Week commencing 2 March 2015

Things that make me happy

By @ChocoTzar

Maybe it’s the time of year, that half-way point before spring’s evidence is apparent, that makes teachers turn inwards to question wellbeing more deeply. With perfect timing, ChocTzar reminds us that “like many of the people I know, keeping myself happy can be extraordinarily tough”. But this is not a negative post counting down the days to the holidays or berating the job; instead it is a reminder of all the positive things in life. How music and comedy can make you smile at the toughest times and despite life not resembling an S Club 7 video, there’s always something to make you smile. Read, feel lifted and enjoy.

Knowing me knowing you

By @thosethatcan

A blog on differentiation that grabbed me from the first line: “This is debatable amongst senior leaders, but I continue to hold the conviction that my success as an educator finds its roots in my triumphs and my failures in my own classroom.” Recent research on the number of children in a classroom having no impact upon learning makes me question how connected some research is to the realities of school life. This blog’s refreshing honesty on differentiation – that it’s about knowing your students and classroom dynamic – might not be stringently evidenced but it certainly reflects my own experiences and I’d argue those of many other teachers. “This is the joy, the frustration, the simplicity and the infinite complexity of effectively differentiated teaching – know your students, let them know you know them, build up an armoury of resources and ideas and strategies, ditch what doesn’t work, and celebrate what does.”

No genes for literacy

By @ReclaimingSchools

I am incredibly uncomfortable discussing genetic “ability”. As well as providing an excellent counter argument, this blog also gives links to discover more about the debate. As with many dangerous ideas it is always good to be informed.

Daily mental maths

By @MissNQT

Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest; the “why didn’t I think of that?” ideas. In this blog, MissNQT explains how she has worked to improve the mathematical understanding of her pupils by setting five mental arithmetic questions each day, four of them based on the different operations, then repeating them throughout the week to deepen understanding and help with retention. I will definitely try a version of it with my Year 2 pupils.

Bringing down the wall

By @ImSporticus

This has been left to the end on purpose. After we have reminded ourselves to be cheerful, had a reality check, discounted dangerous educational ideas and contemplated pedagogy, we should pause and read this carefully. Despite the many advantages to having a teacher as a life partner (Christmas chocolates, I’m looking at you), there is a danger that we obsess too much about our jobs and allow them to consume us to the detriment of our personal relationships. In this ImSporticus paints a moving picture of the walls we build between partners unknowingly: “The foundations of the wall are laid with laptops open at breakfast whilst checking emails from work. The bricks are placed one on top of each other when one of you continues to mark whilst the other goes to bed alone. Soon you lose sight of your partner, but you don’t realise as your focus is on improving a resource that was perfect last year. The height increases when you forget to ring your friends or family because something that is important for someone else needs to be done that night. It continues to build when one of you doesn’t sleep due to the worry of a child that isn’t even yours.” If you have ever felt guilty about having a long holiday please read this, before running off to spend time with your family.