Reviewer Jill Berry shares her top education blogs this week
This brilliantly practical post details Jo Baker’s strategy for quickly learning the names of pupils she teaches. I am absolutely with Jo in her conviction that being able to address each student by name from the very beginning of your time with them is key to good classroom management – and also to establishing warm, mutually respectful relationships. If this is something you find difficult, talk to others about the techniques they use. But don’t fail to try.
Iesha Small, my colleague as a Schools Week blog reviewer, considers the fact that our school communities are predominantly staffed by middle-class professionals who may care deeply about working-class children, and the families with whom they interact, but the underlying message may still reflect “the unspoken rule in education that (white) middle-class culture is the only meaningful culture and that we must all aspire to it”. Iesha challenges this and attempts to raise awareness of what these children and their families may be dealing with, and how it inevitably affects preoccupations, motivation and performance.
Bukky Yusuf is a well-known and highly respected figure in the educational Twitter community, and at blogging and spin-off events. She writes movingly here of visiting a friend with a terminal illness. This is a sensitive, touching post which helps to remind us why we should keep clear in our minds what matters most, perhaps especially when we are busy and feeling pressured by the demands of our professional lives.
“Even though the roles we undertake in schools are important (my friend knew how much I love teaching and learning), times with our nearest and dearest are even more important,” she writes.
Julie Hunter describes her journey over the past nine months as a deputy head at a brand new school. She discusses the stimulation, the opportunities and the pressures of taking a senior leader role at a school where everything is to be established and no-one is walking into the legacy of what went before.
Julie concludes that, for her, the “three Rs: resilience, responsibility and reward” have summed up her experience, and she has learnt a considerable amount about herself, and about effective education. “If you are considering working in a brand new school, prepare for the 3 Rs and go into it with your eyes wide open,” she concludes.
Sam Pullan’s post is based on his presentation at the recent St Albans School Forum on Education, and it focuses on the types of questions students ask, how to deal with them and how to encourage those really “good questions” which “take whatever it is you are discussing and move it on a level. They show interest, understanding and curiosity and they are relevant.”
Sam’s advice is to reduce the number of poor questions you receive, create the right environment and model the approach you want to see.
Sam Twiselton writes about her experience of being awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list, reflecting on the work she has done leading up to it and what she has learned in the process. Considering her involvement in the Carter Review of initial teacher training and the social mobility and school improvement work she is engaged in at Sheffield Hallam University, ‘South Yorkshire Futures’, Sam concludes: “I feel more positive than I have for some time that universities can and should have a distinctive role in school improvement and increasing social mobility and that this is beginning to be recognised by policymakers.”
Congratulations on all you have achieved, Sam. Your mum would be very proud.