Review by Sonia Thompson

Headteacher, St Matthew's C of E teaching and research school

5 Mar 2022, 5:00

Blog

Sonia Thompson’s blogs of the week, 28 February 2022

Why you should have graphic novels in your classroom! The Power of Graphic Novels

@RuddickRichard via @TeachersPetUK

Just in time for World Book Day, this blog is a real bookish treat from arguably one of the most knowledgeable teachers when it comes to graphic novels. Richard Ruddick’s Padlet of suggested novels is legendary and I for one love to read and react to (sorry…buy) his worthy recommendations.

Here, Ruddick makes a powerful case for having and using graphic novels as a staple, extolling their quality and reminding us that, actually, “children love reading them”. But more than that, he compellingly sets out how they support inclusion through their themes and representation as well as their appeal to all abilities of readers.

The blog goes on to challenge some assumptions, too. Their appeal and accessibility should not be taken as signs of low challenge. Instead, Ruddick notes, their stories cover complex issues and they “have been proven to contain higher-level vocabulary”.

I hardly need an excuse to buy more books, but I know what I’ll be buying our pupils next!

Beyond Labels

@MrR_Storey via @CarlyWaterman21

This is the first blog outing by Ryan Story – SENDCo, deputy designated safeguarding lead and assistant principal – and it is an emotional rollercoaster. It charts his journey since joining much-admired headteacher Carly Waterman’s Lodge Park Academy when it was in special measures and paints a picture of going through the metaphorical mill of educational judgments and coming out triumphant.

Storey takes us through the raw emotions that accompanied each judgment, but the overall effect is incredibly uplifting. He writes with pride about the team he now leads and the place of SEND at the school, and he does so with touching humility. Quoting one of my favourite writers, Brené  Brown, who talks about ‘living into our values’, he talks about the importance of owning ‘our ‘story’ – in this case, a narrative of belonging to and serving a local community and shrugging off the ‘special measures mindset’ to embrace an ambitious, expansive, collective and long-term ‘cathedral thinking’.

The #CorbyKidsCan hashtag perfectly encapsulates the hopes and potential that permeate the school’s culture, and it’s a powerful reminder to reflect on and be proud of the unlimited ‘stories’ we help our students to write.

Beautiful Work

@MaryMyatt

Last week, I was proud to publish the latest addition to Tom Sherrington’s In Action series for John Catt Educational. An Ethic of Excellence in Action celebrates and exemplifies Ron Berger’s seminal book An Ethic of Excellence, and having quoted Mary Myatt in my book, it was wonderful to see this blog espousing one of the foundational elements of Berger’s writing.

Myatt’s blog is a plea to practitioners to shift their practice towards providing more opportunities to create beautiful, high-quality work across the curriculum. She not only celebrates the impact on students but emphatically notes the effect on teachers too of continually asking “Is this the best it can be?”

Writing An Ethic of Excellence in Action has led me to a central question: what do standards actually look like when met with integrity, depth and imagination? As a school, we’re on a journey to find out, and this blog is a beautiful invitation to join us.

#classicblogweek

Created and spurred on by two of my Twitter favourites, Ruth Ashbee and Ben Newmark, this hashtag saw the platform awash with blogs that changed the narrative about educational practice. From knowledge-rich curriculum to cognitive load theory, warm-strict to curriculum sequencing, from culture to types of knowledge and so much more, reading blogs afresh from Clare Sealy, Andrew Percival, Solomon Kingsnorth, Jon Hutchinson, Jo Facer, Adam Boxer, Daisy Christodoulou, Joe Kirby, Matthew Evans, Michael Fordham was a celebratory trip down memory lane. There is no question that our educational practices have radically changed as a result of these blogs and bloggers.

My only thought for the next time this fantastic hashtag surfaces, is for greater diversity and representation. Blogs and bloggers that centred the critical importance of diversity in our curriculum and practices are equally important, so let’s bring them into the wonderful, powerful world that is #classicblogweek



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