Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Step Into Headship - End of Term 2 Break

So I chuckle to myself about the title as I write it. It is the end of term 2 break and yes, I am very nearly broken. Or at least my energy has been sapped. That kind of sapping that recalls those student years, the PGCE feeling or the NQT year... and the one after! 

A soft falling into a duvet, that swallows me whole and refuses to let me out. "No," it whispers. "Do not get up today..." the hiss of persuasion assaults the brain. And half a week slides by. And then suddenly on the Tuesday - wide awake at 5 in the morning. What has happened? Ahh but yes... Guilt prods and pulls the covers away. "Up," it says. "you have a list of holiday tasks...get on with them or else you wont relax!" and Guilt is right. Whilst Duvet offers the escape and comfort, guilt pulls on my clothes and makes me trudge
into work to get those essential task out of the way. The last look through of the SEF, the review of next year's calendar, a handful of jobs that sat on my desk over the last two weeks of term. And I wont relax again until they are done. 

That's okay. If I get it done before next week then I can enjoy most of next week. That is until Guilt starts to fight with Duvet again for the start of Term 3. And you know 'the night before feeling' Guilt always defeats Duvet - that's always a sleepless night!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Educational Book Recommendation - An Ethic of Excellence by Ron Berger

Despite the advent of the kindle and e-books, educational books are still best bought in paper. Here is my recommendation to support your own research and development. 

An Ethic of Excellence

"...Drawing from his own remarkable experience as a veteran classroom teacher (still in the classroom), Ron Berger gives us a vision of educational reform that transcends standards, curriculum, and instructional strategies. He argues for a paradigm shift - a schoolwide embrace of an "ethic of excellence." A master carpenter as well as a gifted teacher, Berger is guided by a craftsman's passion for quality, describing what's possible when teachers, students, and parents commit to nothing less than the best. But Berger's not just idealistic, he's realistic - he tells exactly how this can be done, from the blackboard to the blacktop to the school boardroom....." from
A superb book. Many schools are searching for that mystical jump from good to outstanding. In this book Ron Berger outlines how children are encouraged to explore projects and that the excellence/outstanding is a culture that is developed over many years. He used the collection of portfolios of examples of the very best work. These were then used each time a project was started. Examining these portfolios was an active process where the best features or characteristics were highlighted. Ron Berger shares these stories with a wonderful narrative voice that carries you easily through the text. Great book.  

Friday, March 16, 2018

Mixed-Up on Assessment Make-Up

This is a mixed-up post that reflects the mixed-up status of where we are at. In the mixed-up world of life after levels we are striving to find stability, a validity and a robustness to our assessment procedures.  We started back in 2013 with
a reflection of the learning ladders that we were using. Many descriptors used where archaic and not a reflection of the curriculum and the learning that took place. We had a robust writing assessment system – a little bit paper/time heavy but one that Ros Wilson had produced. We decided to redo our Learning Ladders and use what we knew to try to get ahead of the game. As the new government and new curriculum came in and out went levels, we forged ahead with our ‘new’ system. The first thing that happened is that with the mastery curriculum in Maths we changed our Maths Learning Ladder to reflect this single year group set of attainment targets. Our Reading and Writing Learning Ladders used Ros Wilson and the philosophy that learners can be at a variety of different levels to create continuums to track progress. Sound philosophy, redesign, implementation and BOOM! Slowly over the course of two years it all went downhill. The sound philosophy led to an overwhelming presentation of options to the regular teacher. The difference between the use of the Maths Learning Ladder and the English Learning Ladders meant confusion rained down. There wasn’t a set methodology to lay out to teachers. Now teachers don’t want complications with their assessment system – they want the simplest system to give the maximum information. We’ve battled with these systems over the last couple of years and that brings us to today.

Comparative judgement, descriptor non-validity, data triangulation. Our current journey is the one upward through the miasma of different ideas and conflicting theories. But its okay. No, it really is. We all want the same outcome. Clarity, simplicity (as much as possible) and return to focusing on learning. This current battel has temporarily swamped the important cultural shift or paradigm change of that from teaching to learning. Roll on the next two years.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Step into Headship - Term 2

Think I am overly focused on the inspire part
Strategic plan, the needs of the five new teachers, building maintenance, new contractors, recruitment for next year, interviewing for a new deputy head, regular visits to the Mainsite the list goes on and getting into class slips from my fingers. 

I'm ridden with the guilt of needing to set an example in every department. Displays - must try to do one of the best in the school, assemblies - must sing and dance and have one of the most significant messages, teach a lesson - must have the children going home talking about it to their parents as a memorable lesson. I know it's not sustainable. I know it's not achievable but still the guilt persists. Is this the same guilt that drives teachers to commit the hours extra of their time to ensure the children get the best? 

Almost at this point - just not quite yet!
So what's the answer? I ask myself what will count as success over the course of the year. I choose two elements that if I am successful in, I will feel that I can count it as a good first year. First of all - the parents have identified the joint schools'  events as a source of stress and teachers and middle mangers have made similar comments over the last year. This will be one of my targets. Secondly, the school will go through a BSO (British Overseas Inspection) later in the year. I will use this as the second marker. To come out of that without any significant weaknesses and to give pointers on our road to success. 

So to next week. Interviews, assemblies and more importantly - at the top of my list is to get into all the classes and spend some time working with children and talking about where they are up to. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Step into Headship - The Beginning

With almost five weeks gone and three to four weeks preparation in the summer before that, I feel that I have lived a lifetime as a new head. In reality it is barely a drop in the ocean. It was a list of firsts that had to be ticked off.

  • My first admin meeting
  • My first leadership team meeting
  • my first day with all my teachers in
  • My first briefing to the teachers
  • My first setting the tone for the year briefing
  • My first day with the children in 
  • My first Parent's Introductory Evening

Each left with the thought - roll on one year. I kept thinking that when I got through the firsts, I would get to routine. And in the routine I would be able to find the time to do the things that I most wanted to do. But in actual fact, each of these moments were powerful moments. Each of these times, I opened my philosophies up for examination. Each of these times I shaped the thoughts of those around me in how they viewed me. Each of these times I built the way that the team would react to me when asked to do what I want. 

It all went so well so far but it hasn't been all plain sailing. I had been building a model of Extra-curricular activities in my mind. The idea was based around that there should be some continuous provision of activities that some teachers do that become the school's identity. Maybe an ongoing football team and a chess team. Not all the ECAs would be prescribed but just a handful to give that identity. I then spoke to my deputy- and here is the rub - not about my vision but about wanting to fill some of the ECAs first. He dutifully and with a selling enthusiasm, put it out to the staff. The ECA rota was filled for the term and low and behold the two ECAs that I had asked to be done were not taken up by any teacher in the school. I stubbornly decided to do both of them myself. This is not a solution. This was not done well. The vision is where the staff should have been brought in. Lesson learnt. Now onto my seconds of everything. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Educational Blog Recommendation: Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything

Blogs are hard to keep up to date with. Here are my recommendations of educational blogs worth reading.

Kathy Schrock's 

Guide to Everything 

Kathy Schrock is on the innovative edge. But not the edge that doesn't seem quite relevant yet. She explores all the best practices and research that could directly impact upon your own practice or understanding. She has a well organised site with great resources readily accessible.  
From Personal Learning Networks(PLNs), Ipads in the classrooms, to Assessment and rubrics-she covers a wide range of areas in a concise and practical way.

Some good articles worth checking out: -  useful Computing reading list  - link after link to developing digital storytelling - 60 ideas

Friday, November 29, 2013

Creativity for an Unknown Future - A Tool for the Curriculum

Use This Grid Strategically to Embed Creativity in Your Curriculum

To prepare children for the uncertainty of the future we need to ensure that we are promoting creativity within our curriculum. In order to do this I have curated the most commonly cited methods that help to ensure that children think creatively. 

Simply choose one of the elements to focus upon each half term. Ensure that they are securely embedded in your curriculum by planning for their use carefully, including them in planning documents and sharing practice between staff during an evaluation period.