Archives for category: politics

This week was one of highs and lows. It started off with tiredness.
The previous Saturday had been an open day at school so with only one full day off I was back at work. Happily the kids were great and things were ticking along. However, as this is quite an emotional job the key to being successful in the classroom is to take care of yourself and to rest. Not always possible however at the start of a new school year. By Tuesday I was pretty tired and marking, planning, teaching, displays, homework, meetings (just to scratch the surface) were taking their toll.

The final straw hit me on Wednesday whilst teaching year 10 about linear graphs. The lesson didn’t work even though it was well planned and differentiated. The students were not independent and drained my energy with their lack of thinking for themselves. At moments like that all teachers look at themselves and think what on earth? How did that happen and I must be such a bad teacher. What I have learned though is that the best teachers suck it up, regroup and come back with a plan.

So with a battle strategy Churchill would have been proud of I went in next lesson armed with card sorts and worksheets. The lesson was better and the students had what they needed at their disposal to complete the task. I didn’t intervene and I left them to it. My role was to facilitate. This is to reduce their constant insecurity and build their own confidence to do it themselves. It seems paradoxical at times that the less I help them, the more I actually do help them.
Everyone ultimately wants to work something out for themselves as it builds our self esteem and helps us develop the reasoning and thinking skills to solve a whole host of problems. Life is problem solving.
We read reports in the media of better results for students and I have experienced schools that push students and feed them the process to pass the exam. If teachers always give students the information they will not develop into the individuals they could be. The more skills you enable a student to develop the better they will be equipped to contribute to society.
Big thoughts in the middle of a tiring week.

out·stand·ing (out-stndng, outstn-)
adj.
1. Standing out among others of its kind.
2. Superior to others of its kind; distinguished.
3. Projecting upward or outward; standing out.
out·standing·ly adv.

This is the word that every school and teacher wants to be graded as. It’s a word that before I embarked on my teaching career I had never really spoken or come across. Now it is in my everyday vernacular.

If we examine the word itself it means to stand out, superior i.e. a step above the norm. This week a lesson I taught was graded outstanding. This is a cause for celebration and rightly so as it shows how much thought and energy I put into my lessons. The students learnt new concepts and made progress and did it for themselves. All fantastic components of any lesson. The difficulty for me is that I don’t think that was one of my best lessons that I’ve taught and I know how it could have been improved further. The grading of lessons is somewhat subjective but also it depends on the students, the relationship you have with them, and even the weather.

Fun Facts about students and the weather

1. Wind makes them go

20130913-212126.jpg

2. Rain and cloud makes them (especially teenagers) like this:

20130913-212315.jpg

3. Sunshine makes them

20130913-212444.jpg

4.But if it is only slightly higher than room temperature then we have

20130913-212543.jpg

5. Thunder and lightning is frightening

20130913-212715.jpg

6.And finally snow makes everyone (teachers included!) go

20130913-212903.jpg

Now, where can I write that on the lesson plan?

Ofsted are due to visit my school in the near future. The threat of an inspection has been on the cards for several years in fact, way before I even joined.
No matter how high the probability has been before up until this point, NOW we KNOW Ofsted is coming.

I have never been through a school inspection but I have felt the threat of an Ofsted grade looming over my teaching career. It’s almost as if you will have your career ended if you fall on the sword of inadequacy or needs to improve. My concern is that they won’t see my best lessons as it is disruptive and stressful. I don’t think anyone has ever seen my best lessons.
Today I had some great lessons: very different between year 11 maths and year 7 history.
Year 11 Maths- independent learners, leading their own learning, showing their working out on the board feeling super confident, me as a facilitator in the room. Great stuff.
Year 7 History-

Me: “So what do you think history is?”
Student 1: “Its when someone did something great in the past”
Me: “Ok, but what about Hitler?”
Student 2: “I think History is from a long long long time ago.”
Me: “When is a long time ago?”
Student 2: “Before 2000”
Best history conversation I’ve had in a long time!

I do think I have the best job in the world sometimes. Plus I know the students and I know how to get the most out of them. I just hope that I tick the right boxes for Ofsted to see that too.

As a teacher you have to face the facts that you won’t be making a shed load of cash from your employment. As a trainee teacher, you’ll be making an hourly wage less than the one you would have got at 15 working in the deli round the corner packing pasta (there is not much I do not know about parpadelle pasta and the different sizes of spaghetti).

However as a person living in one of the worlds expensive cities sometimes it would be nice to be paid a bit more sometimes, as I’m sure we would all agree. One of the challenges we face as teachers and workers in the public sector is the reduction in funding for schools and rising living costs. Salaries haven’t increased above inflation for several years and as a younger teacher I didn’t really understand what inflation felt like until now. It’s that sensation when you are buying the same things and trying to be careful with your money but it still isn’t going as far as you would like.

The other side that is challenging is how to go about moving up a payscale. The Acadmies system has been viewed by some as encouraging a performance management based system which rewards the teachers who get the best results and teachers can be more competitive with their salaries. After my own interesting sourjourn at an academy this did fill me with dread. As a teacher you are constantly working to help your students obtain their very best, but even at my very best the most optimistic statistic is that I will have a forty percent impact on my students. This will only be for my subject in a secondary context. Sometimes students won’t be able to make progress that year for a whole host of reasons way beyond your control and yet I worry that you will be penalised for this and thus your pay will be reflected.

On the other hand you know you do a fantastic job and you have a great success rate with the vast majority of your students and you feel you should be suitably remunerated for your effort hard work and most importantly, skill. It’s not an easy job and the best teachers are like watching an amazing play or hearing a symphony play some exquisite music. You don’t know how it exactly works but you know it does and it’s vaguely tangible. Surely if you are conducting the learning of the next generation and doing it to a fine art there can be some financial benefit to run alongside the sense of satisfaction. The dilemma of course is how can pay and salary conditions be fairly reviewed and monitored that doesn’t make someone feel inadequate. Investment in CPD is an absolute must and this article in the guardian argues how important it is to invest in who we have.

Inadequate has been too loosely bandied about in teaching, via OFSTED frameworks and lesson observations. It’s time we build up our teachers and celebrate them for the superheroes that they are. Support them, encourage them and motivate them within a pay and conditions framework that is fair, just and rewarding financially and or otherwise.