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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Sep

17

2016
Getting the priorities right: Pupil Premium and Closing the gap.

Getting the priorities right: Pupil Premium and Closing the gap.

“I dislike the ethos of so many of our comprehensives, where the imperative is to drag up the bovine thickos to some agreeably semi-literate level while the bright kids can go hang. It is all there in their epic disdain for competition and academic rigour, their indulgency of stupidity, the emphasis on the self-esteem of the students, as if they didn’t have enough of that...

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Sep

10

2016
Building positive relationships: mutual respect.

Building positive relationships: mutual respect.

“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” James Come The new classroom:                           If I may be so bold as to offer a humble and wholeheartedly objective assessment: delightful, vibrant, organised, engaging, motivational. Subliminal messages of care, commitment and passion abound. Students have literally fainted upon entry, swooning with instant and new found...

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Aug

30

2016
September Starts: Renewal and Marginal gains

September Starts: Renewal and Marginal gains

“One of the most difficult things is not to change society, but to change yourself.” — Nelson Mandela One of the amazing things about teaching is its capacity for renewal. Each September brings with it a new start: an opportunity for reinvention, however large or small.  A new and eager brand of customers sit poised and ready, their minds empty vessels awaiting inspiration. That endless and sleepless...

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Aug

30

2016

Setting up a New Classroom

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” ― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own By a range of factors, two schools and five years later I have not yet managed to have my own ‘space’, a room that I, and my students, can recognise as our own. This year I am hugely grateful (ding, ding)...

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Aug

15

2016
The Joys of English Teaching

The Joys of English Teaching

  Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition. —Jacques Barzun The space of a few weeks of sunshine does some wonderful things to your vision of what you do. In this frame of mind, wholeheartedly idealistic (and perhaps cleansed from some of the less perfect realities of the classroom!) this post will unashamedly celebrate the unique beauty and value of...

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