Sunday, 17 May 2015

You can do my job.

If I had a quid for every time someone has said ‘I couldn’t do your job’ I’d be a flamin' millionaire. And I’m not talking about my window cleaner (although he has said it) or a sympathetic mate after I've moaned my way through a bottle of Pinot Grigio (although this has happened). No. Most often I hear this from thoroughly wonderful, talented and professional colleagues who most certainly COULD do my job, if only they believed it themselves.

So, here’s my attempt to convince them, and you, that being a Head of English is no different from being a classroom teacher.

You’ll still be setting consistently high expectations.

You’re still trying to create a positive climate for learning and teaching.
Just as in a class, some teachers might not be bosom buddies, but as a leader it’s essential to try and create a cohesive team.
You are still managing behaviours.
Your strategies might be quite different, however, as generally staff don't respond well to the doling out of detentions.

Keeping others safe and developing their SMSC are still vital.
Personal problems are not simply the preserve of students and, when facing times of crisis, the support a leader can offer is invaluable. It must be instant, consistently apparent, and demonstrate the same genuine care and compassion that we show our young people.
You will still aim to inspire others.

You still have to differentiate.
Teachers, like our students, having varying levels of experience, knowledge and skill. Just like you do in a classroom, you’ll learn to utilise people’s strengths and support them in areas they're not yet as confident and/or competent in.

You’re still learning and teaching.
I take the same joy in watching my team develop as I do my students. I am also even more keenly aware of my own learning as I seek to become a better leader.

You’re still judged on progress over time.
Okay, so it’s for a slightly bigger group of kids, but the principles remain the same. It’s just that your ‘mark book’ now contains a year group; you just have a few more pupils to worry about and support.

You’ll still be focused on interventions and ensuring that they have a notable impact.
Teachers intervene on a lesson by lesson basis, making changes to ensure that all of their students ‘get it’. As above, the only difference for a HoF is that they’re doing it with more of them and, as a result, keeping sharper records to track what they do.

You’ll still need to systematically check understanding. 

Feedback is still essential.
You’ll have had difficult conversations with students when they’ve not quite achieved as well as they thought they had, or to underline some ‘home truths’ about their lack of effort and resulting underperformance. Although the idea of talking to a peer in a challenging context might frighten you, you’ll approach it in the same way - with honesty and sensitivity – knowing that, just as with students, these conversations get easier to have with practise.

You’ll still need to ensure you use time well.

Planning will still be vital.
But thanks to enhanced PPA provision you’ll get more time to do it and your plans will be for more than lessons.


Monday, 4 May 2015

#twitterati challenge

Whilst feeling a bit rubbish about returning to work after a lovely, long weekend of fun with my nephews...

...I got tagged in this ridiculously lovely blog post by @sandratowers...

...which left me feeling revived and ready for Tuesday, and meant I couldn't refuse her #twitteratichallenge!

These teachers on Twitter really inspire me:

@tillyteacher - it's equal parts her generosity with her outstanding resources, her sense of moral purpose, and her ability to be an ear to bend when this job feels like it's getting the better of me that make Laura May Rowlands one in a million. I'm very excited at meeting her in person this October at TLT15 and will seriously owe her a cocktail for the World Book Day resources alone!

@shornymorgan - I won't hold it against her that she makes me feel terribly old... Shorny is a tour-de-force of ideas and enthusiasm. I hope the edu-world is ready for the combined power of these two. 

@englushlulu - For her immense blog that provided my Y11 with 9hrs of revision materials for their exam this year. The epitome of what Twitter can be!

@chrishildrew - I'm proud to say this man is my ex-HoF, but reconnecting with him online now he's 'down south' has only reconfirmed his status as my professional hero. It may not be very 'growth mindset' (and dubious taste in pop music aside), but this man has one epic brain. 

@xris32 - For being a local (authority) legend. Whether it's catching up over a rich tea at the LA meeting with him or his sharply analytical blogs, I know he'll get to the root of the issue and find better words than I ever could. 

The twitterati challenge rules:

In the spirit of social-media-educator friendships, this summer it is time to recognise your most supportive colleagues in a simple blogpost shout-out. Whatever your reason, these 5 educators should be your 5 go-to people in times of challenge and critique, or for verification and support.


There are only 3 rules.

1 You cannot knowingly include someone you work with in real life.

2 You cannot list somebody that has already been named if you are already made aware of them being listed on #TwitteratiChallenge

3 You will need to copy and paste the title of this blogpost and (the Rules and What To Do) information into your own blog post.

What To Do?

There are 5 to-dos you must use if you would like to nominate your own list of colleagues.

1 Within 7 days of being nominated by somebody else, you need to identify colleagues that you rely regulalry go-to for support and challnege. They have now been challenged and must act as participants of the #TwitteratiChallenge.

2 If you’ve been nominated, you must write your own #TwitteratiChallenge blogpost within 7 days. If you do not have your own blog, try @StaffRm.

3 The educator nominated, that means you reading this must either: a) record a video of themselves (using Periscope?) in continuous footage and announce their acceptance of the challenge, followed by a pouring of your (chosen) drink over a glass of ice.

4 Then, the drink is to be lifted with a ‘cheers’ before the participant nominates their five other educators to participate in the challenge.

5 The educator that is now (newly) nominated, has 7 days to compose their own #TwitteratiChallenge blogpost and identify who their top-5 go-to educators are.