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Much rambling about O****d, and plans for next term.

Ok, Christmas is finished now, and so I am allowing myself to slowly slip back into ‘work’ stuff.  I’ve been determined to have a proper break, so from leaving work last Friday ’til now, I’ve tried not to even think about work!

Now the ban is over, I have various jobs to do over the rest of the holiday.

I’ve written a list of ‘Spring Term Goals’, and have picked out the only ones that are useful to think about before going back.  The rest can wait, as I have important ‘being a mum and wife’ to do first 🙂

Having looked back at my last few posts, I think I need to give various updates on things.   Firstly, the ‘learning spies’.  A few people bothered to do as I’d asked – looking around the dept on their own learning walk to find 3 things we are doing well.  After some nagging, one of them has emailed me their three things.  It’s something I’m very disappointed about, but I suppose not very surprised about.   The prospect of someone coming into your room to watch you teach fills most teachers with dread.  This is usually for no good reason, except that we have been ‘checked up on’ by the big ‘O’ forever, and usually made to feel not good enough by at least one line manager (sad, but true).  Due to the judgement that we know will be made, we feel apprehensive at the mere thought of a visitor.  Maybe it’s just me, but I am my own harshest critic, and the little voice at the back of my mind suggests that maybe I’m actually really rubbish, and if someone comes in, I’ll be found out….     There is also the fact that you won’t be able to control which class they come into.   I have no problems with anyone visiting my year 9 or 12 classes, and probably not even my year 11 boys group, but if they were to come into my year 10 classes on a Weds afternoon, I know full well that they’d go away judging me inadequate.  Both classes are manageable (finally) any other day, but on Wednesdays, they are, frankly, feral.  I don’t know how else to describe it, and can honestly say that in my 9 years of teaching, I’ve not felt this impotent in front of a class since NQT year.   I console myself with their behaviour the rest of the week – it can’t be me, it must just be Wednesdays, but this still doesn’t address the issue that will arise if ‘Our Friends’ come to visit, and happen to see Yr 10, Weds 3a/b…..    It’s a terrifying thought that our reputation as a teacher can come down to what is effectively the luck of the draw.  Will whichever visitor, be it O****d or line manager, see your nice classes, or the spawn of satan classes?   With all this understood, I get why my team are reluctant to go in to see each other.  It opens up a world of scariness, where your peers/colleagues/friends could wander into your room at any time, seeing your best, but also seeing your worst.   My eventual aim is to get them to the point where we trust each other enough to believe that we will ALWAYS be constructive, and that we all understand that we don’t always have the best-behaved kids.  At least within the team, we know the names and faces of those kids who are a law unto themselves, and so won’t judge.    In a recent PM observation, I saw a lesson containing one of ‘those’ children, and predictably, her behaviour was vile.  I know full well that her teacher was strategically ignoring her, so as not to derail the entire lesson, and that 2 minutes after I’d left, she pushed it far enough to have to be removed from the lesson.  I am happy to judge the lesson without her in consideration, as I know the child and teacher, and am happy that she was dealt with in the best manner we know for that child.  O****d however, (I feel the need to ‘bleep’ them…) would have seen that lesson, decided that nothing was being done to address the behaviour, and judged it a 4, based solely on that one thing.    To have done better in their eyes, the teacher would have had to stop the entire lesson to deal with the behaviour of one student, so that she was seen to be doing so!    The whole system is broken in my opinion, but sadly not mine to fix.  I will therefore be crossing my fingers, legs, and eyes when O****d arrive, probably this term, that they pick a nice class to see!

Rant over, I shall move on.

One project over the holiday is to set up all the promo stuff for my Maths TeachMeet, which will be happening in Peterborough in March.   I need to sort out the rest of my pretty logo, and get all the details on the TM page, and then send out info via various channels to local schools, and also further afield.    The TM CPD went really well, with staff very positive about it, so it looks as though it is here to stay.  I hope that most, if not all, subject areas managed to have some follow-up time in their meetings later that week, and that people have taken on board my suggestion that they should thank people if they use their ideas (so they know you have!)

In my last meeting, I also wanted to do some team building.  I got 3 sheets of Magic Whiteboard (it’s nifty!) and some markers.  We had one sheet for our aims, one for the ‘blocks’, and one for our pet peeves.   The aims we came up with were great, and I’ve turned them into a poster for the office to keep reminding us.   The ‘blocks’ were split into things we can control and things we can’t control, which helped us really think about what we could do to get over the ones we could control.   The pet peeves was a good vent, and helps me see which areas to tackle first that would have the most impact on staff morale.

I have got 4 SLT onto Twitter now, and at least one of them is using it for research etc, so that’s great news.  I’ve pointed them in the direction of SLTChat, as I think that will help them find lots of useful people to follow.  I also plan to hold a staff training session of my own at some point, where people can come along if they want to find out more about twitter.  I’ve set up a mentormob playlist here to show them how/where to start.

If anyone has invented a time machine, and is willing to share, just for a minute, I’d REALLY like to go to Jan 10th to see how many of our Y11 passed early entry!   We had 78 entered in November, and I need to make some decisions about intervention groups etc.  I can’t start it until I have those names…..

Anyway, that’s enough rambling for now.  I really should go to sleep….    Final thought though:  This blog post has been brought to you by the shiny new Macbook Pro that my wonderful husband bought me for Christmas.  I’m not sure I deserved this much spoiling, as he’s barely seen me for the last term, but I’m very grateful!  I shall try to repay him by delegating better next term, so I have more time to myself in the evenings.  I have to keep reminding myself that at the end of the day, however well I want to do at this, it is just my job, and there are more important things in life.  If I quit right now, the school would find another HoD.  My daughter will only ever have one mummy.  🙂

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Busy, busy…..!

My latest project(s) are:

 – I have organised one of our staff INSET sessions – we have a disaggregated day, so several afterschool Monday sessions.  The next one is tomorrow, and I’m running it as a TeachMeet.  I offered to set this up, and SLT said yes, so I got cracking before they could change their minds!

I set up a google form (from google docs) for staff to complete with their name, time to talk for (1,2 or 3 mins), a choice of 4 topics linked to our school priorities, and a space to give me a title so I have a vague idea of what they are going to talk about.  Around half the staff managed to do this on time, which made my plan to split them into 5 groups with a mixture of topics a little trickier, but I’ve done it anyway.  I found 4 ‘volunteers’ to be in charge of the random name generator that will tell us who is to speak next, and will also find some kind of silly noise  to play when time is up for each person.   

The reaction has been mixed – lots of enthusiasm from some staff, who can see the potential in being able to share ideas during CPD rather than just listening to someone for an hour…  Serious reluctance from some staff, who don’t feel they have anything to share(?!) or don’t want to talk in front of others (groups of about 20 staff).  I’m hoping that the response tomorrow will be good, and have ensured there is someone senior enough in each group that dissenters will be discouraged.

Everyone will be expected to share, from UQT to SLT.  

I’m VERY excited about it!!

I plan to add a list of who spoke about what to the VLE so that people from other groups can look and see if there’s anything they want to ask about.   I have also asked that Subject Leaders build in time this week in subject meetings to share as a team what things everyone found useful, as they will have been in a mix of groups.  

 – I am going into the SLT meeting on Tuesday to talk to them about the power of Twitter as CPD.  I have set up a mentormob playlist that takes them through from the Why to the How of Twitter here: http://www.mentormob.com/learn/i/twitter-for-cpd/youtube-twitter-as-cpd  

 – I have been the helpful fairy at work this week.  There are a couple of people on my team who are clearly not well, and need to have a couple of days rest and recovery, and possibly a doctors visit, who are too stubborn to take the time off.  I bossed one into doing it, and the other has been off ill, but tried to come back with an eye and throat infection.  I not only sent her packing off home again, I also sat and marked her Yr 10’s tests while mine did their test.  I didn’t want her to come back to a massive pile of marking, as that wouldn’t help!   

Finally, I overheard one of my team (who happens to be the Principal) telling someone she couldn’t watch her grandson do his Christmas show (which was being done in our hall) as she had to teach.  I offered to cover her lesson, as I was free.  She declined, ‘No, no, I really can’t ask you to do that….’.  I waited till she’d gone upstairs into a maths room, and then informed her very nicely that up here, am her line manager, and she was going, like it or not.  🙂 

I think it’s really important to remember that we are not just teachers, but people with families.  Our families should never have to be neglected for our jobs, however important our jobs theoretically are.    If we all look out for each other, it makes work a happy place to be.

After all, ’tis the season to spread joy to the world!

🙂

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