Review by Robin Conway

Director of research and innovation, John Mason School

2 Apr 2022, 5:00

Blog

Robin Conway’s blogs of the week, 28 March 2022

Leaders With Lives

@thosethatcan

It’s no secret that the education sector needs many more leaders. However, many talented individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds are put off, and concerns about workload and stress contribute to this. In this original and helpful piece, Dr Emma Kell sits down with six education leaders (four primary heads, a secondary head and a secondary deputy head) to discuss their experiences of leading while trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

With advice that includes mental attitudes and personal and workplace behaviours, this piece meets Kell’s ambition of being a “valuable addition to the narrative around leaders and work-life balance.” Worth a read by those aspiring to leadership and those already holding leadership positions.

Why Are We So Obsessed With Time?

@MBDscience

It is still common for trainee teachers to be encouraged to plan their lessons to the minute. There can certainly be a value to thinking about how long you intend an activity to take and then reflecting on the reality and what led to the difference. But as Claudi BenDavid argues here, this can also be unhelpful.

Even with several years’ experience, we don’t necessarily know how long it will take students to finish a task – and this is no bad thing. Reading a room, responding to students’ progress and adjusting for external factors all matter more than sticking to pre-set time limits.

The message is simple: “Don’t bother giving specific timings for things. Just pay attention to the class and stop when needed.”

Moving Towards Neurodiversity Inclusion

@SpcialNdsJungle

Since Siena Castellon founded Neurodiversity Celebration Week in 2018, the event has expanded steadily. Appropriately, a number of neurodiversity-themed blogs were released last week in recognition of the event, but if you’re only going to read one, I recommend this piece.

Castellon explains the vision behind the celebration and spells out some of the challenges that the 20 per cent of neurodivergent students face in schools. The piece has links to other reading and valuable resources for anyone looking to educate themselves further. A huge amount of work remains to be done to bring about “acceptance, tolerance and understanding of different minds”. This is a good place to start.

How teacher Twitter opened doors, created friends and made me a better teacher!

@gmanstorey

I suspect that if you’re reading this, you’re familiar with the advantages engaging with educational thinking through social media can bring. It may therefore carry few practical benefits for you; but it is one of the nicest blogs I have read for some time. And it’s from a new voice, from whom I hope to hear more in the future ̶ so there’s plenty to recommend it.

The negative side of social media often gets a lot of attention, but here Gareth Storey tells a different tale. For him, Twitter offered encouragement, help and a community of committed educationalists who provided career advice and support when needed. “Twitter can be the most wonderful place at times.” With contributions like this, it can indeed!

#16: Thinking About Learning

@marcxsmith

This is an interesting piece by psychologist Marc Smith on metacognition. Having seen it categorised as ‘soft’ cognitive science, he considers what it is, why it is often ill-defined and why it is nevertheless important. Smith also outlines some key practical considerations, such as the importance of children reflecting on what has changed in their understanding of a topic after a learning activity, and the role of self-regulation.

The coverage of interventions such as ‘metacognitive reflection’ after reading tasks, self-testing and study time allocation is very brief and left me keen to learn more. But the important messages about metacognition are clear: “It can be taught, and it doesn’t appear to matter what stage of life we’re at.”

Not Even Water?

@ShuaibKhan26

This insightful blog is almost exactly a year old, and featured in Melissa Jane’s selection for this column when it was first written. But with Ramadan starting this weekend, I have been rereading it and thought it well worth reminding others of its value in promoting inclusive practice.



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