Tag Archives: Professional Learning

Beginning the World Over Again⤴

from @ robin_macp

I was encouraged to write this by Jill Berry and Lena Carter, who both wrote excellent reflective blogs recently that show why they’re two of the most important voices in education, and are people that I respect greatly (links are at the end). It’s been far too long since I wrote something for my own website, but I’ve been able to contribute pieces to various other blogs and media outlets this year. If you’ve never taken up writing about education, but have always had an itch to do so, I strongly recommend it. The thought process that goes into blogging is, for me, the best and most therapeutic form of professional reflection. 

James Furlong and Owain Bristow

There can be no doubt that 2020 was a year that brought many lows, but for me the loss of two colleagues far outweighs anything else that happened. When I was Head of History at Wellington College, James Furlong was in the same role at the Holt School in Wokingham. He was a lovely guy, with a sharp intellect and superb subject knowledge. I got to know him through professional learning events that we ran for history teachers, and he very kindly took on School Direct trainees from my department. They always came back full of praise for the wisdom and advice that he imparted. James was tragically killed in a senseless terrorist attack in Reading, and I can only imagine how that would have impacted on his school community – who, it must be said, gave wonderfully compassionate support to their staff and pupils. James was an active member of the LGBTQI+ community who went out of his way to help people; he was the very epitome of kindness. The Holt are raising money for a memorial garden in his memory, and you can make a donation here.

In August, our Head of Biology at Robert Gordon’s College, Owain Bristow, died in a tragic accident just after we had returned to school. Owain was a brilliant scientist, with a quirky sense of humour, and the tributes that poured in showed just how much he meant to everyone in our community. He loved the outdoors, and dedicated much of his spare time to volunteering with Aberdeen Young Walkers. He was also a top-level athlete, an enthusiastic pantomime performer, and a much-loved son, boyfriend and uncle. The book that we put together of all the letters, cards, pictures and messages we received shows just how many lives he changed for the better. 

Both men gave so much to their schools, but also to wider society. As teachers, we know what we do is important, but we perhaps underestimate just how much. The legacy left by James and Owain shows the true value of the teaching profession. They are greatly missed.

Life as a new headteacher

I started my first headship in August this year, and the phrase that I have heard many times is that I’ve had “a baptism of fire”. True, crisis management has been a consistent feature of my first few months, but ultimately you know what you sign up for when you become a head. It is undoubtedly hard, and it’s not for everyone, but the support you get is amazing. My advice is to try to build up a strong network around you; people who can advise you, provide a sympathetic ear, and also be a critical friend. The better your network, the more able you are to do your job. 

I wrote this blog a few years back about senior leadership, and reflecting on it now I think it holds up pretty well. The tweet by Amy Fast that inspired it is, still, excellent advice:

I did the Scottish MSc level qualification ‘Into Headship’ in 2019-20 at Stirling University, and I can very much recommend it. Everyone I know who has taken it has been full of praise, unlike many people I know who have done NPQH. The reading part is the most challenging for many, but I loved that aspect and picked up a few things along the way. The work on the Complexity Leadership Theory (CLT) by Uhl-Bien et al (2007), although not on the prescribed reading list, was perhaps the best thing I read so if you have time then try to delve into it. I think it’s the closest thing to my experience of senior leadership so far.

Lockdown and remote learning

I described the second lockdown in a message to parents this week as “the sequel that nobody wanted, to a movie that no one enjoyed.” However, it won’t last forever and it has at least forced us to find creative solutions to problems that we’ve never faced before. Another colleague made a great point to me this week, namely that the paradigm shift that we’ve experienced has done much to destroy the ‘aye beens’ culture that affects not just Scottish education, but global systems too. That is to say, that we do many things because that’s the way we’ve always done them, without questioning why. I’ve never bought into that; I think we should do things because we know it’s the best way to do them. That’s now throwing national assessment into sharp relief, and I’ve been involved with other leaders in Scottish education in trying to open this debate up since before lockdown, as you can read about in this TES piece. We might, at last, be getting some traction. 

I wrote a piece when we entered the first lockdown about remote learning, and I think much of it still holds true. However, things have moved on, so there is scope to update this based on what we’ve learned over the last few months. It’s been interesting to see this blog getting a lot more hits in the past fortnight, so if you have fresher thoughts about what makes for effective remote learning then please do share them.

Srebrenica – the 25th Anniversary

Two of the things that I’ve been very sad to see fall by the wayside due to COVID were events for Remembering Srebrenica Scotland. I was supposed to lead a delegation of Scottish educators to Bosnia last April, and we’ve had to put this on hold until we’re able to travel again. My colleagues at RSS, especially Marsaili Fraser and Robert McNeil, put a huge amount of effort into curating an exhibition at the Kelvingrove to mark the 25th anniversary of the genocide at Srebrenica. I hope that their efforts will be available to the public in due course. I did manage to record a podcast with Jasmine Miller (who I’ve been privileged to work with on many different educational projects), and her full Srebrenica Stories series is well worth listening to. I was also privileged to interview survivor Hasan Hasanovic, who runs the memorial centre at Potocari (the film of that interview, called ‘On Planting Seeds’, was made by the brilliant Eva Magdic Govedarica). Hasan’s new book, with Ann Petrila, Voices From Srebrenica, has just been published and I strongly recommend it.

The point of what we do at RSS is not to vilify any groups of people, but to challenge toxic ideology. We’ve seen far too much of that in 2020, and the recent events on Capitol Hill show that misinformation and demagoguery holds the capacity to rip apart the fabric of civil society. We are in the midst of a struggle to establish the values that we want for the future, and I sincerely hope that the consequences of the death of George Floyd will lead to the better angels of humankind rising above our demons. If we are going to live in a world that is just and fair, we need to see diversity as strength, and build a culture that actively celebrates it, and doesn’t just acknowledge it. As one of my colleagues says, tolerance is a weak virtue. Let’s take allyship forward this year, and champion the causes that matter. 

Professional learning – a golden age?

One of the definite silver linings of the past year has been a flourishing of professional learning. I ran a series with Mark Healy called the Professional Learning Gaitherin’, which brought together some of the leading voices in Scottish education to give weekly talks and twitter chats each Saturday morning during the summer term. It developed a strong following and it’s been interesting to see people watching these long after the series came to an end. A key feature is that the PL Gaitherin’ was free, and the same applied to excellent collections produced by researchEd Home and the Teacher Development Trust, and new events like ScotEd 2020 (you can find me at the end, but you’re much better off starting at the beginning). Some have called this a ‘golden age’ of professional learning, which is correct in the sense of the opportunities out there, but perhaps less accurate in that teachers struggled to engage with anything beyond upskilling on technology. Still, the legacy is there and I hope 2021 allows people more opportunity to become research informed in their practice. 

Coming out of the curve

There will be a post-COVID world in which there will be incredible opportunities. I’m trying to use any spare energy and time to plan for that world, because it will be a unique moment in time in which we can capitalise on the gains that we have undoubtedly made. I’m genuinely excited by that, and what I’ve written above shows, I hope, that it has never been more important to be involved in education. As Tom Paine said, “we have it in our power to begin the world over again”. Let’s get it right this time.

Further reflective reading

Nurture 20/21 – Jill Berry

Pride After A Fall – Lena Carter

Teaching Walkthrus⤴

from

I was looking for a new book to read and was recommended this by a friend. It is excellent value, only £3 on kindle! A really good book and I loved reading it – the kind that you just want more and that motivates you to pick it up each time.

The book is structured into three main sections as outlined below in the sketchnote. For those interested in pedagogy, this book is for you. I particularly enjoyed the section called ‘Why?’ which delved into the research and theory behind high quality learning and teaching.

There are many many books out there all promoting high quality learning and teaching and at times it is difficult to know which one you are actually looking for or going to benefit from. This one is the one for me. It has handy top tips that are broken down into smaller ‘how to’ sections. I can easily see this being the focus of a faculty or whole school meeting.

Also, trying to engage all teachers should be an easy prospect, however not all teachers have the time or know where to begin. The focus on short sharp overviews if research really helps everyone to engage in research without become too overwhelmed.

@olicav

@teacherhead

If you have a spare few minutes this summer, purchase this book for the kindle.

@EduBletherJase

Episode 24 – An EduBlether with Patrice Bain (Powerful Teaching – Unleash the Science of Learning)⤴

from

In this episode of EduBlether, we welcome Patrice Bain, co-author of the book ‘Powerful Teaching – Unleash the science of learning’. We discuss knowledge, critical thinking, assessment, curriculum and lots more.

It was a fascinating discussion with some great practical ideas for how to begin using these research-informed strategies or ‘power tools’ in your classroom.

http://www.powerfulteaching.org
http://www.patricebain.com

Listen: https://soundcloud.com/edublether/edublether-episode-24-an-edublether-with-patrice-bain

Episode 21 – Cognitive Science and Retrieval Practice⤴

from

In this Episode we have a discussion about retrieval practice and developments in cognitive science. We look at the implications for teaching and learning, as well as what this means for the role of Education in a wider debate. We have many tangents in this episode discussing hegemony, knowledge, politics and much more. I hope you enjoy as much as we did.

Listen: https://soundcloud.com/edublether/episode-21-cognitive-science-and-retrieval-practice

Online Learning opportunities⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Education Scotland CLD officers have collated a range of websites and specific online courses that may be relevant to those working in the Community Learning and Development sector. We hope you find these useful – please get in touch with Susan.Epsworth@educationscotland.gov.scot if you know of an opportunity worth sharing

Learn 100% online with world-class universities and industry experts – Browse Future Learn’s free online courses in subjects ranging from Psychology and Mental Health to Creative Arts and Media https://www.futurelearn.com/courses

Black Lives Matter – Explore resources from petitions to books and courses – to help you get involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, and educated about the history of black oppression https://www.futurelearn.com/info/blog/black-lives-matter-resources

Abertay University has four free credit-bearing courses to help individuals develop their digital marketing abilities, and support businesses. They are delivered online and include live teaching sessions. https://www.abertay.ac.uk/courses/digital-marketing-micro-courses

Professional Development Resources for College Staff  on CDN LearnOnline https://professionallearning.collegedevelopmentnetwork.ac.uk/

Free online learning in a range of subjects from the Open University    https://www.open.edu/openlearn/free-courses

Find training, tutorials, templates, quick starts, and cheat sheets for Microsoft 365, including Excel, Outlook, Word, SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive, OneNote and more https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/training

The Microsoft Certified Educator Program is a professional development program that bridges the gap between technology skills and innovative teaching, learn more: https://education.microsoft.com/en-us

Trend Micro https://internetsafety.trendmicro.com/webinars

Digi Learn Scot – a range of pre-recorded webinars to learn online at a time that suits you https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzFsp7PF70TMlqVM4nCsxSg?view_as=subscriber

 

Improving Gender Balance and Equalities CLPL⤴

from @ Digital Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

This week when creating an early level resource on people who help us in the medical field I put some clip art in. I searched for doctor and chose one of the first images. Then the same for nurse.


‘So what?’ you say.  All I did was pick the first images returned in a search. But when I looked at the search results mostly they return a stereotype.


On reflection I started thinking, as I am potentially influencing pupils ideas of what a doctor or nurse is.  Perhaps even influencing what pupils feel they can or cannot aspire to.  Should I have thought more carefully about the images I chose? 

To help us think about the influence we may be having on pupils and therefore who thinks STEM is right for them, this weeks CLPL is from the Improving Gender Balance and Equalities (IGBE) team at Education Scotland. Fiona Shaw is the IGBE officer who covers Falkirk and her contact details are in the presentation.

Let’s talk about race: a provocation for teachers⤴

from @ robin_macp

Let’s be brave. Let’s talk about race.

I’ll begin by showing my hand. I am white, male, middle-aged, protestant, heterosexual and read history at Oxford University. I have the exact same profile as many of the people who led us to this moment in time. It is now past the time for a paradigm shift in race relations, and education is how we will do this.

I am also married to an Asian muslim (who spent her early childood in a war zone and her teenage years as a refugee). We will let our daughters decide which, if any, religion to follow. I’m a board member of the charity Remembering Srebrenica Scotland and our aim is to tackle prejudice and intolerance in society. I’ve been a teacher for close to two decades and am currently a school leader. I hope, if you are profiling me now, it looks a little different.

The fires of protest are burning brightly just now; there is no doubt that millions of people are angry. I hope this cycle will be broken; that action will follow this tragedy which will change direction and give hope. If schools are going to be in the vanguard of this change, we need to take positive steps. Here are some thoughts on how to do this.

Step 1: Reinvent Protest

I subscribe to the view that teaching is a subversive activity. I am idealistic, but not ideological, and it is vital to teach pupils how to think for themselves without teaching them what to think. This is a fine line and I know I get it wrong when I teach topics like slavery – I don’t want pupils to think it is ok. I am happy with the dissonance in my head on this. I do want pupils to be active, or even activists, in shaping their world. I have adapted Edmund Burke’s maxim that all it takes for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing (I dropped the gender specific part of that quotation). I totally support the right to protest, but in the midst of a pandemic I am concerned that the people who will pay a price are the NHS frontline staff, and the BAME community who suffer disproportionately from COVID. Can we reinvent ways to protest? The picture at the head of this blog is one I designed myself (hence the totally amateur nature of it), and it speaks to the idea of all colours in one heart. My call is for people to use their homes as a protest tool until they can safely get back on the streets. Put this heart up next to your rainbow, and add #blacklivesmatter or any other slogan you think expresses your feelings. Let’s keep them up until we have broken the cycle. Our pupils can start this today if we encourage them.

Step 2: Recruitment

I heard Prof Rowena Arshad speak several times this year on race, at researchED, at the Into Headship conference, and at EduMod. Her work on research in race in Scottish education is groundbreaking. There is definitely a perception gap around appointment and promotion in education between white and non-white. Why is this? Having an equal opportunities policy does not mean ‘job done’. What are your stats about numbers of non-white applications, appointments and promotions? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most employers don’t track this. At the Into Headship conference I was in a room with about 300 fellow trainee headteachers, and it was a very white room. The most important thing for career progression is to have someone who is a mentor/sponsor. Hashi Mohammed has written brilliantly about this, so what can we do to put this kind of support in place? 

Step 3: Tackle Micro-Aggression

The overt, blatant aggression that exists on the far right is a huge problem, but the micro-aggressions that exist everywhere are just as challenging and we can do something about them. An example is not calling on a child in the class because you don’t know how to pronounce their name. Learn their name: it is vital to showing them respect. Again Rowena Arshad is very good on this. Talk about race with colleagues and pupils to find out what micro-aggressions they face on a daily basis. Most of them come from subconscious behaviour. What can be done to eradicate them? 

Step 4: Professional Learning

Most teachers are scared to talk about race because they are not confident enough to do so. They fear saying something wrong, something that will get them in trouble. All teachers need to be able to talk about race. What professional learning have you done to enhance your confidence and understanding on this? There is no shortage of organisations willing to help and support. Connect Futures is a good starting place, and I’ve already mentioned Remembering Srebrenica which has organisations in all UK countries. At EduMod at the Fringe (an event that I run with Louise Hunter of Summerhouse Media) we had a session with members of the Scottish Youth Parliament, one of whom challenged her headteacher on the school’s LGBTQ+ track record. The solution? She gave a talk at INSET to her teachers on how to speak to gay pupils like herself. Impressive.

Step 5: Decolonizing the Curriculum

Last summer Pran Patel gave a TED talk on this subject, and he spoke at EduMod. We need, at both a national level and school level, to ask searching questions about the curriculum. In each area of the curriculum, what proportion of key individuals being taught about are non-white? Are the examples of artists, authors, leaders, scientists and musicians representative of the whole world? Is the southern hemisphere just as prominent as the northern?  

On the back of this, what are you going to do about it? Something? Nothing? Why? How can you create the conditions for curriculum reform that will challenge the structural racism that exists in society? The curriculum is perhaps the most powerful weapon that we have to change society. Recalibrate it for this purpose.

Step 6: Be A Voice

This blog by Daniel Stone makes a brilliant point to white people:

“Be our voice when we’re not there: Structural inequalities and underrepresentation mean that often minorities are not in the room when discriminatory decisions have been taken. We need individuals and allies who are able to stand for justice in whatever sphere of life they find themselves in. People who are able to use their platforms and positions of influence to ensure justice for those who can’t be seen, who can’t speak and who can’t breathe.”

Please put that into practice.

Step 7: Read, Think, Act

My thanks to Connect Futures for this reading list. Order these titles and more and get them up in a display in your school library. Have conversations around them. It’s ok to disagree. The only thing that’s not ok is staying silent.

  1. Black and British: A Forgotten History. David Olusoga
  2. Back to black: Black radicalism for the 21st century. Kehinde Andrews
  3. People like Us. Hashi Mohamed
  4. Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World. Layla F Saad
  5. Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging. Afua Hirsch
  6. The Good Immigrant. Nikesh Shukla
  7. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. Reni Eddo-Lodge
  8. I am not your baby mother. Candice Braithwaite
  9. So You Want to Talk About Race. Ijeoma Oluo
  10. White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Peggy McIntosh
  11. Natives, Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire, Akala
  12. A tale of three cities: Public officials and senior representation in the NHS, University, Police and Local Authority. Zubeda Limbada
  13. Decolonise the curriculum. The Teacherist
  14. Wellness for All: Anti-racism in the early years
  15. Hostile Environment. Maya Goodfellow

And finally… 

I titled this blog a provocation, because I want to provoke thought, discussion and action. What you do matters. This is the slogan of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and I use it frequently in talks and lessons. I absolutely believe it is true. What you do to make things better matters. What you fail to do is critical. There are no more excuses.

STEM Self Evaluation Framework CLPL⤴

from @ Digital Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

Hi All

This week’s CLPL is on the STEM Self Evaluation and Improvement Framework.  This framework has been provided by Education Scotland to support schools with developing their STEM practice by evaluating their current work and giving focus for next steps.  We are very aware that we are in an ever changing and somewhat uncertain times.  The last thing we want to do is to create more work for practitioners or place importance on tasks which may not seem pressing.  The current situation is far from ideal and has pushed us down paths in providing education we may not have chosen.  However it is apparent that some excellent work is being done and as enthusiasts for STEM, multiple opportunities to engage our pupils and colleagues in STEM have presented themselves.

Family learning has been the status quo for most pupils for the last 3 months and this may continue to be the case for some in part at least.  Are we making the most of this family learning to engage parents in STEM?  Are we providing equity for our families with the provisions we are making?  If so can we continue to build on this?

Outdoor learning lends itself so well to covering STEM Es and Os, as outdoor learning seems to be being encouraged as we return to school can we capitalise on this to support STEM work in our school? Could we lead the outdoor learning through STEM?

We have been engaging with technology in ways we probably never imagined.  Pupils and practitioners alike are up skilled, can we continue to build on this? Are we going to change the way we teach?

Pupils are working in a very different way at home with different timescales, is this increasing their higher order thinking and creativity? How do we continue to support this in school? Could this be through STEM?

The framework allows us to evaluated these exact topics.  Perhaps as this is where we are for now and these are the opportunities we have been afforded we could work to take advantage of this and find ourselves in a better place at the other side?

To help you engage with the framework and provide examples of good practice we have asked Gayle Duffus, National Education Officer for Primary Science and the RAiSE program to provide this CLPL.   Some of you may know Gayle from our Friday Q and A sessions.  Below you will find Gayle’s video for this.  The associated resources are in the teams drive in the CLPL folder.

 

Electricity CLPL⤴

from @ Digital Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

This weeks CLPL is on electricity.

I teach this as part of the engineering science curriculum using a mixture of software and breadboards.

It is a topic which I enjoy but always with an element of trepidation, will the kit work (blown bulbs, loose wires etc.), are the multimeters on the correct setting, will there be lost components?  Pupils amaze me every time finding a creative way for things to go wrong.  Last week however I started using the playdough circuits and I have never had so much fun!

There is so little to go wrong and the components are so cheap that if it breaks I could just use a different one.  The circuits are very flexible having their own glue so mounting circuits onto a project is easy.  There are no long wires to move about or cram into a small space.  This low tech option could be good for returning to school and providing small amounts of kit for experiments.  Have a look at the first level video and see what you think.

To highlight the good practice already going on in Falkirk W/C 11th May Mrs Jones from Carmuirs Primary School produced an excellent week long task on electricity for her P6 pupils using Wakelet.  This could be a useful approach for STEM during blended learning.  Check it out here.

The resources for all three levels for this topic are in the teams files as usual in the CLPL folder.  If you are a member of the team click here for resources. This week we’ve included possible novel studies which the topic of electricity could be covered as part of.

To join our STEM – RAiSE Falkirk Team type the code is188td

We also really appreciate your feedback, if you could complete the microsoft form below we would be very grateful.

Online mini CLPL Tools in School⤴

from @ Digital Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

Hello,

This week’s CLPL is on Tools in School. Below is the video for the course and the codes to access the resources.  I would like to introduce myself before we start.

I am Barbara Hanning one of the Primary STEM development officers (PSDO) for Falkirk Council.  My working days are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and I share this post with Laura McCafferty who works a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Prior to teaching I had qualified as a Product Design Engineer and I worked as a Production Engineer for a manufacturing company for 5 years.   I have been a Secondary Technical teacher, teaching Design and Manufacture, Engineering Science, Graphic Communication and Practical Woodwork for 10 years now.  In this time I have started and run a number of well attended and successful STEM clubs, organised Falkirk High Schools offering for STEM at the Helix and for a spell I was Acting Principal Teacher of Positive Destinations.  I was really pleased and excited to take up this post in January 2020.

I think my passion for STEM has come from my Parents.  When we went on family holidays there was always a saga.  The holiday where everything in the apartment was broken including the washing machine and the shower curtain was too short so the bathroom flooded.  My mum fixed the washing machine by removing a huge stone from the door seal and dad attached loops of string to the shower curtain to lower it.  The caravan holiday we booked off season and as a result no activities were running.   Dad made an obstacle course and a putting green from junk and our toys Mum taught us how to knit.  Now I think about it, this is why I place importance on the value of STEM skills. I feel they are valuable life skills, the ability to solve problems in different situations, the mind-set that a barrier to success is not permanent, that learning is a constant in life.  I feel very privileged now to be in a position now to help learners obtain these skills.

This week is my first online CLPL.  It is an introduction to the use of woodwork tools in school.  The idea is to set out what would be required to start using tools in school and demonstrate how easy it could be to achieve some simple projects.  The projects all contain the vital life skill of attaching things with screws.  You may have seen the pupil from Carronshore Primary School tweeting his success making a planter from the @littlelessons20 twitter tutorial https://twitter.com/Cpsmrsw/status/1257263741223211008

or the pupils from Victoria Primary School screw fixing objects to a fence to make a busy board.  https://twitter.com/MrMcLeodVPS/status/1256745038698209281 .

Perfect examples of what can be achieved with these skills and how these learners are being inspired to have an interest in STEM.

To participate in this CLPL, watch the video, have a look at the twitter links above, join our team and have a look at the ‘tools in school’ resources.

If you join the team with this code then you should gain access to the Q and A and all resources associated with this session.  If you are already a member of the team click here.

I am working with PSDOs across Scotland to produce a video resource to demonstrate the best use of tools and this will be added to this drive once complete.  When we return to school and it is possible I would be more than willing to run staff training on tools so please get in touch about this.

To join our STEM – RAiSE Falkirk Team type the code is188td

We would appreciate your feedback on this CLPL.  Please complete the microsoft form here: