This summer we asked our blog reviewers to tell us about their most memorable blogpost of the school year. We also asked them for a special mention of a blogger or blogpost that did a great job of kick-starting respectful debate among fellow educationists.
Most memorable blogpost
‘No, darling, Mummy isn’t WonderWoman’
My post of the year comes from the director of the Teaching School at South Bromsgrove High School and a regional #WomenEd lead. It was written in January around the time of the first #TLCWorcester conference, and addresses whether a working mum could be, or should aspire to be, Wonder Woman. Andrea Taylor’s post made me laugh and made me think, as all the best posts do.
On Increasing Positive Variance in Teaching and Curriculum
This is the blogpost from this year that I’ve thought about most since reading it. Doug Lemov argues the simple point that consistency is not always bad and not always good; it depends on whether it prevents teachers varying their practice in positive or negative ways. While it may seem obvious, so many discussions of teacher autonomy fail to consider this point, and this post provides a useful way to frame such debates.
Connecting and organising knowledge in English literature
One post I’ve referred back to many times, for my own benefit and to share with others, is this one. Knowing facts is essential, but Andy Tharby does a great job of trying to articulate what more sophisticated thinking and knowing looks like, and how we can achieve it.
A different sort of blog. A different sort of daughter
Ben Newmark writes a consistently thought-provoking blog. I didn’t want to choose him because I was almost certain one of my blog reviewer colleagues would. The post that stuck with me is a personal one in which he writes about his baby daughter, who has William’s Syndrome. Some people may dislike like teachers straying from views about education to writing about personal matters, but I agree with Ben: “I am one person and dividing things into compartments just doesn’t feel an accurate representation of how I see my life.”
Special mention for kick-starting debate
A Chemical Orthodoxy
The blogger who has done the most to get people discussing issues respectfully is Adam Boxer. In one of my blogs of the week columns this year, I recommended a couple of posts from the Symposium on AfL in Science that he organised. The end result was a triumph: Adam elicited posts from a number of thoughtful contributors. Each post stood on its own merits, but contributors also responded to and developed the ideas in previous posts. Each contributor had done much to think through formative assessment and articulated what they had learned in a productive and helpful fashion.
Disagreements don’t have to be disagreeable
My colleague Kate Bowen-Viner sets out some useful guidelines to remember when engaging in online debates. She reminds us to remember each other’s humanity and also how valuable it can be to follow and engage (respectfully) with people with whom we don’t agree.
Mixed Ability, Sets, and Streams – a teacher’s perspective
The blogposts that did most to contribute to debate this year for me was this four-part series by Kristopher Boulton. The posts considered different ways to group students and described how well those different ways worked for the author in his own experience. While I didn’t always agree with his conclusions, his observations were consistently astute and worth reading by anybody tempted to consider changing how classes are set.
The Hopeful Headteacher
My blog of the year is from Hannah Wilson, founding headteacher of Aureus School. She is driven and courageous, shows integrity and vision, and has not shrunk from tackling challenging topics including leadership that “breaks the mould”, values, diversity, equality and inclusion, global education and male mental health. In the post “The Trolls Under the Bridge: Leadership Resilience”, she showed her strength and dignity in the light of public (and personal) attack. Choosing to blog about the experience was one example of her measured, thoughtful, balanced and respectful approach.