#teacher5aday #pledge #2017

 

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Wow, that went quickly.

It has been a strange year, in many ways. I achieved some of my 2016 pledges to myself and not others. Yet again, I find that I have been more concerned over the well-being of others and not myself, both in my home life and work life. Even my husband commented that the Thank You cards in July and the Christmas cards I received mentioned my support of others. This is not to big myself up in any way, just a comment whilst reflecting on how my year has gone.

Work wise, it has been strange as we have been in a bit of a holding pattern. We have had an Interim Head three days a week (with me as Acting Head the other two days). This has been a very new experience for me, some good points and some learning points, but with added pressure and work as I have still kept up my teaching commitment and my role as SENCo as well as being Deputy.

With all of this in mind, I have been reflecting on this and also the reading I have done this year about teachers being there for the children and leadership being there for the staff, to enable them to fulfill their role with the children. I have already managed to get staff well-being onto the Governors agenda for the first time and will be presenting to them on this in January. We have a poor record of sickness absence (mostly long term and very unavoidable, unfortunately) and I want to get a balance between the strict HR Sickness Absence Policy and the well-being of the staff in order to get the best for staff and children.

So for 2017, here are my pledges:

  • to get myself and other staff into as many other schools as I can in order to network and share good practice #connect #learn #volunteer #notice
  • learn more about our new staff members, so I can support them to the best of my ability #connect #learn
  • to read more widely about schools, leadership and mental health and well being #learn #notice
  • to put staff well-being at the forefront of the Governors and School agenda #connect #volunteer
  • to look after myself so I can look after others #learn #exercise
  • to complete the #52books2017 challenge #learn #connect #notice
  • to share a blog a week about pedagogy, behaviour and well-being with staff (started this last month) #learn #connect #volunteer #notice

I have one final pledge for myself, that in hindsight I should have done the first time the opportunity came up 18 months ago (regrets, I’ve had a few, but this one turned out to be one of my biggest, but that tale is for another day).

I will be applying for the headship of the school when it is advertised next term.

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Everything in Moderation

First year of the new style, secret squirrel operation that was Key Stage 1 SATs. I won’t go into the farces of leaks, scarcity of assessment criteria in the first half of the year,  general lack of information from the DfE and the changes of minds all the time. Will the teachers have conversations with the moderators or won’t they? Nor will I harp on about my feelings about testing 6 and 7 year olds.

We have always had very positive, supportive experiences of moderation in the past. I have been a KS1 moderator myself and tried to be as supportive as I could when moderating, whilst still having the conversations that needed to be had.

One of our teachers was pleased to be moderated so early on, the other not. My feeling was that if there were any grey area we would have time for a revisit if necessary. Also, it now means that they can get on with the rest of the summer term.

This afternoon our two moderators arrived, accompanied by our LA Assessment Advisor, who was moderating the moderators. It could have been madder as the LA is being moderated at KS1 by STA.

We had a short discussion about our own assessment and moderation systems and checked the teachers had attended pyramid and LA moderation.

They selected children from the lists provided (4 for each area, from a cohort of 40) – 1WTS, 2WAES, 1WGD in each curricular area. They told us that they would not be looking at PreKS. They observed the 4 children chosen reading with the class teacher, so children were not stressed.

At this point I left them to it. The teachers were told they could leave if they wished, but I have developed very resilient (some say stubborn) staff so they stayed the course, all 3 1/2 hours of it. Good luck to all you 2/3/4 form entry schools.

There was one child in Reading who they said should be PreKS although they recognised he was better than that but didn’t quite tick all WTS criteria.

There were 2 children who, because of their fabulous Reading Test results and other evidence from the teachers’ descriptions and their work, were deemed good enough for WGD. We hadn’t awarded them that for fear of lack of evidence anywhere else. I do think the difficulty of the text has been considered and acknowledged here.

The main problem for us was in maths for the children we have judged as WGD. After a protracted discussion, much turning of pages in books, test checks etc, etc it was deemed that there was not enough evidence. I know and the teachers know that the child in question is working at greater depth. She only dropped one mark in the maths test. The teacher has spent the year making maths meaningful, practical and engaging for the children. She has not taught to tests and this particular child is streets ahead of the rest in terms of understanding and application. She could sit next year’s Y6 times tables test now and pass. She has a passion for maths. But the evidence was not all there in her books. We took it on the chin and learned a valuable lesson. This child will have value added at KS2!!! It is an area we knew wasn’t quite there yet but feel our decision to teach maths this way was more important for our children than photographing them rolling dice or partitioning with Dienes.

It does however have huge implications for our data because it means that as this child is the most able in maths for the cohort, we cannot award any children WGD or the wrath of the Moderation Gods will descend upon us. The teachers did suggest that a revisit could be done so that further evidence could be gathered. The LA Adviser said that she felt we could not provided sufficient evidence in that time and that it has to be over a sustained period. The teacher said that she knew that but the evidence was not always suitable for putting in books, a lot is through the conversations and explanations the children give during lessons. 

The other inconsistency here is that the moderators were willing to take the reading test as strong evidence for WGD but not the maths. The problems were not enough. This is not the child’s fault, nor ours. this is the test system that is failing us. What is the point of setting a test that will not give you the evidence you need to prove that your teaching and their learning in maths has worked and that the children are performing at a greater depth. We are going to look into this. Watch this space.

Despite my best efforts (and believe me they were loud and clear), the two teachers had done a tick list against the criteria and had (with administration support and release time from class) put files together of their writing evidence (mainly so they could find them to refer to, as KS1 are notorious for losing tabs). Both teachers were praised highly for their knowledge of the children and their organisation. Goodness knows how long it would have taken if they had not done this.

All our writing TAs were agreed with. Here is where the technical, in depth knowledge of moderators comes to the fore. Many spellings….what does this look like? This has been discussed a lot in staffrooms across the land and also on Twitter, and I mean A LOT. And guess what we were told today? Many spellings is………. a lot. At least we didn’t have to count them.

Every criteria statement was checked off (or not) for all 4 children in all 3 areas.

I went back in at the end and the moderators went through the decisions. They praised the teachers, their knowledge of the children (although this is not evidence enough for a judgement to be confirmed), their organisation and their positivity. The teachers and I thanked them for being open and supportive, given what we thought was going to be “done to us”. I do feel we have been done, not by the moderators but by the Government/DfE and the children have been done a great disservice.

So now, weary but wiser (until the assessment criteria for next year is brought out) we are off to enjoy the summer term.

 

The text in italics is where I have gone back and added thoughts as they have come to me/us following thinking time and discussions with others.

Walk a mile in their shoes…

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I am a teacher of children, all children who attend my school.

I am a learner. I learn from children, all the children who attend my school.

I have taught and learned for 28 years in a range of mainstream primaries.

I am a better teacher, a better person for having learned from every child I have ever taught.

Every day is a challenge in its own right, in the right way. For me.

For the children I teach and learn from, for many it is a challenge in the wrong way.

None of us know what they go through at home before coming to school or after.

Do they get enough sleep?
Do they have a healthy diet?
Do they have a quiet space to do homework?
Do they get attention from their parents?
Do they get bullied by their siblings?
Are they playing out and getting into trouble?
Are they young carers?
Do they get themselves up and into school?
Do parents put unrealistic pressure on them to excel and compete?
Is there worse going on that we don’t know about?
Do their parents even know they exist at times at home?
Have their family had an argument with their friend’s family and they have been told not to speak to them?

The list of questions is endless.

After an incident one lunchtime, a colleague in the staffroom said, “He wouldn’t have spoken to a teacher like that, if he was mine!”. My reaction: “That’s the issue. He has not had the benefit of a safe and settled home life, with love and structure. He has seen domestic violence”.

Who are we to judge?

Walk a mile in their shoes…

School is often the only structure and routine in their lives. The only place where they have strict boundaries and they struggle against this sometimes. Being segregated would be another case of being let down. We need to understand the triggers behind the behaviours and put strategies in place to support the children, over time, to self identify the triggers and make the right choices in dealing with them.

The LA has removed the word behaviour from their matrix used to diagnose levels of need and expect the underlying issues to be identified when seeking support. This is a positive step, in my opinion, as it stops the labelling and encourages investigation, as Chris Chivers speaks about in this blog.

I am a teacher, learner and investigator.

So are all children I teach, learn and investigate alongside.

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#teacher5aday

wp-1451581278985.pngI have dipped in and out of #teacher5aday chats and activities (which @MartynReah kicked off here)  with interest over the past year, including all the spin offs. I read a lot of the pledges at the start of the year and have been reading reflections and new resolutions from many teachers over the past few days.

Since Sunday, I have participated daily in the #teacher5adaySlowChat and storified each day for everyone. I have thoroughly enjoyed interacting, sharing and gaining ideas. I have also enjoyed reading a great many brilliant blogs about nurture, wellbeing and mindfulness. It has helped me realise there are a lot of good out there in education land.

It has made me seriously reflect on what I do, how if affects those around me and whether I care enough about my own wellbeing in order to ensure that I give my best at work for the children and the staff. The conclusion I reached is that I do not. I get to work early, leave late, often don’t have lunch as I deal with lunchtime incidents and am then either in class or a meeting, don’t drink enough water, drink too much coffee, am overweight, wake up in the wee small hours and can’t get back to sleep… I could go on but am depressing myself.

Bizarrely I am very good at supporting others, listening and offering solutions, telling them to go home from work early, making sure staff get their lunch breaks, being positive in tough times, encouraging staff to do their best, laughing a lot and saying thank you. After a particularly difficult and stressful half term, in October I gave every member of staff a gift bag of small treats (inspired by @abbiemann1982 ‘s #wellbeing bags) to thank them for their hard work and also for the unswerving, above and beyond support they gave to me during a very difficult situation. Each bag had this card attached to it…

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In December, again to say thank you, I made and gave every member of staff a reindeer (hot chocolate and marshmallows).

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So, having thought about all of this, I am ready to set my own #teacher5aday resolutions. So here goes…

#connect

*spend more quality time with my husband and get him out of the house more (he suffers from severe anxiety and depression)

*restart the SENCO network I started in September 2014 but let lapse a year later, when other things took over. This is a brilliant opportunity to share and learn with others in the same boat

*push for a Deputy Headteacher network in our pyramid (again to #connect and #learn)

#exercise

*walk the dog every day

*aerobics 3 times a week

*drink hot chocolate before bedtime rather than tea/coffee (hopefully will lead to better sleep)

#notice

*what time it is and go home early at least once a week

*start a #wellbeing weekly award for staff

#learn

*read the 5 education books I bought (especially the SEND ones)

*read and talk to others about SEND interventions not tried yet

#volunteer

*continue to support others as much as I can

*join in the #teacher5aday spin off initiatives

I look forward to being more proactive in #teacher5aday and in looking after my own wellbeing, in order to do and be my best.

“When I was younger, so much younger…”

Well, here it is, finally, my first blog. I have read a lot of great blogs recently but it was reading the #Edn1000years collection that @ChrisChivers2 is putting together that finally made my mind up to do it. Surely with 27 years of teaching and learning experience behind me I could find something to say. 

 

So, in the spirit of nothing ventured and all that, I give my 27 years younger me the following, using the medium of expressive dance…only kidding…the medium of song lyrics.

 

 

“Any way the wind blows, doesn’t really matter to me”.  Queen

 

Actually it does matter because a day, an hour or a minute can change in the blowing of a breeze. Take it from me, wind changes children in ways you would not believe. Go with it, nature is not a force to be reckoned with, no matter how painstakingly you planned your lessons. IT IS NOT WORTH IT!

 

 

“Honesty is such a lonely word” Billy Joel

 

Be honest with yourself and others, admit your mistakes and move on. It may be very difficult at times, but it really is the best policy.

 

 

 “You say it best when you say nothing at all.” Alison Krauss

 

Bite your tongue at the right time. Although I just said that honesty is the best policy, sometimes saying nothing can also be the best policy. Choose your moments and audience. I have said so much to no-one at times just to say it out loud and be done with it.

 

 

“At the age of 37 she realised she’d never ride through Paris with the warm wind in her hair.” Dr Hook and the Medicine Show

 

Do not have regrets. Do not put things off. Do not wake up one day thinking what might have been.

 

 

“Should I stay or should I go?” The Clash

 

If you took my previous advice about being honest with yourself then you will know the right time to move on and not outstay your welcome. 

 

 

“If it wusnae fur yer wellies, where wud ye be?”  Billy Connolly

 

I would still be on a Year 5 residential from 2001, stuck in a muddy field in Hornsea (3 shoes are still there in their earthy time capsule. BE PREPARED.

 

 

“It’s not often easy, and not often kind, did you ever have to make up your mind?” Loving Spoonful

 

You will constantly have to make decisions. Sometimes you will have to act and it won’t be easy. Sometimes you will have to support children through tough decisions by others that change their lives forever. More often than not the decision is the right one but the consequences are long lasting and this means…

 

 

“I get knocked down but I get up again, you’re never going to keep me down”. Chumbawamba

 

You need resilience. You need space and time but you never give up.

 

 

“Train whistle blowin’ makes a sleepy noise, underneath the blankets go all the girls and boys” The Seekers

 

A blast from my childhood, this tune. Get as much sleep as you can. Sleep is good.

 

 

”Ha ha ha, hee hee hee, I’m the laughing gnome and you can’t catch me!” David Bowie

 

Laugh, laugh, laugh. It really is the best medicine.

 

 

”And I’m thinking about home, and I’m thinking about faith, and I’m thinking about work,

and how good it will be to be here some day on a ship called Dignity.”. Deacon Blue

 

Two simple messages here…keep your dignity (unless it is for charity) and …

 

have a dream.