Category Archives: Professional

What I did on my holidays⤴


I’m not long back from annual leave and still wading though the inevitable backlog. There are a couple of posts I need to write about events that took place earlier in the summer, and the Wikimedia UK partnership award which the University of Edinburgh won in July 🙂  In the meantime here’s a pretty picture I took while I was at home visiting family in the Outer Hebrides.

This is Traigh Mheilein beach on the Isle of Harris which is reached by a precipitous walk up and over a slightly scary sea cliff.  I tweeted this the day we walked to the beach and was rather chuffed when Harris Distillery (they who make the gorgeous Harris Gin) tweeted it with credit from their account earlier this week.  Since people seemed to like the picture, I uploaded it to Wikimedia Commons where anyone can use it free of charge with attribution only.

I spent quite a lot of my holiday taking pictures for Wiki Loves Monument, Wikimedia’s annual photography competition, which will be running throughout the month of September.  Last year I raided my old holiday snaps for the competition, this year I have a whole bunch of new pictures to upload including  a 16th century chapter house, a cute little Arts and Crafts church that Anne-Marie Scott rudely described as lumpy and squat, the castle where my granny used to work, a Stephenson lighthouse, and the remains of an old whaling station. No strip clubs though….

X-Ray Goggles by Mozilla⤴

from @

This is a great tool for playing about with websites. Designed to be used on desktop, rather than tablet, this tool allows you to remix any websites on the internet. Change pictures, text, headlines etc then publish and see what happens. No coding experience is needed and the tool is very straightforward to use. This is a nice insight into websites though as all the code becomes visible too. You have to ‘install’ it on your bookmark bar but this tool all of 10 seconds, and I had edited the headlines on BBC news after 1 minute. Very straightforward.

Glen Finlas – walkcast⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Another experimental microcast. I recorded this on a walk last week using the iPhone audio memos app. Just kept a memo open and recorded fragments on the go. Unfortunately at some point I hit done and when I added more, without looking, I recorded over the start.

On editing in ferrite the app crashed everytime. So I switched to Hokusai 2 cut the start pasted it to the end and then levelled in Auphonic. Finally back in Ferrite I added the intro (recorded in Ferrite and run through Auphonic).

This if far too complicated. I also need a dead cat from the phone to cut down on wind noise.

Why I love Teaching⤴

from @

Image result for love teaching

It seems at times that there is a lot of negative press about teaching, and a lot of this comes from teachers themselves who have simply had enough. Now I am not for a second saying that our job is not hard, and I too feel the ever-growing pressures to raise attainment, reduce the gap, ensure a high level of Wellbeing for all and put on a Christmas show at the same time. I get it. Honestly I do.

However, the point of this post is to focus solely on the positive. To reflect deeply on what it was that attracted me to the profession and what it is that continues to do so every day.

1. Helping people

Straight off the bat, and no matter how cheesy it seems, the fact that I am working in a job that helps people every day is immensely rewarding. Non-teachers (muggles) hate it when I say this because it sounds very self-righteous and arrogant. I don’t mean it to come across this way. I simply get a joy and pleasure out of helping children make progress in the learning. When I use ‘learning’ here, I include everything from Literacy and Numeracy all the way through to getting along with people and dealing with a difficult situation. My job is to help and I get a lot from that.

2. Creativity

The creative element of teaching is hard to beat. Few other jobs give you so much autonomy to make the job your own. Creative approaches to teaching and learning are the cornerstone of education and it is creativity that will allow us to achieve the high expectations we set for our young people. It may be as simple as creating resources or display boards, but I also use it here to refer to the creativity needed to deescalate a potentially explosive situation with a child who struggles to self-regulate, or the creativity needed to be flexible enough to change your whole lesson plan because it started snowing outside and every child in the class has their nose on the window. It takes many forms but is ever-present. Creativity is the lifeblood of teaching and it is this that sets it apart from others jobs I have worked in.

3. Uncertainty

This may seem a bit masochistic, however I love not knowing what the day is going to throw at me. You can be the most organised, planned and prepared teacher in the word (I’m not for the record), but if one child doesn’t sleep well, or if someone just managed to win a game of fortnite before leaving the house, your whole daily plan can go out the window and you find yourself facing new and unpredicted challenges. I love this. It means that no two days are the same and you never once keep an eye on the clock to count the minutes till home time. In fact when the end of day arrives you often have no idea where the day has gone.

I also put uncertainty here as I like the fact that the future of our young people is unclear. University is no longer the only accepted end goal, jobs don’t exist yet that our children will be employed in and technology is advancing so quickly that it is re-shaping the way we teach. All of this breeds uncertainty but also great levels of excitement for me. It means I have to be flexible, learning all the time and reflective.

4. Learning.

I am passionate about learning. Both the process of how we learn, and how I can implement this understanding in my teaching, but also just learning new things myself. I will never stop in my pursuit for learning and I hope to pass on this attitude to those young people that I teach. Teaching not only encourages this, it is an obligatory part of being a teacher. You must evidence how you are developing and growing as a professional as part of Professional Review. I think this is fantastic. As a result of this there are so many opportunities for teachers to learn and grow professionally. Every year since becoming a teacher I have been fortunate enough to take part in a new and exciting learning opportunity either with the local authority or at University as well as in-house training sessions. This has been incredibly rewarding for me and I know it has had a significant impact on those learners I have taught.

5. Opportunities

Teaching affords us many different opportunities for how you want your career to progress. One of the points surrounding Scottish teacher’s dissatisfaction with Teaching at the moment is the lack of routes for promotion in the profession, and I understand this. Management should not be the only promotion route available for teachers. However, there are still a great number of opportunities available to teachers. Interesting secondments, curriculum development posts, working for a University on teacher training courses etc. You also have a lot of scope for becoming an expert in a specific area by joining council improvement parties focussing on a specific subject, like Maths or Digital Literacy. Opportunities for you to carve and shape your own career are bountiful if you are looking in the right places.

I know that it may not be popular to say it, and I know that there are counter arguments to what I am putting forward here. I think that it is important to be critical and challenge injustices in the profession, but we need to do this without losing sight of all the wonderful and exciting elements of what it means to be a teacher.

I welcome your thoughts and opinions on this, let me know what it is that you love about your job.

Deep breath needed.⤴


Deep breath neeed here. Some honesty.

This is a post for my lovely virtual friend Hope Virgo and her #dumpthescales campaign.

Warning – there is mention of weight and scales here. Possible trigger.

This is the reality of being in recovery from disordered eating.

I am 49.

I am a senior leader in a school.

I am empirically very good at what I do (Ouch. It feels uncomfortable saying that but it is true.)

I am a good enough wife and mum.

In the holidays, I went to my childhood home where there are scales. I have no scales in my own house and could tell you that I maybe weigh 9 and a half stone but most of the time I don’t know.

Years back, it was a very different story and the scales ruled my life.

When I got home to Dorset, the scales told me that I was 9 stone 5 (first morning, no clothes, post exercise.) I felt happy with that.

There was no change to this for the next four mornings.

I then went to France. No scales. Food. Wine. Daily exercise. Relaxation.

I came back from France and back to scales in my parents’ home. On the first morning back the scales showed 9 stone 9. 

Free floating panic. Self hatred. Suddenly my clothes felt tight. I did not want to eat. I felt guilty. Stupid. Ugly.

I engaged with all the positive self-talk and self-help strategies that I could.

I got through it.

The next day the scales told me 9,5 again.

I felt relieved, delivered, forgiven.

What is it that a small metal measuring device can render a grown, strong, capable woman so disempowered?

What is it?

What is it that the anorexic voices are always ready to pounce?

How can I be so self-absorbed, ungrateful, unaware of all that I have when others have so little?

The homeless, the starving, the really needy….

I don’t know. 

But I do know that there are lots of us who are in the same boat and that it isn’t something that we can easily out-think or overcome.

And that we stand more chance of overcoming it if we are honest about it.

Results day⤴

from @ Engage for Education

For more than 135,000 young people and their families today is the most anticipated day of the summer as they receive their SQA results.

I had the opportunity to meet just a few of them during a visit to Firrhill High School in Edinburgh this morning and again at a special SQA celebration for care experienced young people in Glasgow.

They should all be proud of the hard work and determination that has gone into preparing for today, as should all our young people receiving results right across the country.

It is also important to remember that, whatever the outcome, today is only the beginning of an exciting and sometimes unpredictable journey to the career of your choice.

So what do the results tell us?

Overall, Higher passes are stable, despite a continuing fall in the number of young people on the school roll, while the number of Advanced Highers being taken continues to grow. This is the first year where unit assessments have been removed from the National 5, and the overall pass rate remains high at 77.4%. The number of awards of skills-based qualifications increased to over 50,300 this year, more than double the number in 2012.

That reinforces to me, yet again, that we have fantastic young people led by dedicated teachers and lecturers delivering first class education in our schools and colleges every day. And that is backed by a robust, credible assessment system. I would like to offer my congratulations to everyone involved.

Today we also welcomed figures that show a record number of students from Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas gained a place at university – the third consecutive annual rise.

The poverty related attainment gap – the cycle of poverty that passes from one generation to the next – is closing. Every child growing up in Scotland, regardless of their background, should have an equal chance to succeed.

I am delighted we are making steady, sustained progress on ensuring students from the most deprived areas of Scotland are going on to higher education.

At the same time, the total number of Scottish students from all backgrounds getting a place at a Scottish university has hit a new record.

We have more people from Scotland going to university than ever before, more modern apprenticeship places than ever before, and our colleges are delivering more courses with qualifications and awards that help get people jobs than ever before.

I know there is much more to do but today is the perfect time to reflect on the progress we have made within Scottish education to date and, most importantly, to celebrate the success of each and every one of our young people.

The post Results day appeared first on Engage for Education.

WordPress LTI Testing: Part 4⤴

from @ education

This follows on from a series of previous posts documenting some thinking about integrating WordPress with a VLE via LTI: Laying it all out to begin WordPress LTI Testing: Part 1 WordPress LTI Testing: Part 2 WordPress LTI Testing: Part 3 Doing the thinking above … Continue reading WordPress LTI Testing: Part 4

Drones in the Classroom⤴

from @ ICT for Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

What is a Drone?

Drones are devices which fly without a pilot on board – they are remotely controlled, either manually (perhaps from a mobile smartphone or tablet) or through programmed instructions. They can be very large and heavy (often carrying cameras, with a big battery capacity to enable long range in the air), or small, lightweight and able to be carried in the hand (with very limited battery capacity and air time but more suited to indoor use in a classroom). Devices suitable for the classroom will be lightweight and cause little issue if they fall from flying. Larger outdoor devices require more risk management and an understanding of the legal requirements as to where and how they can be deployed (for UK legislation about the use of drones see and

What can you do with Drones in the Classroom?

Drones provide an engaging way to develop mathematical and spatial concepts in the classroom – position, distance and movement in a real 3D environment, the classroom itself. Using coding to program a drone to take off, perform pre-planned movements and land safely, requires learners to put into practice measurement of distance, angle/turn, and spatial awareness – extending skills in coding programmable floor robots in another dimension.

Drones in the English Classroom – a podcast, with a verbatim transcript, of an interview with Santha Walters and on the blog by Vicki Davis about the experiences of getting started using drones in an English language classroom to teach writing, collaboration and more. There is helpful advice about how to get started, developing understanding of safety issues when having flying devices in the classroom, how to build on enthusiasm of the learners themselves to give them greater ownership of their learning, and handy technical tips for using drones in the classroom.

Learning Takes to the Skies – a blogpost by Matthew Lynch about using drones in the classroom. This describes the different skills being which are learned when using drones in a classroom setting and gives examples of drones in different curricular areas as well as cross-curricular.

Click on this link to browse various Tweets which have been shared about uses of drones which have application in educational contexts.

What do I need to get started?

So you’d need a drone (such as ones aimed at classroom use provided by companies like Parrot). And you’d need a smartphone or tablet device (such as an iPad or Android tablet) with an app (such as Tynker, Apple Swift Playgrounds or SpheroEdu) which controls the drone. Once these are connected the rest is down to what you are trying to teach – and the scenarios you wish to set up to support learning in a context. Can your learners program the drone to take off, make the outline of a square in the air and then land? Can they make different shapes in the air? Can they make the drone flip upside down? Can they go to above a specific location on the floor, hover, then move to another location before returning to precisely the same as the take-off point?

Here’s a video “Coding with students – Using Tynker and coding with Drones” by Richard Poth – showing how to use the Parrot Mambo minidrone using the Tynker app in a classroom.


liked: The Game of Quotes from @mrkrndvs⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Liked The Game of Quotes by Aaron DavisAaron Davis (Read Write Collect)
Heather Marshall adapts the game Bring Your Own Book for the classroom. This involves a series of prompts to help think differently about what you are reading. Marshall also discusses creating your own prompts. This activity reminds me of the Hot Seat activity, where students are challenged to think...

The Game of Quotes: Getting once reluctant readers whispering “I want to read that!” – The Book Sommelier looks useful.