Archive for January, 2015

In my pledge to focus on my own and schools well-being this month I feel that I might not have achieved all I wanted to so far.

I wanted to create a wall where teachers could post their own actions on #wellbeing … well I have the headings and titles but have struggled to find a suitable space for whole school access, so I am going to put it just in my department this week and post some of my own reflections to encourage others.

#exercise has been quite a good one, although not back to spinning yet! I have been out every lunchtime, including in the rain and wind, walking around the perimeter of the site to blow away the cobwebs and replace my stale oxygen levels, this helps with a clearer mind for periods 4 and 5. This is also been helped by my 7 days on nothing but pure extracted juice and homemade soup which has refueled my cells and help me lose the christmas bulge. I am also taking at least 2 hours on sunday mornings to walk my fabulous 6 month old german shepherd Bentley and we are loving each others company.

#notice again a good one so far, I have noticed how fab my drive to work in the mornings is, now that the days are getting lighter. I am noticing when I am tired and actually stopping or not doing any school work. The guilt is still there but the earlier nights and more sleep is making more productive the next day. I am calmer most of the time at home now. For those that know my situation, not always easy!. I am taking more notice when I am feeling stressed and have taken more deep breaths to reduce those moments and now feel better for that. I am using guided meditations at night before I go to sleep which is also supporting my mental wellbeing.

#connect.  #TMPicknMix is gathering momentum and it looks like will be a sell out. I attended the ASE conference last Saturday (I know) but loved connecting again with some great twitter scientists and had a fabulous chat with @Hrogerson who has given me some very important guidance and a confidence boost which I am eternally grateful.

Also as a department we are connecting in the prep room more often, sharing our day, discussing students, this is only going to improve the morale of our department.

#volunteer. Mainly work related, but I am doing an observation lesson for our up and coming Assistant Principal interviews, plus a Challenge Partner observation and finally the one I’m most looking forward to, I have put my name down to help out at the Colleges 24 hour concert and in a moment of madness, said I was happy to do whatever Jon couldn’t fill, so I guess I will be awake at 4 am in the morning with some very tired or hyper performers.

#learn this is more of a personal one. I have learnt that I have qualities that I didn’t really think were important or being noticed in my job. Yet when put down on paper look quite impressive. I took quite a knock to my confidence recently and felt that maybe what I thought was good about me, wasn’t what others valued. However with the support of the Twittersphere, I have realised that I do have a lot to offer and maybe now is the time to look out for me. (Cryptic know but can’t really be any more specific at the moment.)

I have also learnt that I am being more tolerant and patient at home,looking for the good which there has been a lot of, and I just need to focus on that a bit more.

So for the next half of the month, what will I do.

Just keep doing what I’m doing, listening more to myself, to ensure my own #wellbeing is taken care of and then making sure that I keep promoting it’s benefits. Without this I think some of the changes I am making I would have put off and now with the support of the #wellbeingsuperheros feel I am making progress.

What are you doing  #wellbeingsuperheros?


“The time has come” the Walrus said ….


As I head into the weekend thoughts of school now are raging in my head and I’m looking at the time table and realising that the next two weeks will be given over for my year 10s and 11s for revision in preparation for their mocks.

Part of me struggles with the concept of dedicating learning time to revision but then the other part of me says ” if I don’t do this will I be disadvantaging the students in my class?”

In the dark ages when I was a pupil in a very strict all girls Catholic school run by the nuns with steel ruler; it was expected that revision was done in our own time. We were supported with creating revision timetables and suggestions on how best to revise but that was the extent of it.

It was assumed that we were motivated and knew the importance of revision to ensure our success in our ‘O levels’ at the end of the year. When tests or exams were given, there was no two weeks notice, we were given a day or two to prepare, with the expectation that we wouldn’t need that much time as we were continually revising.

As a student I remember my teachers stressing the importance of independent revision, reading around topics and generally expanding our understanding of the topics we were covering. While all the while keeping our eye on the prize of ultimately achieving good grades to take us to the final step of university entry. Often to the exclusion of discussion of other opportunities or avenues to follow after school.

As a teacher now, I hear myself extolling the virtues of independence and intrinsic motivation and the importance of continued revision. I stress that the more you revisit a topic the stronger the synapses become and the more chance you are of transferring that knowledge into your long term memory. However sadly, this advice is falling on deaf ears. With faces looking blankly at me wondering why this will be an issue.

I tested my theory like all good scientists do, with running a trial, after teaching three modules in a unit, the school policy is to test; so the first time I gave them notice of the impending test, spent a lesson doing revision and then delivered the test. No moans or complaints they were ready and happy to take the test. All doing OK as things go.

Did the same for the next three modules with constant reminders to revise and its importance. Lesson given over to revision again eating into vital learning and teaching time. But date of the test not given out. A few days later gave the test without warning, and you’d have thought I’d asked the class to donate their kidneys. Much moaning you didn’t tell us etc, After the complaining had finished I reminded them, of the procedures, they’d been following for the last year and a term and this should be no surprise as we did the revision lesson so that was a clue! Again all being equal not bad. Some better than others though this time.

Finally reached the end of the unit with the inclusion of the last two modules and I told them to revise ready for end of module test which unbeknownst to them I would give on the Wednesday before end of term. This I did…. well the rumpus that was created on delivery of the test was even worse than before. Plus the results weren’t that brilliant with some apologising saying they weren’t prepared, didn’t have enough time etc.

So does this mean all my advice, warnings and routines are falling on deaf ears? Am I not making my self clear in my expectations, or do these kids really expect me to do the revision for them?

So with that in mind knowing that they aren’t revising on a regular basis, and the school worried about the results. I am forced in to the position of giving up teaching time to revision.

Is this to cover my back to make sure that the mocks reflect a true picture of the ability of the pupils? Is it to ensure that my data looks good for the me and the department especially as we are under intense scrutiny? Or is it because we have got so wrapped up in the fear culture of accountability we can’t let the pupils fail?

Hence, the upshot is I am scheduled for a two hour after school session for revision in the lead up to the mocks. This session I know will be attended by the more conscientious students, the ones who have been revising already through their holidays. Plus it will be the ones who feel that by turning up they are revising (not necessarily taking part but can say they were there) and that is enough for them. But, the ones who for no fault of their own, be it home circumstances, lack of quiet space, availability of IT, or the demands of caring for others don’t get to do their revision will miss out .

Therefore I will hand over numerous lessons where I will have to find ever more inventive and exciting ways to encourage students to revisit the material, to make sure I have given every student the same opportunity to revise. Also because everyone in the department is doing this, I feel I have to do it otherwise I’m letting the side down. I’m putting these students at a disadvantage.

This is the rub, I feel that in my lessons, students are all given the opportunity to succeed and thrive, I teach slowly so that they gain depth of understanding, not racing so that I have plenty of revision time. I provide opportunities for them to speak to me if they are struggling with concepts, have specified drop in times at lunch time where they know I will be in my room. But do they come? No.

Therefore when do we step back and say enough guys, it’s your turn now. Take responsibility for your own destiny, achievements, life and just get on with it or is our role to make sure that they never feel that sense of failure.

I worry that without they will never understand the feeling of true success of never giving up, trying again, and that feeling that you did all you could do no matter what the grade.

So the time has come… Revision it is……

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 940 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 16 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.