Our guest review Jill Berry shares her top picks from the edu-blogosphere this week.
Being a Head of Faculty – A guide to a happy team
My first choice this week is a few months old, but I came across it only recently (the joy of Twitter). Sarah Barker talks succinctly here about what she thinks makes for effective faculty or department leadership. This is astute, grounded and sensible advice, much of which I suggest is relevant to leaders at all levels: be approachable, address perceptions, understand and value your team and show your appreciation, share the load, show loyalty and humanity. Absolutely.
And the floodgates opened
And speaking of Twitter… Although I am a great advocate for it and for blogging as powerful sources of networking, support, dialogue, reflection and learning, I do understand the darker side of educational social media. Following some adversarial and angry exchanges in recent weeks, Carmel O’Hagan has produced a thoughtful and useful post detailing what can go wrong, possible repercussions and advice for those who can be caught up in such interchanges. We won’t all agree. We still need to be professional and careful about what we say and how we treat each other online, just as we would/should in our face-to-face interactions.
He’s behind you! The real enemy of promise
In a similar vein, Debra Kidd reflects here on the challenge of addressing disadvantage and how, in her view, educationalists fighting among themselves and blaming each other for failing adequately to address this in our schools “lets the government off the hook”. Referring to the progressive/traditional education debate, direct instruction and discovery learning, Debra suggests that flexibility, adaptability and an astute appreciation of context will take us further than polarised debate, which can become a distraction in the current political climate.
Unconscious bias – Overcoming barriers
This post, by Mal Krishnasamy, was written as part of a #BAMEed #digimeet. #BAMEed, operating in a similar way to #WomenEd, is an initiative which is designed to raise awareness of issues faced by teachers and leaders from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.
It aims to support, motivate, inspire and advocate for educators in the BAME community, and the #digimeet on @staffrm gave voices to many who shared their views, experiences and strategies. Mal talks here of unconscious bias, intersectionality and her journey as a working-class woman from a South Asian background facing bias from a number of quarters, and detailing how she found a way through this.
The cartography of learning: The core principles of effective feedback
My penultimate choice comes from Jose Picardo, and it is a balanced, well written and carefully considered piece about how to ensure we use feedback in as positive and productive a way as possible. Referencing Wiliam and Hattie, Jose explores the benefit of making success criteria explicit, delivering feedback regularly before, not after, summative assessments, focusing on how feedback is received and its capacity to help learners to plot the most constructive way forward, and carefully choosing the most appropriate methods of giving feedback.
Finally, this post by Tom Sherrington gave me a lift, and I hope it will do the same for you. We know times are tough and the challenges schools face are considerable. We understand the demands of our profession and how difficult it can be to achieve a sustainable balance between our professional and personal lives.
But Tom lists here a number of reasons to be cheerful, beginning with his conviction that our schools are full of committed, talented individuals. The post is a powerful tribute to “all the people who manage to keep their heads above the grindstone to look ahead to something better, and share their optimism or share ideas about doing the job even better”.
If you’re reading the Schools Week educational blogs review column, I suggest that’s you.