9B4 – Why I still *love* my job as a teacher

Nov 10 2016

I played this video to my wonderful Y9B4 English class yesterday, and they didn’t even realise that I had been recording them!


This was the thing: they were so absorbed in what they were learning about that they didn’t see me stood in front of them with my iPhone capturing their efforts.

Another thing is that this is the norm for them!

The ‘top 5’ learners with the highest behaviour points (or misbehaviour points) are in the class. But you’d never know it. Some people think that it’s because sometimes I am a shouty Vice Principal, and they’re scared of me. But this isn’t true. They’re not scared of me and I don’t want them to be.

Others think that its because we use iPads. But this isn’t the case either as we only use them every now and then, and only when the technology brings something that couldn’t be done without it.

Maybe others even think that it’s because they’re the ‘bottom set’ (one of the most outrageous phrases ever used in schools). It’s definitely not, as our work is tough! We work hard. We persevere. We move forward in so many different ways that I’m dead proud of them.

I don’t think they noticed me because we’ve learned to love ‘Of Mice and Men’, and learn to love and respect ourselves as a community of learners just wanting to do our best. This lies at the heart of what we do. Sometimes we all screw up in there, including myself, but we’re appreciating that our behaviours (in its widest sense) affects others in both negative and positive ways.

And from this comes emotional experiences that only you can ever truly discuss with those who also teach such classes as my wonderful 9B4. They say the most touching things that literally make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

I’ll never forget times like these.

This is why I *still* love my job as a teacher.

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Y8: Frankenstein themes and characters

Sep 09 2016

Find the original blog post here

I teach my Y8 English class every Friday periods 1 and 5, and what a class they are!

In these introductory lessons we have been focusing on exploring the themes within the Gothic Novel of Frankenstein. I met with Natalie Race earlier in the week who shared with me some of her ideas from her Sequence of Lessons, and this really benefited the planning process for my own group. She clearly knows her stuff regarding the novel and her personal insights helped me to develop some key concepts so thank you Nat!

During the first lesson I focused on strategies that increased engagement in order to establish a ‘no opt out’ culture. Kagan Co-operative strategies are great for this, and ‘Round Rally Robin’, as well as ‘Think-Pair-Share’ are trusted techniques for bringing accountability to learners. I accompanied this by posing follow up questions after discussions that ensured that learners were actually listening to each other. For instance “…who was number 2 in your group? What did number 3 say about the themes in Frankenstein?” You can actually take this further by asking a learner from the far end of the classroom about what was just said – again increasing the accountability on learners for active listening and taking part.

I’ve also been placing emphasis on ensuring that learners have an appropriate level of sophistication in their oral responses in class. All too often, responses maybe be limited to a handful of words and this may reduce learners’ ability to express understanding in the written form. Consequently, I’ve been insisting that learners use phrases such as ‘for instance’ , ‘for example’ and ‘to illustrate this’ in order to provide the scaffolding needed to extend their oral responses.

My Y8 class handled all of this incredibly well today – I still love being a teacher!

* The video above was created and used during the lesson by recording clips with my iPad, the clips were then used in the Quik App, then uploaded to the Google Drive App, then played in the lesson during the Consolidate Phase.

The original post can be found here

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A flavour of pre-exam Y11 revision (English Literature)

May 24 2016

Original blog post can be found here

If you want to see just a flavour of the commitment that our Y11s are showing, then check out the brief video of the English Literature revision session below. Over 95% of our Y11 learners are regularly turning up at 8:30am for what we call the ‘magic hour’ before their morning exam starts.

Our staff are also working their professional socks off to ensure that this fantastic year group get what they deserve in August. Keep it up everyone!

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I loved my Y7 Maths cover for Miss Davies

May 13 2016

Original blog post can be found here
Unfortunately Miss Davies couldn’t teacher her Y7 Maths lesson today as she had to attend a meeting at Barnsley Town Hall, so she asked me if I could teach a Maths lesson on creating pie and bar charts instead.

First of all I used YAKiT app to create 3 videos to initially hook the class into the reason why I was teaching the class, introduce the Connect exercise, and then later introduce a more challenging task to develop those that were ready to refine their skills. This took me a total of about 5 minutes to create. Check them out below:

Throughout the lesson I used the incredibly easy ‘Think, Pair, Share’ Kagan structure to ensure that as many learners participated in my class discussion questions. Its often all too easy for learners to hide away and ‘opt out’ of Q&A, and as the video below highlights such simple structures engages everyone. A useful tip is to ask one of the learners what their partner actually said in their discussions in order to check for understanding.

I used the awesome app ‘Replay’ (recently changed to ‘Quik’) to capture several aspects of the lesson during the 60 minutes. This again is a simple and incredibly fast app that enabled me to play at during the Consolidation phase, and encourage learners to reflect on what they had learned, and how they had learned it.

As mentioned, I made the following video during the lesson, and probably took around 3 minutes to make.

Needless to say – I loved the lesson! Thanks Y7

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Barnsley TSA ‘Hooks for learning using apps, tech and other stuff’

Apr 24 2016

Barnsley TSA festivals are brilliant. The ambition behind the themes and scale are impressive to say the least. As promised to the participants here is the video that I quickly made of the session, and the slides are also below.

The session was about dropping some keys, as this superb blog post suggests. Apparently, ‘Most of us spend a lot of time building cages for those around us…’ but I’m not into that.

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