Jill Berry picks her top blogs of the week 12 October 2015

Scholar, Google thyself

By @thesiswhisperer

Dr Inger Mewburn is an Australian academic who writes here about composing a “blind peer review” for a fellow academic whom she had not met. “So I got on the Google machine and did a bit of academic stalking.”

The experience led her to reflect on our digital profiles, and how a third party can access a “360deg view” of us by tracking down the “bits and pieces of our digital selves” we leave all over the place. She speculates on how this might encourage us to moderate our online behaviour. I found this fascinating. Have you googled yourself recently?

Setting the record straight about schools on TV

By @FrederickBremer via @SchoolsImprove

I’ve enjoyed all the Educating… series, and have huge respect for the heads who opened their schools to the television crews. Jenny Smith is the head of Frederick Bremer School, the focus of Educating the East End, and in this piece for Schools Improvement responds to Sir Michael Wilshaw’s criticism of such documentaries.

Jenny talks of all the positive feedback she and the school have received since the series was broadcast, and how many emails have reached her from aspiring teachers and aspiring leaders. She concludes: “Educating… has over the past few years opened the debate about education and helped to inform the public in a more accurate way about school life. We should be proud and celebrate what we do in our schools.”

Subject magpies

By @shaun_allison

Shaun is a great advocate of finding the “bright spots”, looking at what is working well and using that information to raise the bar elsewhere. In this post he talks of “magpie observations”, where, “in the spirit of collaboration and sharing good practice, pairs of teachers walk around their subject area, going into classrooms and spotting the great things that the teachers and students are doing – and then sharing it”.

Shaun cites specific examples from science and humanities. I loved the practical nature of the post and the underlying positivity and faith in the capacity of teachers to take a lead in their own professional development.

Performance appraisal

By @kevbartle

Kev is not a fan of performance appraisal, and here clearly outlines its dangers and its limitations. However, he goes on to explain how, through judicious tweaking, he is helping his school to “move from a performative culture towards a learning one”.

He recognises there is a long way to go, but his post is an excellent example of how principled and courageous school leaders, providing they can secure the support of their governing bodies, can take systems that they consider not fit for purpose and still find a way of making them begin to work in their specific context. Kev accepts we need “a new paradigm for evaluating staff effectiveness”, but in the meantime he is committed to “inching” in the right direction.

Maternity works #WomenEd

By @judeenright

The first national #WomenEd “unconference” on Saturday, October 3, was an amazing, energising experience that has spawned a number of impressive blog posts.

Here the wonderful Jude Enright reflects on her own leadership journey, and how what she learnt earlier in her career has informed her current approach to teachers returning after maternity leave, including aspiring women leaders. In Jude’s words: “All of us: men and women, can do so much to change our language, our expectations and our perceptions.” If we do, the world of education will benefit tremendously from the potential out there.

The power of practice

By @chrishildrew

Finally, this post brings together a series of short videos that illustrate the power of repetitive practice on performance. It’s an excellent resource.