Review by Jill Berry

16 Jan 2015, 7:00

Week commencing 12 January, 2015

Our reviewer of the week is Jill Berry a former head, now educational consultant @jillberry102

New bloggers emerge all the time. One of the interesting effects of the “#Nurture” initiative over Christmas, which encouraged writers to review the previous year and identify hopes for the coming one, and @martynreah’s “#teacher5aday” project, which focuses on what teachers can do to for a healthier and more balanced future, is that they encouraged people to start blogging.

There are also bloggers who have been writing for a while, but who we may not have come across. So in this week’s column, I’m focusing on four writers whose blogs I’ve recently discovered.

How family-friendly is the teaching profession?


Published in response to debate about whether teachers end up focusing more on other people’s children than their own, @Teachsenseuk focuses on the  situation of the teacher mum. But the debate is just as relevant to teacher dads, as the comments after the blog suggest. @Teachsenseuk wants to be realistic about the challenges.

She says: “I don’t want to worry any young teachers who are planning to start a family – these challenges are not insurmountable. But I want to manage your expectations.”

She also wants school leaders to empathise with the difficult positions teacher-parents can find themselves in. Whether you are a teacher parent or a school leader, or both, it is well-worth reading and giving careful consideration to the issues this post raises.

Our well-being


Partly as a result of the #teacher5aday initiative, protecting our well-being and being aware of others’ well-being, has become a hot topic. In this post, @Naomi7444 considers the clash between personal and professional responsibility when she identifies: “The problem is, most teachers I know will sacrifice [personal] good habits for other perceived good habits such as a bit more planning, a fantastic PowerPoint presentation for Year 7 or marking exam papers in unnecessary depth.”

@Naomi7444 considers the five elements of the #teacher5aday challenge and how they relate to her own experience: #connect #exercise #notice #learn and #volunteer.  She herself is on the verge of a new career, and her reason for doing so recalls the post above:

“I represent one of many who have left or are leaving the teaching profession because they ‘want their life back’ or ‘need some balance.’  But with the right leadership and ethos, schools can protect their teachers and their students, creating healthy communities who care for each other and publicly celebrate the joy of full and fulfilling lives.”

Workload – a small step in the right direction


Following an online chat session on the evening of Sunday, December 7, hosted by Nicky Morgan and on the subject of workload, @rhcaseby wrote about one specific strategy for trying to rationalise and manage teacher workload. Workload is a highly emotive subject, and moving from anger and frustration about what is imposed (either by the government or by the leaders in our schools) towards practical strategies to help the situation can be a difficult step. But as @rhcaseby suggests:

“While we may have limited ability to influence what is imposed externally, school leaders can still do our best to ensure our colleagues can devote their time and energy towards the things that make the greatest difference for pupils.”

Including a “workload impact analysis” with every change/initiative introduced, as described here, is a good start.



Finally, this example of a #Nurture1415 is interesting in itself, but also – because it is written by a blogger new to me – it encouraged me to explore his “back catalogue”. @sputniksteve dislikes the concept of “targets” for pupils – “one way to ensure that we kill effective or interesting learning is to targetise it” – and although feeling that writing such a post is “terribly self-indulgent”, I had the sense that he had found it satisfying and useful to articulate his thoughts and feelings about the year that has just passed (a dramatic one for him) and to set out his ambitions (never “targets”!) for 2015.

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