Reviewer Andrew Old shares his top picks from the edu-blogosphere this week
The problems with grade forecasting
This post makes an interesting argument against forecasting grades. Rather than focusing on the usual criticisms about accuracy and the danger of lowering expectations, the author points out that the activities that lead to the most accurate predictions are not the ones that lead to the most learning. Trying to accurately predict performance is simply the wrong objective for a teacher and a waste of everyone’s time.
The teacher perspective
Perhaps this is one of the most obvious things you could point out, but if you want to find out about what happens in classrooms, you’d do well to ask a teacher. This post observes that teachers’ perspective is often ignored, and discusses a number of situations where the most important insights about a school situation could easily be uncovered just by talking to one. He concludes by encouraging teachers to join the discussion and share their views.
In the aftermath of World Teacher Day, this blogger challenges those who talk about teaching as if it were so much more than a job. This talk might be intended as praise for teachers, but it risks creating a culture where they are expected to destroy themselves for the sake of their vocation.
Following Theresa May’s croaky conference speech, drama teacher and educational thinker Martin Robinson tells us “I felt sorry for Theresa May. Coughing, spluttering, losing your voice whilst trying to retain a semblance of dignity during a speech must have been quite a trial. It is a trial many teachers have been through and will go through. A teacher’s voice is the most important tool in his or her armoury, lose it and it is difficult to teach.” He gives some useful advice on looking after your voice.
Charter academy: teachers teach, kids learn
There has been intense debate on Twitter about whether attempts to introduce a strict discipline system at a struggling school could ever actually work. Much of this debate focused on one school in Great Yarmouth, where we have an account from a visitor who concludes that with the right leadership, behaviour can reach the highest standards in five weeks. Many teachers might envy the orderly environment described here.
Also on the subject of behaviour, and the systems that help ensure that it is top notch, is this post from behaviour expert Tom Bennett. He argues that requiring good behaviour is actually more inclusive than tolerating disruption. Implementing consistent routines, with suitable accommodations where required, “is one of the most rational, rewarding investments a teacher or school leader can make in their community”.
The joys of transition
A post to amuse anyone teaching year 7 right now. This teacher describes all the delightful quirks of new arrivals at secondary school, including the way “it takes them five minutes to unpack their bags” and being asked “if you mind them using both sides of the paper in a test”. Everything in this post is very familiar.
Daft drafting in the classroom
I never much appreciated the fad for getting kids to redraft their work multiple times. However, I always assumed that this was because I’m a maths teacher, and that it made much more sense for, say, English teachers. It comes almost as a relief to see that an English teacher could have similar doubts. The author of this post argues that the best time to give feedback on writing is while the writing is underway, not after a completed first draft.