Everyone loves a good double act: Morecambe and Wise, Laurel and Hardy, French and Saunders, Wallace and Gromit. Now Ant and Dec are the ‘nation’s favourites’. They recently scooped the National Television Presenter Award prize for the 15th year in a row, so they must be doing something right! The opening show of their latest 2016 series of Saturday Night Takeaway attracted 7.3 million viewers.
We know that successful students are those who are resilient, and there has been increasing amounts written about how to develop resilience in our students. There is lots of excellent advice, lots of good strategies, lots of excellent applications of Dweck’s growth mindset or Claxton’s building learning power. But I think there is one simple thing that we can do in class every day that will go a long way to helping students become more resilient, or at least giving them permission to build the confidence and perseverance needed.
A few months ago, I spent some time with a few newly-appointed senior leaders, all assistant headteachers who had recently been extremely effective in middle leadership. None of them could be described as shy or retiring, yet having already proven themselves, they had now lost confidence and fallen foul of the dreaded ‘imposter syndrome’. A few days later, I was in a room full of educators at a conference who related their very similar feelings. It is much talked about, isn’t it? We all of us have probably been there at some point in our careers and it certainly isn’t picky about which gender it chooses to afflict.
I’ve always felt that good teachers are evident all the time, even outside of their classroom. It’s never a surprise, therefore, when I meet someone and can see immediately, even when they are not teaching, that they are or would make a good teacher. There is something about good teachers as human beings in general; how they interact, how they listen to people, how they give their time and eye contact to others, how they care about pupils’ wellbeing and potential.
The best way to engage kids with History is by immersing them in it. Throwing them in the deep end of the weird and wonderful world of the past, without any armbands and letting them go. That’s where the magic in History teaching happens. Below are my top tips for how to do this. I am not claiming they are my own personal ideas. Many of them aren’t; they are built on the best practice from the last thirty years. NOTE: lots of this comes from a manifesto for decent lessons which my team and I wrote last summer.
“We can be heroes” he sang, but to me, Bowie was the Hero. Like many people around the world, I was shocked and devastated by the news of David Bowie’s death last Monday. I’ve been a massive fan of Bowie all my life, from the highs of Ziggy Stardust, Soul Man and The Thin White Duke in the 1970s, to the period in the 1980s and early 1990s where he struggled with his writing, to the great comeback of The Next Day three years ago. He was quite simply the Picasso of Pop.
This is a topic that is close to my heart as I have had a lot of close family experience mental health concerns. Their treatment and reception by others has varied. I have also watched others struggle to ask for and accept help and support for fear of the stigma or reaction from others. The impact that this delay has had on them has cost them their education in some instances, their marriage and job in others. As a teacher, I also want my students to feel comfortable and confident - teenage years are tough enough as it is!
An engaged student will demonstrate four traits when learning: they’ll stick with a problem, they engage fully, they experiment on their own, they return to the problem if necessary. So how do you make classrooms come alive with thriving, engaged learners? Perhaps look to the world of popular rap and icons like Jay Z, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams.