Dec

01

2016
Year 11 mock exams: speedos, modelling writing and self assessment.

Year 11 mock exams: speedos, modelling writing and self assessment.

“Eagerly I reached for my delightful new purchase: a five pound pair of silver speedos.” The great debate this week: spend five hours marking thirty copies of my middle set Year 11 pieces of creative writing or spend an hour writing my own example and sharing with them? The ponder: which will have more impact in improving their understanding of what makes engaging writing?  Which will enthuse them more...

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Nov

25

2016
Like Lambs to the Slaughter: preparing Year 9 for GCSE English

Like Lambs to the Slaughter: preparing Year 9 for GCSE English

  “Mary Maloney was waiting for her husband to come home from work.” Poor old Mary, the jilted lover of Roald Dahl’s masterful ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’.   It all began so calmly. Her tumultuous marriage has been the focus for two Year 9 groups I am teaching this year: one a low band set and one a middle band. Both these groups present different learners...

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Nov

18

2016
Seventastic Speaking: experiments with speech.

Seventastic Speaking: experiments with speech.

One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin where it belongs… ‘Politics and the English...

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Nov

11

2016
UNSPECIFIED - DECEMBER 16: Henry VIII Tudor (Greenwich, 1491-London, 1547), 1539-1541, King of England and King of Ireland with his family portrait wearing the outfit worn for his marriage to Anne of Cleves. Painting by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543), oil on panel, 88.5 x74.5 cm. Rome, Galleria Nazionale D'Arte Antica Di Palazzo Barberini ( National Art Gallery, Barberini Palace) (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Shakespearean Trump card: teaching ‘Macbeth’.

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. If ever a week was required to emphasise the importance and relevance of teaching Shakespeare and ‘Macbeth’ to young people, this week was one. I set this Sizzling Shakespearean Starter...

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Nov

05

2016
The organised teacher: solving the teacher retention “crisis”

The organised teacher: solving the teacher retention “crisis”

“For every minute spent in organising, an hour is earned”  Benjamin Franklin Bursting with youthful enthusiasm I entered our delightful and demanding profession in 2010. I joined the 24,100 other fledging teachers at the heart of this BBC story that has been making such an impact over the past two weeks. Thirty percent of my fellow teacher graduate caterpillars, hoping to blossom into inspiring butterflies of learning, have now...

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Oct

21

2016
The teacher ‘power pose’: posture in the classroom.

The teacher ‘power pose’: posture in the classroom.

  “I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way.” – Frank Sinatra I realise I am being a little harsh to our new Prime Minister with this rather unflattering image.  Her fervent promotion of the grammar school agenda, however, results in a pretty swift loss of sympathy! Close inspection of the image reveals one striking feature of Mrs May: her posture is pretty poor,...

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Oct

14

2016
The (tough) Empathy Gap: beyond the data.

The (tough) Empathy Gap: beyond the data.

“I’ve learned that everyone has a rucksack. The world is full of of people carrying around a toxic narrative, pulled down by a sadness or a grief that they don’t know how to share, and all of us are hiding it from each other.” Cathy Rentzenbrink ‘The Last Act of Love’ I set myself a lofty target at the start of the year: to read...

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Oct

07

2016
The curse of PowerPoint: time to teach naked.

The curse of PowerPoint: time to teach naked.

  “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting results.” Albert Einstein. A confession: PowerPoint has become the clothing of my teaching. It is there, draped over every lesson, always present. It exists in different manifestations: sometimes it is an ostentatious outfit, a three piece suit if you will. Sometimes it is a little more skimpy – the shorts and t-shirt variation....

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Oct

02

2016
Residential reflections: escaping the classroom

Residential reflections: escaping the classroom

Summer is fading: The leaves fall in ones and twos From trees bordering The new recreation ground. In the hollows of afternoons Young mothers assemble At swing and sandpit Setting free their children. Philip Larkin’s ‘Afternoons’ seems particularly relevant as September draws to a close.  In all honesty this week has felt a bit more like a challenge: tiredness and irritability have set in, half term is still too far away and...

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Sep

23

2016
A week of experimenting with praise.

A week of experimenting with praise.

  “Sweet words are like honey, a little may refresh, but too much gluts the stomach.” ― Anne Bradstreet In a week of an Ofsted inspection and with a half marathon looming ominously on Sunday (cue timely donation plea: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jamie-Thom) ending the week ruminating about praise in the classroom offers some much needed nurturing for the soul. As an NQT I suffered from a tragic and...

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