In this episode our Main Feature is Back to School, where we discuss how things change over the summer and what it is important to focus on in those first weeks back. We also have the usual features: in the news, we recommend and inspired by. Please check out edublether.wordpress.com and rate us on iTunes.
This week, Doug and Dai discuss inter-railing, Android’s digital wellbeing controls, building ethical technology, how hacking works, taking time off chat apps, personality types, and more!
The first long podcast I’ve listend to in a while as I’ve mostly been listening to microcasts (some great ones listed on Microcast.club).
I’ve known Doug & Dai for a good few years, although I don’t think I’ve meet Dai in person, so it is nice to hear the informal chat going weaving round the edu (and not so edu) tech.
The most interesting link for me was PixelFed a federated image sharing platform, powered by the ActivityPub protocol. An instragam like service avoiding some of the drawbacks of instagram. I signed up, johnjohnston on PixelFed. It looks early days, but a not-yet working link to an API gives me hope of the possibilities of POSSE. I am still hoping that the new version of Sunlit will fill Instagram space for me, but I’ll try PixelFed for a while.
This book, as part of the Bloomsbury CPD library, is a fantastic read and one that all aspiring and experienced leaders of educational establishments should have on their shelves.
The book is split in to useful stages (Stage 1: Are you ready for leadership? All the way through to Stage 5: Enjoying Senior Leadership) These stages make it incredibly easy to navigate and find what is of interest. It is for this reason that I will be coming back to the book again and again. The book is packed full of interesting and useful information for those in Senior management teams in a school. There are practical hints and tips for what to do before even starting your leadership position, then several chapters on worthwhile topics such as difficult conversations or leading improvements.
Each section is neatly summed up with to do lists, reading material (including blog recommendations) and key takeaway messages.
This book addresses the challenges present when making the shift between being a high quality classroom teacher, to managing staff rather than children.
Tait also includes a full set of helpful, ready to use training plans for 20 hours of CPD sessions to use within your school and senior leadership team. All handouts and presentations are available as a free download from the companion website.
It really does offer an awful lot and I would recommend it to anyone who is in a senior leadership post in a school or is considering making the move in to leadership soon. The book is interesting to read and captures the essence of leadership in a school. It felt like having an friendly experienced mentor with me the whole time I was reading it.
We Recommend this fantastic website for helping teaching a range of Literacy outcomes. Pobble 365 offers up a new and interesting picture every day (hence the 365), with accompanying story starter, questions and more. I use this as children are coming in to the class as a nice starter, but it could easily be a whole lesson. You can also go back through the calendar to see previous pictures if you don’t like the photo of the day.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am sure this book won’t be new to many teachers. It seems to have captured the attention of all teachers and schools across the country. I was already convinced I was going to love the book before I started as I was a keen listener of the Pivotal Podcast and agree with a lot of what is said here. The book did not disappoint.
The main idea behind the book, and the theme that runs throughout, is that the only thing we have complete control over in a school is our own behaviour and reactions to things. The children we are teaching are still learning how to behave, many of them have experienced trauma and multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences, therefore it is wrong and unfair of us to expect everyone to behave impeccably all the time. We also have to co sided the value of the way we react when things don’t go right, and the book strongly claims that punitive, harsh measures is not the answer (here, here Paul Dix!).
The book is filled with practical advice and tips for alternative behaviours for Adults. Simple things like caring about the children, recognising positive behaviour first and sending positive messages home all make perfect sense. The book is worth it for these practical tips alone. But these really are not anything new or groundbreaking. Essentially it boils down to creating a culture of kindness. A relentless, unwavering, unconditional positive regard. How fantastic!
The book is excellent. Well written, funny and useful. What more could you want? For me the real excitement comes from how popular these ideas are becoming. Hopefully this wave of kindness across the country will eradicate adults making children feel like they are somewhat less of a human being because they are younger. This book and the ideas within celebrate children as people in their own right, and I couldn’t agree with the sentiment more.
Sir John Jones is the most inspirational speaker there is on the educational speaker circuit at the moment. He is funny, passionate and down to earth kind of guy. It was a joy to hear him speak and I would recommend you read his book.