachers on how they can use this style of flipped classroom to drive up independent skills and attainment. My students have also invited their parents to be part of the experience and they get to track their work as well. I'll get parental feedback at Year 9 parents' evening. Hopefully after my trepidation in the beginning parents will be as delighted with the "facebook for German" experience their children are having. Then it will be almost time for a whole school launch.
The power of twitter in improving my teaching skills for the 21st Century continues to amaze me and I am grateful for the collegiate approach of all tweachers who are willing to share their successes and failures.
Sunday, 17 November 2013
It was with trepidation that I drove down single lane tracks in a dark and secluded wood. Getting my bags out of the car I definitely did not have a phone signal so it required some positive thinking to knock on the door to the youth hostel. Never has it been so nice to be met by a fellow SLTcamper who said yes you are in the right place. Rooms are labelled, drop you stuff and we're getting set up. I had the luxury of arriving slightly early as this was my first ever teachmeet. I had decided to just do an entire weekend to find out what everyone on twitter has been raving about. I am so glad I went.
The evening kicked off with lots of finding out who people were. Twitter helped, as did the bios and blogs but the most positive benefit was meeting people face to face and having the chance to keep conversations going all weekend. Networking of this type is the strength of grassroots CPD and I will talk about this for a long time to come. I had decided to attend to meet with forward thinking SLT and I wasn't disappointed. A weekend of laughter and support from a group of adults who all want to continue their professional learning.
Such a diverse range of people, backgrounds, geographical locations and teaching positions. It meant a truly rich conversation. 6 minute presentations began at 9pm and such enthusiasm for their topics people often did have to duck to avoid the balloon timer. Such was the quality of chat many people retired at a very late hour - to be awoken nice and early with cooked breakfast.
Saturday morning meant a convoy to the teachmeet in the village hall. How can I explain to colleagues in my own school that this was an unconference to be run by the agendas of people who attended. Sarah and Stephen were great at facilitating timings and making sure that everyone had the chance to get what they wanted out of the day. Feeling free to move from pedagogy to leadership topics meant I came away buzzing with ideas and positivity to bring back to my own school.
The evening allowed for an overspill of these conversations and dancing allowed the mind to slowly digest the learning. It was another long but worthwhile day. Sunday morning numbers may have been depleted but those who stayed enjoyed many a video from inspirational leaders. Just the icing on the cake to send us home. Truly pleased I put myself out of my usual comfort zone and that the 2 hour drive allowed me to start thinking through how I can share this experience.
SLT beanie to be worn on Monday gate duty . Then I can explain why I'm wearing it to staff. This is the beginning of a new learning experience and I hope there are many more to come.
Saturday, 31 August 2013
The Lazy Teacher, Hywel Roberts being amongst the first I managed to find.
Nearly a year on my twitter journey has taken a truly positive life of CPD. Having joined in sltchat over several months I wondered what some of these like-minded people would be link in person as opposed to being virtual tweachers. I hadn't managed to take part in any teachmeets and then over the summer an intriguing invitation to sltcamp appeared.
SLT camp sounded even more exciting than a teachmeet and meant a 3 hour journey to the location for an entire weekend of CPD was too enticing to pass up. So when the launch date was given I duly set up my own account on eventbrite - another new app. How lucky am I to be a proud owner of a pass to the first ever SLT camp.
What am I expecting? Well with the title Igniting Change there are lots of things this will mean.
Already I have experienced lots of change from my twitter journey only 11 months ago. This is my first personal blog - blog for my school once a month but this is another CPD journey. As this is a CPD weekend with no specific agenda and titled sessions as yet I am hoping for a truly organic experience. Letting all participants lead, share, question and support each other through what is a constantly changing educational environment.
What am I looking forward to? Meeting the virtual tweachers. Twitter has enabled me to participate in many conversations and to support teachers. It never fails to amaze me how supportive the twitter teaching community all are. I am looking forward to being in a room with like-minded people who are embracing change. All too often daily life puts obstacles in our way and this is an opportunity to look at what would we like to ignite as a change, has someone already done it, what problems might occur and coming away from camp fully ignited and passionate about making change.
How change makes things tricky? Having settled into becoming a more regular user of twitter I have already noticed that change can be tricky. There are ideas which are good but can only be great if they are put into place in a sensible way. I know I will be buzzing with information after a weekend of CPD and the tricky thing for me will be to temper this and embed ideas in a way that I can take others with me on this journey of change.
For my first blog I have written much more than I thought possible. Another first.