Parents Evening (T8 and PPC)

A happy blog to start the first teaching day of term off….

During my mentor meeting, we went through some of the targets from before the break, one of which was to prepare for a Y7 parents evening which took place just before term ended.

Talking about it again reminded me how buzzy I was during and after – I really enjoyed meeting parents, being able to talk about their children in depth, and understanding more about the journey that each of them comes into school from. At the start of the year I shared the class with my mentor and another teacher who helped me get into it, but were so encouraging in pushing me to take the lead on dialogue with parents, commenting that I was able to make insightful and personalised comments about the individual children – which in turn indicated a high level of responsibility that I have taken to understand their progress and targets. It was so rewarding to know that our lessons had made an impact on the pupils, and I was really encouraged to hear that the pupils have been using and sharing our class specific blog with their parents.

In particular, I enjoyed speaking with the parents of 1 child, who is very bright and engaged in class, a natural leader and enquirer, and who makes intelligent contributions with enthusiasm. I felt that I had lots of evidence to share about his progress, and so was surprised to hear that he’d previously professed English to be his least favourite subject, and one that he lacked motivation toward. His parents were really positive about his change in attitude and increased enjoyment of the subject in Y7. Goofy high-five moment? Yes. Definitely.

On the flip side, but also rewarding, was the opportunity to communicate with a different set of parents with the help of a HOD. They wrote to me expressing concern over their daughter’s misunderstanding about the PLC2 project. I’m really glad they took the time, and felt confident about explaining and unpacking the situation professionally to the parents. My mentor and the HOD were satisfied that they were well informed and I had a chance to chat to the pupil too. She later commented on the blog asking for additional help, which I was happy to do. Actually a few pupils from different classes did this during the break – more evidence to suggest that using it as a central access point for homework and questioning is time well spent.


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.


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.

w/c 12 Nov: Weekly Reflection: “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”

The misattributed and mistranslated Marie-Antoinette quote. Why? Well, the cake was made by girls from my mentors pastoral group, to celebrate a birthday, and they were so proud of it, and keen to discuss the effort gone into it, I felt pretty privileged to be offered a slice.

T8: Wider Responsibility
This was especially rewarding after my much harder lined Thinking Curriculum session I taught the pastoral on Thursday. I read through and annotated the supplied lesson plan beforehand, and the ever-awesome hub picked me up some Under 19 bank account flyers from Lloyds. Then I served it straight up, stayed strong and kept much better control (oh boy, ask me about the last session of you want a giggle sometime!) Improvised a peer questioning and answering AFL when one of the resources failed to materialise, and got good feedback from my professional mentor too, so felt pleased and mostly, relieved.

Back to cake. Princess MA is supposed to have dropped the immortal cake line, off the cuff and dripping in frippery, as a comment in response to ‘learning that the peasants had no bread. Since brioche was enriched with butter and eggs, as opposed to ordinary bread, the quote supposedly would reflect the princess’s obliviousness to the condition of the people.’ Thanks wiki.

T2: Pupil progress
Tenuous link now…myth, math – mix it all up and what you have is a shocking attempt at a solution to hunger. Got no Bread? Got any Brioche? No? Ok, well I give up.

As target setting week draws to a close, I’ve been asking myself what to do if a pupil doesn’t even have the requisite level of basics to bake with. Spelling, punctuation. The ability to sit in their chair. Moreover, I might see a need to feed, but when they don’t, do you bust a gut to give them flour and teach them how to fold?! Basically – yes.  Even after a handful of lessons, I do care about the progression of individuals. (See post beneath this in Assessment, and follow up comment). And that’s probably my major reflection of the week. The class is becoming a collection of individuals.

I’d love to be able to teach the Boy In The Striped Pyjamas with added emotional zing by the end of my teaching period – inspire some aptitude and appetite.

Now that I’m more on on top of the classroom environment I’m going to use some drama approaches (although I made the classic mistake of getting into a confrontation with a pupil who was being deliberately obstructive and argumentative and I asked them to leave the classroom. She said no. Cue nerves of steel, calm insistence and success on this occasion but I wouldn’t ever do it like that again – and got some quick staffroom advice in break on how to handle it better in future).

Differentiation /IEPs
I also spent a break time with a SEN coach – one of my kids has just been given a dyslexic diagnosis and expressed a lot of worry over this. I did differentiated starters anyway this week (depending on your target card – I always set up early so that each pupil arrives to a book, a worksheet and a target card on their desk. Once established I’ll get a pupil to do the resources, especially if it’s straight after my duty break.) This week I did this particular pupil something different again, and got coaching on how to  work with him 121 for a bit while the rest of the class completed their worksheet. It seemed to help, and I’m using the same techniques for improving spellings in the pupils exercise book too.Its very hard to offer additional support to 1 pupil without singling them out though. I did however seat the pupil deliberately in a seat that meant I could work next to him but still see the rest of the class. Need to go back to the SEN coach on how not to alienate this pupil.

T4: PLanning 
I’m doing a lot better with timings (my target for last week). Have nearly halved my expected content and this seems ot be more accurate, and now I’m really enjoying having the time to do meaningful plenaries (I’ll unpack this more in my weekly lesson observation on the uni blog later). I’m also not indicating in the pla which bits of the lesson plan can be cut or shrunk, depending on the comprehension time needed by pupils- becasue this is harder to predict, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s take the time to make sure the class gets it before moving on. O know this seems obvious – but it’s great when you see the product of that ‘click’ moment in their produced work. And a tiny bit soul destroying when the semi colon you’ve  imaginatively and creatively taught, is spotted in an exercise book subdividing a single independent clause. Noooooooo!

OK. More lesson plans to do. Trained on using the camera this week at school too, to get footage for my TTT2 but it;s totally booked up, forever. Need a plan B. Think the Uni might have some cameras…

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.


Why I write

My mentor’s classroom is new. It’s pretty special- it has a giant observation window in it that we thought would have cool 2-way glass, the kind that would facilitate cop-drama fun. Instead it’s actually just a  window which is a little … weird.

The English rooms are themed -ours is called Orwell, so I did some creative thinking and came up with these display elements, and got going with the printing, laminating, slicing (yeh! I AM a real teacher) with much help from my utterly brilliant buddies Jane and Lily.

The book cover bunting is based on Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, and the display was inspired by Orwell’s essay collection entitled ‘Why I write,’ which led me to discover this brilliant site. I figured that a theme based on this brought colour optimism and creativity into the classroom, with lots of space for pupils own written work to be displayed alongside it.

Hopefully the displayed reasons that people write will provide some provoking and interesting ideas to encourage some of that Higher Order Thinking we keep hearing about. Why do you write?



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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.