Teacher Standards: If Other Professionals Were Judged like Teachers…

Judging a professional on unforeseeable circumstances is obviously unfair – yet teacher standards are judged all the time! I wonder what it would be like if others were treated the same way? Like doctors, for example, or maybe dentists… Continue reading Teacher Standards: If Other Professionals Were Judged like Teachers…

4 Things a Teacher Doesn’t Want to Hear at the End of the Year

The end is nigh! Lessons are winding down, spirits are high, and…your Year Nines are being observed last thing before you leave?! Four things teachers absolutely do not want to hear at the end of the academic year… Continue reading 4 Things a Teacher Doesn’t Want to Hear at the End of the Year

Feeling the Pressure

Penny S-K discusses exams, the US college admissions scandal and the determination to succeed at almost any cost in tonight’s blog.  I’m not usually one for celebrity gossip, but the scandal currently rocking Hollywood has had me hooked. Earlier this week, it was announced that actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were among 40 people charged for plotting to cheat on college entrance exams. Partially because I am a big fan of Huffman’s, and partly because I am a teacher, this story has captivated me. The ins and outs of the case are for finer minds than mine, but what … Continue reading Feeling the Pressure

Would You Pass a Memory Test?

It’s a disturbing irony that the idea for this blog post originally came to me on the way to work and I’d contrived to forget it by home time! I had to rack my brain to dredge it back up. The same thing sometimes happens with words, which is not a good look for an English teacher. The most embarrassing memory lapse to date was forgetting the word ‘syllable’ in front of Y8. Fast approaching my fifth decade, I accept it as a sad fact of life that the memory slowly deteriorates. Then again, were my youthful powers of recollection … Continue reading Would You Pass a Memory Test?

What’s Your Achilles’ Heel?

Though secondary school teachers are of course experts in their chosen fields, it’s probably fair to state that most of us have an Achilles heel. Mine is poetry. Fellow English teachers extol the emotional connection that they had with a poem, while the emotional connection I typically experience is deep confusion. The Cox Report (1989), which helped to establish the national curriculum as we know it, brilliantly described poetry as ‘language made strange’, though chances are its author foresaw the students finding it alien rather than those charged with teaching it. Remarkably, the poetry essays I wrote at university all … Continue reading What’s Your Achilles’ Heel?

A Successful Day at School

Here’s a handy checklist to ensure you have a successful day at school. Confiscate 3 phones, lend a tie that never returns and tell everyone to tuck their shirts in a few times before the end of form time. Remind your eager year 7s in period 1 that lining up to show you their first sentence isn’t necessary. You’ll mark it later. Explain that body spray is not a substitute for taking a shower to those year 9 boys during period 2. Spend your 15 minutes of break trying, and failing, to do some printing. Either because the queue is … Continue reading A Successful Day at School

Making Marking Manageable

I read an article recently about a school that had stopped teachers from marking altogether. Instead, every two weeks, the teachers had a one to one with pupils to discuss their work… Can you imagine how liberating that would feel? Unfortunately, most of us aren’t lucky enough to work in a school like that and marking becomes one of the most difficult things to manage as a result. Until your school stops marking entirely, here are some of the things I find helpful to make it manageable: Strategic speaking and listening units: I always look at my year as a whole … Continue reading Making Marking Manageable