we’re sticking here. that feels alllll right.

here’s the one you might have missed from my alter-blog

Hush on the blog hasn’t been deliberate but a sensible sort of silence – we needed some time to settle down, be still, ask questions, hear answers, change. Not especially fun reading, at least not easy writing, but definitely essential experiences.

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I’m so grateful for having Ben around, our toddler has been, er…. toddler-ing a lot, and having backup has been a great blessing. From Ben and Pastor Cesar and Pastora Claudia! It seems Mattias and Stella are of a similar temperament; strong but big hearted. The Pastors have helped Mattias develop into such a sweet natured child so I’m confident the babe will  get there soon. My rhema for her life was based on the story of the stick turning bitter waters sweet… she’s got the strength to move in the power of the spirit to bring change, through the cross, and the end result is always sweeter. Praise the Lord as the boy would say – which he regularly does, about anything that makes him happy – particularly being able to wear in green t shirt and shorts so he’s camouflaged on the fresh florida grass. He’s finding all sorts of ways to be brave – swimming well, scrambling lots and I even took him on a roped-up sky-trail, with obstacles set high over a play park, and actually are MY stomach churn. He aced it. Like a big cat.

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Lily came to visit for a few days (she’s still here because we are soooo cool ;) She’s just celebrated her 25th in Bogota so we had a second little tea party in the woods to welcome her. We also celebrated Sara’s 22nd birthday with a Despicable Me party and lots of minion related fun. Can you believe I STILL haven’t seen that movie?!

Then, unfortunately I left my beautiful clutch bag in a family bathroom, and it was swiftly lifted – along with my purse, driving licence, bank cards, boots card (boooooo) and all those important things you hope not to be parted from. C’est la vie. I was actually most upset about the purse and the bag than the contents, although the man spent a good few hours secretly scouring the net for a replacement bag which he bought me! Love it! Love him.

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BABY COME BACK

My blog came back! Sort of… I lost the domain name a while ago but it’s pending release or reknewal so here’s hoping – but in the meanwhile I got quite attached to WakeMummyMake … maybe I’ll just put things out there twice until I can decide.

More importantly… welcome to the world baby Esther  Joy Elizabeth! My new baby niece arrived to the adoration of her parents, 3 siblings, 4 grandparents and numerous aunties, uncles and friends.

And congratulations also to all the new mummies I’m privileged to know – Rachel J, my long life friend whose also seen the abundance of God … 2 beautiful girls born so close together! What an answer to prayer, I hope Lily and Neve strengthen each other as they grow, and bring beauty and grace to you and Matt and Josh.

Joy – He IS an Albie! I knew you;d find the perfect name, and he perfectly fits into your family, and I love how it feels like we’re welcoming him into a real community, a future, a togetherness, a turn-around. You’ve never let life’s struggles overcome it’s successes, and this little boy is going to live life to the fullest of the promises of God. Please meet us at the airport for a cuddle….

Rachel S – you are an example of grace through trials, and your gorgeous little caterpillar ted has already started his story of the glory and goodness of his maker.

Maria R – Michael is so sweet, he belonged in your arms even long before he arrived because your huge heart has always been turned toward knowing God and nurturing others.

Heather CF – we’re soooo pleased for you and Simon and Michael – the family that was always meant to be – I hope your little man grows up secure in the knowledge of the depths from which he was wanted. You are such a focussed, devoted couple and I hope he learns how to take hold of life in the way that you both have.

Please all keep posting your pictures – every, EVERY new baby brings a blessing. To their family, to the world… I love to see the way yours are making this life more loving for everyone.

So, baby Doherty Number 8, we’re sending you so much love from Miami. I’ve been on the hush – but somehow, little lady, the birth of your new voice inspired me to find mine again.

We named Stella for her destiny, so that she would always dare to dream high – and Esther is also the persian word for ‘star’ – I hope that you, Stella and all of your cousins will encourage each other towards the heavens.

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Your hebrew name is Hadasseh, or myrtle tree. Did you know, new baby niece, that these evergreens are known for their deep, deep roots? They drawn minerals up from the soil that are out of reach for other trees, and this rich soil gives them such an abundance of blossom, and a beautiful grain of wood. Esther, we pray that you’ll plumb the depths of God’s love drawing up strength and wisdom that will bear fruit in your life, in all seasons.

Of course, with your daddy’s infectious laugh, your mums ready smile (and Caleb’s cheeky, charming, grin) you’ll live joyfully. We can’t wait to discover what delights you’re going to bring to your family, as you model the goodness of God and his warm, fun heart for families.

And then we’re back to blessing – because Elizabeth means God is my oath and my fortune, and represents the abundance of God. So, small one, we’re praying that you always walk sure of the promises of God, and live joyfully in their blessings. That like your namesake, you walk right with Him, always quick to say YES to all that he places in your heart.

Honey, you were born for such a time as this.

And what an all american time your cousins are enjoying! Hush on the blog hasn’t been deliberate but a sensible sort of silence – we needed some time to settle down, be still, ask questions, hear answers, change. Not especially fun reading, at least not easy writing, but definitely essential experiences.

Frame Collection 1

I’m so grateful for having Ben around, our toddler has been, er…. toddler-ing a lot, and having backup has been a great blessing. From Ben and Pastor Cesar and Pastora Claudia! It seems Mattias and Stella are of a similar temperament; strong but big hearted. The Pastors have helped Mattias develop into such a sweet natured child so I’m confident the babe will  get there soon. My rhema for her life was based on the story of the stick turning bitter waters sweet… she’s got the strength to move in the power of the spirit to bring change, through the cross, and the end result is always sweeter. Praise the Lord as the boy would say – which he regularly does, about anything that makes him happy – particularly being able to wear in green t shirt and shorts so he’s camouflaged on the fresh florida grass. He’s finding all sorts of ways to be brave – swimming well, scrambling lots and I even took him on a roped-up sky-trail, with obstacles set high over a play park, and actually are MY stomach churn. He aced it. Like a big cat.

Frame Collection 2

Lily came to visit for a few days (she’s still here because we are soooo cool ;) She’s just celebrated her 25th in Bogota so we had a second little tea party in the woods to welcome her. We also celebrated Sara’s 22nd birthday with a Despicable Me party and lots of minion related fun. Can you believe I STILL haven’t seen that movie?!

Then, unfortunately I left my beautiful clutch bag in a family bathroom, and it was swiftly lifted – along with my purse, driving licence, bank cards, boots card (boooooo) and all those important things you hope not to be parted from. C’est la vie. I was actually most upset about the purse and the bag than the contents, although the man spent a good few hours secretly scouring the net for a replacement bag which he bought me! Love it! Love him.

Frame Collection 3

The cousins are all much in love – Noah and Leo look like brothers,and Stella-Boo loves to fetch his food, change his …diapers… and they sing the sweetest of songs to him. Broody? Me? Noooooooooo ;)

X

 

Can’t see the World for the Walnut?

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One of the teachers I share a class with is a bit seriously brilliant. She recently shared this brilliant motivational clip from SOUL SURFER with me, which I’m going to use with my tired Y9’s as a stimulus for discussing and discovering the POINT of EOY Assessments. Followed by a dazzling growth mindset pep talk. Yes. My cup is still very much half FULL.

I’m also going to use google maps to re-inforce the idea in the clip, that we all need some wider world perspective to motivate us to focus on the challenges in front of us – so I’ll flash up super zoomed in satellite pictures of familiar local buildings for the pupils to guess, and zoom out to locate. Final one will be the English department, housing our looming EOY assessment, with a big reveal to the world as our oyster … love it … and admit it, we all need cheese sometimes :D

KS4 Standardising, Speaking and Sharing resources

KS4 – CA’s, Speaking and Listenings and Standardising

This has been my first experience of standardising – a huge amount of Y11 folders, a slightly frantic department, and ultimately a question of timing. There’s not enough to do all the written CA’s in Year 11, AND teach to the exams, yet our Y10’s don’t possess the fluency to write in a ‘sophisticated and impressive’ (mark scheme quote) style. It’s a hard call to make. I found it really helpful to read through so many essays however, and found myself developing the ‘feel’ factor as to which band each belonged on first reading, and then scrutinising for specific marks on the second reading, and was pleased that I was able to do this successfully inline with the rest of the English team. Moreover, it’s helped me get a real feel for marking my own Y10 CA’s. That’s next week’s job! A quick scan satisfied me that the class have done a great job on a really complex, integrated, multi modal task.

I’m in on the first year of teaching the CA task (Explore How relationships are presented in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Sylvia Plath’s poetry) in this style, so have had to create resources that have drawn heavily on my Shakespeare on Film module at Uni (bearing in mind that this was 8 years ago!). The department loved them though, so they’re hopefully going to get lots of use. Here’s some of it…

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I’m also working with the Y10’s on their Discussion based S&L (Although AQA is devaluing these next year, so that they are required but not rewarded!). I’m using the debate challenge cards that I got from a R&D session at my second placement school back in January, and they are PEACHY perfect! I sequenced the tasks so that the groups first had to categorise the cards to ensure cognitive processing, followed by using them in debate to live, ‘self-scaffold’ a model of good debate practice. It worked so well,and produced quality discussion and interaction.

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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.

Analytical mulberry bushes

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

alexa-chung-alexa-mulberry-bag

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.
REPRISE
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!

Professional (pretty) dialogue

So now that TTT2 is all turned in and tucked up, I started thinking about TT3 and thought these little notebooks were too beautiful an opportunity to pass by. So I bought them for myself and the 2 other School Direct English teachers to keep notes of all our professional dialogues. And the odd shopping list, website, idea, thought, wish, hope…. lovely!

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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.

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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…

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

Assessment. Me. I did it!

Life at school feels so intense. It’s target setting week, so lots of marking, and this is just a small note to celebrate my first formative marking. Actually really enjoyed it – especially setting hopefully helpful and detailed targets. Got a whole new set for another class tomorrow night, and spent today assessing a third class for speaking and listening levels. Definitely getting to grips with what the general levels ‘feel’ like. Also, marking so thoroughly and for target purposes has helped me ..

* understand what the end goal is
* evaluate how I taught toward it
* reflect upon how I’ll teach differently next time

How? Well, I’ll define the end goal more precisely and map the learning journey backward to the learning objectives, with everything in the middle positioned more obviously toward this progress. Lovely. Oh for some time to be so consistently thorough… with a mockstead looming, PLC1 about to boil over, TTT2 on the horizon (mixed bag of metaphors if ever I saw one) and Leo’s scary big injections on thursday, I’m feeling the burn. Let’s just hope he doesn’t :( wish I could be there to hold his hand and tell him how brave he is. Better be brave about all this myself.

Indiana: glass half full

Half term! And what a way to walk into it – literally – as Friday consisted of the school sponsored 8 mile walk in the morning, followed by my first observed lesson with 7O in the afternoon. There was an amazing department lunch in between, but I was kind of focussed on getting my board made up and resources ready etc. I’m going to be using my Uni blog to really scrutinise my observations, but happy to say here that a lot of things went really well, and there are a lot of things I can improve too!

T4: Planning, Objectives and Resources
One of the key things I realised is that one of my strengths is also a challenge… having worked with graphics and copy, I really enjoy the creativity of putting together resources to support learning – but this can take quite a while too. With this lesson I wanted to scaffold it appropriately with options to tailor how much support I gave within the lesson, and most importantly for this class, maintain momentum. So I let them try some higher level thinking without much input, but when it became clear that they were struggling too much, I pulled the class back together and modelled a solution, which helped.  I also chose a sort of SOLO (Biggs and Collis) inspired worksheet, so that the class stayed focussed enough to progress, process well and produce a quality outcome.

T1: Setting High Expectations 
I was keen to set high expectations of the class. I did identify a prohibitor to learning and explained to the class that we needed to work on it, so that transitions in between activities became quicker and smoother so we could learn better. I used marble in, marble out approach to indicate their behavioural success, which did improve.


Prior to this, the week has felt a bit intense – had a lot of different and chunky chapters to get through. At school, I was really trying to get to grips with the content and SOWs for the classes I’m inheriting so that I could discuss lesson plans for my return after half term. 2 of the classes I have are shared with other teachers, and one of these is a 3 way split, so some some serious planning time was snatched at in between books, breaks etc. I also had to gather the first tranche of data for my research project. Had a heavy week with church things too, so was out at meetings and meant a fair bit of midnight/morning oil got burnt. And so did my voice by the end of the week. NOT WISE. Turns out sleep is for teachers, and singers – not sure how band will go tomorrow!!

PLC and T7 – Classroom Management
Learning highlights included a drama focussed lesson that really saw some teamwork emerging in a tougher class, and a chance for me to put my classroom management skills into play … I was asked to supervise a segment with 14 Y9 self-aware but pretty silly pupils who had to throw a foam ball around a circle in the hallway in between classrooms.Quietly. The 2 on report were definitely testing me but I did OK mixing the hard line up with some humour, and definitely feel my relationship with the class is developing without me having to compromise on control. Finding this is easier with younger classes, although do have to assert myself in different ways depending on the class, and finding Y10 another kettle of fish – but that’s team taught so I’m able to mirror, model and hopefully compliment the main teacher, whose got a great style – strong but with some banter!

At Uni, we had peer reviews of TLC1 (Thinking Through Teaching essay) and PLC1 (Professional Learning in Context – a group research project). I also had my first tutorial which involved quite a bit of preparation, but was a really great, positive and productive session. I felt focussed toward the rest of the term. We also sent reps to the first student council – I think the main area for concern has been not having an actual English Tutor on the course. It’s hard to say what the impact of this has been without having experienced it any other way. I suppose I did expect a bit more subject specific teaching at Uni about the English curriculum, English pedagogy and practice, exams, options etc. There’s been some great Drama stuff, and perhaps the Friday sessions for the PGCE students are more orientated toward this. It’s no biggie really, just puts the onus on us to be super proactive about filling in any knowledge gaps,and thats just good practice to get into.

Oops. This is a lot longer than intended. Again, Turns out I really do like reflecting!! Happy half-hols all.

A-Level Envy?

Observed 2 A-Level classes this morning – the first was a language lesson with a brilliant teacher, whose working with a very mixed ability self-aware class, a chemistry challenge the teacher is using target grade name cards with borders, shapes and  to help facilitate good group work. The second class was a lit class, also with an inspiring teacher, but a much easier integration between the pupils, who were happy to share and discuss their original ideas. Original AND interesting! Lots of Hughes vs Plath and her amazing Wuthering Heights horizons poem. Suitable time to link to this gorgeous new book cover as part of a graphic artist project no?! Love.

Indiana

In my nu-metal heart of hearts, my littlest child is actually called Stella May Anastasia Indiana Doherty. But even I know that’s one name too many for a form, and she’s been pretty good at exerting her sense of adventure without a name-sake. (Which is why we all found ourselves in IKEA the other night, way past bedtime, in someone else’s swedish bed).

Instead its the name of my reflective notebook. OooooooOOoooo.

Yes. Inspired by a teacher in a lecture who told us about his ‘Indiana Jones’ notebook. It’s apparently full of scribbles and inspired ideas and thoughts that might just make it into a lesson plan. I also have to officially ponder my practice, so I’ll be chalking up the edits from my own Indiana-esque book once a week too.

In the meanwhile life as a learner does feel a little intense, but then I am trying to balance band and blog at this exact moment…

…  and I’m trying so hard to be on top if all my work so that I get to spend some time with the kids at half term. I was made up to have finished my first essay in 6 years (felt like it took that long too), and yep the Kielder marathon was pretty epic too (finished in 4 hours and 44 minutes) and I’ve made a pretty good start at my PLC project. So thats probably why. Probably.

Read all about it

How cool is this?

A girl from a Y9 class I’m probably going to inherit bought in her dad’s collection of WW1 newspapers which include a really harrowing front page and list of all the men who died, just in that week, from the North East. Whipped it through the photocopier for a cool pupil-led resource – talked to their teacher about adapting tomorrows lesson to give this a bit of space.

Other stuff – had a great SEN (Special Education Needs) lesson yesterday about those frankly minging Twits, really interesting – the scaffolding and pedagogy is more obvious, she did a great job of differentiation with her exercises and resources too.

Afterward had a interesting chat with the teacher about how lower ability pupils are much more cognitively able than their writing suggests – really useful tip. When circulating and assessing I asked struggling students to read their work back to me and I got a much better response – even a bit of Higher Order Thinking … exploring a character with one boy led him to develop a little narrative about a shabby old tuxedo that made it into his description, which was then chosen for a merit, nice one.

Who dares to teach…

… must never cease to learn.

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And here I am starting my sentences with now acceptable conjunctions, wondering when the rain will stop and how many attempts it’ll take me to pass a ‘basic’ numeracy skills test (hub reckons I just need a pencil next time. An extremely magic maths pencil).

So I took Leo to the train station one evening to just hang out, count carriages, catch up, share a chocolate croissant. We ran into Mrs Bath. An inspirational teacher, recognisably tall and glamorous and asking if I’d ever thought about teaching.

I had actually. 6 years ago, after graduating and with a PGCE place tucked in my pocket, I did some work experience involving a hairy cohort of Y11 boys and decided that I needed some more water under the bridge before wading back into secondary school education.

And (another one) then I just didn’t get back around to it, what with all the babies, bath-times and boon spoons (all watery in their own way). Alongside this hub & I spent a lot of time working with teens in the city doing cool youth church stuff which I reckoned was enough to satisfy my teach-it itch. Yet this station encounter turned into an opportunity, the opportunity into a decision and the decision into an adventure.

We’re all always learning after all, and it seems right now is the exact and perfect moment for me to learn more, again, and then some.

This is my journal. It’s on-the-record but not exactly official.
Anyway, I’ll keep you posted. C

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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.