TEACHWEEK!

At Christmas I was reading some research by Viviane Robinson.  This was conducted in 2009 but I consider it very relevant.  It is about ‘School Leadership and Student Outcomes’ and what works best.  It explores the effect size of leadership initiatives and actions and their impact on student outcomes.  Put simply, an effect size of 0.2 is weak and an effect size of 0.6 or over is an initiative or intervention that is deemed to have significant impact (similar methodology to Hattie.)   As Hattie says ‘It’s not what works because 90% of all interventions are positive….it’s what works BEST.’  Robinson’s work tries to establish leadership foci that have most impact on student outcomes.  In the summary of the best Evidence Synthesis (Summary – School Leadership and Student Outcomes) it clearly states that ‘A strong message from the study was the link between student success and the active participation of school leaders in professional development and learning with their staff.’   In other words……ENGAGE, TALK, SHARE, LEAD, COLLABORATE, IMPROVE.

To encourage active participation and leadership of learning at my school between teachers OR leaders (I would argue they are the same) we are having a ‘TEACHWEEK.’  The main objective of the week is to build up trust and teamwork but mainly to ignite the whole teaching and learning DIALOGUE.  I want us to create a buzz and get everyone participating in improving and developing their practice and committing whole-heartedly to their own professional development.

OPEN DOOR EVENT

come on in

Running throughout the week, we have a wonderful team of great staff that have volunteered to ‘open’ their classroom doors to any member of staff that would like to visit when they are free.  It includes senior leaders being observed too!  This was advertised to staff on a timetable pinned up in the library so teachers could select the lessons they would wish to visit.  As a result we have 17 peer observations occurring during the week.  I’m sure there will be more to follow.  I really want to develop informal observations.  I think it was @teachertoolkit that tweeted ‘the best way to improve teaching is to observe and to be observed’ …so true!  I’m sure that staff will find visiting other classrooms beneficial and see how teachers inspire, engage and motivate their students to achieve.  Hopefully there will be lots of cross-pollination between departments.  Equally, those great teachers who have opened their classroom doors are being given the opportunity to lead the way and demonstrate why they are so successful in their classrooms!  Those that have observed can share the strengths seen at their faculty meetings with their departments – another opportunity for teaching and learning leadership.

TEACHING AND LEARNING MARKETPLACE

mattie stepanek

I have to thank @headguruteacher for the inspiration for this – though I think maybe his marketplace sessions run a little differently??

All staff were invited to submit a session they would like to lead during our CPD afternoon on Tuesday.  Nine staff volunteered really useful and informative micro-CPD sessions of twenty minutes on all things teaching and learning – from entrepreneurship to using google effectively, to building students’ confidence for communication.  As with the open door event, the timetable was pinned up in the library and teachers, T.As and pastoral staff chose the sessions they wanted to attend.  It has all been organised now and over 30 CPD sessions will be running throughout the afternoon!   I will be tweeting about this on Tuesday with everything going on from my school account @DVHSTeachLearn.  It looks really good and again, provides opportunities for staff to lead on what they are passionate about.

FORM ACTIVITIES

Throughout the week, pupils will be engaged in teaching and learning activities during form time.  As a school we have not really embraced the ‘growth mindset’ philosophy yet – so it’s time to get the ball rolling, and TEACHWEEK provides the perfect opportunity! We will initially be focusing more on teaching the children about resilience, grit, how the brain works and the qualities of having a growth mindset using some tweaked/adapted resources from the centre for confidence and well being. (http://www.centreforconfidence.co.uk/) – @CfCWB THANK YOU very, very much!

ASSEMBLIES

I will be doing the assemblies for the week – my first as Assistant Principal…EEK!  I know I will enjoy it though!  Must remember to read my blog post on how to avoid getting nervous!  https://te4chl3arn.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/getting-on-my-nerves/

I want to promote great attitude to learning as well as developing teaching.   @chrishildrew thanks for the inspiration ‘attitude determines altitude’.  Here’s my prezi link – can be used during form time or in an assembly.    https://prezi.com/ceqobbcyl3dt/nobody-is-born-clever/ Thanks @khanacademy for the video I’m using.

So, they are the main events for the week!  Just about to settle down and put the finishing touches in.  I’m sure it’s going to be really busy, but I hope we will all have a great time and learn loads!  I hope this is the spring of the ‘active participation’ that Viviane Robinson talks about in her study.  The impact is yet to be seen…….watch this space!

Getting on my Nerves

Delivering an assembly, speaking in staff briefing, leading whole school CPD, lesson observation, interview, OFSTED visit, results day…….endless reasons for the bothersome butterflies to start fluttering in your tummy and to develop sudden speech issues rendering you unable to pronounce a word properly without sounding like a sheep in slow motion.

Ok – that may be very exaggerated but, nerves are as common in teaching as stage fright is in the acting profession. It’s called ‘performance anxiety.’ As a profession, on a ‘stage’ in front of children, young adults and our peers we are generally VERY good at hiding it!! Speaking before a group allegedly ranks in the top 14 of human fears! A study by Bruskin in 1973 and re-published in 1977 showed that speaking in front of a group was the number 1 fear. There was some doubt however about the validity of the data!!

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Nerves are caused by a variety of reasons, but the best explanation is that nervousness is a physiological reaction. When your body is faced with a situation – usually outside your comfort zone, it’s natural reaction is to get excited or to be frightened. Very simply, this triggers the release of adrenaline into your bloodstream. The job of adrenaline is to enable your body to deal with the situation, but the ‘side effects’ of adrenaline are trembling, dry mouth, cold hands, rapid pulse, sometimes giddiness!

From personal experience, the more often I have to present something the more I get used to it and I am fully aware of what can make me feel nervous and therefore I can control it. In the early days of first leading whole school CPD (about a year ago) the school had previously been put into a category with looming forced academisation. Lots of morale issues, disgruntled staff. It was scary and very difficult to put good ideas out there enthusiastically and get buy-in and that is what made me feel nervous. I spoke to the head about my nerves and she couldn’t believe that I was feeling so nervous – apparently I didn’t come across that way at all. She immediately dispelled my belief that I was a jelly like blabbering wreck, which shows that the affects of anxiety are, much of the time, in our heads. Just because you feel a bit nervous does not mean you come across that way! I think I’d be more worried if I did not get a bit nervous!

So, in a situation where you may feel nerves follow these top tips!

PREPARE! PREPARE! PREPARE!
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail!
When speaking – know your lines! Rehearse and practise. Know what you are trying to achieve! Have your handouts/activities/presentation ready
Be ready for technical hitches – though it might not be as crazy as what happens in this clip! CLICK THIS LINK

TED SPEAKER’S WORST NIGHTMARE?!

ACKNOWLEDGE!
That you need some nervous energy to absolutely knock it out the park and sock it to ’em – get your point across energetically!

WATER!
Have water available at all times during your presentation – take a sip

SHIFT THE FOCUS!
It’s not you as the presenter that matters – it’s your listeners so put them in the limelight.

RECOGNISE!
Recognise when you are starting to feel nervous and breathe!!! What’s the worst that could happen?!

ENJOY!
If you are a bit nervous it probably means you are outside your comfort zone – that means you are learning! I am a very new Assistant Principal – only been on it for half a term but loving new challenges – I think it would be a little unproductive not to have a little bit of nervous energy to give each day a bit of a zing!

Finally – laugh!!! Have you ever made a spectacular mess of your words when you have been nervous?? In my very early days as a trainee in a mock job interview I was supposed to say ‘that’s a hard one’ referring to a question that had been asked. Unfortunately I mispronounced ‘one.’ (Think about it!) Luckily my professional mentor didn’t notice, either that or they kept an amazingly straight face! Oops!

If ‘speaking in front of a group’ is in the top 14 of human fears – us teachers do pretty well! Remember, not everybody can do it. It makes teachers pretty remarkable. Feeling nervous can be annoying, but it is natural – learn your own ways of dealing with it. Harness the energy and use it positively.

The White Room

JUST A THOUGHT……What would teaching be like without resources?  No interactive whiteboard, no equipment, no i Pads, no computers, no Prezi, no PowerPoint, no nothing?  Just you, your class and your combined brain power.

I often wonder this, and when I do, my imagination goes off into my metaphorical white classroom.  An empty white room. No posters, no display….just me and my pupils to give life to the learning…..(OK, maybe I have a flipchart and marker!)

create reality

In fact, my planning often starts from this extremely weird place.  If I can get my point across in there….I can do it anywhere! My white room, as a concept, is in my head and never will be a reality thank goodness!  But I find it quite refreshing to strip my teaching RIGHT back to the basics for the sake of the learning.

I sometimes create my lessons from this strange ideological beginning, because it really helps draw out my passion and enthusiasm, fluent and clear explanations and anecdotes to keep my subject alive and inspiring.   I strongly believe the most substantial resource in the classroom is straightforward people power – the teacher, the pupils!  The learning is about questions, discussions and explanations.  I suppose you could call it Socratic learning, where the power of ‘talk’ and ‘inquiry’ puts key ideas and concepts on the slab to be dissected, de-constructed and built up again into real knowledge.

Don’t misunderstand, I absolutely love using a wide variety of ICT/resources/equipment – I have to.  But, I do not plan around the resource.  If I visualise the objective and flow of the lesson and the discussions/questions that will arise, and add resources in after, the lesson is more rigorous. The resources become purposeful and necessary, and not just time fillers or gimmicks that can sometimes get in the way of actual learning – for example, a three year old, 15 minute card-sort that someone from your department created.  You still use it because it is there and ready, it has reduced your workload….result! However- is it really addressing the learning?  If it’s not having an impact – don’t use it!

I also realise that some subjects are more suited to practical and resource based learning…..couldn’t imagine trying to teach some aspects of design technology or PE in the ‘white room,’ with nothing but teacher and pupils. You kind of need a lathe or a javelin. Yet, other aspects of these subjects really lend themselves to the socratic way of doing things.  The discussions and enthusiasm are still vitally important.  A lesson is like a good joke I guess…..it’s the way you tell it.  A really great teacher could get their point across in a meaningful way, anywhere!

I challenge everyone to step into their own version of the white room – have a switch off from ICT, resources and all things gimmicky.  Think deeply about HOW you make your pupils learn.  We ARE the ‘change agents’ (Hattie).

Finally I have to make the point about how unbelievably lucky we are to be so resource-rich.  I’m happy that we have fantastic ICT, equipment, texts and stationery readily available in the UK, and in some cases brand new school buildings.  We are so fortunate and our children need to realise how lucky they are.  Use resources well, wisely and for impact in learning gains!  #loveteaching

school in poverty

What’s your Motivation? #loveteaching

Not many perks in teaching.  We get a debatable salary for the amount of work we do, especially considering the importance of our job.  We have had no pay rise for years (like most of the world, it has to be said) in fact, we have had an effective pay cut. Our pensions have been raided with most of us having to teach until we’re relics before we can retire comfortably.  The work load is sometimes unbearable.  We get mostly bad press.  We are messed around left, right and centre by politicians and exam boards, measured from every angle imaginable (to what effect?!) and pitched against one another in the league tables.   I know everyone who is not a teacher comments on the holidays, but realistically, let’s face it, we work, we mark papers, we plan ahead…do we REALLY ever switch off and forget it for a while?

Yet still, we have SPIRIT – something pushes us on, something inspires us to keep going.

Hope I’ve grabbed your attention?!

Despite all of the above, and the fact that most of the time, it is a thankless profession I couldn’t think of a better job to do.   I implore ANYONE who is critical (or not) of schools, teachers and teaching to try it – get involved and see how it all works.  I was asked recently what motivates me.  I found it a really difficult question to answer as it’s so deep rooted and totally embedded into my psyche.

I love the people I work with.  Pupils and staff.  So many characters, so colourful, so much going on, the camaraderie, the hustle and bustle.  If you have planned your day down to the last detail….it could all take a completely different direction the minute you get into work!   I love the occasional spontaneity or unexpected – because it means that EVERY day is different. I am able to use my initiative properly and often have to think on my feet.

I love getting results (not just grades!) – helping others to achieve their goals.  Seeing the ‘light bulb’ moments in the classroom, to hearing from previous pupils who have done really well for themselves and are achieving their goals.  If I was a banker, my value would be in how much money I had made, but to add value to someone’s life in whatever small and wonderful way is a better pay-off than anything…..it’s the best experience in the world.  As a teacher, you get the chance to make a real difference.  You get given the chance to make memories and have a real legacy.

I enjoy being part of a team that understands how being a teacher feels.  I love all the skills you learn that are a natural part of the job, from ICT to dealing with tight budgets and time management.  I love to improve and develop – I think that is natural in many teachers.

Most of all, I love smiles – and you certainly get plenty of those as a teacher.   ALL teachers that read this know, when a pupil says ‘thanks miss’ or ‘thanks sir’ on the way out of your room – you’re a winner!  We are under masses of pressure at the moment (actually most of the time!) and that is why we ALL need to respect, support and celebrate our profession for the jewel that it SHOULD and CAN be!  Well done teachers everywhere!  

What do you love about your job?  What motivates you?  How can you help motivate others?  I think we should say what we love about our profession, using #loveteaching

work of heart