Archive for August, 2015

Nurture 14/15 Review

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It being that time when the year is way past half over and after @ChocoTzar encouraged us to review our previous year and focus on 5 things for the year of 2015, its now time to review how we are doing. So here goes.

I want to say goodbye to my companion in the shadows. 

He is still lurking but he is much further in the distance and luckily it hasn’t effected work in any fashion which is good, in fact work became the my sanctuary. The wonderful Julia Skinner finishes her emails with ‘ Not every day is a good day but there is good in every day’ and I have adopted this as a mantra I use and it’s a great one to keep in the front of my mind. Still a work in progress but much improved.

Again the work life balance is always an issue, Exercise really took a back seat this year so far as I was seriously ill in February which resulted in a phased return to work but this did result in a better focus on balance and thanks to the #teacher5aday initiative I really have focused on making in roads to my own well being and long may that continue.

Plus yesterday I climbed back on a bike for the first time and managed to ride 12 km and can walk today so a result. Sadly the weight didn’t stay off!

I also want to be more available for Charlotte as she is in year 10, mmm this one has been difficult, Jack once again has featured heavily in life again with some interesting life choices which seem to overshadow everything. However I have made sure that she is at the center of my focus and this has resulted in her pushing the boundaries herself! So now as we move towards GCSE’s we are in for stormy waters I think but no backing down now.

I want to make sure that my next teachmeet at Dawlish goes off with a bang so save the date for Monday 2nd March 2015 for some #TMPicknMix. We are very lucky to have the amazing Vic Goddard to be our keynote this year.  This was a huge success and thank you to all who took part and supported me in this with their presentations, words of advice and encouragement, and videos, and of course Vic Goddard whose keynote was heartfelt, honest and brutal nothing I wouldn’t expect from such an inspiring leader.

On the back of that I want to attend and present more this year at Teachmeets, Pedagoos and TLT’s having attended all three last year. It pushes me out of my comfort zone and I learn more from these events than I do from other formalised CPD. Well have already done a lot of that with #PedagooLondon, #TMDevon, #TMOkehampton. I have also attended #Northern Rocks and #TLT14, and will be presenting at #PedagooSouthwest and incredibly at #WomenEd under the Confident Leader Strand although as yet not sure what I’ll be saying. This last event is the one that will challenge me the most but I’m ready to push beyond and maybe find a new voice.

My tutor group have been with me since I started at Dawlish in year 8 and they are year 11 now and I want to make sure that they all leave in the summer happy with their achievements, for some it will mean making it through a whole week at school, for others it will be the receipt of a string of A’s, but for all of them I hope they remember me with fondness and madness. I hope that I can be the quiet in the storm for them this year as pressure at home and in class builds, I want to provide an oasis where they can come and chill, cry, laugh and eat chocolate as each and every one has touched my heart in a positive way. I feel I have achieved at least a small part of this and now we wait for the results, it was traumatic for me, I couldn’t believe how much a hole they left in my day once they went.

But now I have a lovely new Year 7 tutor group who at first I was nervous about having to deal with. However having met them, I am excited by the prospect of getting to nurture and mold these new secondary school children and having the impact on their lives that maybe I did on the last lot.

Finally I want to be a better me both teacher and person, as earlier stated,  However I do want to have more of an impact in the teaching and learning with in a school not just in my subject, so in order to do that I need to be the best me I can be; so think, another year of practice and risk will help. Continuing to work on this, practice makes perfect and I’m listening, learning, reading, reflecting all in the hope of improving.

I’d like to play a bigger role in the success of Dawlish Community College but not sure what that will look like,  maybe that will mean I will have to leave and in doing so I will be looking for that next step. The bigger role at Dawlish hasn’t worked out. Watch this space.

So for next term to the end of the year what to do?

  • Help the department remain level as we transition with new head and second in department as they find their feet.
  • Support my students to be the best learners they can be.
  • Develop and reflect on my pedagogy to make sure that I’m continually improving.
  • Push myself beyond the comfort zones, experiment, take risks, learn, fail.
  • Make time for family and friends, share, explore, have fun and laugh, look for the good, as I do believe we still have some tough stuff to get through and with Charlotte doing GCSEs in 2016 we will need to be stronger together.

So there you have it. Have you reviewed yours?


#Blimage-Blank Pages


I remember with fondness Calvin and Hobbes, my Mum has always been a Daily Express reader and this was the cartoon I would read in the morning when I was at home doing my A levels, I liked the idea of a little boy and his imaginary friend, who he would get into exciting adventures with. Although these often turned out to be scrapes and he ended up in trouble.

Yet looking at the images now from an adult perspective, Calvin is a lonely chap, who has no friends and relies on his imaginary playmate to keep him company as the adults in his world seem oblivious to his incredible imagination.

Rachel @rlj1981 challenged me to this #blimage and I had to think about this for a week or so; While I commenced operation house deep clean this image floated around. Two options sprang to mind.

The Blank Page. Version 1

I think the prospect of a blank white piece of A4 is scary for many of us as adults, I am a sporadic blogger, with a small number of readers. I worry about my grammar, punctuation, whether what I have to say is relevant, waffle or just the ramblings of a crazy woman, will people read, do I want people to read?

Those first few words are hard to get down, I need a prompt, a stimulus, a nudge, encouragement, someone to show me the way. But then as so often once I start, the words flow, momentum starts and my confidence grows and I fill the page and more often than not, sometimes its ramblings and I need editing, especially when it’s educationally based and I’m trying to make a point.

So if this is how I feel, how do my students feel?  when faced with that blank, white sheet of A4, and told to answer that 6 mark question, pull, together all your knowledge on a topic, use your connectives, account for all the marks, make it make sense, check your spelling and punctuation, show the examiner that you understand, it all counts.

NO PRESSURE, plus you only have about 10 minutes to do this.

Oh and by the way no allowance for the fact that your dyslexic and that you can’t access the vocabulary because there is so much to read, and you’re not that quick a reader, so that means that you don’t understand what the question is asking you in the first place.

All they see is the blank page.

Is it any wonder so many of the students leave this question searching for those they can answer on the exam and come back to it in the last minutes of the exam and scribble something down at the end hoping that it will do.

It’s times like this when I watch these pupils struggling. Questioning what is the point of this? That I want to be Hobbes, throw my arms around them, cuddle them, tell them to ‘snap out of it,’ and allow them to walk away, because in the real world they won’t have to do it from memory and face a blank page, they will have resources to help, people to guide them, exemplars, work colleagues they can turn to when the report is due and their not sure what to do next, spell checkers, grammar checkers, editors. They won’t be faced with the blank piece of A4  ALL ALONE.

What do I say to them to make it better, how do we help them?

The Blank Page Version 2

This version is a slightly more upbeat version, this is where I was looking at the new year about to begin, I am going to be a Year 7 tutor with an interesting tutor group, with a mix of new students about to start their journey through secondary school and now they are blank pages waiting for us to cover them in knowledge that we feel they need to know.

Or are they?

They all will come with knowledge and baggage and I look at Hobbes, their imaginary friend as their baggage.

They’ve already been in the school community for 6 years, some have been in nursery before that, they’ve worked out that there is a group of kids who are smarter!! than them, cooler, sportier, sing better, get the lead roles in the plays, get picked first for everything, are the loud ones, the naughty ones, the bullies, the shy ones, the funny ones, the jokers, the computer nerds, the slightly odd ones, the pretty girls, the jocks, the list is endless. This isn’t the groupings that we give them, this is the grouping they give themselves, we haven’t even started with our groupings, the X band the Y band, A1 or B5, Higher or Foundation, GCSE or Btec, Triple or Double, those on the SEND register and the Higher Achievers, the middle ability boys, the pupils premium, the looked after pupils, the lists are endless.

How do we make sure that this year 7 is a blank page a clean start, a fresh go? Now is a time to redefine themselves, if they were the naughty boy, it’s time to ‘snap out of it’ reinvent themselves. Try something exciting, be different. If they really want that lead role, go for it, get up there, ignore the fear, sing like you’ve never sung before, who knows what will happen.

This is my chance to help these blank sheets of pupils find their Calvin Superhero – Stupendous Man



I want them to take their blank page and rewrite their own story, leaving behind the baggage of primary school, not leaving behind their imaginary friend but changing him into their new improved self. To support them on their incredible adventure towards adulthood, without the labels, that they and we are so quick to give them, they are all unique and special in each and every way and I as their tutor need to remind them every day of this so that they remember.

That this is their chance to clean the slate, start afresh where nobody need know what went before and there is only forward not just on their first day, but every day they come to school.

So there you have it, Look for the #Blimage see the image and write yours.