The integration of edtech into the everyday school environment has resulted in a diverse range of technologies being present in any one classroom – never mind across an entire school. More recently we’ve seen a steady move away from IWBs towards a variety of technology that encompasses personal devices such as tablets and smartphones, through to front-of-classroom teaching technologies, with a strong shift towards interactive flat panels.
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.
As a commentator recently said on Radio 4, “never let a good crisis go to waste!” With change being the only constant in education, I took the relative peace of a moonlit dog walk in Sheffield’s beautiful Meersbrook Park (which featured in X+Y and Four Lions!) to contemplate the challenges and opportunities available to Science teachers and leaders over the coming years.
No matter what subject you teach, whether PE or quantum physics, communication will be part of your daily routine. As part of the English curriculum, the teaching of speaking and listening is mandatory. However, this does not always happen. Too often the group work, drama and presentation skills play second fiddle to reading and writing because, at the end of the day, reading and writing skills = exam passes and group work is a pain in the ass.
Whenever I am with my girlfriend and we are both hungry there is always a discussion as to what to eat. She will say she does not know what she wants to eat. I will say “whatever you want is fine”, as a generically good boyfriend should. Then we each throw out suggestions with one person having reasons to not go to the other person’s suggested restaurant. “This place is too loud”, “that place has nothing I like”, “this place is always busy and not worth the wait”, “we went to that place last time”. The list could go on and on. One place that we always agree on is called Blaze Pizza. If you are not familiar with this establishment: You are pulled into this majestic place by the very smell of the greatness that awaits in food form. As you step towards the counter, you see a grand array of assortments. Choosing your delectable dish will be no easy task. Will you order a signature pizza or will it be a build your own? Of course you want to build your own!
As teachers, we find it challenging to plan and manage high-quality group work in the classroom. Undeterred, we try to find ways to make it happen because we know that effective classroom group work makes differentiation easier and allows us to spot and tackle individual needs. We also try to make it happen because well-structured classroom activities are the only way we can teach young people the skills they need to work successfully with others. It follows that, if we can equip young people with these skills in school, they will take those skills out into the world and stand a better chance of becoming successful employees, entrepreneurs, partners and community members.
There are very few secondary teachers that would argue with the view that the role of the timetabler is one of the most difficult in the school. Most teachers have a certain respect for what they describe as a thankless task, while many senior leaders seem to display a mild fascination with it, riddled with an underlying fear of the day when they are asked to do it themselves. But does the school timetable deserve this negative image? What is it about the role that scares people? Are the rewards of the job great enough to throw yourself into the deep end? If you had to do it, would you sink or swim?
Managing your workload is something that, in my experience, most teachers and school leaders struggle with. There’s certainly no magic bullet. Some would even say that it’s impossible to get the balance between your professional and personal lives right, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying. It may be a journey rather than a destination.
Both teaching and marking can take up a huge amount of a teacher’s day; the latter, in particular, especially tends to eat into supposed ‘free time’. Here, Manchester-based primary school teacher and blogger Amy Kingsley discusses one app that’s been invaluable for her literacy lessons.
Over the last academic year, Explain Everything has fast become one of my top educational apps for applying pupils’ speaking and listening skills across the curriculum. As a busy primary school teacher, I have never been an avid fan of the daily marking marathon and would much rather spend my time planning engaging lessons and creating resources.