Blogging for Learning and #Mozfest

I think it is fair to say that my New Year’s resolution will be to write more frequently on this blog.

In fairness, I have spent the last 8 weeks soley focusing on my new role as a Y1 teacher. Whilst the aged is not too disimilar from my previous 3 years in Reception, the change in daily routine and way of working has kept me busy. I have spent a lot of time writing the Year 1 page on the school blog, which can be viewed at www.bowlingparkprimary.net .

I have worked on showing the children how to access the blog and how to write comments. Some children have really taken this on board and write comments often, however, there are still many more children to encourage. I aim to double the amount of children’s comments by the next school holiday by making even more use of online resources such as images to describe, links to phonics sounds or play online games. My particular favourites, when getting the children excited about learning, are Zondle and Oxford Owl.

Oxford Owl

zondle LOGO

 

I have started to use Zondle to build games for children to practice their skills in maths and literacy. The feedback from children in my class so far has been positive and I have had children asking if they can ‘stay in at playtime to do blog homework’.  Starting this week, I want to promote the use of the Oxford Owl website too as there are free eBooks and maths resources on there. I hope to reach out to more parents this way and will be offering advice and support for them when helping their child online. Watch this space…

Keen as I am to learn more about the way in which technology is evolving and how we can access it, I attended MozFest last weekend.

mozfest There were multiple workshops taking place throughout the weekend including; build the web, making the web physical, games, badges and much more.
   Having generally walked around, trying to get the best from all sessions, I found myself getting involved with a project about Girls in Tech. It was fabulous to collaborate on a project  and record notes in the ‘Mopad’ alongside @amirightfolks, @kimxtom, @MissPhilbin, @priynag and @chadsansing (Sorry if I missed anyone).
Click here to see what the group created.

Later in the afternoon, I attended the amazing ‘Maker Party’. Swamped with children and technologist alike, it was fantastic to see various projects in operation and learn a few things myself.
Some fabulous things included;

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All in all, I have enjoyed a relaxing and productive Half Term holiday and have come away with lots of ideas about how to make next half term even better!

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Reflections and Onward Journeys

It is fair to say that I have been utterly useless at writing blog posts since February. However, what with an Ofsted visit, iPad app hunting, Teach Meet attending, learning how to use my camera, developing blog ideas and now holiday planning, I may well allow myself to feel better for my lack of upkeep here.

Now it is the summer and another academic year has come to an end. I have said goodbye to colleagues and indeed friends from school, including @chrismayoh, as they embark on the next stage of their own journeys. Without further ado, I decided that there’s no better time to reflect upon this past 12 months and look at what I personally hope to achieve in next twelve.

Having now completed five years as a fully qualified teacher, two in Y2 and three in Reception, I am now due to start in a Y1 class in September. Having enthusiastically accepted the challenge of a new year group, new children and a new building to work in, I thought I would write a post which reflects on what I have learned in my first half-decade ‘on the job’.

Image sourec: http://freelancefolder.com/my-freelance-journey-12-things-ive-learned-along-the-way/

Things to take forward…

  • The basics: Having started out in a school teaching Year 2, my NQT year was more about learning the ropes and getting to grips with things that were not taught at university, including teaching phonics! I subsequently moved schools and have never looked back as I have had the opportunities and support to develop my skills.
  • Linking ideas and frameworks: Thinking back to previous blog posts, it is over a year since I attended the Early Years Conference to learn about the revised framework. As EYFS practitioners have got to grips with it this year and adapted their work based on their own interpretations, it is now the turn of Year One teachers to link the revised EY framework to APP sheets throughout the Autumn term. I hope to help fellow colleagues with understanding how this fits together and how to identify next steps for learners so that we can hit the ground running and maximise progress throughout the year.
  • A different approach:  I believe that my experience of teaching in Reception also puts me in good stead for the transition into Year One. Having got the hang of an approach which firmly puts children at the centre of learning and allows them to lead the curriculum has ensured that I have taken on the role of facilitator not dictator. This coupled with my Y2 experience and subsequent knowledge of where the children need to be by next July should help.
  • The development of my own philosophy for education: I am truly inspired by many fellow educators from far and wide. I have mentioned many of them on my blog site before. Each one is unique and every practitioner has their own philosophy for education.Today, I came across a quote from a well known source, which really sums up my own thoughts on this;

“Logic will get u from A 2 B. Imagination will take u everywhere.”
Einstein

Image source: http://ieeet.com/2013/06/13/3d-vector-arts-imagination-wallpapers/
With Mr Gove’s continual revamp of the National Curriculum, it will be interesting to see what will happen in relation to Einstein’s words. One thing that’s certain is that there will always be the good, the bad and the frustrating sides to any job but I believe that teaching really is a vocation.

I leave this post on a personal note…
Whilst a little nervous, I am looking forward to the challenge in the new academic year and I endeavor to use 5 years of teaching experience well.  I hope that that this time next year, the children are not only ready for Year Two but even more prepared for their onward learning journey, equipped with ‘real life’ skills for ‘lifelong’ learning.

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Inspiring a Future Generation

As half term draws to a close, I find myself once again in London having had a lovely break.

The holiday has given me chance to reflect on recent trips to the capital over the last few weeks:

What can I take back to the classroom?
What can I take forward into my career?
What does it all mean anyway?

SWLondonEdu

SUWedu_Banner

The end of January led me to Google Campus to attend a Start Up weekend with its focus on education (#SwLondonEdu). This was hosted by @nightzookeeper and sponsored by the likes of OCR, Technology Strategy Board, Macmillan and many others. Click here to read all about it.

The general idea was that educators, developers, coders and business minds would come together to form teams and embark on a grueling 54 hour task of attempting to create a ‘start up’ business idea for use in education. I teamed up with @ideasfactory @kateho, Matt, @brynll and @buzzburman to try to create a phonics app aimed across all key stages and appeal to older children. By Sunday evening, myself and Julian (@ideasfactory) were ready to pitch @Robophon to the judges and potential investors.

I personally had chosen to attend the event to be involved in the process of working on something that might benefit children in schools in the future and to meet other people trying to do the same. See this great post from Julian S Wood which explains more:
http://ideasfactory.me/edtech-start-up-weekend/

The event was won by @mrlockyer‘s @useedu the ‘one stop inspiration station’ and it was nice to see @chrismayoh‘s team as runners up with @wordwarsedu – more at http://learningtobebetter.com/swlondonedu/swlondonedu-january-2013/

The event ran smoothly with thanks to many people including @oliverquinlan @clogish and @EddStockwell. Special thanks go to mentors who took the time to support our group, @BuzzBurman @Bartoneducation @jodielopez @dick_taylor and the quality feedback from @DeputyMitchell and @joga5.

Reflection

I learned that people have fantastic ideas but without an audience and team to move the idea forwards, that’s all it is, an idea.
So perhaps then, it is a vision rather than an idea that can make a difference to the children of today who become the adults of the future.

This idea of trying to make a difference is at the front of my mind daily. By definition of being a teacher, this seems to be ‘stating the obvious’ but the world of education is changing constantly with influences from areas of politics, technological advances and society to name a few.

* What if I am part of inspiring a future world leader, doctor or scientist by being their influence at 5 years old?
* What can I learn from the children I work with?
* How can I facilitate learning and encourage ambition?

Now would seem an appropriate time to think of my own ‘heroes’ past and present.

* My Year 3 teacher Mr Tandy for making learning fun. Please look at my previous post ‘The Greatest Teacher?’ for my personal thoughts on this.
* My current principal for believing in me and giving me a chance to work in a challenging school with huge rewards when you see the impact school can have.
* My family for supporting me with my decisions and being there when things don’t quite work out.

This past year since using Twitter as a tool for CPD, I have uncovered a wealth of ‘heroes’ who are fellow people with the same passion and goal to inspire the future generation.

BETT 2013

bett 13

After a 4 hour drive from Bradford to London I caught the end of arguably the biggest ‘Teach Meet’ ever at #TMBETT13. The @excellondon was a great venue and it was lovely to meet some of the most inspiring educators all within the same room. Some I had met before at #CampEd12, the London Festival of Education, #bMobLe and others I know solely through conversations on Twitter. The list included:
@helendaykin @susanbanister @dughall @penny_patterson @stevebunce @morethanmaths @joga5 @bellaale @dawnhallybone @johnbishop713
Each individual has a passion for inspiring children and trying to make that difference in their own inimitable ways.

One such example of this came from Stephen Lockyer (@mrlockyer) and Ben Waldram (@MrWaldram) who promoted the idea of #BATTT (Bring a Teacher to Twitter). I have a separate post on this HERE.

My personal highlights from the #BETT13 event itself came from @timrylands whose #backtotheirfuture talk was inspirational and useful in that he revealed a whole host of free resources for use in school! www.timrylands.com

Who said BETT was just a trade show?

(Read Bryn Llewellyn’s post for reflections about this.)

Another highlight was finding new resources for use with children, including:

* Teach Your Monster To Read website for free games (@monsterscanread)
* Zondle for choosing or creating quizzes which can then be played though a variety of games platforms. (@zondle)
* Frog (@frogtrade)
* iamlearning (@I_AM_LEARNING)

adult-child-hold-hands

All in all, I have found these events thought provoking, informative and challenging. I have come away having learnt something new whilst at the same time I have questioned and reviewed various things about my own practice and CPD.

* How can I use resources more creatively?
* Are there other ways to get the boys in my class to write beyond what they are currently doing?
* What other ways can I share and collaborate ideas and tools?

However, despite all this, the key message I will take forwards with me is…

Be inspired today and you will inspire the future.

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What’s it all a-BATTT?

#BATTT stands for Bring A Teacher To Twitter and is the fantastic idea of Stephen Lockyer and Ben Waldram. That’s @mrlockyer and @mrwaldram for Twitter folk.

However, if you are reading this and thinking ‘what on earth is she talking about’ then don’t panic as this post aims to provide a useful guide to Twitter and what you can benefit from it.
If you are already on Twitter, please feel free to add useful comments, links and view this as one teacher’s account of the BATTT campaign.

The aims of BATTT were simple and people already established on Twitter were asked to follow simple rules to help the ‘new-to-Twitter-teacher’ find their feet and then let them loose. Now with BATTT going global, the world truly is your oyster!

battt-pledge

If this appeals to you, follow these simple rules or look at the links below to get ideas…then get tweeting! If you have any questions or need a bit of help, feel free to leave a comment on here and I will get back to you. Alternatively, register an account on Twitter and follow @batttuk.

My guide to starting out on Twitter

1. Make a decision what you want to gain from signing up to Twitter

* If you want to talk about what you had for tea, that’s fine but perhaps don’t expect people who want to talk education and things other than your fish and chips to follow you back.

2. Sign up and choose a Twitter name (the bit with the @ at the start)

* When choosing your Twitter name, take into account that it is for professional reasons so @teachersarerubbish is probably not the way to go. I initially chose @TaffTykeC as I am half Welsh, Half Yorkshire and C for Catherine but now I find it harder as my followers have increased and people don’t necessarily match my face with the Twitter name when meeting me. They know a ‘Catherine Steel’ and @TaffTykeC but don’t always link the two.

I recently asked people via Twitter their thoughts on changing my own account name to @catherinesteel but
James Langley (@lordlangley73) from the Innovation Centres in Bradford suggested not to as people know @TaffTykeC now but he DID encourage me to add a photo of myself as opposed to the flowers I had on there so people may recognise my face. Further feedback came from Helen Daykin (@helendaykin) “real names are easier, I don’t tweet what I wouldn’t say in public so no need for cryptic name.”

3. Add a photo

* I strongly recommend putting a photo of yourself on here so people will already recognise you if you should ever meet them in person. See Connecting the @’s to Real People for my own experience of this.

3. Write the bio on your profile

* This bit is very useful to get an idea of the person’s background and interests. I personally don’t follow anyone without a bio as it could be a spam account or simple someone who I have nothing in common with.

4. Find a friend

* Look at who your friend or colleague follows then follow some people from their list as they will have a rich bank of people to start with. My main starting point was @chrismayoh as I work with him.

* It’s worth noting at this point how frustrating it was with only 5 followers and nothing really happening. This is where ‘said friend(s)’ already on Twitter should shout out about newbies. This will help boost your followers and therefore links to fellow professionals. I remember getting to 16 followers when I began to feel better, a slog to 50 but after that it was as if I was always an established Tweeter.

5. Read the ongoing ‘tweets’ (comments) made by the people you follow and contribute if you feel you have something to say.

* Share what you know, what you are doing or the latest thing you heard about the topic being discussed. The more you comment, the more people will get to know you and they may follow you back if they think you are interesting.

6. Learn to use #hashtags.

* Hash tags are a way of grouping topic discussions together. Think of it like one big container of talk about one thing.

The more you put in, the more you get out, just as in any part of life. CPD and collaboration on Twitter is just the same.

As for #BATTT and the BATTT Pledge, I personally ‘recruited’ Carissa Patten who works alongside me in my Reception class. Already on Twitter, tweeting about random things, I persuaded her that Twitter could be used in a professional context too. As she was keen to learn and develop her role as an educator, she duly set up the account @CarissaPatten and followed her first 6 people. I am keen to see how she uses Twitter from now on and hope she gains from it as I have over the last 12 months.

More information and Twitter experiences:

Connecting the @’s to Real People
A camping event that took place in May 2012 organised by @dughall, @joga5 and @helendaykin solely through conversing on Twitter, whereby educators and their families gathered to meet up, ‘talk shop’, have fun and celebrate Twitter as a sharing platform for CPD.

@primaryideas blogpost about their journey on Twitter.

@MrMathsTeacher’s top 5 reasons for using Twitter as well as a useful link explaining what a PLN (Personal Learning Network) is.

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Princesses, Superheroes and the Bat Poo

Another month has passed by and the Spring Term is flying by! I had planned to write about various weekend events I have attended such as Start Up London and BETT 2013 but I thought something light-hearted for a Sunday evening was more appropriate.
It doesn’t seem like two seconds since I walked back into my classroom after the Christmas break and even in amongst snow days, we have found new games and apps to use on the I-pads. In addition, the children have thought about what they think imagination means.

Our Spring topic is ‘Let’s Imagine’ and all the children have expressed their ideas via paintings, drawings, writing and discussion. Last year, you may recall how the class of 2012’s imagination led them on a dragon hunt. This year has led to key groups being identified and classroom provision enhanced accordingly:

* Castles, dragons and princesses
* Superheroes
* Monsters

That’s not to say that monsters are exclusive to boys and princesses to girls, indeed a number of boys have donned the mermaid tail and made crowns. That said, this year’s class are more divided on the gender front than last year’s class.

I have to say that my boys in particular haven’t stopped talking since they came back and the topic has proved a powerful tool for all areas of learning. Let me explain how it is working in literacy alone.

Whilst it is important for the boys in my class to explain to the girls why Batman is better than Princess Superhero, this is only the half of it!

I had a lovely moment the other day when the class had discussed transforming the role play area into a cave (for monsters and superheroes of course). After we had gathered the materials and began construction one afternoon, the inevitable time came to go home and I (the humble facilitator) was asked to finish it over night so they could play in it first thing the following morning.

Needless to say, I spent an hour after school with duct tape and string, ensuring it was child-proof until it was ‘finished’…phew!

The very next morning, I opened the door, the children bounded past me and raced to the role play area. As I watched, smiling to myself and proud of my achievements, you can imagine the disappointment I felt when two of the boys from the Superhero Group complained, “That’s not a bat cave, it’s a bear cave maybe.” “Yeah, where’s Batman’s motorbike?”

Aghast for a moment, despite the other children’s delight that it was ready to play in, I did what any teacher would do and replied as follows:

“Well put it in writing with a detailed plan of exactly what you had in mind and we will negotiate a change.”

Of course, without further ado, both boys trotted off respectfully to get a pen and some paper and did just that!

It all shows that by following the children’s own interests, treating them as responsible citizens and independent learners, even the most boisterous boys will write!

By the end of this exciting week, it was my PPA time out of class and the cover teacher went in. I returned at home time to blue paint splattered all over my art display and clay all over the floor in the now infamous ‘cave’. When I was informed about what had happened, I couldn’t help but laugh.
You see, the culprits of the mess had a perfectly justifiable reason as ‘the blue is what colour Batman has in his house and the clay is the BAT POO!’

Who says creativity is dying in schools?

I wonder where our imagination will take us this week…

For the latest exciting news from Bowling Park Primary, visit http://www.bowlingparkprimary.net

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Happy New Year?

Piec (5)
Cztery (4)
Trzy (3)
Dwa (2)
Jeden (1)

SZCZESLIWEGO NOWEGO ROKU! (…or Happy New Year as I would usually say.)

This is how my new year 2013 began in the main square in Krakow, Poland. Having begun 2012 in London, I had thought I would like to experience New Year’s Eve in not just another country but another time zone. As Midnight approached, the locals drank champagne and then set off fireworks from the bottle before smashing it on the ground in celebration. Oh and did I mention that there was absolutely no sign of the ‘Health and Safety Police’? Fabulous!
Krakow

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Standing amidst the anticipation and excitement in sub-zero temperatures, I wondered what 2013 may hold for me. Naturally, there are certainties such as my 27th birthday in April, the F1 season starting again in March and the ‘dreaded OfSTED call’ at some point in the near future. However, what about dreams? What about aspirations? Can I really make a difference…make a change?

Having enjoyed exploring the city of Krakow over the weekend, New Year’s Eve had in fact been a day of reflection, contemplation and soul searching. It began with an hour bus ride to Oswiecim where the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau are situated. Greeted by the words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ (labour makes (you) free), I felt a shiver down my spine and could not even begin to empathise with the sheer horror and torture that 1.3 million people experienced here in the 1940’s. To think that a group of men could have treated fellow human beings in such an inhumane manner is both disgusting and despicable.

I read the information boards about the gassing and shootings of men, women and children and had a chilling sensation that matched that of the freezing cold temperature. I was surprised to learn that it was not just Jews but Gypsies and even Poles too who had suffered at Auschwitz and various other infamous camps across Europe.

* Was it better to have been killed instantly or being deemed ‘the fittest’ by the German Doctor on site, meaning a life of grueling work every day until your imminent death through poor living conditions, dangerous working environments or the horrendous temperatures? All this in addition to learning of your own family’s death and the grief of this.
* How can any ‘human’ do this to another?
* What hope did those children have?

It was here that I reflected on my own life and the times we live in on the eve of the New Year.
Although I have dreams of travelling, working abroad and settling down later on in life, this experience was a stark reminder of how lucky I am.

Whenever things seem stressful, at least I have a warm home, hearty meals to devour and love and support of family and friends. Being a teacher means that even work is rewarding and perhaps, just maybe, I can make a significant difference to someone’s life.

I hope that I can make a difference in 2013 and perhaps even a change in my own approach and direction but what is certain is that we should all pay heed to a well known quote;

“The one who does not remember history, is bound to live through it again.”
George Santayana

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Sports Personality of the Year 2012, the Gold Rush and the Olympic Legacy

Can I do it? Yes I can!

Since my last post about running, I have successfully managed to run 10K  and help our school team of runners raise £758 (and counting) for Teenage Cancer Trust! Little did I think 3 months ago that I would be able to do it and yet there I was, jubilant that I had achieved the (personal) impossible dream!

 

Watching Sports Personality of the Year (#SP12), it came as no surprise to see that no less that 8 Olympians and 3 Paralympians were nominated for the award, creating a difficult dilemma for the voting British public.

The programme allowed me opportunity to reflect on a summer of unity and patriotism.

 

The London Olympic Games 2012

 Reminiscing about watching the Opening Ceremony on a big screen in GreenwichPark, I and many others had been sceptical that our ceremony would not better that of Bejing four years ago. However, to my surprise, Danny Boyle did not even attempt to better the CGI effects and precision dancing of China. Instead, rather fittingly, he gave a show of tongue-in-cheek, slap-stick, British humour…Bravo!

Naturally, one of the main talking points was that of saving our NHS; comments were made, people sniggered to themselves and a sense of unity appeared to sweep the country.

And so the games had begun!

I was optimistic enough to hope that Mark Cavendish might win the Men’s Road Race…Team GB’s first chance of a medal. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be but, on a personal note, I enjoyed the camaraderie and banter standing on Hyde Park Corner that would be ever present throughout the duration of the Games.

It was during this time that we chatted to a couple of fellow ‘Northerners’ who very kindly offered us spare tickets for the Sunday morning Hockey matches. Without any hesitation, we said ‘YES, of course’. However, it did make me feel for the thousands who were unsuccessful in obtaining ANY tickets to ANYTHING. Perhaps, a bit of luck was the only way (especially for those outside the M25).

After an early start on that first sunny Sunday morning, the hockey commenced and I was overwhelmed by the sense of occasion. I found myself surrounded by Aussie and New Zealand fans for the first match and Belgian and Netherlands fans for the second. This excitement was only added to when I found out that one of the men who gave us the tickets was himself a past Olympian and won Bronze in the Men’s Hockey GB team of 1984 in LA! With tickets to women’s basketball, women’s football, beach volleyball, sitting volleyball, Paralympics athletics finals and a couple of marathons too, I truly was a very lucky girl.

Walking around the Olympic Park itself was enough to make me beam from ear to ear all day long. Even when not in the Olympic Park, I found myself glued to TV screens in various locations including home in Bingley, Sheffield, Bradford’s City Park, Hyde Park and Victoria Park (for BT London Live). What’s more, the BT London Live events were FREE and included a whole host of live music including Blur, New Order, Scouting for Girls and my personal favourite, Newton Faulkner. People were waving Union flags, clapping and cheering, willing Team GB on (or indeed whichever country they were supporting).

People were really embracing the buzz, excitement and anticipation that seemed to be present. Entire nations were united in spirit and hope…all had Olympic Fever.

THE WORLD TRULY HAD COME TO LONDON…

All in all, I feel honored to have witnessed a thoroughly fantastic XXX Olympiad and the Paralympic Games and feel privileged to have been part of it. The much-hyped talk of Olympic legacy included that of children across Great Britain taking the spirit of the games into their own lives. There was much discussion about the sense of fair play, team spirit, the need to try their best and aspire to be as dedicated as the athletes themselves.

 

But…

Although 4 weeks of Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroism and achievement seemed to unite an entire nation, I can not help but feel a little disheartened that the proposed Olympic legacy has not been followed up as well as initially imagined. Take for example, the Premier League and the continued diving and foul play or the revelation that Lance Armstrong did in fact cheat his way to multiple victories. Is this really setting an example to school children nationwide and demonstrating ‘Olympic values’? We need to ask ourselves:

* What is the Olympic legacy supposed to be?

* How are we supposed to deliver and encourage it?

* What will the children of today aspire to be in the future when after all they ARE the future?

Mr Cameron suggested making 2 hours of PE a day a compulsory part of the school curriculum, how are we to deliver this? ‘Create more Olympians of the future’, he said. However, I don’t know many schools that have rowing and equestrian facilities to deliver this.

Surely then it is more about encouragement, nurture and celebration of the dreams and aspirations of young people. We need to instill values such as determination and hard work, teamwork, never giving up even when the chips are down, and being gracious in defeat.

Such determination in the face of adversity was demonstrated tonight as Paralympian and London 7/7 bombings survivor, Martine Wright won the Helen Rollason award at the Excel arena where many Olympic and Paralympic events had taken place in the summer.

Her story is inspirational and the way her life has changed over the last 7 years is incredible. The scenes she witnessed on that fateful day in 2005 were horrific and yet, ironically, the day after the announcement that London was successful in the bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Even in the face of adversity, she picked herself up from that life-changing experience and trained to participate in the sitting volleyball competition at the Excel Arena in the London Olympic Games 2012.

And so as Bradley Wiggins is the Sports Personality of the Year in this exceptional year for British sport, 2012, I urge us all to think of what Martine Wright said,

 

 “Let’s build on this legacy. Go ahead and inspire a nation.”

 

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You can if you think you can…

Summer holidays, a new school year and a new class have indeed kept me busy enough, so much so that it has been rather a while since my last post.

Since returning to school, I have been invited to run the Bradford 10K on 2nd December. Yes, it may be cold. Yes, I had never run a race before in my life and yes, I am actually very unfit! Little did that matter when I signed my name on the paper – well it is to raise money for charity after all. In addition, fellow colleagues (including ‘The Boss’) are running and my pride is at stake!

Without further ado, I decided that I needed to stop being lazy and ‘get fit’. Bored of the gym and unable to afford the fancy prices, I signed up for Comando-Fit or ‘Boot Camp’ as I call it. Although the idea did not appeal at first, a friend roped me in and now I am hooked! Each Thursday after work, I turn up at Roberts Park in Saltaire and don the dreaded red vest (this is for the people who class themselves as ‘unfit’). Our instructor barks orders and motivates much more than any gym session; going with a mate definitely adds to the fun. The fact that there are lots of people there who are fitter, encourages me further as the ‘Blues’ (Intermediate) and ‘Greens’ (Super Fit) do twice the amount of press ups, sit up etc…

Needless to say, ‘Boot Camp’ alone would not be enough to prepare me for my ‘couch to 10K’ transformation, so I have been going for a run each Sunday too. This in itself is no mean feat. I quickly realised that the physical side is only the half of it. Pacing my run and having the mental stamina is the real battle’. I have to keep going even when my legs hurt and my brain is telling me to stop.

I can only hope that on the day of the run itself, I will have done enough to finish the race and do myself and my school proud.

If the Bradford Run brings children and parents from school into the city centre, it will be all the more worthwhile as regards bringing the community of West Bowing into the city centre. This is especially important as Bradford has the new City Park, which is a communal area in which people can congregate and enjoy what the city has to offer. I have enjoyed many an afternoon there myself over the summer and would encourage people to visit. For more info about Bradford and the City Park see @HiddenBradford, @CityParkBD, @Bradfordmcd and @BradfordRun2012 on Twitter or www. Yorkshire.com

 

All this reflects our school motto and indeed a saying which I have begun to apply to life….

‘You can if you think you can!’

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The A-Level Drop, The Pension Squeeze and The Government

I awoke this morning with butterflies in my tummy as it was my brother’s turn to find out his A-Level results. Having waited anxiously in the car with my parents while he went to get the envelope, I wondered if all the hype and predicted ‘drop in higher grades’ would be true after all. As I looked around the school grounds, it got me thinking further and even with the sound of congratulations ringing out all around, it was not enough to hide the look of disappointment on many young adult faces.

Now, in my day (only a mere 8 years ago), there were notably more smiles within the school grounds on that morning. Indeed B’s and C’s at A-level by most people’s book is an exceptional achievement to be proud of but it seems not in the eyes of many hopeful pupils this morning. This mainly being due to the fact that they had been predicted much higher grades consistently over the 2 year AS / A-Level course. How then does a hard working pupil go from predicted A’s and B’s to B’s and C’s seemingly overnight?

Ok, let’s take into account the odd ‘off day’ or ‘exam gone wrong’ but with coursework and previous exams etc that is a drastic drop.

Of course that means all those wasted hours visiting universities and doing all that research based on A’s and B’s when they could have been looking for more appropriate courses and preparing for more realistic futures to the ones ‘predicted’.

For many, it is a case of ‘tough luck’ but surely questions should be asked just how results have steadily increased for the past 20 years and then all of a sudden there is a 7% drop in university acceptances. How?

Is it really a case of Ofqual moving the goal posts in an attempt to tackle grade inflation? What about the forthcoming GCSE results next week? I suggest reading former TES journalist, @warwickmansell’s article on this and see for yourself;

www.naht.org.uk/welcome/comment/blogs/warwick-mansell/ofquals-move-to-tackle-grade-inflation

Naturally there could be reasons for the drop; the cohort itself, ‘new syllabus’, Ofqual moving the goal posts and no doubt TEACHING will be blamed somewhere along the way!

Now would seem an appropriate time to reflect on the on-going battle between the teaching profession and the government ….

Perhaps, having caused such a stir about pensions, the Government seem to be making increasing demands, therefore making it increasingly difficult to be a teacher. Less graduates will want to join (poorer conditions than ever before), more will leave, the rest will be ill from picking up the slack. As the rest become over-worked, more teachers will be tempted into an early exit, thus saving a fortune in pension payouts! Are we then becoming ‘victims’ of another Tory Government?

Purely my own thoughts but would like to know if others agree.

And with that, it seems that many predicted correctly…A-level grades of 2012 have indeed dropped and I am looking forward to what the media says and indeed other people. Something tells me they may well have yet another field day…

Other Sources:

* www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/first-fall-in-21-years-for-alevel-a-grades-8052776.html

* www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/7-fall-in-university-acceptances-8052710.html

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The Greatest Teacher?

As teachers up and down the UK enter into the final week of the school year, I wonder if the children in any given class think that their teacher is the greatest. Will my Reception children, aged 5, really think I’m the best when they move to a new teacher? Will they even remember me at all when they’re older?

I am sure almost each one of us has that one teacher from our own schooldays who stood out as being a favourite, or indeed, the greatest. Mine personally was my Year 3 teacher, Mr Tandy, who brought the idea of learning through fun and games into my life. Little did I know then, aged 7, that I would regard him as my favourite teacher some 19 years later.

Is it fair then that I should credit all my knowledge, learning and understanding of the world to one person? Of course not …but what is it that stands out? Could it be that he was a man? Could it be that we played games and learnt through other methods that weren’t all worksheets and textbooks (which, by the way, were apparently all the rage in those days). Could it be that I was of an age whereby I can remember things clearly? I think all of these played a part but what about now? How can lessons have been so fun? Did he have as much paperwork to fill in as the other teachers? Was he really bound by set guidelines and governments incentives like the teachers of today?

Here we are in 2012 with all the pressure put upon teachers, targets to meet, standards to abide by and paperwork to complete and yet somehow, it seems possible to make learning fun.

Despite the constant changes being made to the curriculum, increased recording for health and safety and demands to raise levels every year, teachers everywhere are finding lots of exciting ways to teach, personalised to the individual. You’d be surprised just how many different ways you can demonstrate addition or write your name, let alone, solve problems or debate something.

I am fortunate enough to have come across many fellow colleagues in the profession who go the extra mile, day in, day out to ensure the pupils in their care receive the best quality education possible. The teachers and educators who work with children and young adults with a smile and a caring nature to develop each individual and treat them as holistic rather than a stereotype. Real human beings who come to work and facilitate learning…they are generally loved and respected by pupils and even if they are having an off day, they never show it.

These people are not put off by fatigue every day. They do not profess to have all the answers nor do they give up during challenging circumstances.

I really believe that in order to be a teacher, you have to be a certain type of person. Selfless, creative, caring and have the patience of a saint! We would not be in the profession if we did not care about the development and wellbeing of children. Therefore, whether the children in the current class think we are the best or if they even remember us in years to come, I should say we are all great teachers. So with that, I bid teachers and educators everywhere a very happy summer holiday to refresh, recharge and relax and say well done to us all for completing another academic year.

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