In this edition – In praise of Journeyman
Seeking a new job
What Good Assessment looks like
Teaching Modern Foreign Languages at Primary Level
The best way to have good ideas.
The world’s worst Teacher CPD surely
Whether you use the word artisan or journeyman (probably not in every day conversation it must be said), you might accept that in education this is where most of us are. As the website definition thingy shows use, a Journeyman is a skilled worker who practices some trade or handicraft. This newsletter is in praise of the journeyman professional, the artisan educator, who has no time for my web chatter, and who nevertheless gets on with delivering the goods in schools, up and down the country, unencumbered by the very obvious sense that I bring to the workplace. Or not as you and they might think.
Ok – let’s put my digital cards on the table. When I was invited to join the Google Certified Community in 2012, after application and conference, I (and those with me) was asked to commit to a range of activities that supported the concept of supporting a community, I set out a limited game plan which in my own view was achievable and then let me off the hook (because I did what I said I would do). Now google certified teachers (GCTs) join a community that I now know simply never sleeps, works 24/7, asks questions, chases solutions, doesn’t lie down, shows its ignorance, and shares solutions. And with every throw of the dice, something new comes up, some issue or innovation that requires input or challenge pops up in the gmail stream, and guess what, GCTs from all over the globe pick up and run with the problem and try to help. Sometimes, it would appear that the ‘poster’ has received the attention of an ‘idiot savant’ – “shouldn’t the police be told”, I hear you say – and actually all that has happened is that a complex question has been translated into plain common sense, to which a variety of solution are posed. Slaphead (memo to self) – why did I not think of that?
It is that time of year when teachers are at bursting point. Yes, we may have had a short break to regather the threads (of family and survival), but it is now that we have no option but to gently but steadily bring our students to the boil, simmer for 8 or so weeks, and then release into the exam halls for (primary or secondary BTW) the little darlings to bring valedictory salutation to the work we have engendered through the year. Now is not the time to bring up some new initiative for now, some virtual machine gun loaded with magic bullets which will solve the problems of humanity – or for that matter Y6 and making sense of the ‘waste of time’ the rest of the year is going to be, now they know their secondary school placement.
Teaching as a profession
The thing is Teaching is not about what others can do, but what yours (children) can achieve. This last week, after the dark nights are waved away by the half-term break, it is your own students that look to you for the inspiration and perspiration to make it to the successful conclusion of the course. In my case as School Principal, that statement is just as much about the grown-ups as the children. That means now is the time for me to just do things right, check the messages, support the events, ensure teachers and students feel supported, and ‘stay with the programme’. For good and all, the stall has been set out, and the most loyal of those I work with simply have their heads down working hard, and they need that of me (and you too). http://goo.gl/s8KsUl for a poem, Jouneyman.
Seeking a new job, or seeking a new teacher
Tom Sherrington, head of KEGS has posted this helpful advice to staff looking for new posts – http://goo.gl/GJw8zd – and do read if you are in this position.
I know that Tom’s words are helpful, specifically the pitfalls section. My own experience tells me very quickly whether teachers fit our ethos or not, but often I am nowhere near the interview process.
Given the shortish period of time I may I have, I will ask them something important about their current situation/school and about our vacancy/school. Our core values of Responsibility, Respect, Loyalty and Integrity need buy-in. It is amazing how the wrong kind of people let the cat out of the bag – all about how their current employer lets them down, and all about how you are going to make them shine.
What Good Assessment looks like
Last week, courtesy of ISA Professional Development, Liz Green and I presented our new course on Assessment and Tracking up at Lady Barn School in Cheadle. As part of my contribution, I updated my audit of What Good Assessment looks like with the recent recommendations from the NAHT commission on the same, published 13 February 2014. Please let me know if you find it useful!
Up and coming changes in Teaching of Modern Languages at Primary school
From this September, all state Primary Schools are expected to teach MFL for KS2. My concerns about this initiative are not that in principle we should not be adding some energy to ensure the English focus a little more on the acquisition of other languages, but the practicalities of ensuring that a whole nation of youngsters are not switched off learning languages by an inept implementation. Last Autumn, Peter Downes, Project Director, ‘Discovering Language’ for the Association of School and College Leaders spoke at the Languages Show live on Implementing Foreign Languages in the Primary curriculum from September 2014. You can find his presentation here, and my text version here.
It is all about Good Ideas
Nice poster, from the pen of double Nobel Prize winner and Educator, Linus Pauling. It keeps me working hard.
Here are some I picked up over the last week…
Why sharing ideas – tips using Twitter
A Guidebook to social media in the classroom
Why daydreamers will save the World – an interesting take on Musing.
And finally, How awful can teacher CPD look like – a parody surely of Teacher training.
Have a good week and look after yourself and your colleagues.