Jill Berry’s top blogs of the week 16 November 2016

How the kids see east London

By Jonny Walker

I love the way Jonny writes – his humour, his clear sense of moral purpose and his obvious affection for and commitment to the year 4 children he teaches in the East End. In this post he describes an urban field trip near the school where the children live, covering work in geography, history and art. The piece is beautifully illustrated with photographs taken by the pupils.

Why we’ve got planning and marking all wrong, part 1 and part 2

By Michael Tidd

These two posts by deputy primary head Michael Tidd explore the relationship between planning, marking and feedback. They are full of sound commentary and sensible, practical advice for teachers in all phases. Time is teachers’ most precious resource, and it is crucial that we use it well. Michael encourages us to reflect on the time we spend on written marking, and on planning, and whether we need to rethink our priorities and consider the use of time that yields the most value.

Open door observation

By Robin Macpherson

On the subject of spending time wisely, Robin Macpherson from Wellington College details their system of using lesson observation to encourage reflection, to open a dialogue and to learn, not to judge. As Robin says: “Sometimes the best things are simple and free, as this is.” In terms of the money and time we spend on professional development, are we missing opportunities for the most powerful and valuable professional learning “a stone’s throw from your own classroom”?

In it to fight it

By Emma Kell

There is a huge amount of fairly depressing reading about teaching at present – how tough it is, how teachers are working increasingly (and ultimately unsustainably) hard, how some leaders, pressured themselves, pile the pressure on to those they lead rather than helping others to navigate the demands the profession makes of them. I understand the demands and the frustrations, but feel lifted by posts, such as this one, which focus on an individual’s determination not to be beaten by the system, but to stay in it and to work to make it better.

I am not at all unsympathetic to those who feel ground down and who ultimately put their own health and well-being, and perhaps the well-being of those they care about, before the job. But if good teachers and leaders at all levels are driven out, what happens to the next generation of pupils, and the staff who stay? If you’re working for a poor leader, is it possible to learn from the negative example and to determine to do a much better job of it if you were in that position?

Are teachers perpetuating the curse of the playground bully?

By Kelly Leonard

This post about controversy and contention on Twitter and in blogs, made me think. A degree of disagreement is positive, but some tweeters and bloggers (sometimes unwittingly?) can intimidate others through the way in which such disagreement is expressed. I understand the comment about the subjectivity of tone, but wonder, as Kelly does, whether we need to be more mindful and careful and not, like playground bullies, defend aggression with the argument that “they asked for it . . .”

Not all who wander are lost

By @HoratioSpeaks

I found this post by @HoratioSpeaks powerful and beautifully written. I read it the morning after the Paris attacks, which added to its poignancy. “There are experiences that lead us to a knowledge we might wish we never had, or which distort our view of the world, and ourselves.”