Jill Berry’s blog picks 20 March 2015

The silent teacher? Bring it on!

By Blogger, interrupted (@stephanootis)

Losing her voice gives this teacher the opportunity to reflect on the power of silence, the importance of listening and how we can turn a liability into an asset.

“What has the Silent Teacher taught me? The need to consciously create that oasis of calm in every lesson and perhaps in the future choose to run the occasional ‘Silent Teacher’ lesson to reset the tone. For now, I’ll just stop talking and tune in to the inner peace.”

I’m hoping for more contributions from this talented and thoughtful blogger.

Supporting shy students

By Alex Quigley (@huntingenglish)

Alex reflects on his own experience of being a slightly awkward teenager, especially when faced with public speaking, but he recognises that his level of anxiety was nothing compared with the struggle of those who are painfully shy. He writes here of his awareness that all teachers will have a number of shy children in their classrooms; learners who are often overlooked. “Shy students too often get lost in the din of the crowds…With quiet desperation, they can cling to the sides of our lessons.” He offers a range of practical strategies for ensuring these pupils are supported and challenged to be their best. Many techniques are simply good practice, but he argues that shy children especially need a considered, attentive approach.

Avoiding a blame culture

By David Culberhouse (@DCulberhouse)

Culberhouse reflects on society’s preoccupation with apportioning blame, and how corrosive this can be to establishing a climate of creativity and innovation. He isn’t suggesting that no one should be accountable, but he argues that leaders who are always quick to move from mistake to blame miss the point that often the blaming is more damaging than the original misjudgment. It is far more productive to put things right or mitigate the harm. A salient lesson for leaders at all levels.

Building a department

By Chris Waugh (@edutronic)

This is the first of a series of posts written some time ago by Chris, but I read it only recently (the joy of Twitter – the good stuff keeps coming round) and thought it was well worth recommending, especially for those considering becoming a head of department or establishing themselves in this position. Chris argues that it’s all about the people and building the most positive relationships within and beyond the school. He sets out his vision and values, and discusses and illustrates the practical steps taken to convert this vision into reality. I found it inspiring.

Less is more

By Helena Marsh (@helenamarsh81) via @staffrm

I love the way Helena Marsh writes and found it humbling that when she tackled the #28daysofwriting challenge, producing a post each day for 28 days, the quality of her contributions never faltered. I’d recommend checking out all of them, but this was a favourite. Helena starts by comparing how as a parent she understands the value of keeping things simple; a toddler might derive more pleasure from playing in a plastic laundry basket than with the most expensive of toys. She compares this then with the teacher’s situation: “Sometimes the most straight-forward and uncomplicated lessons can reap the greatest learning rewards. Meanwhile, overly-ambitious, fussy plans and heavily resourced activities can create confusion and superficial engagement.” Helena advocates that we “strip teaching back to its fundamental, core principles” and “do less, but better”.

1,000 years of experience

By Chris Chivers (@ChrisChivers2)

Finally, if you haven’t yet read Chris’s original post (what he learnt across his extensive teaching career) and the responses in the comments that follow, it is well worth it. Perhaps you might also like to contribute what you have distilled from your own time in teaching to add to the total and help Chris reach his 1,000-year target. Reflection is always worthwhile.