Schools throughout the world are beginning to plan for the upcoming academic year. The underlining aspect of the improvement process is how it can be achieved on a budget. For instance, if teachers want smaller class sizes, that will come at an increased cost to the district / local authority. If staff want to redesign the front entrance to the school, is it affordable? If the staff identifies curriculum as an issue, can the necessary materials be afforded? These are the tough questions faced in the budgeting season.
When you think of a classroom, what springs to mind? More than likely, a room filled with rows or clusters of tables and chairs facing a desk at the front with a whiteboard. Little has changed since the early 1900s, despite the evolution in technology and amount of resources. So why, then, are we so surprised when children become disengaged or demotivated to learn? It has been proven time and time again that pupils learn better when they can directly interact with resources and experience things first-hand. The likelihood of pupils enjoying their school time - as well as gaining and retaining valuable knowledge - significantly increases when they are allowed to lead themselves to the solutions.
Be it through his current roles as the chair of a Multi-Academy Trust in Surrey, CEO of edu-organisation The Key, or as author of the 2017 book Mining for Gold: Stories of Effective Teachers, many of our readers will know the name Fergal Roche. Starting out as an English teacher, Fergal has since gone on to be headteacher at three schools between 1995 and 2007, and now works to improve the life chances of children and young people across the UK.
Want to make a change for schools? Perhaps you are a teacher with a great idea, or maybe you are a small edtech business already trying to disrupt the face of education. Until 28th February, we’re calling on edu-aspiring disruptors to take part in the Cool Initiatives Education Challenge. This competition is all about finding technologies that can help address real-world education challenges. Cash prizes of up to £10,000 are on offer for the most interesting and innovative ideas, products and services aimed at schools and schools-age learners.
Each year I find myself seeking new PD opportunities that will help me grow as an educator and leader. More importantly, I am seeking new ideas to share with our upper school team here at Bullis School in Maryland. I have been fairly successful in this quest, although I always come away from the conferences with the same question. Why is the push for innovation and active learning always delivered in a ‘sit and get’ 45-90 minute session?
When asked about the most memorable songs of all time, what springs to mind? The Killers’ Mr Brightside, Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time, or Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean? There are so many songs that no matter how much time has passed, you’re able to sing-along to every lyric without hesitation.
How are teachers ensuring results in an environment where no one size fits all? I thought it would be useful to ask Primary and Secondary school learners for their own views about how a teacher brings teaching and learning to life for them. I imagined some rather all-singing-all-dancing responses but, surprisingly, this really was not the case. Here are some of their responses:
Being a Computing coordinator, I am regularly looking for the next great product to bring into school and engage learners. I’ll admit, as a coordinator and self-confessed geek I am regularly a child in a sweet shop! That said, I think it’s important to think about pedagogy first; edtech legend Mark Anderson came up with an interesting model of how to put pedagogy first:
“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you find some way to break the rules, and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”
– Nora Ephron, 1996, commencement speech at Wellesley College.