Week commencing 09 February, 2015

7 questions about technology (#techandme)    

By Simon Davies

I’ve mentioned @staffrm before. If you don’t have a blog but would like occasionally to write an opinion piece or share an idea, it’s an excellent vehicle. Posts can be no longer than 500 words and must include at least one image, a heading, sub-heading and hashtag.

In January, Mark Anderson (@ICTevangelist) established the @staffrm hashtag #techandme when he posed and answered seven questions about technology, at the end of which he nominated three others to respond to the same questions. And so it grew. It’s impossible to read these posts without considering what your own answers might be, encouraging you to reflect on your experience of technology (and consider, perhaps, how you could make better use of it). I’ve enjoyed reading many of these posts, and this, by Simon Davies, is one of my favourites. I don’t always agree with him, but I liked this summary: “Technology is…the proverbial double-edged sword; not going away; too easily taken up as a panacea; too easily demonised.”

The masks teachers wear

By Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones is one of the most generous members of the Twitter and educational blogging community, regularly sharing her thoughts, ideas and resources, often (though not exclusively) about the constructive use of technology in education.

Here, she encourages us to consider how and why we adopt a professional persona, and how we may use masks and image sometimes to protect ourselves in school. She concludes that, as far as she is concerned, “I always prided myself on just being me in my classroom, but actually I am a better version of me,” and suggests that when we are tired and “the mask slips” we need to be forgiving of ourselves, and of each other.

Placing the student at the heart of the observed lesson

By Freya Odell

In this post, Freya Odell shares her school’s system of designing lesson observations that place the student firmly at the centre. In this way, the observation concentrates on learning, rather than teacher performance, and is far more likely to open a dialogue, encourage reflection, and be properly developmental.

This system takes some of the elements of lesson study, for example, identifying two students on whose response and work the observer will focus, and including clear consideration of the teacher’s expectations for each of these students in advance of the observed lesson. Odell found the discussion after the observation much more productive: “Rather than focusing on what I was doing, we discussed student expectation and outcome. We explored differentiation, progress and mastery.” Reading this post you are left with the sense that this process really is about learning – the students’, the observed teacher’s and, in fact, the observer too.

What I have learnt about love

By Ros McMullen

I always enjoy the warmth and the spirit of executive principal Ros McMullen’s posts, here exploring the importance of love within our school system. She condemns the “excuse culture” that limits expectations of “our type of kid”, and what she calls the “cuddle and muddle” of “unchallenging care”.

True love, in an educational context, she suggests, involves choice, and it can be challenging and require resilience. She quotes her principal, Lynne Frost, who is “very fond of reminding staff that the students who require the most love are the ones who will ask for it in the most unloving of ways”. It can be hard to love the ones who need it most, but committed teachers and leaders don’t give up.

Does a loss of teacher autonomy also mean a loss of professionalism?

By Matt Bromley

Finally, in three linked posts Matt Bromley explores the tension between professionalism, autonomy and consistency, particularly within the context of a large FE college. He explores his thinking on this issue in an open and honest way. I found the debate in the comments interesting, too. He doesn’t avoid some controversial issues. As Simon Davies suggests in the first post reviewed: “It is really important to read views that are different from one’s own.” Give it a spin!