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Showing posts from 2015

Switching on the Outstanding Factor

Every teacher has faced the impending lesson observation. Your senior leadership team have told you the date and what the subject will be. So you go home and start preparing for it, usually a few weeks in advance. You believe that you should approach the observation as you would any other lesson you teach but you know that your SLT want you to pull out all the stops. 
What should you do?
Leadership teams have an unfortunate habit of using Ofsted's whole school observation checklist for individual lesson observations. Many teachers will add bells, whistles and even a few fireworks to make sure the observed lesson has all the outstanding features that the Ofsted whole school checklist appears to mention. To gain outstanding you must tick all the outstanding boxes after all. Teachers will also add in additional features the SLT have deemed necessary due to reading up on other school Ofsted reports. These features may or may not help improve teaching and learning but because the scho…

Design Thinking and Moonshots

I recently attended the Google Moonshot Summit in Amsterdam which was led by the inspiring +EdTechTeam. This summit was very much like the Google Teacher Academy London last October which I attended as a mentor. This consisted of design thinking, creating a moonshot and was led by the brilliant +Ewan McIntosh and +NoTosh Ltd. Both events wanted its participants to think big, to create a moonshot. A moonshot is
"an ambitious, exploratory and ground-breaking project undertaken without any expectation of near-term success or benefit and also, perhaps, without a full investigation of the risks and benefits." (moonshotsummit)
Think big then think bigger. That's your moonshot. The process at both events involved lots of thinking, teasing out ideas and thoughts, pulling at every suggestion and making it bigger. It was tough but the design thinking process isn't meant to be easy, as President Kennedy said "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other thi…

Going for interview - Square pegs in round holes

This isn't a blog about getting your first teaching post, this is really about that next step up the ladder, the leadership post. I recently had an interview for an Assistant Headship post. I wasn't successful but the process I went through was. I learned a lot about applying for the job and want to share that experience.

You want to move onto the next level. You've been a teacher for a few years and you're ready to move into leadership. You've had a taste of it with your Core Curriculum involvement and you scour the TES and ETEACH websites looking for the right post. You nod your head at a few and decide to apply. You download the application form and you discover your first problem. You are a Mac/Linux user and the Doc file format doesn't show correctly on your screen. Some parts work and others just refuse to do what you know they are supposed to do. If you're a Windows user you're laughing, everything works. But no matter what OS you have we all fa…

Teaching younger children to code

I've started my current Foundation Stage class on their coding journey and I used the following method as an introduction. All it needs is a white board and pen.


Write the following commands on the left side of a whiteboard and go through each with your class providing everyone an additional phonics lesson too. Explain to the children that these are commands, instructions that have to be followed if written them down in the program section of the whiteboard.


It's basically Simon Says without having to say Simon Says. If there are no commands written in the program section then nothing happens. Get your class to sit quietly awaiting their commands.



Write the command Hands up and show it to the class. They should put up their hands and perhaps a few will soon put them down again. Bring their attention to the program and ask if it says Hands down. Ask what needs to be put into the program to put their hands down. Rub out the WB and try another command, making sure your class do …

Grading the teaching profession - can lesson observation be useful?

We don't need differentiation, we need to be be better teachers.

I read the following post 'The dangers of differentiation and what to do about them' by Andy Tharby (@atharby) earlier today. I would suggest you read that first then come back here. It's an excellent post and I believe that Andy has gone some way in demonstrating how ineffective our current form of differentiated instruction is at the moment. I believe that we are holding back many children due to our obsession with differentiation in every lesson.

Differentiation means well. In a recent post on EdWeek, differentiation takes the following factors of student learning into account.
It seeks to determine what students already know and what they still need to learn.It allows students to demonstrate what they know through multiple methodsIt encourages students and teachers to add depth and complexity to the learning/teaching process.

The problem with this is that it can be unworkable in the classroom. The teacher ends up spending too much valuable and productive time on the time-…