Scoring a Hit? EOY Assessments and a T5 case study

So, 2 key things happened this week. In marking all my books I realised that I was going to miss these kids, these classes, these relationships at the end of my training. And why teachers put up with all the hard work and often heartache – because these kids are growing, and you get to be part of that.

Mid Term Re-Plan 

Secondly, I decided with a heavy heart to scrap my more motivational mid term plan for my tired Y9’s. The EYO Assessments have been moved to an earlier slot, starting this side of half term while I’m still teaching them. I lost 100m with them due to the bank holiday, and scoring a hit seems, sadly, more significant that inspiring them to write poetry. So it’s go go go with practicing unseen poetry and reinforcing the persuasive formula…

I’m actually having to do this for all my KS3 classes. It’s less problematic with my 2 x Y7 classes, since we’re doing ‘Accent, Dialogue and Autobiography’ at the moment, so there isn’t a thematic context that needs to be condensed.

T5: Adapting Teaching to repsond to the Strengths and Needs of ALL pupils: A Y8 Case Study.

With my lower ability Y8’s the challenge is to prepare for the Assessments alongside motivating engagement, and finishing the novel by Half Term without losing the class comprehension of events in the process! I’ve found this really challenging but beneficial, as I’ve had to constantly interrogate the purpose and benefit of each task, for both curriculum skills and cohesive contextual content. I’ve also maximised my plenaries to facilitate the consolidation of learning during this faster pace of lessons. As a result my last 3 lessons have felt very sharp and focussed, with much more aggressive differentiation designed to progress each individual pupil toward what I have ascertained their potential achievement level. Plus, the set moves have meant that I’ve inherited 3 new pupils into the class, plus a new starter, whose profiles I have had to quickly and rigorously assess. With the set-movers, it was a case of downloading their data from ASPEN and using this to create a TARGET card as the rest of the class have, allowing pupils to stay focussed and aware of their targets, and allowing me to move them in Kagan allocated gorupings for relevant tasks. In spite of being placed centrally in the whole class profile, the 2 set movers from the lower set are really struggling with the format of the lessons, which the LSA informs me are much pacier and more complex in terms of activities and processing expectations, so I’m incorporating them into my strategies for Lower Ability learners in the class (see below).

Isn’t it crazy? Even in an ability ‘set’ class with identical results, kids are SO different.

The 4th new pupil is a school mover, whose EOY target fits the class profile (5c), but he’s come in on a 3a! I can only hypothesise that he’s been set for hisEOY rather than his actual progress, and  it’s quite an ambitious target considering that he’s joined us with a term to go. Still with a reading age of 11, I figured that our boy-friendly novel could be a a good stimulus for development. Following a class reading strategy, it became apparent that the reading age was not a match for the class and asked the LSA to do our own tests, which ascertained a reading and writing ages of 8 and 9. As a result I’ve moved him onto my ‘intervention’ table (which is obviously, not obvious. I hope! Merits, tough questions and lots of vocab challenges and praise go this way, as well as writing homework into their diaries and frequent mini-table AFL checks), and my LSA is incorporating him into her focused activities with our other literacy weak pupil. By the time the EOY’s come along, he will have been part of the same preparation process, so I’ll take his transition into consideration alongside the results and if necessary have a chat with the LSA and class teacher about additional support.

A tangible example of how I’m adapting teaching with this class then – teaching Writing to Describe in the last lesson…

Presentation1I would normally expect to spend a fair amount of time ensuring 1/3 the class had managed to draw a KPT, during which the attention of the middle 1/3 would wane, whilst the top 1/3 would be finished and ready to move on. This time, I pre-printed a KPT template. I distributed this to the lower 1/3 to eliminate unproductive time struggling to structure their responses. I  targeted the middle 1/3 for on the spot feedback for examples to ensure they engaged out of anticipation for a response, and I included a second line of harder challenges on each slide for the top 1/3 to ensure they were being stretched. It worked! The class variabley and appropriately progressed AT THE SAME PACE! HOORAY!

To make sure I reaaaallllllly got them focussed, I also designed this homework sheet to ensure that the kids were actually incorporating the success criteria into their writing, by simultaneously self-assessing. I’ll post once I get it back and can make a call on if it worked…

Whilst we’re on hoorays, it was a wonderful birthday bank holiday,  and since I’m feeling all smushy, I can’t let this post pass without wishing my beautiful little girl a special second year X

weekend wonder



It’s been a while and a lot has happened… this is more of an aide memoire for me and my evidence file really, but here goes…

* 2 x observations with a mid ability Y10 class that have frankly been loosing me sleep due to their controlled assessment, the subsequent mass of extra reading and prep it’s taken, and challenges of motivating a class to write for 3 hours. Oh, and marking. But the feedback was super helpful, and really highlighted the need to maximise tasks and resources, and sequencing. Has the last task developed skills that are required in the next one?

*T4 PLC2 project on Emotional Intelligence. In theory, this was meant to be streamlined into a sequence of 4 lessons alongside normal content. In practice, it took over my 9.7 lessons and required a lot of tweaking to line up with an already content heavy English curriculum.

In a CPD session we discussed potential micro-enquiries within our subject areas, but inevitably any expanded creativity, off-road research risks or extended meta-cognative learning processes are at the mercy of the TIMETABLE. Business has brainwashed TIME is MONEY into me – so can we afford to take up time doing pupil led enquiries? How can you be confident it’ll be beneficial? You’ve got to have some serious perceptivity to go off-piste. And so, 97 and I are now playing catch up with functional writing skills and unseen poetry. Go go go!

*T5 Exit strategies. This is really working with YO. Half the class seeks constant reassurance and needs to develop independence and confidence, whilst the other half tends toward the know-it-all approach. Taught explicitly as an exit strategy, the 5B’s are making a big difference (Brian, Book, Board, Buddy, Boss) I’ve taken this further, after understanding during my TTT3 research, that one of the benefits of formulating and articulating is increased awareness. So pairs are given a yellow (optimistic I though) sheet of A4 paper at the start of every lesson. ANY, any ANY any and ALL questions (including toilet/tissue/trash related ones) have to go through the 5B’s, and be written out clearly on the paper before the Boss will answer them. Often they are solved prior to this, frequently they are solved in the process of writing the question, and should the question need the Boss, it has been considered and shaped toward intelligent questioning. Moreover, a hand up to signify a written question enables me to answer individuals at an opportune moment, rather than the previous barrage of questions disrupting learning flow. Merits for the most interesting questions inspire the know-it-alls, as does answering other people’s questions AND you’ve got a pupil led homework waiting to go for all those unanswered ones. Questions tend to be spelling, homework, word meaning, character scenario orientated – and have been pretty impressive – such as ‘Could Ariel be Prospero’s spirit somehow?’


*T5 Spotlighting – I was pretty pleased that this technique which I practiced with a Y10 class was picked up on in a CS session at Uni. It’s essentially about listening to group learning dialogue and discussion, and then allowing the rest of the class to do the same by focussing attention on this model group. Its a great way of demonstrating good practice to other pupils and showing them what good learning looks like. I then used the groups discussion to bounce deeper questions around the other groups, refocussing us all on the key messages, before sending groups back again.

*CPD day – tonnes of interesting stuff – highlights…
T6 Marking for Progress – some great ideas to trial here from a CPD day, such as
Leaving the left hand side of the page blank for assessments and levelled work, so that comments can be fully responded to, paragraphs improved etc – with a post it tab on the relevant page that cannot be removed until the teacher signs off on satisfactory progress.
Actually the tabs system would work on any marking. I will try, photograph and post on this….

T2/T5 Stretch and Challenge Strategies for successful, individual, meaningful challenge, with encouragement to run a collaborative micro enquiry, with deep analysis on 2 or 3 pupils. I think I’m going to be doing this with 8.8, as a lower ability class but with a range of pupils who need widely tailored approaches. My project is to trial ‘Accelerating students thinking through talking.’ IAnother post on this, er, post event. Other things…. great acronyms to help teachers plan challenge: SKIVE and PIECE, and some very inspiring case studies. One ins particular reponded to research that pupils perceptions about lack of relevance is a huge demotivater for challenge, so spent time with his Y7’s researching famous mathmeticians who used algebra to change the world etc, working out their skill-sets and characteristics, and transferring these to class success criteria. Constructivism. I wanted to do this for a year 7 class following a conversation with a boy (previous post), and I’m going to do this with them now, but around embracing the bard instead. This week, not planned yet, but I’ll, post, naturally. Hopefully.

T3 Literacy across the Curriculum and Reading strategies – wow, so many great ones here to try, love the idea of Sketch and Stretch to transfer comprehension into a more memorable context. Big win with lower ability ans especially with my 100m lessons. Also going to use the SMART and INSERT strategies to ensure more meaningful comprehension, and the 5W’s as a good way to enforce factual absorption whilst re-enforcing a basic functional writing skill. PIcs to follow.

Ok, guess what? Lessons to plan! More regular posts to follow!

P.S All my uni assignments are completely and absolutely IN. This feels good. And I feel good after an actual break – it was so nice to leave and come back to the same place, which meant the easter break was a lot more relaxing. Lovely.

Learning Motivation

The data for Y7 is in from module 2, so I started scanning the stats, with one boy in particular causing me concern, His behaviour had already marked him apart, and his target grade was slipping away from him he dropped rather than climbed sub-levels. Intervention time. We had a chat. Turns out he’d had a chat too – last night in fact – with a parent, about how schools do things the wrong way round, and don’t bother finding out what knowledge kids want, or would find useful, to learn.
We agreed that I would find ways to make learning more relevant, and focus on linking it to real life learning and really working the constructivist pedagogy. Challenge accepted. Starting with a de Bono thinking hats reflective exercise, and moving into a more varied and mulit-modal approach to the Shakespeare play we are studying, and making more explicit the life skills that the pupils employ during Kagan structure activities, drama and peer work. Sounds right, but also looking for really simple pegs to hang things on for this kid in particular. Keep you posted when I’ve come up with a row…

Boarding Passes, Trading Games and Think to Link

Bit of a blog-bomb here of highlights from placement 2…


I really enjoyed the last lesson I had with a Y10 class. Wed done poetry in detail together, and so I wanted to go with an unseen approach to the last lesson, but make sure there were really in the mood first. The poem was James Fenton’s In Paris With You, and as the calendar would have it, we wound up exploring this on Valentines Day. I started the lesson by giving each pupil boarding cards from this great site: http://omatic.musicairport.comAir Ticket
I went with a class name, the truly committed could input individual names. I did put relevant flights and a time for that lunch, and led the class through a series of consideration conversations about whether they would use the ticket or not as we revealed more about the poem and its circumstances.


Trade UpWith a Y9 class we were examining a poem that uses wealth imagery to explore the value of objects, with water ultimately being revealed as the most precious. I started the lesson by giving each pupil a trading card with an object on it. The class had 5 minutes to move around the class and persuade one another to trade items until they ended up with the highest value item that they could. Back in groups, they choose the highest value from that which they had collated, and I stuck this to the board.

9C1 Module 2 Lesson 12Later in the lesson, once the meaning of the poem had been discovered, tables could choose to trade their item on the board for one form their remaining stash, so long as they could explain WHY. All the groups did, humbly and eloquently swapping gold and skull candy headphones for bottles of water, food and medical supplies. It was awesome! Another winner in the student voice survey, and could easily be adapted to teach other poems – such as valuing time in Duffy’s hour, or relationships in many others.


I’m also LOVING Triptico’s new Think and Link

I recently used the hexagons to make a random selection of characters and quotes from Skellig, and each pupil had a hexagon grid in front of them.

They generated an impressive list of key themes, of which they had to choose 2. These were written at either end of the hexagon sheet, and pupils had to use the hexagon prompts form the TRIPTICO screen to make a link bridge across the page, writing explanations for the link in the spaces around the bridge, to ensure genuine HOT.

Sounds a little complicated, it wasn’t in practice though, and the pupils loved directing me in reconstructing their theme bridges in screen. Very satisfying Triptico click/think noise too!

Quotation Donation

I had to share this as I had so much fun putting it together and working it in the classroom with a Y9 middle ability group,. We’d been working on 2 poems with poverty themes, although very different contexts (Indian drought vs South African Apartheid). The next lesson was going to teach ‘Compare and Contrast.’

Quotation Donation

I started by giving each child a fake dollar and a post-it in the line up outside. When the lesson began and we got ‘I need a dollar’ pumping, they had to work back through their poems to decide which poet presented the strongest impression of poverty, and write a quote to support their deduction on the post it. With pictures of each poet on opposite sides of the board, the class then came forward to stick their post it on the relevant side, and their dollar in the relevant tin. We had a class count up, and used the post it’s to scaffold PEED paragraphs later in the lesson.

On a student voice survey I gave out, this ranked pretty high, so I’m hoping to use it again somehow.

*sparkle* an obs week gem

Although teaching Wednesday to Friday, I found that my practice really benefitted from being in a focussed school environment for the full week. As well as watching some experts at work, I was on the look out for top tips on how to manage and maximise classroom time. A winning gem included…

A focussed, low resource starter with productive output that can be sown into the remainder of the lesson as scaffolding, thus providing the teacher with breathing space to set the lesson up, order reosurces and switch into this lesson, which in my case below, was the third in a row.

With 9e2 I pre-prepared a technique card sort, with a blank card to stretch and challenge the early finishers, and an additional ranking instruction for the truly bright to have a go out, securing myself a steady 6 minutes to get plugged in, PowerPointed up and prepared. Less flustered teacher = smoother more settled class. WIN! I need a repertoire of ‘bells’ now that don’t require being plugged in. I remember using a pack of picture cards with a mentoring group of teen girls I worked with a while ago. I used to ask them to choose one and either relate themselves to it, or link it to a situation, or even one another – so am going to develop this idea. Actually, I might use this as the foundation of my emotional intelligence series of lessons for PLC2. Hmmmm!

Analytical mulberry bushes

Any excuse to air the ever stylish Alexa and her named bag of beauty…


Back to life/reality/etc…I spent some time with my mentor today to find solutions for approaches to poetry that made the density of analytical work engaging in a small group setting. She modelled one of these ideas today – for a reading anaylsis question – and I’m hooked! I give you …. co-operative analysis! 

Essentially, it’s pass the parcel: pupils pass A3 sheets around with a quote written large an central. When the music stops (get the tune right and improve your emotional intelligence), use one of your stack of post-its to add an insightful interpretation. Each pupil contributes, and also collates ideas, which scaffold individual PEEL paragraphs (QED) following the activity (ensuring autonomous deep thinking). All the passing even gets the brain gym going for the noughties grads out there.
On reflection, the activity could become even more purposed if required, with the teacher designating a topic for each round, such as structure, tone, layers of meaning etc, to ensure breadth and depth of interpretations (for instance, only two pupils wrote about structure and there is the potential for pupils to re-iterate the same comments if they encounter repeated quotes). Great activity though. The kids were super smiley, busy and wrote well afterwards.
La mentor conducted an edited version later in the day in which quotes were taped to the outskirts of the room, and pupils circulated in a orderly fashion (naturally) until the music stopped, at which point they added comments to the quote in front of them. She also directed the topic of the comment and decided that this worked much better. Sorted! I took this tack when I tried the same exercise with a Year 9 class later in the week. I pre-selected the quotes to major on the theme of poverty, in order to scaffold a PEED later in the lesson about the poet’s presentation of this theme. My management style was stretched to the max in order to co-ordinate music, movement and productive comment making, but the result was that each child had a visually stimulating scaffold for their PEED paragraph. By using this quote with 4 different, detailed perspectives on it, students successfully demonstrated much more insight than previously employed.

I also experimented with the concept by merging it with a student gallery for my Apprentice class who produced excellent persuasive posters which I invited a top salesman to join us in judging… a later post on this!

Differentiation in action…

We’re in school for the full week. Which gives me a chance to do some observing for 2 days before my timetable kicks back in on Wednesday. I feel able to focus my observations more meaningfully now, so it was fantastic to watch my mentor teach the same lesson twice, but aimed at two different ability classes.

Afterwards we were able to talk about the change in her style and her expectations. My scribbled notes are attached (oh yes, I now have a combi Printer/Scanner…and did I mention that my sister also bought me a laminator – which I think will give me an edge in interview no?)

Anyway… here’s a summary of my reflections on the lessons:

– Always have high expectations, regardless of the class ability level

– Make scaffolding subtle, to encourage confident autonomy (even if, in fact, you’re masterfully manoeuvering the class)

– Silent work, post-discussion, benefits articulate classes, as it focuses their efforts and captures their conversations

– Increase depth of evidence required by higher ability students, but require the same effort from everybody, all the time, me included.

Back to lesson planning then…Lesson Obs 4 Feb 13 v2

Learning Journey

David Didau raves about them, and I enjoyed a very aspirational version delivered by my HOD in School 1 some time ago in conjunction with a SOLO lesson. (Yes. Solo. Like.) Although I only have 2 lessons left with most of my classes before this placement finishes, I’ve decided to try a Learning Journey rather than Lesson Objectives with a lower ability Y10 class that I’m still expecting a lot from.

Here’s the journey (I should make you guess for a starter no? No? OK… using our homework plans to apply to a task, developing our own class success criteria based on prior learning, then writing this up into a wonderful piece of work and finishing with a post it plenary to assess progress and determine direction.)

learning journey

I’ll add a comment on how it goes down…

a little idea

I was wondering about incorporating the production of ‘toolkits’ for extended plenaries at the end of modules, summarising learning in a sort of wiki ‘how to’ style. These could be copied onto cards and slid into pockets, stuck onto exercise book pages, and easily retrieved and referred to in future tasks, swapped, improved, used for games…

These are too cute, I wonder…Image

KLA Objectives

At a recent R&D CPD group, we were encouraged to differentiate not just for ability but also for learning style. This week I determined to meet the challenge to devise a task that incorporated each learning style.


I wanted it to be meaningful, so came up with a CONNECTED KEY WORDS, based on a twitter/Learning Spy ideas on introducing objectives in fresh ways. The idea is that pupils are given a key objective word, have a minute to write as many connected words as they can, which the class discusses and determines their own objective.

I was working with a year 7 middle top set, so simplified the process by creating a class KPT (key Point Tool) from their ideas, and asking each person to transfer these to a Pyramid of Progress, which we returned to in the plenary to chart growth, I’ll be honest, I think this was too complicated, and would work better with a class that could really interrogate the task together.

7U Module 2 Lesson 14

Still, the KLA element was popular. I made laminated key word frames and attached them to physical keys, and placed these on Consensus Placemats. After scribbling down their thoughts, the groups enjoyed passing the keys around to symbolise the speaker,  as they discussed their connected words. It seemed to provide focus, stimulus and some ‘stickability’ about the hub of the learning we were about to attempt. And now I have the wipe clean resource, I’ll be trying it again. Practice makes perfect. Or better, at the very least!

New school, new ideas and many, many acronyms…

… and too many commas apparently, according to my PLC (Professional Learning in Context) feedback, which was positive but rather vague. My PLC tutor pointed out that it;s hard to assign a mark to a mere 1,000 word commentary, since our slides/ presentations aren’t assessed.

This is a bit of a shame, since I felt that our collaborative PLC1 project was of a high standard, since our teaching timetables allowed more time to invest in the research, whereas PLC2 may prove more difficult. It involves planning a series of lessons (now) and teaching these (before Easter). School Direct pupils are changing school back again after Feb half term however, and as I wont have a timetable ’til then, and it wil be much fuller, it put s abit of a squeeze on.

Still, if you gotta squeeze, make lemonade or something like that – so sure it’ll be fine/fun/fantastic* (*delete as applicable depending).


I’m thoroughly enjoying my time at School 2, much positive energy, progression tactics and sky high expectations that actually level the playing field so that each child can achieve. There’s also a fantastic literacy focus on reading to enjoy reading, great resources and team.

My first training session at School 3 was also great, which was all about Kagan structures and the SOLO taxonomy, which the wonderful HOD at School 1 introduced me too. (She also got me hooked on the Learning Spy, who is everyones secret best blogging friend, and I’ve got an entire file made up of his blogs, printed, lovingly annotated and categorised).I really really like SOLO, and I have a feeling it;s the way for me, hopefully back in school 1 – although it might be difficult to really embed this in my practice with new classes, half way through the year, so one to talk to my mentor about. I’m itching to start next year, with clean books and complete classes and a much better idea of where we’re all going, and how to get there!

I’ve also been cataloguing the smart group work ideas of Mr Alex Quigly, and today tried out Home and Expert groups with a year 7 class. Team work really does make the dream work!

It took a lot of resourcing but worked really well, and the class quickly understood that coasters would be swiftly ousted and each rose to their part of the challenge and engaged, producing work with evidence of a depth of knowledge I was pleased with.  I’m looking forward to breaking into a class and then reusing it as a much quicker way of developing reading, informing, explaining and summarising skills. Like.


The Pod of Glory, and Inclusion, Equality & Diversion


Long blog coming up. I’m in Uni reflection mode.

I even spent some time in a big soft private pod chair in the library, with a laptop point and a purple cushion -lush! Nearly as cool as this stylish seating offering…



Well, the IED conference has just drawn to close, and I was really impressed by the quality, depth and enthusiasm of the speakers. My head is full of little parcels of info and ideas that I hope to unwrap properly at some point.

Lesley Powell’s keynote lecture on Socio-economic considerations and subsequent improvement strategies at Shotten Hall. Can I say I loved this without sounding too gushy?!

I said it. I loved this. Centred around the importance of aspiration, and the employment of innovation, creative and often unconventional intervention, future focussed investment and holistic pupil progress, I was really impressed and impacted.

Prior to teacher training, I worked for Creativity Culture and Education, who ran, and evaluated, the Creative Partnerships programme – so I’m already sold on the use of the arts and creative practitioners to drive the aspirations and subsequent achievements (not to mention economic gain – PWC gave our pupils a huge ROI of 16 points – way above national average). I’ve also spent the last 10 years working with inner-city youth to inspire improvement in their life circumstance and skills, so I was really, hmmmm, fired up I suppose, to see this in action alongside proven pupil progress in a school that won;t pay lip service to deprivation, looking instead to foster an environment of belief, that provides a framework to dream of achievement.

With half the school nearly on FSM, and gritty Ever6 stats indicated the longevity of the issue, it almost reduces the risk of focussing on, and possibly isolating pupils in less privileged scenarios, and potentially exacerbating their feeling of social exclusion.

Lesley also talked about behavioral concerns, emotional baggage and talked about always allowing pupils an exit route – which is some excellent advice I’ve been given before in the context of parenting. Moreover, her slides, from an OFSTED view, on progression and excellence were practical and useful.

I am going to ask if I can visit, and certainly, I’ve been prompted to think about the role of teacher-practioner -pioneer and how my skill set matches different school profiles and pupils. What kind of pupil, and progress is my teaching most aligned toward?


I developed an awareness of the increasing significance of IED on the Ofsted agenda, and the range of susceptible children, from a variety of Protected Characteristics that I might have considered in the classroom.

Those which were most greatly unpacked were probably sexual orientation and disability from a Learning barriers perspective – with the former being most provoking in terms of my preparedness to challenge cultural prevalent yet nevertheless offensive language that cultivates homophobic bullying.

I also enjoyed thinking about EAL provision – the seminar and lecture included some simple, ‘problematic’ pupil engaging strategies that are actually transferable, and highlighted the intelligence that exists in a home language, and should be assumed in the second language, even through tests aren’t able to indicate this clearly, so stretch and challenge is crucial. Interestingly a lot of EAL students are also G&T, and with some additional provision and planning (Google translate, translated keywords, buddying, visual stimulus), can progress well alongside their language development, and actually, with the increase in vernacular tolerance, are less diverse in language ability from their monolingual peers than I might assume. Plus, they often have something to offer – use their context to educate the class about the wider world, for instance.

I’ve been most exposed to, and will continue to be most exposed to pupils identified by the Disability Characteristic.

I’m spending my short placement at a school with a higher FSM%, so will use the opportunity to seek out aspirational strategies through professional dialogue where possible, since I don’t have any observation time at this school. The Head of T&L at my SD school suggested I spend some time at a school in a school with significantly more soci-eco issues to take into account, and Ill set this up once I’ve returned.

My main focus then, will be working with the SEN team, requesting additional training and exploring resources for literacy improvement strategies – particularly spelling and grammar – in my lower ability classes, whilst negotiating the challenge of pupil perceived stigmatization – hopefully a whole class approach to this with differentiated outcomes will alleviate this, or differentiated homework so that SEN scaffolded techniques are undertaken in individual settings. I also found Gina’s advice on working with LSA very valuable, as was her challenge to be aware of the prevailing existence of girls with unidentified learning needs, due to their early socialising skills – certainly this has brought to mind 1 Y9 pupil that I’m going to request is assessed.

Great conference, with speakers who were truly knowledgeable with excellent and inspiring models of practice- so much to take away and reflect on, and I hope I have the opportunity to go to similarly focused conferences in the future.

The Big Write

Seven years of water have swept under the academic bridge, and it’s been some time
since I’ve squirrelled myself into a corner, complete with a family-size box of crunchy nut cornflakes and the crazed look of a damsel in deadline distress.

Thankfully, the boy, some babies and a good few years of business experience has taught me that getting ahead is the new going under, and my assignments have been completed with less drama.

Here’s what I’ve been writing…

TTT1 – all about deep thinking: pedagogical theories and practice – it took me ages to get my groove on and lock that learned writing style down. Now a converted constructivist and a sold-out social-scenario linker, I was so relieved to get positive feedback, and a celebrated a distinction with… a trip to the library to get the books out for the next essay. Yay.
T1: I really had a chance to examine my expectations of pupils, their learning styles, experiences and manner of constructing knowledge. I’m really looking for ways now to build ‘chunking’ in my lessons, and ensure that each stage of my plans is a build on the previous.
T3: The essay also gave me a chance to deepen my understanding of the impact of subject knowledge, and how to express this to a class. I think I err on the romantic side of reasoning, and certainly was very captured by the challenge to bring wider, global significance to the texts that I teach. As a result, my remaining lessons on the Private Peaceful theme has links to modern warfare, with an age appropriate consideration of child soldiers, and Remembrance Sunday. I also examined the relationships between militant Fathers and their Sons in both Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and contemporary photography captured of Iraqi warfare.

PLC1 – a group project with 2 other students at my school, focused on ‘What Makes Outstanding Homework?’ Felt a lot more at home with this one –it was basically a project to run with a presentation, and my background is in recruitment projects and graphic design/events. I enjoyed learning about Active Research, and although it was too intense to re-conduct a solo project in the near future, it did demonstrate the benefits of working in collaboration with colleagues in CPD groups in the future, and hopefully one day I’ll complete an in depth study for a Masters.


T2/T5: Can you believe that none of the teaching standards mentions homework? I found this so interest

ing, especially because the study really taught me homework is often an under-utilized tool in managing effective differentiation, and the importance of setting it in a considered fashion, so that each piece of work developed subject specific knowledge AND skills (such as writing to persuade), and also generic transferable skills (such an analysing). It’s another half hour of progress that can be made! Yes! I actually can’t wait to try some our ‘tool kit’ suggestions out. Here’s some of the slides we used…

Slide02 Slide04 Slide06 Slide08 Slide10 Slide12

I’ve also literally just submitted TTT2 (tick) so I’ll write a bit more about this later once I’ve had feedback.

W/C 5 Nov: Weekly reflection

OK so yes, it’s Tuesday already. However, I have a lighter teaching Week A, so perhaps a little less actual teaching practice to reflect on, but plenty of lessons learnt!

Finding myself very hungry for feedback and ideas and suggestions for improvements because they are hands down the most useful part of training –  the teachers are genuinely so constructive and the department is delightful, that I haven’t ever felt miserable after feedback, but did find I had to give myself positive pep talks following lessons that I knew I should have done better in. I am here to learn, and learning I am, which is an achievement worth cheering. So here’s my low down…

1. Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

I came back after half term with some thorough medium term plans for each class, linked to some comprehensive lesson plans. They were outmoded before break time! The challenge of sharing classes, unscheduled hearing tests, slower progression and technology failures have invaluably taught me that whilst targets are essential, strategies should be sketched out in pencil!! My mentor reckons getting the nitty gritty of lessons nailed a week ahead is ideal, 2 at a push. I now have a sophisticated post it method, so I can shimmy things all over the schedule and stay neat. Result.

Talking of technology fails – that hit me hard but the class teacher was so positive and praised the way I didn’t go to pieces and managed to turn things around. Still, didn’t want to get caught short again so off I went with Boo and Cub to the Metrocentre to get myself apple kit proper….

I also touched on this quote in a comment on my last reflection. My main feedback from last week was that my planning and resources were thorough and good (maybe an tangential career in selling swish scaffolding to TES??!), they’re no substitute for getting kids doing the subject specific stuff.

Duly noted. Target now is to use the great SOWS and PPT etc available, and invest my time in developing my teaching persona and in planning for pupil progression (T5). I’ll touch more on this in the next reflection.

2. It’s the little foxes that ruin the vineyard.

Low level chatter. This really is undermining my teaching, and had feedback form 2 class teachers that complimented my good relationship and connection with my classes, but encouraged me to really stamp down on this – by waiting longer for silence before moving on, using discipline procedures to reinforce this, talking less myself, and using tone more effectively. Little foxes, left unchecked, grow into bigger foxes. So I’m focussing this week on managing the small stuff, because this is what really ruins the lesson. So I’ll be working on T7 and planning well for behaviour. Think I might need to practice a bit on the mirror. Feeling silly is a small price to pay for getting the class settled and achieving.


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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.