Three years ago I was listening to the BBC Radio 4 Education Debates. The discussion focused on what we should teach our children in school. It included a clip from an enthusiastic boy who talked about the values he had been learning: respect, honesty and determination. A member of the expert panel was dismissive, claiming a school curriculum should be about skills and knowledge, not “wishy-washy” values. Yet this was 2012: the year that banks were in the news regularly for dishonest dealings. A few days later the London 2012 Olympic Games opened, followed by the Paralympic Games, and the nation was inspired by witnessing the Olympic Values of excellence, respect and friendship and the Paralympic Values of determination, inspiration, courage and equality. What did those contrasting stories tell us about the need for values in education and life?
I just hated getting my son’s report card these last several years. Funny, too, since I was a Middle and High school Language Arts teacher for 16 years and sent out report cards very similar to the ones I was now receiving. I guess that we get a more clear-eyed view of things as a parent. I just did not feel that these report cards helped me understand what our son excelled at and what he needed work on. Sure, there were the letter grades. But just what went into that A- or B, beyond the grades on a set of assignments?
For me the use of video analysis in teaching is, and always will be, an essential tool to improve teaching feedback and develop outstanding practice. As a link tutor within a PE partnership, I see feedback, and the effectiveness of feedback, as one of the most important factors in developing initial teacher training (ITT) students. I also believe this should not be limited to just ITT students. Videoing a lesson and watching it back, although uncomfortable at times, can have a bigger impact than any observation or learning walk that you will take part in. With video analysis, what you see is what you get and a lot of the time, the realness of what you see can have a profound impact.
First of all, for those unfamiliar with ‘flipped learning’, my presentation will help explain. Flipping is not new, as back in the 80s, before the days of the World Wide Web, I would give my students handouts to study in preparation for the next lesson (hence the term ‘prep’, as opposed to ‘homework’). This then freed up the lesson for learning where the content of the handouts could be discussed, questions on the handouts answered and practical work done to reinforce the handouts.
Music exists only in the fourth dimension: it is sounds in the air, moving in time. A written musical score or a CD is no more a piece of music than a script or a DVD is a play. Although unlike a play, you can’t see music. This gives it a unique place in the panoply of the school curriculum, so it is vital to know what to look for in a good music lesson.
There is so much that is really urgent in schools that there is a real danger we may lose or sideline the things that are really important. The education system itself is under pressure from recruitment, retention, school places and budget cuts whilst teachers dread ever-changing goal posts – and don’t even mention Ofsted!
As teachers we are notoriously hard on ourselves. It’s a common trait amongst the profession. After all, how often do you hear a colleague say they are “really good” at something? More often than not they will be playing down what a great job they do, often in challenging and changeable circumstances. This feeling of “can I really get it right again this year?” often creeps into the consciousness towards the end of the summer term and can lead to sleepless nights during the summer break.
Originally published on 7th September 2015
A new term is always an exciting time. It is not just a time for new pens, new mark books and a new set of classes. A break away from the chalkface has meant that teachers are relaxed, full of energy and bursting with new ideas. Holidays for teachers often give them a burst of energy, a renewed sense of purpose and a chance to get their creative juices flowing. Thus, it is not unknown to return to work after a long recess and find departments all over school starting new initiatives and putting some great ideas into place.
I have been asked many times why I moved to Australia. Aside from the lifestyle-related responses (weather, sport, and more of which you can read about on my blog), there are a number of professional reasons I wanted to teach in a different environment to the UK state school system. I have only taught here for a month, and it is now the school holidays, so this is only a first glimpse.