My new role as a Senior Lecturer in Primary Education has opened up a world of research that was just out of my reach as a primary teacher due to a severely limited budget and a local library that never stocked such literature. Instead, I used Twitter to keep in contact with those that had access to research and who would kindly share their findings on blog posts. People such as Clare Sealy, Carl Henrick, Martin Robinson, Tom Sherrington, Tom Bennett, Daisy Christodoulou, Ben Newmark, David Didau, David Weston, Joe Kirby, and many more, became, and continue to be, my go to educators for research focused discussion. Their posts helped form a period of enlightenment for me. They helped me question my own pedagogical approach, make me think about what I was actually doing in the classroom and made me want to find out more. Thank you for this spark as it helped improve my teaching for the better. Working in a school can feel safe and secure but my practice never seemed to improve through the use of lesson observations. I felt like I was merely meeting the needs of the tickbox observation approach so that is why I used Twitter to connect to other like minded, and not so like minded individuals, to help inform and indulge my curiosity about education and help improve my practice.
Challenging my thinking.
My teaching approach has changed over the years and for the better. I barely remember the young, bright eyed teacher I was when I first started in 1997. I full of energy, very enthusiastic and my teaching approach was similar. My teaching was dominated by the Literacy and Numeracy hour approaches and my Headteacher insisted upon it for every other lesson too. I questioned the approach as it wasn't one that was used in Northern Ireland primary schools but was told that I was now in England and had to use it. Later in my career, whilst teaching in Spain, I had to revise my approach to meet expectations of the observation form. As long as my teaching ticked off what was on the form I was either a good or outstanding teacher. But I wasn't impressed. Teaching couldn't be condensed into a form to be ticked off, could it? I returned to England some time later and to my surprise the observation form and what Ofsted appeared to want ruled everything. My every move as a teacher would be questioned and if it wasn't part of the observation checklist or meet the latest non-negotiables then I could kiss goodbye to the Good and Outstanding gradings. I continued to question what was happening, to challenge these beliefs but, more often than not, I would be told to get on with the job and just do as I was told. Yet, even though my curiosity was being stifled, I continued to ask and search for answers. I wasn't going to get them from those around me in my bubble at school so I had to look elsewhere. I looked through my timeline on Twitter to find new educators to follow, people that would challenge my assumptions and make me think.
Making me think about
Daisy Christodoulou's book 'Seven Myths about Education' challenged my assumptions, chewed them up and spat them out. It felt like been slapped in the face yet it was a fantastic and enlightening read. It made me think about our education system more carefully and it continues to provide me with questions today. Tom Bennett made me think about behaviour systems in schools and why using Minecraft in your lessons could be nothing more than a gimmick. David Didau has made me think about numerous educational matters, some of which I have agreed with and others I haven't. He got me to think about plenaries, marking and even the word pedagogy. Clare Sealy peaked my thinking throughout the last two years with an incredible series of blog posts about marking, observation and, most recently, memory.
I've been at Bishop Grossteste University since September and I am loving the opportunities it has provided me to further my interest in educational philosophy. I can now indulge my interests due to having access to a wealth of literature that continues to question my beliefs in education just like those aforementioned above continue to do so.
I've got some reading and reflecting to do.