Schools continue to prepare for Donaldson’s reforms.
- As they do so, they need to remember his over-arching vision of the kind of learners we want to produce in Wales – ambitious capable learners, ethical informed citizens, healthy confident individuals, enterprising, creative contributors. That vision is holistic and goes beyond examination results, important as they are for individual fulfilment. The Classical writers saw education as being important in forming a person’s ‘character’. This concern is explored at Birmingham University’s Jubilee centre which researches into ‘character’, how it is developed and what it contributes to society. In typical American fashion, American research has looked at the concept of ‘grit’ which is partly character and partly the hard work and resilience that Donaldson writes of in his report. Recently, research from America has suggested that ‘grit’ does not enhance performance but perhaps this misses the point. Not all education is about performance, some of it is about what kind of person you are and where your values are situated. In education we tend to measure what is measurable but as teachers, we know, that what is measured in terms of what pupils learn is only the tip of the iceberg.
2. Refreshing starters
|Engaging interest through the visual||Using film clips |
Reading a picture’s mood
Reading a picture by revealing more of it
Giving pictures before introducing a topic
Find the link between pictures or name odd one out
Give a name to a picture
Examine a real object as if for first time
Write a headline/caption
Observe objects, photographs or film and recall.
Use inference to read a picture.
|Engaging interest through hearing||Close eyes and listen to a meditation or a story |
Listen to a soundtrack and write down thoughts and feelings e.g. The Blitz
Use music to create mood, era or background
Play concentration games like variants on the minister’s cat
Discuss, listen and report back
Listen to snippets from inspiring speeches
Listen to radio material and mindmap
|Engaging interest from smell and taste||Closed eyes meditation to evoke smell |
Prepared jars to smell in connection with topic
Encourage learners to use smell as a trigger to past events
Taste food from books, places or religions
Use mindfulness to slow down processes
|Encouraging interest from touch |
|Allow learners to touch objects either blindfolded or as a mystery object |
Get learners to do free writing as a warm-up using the wrong hand
Use mindfulness to make learners more aware
Give opportunities for practical activities related to the topic e.g. peeling a tangerine before describing it, weighing ingredients
|An element of surprise |
|Ask for lists – the more unusual the better e.g. 5 things I will never see again, 5 reasons I wish dinosaurs still existed etc. |
Ask an unusual question – if you could invent a cure what would it be?
Daydream in silence and make a mindmap of thoughts
Give a sentence such as – The bird flew out of the hat and ask them to change every word without changing sense.
- Leaving the profession: How depressing to learn [Tes.com] that a third of teachers are considering leaving teaching. I wonder if this is linked to two other pieces of news this week. The first is the report based on a study of London and New York [Tes.com] that shows that leaders do not always respect teachers’ life/work balance and that they set a bad example themselves. Well-being is given lip-service but we all know stories of teachers being asked to attend early morning meetings [parents with children find that one particularly difficult], being contacted at home even when ill and being given un-negotiable deadlines. According to research, teachers appreciate leaders who acknowledge short-term problems, such as child-care or limits to time through parental commitments, and work all the harder for them. Flexibility is difficult in teaching but accommodating meetings and difficulties with deadlines brings better working conditions. The other alarming tendency which is dispiriting is a declining respect for teachers as a profession and the continuing myth that their holidays compensate for any hard work. The only profession to have no payment for over-time, teachers are governed by a sense of moral purpose which is not appreciated by society as a whole.
4.No one forgets a good teacher: Teaching is still a wonderful profession. I recently did research called ‘Chameleons of our Craft’ for which I interviewed over fifty teachers who had been nominated by Headteachers. What a delight! Articles based on my findings will appear soon.
5. Have teaching programme, will travel: I was interested to read that in some countries e.g. Japan and Australia [theguardian.com] the best teachers are recruited to move across those countries to work in underperforming schools or/and those which have difficulty recruiting and retaining staff. Australia gives housing benefits if teachers stay for a period of time. In Japan, teachers are rotated every six years which is an interesting idea and I can see how that would revitalise the teacher and schools. Japan, also, sends teachers who need support to schools with strong teaching skills. These are alternative ways of supporting pupils and staff. In Wales, our pioneer schools can provide training and support. There has been much work to encourage schools to work together to provide new experiences and approaches.