Review by Jill Berry

1 May 2015, 6:00

Jill Berry picks hers best blogs of the week April 27

Taking away the water wings

By Kenny Pieper (@kennypieper)

Many teachers will have spent time in school at Easter working with pupils in examination classes. Kenny isn’t alone in reflecting whether this is something they should be doing. Is there a danger that we dilute the impact of first-time teaching if we are too ready to put on extra revision sessions? Do such sessions always reach the students who need them most? And shouldn’t teachers be spending their holiday time with friends and family, refreshing and re-energising so that they are ready for the term ahead? There are no easy answers, but these are important questions.

Emotions in education

By Jo Facer (@jo_facer)

Reflecting on the role of emotion in education – love, anger, and disappointment, experienced and perhaps expressed in our relationships with both students and colleagues – Jo asks: “Is it best to leave emotion at the school gates? Are we stronger and more purposeful educators without it?” She concludes that feeling and expressing love is perhaps important in helping us to remember what drew us to the profession in the first place.

#TLAB15: A flash of light

By Emma Kell (@thosethatcan)

We may all have shared Emma’s experience of waking up early at the weekend to attend a conference and asking ourselves why… But we may also have found, as she does, that the day inspires and invigorates us, giving us ideas and energy that sustain us when we are back in the classroom.

One of the great benefits of blogging is that it allows us to share experiences, initiatives and resources from professional development events. Emma’s summary of, and reflections on, #TLAB15 made me feel as if I were there – and made me wish I had been.

You win some, you lose some

By Andy Tharby (@atharby)

Teachers can be harsh judges of themselves, and sometimes of other teachers. We expect a great deal from ourselves, but we need to be realistic about what we can achieve.

Andy considers the idea of influence, and the connection between what we do and its effect on the students we teach. At times our influence might be profound; at other times “we are no more than a tiny cog in the idiosyncratic engine of a child’s life”. Perhaps we need to give ourselves a break, focus on doing our best and accept that we cannot control everything. “Let’s aim to find out what has the best chance of working well, do it as best we can,
learn from it… and then move on,” Andy says. “However hard and well we work, failure, success and everything in between will still happen to us. Not all factors are within our sphere of control.” I found this heartening and reassuring rather than depressing!

The scourge of motivational posters and the problem with pop psychology in the classroom

By Carl Hendrick (@C_Hendrick)

This post made me remember a poster I displayed on the wall of the classroom in my first job as a young and idealistic English teacher. You may know the one – a photograph of seagulls in flight with the quotation, attributed to Virgil: “They can because they think they can”. One day when I walked into the classroom, one of the (boys?) I taught had written beneath the message “but having wings is an advantage”.

The thing I particularly remember was that this postscript was written on a piece of paper and fixed with Blu Tack so that the poster wouldn’t get damaged.

I have said before that the posts I find most interesting are those that make me think, and Carl’s post did encourage me to reflect on motivational posters, pop psychology and the fact that, in his words, “complex ideas should be given time and space for us to critically reflect upon and resist the urge to summarise into a soundbite.” That’s me and Virgil told.


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