5 Things on a Teacher’s Mind during a Meeting

Meetings are important. Or so we’re told. They keep a department up-to-date on important developments. Brief a whole school on wide-reaching changes. And sometimes… just bore us to tears. “Why don’t we have food?” One of the reasons you might … Continue reading 5 Things on a Teacher’s Mind during a Meeting

Sneak Some Literacy Into Your Lessons

Teaching Standard 3 includes the following: ‘Demonstrate an understanding of and take responsibility for promoting high standards of literacy, articulacy and the correct use of Standard English, whatever their specialist subject.’ Is this really fair? With everything else you have to include in your own subject lessons, how can you be expected to include literacy standards and a focus on Standard English too? Surely that’s the job of the English department? Actually, this standard is really important. You need to be able to demonstrate your own understanding and accurate use of Standard English in a range of different ways: report … Continue reading Sneak Some Literacy Into Your Lessons

The Unicorn Teacher

They’re very rare and special. There won’t be more than one or two in a school. Sometimes there won’t be any at all. They hold distinctive and exceptional qualities that are breathtaking to behold, many want to emulate and few can achieve. They are the unicorn teachers and if you meet one, you should look after them very, very carefully. Unicorn Teachers deliver in many ways like so many teachers: they work hard and go the extra mile for their students, being friendly, positive and genuinely interested. You’ll find them at extra-curricular clubs and meetings, being helpful to new staff … Continue reading The Unicorn Teacher

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?

Marmite or Vanilla: What Flavour of Teacher Are You?

Courting popularity is a fool’s game. Of course it is. That’s that we tell the young people in our care. Yet how many of us have cast envious glances at the colleague who’s adored by the kids and has all those gushing ‘thank you/we’ll miss you’ cards pinned above the desk to prove it? Let’s face it, most of us like to be liked. And life is generally easier if you’re able to win the goodwill of others. Particularly when you play to an audience of hundreds daily. Unfortunately, we can’t all be the cookies and cream teacher, partly because … Continue reading Marmite or Vanilla: What Flavour of Teacher Are You?

Top Tips: Applying for Jobs

Even if you have been teaching a while, writing an application for a new role can seem just as daunting as when you wrote your first application all those years ago. Here are some tips for writing applications: Action with impact Make sure everything you include in your application also includes the impact that action had. Delivered intervention to a small group? Include information about the progress they made, with data if possible. Supported the school concert? Make sure you mention how this developed student relationships, school-to-home relationships or your understanding of health and safety. Be specific You have to … Continue reading Top Tips: Applying for Jobs

The Value of ‘Said’

In learning, certain things have value don’t they? Maths is full of them. 3.14 for example – That’s the value of pi. I know that one. But when we look at English, how do we value words? Are there some words and phrases that are intrinsically more useful than others? What for example is the value of the word ‘said’ in writing? If my son’s primary school teachers are to be believed there isn’t any. It may be one of the top 100 words used in the English language but its value in writing is negated greatly when it comes … Continue reading The Value of ‘Said’