The educational range and educational opportunities offered by a grid are endless. To meet the challenges of the New Maths Mastery and Synthetic Phonic Curriculum, we are told we need to adapt and embrace change. With the ever-changing Curriculum, teachers feel stressed and exhausted. Now is the time for some stability and consistency in teaching and learning. The research by Carol Dweck, Jo Boaler, John Hattie and others needs to be put into active practice. We know now, as highlighted in the 'Life Chances for All' speech, so much more about how children learn effectively and the importance of children's health and wellbeing in this pursuit. How can we now effectively and efficiently achieve successful outcomes for all?
One thing that always interested me about History was the growing realisation that even the supposedly simplest and most straightforward facts are quite often shrouded in a mystifying narrative; a trail of sources that leaves the true story open to a range of opposing interpretations and outcomes. Whilst we may think we have answered all the questions and arrived at the correct conclusions about the sequences of events, a differing theory or discovery of a contradictory source can suddenly debunk the accepted.
About 1.23 million children in England have special educational needs (SEN). This accounts for 14.4% of children in the population, and is a huge percentage of pupils in our schools, meaning that it’s vitally important to get children the help they deserve so they can excel academically rather than getting left behind.
One of my students ran into school a few years ago, one warm Summer’s morning. He came up very close to my face, staring intently at me with wide, excited eyes, and he started to speak with an attempted steadiness that tried to mask his excitement. “You’ll never believe what happened to me this morning. I. Have. Super. Powers. I can actually, really and truly, melt ice cubes just by staring at them with my eyes. It takes about thirty minutes, but it happens!”
What is it that makes a school special? Is it the location, resources, perhaps a particular specialism? While there could be many things, most schools would say the teachers and pupils that make up the core community of the school; they are the living embodiment of a school’s ethos. So, naturally, schools will want to shout about their achievements, and the internet is a fantastic resource for spreading the word, whether this is through email distribution, a website or social media.
Year in, year out, teachers will spot trends in their classroom. They’ll observe how, for instance, the more lively and easily distracted pupils grab seats at the back of the room, as far away as possible from the teacher’s admonishing gaze; how the quietly studious pupils shy away from volunteering an opinion during class discussions and the natural entertainers take any opportunity to get a laugh from their admiring peers. Same game, different players. They’ll also notice how similar groups are formed organically within the class as children, in line with natural human instincts, form bonds with people who are intrinsically similar to themselves and with whom they can relate.
In the classroom, percussion often takes a supporting role. It provides the accompaniment to pitched instruments and is often relegated to the role of ‘timekeeping’. This need not be the case. Whole lessons and, indeed, schemes of work can be built around percussion and there’s no shortage of options in this regard. Djembe drumming and body percussion are two popular and inspiring options embraced by many music teachers. With 2016 being the year of the Rio Olympics, another percussion option is well worth exploring – samba drumming.
I recently posed the following question to a few different groups of teachers: “What is the role of a teacher?” Of the 100+ teachers I questioned, the general consensus was that a teacher should prepare the student to be a successful adult. I took that to mean that we need to give children the skills that will help them to be successful since we have only a vague idea of the tasks that kids will be fulfilling in 10 to 20 years time. I had been planning on writing something along these lines for a while. Oddly enough, it was a Twitter conversation involving @teachertoolkit about a BBC article on outsourcing marking that made me finally put pen to paper: