Archive for June, 2013


Addicted To Folding

Today is the first day I have had a chance to reflect on an amazing experience I had on Thursday night. I attended TMClevedon last October as an exhausted NQT straight off the back of an OFSTED two day inspection ( see earlier blogs A Week of Two Halves ) and sat watching these amazing and generous teachers talk about ideas they use in their classrooms to inspire, engage and generally improve the learning of their students. I sat there and thought to myself, there would be no way that I’d be ever be able to do that. I’m just not that creative, inspiring or generally interesting for people to want to listen to especially as I haven’t been teaching very long.

Then, I went to Pedagoo London and saw the amazing NQT Miss Jenny Ludgate (@MissJLud) do ‘her thing’, and once again felt that it was even further out of my reach than before.

So fast forward to March and TMClevedon ‘I love Learning’ was announced and I signed up as an enthusiastic lurker. Thinking about what great stuff I was going to glean this time.

Once I’d made my booking the idea of presenting at this small (ha ha) gathering started to percolate through my brain. What could I do? Who’d be interested? Am I good enough? Would they all laugh at me? These were the conversations you have with yourself in the dark hours of the morning when sleep evades. But, and here’s the rub, I’d shared an idea I’d been using in my classroom with @BunnyScience (Lucy Golton) way back in January and she’d taken that idea and developed it into a whole workshop to present at Pedagoo event in Edinburgh (http://purpleelf.edublogs.org/2013/05/28/foldable-fun/). So, I discussed it with her and took a RISK. See Hywel_Roberts, am doing it and signed up to do a 5 min presentation. The weeks past and I was immersed in my classroom busy doing what we all do when suddenly it was half term. Lots of twitter encouragement later, I’d put my presentation together. ‘Fun with Foldables’ was the title. OMG what had I done. Too late, it was sent off and I tried to put it out of my mind.

Well,Thursday rolled around and there I was. @Hywel_Roberts was giving the keynote and encouraging us to take risks.

Well this was one for me personally rather than professionally as I know the kids had loved doing these. So, courage in my boots it was my turn. I had watched all these others do ‘their thing’ and still was convinced that I’d make a fool of myself. I had rehearsed the timing and I was just over the 5 mins, but those who know me, know that I can talk for Britain at the speed of sound!

So what did I do?
Well I talked all about ‘Foldables’ and how they evidence learning, allow kids to take ownership of their ideas, make links, and especially for those less engaged they enjoy the kinaesthetic aspect of not having to write too much as pictures, diagrams work just as well.

I managed, as you can see by the you tube clip to do this in 3 mins 26 seconds, nerves got the better of me. I really couldn’t see much of the audience but I got a lovely “ooh” when showing one of the children’s creations.


And I was done. I sat down to see my twitter stream come alive. People who weren’t even in the room were asking for more details. On a personal level, this blog is mainly about that, TMClevedon – and this has been one of the highlights of this year! To hear other teachers some who are already at the top of their profession tweeting to say how interesting it was I think I did ok.

So, do I recommend you presenting? Most definitely, get out of your comfort zone. Look at your practice and it doesn’t matter what you do, you are doing some amazing stuff I am sure which is having an impact on Learning. Get out there and share because this is the only way we can develop our craft.

Here is a copy of my presentation and some links to help you get started.

FunwithFoldables-1

So take a risk, be creative and happy folding.

In response to @ChocoTzar and  @rlj1981 I am reviewing the situation of my Nurture Blog from December. In a similar vein to ‘ChocoTzar I will embolden my review in the hope that I too have made some progress.

So what does 2013 hold for me. Well I am half way through so lets see what my progress has been.

1. Balance. This is something I have struggled with ever since I started out. I am the type of person who believes if a jobs worth doing then you do it well. But sometimes that takes over everything. So I need this year to get that ever elusive Work/Life balance that many of us struggle with. Less of an obsession with cleaning might have to factor into that as well. Mm have got some balance this year, don’t work on a Friday night or Saturday, but cleaning still seems to dominate much of my time eek, just can’t stand the mess and dirt that two kids create, especially as one plays rugby all winter and trains 5 times a week. Progress is slow.

2. Belief. I need to really start to believe that I am a good teacher and that the work I am doing is making a difference. I find it very hard to accept praise and believe it when people tell me good things about myself, as I always think they are just being polite ( my inner voice often wins out in battering me). So this year I need to listen to them rather than her! This is still a work in progress but I am getting better at this and feel that I have got some respect at school having presented to the whole school faculty during one of our meetings and wasn’t laughed off. Also people are asking for my assistance in embedding Kagan into their teaching having taken a lead role in a co-operative group for the school. Progressing well.

3. Dance and laughter. I need to dance more, not the formal kind of dancing that people do in ballrooms and dance studios but the jumping around to crazy music type in the safety of my own home. I love to dance just don’t do enough of it. I need to laugh more as well, both at myself and with others. It’s so good for the soul. I think we forget to see the funny some times.  Have laughed more and dance not as much but am more optimistic and find the funny rather than the sad. Progress is good

4. Visits. This year will be the year where I make those long promised visits to friends and family who I haven’t seen for far too long. Nope not managed that; but they have come to me, so win win. Progress slow.

5. Spinning. More spinning I want to go at least twice a week this year as feel this will help with getting the balance back and give me the space I need sometimes away from home, kids, work and all those other demands on our time. Am spinning regularly, not consistently twice a week but as often as I can, although made every other Sunday 90 min session with out fail and with lots of extra sessions in the holidays and am really feeling the benefits of this in health and stamina at work and home. Progress is spintacular.

6. One thing at a time. I must try to focus on embedding into my teaching one thing at a time, I am reading massively, like I haven’t read for ages but all the ideas fly at me like a barrage of machine gun fire and now I must pick out the ideas and apply them, embedded the and evaluate their success. Trojan mice is the way. Reading has slowed down and have spent time embedding SOLO with my year 8’s and helping D’n’T with it, and now will be doing a whole staff CPD session on it on Monday 10th June. Progress is good.

7. Teach Meet. Attend more of these to ensure that my reservoirs are filled and replenished on a regular basis. Also encourage others to experience the willingness to share and friendships that can be developed in a mutually beneficial way. Managed to attend ASE Conference for two days, then PedagooLondon and off to TMClevedon 6 in June but that is it, would like to have done more but so far away its hard to get to some of them. Will be presenting at TMClevedon6 so have pushed myself well out of comfort zone on this one, and am bringing another senior leader to see what I’ve been raving about. Progress consistent.

8. Organise a teach meet. Maybe this is the year I’ll get brave, put my neck on the line and organise a Teachmeet in my own school. Am I brave enough? would people come? don’t know until I try! Nope not this year, due to many reasons, wifi, network, time. But on the list for next year. Progress none.

9. Time. I need to give my children and fabulous husband more of my time, not just physically (homework, reading etc) but emotionally as well, the last couple of years have been hard on all of us for reasons too many to go into (too many daemons) but these are past and now is the time to look forward and seek out the fun again, before they get too old to want to have fun with their boring old Mum. And we forget how to enjoy each others company. This has had its moments but as a family we are settled and happy, spent some fun times with hubby but sadly kids already starting to moan when company is requested, the call of friends sleepovers, and teenage parties is too hard to compete with. But I am glad that they are making friends and starting to find their own happy times. Progress ongoing.

10. Health. This year I hope that my parents remain healthy so that they can finally do all that travelling they want to get to, now that they are freed up more from the constraints of looking after my grandma who passed this month. Plus Dad has his new knee so no more sitting around! Parents have travelled more, been on a four week cruise and then six weeks to France which has resulted in us moving into their big house to  dog sit, which has resulted in us having more quality time. Progress outstanding.

11. Me. Somewhere in this year I need to work on giving me a break! No comment. Progress nil.

12. Outstanding. I want to continue to work with some of the amazing people I am working with at school, to develop our teaching and learning to help move our school from good to outstanding. We need to smell like a outstanding school. New projects need to be developed, shared, encouraged. We need to look outward and choose the best from others and apply this to our school. This will involve visits I hope to,some of the amazing teachers’ schools who I have met through twitter, who can share their journeys with us, so we can get there as well. I think this will be a bumpy ride but I’m all strapped in and ready for it. This is a tricky one, as I am working on this both personally and professionally, I have resolved some personal conflicts (by employing my filter and keeping my own counsel) and feel that as a department we are stronger but changes are afoot already. We have had a lot of staff leave this year which will bring in new blood next year. Hopefully this will result in a fresh outlook to how we get to outstanding. Visits have been nil, but have managed to go on the Middle Leaders course and a Leading Curriculum change course which have stretched and challenged me to look at my  own practice. I have supported our science NQT which I have loved seeing her flourish and rise to the challenges we have faced, becoming a confident teacher, (although this wasn’t really my responsibility! I somehow picked that one up). We have been sharing more good practice across the college in briefings and twilights with a CPD showcase over two nights in June which hopefully will bring more great practice to the forefront. The college seems to want to pick up on a theme from Keven Bartle @Kevbartle of Leaders of Pedagogy, which I mentioned in passing to the head who seems to like the idea with a view to developing this more next year. So all in all Progress is good with some outstanding features.

13. Twitter. Finally I want to continue my affair with twitter and get to meet more of the amazing people out there that I have come to rely on in times of self doubt and worry. If they want to meet me that is! Have used Twitter as a source of inspiration, laughter, occasionally tears, but still developing strong bonds with teachers some of whom I only know as yummy chocolate avatars @ChocoTzar (although the punk look was great) who continue to inspire me,or those with the most amazing shoe collection @RachelOrr and her constant positivity; those who have willing revealed themselves with amusing pictures from their youth to brighten a stressful timeline this half term. Plus all those amazing teachers I got to meet at both the ASE Conference and PedagooLondon, who now feel like friends even though we only spoke briefly. To Twitter I say thank you, long may you continue to inspire, challenge and make me laugh. Progress outstanding.

So there it is some I have done, some not so, but we are only half way through the year so there is still time before our final report is due.