Jill Berry’s top blogs June 1 2015

A primary teacher Minifesto

By Jonny Walker

Jonny is one of those bloggers who makes me laugh and makes me think. His ‘Minifesto’ gives a revealing insight into the world of the primary school; Jonny shares his priorities and the joys and challenges of his role as a Year 5 teacher. “It sometimes feels like I am trying to teach a Mindfulness course to a pack of playful chimp-toddlers through the bars of the cage…” Loved it.

Dealing with difficult conversations

By Mark Anderson

All teachers have difficult conversations to negotiate at times – with pupils, with parents, with colleagues. If you become a middle leader/senior leader/head it may be that the number of these conversations multiplies, and we can’t (and shouldn’t) avoid them. They’re all part of the delicate balance of support and challenge we need to offer those we lead.
Mark’s practical, well-grounded post gives some specific suggestions about how we can ensure such conversations are as productive as possible, leading to “something truly formative that helps improve a situation, develops learning or improves capability”.

The space between the question and the answer

By Mark Miller

“If a great question is asked, but only a small proportion of your class actually think about it, is it a great question?”
Mark is an astute commentator on what makes for the most effective teaching, and in this post he focuses on how to ensure the time that we allow between a question and the answer is conducive to high-quality student thinking. He also explores the fact that, although “thinking is invisible”, there are strategies teachers can adopt to gauge the effect of student thinking. He offers specific suggestions of what can be done, using examples from his own practice and the practice of his colleagues.

Why I’m a feminist

By Chris Hildrew

I love the way Chris writes, and found this a fascinating post. There’s been considerable recent discussion about feminism and equality of opportunity for men and women in teaching and educational leadership (see, for example, the #womened posts on @staffrm) and, perhaps inevitably, most of the comment has come from women. Here, Chris explains his perspective on feminism. He includes the clip of Emma Watson’s address to the UN on the subject of feminism and the #HeforShe initiative. As Chris says, “My #HeForShe commitment is to live these values in every aspect of my professional life.” Great stuff.

Kakuma

By Debra Kidd

Earlier this year, Debra visited a refugee camp in Kakuma in Africa and wrote three powerful and moving posts about the experience of working there. Sometimes it takes reading about the educational challenges faced in a very different context to help us to get our own challenges and preoccupations into context. Thanks for sharing this, Debra.

Sticky Learning

By Sue Cowley

Much has been written and debated about how to make learning ‘stick’. I really liked Sue’s take on the subject. She argues that it’s the combination of what we know, the experience we have and our sense of purpose which leads to “sticky learning”, and she uses analogies from her current horticultural passion to illustrate this powerfully. I loved her suggestion that “Motivation is the great beating heart of learning.” I think Sue must be a great teacher – I’ve certainly learnt a huge amount from her.

Gifts

By Thomas Starkey

Finally, this short, powerful post from Tom explores the “precious, intangible, transformative gifts that are given by those who teach, to those who are taught.”  It serves as a poignant reminder of why teachers do what they do.  When you’re feeling weary as we reach the end of the academic year, I guarantee this post will give you a lift.  Just read it.