Review by Jill Berry

20 May 2018, 5:00


Top blogs of the week 14 May 2018

Reviewer Jill Berry shares her top education blogs this week

Selling teacher recruitment on wow moments is a lie 


Writing for Teachwire, Adam Boxer discusses advertisements designed to attract future generations of teachers. These campaigns emphasise teaching’s “wow” moments, capitalising on aspiring teachers’ passion to make a difference and transform young lives. Reading this made me reflect that, although this message might well encourage idealistic professionals to sign up for a career in teaching, it might, perhaps, not be sufficient to ensure they stay. As Adam says, “if you’re looking to see inspired and wide-eyed children dazzled by your brilliance, you are looking for the wrong thing”.

Teacher recruitment and retention are clearly burning issues, and we need to talk up our profession, which can be satisfying and energising. However, it is also exhausting and challenging and strong teaching does not rely on these moments. It requires time, dedication and “stickability”. Our narrative needs to be honest, Adam concludes: “If you’re looking for the classic ‘inspirational moment’, pick a different career. If you’re looking for the back-breaking labour of love that is great teaching, come join us.”


21 tips for growing your PLN 


This comprehensive and useful post from Simon Johnson, via TeachWithICT, offers advice on how to form new contacts and extend our professional learning through a wider network. Schools and individual practitioners who are outward-facing and keen to collaborate find that such networks enable them to benefit from and also to contribute to the learning of others.

Simon’s 21 posts deal with different elements of social media and opportunities for face-to-face collaboration. Growing your personal/professional learning network can offer tangible advantages, including globally connecting your classroom, encouraging reflection and the sharing of ideas with a diverse group of educators, personalising your learning and giving you access to practical strategies you can implement immediately.


A different sort of blog. A different sort of daughter 


Ben Newmark writes extremely well about a range of educational topics – he is a thoughtful and persuasive writer. I was attracted to this post because of its strong message about the character of children with specific physical and learning challenges, and the implications for their families. This is personal, powerful, honest reflection following the diagnosis of his daughter Bessie, who has Williams’ Syndrome. The issue of special educational needs suddenly takes on, for Ben, a very different complexion: “The mental shift has been interesting. I’ve assumed an identity I never expected to have: the father of a child with special needs. A whole world has opened up and what once seemed abstract and unrelatable has become personal and important.”

I loved Ben’s conclusion to the piece, as he and his wife watch Bessie determinedly crawl for the first time. “It is not cute. It is jaw-dropping. It is life affirming. And when she stops half way and screams it is a triumphant roar of primeval joy.”


Reflecting on why students need to talk and how to help them achieve this 


This post, shared by Sarah Brinkley, headteacher of John Mason School, examines the importance of students’ verbal communication and asks how far we should push those who find classroom contribution difficult and even painful. How can we structure and support them so that they build their skills and, over time, develop greater confidence and competence in this crucial skill?

Reading this reminded me of how often teachers write on written reports things like “she would benefit from fuller participation in class”, not recognising perhaps that when the full report is compiled the parents (who know they have a diffident child) will read many similar comments. The advice is balanced, practical, and welcome.


Think yourself limitless 


A final quick choice: Carly Waterman summarises her brilliant presentation to a recent #WomenEd event in Mansfield. She encourages us all to address negative self-talk, expect more from ourselves, and, crucially, #ditchdoris

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