Nobody likes being left out at school. Whether it’s not getting the chance to join in with activities in the classroom, playground or sports field, feeling excluded or unsupported is just SO not what anyone needs.
The good news is that young people called the Young Ambassadors for Inclusion are on a mission to help schools think about how they can become more inclusive. They recently met up with Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary John Swinney to have their say about how important it is that ALL pupils – whatever their age, background, or support need – feel included in school.
Talking about what inclusion means to them and how to make sure pupils feel safe, accepted, and treated equally, the Young Ambassadors shared what matters to them the most:
“Everybody being included in education regardless of need”
“Making it easy for pupils to ask for help and offer the right support”
“Not being defined by any difficulties you have”
The young people thought that it was really important for schools to make sure that everyone understands and has a positive attitude about support needs like disabilities and mental health issues:
“Whole school awareness of additional support needs can support much better understanding and reduce stigma and isolation”.
And by ‘everyone’, the Ambassadors meant not just the pupils but the teachers as well – they told the Education Minister they think that all teachers should have training on inclusion and the different types of support needs pupils may have and how this might affect them in school.
“When staff have an understanding of different additional support needs and can understand certain behaviours, it helps them understand why young people may act in a particular way”
They had some good ideas for how to raise awareness, like holding pupil conferences, taking part in national awareness weeks, putting on school assemblies led by pupils, or developing awareness raising days about specific issues such as mental health or being LGBT.
The Inclusion Ambassadors said that it was really important for schools to make sure pupils with support needs had the same chance as other pupils to have a say in decisions:
“If school don’t support you to try things how will we ever get the chance?”
“Support staff have ideas of what young people are good at or not good at. Don’t make assumptions.”
“We need to create positive stories about pupils with additional support needs rather than focus on the negatives.”
Summing it all up perfectly one Ambassador told John Swinney:
“We want to be seen as individuals with our set of unique strengths and skills.
So what next for the Inclusion Ambassadors?
After the success of their meeting with the Deputy First Minister, the Inclusion Ambassadors are creating a pledge that schools can use to show they are committed to inclusion. They are also going to make a support pack and short film for schools to raise awareness of inclusion and how important it is to listen to young people’s views.
The post “Everybody involved, nobody left out” appeared first on Reach.
30 years ago today I turned 18. I cried for most of the morning. 30 years ago to the day, I also received my A Level results and “only” got 2 As and a B so was not going to be accepted into my chosen university.
The tears were related to the results and not the birthday, which should have been a day of celebration and joy.
Of course, I had done incredibly well. But I felt a failure. The system of exams and university entrance, so divisive and narrow in its definition of “success” and “intelligence”, had led me to equate value with being able to do well in exams.
No matter that I was a good, kind person, a creative and talented singer and actor and a deep but slightly chaotic thinker.
In the end, I got a place by re-applying the following year. But the experience having “failed” on the basis of a few hours sitting in a stuffy hall and spewing out all I could remember about French, German and Politics hit me hard.
So reading this fabulous piece this week makes me wonder what on earth we are thinking and doing, thirty years on from my results day:
Having worked in education for over twenty-five years, I have seen attempts to challenge the system come and go:
The revival of Drama and other creative subjects in the noughties;
The accreditation of work experience;
The inclusion of Key Skills in A and AS levels;
The attempt by organisations like the RSA to promote the value skills-based qualifications.
And in Scotland, where I now work, the creation of a new Curriculum For Excellence qualifications system that allows pupils to be assessed without an exam.
But what are we doing in Scotland? We are talking about re-introducing the exam into our National 4 (lower tier GCSE equivalent) as seemingly people don’t value it without one.
In fact, all that needs to happen is that we need to do the PR better. Pupils, parents and the universities need to be persuaded that exams are only one way of assessing pupils, alongside many other equally valid methods.
Exams are indeed often a memory test. And they are easy to administer and mark.
But let’s not pretend that easy is best for our children or for the future of our country.
When I go in tomorrow for our first day of term and ask my colleagues to analyse our exam results, I will be just as interested in the non-exam results; in the non-examined National 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s.
But I will also be keen to hear the narrative around each child and to reflect on how well we have supported them in their journey to become educated and achieving in the broadest sense; to be happy, healthy and doing the best they can.
Reading Time: 1 minute
My social media and news feeds are full of angry white racists.
3 good things:
1. Calling it like it is:
2. Remembering the origins of this time of year:
In 1947, after the devastation of World War II, the founding vision was to reunite people through great art and “provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit”. In these historic early moments, people overcame the post-war darkness, division and austerity in a blooming of Festival Spirit.
“The International Festival would focus on common ground, on undisputed greatness and in so doing would make itself a safe place to come together. This was most symbolically achieved with the reuniting of Jewish conductor Bruno Walter with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.”
3. Positive challenges from our students:
“LiberatEd is an initiative created by Edinburgh University Students’ Association and led by Black and Minority Ethnic (BME), Disabled, LGBT+ and Women students from across the University, aimed at challenging the academic establishment to become more diverse, more inclusive, and more critical of historically dominant narratives.”
…and another thing
For Micro.blog, I believe the right approach is to first introduce a simple “quote” feature. This UI would be streamlined to support quoting a sentence out of a blog post, with your own thoughts tacked on. It would fit with the spirit of easy posting in Micro.blog, but it would encourage more thoughtful posts and naturally scale up from traditional linkblogging.
likes Reposts and quoting | Manton Reece
I very much agree that quoting from and adding something to a post is of great value, but some times I love something I don’t understand well enough to add value. That is why I’ve an enviable stuff category here.
Reading Time: 2 minutes
“We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.” (Charles Mackay – Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds)
I write you from the eye of the storm. It’s festival season again in Edinburgh. If you’ve never been here in August it’s hard to describe. Our city is transformed into a palace of wonder and delight. Every pub is simultaneously an art gallery / comedy venue / popup flophouse. Kitchen cupboards are rented as theatres. For one month streetfood doesn’t mean 2 seagulls fighting over a chip. Comedy stars flock to Edinburgh like competitive sheep shearers to the Golden Shears. A garden square in the heart of the New Town magically turns into a world-class book festival. We illuminate the city, and everyone thinks it’s totally reasonable to go see Jane Austen improv in a giant upside down inflatable cow-shaped theatre.
Locals are marked out by their scowls, tutting, and general frustration with not being able to walk anywhere in the city at speed. Don’t talk about flyers.
Every year it seems too overwhelming. Every year I promise myself some restraint. Not to overcommit. It’s going well this year. If by “well” you mean totally bat-shit-crazy like a cat in a field of nip.
Kicked off with Rachel Hosker at the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas. Topping up tonight with Nicola Osborne, also at #CODI.
Tomorrow – Julia Hobsbawn at Book Festival, Zinnie Harris’ Rhinoceros at the Lyceum. Pop in and see Mrs Asquith-Lamb and her giant pop up book. Maybe catch Andrew O’Neill instead of eating dinner.
Sunday – day of rest. Teju Cole at Book Festival, followed by Rachel McCrum and Miriam Nash.
I can’t even find the energy to type what’s happening in the following 2 weeks.
This is my personal reflection on the devastating news that Syrian open knowledge advocate Bassel Khartabil was executed by the Syrian government in 2015.
Qasr al Hallabat, Jordan, CC BY Lorna M. Campbell
Some of you will already know that before I worked in open education I used to be an archaeologist. My main interest was the North Atlantic Iron Age and I spent a lot of time working on excavations in the Outer Hebrides where I was born and brought up. However I also spent one memorable summer working in the South Hauran Desert in Jordan near the Syrian Border. It was a bit of a life changing experience for me, I fell quietly in love with the Middle East and when I got back to Scotland I realised that I was stuck in a rut with my job so I decided to leave archaeology while I still loved the subject and turn my hand to something else instead.
By rather circuitous routes that something else turned out to be open education, and it’s something which I have had a deep personal and ethical commitment to for over ten years now. I never lost my love of archaeology though and I always regretted that while I was in Jordan we didn’t cross the border into Syria to visit Palmyra and Damascus. We had one week free at the end of our fieldwork project and it was a toss up between Petra or Syria. Petra won. Years later I watched in horror as Syria descended into civil war and Palmyra became a battleground. Tragic as the destruction of Palmyra has been, it pales into significance beside the huge number of lives that have been destroyed in the conflict.
Consequently, when I first came across the New Palmyra project I was really inspired. Here was a project that used openness to capture the cultural and archaeological heritage of Syria before it’s lost forever. What a fabulous idea. I vaguely noted the name of Bassel Khartabil among the people involved but at the time I knew nothing more about him
“Bassel Khartabil (Safadi)” by Joi Ito – http://www.flickr.com/photos/joi/4670781482CC BY 2.0
About a year later Adam Hyde of Booksprints.net, who ran a booksprint for us at the end of the the UKOER programme, contacted me and asked if I would be willing to write a piece for a book to raise awareness of the disappearance of Syrian open knowledge advocate, Creative Commons representative and active Wikimedian, Bassel Khartabil. I was horrified to learn of Bassel’s disappearance and immediately agreed. My contribution to the open eBook The Cost of Freedom: A Collective Inquiry is called The Open World. Since then I have talked and blogged about Bassel at every opportunity, most recently at the OER17 Conference The Politics of Open and re:publica, in order to help raise awareness of his plight.
I never met Bassel, but his story touched me deeply. Here was a man who lost his liberty, and we now know lost his life, for doing the very same job that I am doing now. This is why openness, open knowledge, open education, open advocacy matter.
I was on holiday in Brittany when I heard about Bassel’s death via Catherine Cronin on twitter and I was deeply, deeply saddened by the news. I still am, and I’m still struggling to express this in words. At the moment, I’m not sure I can put it better than the words I used at the end of my OER17 lightning talk Shouting from the Heart.
The plight of Bassel Khartabil is a sobering reminder of the risks of openness, proof that open is always political, but it’s also shows why we need openness more than ever, because openness is inextricably bound up with freedom. And in the words of another older declaration, the Declaration of Arbroath.
It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.
(The original text of my article in TES Scotland 23rd June 2017)
It is difficult to talk to fellow teachers about real change in Scottish Education without coming across the thorny topic of Time. There is no shortage of commitment, no lacking in interest in new ideas, new strategies. But that’s not enough, is it? We can provide as many as ideas as we like, create as many resources as we possibly can; without the time to properly implement those ideas we will more than likely wander around the edges, more anxious than ever about what we may be missing. Teaching is a series of habits, of learned behaviours, and to change what we do takes real commitment and time from all involved for implementation.
It is this dichotomy which frustrates teachers most, I think. We see the wonderful work by organisations like SCEL (Scottish College of Educational Leadership) and their efforts to get into as many schools as possible, leading the way in new, radical approaches to continuing professional development, but often return to our classrooms overrun with tasks to complete and classes to prepare. And, when faced with those pressures, we return to the habits which successfully get us through our day. It’s not that we don’t want to be leaders; we merely find that the space to implement real change is filled with other things we must do.
I have always been wary of acronyms in Scottish Education. Once we use them, they can become meaningless words, easy to dismiss. However, more and more I’m beginning to see SCEL as our most important. Whatever your definition of leadership, it would be difficult to argue that taking responsibility for our own development is not part of that.
Money is certainly there. Investment in SCEL, in the Pupil Equity Fund, in the Attainment Challenge, in the First Minister’s Reading Challenge. Professional Development opportunities have changed completely over the last ten years. However, our opportunities to benefit from them have not.
Imagine what we could achieve if, instead of a cupboard full of resources provided for our National courses, we were provided with the more valuable recourse of Time. Time to collaborate properly; time to innovate properly; time to embed new habits and transform our classrooms: instead of struggling to cope with what we have already and finding ourselves vilified in the press for our reluctance to change.
There is no greater resource than our teachers. To improve their skills, to improve their ability to teach our young people, then we need to give them what they need. Having SCEL is a ground-breaking achievement but without the time to adapt we may be missing a massive opportunity. Let’s not do that. Please?
Last week Adobe announced that they would stop supporting Flash in 2020.
Although in the age of mobile and tablets Flash content has become less important there still is a lot of educational material, especially games, that uses Flash.
Back at the end of the last century I used flash to make resources for teaching I even used this old one and this one in class this year.
I also used Flash to teach animation in class. Although Flash is expensive at the time I used it you could get cheap education copies and the software was less complicated.
Sandaig Primary School: Computer Club (on the Internet archive) still has some of the work we did.
I’ve just had a trip down memory lane, Littlefish Flash lists some of the things I did with Flash and also links to a pile of worksheets I made for my pupils.
Looking back I remember how exciting, for me, to be able to learn and teach about layers, frames, bitmap and vector graphics.
One of the introductory exercises we did was to use flash to trace our faces. The same technique was popular with my class using iPad apps this year.
I’ve read a lot online about the problems with Flash over the last few years. It uses too much energy for mobile and has regular security problems. Despite this and the fact it was priced out of my classroom when Adobe bought it I am a little sad that old flash content will either vanish or be hard to view in just a few years.
The view from the office isn’t bad…, CC BY, Lorna M. Campbell
Now that I’ve cleared the inevitable post-holiday e-mail backlog I’m ready to start a new role as Senior Service Manager – Learning Technology within Education Design and Engagement (EDE) at the University of Edinburgh. I’ve actually been transitioning into this role for several months now and have been working closely with colleagues in EDE, where the OER Service is based, for some time now. For the last year I’ve been working as OER Liaison – Open Scotland in the Learning Teaching and Web directorate within Information Services. This role involved co-chairing the OER 16 Open Culture Conference together with Melissa Highton, promoting the Open Scotland initiative and the Scottish Open Education Declaration, disseminating the University of Edinburgh’s open education activities, working with our Wikimedian in Residence, and liaising with other international open education initiatives and organisations. Open education will still be central to my new role but I’ll be more focused on embedding open education and OER within the university. In addition to continuing with some of my existing activities I’ll be working more closely with the OER Service and getting more involved in supporting institutional programmes and initiatives and liaising with other departments within the University, such as the Institute of Academic Development, to ensure that openness and OER are embedded across the institution. I’ll also be wrapping up the two IS Innovation Fund Projects that I’ve been managing recently and disseminating their outputs. And of course I’ll still be actively involved with the Association for Learning Technology, Wikimedia UK, and the Open Knowledge Open Education Working Group. I’ll continue to share my experiences here on my blog and on twitter, so watch this space!
In my last post I wrote about the importance of teacher agency, as well as the facilitation and development of this by school leaders and teachers at all levels. In this post I wish to turn my attention to another key disposition and quality to be found in the most accomplished teachers. That of, adaptive expertise.
There are various definitions to be found of what is meant by adaptive expertise. Most talk of an individual's ability to solve problems, through the use of knowledge already gained, and applying this in different ways to solve problems, and meet changing situations. In education, we can consider it being about understanding the complexity of learning and of dealing with, and responding to issues, or dealing with situations where the responses and outcomes are different to those expected.
Helen Timperley has identified adaptive experts as being 'deeply knowledgeable about both the content of what is taught and how to teach it.' Whilst Timperley and others recognise the importance of routines to student achievement and wellbeing in the learning process, she also states that those with high levels of adaptive expertise are able to 'identify when innovative' and different approaches are necessary. Such teachers are able to assess when they need to adapt an approach they are using in response to their learners reactions, in front of them.
Timperley has also spoken of schools becoming organisations 'having adaptive capacity'. This she simply describes as the development of 'an organisational community that learns.' She says that such organisations promote inquiry and develop teacher agency, both of which are desirable in all schools and teachers. Such schools are considering and reflecting on their performance continually, being steeped in learning for all, to improve what they do.
How many times have you come across schools and teachers who have plans in place, which they insist they have to follow step by step, with no deviations, to achieve desired outcomes? I have found these quite often during my own career, and may have been guilty of this myself as an early teacher. Planning is important for teaching and for school development. Without a plan, how do you know what you are going to do, or when you have achieved an objective? However, they become a problem when they are viewed as 'set-in-stone' and have to be followed step by step in a rigidly linear format. The best plans are flexible outlines focused on learning, that are adaptive, and adapted, during the teaching or development process. They are viewed as organic in nature, as they respond to the shifting sands of learning and development.
The very best teachers, and most highly skilled, that I have had the pleasure to work with, understood the need for the adaptivity required in excellent teaching. They understand that their plans for learning give them a starting point and a focus. But, that when the learning is underway, and learners are engaging with early activities designed to support next steps in their learning, it is their responses that will shape the direction of travel and future learning activity. They recognise the complexity of the learning process for individuals and for groups of learners, the factors that impact on that learning, and how these are in a constant state of flux.
Teachers with high levels of adaptive expertise are not overwhelmed by all of this complexity. They accept and understand it. It helps shape their teaching and organisation of learning. The very best make this constant juggling of demand look easy, but they are the most skilled, the ones who think most deeply about what it is they are doing, and what they are trying to achieve for all their learners. They better understand their impact on the learning of their learners. As they develop such expertise they consciously have to think about what is happening in front of them, and how this is going to affect their construction of the learning process. However, as they become more adept, such thinking and responding becomes subsumed into their professional identity and practice.
Some of the very best practitioners I have seen with this quality display what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes a 'flow' in their teaching and thinking. They are fully immersed in the learning process they are engaged in, and hardly recognise the many subtle changes in thinking and practice they make as they engage with their learners and deal with their responses. To the untrained eye such dispositions can be difficult to detect, when observing learning in any given situation, given rise to some thinking that teaching is an 'easy' or 'technical' activity rather than the highly skilled professional activity we understand it to be. Observing learning then speaking to such teachers afterwards about what was going on, can often make this level of expertise more visible.
When teachers have high levels of adaptive expertise, then so can schools enhance their adaptive capacity, as well as their ability to grow organically and persistently. Then we will be creating and developing those collaborative learning cultures that are essential to meaningful development, and which are grounded in a school's position on its development journey, as well as its context. Such cultures recognise everyone as learners and their responsibility to support the learning of everyone one else, students and staff.
Of course, you have to start from where you are, and each person and school starts from a different position. What we all have to do is commit to career-long learning and development, with the ultimate aim of becoming the very best teacher, and school, we can, with high levels of teacher agency which is underpinned by teachers, and leaders with high levels of adaptive expertise. Then we will be able to constantly develop in order to better meet the short and long term learning needs of all our learners.
The development of high levels of professional expertise starts with a commitment to grow, followed by baby-steps on our individual journey of development. There will be stumbles along the way, but each one will help us reach a stage where we are ready to run together, and be the best we can.