Cycling – musings relatively related to emotional intelligence

27cfd_Cycling Cities report graphicJFK declared that ‘education is the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there IS a private hope and dream, which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.’

My private hopes and dreams are essentially that. Private – finding secret expression in certain elements of my teaching journey  – filling me with fizz or frustration but staying resolutely put even as my practice improves to facilitate their fulfilment. They are something like this:
To connect with pupils and to cause effective communication.
To inspire, impart and gain continued insight. To be a good teacher that gets better.

I suppose its a cycle of sorts…
To give, to gain and to grow
To teach and be taught
In blessing to be blessed.

Sometimes, the stars collide and force a pause to question whether we’ve  fundamentally cracked, or clicked. A moment, maybe once, maybe daily, and we adopt, adapt.

oxygen_mask_During my 2nd placement I began to feel the ‘click’ – I was coming together as a teacher somehow. As part of our Emotional Intelligence PLC2,  I was really struck by a journal that discussed the myriad of factors that act upon a teacher to form their mentality, their motivations and subsequent pedagogy and practice, and the importance of considering this as an essential element of our teaching ability. It’s the airline oxygen mask approach really- get your own mask on before you attempt to help a child affix theirs – because losing your own air supply will wipe you clean off  JFKS  ‘benefitting others’ educational agenda.

We’re becoming increasingly familiar with Kolb’s approach to the reflection process and whilst it is cyclical, it is also highly impersonalised  toward the user. Rachel Lofthouse’s 8 interrelated Professional Aspects are more orientated toward personal professional development with one focus on confidence and ‘teaching’ identity. However, the aspects suggest a balanced approach to each of the 8 elements, or a targeted focus on a few as our training progresses, and ultimately assume a professional uniformity of end product that doesn’t seem to provide for factors that influence and enrich each individual ITT.

In business I became very familiar with the virtuous cycle of

Happy Staff produce Happy Clients produce More $

that led one Examining Board that I worked for the be named as one of the UK’s top 100 SMES to work for. Hearing a similar comment from an SLT member at my second placement school was a real ‘click’ moment for me. He remarked that so often we focus on making pupils happy, but this has to start with happy teachers. Seriously simple, seriously smart.

Happy teachers produce Happy students produce Progress…

Obviously personal factors beyond pupil progress will influence the ‘Happy Teacher’ , but this is the essential starting point. I’m sure I’ve spent way too long musing about this, and should have cracked through all the SOWs for my next placement, but somehow I feel that understanding my own cycle and improving my personal emotional intelligence is time well spent at the beginning of a half term. I’m not sure if this will translate into a viable PLC2 project, but it is bedrock.

More cycling excellence in teaching here: Olympic cycling inspired learning and David Didau’s useful evaluation.

P.S Here’s a cycle for free I put together based on the Jackie Beere approach to lessons

JB lesson cycle


Consultation Day

How great is this? A day where parents (and children, optional) can come and talk to the relevant pastoral tutor about a recent report, concerns, results, motivations, attitudes – the works!

Of course, it’s unfortunately a missed opportunity for some, but I was inspired and enlightened by the meetings that did take place between the Y11 tutor I’m shadowing, and the parents she spoke with.

It was aspirational stuff – the tutor was positive, motivational, measured, caring and insightful. I was left with the impression that each individual child matters, and their particular path is catered for as far as possible.

Interesting moments included a grandmother who wanted to weigh in with her very different educational expectations, the pride of both tutor and parent in a pupil who’d busted a gut to get her maths GCSE result, and the unpacking of the problem of a previously studious pupil who’d ‘gone off the boil.’ Turns out their elder, academic sibling, with whom they;d shared a room, was studying abroad for 6 months. The hypothesis emerged that this sibling had ensured sensible sleeping hours, assisted with homework, and been generally aspirational – and that the lack of this had led to the student becoming later and lazier. The mother determined to step into the gap, the tutor to pursue extra study support options, and suddenly it seemed as if this situation could be turned around in time for the GCSEs.

It reminded me of an SMT member comment in school 1 – be mindful that each child undertakes a journey just to get to school – the degrees of difficulty need to be considered and addressed if necessary. Wise.


running, stationary and making the right impressions

Cross country day!
I used to DREAD this at school, who knew 12 years later I’d be running a marathon at the weekend. SO I decided to run it with the students (some other teachers do too), try and motivate some team togetherness and I genuinely enjoyed developing a relationship with the girls in my pastoral group. My mentor reckoned the girls would appreciate it too, so off we all went…

One girl in particular is really sporty but seems to hold herself back – it’s not cool to actually run apparently. But with some positivity and the promise of a Kit Kat for anyone who ran with us, she ran the whole thing and came in the top ten. Result. And really rewarding for me, as she was buzzing and really proud of herself. Yay! My first mini-Pffifer-moment! I went back for the girls we lost too, and made sure we all got some choc! Hurray for some sporting pupil achievement.


Also loving this pencil case that belongs to one of my super glam PGCE pals, and post-its. Who doesn’t? Was therefore ridiculously delighted to start our training day yesterday with feathery pretty piles of pink ones. The exercise in question helped us get to grips with professionalism – lots to think about. I’m going to ask my mentor today for feedback on how students and teachers perceive me, and I’ll use the feedback to work on my developing professional persona. Also going to be quizzing my mentor on her chosen pedagogical approach and how to focus my week on Classroom Management.



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A little bit about me

I'm training as a teacher on the School Direct route. It's new this year and puts me in the classroom more than a traditional PGCE. I'm also training for a marathon and really enjoy running. But not so much in winter. I've been blessed with a gorgeous hub and 2 awesome kids who are 3 and 1 and being total dudes about me going back to work full-time. And that is pretty much that.