I thought I would make the best use of my 4 hour train journey back to reflect on my practice in the context of the teach meet in Southampton this weekend.
As always when I attend these events, I have found it reenergising. If nothing else sometimes this is enough. Everything else is a bonus and I think I managed to take away several bonuses with me today.
The one thing I am constantly worried about is not knowing if I am doing the right thing by the students. You get so caught up in the bubble, and when we get on that rollercoaster in September the opportunities to reflect and ensure that your practice is purposeful is so limited it is difficult to feel you are on the right path.
So in the true blog style, I am going to just note down my reactions and thoughts for each of the session I attended and reflect on how that matches into my previous reading and pedagogy.
The opening from John Tomsett:
I was looking forward to hearing from John Tomsett for two reasons: one, I read his book over the summer and loved it, and secondly from an English teacher’s perspective I wanted to pick his brains regarding the way he has moved forward with the new GCSE.
His opening used the buzz word that has been so central to my reading over the last 3 years: metacognition. Frustratingly, this isn’t something that I’ve been able to get off the ground in schools in terms of outside of my own classroom but in hearing this word reiterated today and throughout many of the sessions is I attended helped me see that this is something I want to persevere with. As I feel it has really merit.
Session 1: questioning with Andy Tharby.
I played safe here as I have read ‘Making every lesson count’ and feel quite confident in questioning. What I did take away was the a sense of relief that I wasn’t the only one reall hammering the questioning. NOt only using it as retrieval practise but also from Readingn Reconsidred by Doug Lemov, using it to shape the questions that I use to analyse a text..
What I did think was particularly powerful was the emphasis on creating lists of questions from a text. A whole departmental approach is a fab way to ensure that you are supporting the less experienced staff and also providing resources from all.
I bought a book at the Crown book stall today called the Philosophy Shop which also helps develop students thinking through questioning that I think I will begin building into schemes of work to help link contextual factors, questioning and diverse thinking on a topic we are studying. .
Session 2: Assessment with John Tomsett
This was out of sheer curiosity I went to this one. LIfe after Levels is a struggle for many schools and for English at the moment it is not exception. Schools are trying to balance the accountability factor alongside not giving levels and changing mindsets and I definitely took away from this a need to change my mind set on levels.
I came away with many questions. How can we help students progress within specific skills if we are only saying they are below, on or above target? What are we basing this on if we never know their target? How can we use mark schemes and ask students to take responsibility for their progression if we aren’t giving them a scaffold? Can this be used or phrased in a different way? If SLT want us to have targets in front of the books but then not give arrest to the students how do we have this conversation with parents and child when they ask?
I understood John Tomsett approach and he really has changed the mindset of his staff and students I am just wondering how to have an impact or work through this as a middle leader in a new school?
Session 3: Literacy with Lindsay Skinner
I really enjoyed this session. NOt only as the subject was directly related to what I enjoy and teach but also because of its charismatic no bullshit delivery. I’ve been an avid fan of teaching grammar over the last 18 months mainly because I realised my grammar knowledge was shocking and I needed to improve it asap. There were plenty of quickwins in this session with activities that helped embed the terminology . I loved the mindset that it wasn’t teaching the terminology but the effect of how using this terminology worked with the experts. .
Session 4: Teacher Development with MIchael Slavinsky
Another passion of mine was the central theme of the final session: staff CPD. It was a really interesting debate and I am looking forward to reading the research attached to the ‘bets’ discussed and ‘pegged’ during this session. The one that really sticks in my mind is whether it is best to offer CPD for general teaching pedagogy or for the individual and whether knowledge and skills should be offered as training over mindset and values.
Overall,I think I came away from the session wanting to sit down and look over the CPD on offer at my school and subject and devise a really clear path forwardthat was supported with research and a knowledge of th we w, what why when and how. .
I did enjoy the day and I will never miss an opportunity, if I can help it, to attend sessions like today as it really is the personalised CPD that helps reinvigorate me as a teacher and helps me feel inspired for the next half term. I just hope next time I can take someone with me to bounce ideas off.