The Well Teacher Festival: A collection

30 Aug 2020

I have spent a great deal of the past few months reflecting and writing on teacher resilience, and how we can retain more brilliant teachers in the profession. The result of many long lockdown evenings, my new book ‘Teacher Resilience: Managing stress and anxiety‘ to thrive in the profession’ will be published by John Catt Educational in October.

That stress and anxiety is at its peak for many teacher now, who are either preparing to go back into the classroom next week, or in Scotland – have been back for some weeks. Part of the issue with this is the inability for teachers to group together for words of reassurance, or much needed CPD after months of being out of the classroom.

With this in mind, I have been fortunate enough to secure ten of our best educational minds to record inspiring CPD for teachers this week. All authors of brilliant books with John Catt Educational, they have been incredibly generous with their time to give their best advice for returning to school. You can access the presentation on then Well Teacher YouTube page. 

This post is a collection of the videos, which I hope will be really helpful in starting the year feeling calm, confident and informed.

The first presentation is from Tom Sherrington, author of the brilliant WalkThrus. Here, Tom provides viewers with an overview of five essential strategies to start the term in a positive and impactful way.

Emma Turner, author of a book that saved my life in lockdown: ‘Be More Toddler’, provided the next presentation, with a very entertaining and informative exploration of teacher values – and what we can learn from our youngest citizens to help thrive in the classroom.

Mary Myatt is a hugely influential and inspiring figure, and this next presentation gives a fascinating insight into the essentials of teaching. What should we be investing our time in and how can be more productive with our time? Mary’s new book ‘Back on Track: fewer things and greater depth’ will be out on September 15th.

Feedback is a real test of teacher resilience and positivity levels. We invest so much time in it, yet does it really have the impact we want it to? This excellent presentation from Michael Chiles, whose new book ‘The Feedback Pendulum’ will be out in November, provides a brilliant overview of how we can make sure we start the year informed about how to make feedback work best – for us and our students.

Kat Howard is another seriously inspiring figure in education: the author of the excellent ‘Stop Talking about Wellbeing’ she looks at both teacher wellbeing and the curriculum in this fascinating presentation, arguing that the two are deeply interconnected. Her new book on the curriculum with Claire Hill ‘Symbiosis: The Curriculum and the Classroom’ is out on the 19th of September.

The best teachers that I have worked with have been brimming with enthusiasm, passion and positivity about the work we do in the classroom. Bottling that quality has been Haili Hughes’ mission with her inspiring book ‘Preserving Positivity’. In this presentation, she shares some of those secrets of sustaining positivity and finding balance – at a time when we need it more than ever before.

If you are anything like me, you might be fretting that you have lost some of the basic essentials of the classroom after a five month gap. Those doubts instantly dissipate when we are back in front of young people again, but reminders on the essentials of behaviour management are always warmly welcomed. Particularly when they come from the inspirational Sam Strickland, transformative headteacher and author of ‘Education Exposed’ . In thirty minutes, Sam manages to calm all our behaviour worries by outlining exactly how we can start the year with classes with authority, clarity and positivity. Sam’s new book Education Exposed 2, will be out at the start of October.

In my own presentation for the festival, I explored five ways in which teachers can try to manage feelings of anxiety and stress. While those emotions are always going to be a part of our work in schools, there are ways in which we can prevent them from being corrosive, and instead maintain a calm and optimistic outlook.

Engaging with educational research is a vital way to make teaching a more intellectually informed profession, and inspire and motivate us to keep learning in our craft. Zoe and Mark Enser have combined to write a fascinating book about the research of Fiorella & Mayer’s in ‘Fiorella and Mayer Generative Learning in Action 2020.’ In this presentation they explain how these principles can be applied in the classroom.

The final presentation was a mind-blowing journey through the philosophy of education and curriculum development. I learnt a huge amount from the immensely experienced and knowledgeable former headteacher Stephen Tierney’s overview. His book, ‘Educating with Purpose’ is also fascinating and essential reading.

Thank you for reading, I hope that there is at least a few of these presentations that might help inspire and motivate at the start of the academic year. The Well Teacher podcast will be back again in a couple of weeks, with Mary Myatt as the first guest.

I hope if you are starting back next week it is a happy, positive and healthy one for you and your students.

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Jamie Thom

English teacher, host of @TES English teaching podcast. Author of 'Slow Teaching.' MEd in Practitioner Enquiry, doctorate student #StrathEdD. Runner.

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