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Well Being – The need for selfawareness

Wellbeing – we have all heard the phrase and are often reminded to consider it.

I have read a few blogs about it recently:

@tstarkey1212‘s – Balance (The 1st EduBlog I ever read)

@mrheadcomputing‘s:

My Own Worst Enemy Pt1

My Own Worst Enemy Pt2

There are others, they are popping up because it is half term. Teacher’s ‘Me Time’ – yeah right!


I am not sure where this post leads – to be honest it is a bit of a brain dump. So please don’t hate me if I draw no conclusions or solutions. There might be some advice, but I suspect I am advising myself more than trying to help others!

I am, I suspect, a workaholic. I am reasonably confident that many teachers are. They just use words like ‘professional’,  ‘committed’ and ‘driven’ to hide behind. I like to think I am these things too. I should be. But when is enough truly enough?

Not all that long ago I think that I found that point.

I didn’t look after myself properly. Slept little. Snacked badly. Drank to much coffee (in my own opnion). I worked. Literally all the time. Did it make me better? I don’t know.

I DO know that I got into some really bad habits. Over preparing, 2nd guessing myself – 3rd guessing sometimes!

What I do works, however I am not sure that all the extra made a real difference.

We all know about workload: planning, marking, assessment etc. etc. it is a burden but one we have to bear.

So, I suffered.

Tiredness, exhaustion, stress, depression, alienation from family and friends. No-one’s fault but my own ‘commitment’.

My family suffered. They lost me. Evenings and weekends evaporated. We didn’t do things together because I was ‘too busy’.

I am a workaholic and I have a problem.

There I said it.

I have forced myself to slow it down, stop it or do a little less, but the danger of a relapse is always there and it won’t be going away anytime soon.

gifsoup.com

gifsoup.com

How do you:

  • Teach full time
  • Lead a school
  • Senior Lead across 2 schools
  • Subject lead 3 subjects (one is Maths)
  • Support colleagues
  • Stay creative and interesting
  • Have a young family
  • Live a family life

Perhaps the key to my problem is the order of the list?

I have as many hours as everyone else and as many days. A little extra at the end of the month is great, although it won’t bring back lost days out, bedtime stories missed, bathtimes avoided (the little person’s not mine!), glasses of wine and conversation with my wife.

I think that my point here is to watch for the signs – I didn’t.

Have a break.

Rest.

It isn’t enough to not work on a friday night – to sit down to watch NCIS instead and be asleep before the 1st grey fade, then shouted at for the next hour for snoring too loud.

en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

It isn’t enough.

There must be time out – find it or you cannot and will not last the course.

If I hated my job – I would stop. The problem is, that actually, I don’t.

theoverthinker.org

theoverthinker.org

What have I done?

  • I have a cut off time – 3am in BAD, 10pm is BETTER.
  • I make better lists, ones that I can realistically complete – prioritise.
  • Bedtime is sacred (again, not mine, the small one’s)
  • I tweet – Hardly a hobby, but it is something I enjoy.
  • I do things for me, that I want to do. Even if they are ‘work’ related – they are mine!

My advice to you?

Be careful. You do not have to commit body, mind, soul, guts and glory to your class.

Be happy, be healthy, smile, laugh and be ready for them – they’ll love you. If you aren’t, then you’ll lose them forever.

All too often I read motivational memes like:

I am a teacher. What’s your superpower?

or

Teaching is my superpower!

It isn’t.

It IS a very important job – perhaps one of the most important. But you are not super human.

If I was Superman – teaching is my Kryptonite.

g8ors.blogspot.com

g8ors.blogspot.com

My downtime, rest and regeneration? That is the source of my power. That is my sun.

Like Superman, if I only have kryptonite, I become weaker and lose that power.

All superheroes have their weakness or breaking point (except He-Man, but that’s another blog!)

Know your limitations.

Remember that if you don’t look after yourself, then the job will not look after you.

giphy.com

giphy.com

The machine keeps turning.

Thanks for reading.


Please forgive errors!

This has been a tough write and sharing is even more scary.

Mike

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UPDATED POST – Literacy Shed Conference – Lincolnshire

Are you a Pit-Pony or a Show-Pony?

normsteachersblog.com

normsteachersblog.com

As I drove home from another meeting that ended at 6pm – I reflected during my long drive, on something that was said on the 1st day of term.

A colleague of mine, whom I respect greatly and who is a high quality teacher (avoiding the the grade there!), had been to visit a school which was graded ‘Outstanding’ by OfSted as part of her CPD.

She said how she was greeted by the HT, who quickly after told the visiting teachers – that her staff were not ‘Show Ponies’, but were ‘Pit Ponies’.

They were hard working staff who delivered everyday for their children.

My colleague felt that this was a great mindset and a proven methodology for success. I can see why, it sounds great but let’s consider this analogy in an Education context:

My school is RI and has it’s problems, we are a tough, hard working staff, who are committed to making the improvements that we need.

The Pit Pony:

Pit-pony

  • Works hard in unpleasant conditions
  • Beaten and mistreated
  • Undervalued
  • Need to be able to churn out performance/quality is less important
  • Failure results in punishment and possible abuse
  • Made to do more work than is healthy
  • Given just enough nourishment to survive
  • Little support/training
  • Works until facing a cruel death in the workplace
  • Little rest or chance to regain fitness

 

The Show Pony:

ShowPony

  • Protected
  • Supported
  • Given the best of everything
  • Under pressure to perform/expected to be the best
  • Held up as an example of the best of its kind
  • Failure results in care, attention and training
  • Trained to the highest most exacting standards
  • Coached, groomed and developed professionally
  • Given time to rest and recover/best of care

So,  based on this analogy, it is best to be a Pit Pony?

The pit pony is the model of success and excellence?

Pit ponies worked hard and did their best in the very worst of situations, day in, day out and this is something to be respected. But it isn’t sustainable.

A show pony can have a long, successful and healthy career – when that comes to an end they are invariably used to create more excellent show ponies.

The news that 90% of teachers have considered leaving the profession in the last 2 years do to excessive workload surely damns this idea.

I like working hard, I want to work hard but every week I am spending less and less time, NOT working. My family are seeing less and less of me and I am seeing less and less benefit. (1% pay rise? £1 a day extra?) Thank goodness I’m not in it for the money.

I find myself working longer hours, having more meetings, giving me increasingly less time to actually do the job!

Is all the work I am doing getting the best out of me?

Work hard and work smart, they say.

OK, but that’s Show Pony mentality.

A Pit Pony would work hard and then work harder.

I have my PPA and Leadership time (2 x 1/2 days a week) and I am both very grateful and lucky to have it, but it is full and there is always more to do!

Perhaps this is just a blog at the end of a long day. But I think I would really thrive given the chance to be a Show Pony for a change.

Which you you rather be?

Extrinsic Rewards Feel EPIC! by @gazneedle

My Twitter friend and colleague @gazneedle got here first – but I want to add my thoughts on his post:

Friendly Neighbourhood Teacher – Extrinsic Rewards Feel EPIC!

#CupofTeaCPD

I created that phrase and if I am honest, I am really quite pleased with it! It pops up now as a known #hashtag when I type it in. I did that.

As I have said before, back in April I didn’t ‘get’ Twitter, what it was, what it did, how it worked, none of it.

Now here I am, in September, nominated by my peers on Twitter via @Ukedchat as one of the Top 100 UK educators on the Social Media platform. How bonkers is that?!

Now, I am a realist.

In the big picture, it doesn’t mean a lot, but to me it is a really special moment. People who I don’t know, think what I have to say is useful and they like it enough to say something about it. I didn’t even know there were nominations or I would have made some!

So, like Gaz, I saw the notification on my Twitter feed and saw some friends getting excited: @gazneedle, @redgierob, @grahamandre, @bryngoodman so I followed it back to this tweet:

https://twitter.com/gazneedle/status/508296924659974145

And there we all were sitting proudly on #Ukedchat Magazine’s pages.

You get a badge and everything!

I was quick to add it to my page, because I want to see it! I told my wife who smiled and said “Well done!” (She doesn’t do social media and thinks I am wasting time!)

I now have a badge, and a link and I feel incredibly proud.

I have just over 700 followers and think, like Gaz, if this is how a 36 year old man feels, about being told he can share a little gif file, how important is it that we reward the children we teach?

We all, as human beings, like to be made to feel special, valued or important. It is why headteachers walk into classrooms and make a positive comment – it makes us more productive people.

It isn’t about the big things, it’s the little comments that make them proud, send them home with a smile or make their parents realise that their little person has done something special – those things count.

I feel rather like the jolly geezer in my opening animation – I suspect that I might be overselling it, but I feel good and I want people to know that!

To whoever voted for me – thank you, that minute spent has made me a very happy tweeter.

Maybe there is something to this Twitter thing – I think it might just catch on!

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Teacher

Baby Smile Should I be this happy?

It took me until I was 18 and in university to realise that I had to ask if I didn’t know what someone was talking about so I have grown to not feel ashamed to ask ‘stupid’ questions or admit that I am ignorant on a topic.  This blog isn’t about the merits of extrinsic rewards in the classroom as I haven’t read in depth any research about it, but it’s about today’s experience.

As I was twittering with the telly on in the background, I saw that @ukedchat had published a list of the UK Ed Chat community’s favourite UK educational tweeters

I scoured the list for anyone I knew and was delighted to see @bryngoodman on there (it was alphabetical order) so I tweeted him that he was on there. I was genuinely pleased that a nice chap like Bryn, who freely shares…

View original post 269 more words

Twitter EdChats – #CupofTeaCPD Trilogy Part 3(i)

Part 3 of my #CupofTeaCPD Trilogy – It has been long anticipated by some!

So here is Part 1 of Part 3!

In #CupofTeaCPD1 I explained why I think teacher should be on Twitter.

In  #CupofTeaCPD2  I gave my Top 10 tips for starting out with Twitter.

Part 3 is going to be about really taking the opportunity to get the best out of Twitter and creating genuine, personalised professional development.

Improving knowledge and understanding of the up to date issues of education nationally and internationally. Taking the opportunity to discuss with colleagues globally.

How to do this?

Twitter Chats

In Part 2 of the trilogy I made reference to Twitter Chats and how interesting and useful they can be.

#CupofTeaCPD Part 2

“4: Use #hashtags

There are so many #chats to join in with. These are 30-60 mins of VERY intense tweeting about specific topics.

  1. #ukedchat
  2. #edchat
  3. #education
  4. #behaviourchat
  5. #SLTchat
  6. #headteacherchat
  7. #MLTchat
  8. #aussieEd
  9. #usedchat
  10. #whatisschool

The list goes on.

Many of these have the discussion topics chosen by the users. These all have an appointed day and time, so if you are prepared, you are good to go.

When you tweet to start with, include these #hashtags in what you say, people who follow them will get to see what you say and may well follow you or reply.”

rocketpost.com

The education chat on twitter provide contributors an opportunity to share ideas and practice with other educators. Contributors include teachers, leaders, inspectors and consultants – all offering answers to the proposed questions/themes. It is fast paced, hectic and tough to follow at times! Definitley a need for a Twitter Client like HootSuite or TweetDeck (@gazneedle).

I have been involved in several chats but more often I miss them as I don’t actually know when they happen, or I am too late and am out of the flow and find it hard to jump in as it can be tricky to find the initial questions.

There is a clear schedule – #aussieED and #whatisschool, which usually trend globally, are on a Sunday. (I think!)

But there are lots that can be checked out. Individual states in USA have their own and they welcome overseas teachers to jump in and contribute. There are several in the UK too.

So, my project for the next couple of weeks is to try and find out what happens when and who is in control!

I will then use this to catalogue a timetable of @Twitter #edchats and post it here.

This will hopefully be a useful resource that can be added to and amended over time.

Please fill in the Google Form below if you know of a #chat and add it to the list.

I have given the ‘option’ to rate the chat – don’t feel that you have to.

It might be a way to help people prioritise the chats they want to get involved with.

Thanks everyone!

Tweachers – My advice for starting out with #CupofTeaCPD Trilogy Part 2

I am quite happy to accept that I wasn’t the first. But since I posted my blog on why Teachers should use twitter, it seems that everyone started sharing theirs and to be fair everyone who has, pretty says the same thing.

It all equates to my new favourite phrase “Cup of Tea CPD”.

So, here are my Top 10 things to do if you are going to start up with Twitter. They are in no particular order, they are the things I have done and while I am no @TeacherToolkit or @LearningSpy or @LeadingLearner – I am pleased with my first forays into the whole chasm of Social Media.

10: Choose your identity carefully.

Choose a good handle, this is the name people will remember and associate with you.

Keep it short and memorable, it might be your name or what you do or stand for.

Be careful. I made two mistakes with mine: @WatsEd.

Firstly that is very close to ‘Wasted’ and secondly I have now lost count the number of people, who have assumed my name is Ed.

9: Make sure people can see you.

If you keep the ‘egg’, then it will put people off, add a profile picture, it need not be your face if you think it might scare away the internet (don’t worry though I haven’t been shunned for showing my face).

It will help your case if your profile looks real and human. There are a lot of fake accounts out there and if you want to make Twitter work for you, then be ‘present’.

8: Write a bio.

You have 160 characters available to you to say who you are and what you do or share some thing personal. Pets and children are popular, so is job title, hobbies and interests – whatever you like. This gives your follows and followers a chance to open dialogue with you and find common ground.

https://twitter.com/WatsEd

twitter.com/WatsEd

7: Choose your 1st 10 – 20 follows.

This bit is really important.

What do you want to get back from your exploration into the Twitter Jungle?

Pith Helmet on, rucksack and supplies at the ready, machete in hand (OK, perhaps not). Off you go.

Here are some people who would be good to get you started…

  1. @WatsEd (Well, I had to put me!)
  2. @redgierob (Rob leads at the Literacy Shed site)
  3. @grahamandre (Graham runs the Numeracy Shed site)
  4. @ICT_MrP (for all things iPad and Computing)
  5. @InspiredMind5 (Comics in Literacy and wider learning)
  6. @MichaelT1979 (Michael does a fantastic job with Curriculum 2014 resources)
  7. @LearningSpy (David Didau – a man with his finger on the pulse of education today)
  8. @alanpeat (Alan is an author and creator of brilliant iOS apps ‘Exciting Sentences’ & ‘Pocket Punctuation’)
  9. @bryngoodman (ICT leader/writer and knowledgeable fellow)
  10. @Mr_SJS (Teacher and author of ‘The Penguin Pig’, see @PenguinPigStory)
  11. @TeacherToolkit (Most followed teacher in the UK – a man who knows what he is talking about – T&L/Leadership)
  12. @SeanHarford (HMI and Ofsted’s National Director for Schools Policy)
  13. @BeyondBehaviour (Steve Russell tweets about Behaviour Management/Strategy)
  14. @rivierabenson (Chris teaches in France and tweets teaching and learning)
  15. @ICTmagic (Martin shares endless links to useful, interesting and addictive websites for learning)
  16. @ASTsupportAAli (Amjad talks leadership, SEND, English and TwitterCoaching)
  17. @gazneedle (Gary tweets Literacy and Maths – Primary AHT)
  18. @DeputyMitchell (Blogging/Quadblogging and EdTech)
  19. @TomBennett71 (Tom is ‘A Teacher who Writes’ ITT and Behaviour inc. TES)
  20. @beingbrilliant (Andy Cope is an author and happiness expert)

Well there is a selection of 20 – pick and choose – look at the lists of followers and follows and you will soon pick up a healthy list.

thecripplegate.com

thecripplegate.com

6: Contribute – Be brave & Say something

It is like writing when you were little. What shall I write first? How shall I start?

Say “Hello!”

Tell the world it is your first tweet – it doesn’t matter.

Have a look through the people you follow’s timeline – RT things you like, favourite things you really like. Reply to the things that interest you, ask a few questions.

If you say nothing and just lurk on the periphery then you will get nothing out of Twitter, if you want  it to work for you, then you need to put a little something in. You’ll get some feedback.

Be seen.

Talk about what interests you, what you want to know more about, reflect on your own practice, ask for new ideas.

Use images and infographics – share useful things that you have on your computer, links, youtube videos. The better the range, the more interesting you will be to prospective followers.

Join in with other people’s conversations – they won’t mind (I haven’t upset anyone yet by butting in!) If you are thinking about something because of a tweet posted, then reply. You can get a chat going then and it gets to be fun.

Dive in, the water is fine.

Do consider what you say though, remember that this is going to be your professional face.

It was @gazneedle who said: “If I wouldn’t shout it in the playground, then I wouldn’t tweet it.” He is right.

Don’t troll, don’t be dismissive. Call people out on their ideas, but let them validate them if they can because that is the key to #CupofTeaCPD!

 

5: Know what things mean!

There are a lot of acronyms and jargon to wade through – much is common sense but this should help you along the way to begin with.

4: Use #hashtags

There are so many #chats to join in with. These are 30-60 mins of VERY intense tweeting about specific topics.

  1. #ukedchat
  2. #edchat
  3. #education
  4. #behaviourchat
  5. #SLTchat
  6. #headteacherchat
  7. #MLTchat
  8. #aussiEd
  9. #usedchat
  10. #whatisschool

The list goes on.

Many of these have the discussion topics chosen by the users. These all have an appointed day and time, so if you are prepared, you are good to go.

When you tweet to start with, include these #hashtags in what you say, people who follow them will get to see what you say and may well follow you or reply.

rocketpost.com

rocketpost.com

3: Share your website or blog address.

WatsEducation Blog – http://www.watseducation.wordpress.com

WatsEd Consultancy – http://www.wats-edconsultancy.moonfruit.com

Twitter is social media after, so if you have something to say – show people where to find it.

It is a bit like your Bio. It will allow people to see what your philosophy is, what’s on your mind, what motivates or concerns you, about education in general or perhaps a reflection on your own practice.

If you have something to sell – here’s a chance.

If you don’t have a blog – start one – you don’t have to do very much – but once you read others it will most likely inspire you to write something too.

seoskylimit.com

seoskylimit.com

2: Separate Personal and Professional

Not always as easy as it sounds.

If you are planning on using Twitter professionally, I suggest you keep your non-education stuff separate. It keeps things tidy and presents your professional face. Social Media is a way of tracking someone (Big Brother is watching – or is he!?)

Remember your colleagues and school leaders might be joining you – what do you want them to see?

I have found that very quickly, as I built up a PLN (Personal Learning Network) of like minded individuals that banter and in jokes do start, that’s OK, but if I was chatting with non-education people on the same timelines then it might get somewhat blurred.

Make a decision – in the end you can play it out however you like.

Decide what will work best for you.

debkrier.com

debkrier.com

1: Be patient

No, seriously. Be patient.

When you start you ca expect to get a little feedback on what you say. Perhaps even the holy grail of a Retweet (RT) or favourite. This is how people bookmark your tweets. The more that you say and do, the more interest you will develop and the more people will be inclined to follow you. Over the course of a few weeks/months the network will grow and you will find yourself drawn into more and more conversations and discussions.

Don’t let it take over your life (that is very easy, believe me!)

Be discerning about who you develop links with, some people will just be people you follow, some will be people you have occasional link with and then there will be people who form your PLN (Personal Learning Network) – you will realise who they are when they include your name in the tweets so you are drawn in, or they will refer to you when questioning or answering others, this is when Twitter becomes really powerful.

quotespics.com

quotespics.com

Now you have got yourself started, the learning can begin. I have been amazed at the wealth of knowledge, ideas and resources out there. I knew they would exist, but Twitter has shown me where to go to read about more and more interesting things.

I has both shown me how much I don’t know and need to learn and how much I do know and have been doing for years and even things I did and stopped doing for a variety of reasons.

Make your experience as broad and varied as you can.

Read blogs.

Share ideas.

The more you do people will want to know more about you.


Good Luck.

Enjoy the adventure, there are many others taking it with you and you can rest assured that you will bump into them on your way!


Update: 30-08-14

I have received this document as a result of these blog posts:

Essential Edchat Resource Guide

“This guide was brought to you by USC Rossier’s online EdD

Hopefully you may find it useful.

 

Why should teachers be using Twitter? #CupofTeaCPD Trilogy Part 1

The reason for this post, is quite simply that it is self affirming.

I joined Twitter, professionally at least, in April 2014. I had been a Twitter non-user for a number years before that.

I didn’t get it.

Too little space, too little to read, too much nonsense, if no-one follows me what’s the point? No-one can read what I say.

As such, my profile sat, unloved, unappreciated and under used.

Then I had an epiphany (a late one, but better late than never!) I had realised it was something which could be used professionally and I knew a few people who used it, so I took the plunge and @WatsEd was born. Well created anyway.

Now 7 months later, I have Tweeted 10,622 times, I follow 1328 users (all real people too, not bots or rubbish) and am followed by 1137 users (also real people, I hope! They talk to me, so if they aren’t that’s worrying!)

I have learned more in that 5 months about what is happening in the world of education, than in the last 4 years!

  • OfSted
  • Curriculum
  • Government Policy
  • #Gove
  • Tech
  • App Development
  • Blogging
  • Leadership
  • Global education
  • Updates from Conferences
  • Keynote Speakers
  • Teachmeets

The list could go on and on.

I am not professing to be expert in any of these things, but I know things now that I didn’t before and that is an improvement.

Twitter has opened so many doors to my practice, self awareness and self reflection.

  • Genius Hour (although I already did a similar thing)
  • Flipped Classroom
  • Raspberry Pi
  • Educational authors.

All off this and more is at my fingertips – literally!

I can ask a question of my ‘Twitterati’ and within the day I will have answers, lots of answers, from people in different contexts who have a range of opinions – I can discuss them, argue my case, back down, stand up – whatever I need.

More CPD than I can handle!

——————————————————————-

So, to the point.

I want to share my new found obsession (and it can very easily become that!) with my own colleagues.

So I asked Twitter…

“I wonder if anyone has any materials for showing staff the benefits of Twitter?”

I had a few responses, all helpful, but it was Tom Bigglestone (@the_tank) who really came through.

He shared both his very lovely printed iPad handout complete with suggested user to follow and a collection of tweets answering the question: ‘Why should teachers use Twitter?’

His blog entry I re-blogged below is the rest of his 10 minute presentation to staff.

It was exactly what I needed – I could easily have written and said the same things, but sometimes it is nice to know that you aren’t alone in your opinions. That’s powerful.

Thanks Tom.

——————————————————————-

There are so many professionals out there in the ‘twittersphere’ and the ‘blogosphere’ – they are nice people and they are all too keen to share their skills, knowledge and understanding with anyone who cares to ask.

Where else can you discuss a chapter of a book with the author(s) over a coffee – almost anytime you like?

What about discussion about an app that you like, with the developer and coder? It’s brilliant.

If you are a teacher and you aren’t on Twitter – why not?

@BATTTUK Twitter

@BATTTUK Twitter

I have had what I now refer to as ‘Cup of Tea CPD’ so often.

Just make a cup of tea, ask the question and discuss. 15-20 mins and you know more, or you have shared with someone else. Brilliant.

There are so many #chats to join in with – 30 mins of VERY intense tweeting about specific topics. #behaviourchat, #SLTchat, #headteacherchat, #MLTchat, #edchat, #ukedchat, #AUSSIEdchat, #usedchat, #tlap, #whatisschool – again the list goes on. Many of these have the discussion topics chosen by the users. These all have an appointed day and time, so if you are prepared, you are good to go!

Two screens is helpful to track discussions.

Sometimes it is like being a kid in sweet shop!

I have wholeheartedly bought into the idea that Twitte can provides some of the best CPD you can get.


Update: 30-08-14

I have received this document as a result of these blog posts:

Essential Edchat Resource Guide

“This guide was brought to you by USC Rossier’s online EdD

Hopefully you may find it useful.


Update: 02-09-14

This tweet makes me very proud.

A genuine 1st tweet using #CupofTeaCPD

https://twitter.com/primaryteachni/status/506877709923155969


 

Update: 04-09-14

Another 1st Tweet from my #CupofTeaCPD blogs

https://twitter.com/HayleyPreston8/status/507301255497388032

Practical P4C

On Friday morning I gave a ten-minute briefing to all staff at my school on the benefits of Twitter for teachers. Accompanied by a keynote presentation behind me, I used the words below as a rough script (though I don’t tend to read from notes when presenting). I also had designed and laminated a double-sided cardboard ipad for all to take away: on one side was a collection of replies I received to the question ‘Why should teachers be on Twitter?’ and a Getting Started guide on the other.

Please feel free to use any of these ideas to “put the case” for Twitter among your colleagues.

1394203322114

“This briefing is on the benefits of Twitter for teachers, and why the fact that only 4% of teachers are on Twitter means there are so many missing out on its advantages. This is not a “how-to” use Twitter. If I what I say…

View original post 547 more words

A Reflection on: Internet trolls and the School Playground

I read this piece earlier this evening and could not help but feel it was loaded with truth and reflected scenarios that I have seen and dealt with almost on a daily basis in school.

As I find myself drawn deeper and deeper into the ‘rabbit-hole’ that is Social Media, you find it more and more often. One only needs to read the comments on a Sky Sports news story, or a comedy photograph on Facebook and it begin almost immediately. Yet rather than leave these people to it and leave them to their opinions, we fight back and ‘Feed the Trolls’. That’s when the trouble usually starts…

I like many others have 2 Twitter identities and as time has passed there is less and less link between my personal and professional accounts, to the point where I rarely use the personal one. Using Twitter professionally has meant that the majority of the people I communicate with are like minded education professionals, which means that there isn’t that much ‘Trolling’, perhaps a light hearted jibe from someone seeking debate or as a way of instigating reasonable discussion, I have never seen it get ‘nasty’. I am sure others might have other stories.

To quote: http://newteachersblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/internet-trolls-and-the-school-playground/

“The blogosphere is a very big playground. Most people in the playground know how to play nicely. But in every playground, there are highly-skilled, expert name-calling wind-up merchants. Their influence relies on people taking notice of them.”

I wonder if this is just another facet of the old fashioned playground bully?
The one who whispers in another child’s ear: “Hey, guess what I heard Barney just say! True Story!” And then having ilt the blue touch paper, retires to a safe distance.

The difference is that as teachers, we always knew who that kid was and kept an eye out accordingly!

The ‘troll’ can be nameless and faceless and cowardly. Hiding under their appointed bridge.

They can hide behind a false online identity, which they do for the sole purpose that the ‘man in the mask’ is harder to find. I honestly feel sorry for those people who have nothing better to do than insult, offend, falsely accuse or otherwise incite others, just to sit back and watch the chaos that follows.

Should any accusation be based in truth, then there is a proper way to make those allegations, and I’m not entirely sure that Social Media is the right place to do it.

I suspect that Trolling will never become professional nor will it become an Olympic sport, and unless in some peculiar parallel universe that comes to fruition, I shall stick to my opinion that:

I Pity the Troll!

 

They clearly have a very empty life!

 

newteachersblog

As a child, if ever I came home from school complaining of people calling me names, my mother would say: “Ignore them. Otherwise they’ll do it even more. Don’t play with people who call you names.

If I ever protested, she would get visibly irritated: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.  Say that and walk away.”

Sometimes I found her advice very difficult to take. It always seemed inadequate and it never satisfied my inflamed need for retribution against the perpetrators or more perversely, for my desire for their acceptance and inclusion of me in their group.

Sometimes if I could not resist the temptation to retaliate, my mother would say: “If – and when – you come off worse… don’t come crying to me!”

By the time I became a teacher, I had graduated to dishing out the same advice.

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Teachers on Twitter by @TeacherToolkit – The best CPD you can, all get in 140 characters!

What’s the value of that visit? (Part 1)

This post is the first one relating to ‘Wats-Education’

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Wats-Education is a start-up Educational Consultancy. We aim to offer high quality support and advice for Sites, Venues and Visitor Centres to improve and develop planning, activities and environments for learning for educational/school visits and commercial public visits.

With our collective experience of almost 40 years as education professionals, teachers and school leaders from Early Years to Key Stage 2, we are well placed to work with clients to develop exciting new or existing environments.

We also have additional specialism in understanding and developing access arrangements for Special Educational Needs and Disability.

Having worked in education for many years, we have been on countless educational visits, some fantastic, others that have left us a little flat and disappointed. On those occasions  when we have found ourselves saying; “This is good, but it would be even better if…” we realised there was an opportunity to offer our experience to help.

We want to help improve planning, access and variety of experience either to existing environments or to help develop new attractions, both for marketing within Education sector or for commercial public events and visits.

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On the 6th of May this year I started a survey of teachers and educators to discover the motivation for the inclusion of Educational visits in the curriculum. I felt that while it seemed obvious, I didn’t want to fall into the trap of making assumptions.

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I had my own clear opinions and was interested to see whether or not others shared my views or if there was more to it. The survey was responded to by teachers from Primary (inc. Early Years), Secondary and Special schools from across the UK and one from a home educated family. Some teachers from overseas also responded including a small number from New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

There were 10 questions:

  1. Why do you include educational visits in your curriculum?
  2. What do you look for in an educational visit?
  3. What do you think is the most important factor for a successful educational visit?
  4. Where do you find out about potential venues/sites/centres for educational visits?
  5. In no more than 30 words, describe the best out of school learning experience you have shared with children.
  6. In no more than 30 words, describe the worst  out of school learning experience you have shared with children.
  7. Is it important to you on an educational visit, that the venue is well prepared for your visit and has contingency for unforeseen events?
  8. Should venues have a selection of different contextual activities for children or do you think it is acceptable to focus on one specific activity?
  9. If you could guarantee one outcome of an out of school learning experience, what would it be?
  10. What would make you decide to make a return visit to any given venue, either annually or otherwise?

The survey closed on 22nd June.

Results Concept. Results word on white background

The Results:

Why do you include educational visits in your curriculum?

(This question allowed more than one answer)

 

85% of respondents said that the main reason they included visits was to give children experiences beyond the classroom.

62% said that it was to provide fun/engaging topic starter/closer.

61% backed this by saying that it was to give children that ‘something extra’ that school cannot provide. WOW Factor.

There were other responses but these were the most significant. I don’t think that there are any surprises here. The purpose is surely to get children interested and excited about a topic/theme/idea. I am not sure that anyone would argue that these are some of the key reasons for taking children out of school to do something that will excite them and either set up their learning experience or consolidate it. While it seemed obvious, it was good to see the statistics match up.

 

What do you look for in an educational visit?

(This question allowed more than one answer)

 

70% of respondents said that Hands On activities were top of their priority list.

63% said Value for Money

49% On-Site resources and pre-planned/prepared activities

All this seems reasonable. Value for Money is a tough one to quantify. In my opinion that mean that each child comes away having had an experience that makes it worth the time, effort, planning and cost (let’s not forget that often families have to make their ‘voluntary contribution’). They come away with something they can actually use as part of their learning.

What surprised me was that ‘Expert Knowledge’ was the lowest factor when looking into an educational visit (35%). Also low was the Learning Environment itself (38%). I personally think a venue should look ready and be prepared for its guests. This is of course contextual. A beautiful sparking, neat and pristine farm, looks wrong, but an untidy, badly arranged and poorly organised museum is also not up to the job.

 

What do you think is the most important factor for a successful educational visit?

(Only one answer allowed)

 

I was surprised at the outcome of this question as it related so closely to the previous one.

When pushed to only give one response, the Learning Environment came out as the most important single factor for a successful visit (23%). So perhaps we do want to take our children to places which are prepared, set up, organised and ready for the visit with plenty of materials and resources available to support the context of the visit, much like we do in our schools and classrooms.

Hands On activities were again an important choice (19%) and an experienced and professional delivery by on site staff (15%) completed the top 3 factors for making a visit successful.

Some of the best visits I have been on have been made by the people we meet, some of the worst the same. If children meet someone who can engage and excite them, it will set them up for the whole experience. When they are by a tired and bored looking individual, who cannot wait to go home, the experience is ruined. All venues and sites which run visits for educational purposes should be sure that their staff are fit for purpose (and most definitely are).

 

Where do you find out about potential venues/sites/centres for educational visits?

(This question allowed more than one answer)

 

I didn’t expect any shocks with this question. Let’s be honest, as teachers there are three main ways of finding somewhere to take children. We know a place because we have been before, a colleague has been and told us how good it was and because we googled it!

These were overwhelmingly the top 3:

78% Web Search

70% Personal/Family visit

70% Professional Discussion/Dialogue

Social Media came out at 23%, so perhaps this is no the tool for professional discussion and dialogue. As more and more teachers and venues take to social media perhaps there is greater and greater opportunity for people to share opinions.

All types of written media (Local and Regional Newspapers, Tourist Information) were not a place for teacher to find ideas for visits, nor were random generic emails (10%).

This tells me that the best advertisement is a good experience. If you can deliver that and send people/children/teachers away happy and you will get more business. Teachers talk to each other and we like a recommendation!

recommend

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I will leave Part One here now and return to it at a later date where I will look at the written feedback from Best and Worst visits, why they were or were not successful and what can be learned from this.

If you have any questions on this post so far, please feel free to comment and share.

OfSted and NQTs – Who watches the Watchmen?

Checklist? - Check Looking over your shoulder? - Check Clean shoes? - Check

Checklist? – Check
Looking over your shoulder? – Check
Clean shoes? – Check

The following for those who haven’t already read the article is from The Guardian 04-06-14:

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/jun/04/newly-qualified-teachers-ofsted-inspections

Posted by Michael Allen and Lucy Ward Wednesday 4 June 2014 15.56

From Monday, Ofsted will send inspectors to inspect trainees’ teaching in the autumn term as they start work as newly-qualified teachers.

Previously, Ofsted only inspected trainees in the summer of their training year. But the aim of the new plan is to ensure that new teachers implement what they have learnt while training in the classroom, particularly in managing behaviour and instilling discipline.

In a further change, inspectors will also judge whether teachers are dressed professionally and demonstrate professional conduct. While the inspectorate says it is not laying down a prescriptive uniform – ties will not be compulsory, it insists – it argues teachers should be dressed “in a way that befits their professional status”. Training providers who do not ensure trainees dress appropriately will be marked down.

Some teacher training providers have not prepared trainees adequately for their induction year, according to Ofsted. In a speech in January, chief inspector of schools in England, Michael Wilshaw, said Ofsted had “not been as demanding as it should have been with training providers who have sent newly-qualified teachers (NQTs) out into schools unprepared for the rigours of the classroom.”

Ofsted is particularly concerned that 40% of new teachers leave the profession within five years, with poor pupil behaviour cited as a key reason. The figure is a “national scandal”, Mr Wilshaw has said.

Sean Harford, Ofsted national director for initial teacher education, said the new two-stage inspection process would help raise standards, with further visits scheduled for those teachers needing support to improve. “Teaching is a tough yet very rewarding job. So it is important that the training new teachers receive is the best it can be. Trainees should learn how to promote good behaviour in the classroom so they can focus on teaching, and children and young adults can focus on learning.

“Through our new two-step inspection process we will make sure that teachers are putting into practice in the autumn what they learned in their training. I expect this new way of inspecting will help to raise standards. When we judge providers to require improvement or are inadequate we will support and challenge them to improve; we then will re-inspect them the following year.”

When judging teacher training providers, inspectors will now also have to evaluate how far they have tried to engage schools and colleges in challenging circumstances, including those deemed to require improvement, in training partnerships. They will examine whether teacher supply has increased as a result, particularly in areas of the country where recruitment is difficult.

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So, in September OfSted will be specifically inspecting Newly Qualified Teachers to ‘ensure that they are applying their classroom learning of behaviour management and instilling discipline’. This will include professional dress and conduct.

Here’s an idea:

Let’s inspect and scrutinize some of the most vulnerable teachers, NQTs, you know the ones who need help and support to succeed in an incredibly challenging job.

Just as you start and before you can really secure your place – we will come in and check you are dressed right, speak right and can ‘deal with the pressures’ – that we have imposed.

I suspect there might even be a check that fingernails are clean and clipped and that hair is regulation length.

 

OK, so perhaps gold spangled hot pants are not quite right, but who is deciding? This has the potential to promote some very shallow values. Teachers should wear dress that ‘befits professional status’. This is incredibly subjective.

Where will they stand on tattoos and piercings?

Are ear-rings OK? For men and women?

What about a nose stud? Will that make someone an ineffective teacher?

 

I have tattoos, not visible and very small, but I know someone with a large tattoo on their arm.

They cover it, but it has been seen.

Is that ‘Inadequate’, Grade 4 dress or conduct? I think not.

 

This guy does a remarkable job promoting anti-bullying and anti-prejudice in schools – Michael Wilshaw would faint!?

Promoting anti-bullying and non-prejudice

The Scary Guy – Promoting anti-bullying and non-prejudice

 

I know another teacher who wears their PE kit, every day, whether or not they are teaching PE, does that mean they are not dressed in a way which befits their professional status?

 

As a recently qualified teacher some years ago, I experienced my first inspection. The Lead Inspector toured the school with the Head Teacher and commented to her something I have always remembered and admired:

“You have sure a wonderful range of individual teachers in your school. From the very experienced lady in Nursery to the young man with all the jewellery and bracelets (that was me by the way), it is lovely that your children get to see a variety of personalities.”

So, my wearing of 7 rings and 5 bracelets didn’t concern him, he liked it. Would this new regimen perhaps have frowned on it and ‘marked my training provider down’ for not teaching me what to put on in the morning?

I’m not sure that my College Tutor would’ve had the inclination to scrutinise my wardrobe.

 

I struggle to begin to express how terrifying this whole process is becoming.

In what sense does it help?

 

Mr Wilshaw tells us that:

‘…training providers have sent NQTs out into schools unprepared for the rigours of the classroom…’

We all know this.

NQTs know this.

Having your own class for the 1st time is terrifying. It is the first time that YOU are responsible for setting the climate for learning and not just adapting yourself into one that is already set by a teacher/school during your placements. It takes a little time. It is tough. We learn and we are taught by experienced colleagues, it is what we do and the vast overwhelming majority get it right.

Trainee teachers are not taught a great deal about behaviour management. That is why so many cite it when they choose to leave. I never found that learning about the work of child psychologists helped me very much – I know my Maslow, but have never really felt it was a tool for my practice.

Teachers don’t learn to be good at classroom and behaviour management in a tutorial or lecture. They do it through experience. If they are lucky they learn from good and outstanding teacher mentors during placements and from their colleagues in school. But it often takes a little time to find a way that works for the individual and develop a range of strategies which suit a range of different pupils.

We encourage children to make mistakes and build resiliency from it – but teachers don’t seem to be permitted to do it.

We take risks in being innovative with teaching methods and with new technologies and all is well, but if something doesn’t work there is the risk that if you are seen to go wrong – you have a problem and this absolutely should not be the case.

Sean Harford says that ‘…this will help raise standards…’.

Is this because OfSted is held in such high regard and that the teaching profession has so much faith in it?

If we want new innovative teachers to stick around – let’s support them. Let’s teach them, not scrutinize every move. That is why they leave!

Imagine if you will… it is Week 2 in September… OfSted are coming to inspect, not your school, but you.

Are you excited and looking forward to the prospect?

Or

Are you filled with self-doubt, because now, it isn’t just about you, but your school, your job, your colleagues…?

Pressure?

Seems a little harsh to me.

keep-calm-it-s-a-lesson-observation-2

If ‘poor pupil behaviour’ is cited as the primary reason – is this being addressed in ITT? And not just through relentless Ofsted edict.

Let us not say the pie tastes bad, when we haven’t carefully judged what the cook put in.

If the recipe is wrong, the food will taste bad.

Improve training on understanding pupil behaviour and managing it, then we can perhaps alleviate the pressure put on new teachers by preparing them for the real world inside their own classroom.

I have written about this before:

https://watseducation.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/i-know-wwi-was-100-years-ago-but/

I worry that this design will not stem the tide of new teacher leaving within 5 years, it might make it 5 months!

What the teaching profession needs is a regular influx of new minds, fresh ideas and innovation.

While this is not provided solely by newly qualified teachers, they are a source of it and the NQTs of today are the Headteachers and School Leaders of tomorrow. They have enormous value. Why do we seek to undermine, under value and over scrutinise before they have had chance to show what they are capable of?

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I would really like to know what are other peoples opinions on this.

Mike

 

I know WWI was 100 years ago but…

I said that I would only knock out a blog post if something really felt worth it… well I have come up with something.

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I like behaviour management, I am a teacher of course I do, but I am not a dictator.

I am not a rager or a shouter (I have been, I confess that, but it isn’t my default setting.)

Yet, as I have used Twitter more and more over the past 2 months (@WatsEd), I have found what I consider a trend that makes me slightly uncomfortable.

It is the fact that behaviour management seems to be shared as a battleground. I don’t like that. I have taught some children from very tough and unforgiving backgrounds, as well as some ‘privileged’ children so I speak from experience of the full range. My classroom isn’t and never has been a war zone, even at it’s worst.

trench-warfare

My classroom is not like this!

I have watched my Twitter feed deliver statements on Behaviour Management like:

“Lay down the law with this guide to how your classroom should work.” – Judge Dredd anyone?

“Get them thinking about why they are in the cooler with this sheet.” – I have no pupils played by Steve McQueen

“Talk Tough if you want to win hearts and minds” – Is this not the US Army policy?

Can those sharing consider the implications of the vocabulary?

Behaviour management is not about power and control.

Behaviour advice should not be about drawing up battle lines. Children are not an enemy to be conquered and made to submit to the teachers will. We all know that there will be children who try us, often, and we learn how to deal with it. We are consistent, we are clear, we share with the children what we want, and what we expect and then we ask them the same question. We create set of guidelines that are drawn up together, so that they are enforced by everyone not just the teacher.

We negotiate (to a point) and make it clear to them what are the ‘non-negotiables’.

Whatever they might be in the context: No Put downs or Be honest – then no matter what, no matter how tired we have become, or how busy we might be, we stick to it. Children very quickly learn that negative actions have consequences, they learn even quicker when those actions don’t have any.

I believe that children are a partners in a learning journey – just not all of them realize it yet! It is our responsibility to let them develop the understanding of respect. That thing which is earned and not handed out for free. Not just respect for their peers or authority, but self respect and how it lets them become more than they might’ve thought possible.

What we shouldn’t do are the two extremes:

i) Be a dictator and allow no opportunity for the children to have a say – all challenge and no praise.

or

ii) Be a marshmallow and try to be everyone best friend – all praise and no challenge.

I know from experience that the way to resolve behaviour issues is to find out why.

Now if you expect me to get all psychological now and quote Vygotsky, Piaget and Bruner – I’m not going to. Ever. Nor will I talk about children’s pyramid hierarchy of need. We as teachers and educators try to help.

Don’t we?

Hands up those who have ‘dealt’ with behaviour and made it worse? **Puts hand up**

Behaviour is the child’s way of telling us what’s inside. We need to work out if it is a cry for help, a way of hiding another feeling or if it is just that they didn’t have breakfast or that someone was unkind to them on the bus that morning.

To quote a tweet from Steve Russell @BeyondBehaviour:

“Take a step back and see student behaviour as a form of communication. What’s the message? How can I best respond?”

That’s how to make you class work – not ‘Lay down the Law’, like Judge Dredd, not use a ‘cooler’, our schools are not Prison Camps, and we will win hearts and minds, not by talking tough, but by showing children the way. If we help them deal with what is causing the behaviour, then there is a better chance of resolving recurrent issues. Having a good shout and pointing at the class rules poster probably won’t help. There are some children who seem to do it, ‘just because’, they are often the ones who need help most. How does that Motivational Quote go again? “The child who is hardest to love, is the one who needs it most.”

I am no expert, I profess no great specialism, but I do know that if we frog march the unruly child to the ‘cooler’, then we best give them a tennis ball to bounce off the wall because they are going to be there for a very long time.

Is this the message?

Is this the message?

Forgive the rambling nature, but rather than draft and redraft, I have composed on screen.

You might consider this post along the lines of: In Other News ‘Fire is Hot!’ – but when the same messages come across my Twitter feed, I worry that if a new teacher, someone in ITT or a struggling teacher was looking for help with a problem, they might decide that those messages are right, good or helpful.

They aren’t.