Look Out.

Apparently, somewhere along the way I’ve developed a look.

The look, so my class kindly inform me, is at its strongest when delivered over the top of my glasses with an inclined head and a raised eyebrow.

One young man assures me that in collective worship he can feel the look on the back of his neck – I say that’s his guilty conscience at work as I only use this superpower

a) when necessary
b) when I have eye contact with someone

When I started teaching the first deputy head I worked with had a ferocious look – I remember being impressed by her ability to stop trouble at ten paces with an arched eyebrow.

At the time as a naive NQT I didn’t think I could ever aspire to my own version of  the look but it seems that somewhere along the way I’ve managed to perfect it.

The look can’t stand alone – it has to be built into your relationship with the pupils. If their behaviour and work ethic didn’t matter you wouldn’t bother.
I’m sure if I delivered the look  to a random class that didn’t know me I’d just look like a crazed middle aged woman with a wrinkled forehead.

I’d like to think the look has nuances and isn’t the “emotionless, expressionless stare” that wikipedia describes.

Really?
Listen

Stop.
Don’t even think about it.

I hope that it also has a positive friendly counterpart

The look that says

Well done.
Keep it up.
Wow!
That’s great.
Don’t give up.

Photo.jpg.

Mistaken

I’ve written about making mistakes before.

The truth is I am an expert in the art of mistake making.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 21.11.08But I still stand by my assertion that that’s perfectly alright.

I always tell the children that the only problem with mistake making is if you keep on repeating the same mistake. It should be a step on your learning journey.

As important as making mistakes is I’m also a firm believer in admitting when I am just plain wrong.

I hate it when I see adults in a school ploughing on, not admitting that they are in the wrong. It diminishes their integrity and isn’t a good way of developing relationships with pupils and other adults.

If something doesn’t work, or I mess up a lesson I don’t think there is anything wrong in admitting it and apologising.

If I don’t know something I would much rather admit my ignorance then bluff or give out wrong information. Not that I’m above using the tried and tested

“what an interesting question … why don’t you see if you can find the answer?”

This doesn’t mean I like being wrong – I hate it. But I’ve learnt not to be afraid of it.

I hope my classroom is a place where it’s alright to be wrong. A place where we alongside celebrating success we recognise and acknowledge the mistakes that help us learn.

Using Staff OneNote

As we move into our third full term of using OneNote things have evolved.

When we started on our OneNote journey the staff version wasn’t available so I made 5 separate planning OneNotes that were then shared by teaching staff.

This worked perfectly well. It did take time to set up each NoteBook and make sure everyone had all the correct sections.

Moving to one shared file feels like the right thing to do – there were lots of sections that I had duplicated in each individual OneNote – this should avoid the need to do this.

Initially I set up a staff OneNote using the template but I soon realised that it wouldn’t actually work for our purposes.

I wanted all teaching staff to be able to see and contribute to all areas. I played around behind the scenes trying to change the settings but I couldn’t get it to do what I wanted.

Going back to the drawing board I created a new Staff OneNote – this time I added all teaching staff as co-owners rather than staff members.

This meant that there were no private areas and I could then set it up as I wanted.

The ability to password protect tabs means that staff are still able to have pages which contain confidential information

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I removed the ‘collaboration area’ as technically the idea is that the whole NoteBook is collaborative.

 

When you open it we have the welcome page which contains an index and links to each planning section

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 21.23.47The virtual notice board has a page for each teacher and a whole staff page – a useful place to share things that don’t warrant an email but need saying.

It’s good to see that during the holiday people have already started using this feature.

The content library is filling up nicely – policy documents, collective worship resources, planning overviews, national curriculum documents and information.

To stop it becoming too cluttered I’ve added a new section group and put subjects into that. A place where people can share resources and schemes of work.

Then, sitting alongside the content library we have an admin section and class planning.

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How will this improve our systems?

  • Staff who teach in more than one Class don’t need to ‘notebook-hop’
  • The noticeboard should streamline communication
  • There is no longer a need to copy sections into multiple notebooks
  • Policies and SOW are all in one accessible place

 

 

Summer Term

It’s hard to believe that the Summer Term is upon us.
Two thirds of the year gone by already – Easter being early this year means that there are 66 school days left – 65 is exactly one third of the working year.

How do I feel about the Summer Term?

Pros
Fine weather (maybe, we are in Wales)
A residential trip to look forward to
Planning – using OneNote means that for the first time in my entire career my planning is up to date and I’m not playing catch up. I’m even enjoying planning for this term – lots of exciting things to do.
Out Door Classroom Day
Surfing!
Report Writing – yes, I like it.

Cons
Moderation and Testing – necessary evils, but I have to admit having begun the process of compiling my moderation work it isn’t making my heart sing with joy. Time and effort to tell me what I already know … what would I like to happen? For someone to come in and sit with my ‘chosen’ pupils – look at their books, chat with them and watch them complete as task.

And as for testing, was all have the pupils who just cannot cope with the test situation – you can make it as calm and unthreatening as you like but for some it is a soul-destroying experience, where, for some reason they cannot show what they are capable of.

Saying goodbye to Year 6

 

 

 

 

DL Chat

Sometimes 140 characters isn’t enough …
Q1 – just how much time do your Digital Leaders spend being digital leaders? What are they expected to do in this time?

This year’s group distribute and collect all equipment daily – staff book equipment via OneNote and the DLs organise the equipment accordingly.
Until now the information has been on my OneNote file but I’ve just changed the system so it is on their Class OneNote and they and access info even if I am not around.

They also spend several dinner times a week doing DL stuff (by choice)  – this year they self organise. They made a video and prepared a presentation on e-safety, they update software and organise hardware, create quizzes and presentations (e.g. – how to look after and charge the laptops correctly)

If there is an ICT problem in another class they are the first port of call – they’ll go down and see if they can solve it (quite often they do)

Q2 – Is there a hierarchy in your Digital Leaders? Are they expected to organise themselves at all?

To be honest this group have been pretty good at self-organisation. Last year I was over ambitious and had too many and it didn’t work.

We have a core group of 5 with a couple of honorary DLs who help when needed.

Occasionally they will ask for advice on how to organise/approach something but mostly they are self sufficient.

They all have different strengths (e.g. Some are really good at problem solving and finding ways to work around an ICT issue, others are great at tracing the source of a problem)

Q3 – How independent do you expect your Digital Leaders to be? What are they allowed to do?

They are fairly independent like to tell me what to do.

In the past I have had to direct them much more – this year they are quite proactive and will identify problems themselves.

They also like to work with the ICT technician when he comes in so that if the same problem arises we can resolve it in-house.

I try to encourage them to develop areas of ICT they are interested in and they have risen to the challenge.

Q4 One tip for encouraging independent Digital Leaders?

You do need a couple of DLs who are good at organising things/one another.

Is it Safe?

You have to say that in the style of a crazed dentist or is it just me?

Today was Safer Internet Day and our Digital Leaders did us proud.

 

For weeks they’ve spent dinner times planning and preparing a video and quiz.

How much involvement have I had? Truthfully, not much. In fact, until today I hadn’t even seen the finished product.

This morning they set everything up and tested the quiz – there was one minor blip where a question said “How do you spell cyber?”

Once we’d worked through the flawed logic and rephrased it they were ready to go.

And they were fantastic – they worked with FP first and they had the younger pupils eating out of their hands. The video, a great mix of safety messages and a rather funky dance to teach them where to get help if they are being cyber bullied was a pleasure to watch.

The quiz went well – and at the end they (the DLs) were confident that they had delivered the safety message successfully.

 

So why do I have this continual worry about their e-safety? I think the truth is that we are training our children to be able to answer our questions on e-safety correctly.

In my school the correct text book answers come thick and fast.

Ask the question and the hands shoot up

They all tell us that a friend online should be someone they know but I’d bet my second best iPad that many of them interact with strangers.

They overshare – the internet has always been there for them and they know no fear.

They can tell us how to deal with a cyber bully – but do they? Or are they keyboard warriors retaliating, or passive victims feeling scared and diminished?

What’s the answer? I wish I knew.

 

 

 

From Chaos to Order

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 21.12.27

During the past two weeks I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how we’ve used OneNote in school.

The precursor to that is because I’ve been talking about that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it as well.

Moving our planning across was a leap of faith, and the truth is because I didn’t know anyone who’d done it before it could easily have been unworkable.

And what do I think?

Firstly, how odd to have become a person who talks about how to do planning. It has always been one of the weaker points in my armoury. I like thinking up ideas for lessons, I love teaching, I don’t mind marking but the putting it down on paper was probably my weakest point.

I said it in my previous post, but the ease of use combined with integration and collaboration are the perfect combination.

No more bulging files, unfiled bits of paper and missing notes.

Instead I have neat tabs and ordered pages.

I can search through them at the click of a button – it even searches through pdf documents.

Will I go back to a paper file.

No thank you

 

 

 

Forcing Change

Change can be hard.

People like to do things in the way they are familiar and comfortable with.

Innovation can be scary.

This term I implemented a change in the way we plan.
Out went the lever arch files, the printed sheets and the post-it notes. Goodbye to the memory sticks and drop boxes, files spread out in a range of destinations.
In came OneNote.

I wasn’t completely heartless, I built the Notebooks and populated them with everything needed from overviews to curriculum documents.

Without wishing to boast they were a thing of beauty! In my eyes anyway

And then I rolled them out.

My aims were ease of use, accessibility and transparency – all NoteBooks are shared with all teaching staff.

They can see everyones’ and comment on them. As the person who collects in and comments on planning I was very aware that while I always offered mine for scrutiny no one ever looked at it.

This week I asked for feedback and so far it has been overwhelmingly positive.

It has had a hugely positive impact, particularly as I share a classroom (and thus planning) with another teacher. I can quickly and easily access her planning as well as sharing classroom administration task

OneNote has helped me immensely to organise my planning, teaching and daily assessment. I no longer have to worry about missing pieces of paper in my planning file and being able to view other staff’s planning has boosted my confidence. It is also proving to be an effective way of working collaboratively with other staff, being able to share ideas, documents and other information quickly and easily. Having the app on the iPad also means I can add notes instantly to my planning before I forget. 

It hasn’t all been plain sailing. As always there are technical problems but we’re ironing them out bit by bit.
Some staff have found the transition fairly easy, others are still struggling with some of the features of OneNote.

On a personal level my planning has never been so up to date.

Up to date in two senses – I’ve planned ahead but also I am actually annotating and reviewing lessons.

My favourite comment so far was a conversation where a member of staff half jokingly said “you’ve taken away all my excuses – I can’t use I’ve left my file at home or the printer doesn’t work any more”

 

Looking Forward to Looking Backwards

It’s a funny time of year in school.

The final week looms – full to the gunnels. Trips, Leaver’s Assembly, Fund Raiser and when you teach Year Six all ‘the last times

But the truth is my eyes are already firmly fixed on next year.

During the past few weeks I’ve been working on our revised KS2 Curriculum.

We’re looking at taking a different approach to curriculum coverage. We need tor revise and adapt.
We need to take the new revised areas of learning and POS on board.
We need to be more pro-active in ensuring we have full curriculum coverage.

We need to get to grips with really focusing on a whole key stage approach to pupil profiles – after a staff meeting a teacher said “…it’s exciting, but scary”

And that’s good. Scary is good.

Scary should make you try harder. Be more aware. Think more carefully.

It’s easy to become complacent. To coast, perhaps even to coast badly, to slide downhill.

We need shaking up, to be held to task. We need to do things that scare us and make us uncomfortable.

But (finally getting to the point) we need to look back and reflect as well.

What does work? What doesn’t? What have I learnt this year? What didn’t do so well? What can I do more of/less of?

What are my aims for next year?

There are many, but as a starting point I’m looking to develop team work.

Better collaboration. More honest discussion. More sharing.

How will I do this?

Collaborative planning using OneNote is my first weapon of choice. That’s a bit scary – there’s no where to hide when everyone can access your planning all the time.
Key Stage meetings with clear defined agendas.
Honesty.
DIfficult conversations.
Support.
Discussion.

Will it work? Watch this space.