Review by Iesha Small

25 Mar 2018, 5:00

Iesha Small’s top blogs of the week 19 March 2018

Reviewer Iesha Small shares her top picks from the edu-blogosphere this week


Working with trainees: My favourite action step
By @LeeDonaghy

“I have seen this routine used incredibly effectively. It can transform lessons,” writes Lee Donaghy, with a sentence that should make any new or struggling teacher take note.

Donaghy is a former history teacher and school leader who now trains teachers. Every teacher, no matter how good or experienced, occasionally has a class that it’s hard to make a breakthrough with.

He outlines the importance of routines. I’ve had clear start and end-of-lesson routines for years that are often remarked upon by colleagues, but here he takes us through a clear and simple 10-step routine for how to transition between phases of a lesson. Share this with any new teachers in your network or any who are having issues with behaviour management that is affecting learning.

Routines are key and all effective teachers that I’ve observed over several years have them – even if they aren’t consciously aware. This post just makes us think of them explicitly.


The stranger on the bridge: Male mental health
By Hannah Wilson

“At least 35 men came forward to say that they had also stopped someone from taking their life on a bridge in London on that same date,” writes Hannah Wilson, an executive headteacher discussing a recent mental health awareness conference at her school.

The keynote speaker was Jonny Benjamin, a mental health campaigner who once attempted suicide from a bridge in London before a stranger stopped to help him.

As teachers it is important for us to be aware that mental health is an issue that needs to be discussed openly in our classrooms, staffrooms and decision-making spaces. I took many years to be open about my own struggles with depression as a school leader, but when I did, and when I’ve written on my own blog about it, I’ve found that there are many in my professional network who have experienced the same. Wilson’s school is organising another open event on June 3.

I hope that other school leaders will be bold and hold events that make talking about mental health less of a taboo, and provide support and solutions for the affected members of their communities.


MAT expansion and cultural matters
By Naureen Khalid

“The governors of schools thinking of joining a MAT also need to understand the culture,” explains Naureen Khalid, a school governor. Governors are often forgotten in discussions about school leadership: a good governing team can be a huge asset and governors do play an important part in the selection of a senior leadership team.

A poor board of governors can leave important questions unasked and unanswered that ultimately damage the long-term future of a school.

Here, Khalid writes about a topic I’ve not often seen addressed: the considerations that a governing body needs to make when thinking of joining a MAT. She specifically focuses on culture.

Standalone schools and academies can set a particular ethos and that is often what draws parents to them. This blog explores how governors can ensure that existing cultures are compatible with new academy partners.


‘Faking it to make it’: Gaining confidence to do the things you’re not yet ready to do
By Ellie Mulcahy

“No matter how competent a woman is, she will only be seen as confident, and therefore fit for leadership, if she is also warm,” says Ellie Mulcahy, an educational researcher and former early-years teacher. Here she outlines the research in confidence gaps between men and women and the implications for school leadership.

This is a blog both for leaders and aspiring ones, but it is also for governors and anybody responsible for hiring or performance managing school leaders to help them to consider if the assumptions and expectations they make are fair and equitable to all genders.

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