Drill and Practice

By |30 May 2022|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , , , |

Drill & Practice When my son was 5 years old I decided it was high time he learned how to use an electric drill. So I asked him if he wanted a go with mine. He said no it's too noisy. So he looked on from a distance. Months later I asked him again. He came a bit closer this time and watched me drill a few holes. I showed him how to change the drill bit. I showed him how to hold the drill. Maybe a year later I tried once more. Would you like a go I [...]

STAMP out Fake News

By |8 March 2022|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , , , |

I read online this morning that the war in Ukraine might not be real. Thankfully each instance of 'evidence' supporting this view was easily debunked. But still, the fakery was there. Now, more than ever, we and our children must be alert for lies and discerning about information. It's easy to short circuit thinking if the story is emotive, compelling, resonant so here's a way to preserve a rational response: STAMP Thinking. Before accepting information as 'true', ask five questions: Source: Where has the information come from? Has it been filtered or changed? Trust: Do you trust the source? [...]

The School of War

By |1 March 2022|Categories: Curriculum, Teaching|Tags: , , |

War raged all around but in the middle of it stood the school: peaceful and undamaged. While the bombs dropped and the soldiers fell, the children inside got on with their work. At break time they climbed on to the playground wall to watch the flames and the black smoke coming from the city. They looked up in to the sky and followed the aeroplanes of both sides twist and turn and shoot at each other. Then the bell rang and they all rushed back to their classrooms. Not a bullet nor a bomb had touched the school. There were [...]

Effective Teachers Do These Three Things

By |9 February 2022|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , |

...at least they did in 1999, according to Tim Brighouse, when I heard him talk about them. Do they still make sense, 23 years later? At the time they were incredibly compelling and, evidenced here, highly memorable. Do you do them? Multiply Their 'Specialness' Increase the chances of each child in school coming into contact with people and situations that make them feel special, worthy and valuable. This could be teachers, peers, older students, visitors, TAs, parents - anyone who can bring understanding, love, learning and challenge into a child's daily experience. Smile in the corridor; give meaningful responsibilities; [...]

2021 Digest

By |15 December 2021|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , , |

Thank-you for taking the time read my posts this year. I trust you've found value, hope, humour and useful challenge in the words. Here's a digest of the most read. Some, you may be visiting again; others, for this first time. As always, do use the ideas and share with friends and colleagues who may also enjoy these short reads. Back in January, Why You Should Not Teach Live Lessons became my most read post ever - still not beaten. I wonder why...! On the same theme, check in with 5 Stages of Remote Teaching to feel great about what [...]

Read My Eyes: the challenge for EYFS

By |28 October 2021|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , , , , |

  My name is Elijah. I am 3 years and 7 twelfths of a year old. I will be 4 years old very soon. You can come to my party if you like. There will be crisps. But I might get to eat them all myself. And all the biscuits. And cake. If you're not allowed to come it'll be coz there might be another lockdown for COVID. So, I'll get all the food for me if there is another lockdown. And the pizza. That's good but it's bad as well. I'll have no one to play with. Again. And [...]

A Smart View of Intelligence

By |5 October 2021|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , |

  MI Around the World In June 2008, I squeezed into a tiny New York conference room along with 15 other educators. Advocates of Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI), and drawn from all global corners, we'd gathered to share our work and record its impact. Our host was indeed Prof. Howard Gardner, and the result of that meeting, nearly a year later, was 'Multiple Intelligences Around the World'. I sat with a Chinese researcher called Happy, and Joy, a school reformer from the Philippines. Always vigilant for a chance to lighten the mood, I introduced myself as 'Mild Discontent', [...]

Learning Will Be Disrupted

By |2 September 2021|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , , , , |

Alice (name changed to protect identity) officially attends Greenfields Primary, an outstanding school (name changed to protect its outstandingness) serving a diverse suburban catchment. 12 months into our global pandemic, Greenfields was still struggling to adapt. Remote learning comprised worksheets emailed home; blended pedagogy was tolerated - for now - 'until we can go back to how it was before'; CPD was on hold 'while we cope with the disruption'. Alice's dad, Mark (you guessed it) is not happy. His company switched online 72 hours into the first lockdown and since then they've wrestled with new technology, struggled with diverse [...]

5 Stages of Remote Teaching

By |19 February 2021|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , , |

The good news is you're probably already at stage 4. Here are the five: Stability Survival Innovation Opportunity Enrichment And here's what they look like: 1. Stability Remember stability, clarity, security? Early 2020? Feels like decades ago don't you think? The curriculum was known and effective. Things were generally clear. We knew what to do, how to do it and (if we had the time to think about it), why we bothered. Concerns were: Ofsted, Year 9 (or Year 6), and keeping the staff room cup-washing rota viable. 2. Survival March 2020. We fell off a cliff. Chaos. Completely unknown [...]

Why You Should Not Teach Live Lessons

By |12 January 2021|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , |

Before COVID, we educators and trainers had this: And then, early in 2020, we didn't. All we had was this: A rectangle. Our laptop screen, monitor, phone or tablet. The space in which we had to teach, to learn, to train, communicate, have fun. And then, once we'd picked ourselves up and dusted ourselves off, we made it work. Here's what we did with our rectangles: We opened up the world. We connected, we innovated, we created. We struggled, became frustrated and we persevered through fear, anger, and through a time of simply not knowing what to do - or [...]

COVID-19 Back to School

By |26 April 2020|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , , |

I must share this with you; the unedited words of a teacher of just 4 years speaking from her heart; yet speaking pragmatically (14 ideas below) and, I hope, helpfully as we start to contemplate our 'what nexts': Multiple Solutions to Future Worries Anxiety is a funny thing. I guess as human beings we are known to be creatures of habit. During the first few weeks of lockdown, my anxiety was awful. My routine went. My habits were gone. I hated the idea of simply not being busy; not being in work - not having a set of goals to [...]

Active Learning and The First Kiss

By |17 January 2019|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , |

First memory? Emotionally significant? Powerful? You remember where you were; what happened; how it felt. Or at least you remember remembering. First lecture? Emotionally significant? Powerful? You remember where you were; what it was about; the lecturer’s clothes. Really? First film you ever saw at the cinema? Emotionally significant? Powerful? You remember the cinema, the film, the story? First day of school…first this first that first other. What do we learn from firsts? And what have they got to do with Active Learning? Our firsts, our lasts and our interesting-in-betweens are memorable because they are different; they involve a significant [...]

I Don’t Like Group Work

By |19 December 2018|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , |

But only when it's done for the sake of doing group work. To tick a box; develop life skills; now back to your spellings etc. etc. When there's a clear reason for working together, a purpose and the group is managed well, then it's fine. Necessary. Invaluable. When you work in a group or a team, does 1+1=3? Or does it equal 1.89? Research says working together improves learning. But that's like saying food improves health. Let's think about it: My occasional collaborator and like-mind, Tom Hoerr, once principal of the world leading New City School in St Louis, says [...]

Do You Let Your Pupils Doodle?

By |26 November 2018|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , , , |

The Guardians of Doodle The 24th September 2011 was an important day for doodlers but it may have passed you by. That is, unless you happened to be reading volume 378, issue 9797 of The Lancet, in which an article by G D Schott mentioned that, Those in the “doodling” group performed better on the auditory monitoring task, and on a subsequent memory test. G D Schott (thanks by the way, I doodle a lot) was referring to work by another doodle guardian, Jackie Andrade, whose original article puts a figure on this doodle-benefit, The doodling group performed better ... and recalled [...]

Why British Values Are Not Enough

By |1 October 2018|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , |

4 British Values 'Necessary but not sufficient': something I learned from my A-Level Maths teacher, the wise, modest and rigorous Mr Rooke. We were learning to prove things. With Maths. And to do this, certain conditions had to be met. They were needed - essential - but on their own were not enough. Other things were required - sufficient things to prove the theorem. In order to write it's necessary to have something to write with but that's not sufficient. You also need something to write about and something to write on. For a car to move it's essential to [...]

Where to Speak 600,000 Words

By |19 September 2018|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , , |

Which part of a bus is the most important? The engine? The driver? Wheels, brakes, fog lights? The passengers? No. It's the Literacy Alcove.  The Literacy Alcove is usually towards the center, or at the front on the left. It normally has fold-down seats, is often filled with push chairs, babies, toddlers and their mums.  The buggy-baby-toddler-mum area. Where wheelchair users go too. I propose that it's here where a nation's future is forged; where economic success is made or broken and where personal fulfillment begins. Bold claims for a bit of a bus. Let me explain why: I travel [...]

Why You Must Lose Control of Your Class

By |23 August 2018|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , |

  You've Been There, Right? Teachers - here are three classroom experiences that I truly hope you've had: The absolute-rock-bottom-I-have-nothing-left-in-my-toolkit-horror of being in front of a class as control slowly and surely slips from your fingers. The absolute ecstatic joy of finding the class fully engaged with the task you set them when you return from a 10-minute trip to the photocopier. The heartwarming, yet sometimes funny feeling of being called 'mum', 'dad', or even 'nan' by one of your pupils. Or all of them. And why do I wish this (and other similar feelings) upon you? Because they'll help [...]

Three Essential Teaching Questions

By |23 August 2018|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , , |

Who Taught You? I am in the middle of Portsmouth Habour in a 4.2 metre Laser Class dingy. A 128 metre, 6000 tonne ferry is heading towards me. It sounds five short blasts on its horn. This means danger or doubt - I don't understand your intent. I can sense the captain pulling a cord or pressing a button with her big thumb. Each pull or push (or whatever she's doing up there on the bridge) is just long enough and hard enough to communicate total and utter incredulity that I am in her way. Then I hear my Navy [...]

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