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Showing posts from December, 2015

I've got to be strategic but what on Earth does that mean? Attendance as a case study

I've been a senior leader for seven terms now and I have to admit that I thought I wasn't that good at it.  I lost a little confidence and this in turn made me start listening to those voices on the internet that I've always ignored.  I begun to think that they may have a point: that teaching is a rubbish profession and that there is no real way through.  That SLT and Ofsted and the Secretary of State are the enemy. Then I remembered that they are wrong.  I remembered that I have no idea why some of these commentators are actually still in schools.

I didn't think I was any good because I forgot about my lack of patience.  Change takes time. Strategic change takes time.  The areas that I lead in are doing brilliantly. The school is continuing to improve well; the Science department banked the best results ever and is well above national averages in every way possible.  Pupil Premium students are doing better than they ever have as a group and the gap between our young …

Keeping it simple: a cycle that makes leadership better.

I'm quite a simple person at heart, anything too complicated and I just get distracted.  As an outdoor instructor, we stuck to a basic patters: plan, do, review. This simple system worked well in the high stakes world of mountains: get it wrong and people can get seriously injured or die.  Of course, there are many subtleties and tweaks, but improvement, leadership ad teaching are very simple at the core.

I may be completely missing the point (highly probable) but, after a run in the rain, here's what I think:



The beauty of this cycle is that it operates at any scale, from the individual lessons, through long term plans to whole school leadership of teaching and learning.
Big Plan
This is what needs doing.  There should be clear aspirations that are shared and form the basis of evaluation.  It's the most crucial stage and can take a long time to do.  It's also important to note that a Big Plan can operate at different timescales and range from micro to macro. Some exam…

Teaching IS CPD

Ever since being part of the 21st Century Learning Alliance Fellowship back in 2010, I've been inspired by Sir Tim Brighouse's words around teachers talking to teaching.  Low cost, high impact. This has led me to develop the concept of campfire culture and start getting together TeachMeet Solutions.  At the moment, I'm completing my CPD log to retain the Chartered Geographer (Teacher) status that I enjoy from the Royal Geographical Society.  The process has made me reflect on the nature of teaching CPD, and to many I'm sure this post will be a continuation of 'David states to bleeding obvious.'

The analogy of a campfire can be extended to CPD.  Courses and big conferences and large TeachMeets have their place, but they can provide far too much fuel.  I always leave with a mind full of ideas, but only ever implement a few. I've got many notebooks that are filled with analogue scrawls and ideas that have never been realised.  Too much fuel added at the wrong…

I don't care how you teach, as long as students make progress.

As a school leader I've had the privilege to visit many, many classrooms.  I learn something during most visits, whether my stay be five minutes or longer.  As a teacher and school leader, I've looked at loads of outcomes and progress data over the years and used these to start and inform conversations about teaching and learning.  I've also been lucky enough to visit and teach in classrooms other than in the UK.  Based on this rather flimsy experience of successfully increasing attainment and progress at different scales continually over my career, I've come to the following conclusions:
The core purpose of education is to ensure that every young person makes more progress than they ever expected through developing their skills, broadening their knowledge and deepening their understanding. However, if we are to succeed in this goal, the purpose of education has to be much broader and contextualised to each individual institution's context.  There's no point in…

Talking to yourself really helps

As an ultra marathon runner, I'm used to speaking to myself.  Self talk is really important in teaching and leadership.  Quite often, I wish that I was less observant so that student with their coat on wasn't visible to me etc. However, I’ve seen too many leaders look the other way. Here are some techniques I use based on no research whatsoever, just what I do.

1. How should I react?



The first bit of self-talk concerns what to do about something.  Everything that happens can be classified into the two areas above.  I save myself energy by focusing on the stuff that I can change including having a strong routine at the start of the lesson, whether my running daps are well fitting.  I can't do anything about the weather outside, I can just make the decision of what equipment to wear. Unlike the weather outside, I can influence the climate in school. I see Government interventions and Ofsted as the weather (don't like the current raft of initiatives? Ignore them for a year …