This is a bit weird isn’t it? In the past 18 months (since December 2014 in fact) I have posted just twice. Once about Teachmeet Takeover at BETT2015 and once in Feb ’15 about the Teachmeet at the Education Show. In fact, both of those events were huge disasters! One was cancelled and one only had a handful of people attend (an incredible selection of presenters, but no-one to present to) So it’s safe to say, I’ve been a bit quiet. In that time I haven’t tweeted much either. So is there a reason? I don’t know. I could blame a few different things:
- My wife gave birth in June 2015 so we were quite busy in the months leading up to that and ever since…
- My son, Oliver, is 11 months old now and I think I’d rather be spending time with him whenever I can. He’s asleep now, so it’s ok, I have time to write this.
- People I work with are on Twitter so I know they read this now and again. It felt weird talking about things that other people knew about!
- I lost my mojo, my drive, my passion, my oomph.
I’d like to say that Oliver has caused the lack of sharing and online activity but that would be too easy. In honesty, it’s probably because the second half of last year was all about the SATs. I was a Year 6 teacher, in a school that “Requires Improvement” so the results were even more crucial. We took a different approach and for around 57 children we split them into 3 classes but 4 sets. Two teachers taught Maths and two taught English. We then had 90 mins with each group, each day, to raise standards as much as possible. I had Maths groups 2/4 and many of the children in Group 4 were hard work. Keen but had many, many gaps to fill. Teaching 90 minutes of Maths, twice a day, took it out of me. There were only 11 or 13 children in a group but keeping it innovative and fresh was difficult. Then with so much input in the mornings, we had interventions and catchups and all-sorts in the afternoon too. We did well though and I was proud of our results. But this blog was mostly about ICT and the tech we were using and we almost stopped using it. OK, we had some things to help with revision or practise such as Sumdog or Education City, but I found it hard to use ICT in an exciting way so I guess I forgot to blog about it.
Anyway, Year 6 were out of the way and I was moved to Year 4. We have done a few things this year but there has been a massive push to work out what to do with assessing without levels and raising standards. This year has included a whole host of support, observations,book looks (!), learning walks and all of the other things a school with an imminent Ofsted inspection would do! I’ve worked with the Hampshire Maths team to raise standards in our year group (and this has gone very well so far), I had a chance to work with our Leading Practitioner on a bit of coaching to help me improve in the classroom and I have worked with the other Year Leaders and the local inspector to decide the direction of our role and to help improve our year groups.
Throughout all of this, and maybe Oliver can be blamed a bit, I got to a point where I wondered if I wanted to do this job any more. I used to work in an Outstanding school where life was simpler. The children didn’t have complex behavioural needs, I never had anyone swear at me and generally everyone had supportive parents. I had an observation once or twice a year and we never had book scrutinies or massive pressure to worry about. I left that school because I wanted a challenge but there were times earlier this year where I thought about leaving completely and doing something else. I have no idea what I would do though. It had all mounted up. I had a bad observation, the workload was killing me and I was seeing my son for 15minutes a day if I was lucky. How can it be improved? I’m not sure I have done anything specific to improve the situation, but I am lucky that I work with some amazing colleagues and actually, lots of them are in similar boats. Talking to each other has helped a bit. There are still low points, but (and yes it’s cheesy) but the children do make it worthwhile. Even the one that says she hates me or the one that doesn’t listen or the one that seems to fall out with everyone, every day and is driving me mad. I know they are making progress in many different ways and it feels good.
We are in a tough situation, we are the second most deprived school in Hampshire so we have a lot of catching up to do from the moment they walk in the door but we have a fantastic team and Ofsted recognised that last month and said we were Good. Which makes everyone feel much better! I know we have to work hard to stay there and I know that Outstanding will be the next step, but I am starting to feel that the things we have done have actually paid off.
As for the ICT? Our ICT project is nearly complete. At the end of this week, all PCs throughout the school will have been replaced. The teacher ones have been done, just the offices to go. Then I can crack on with planning again. I realise that I have never really finished my ICT curriculum and I haven’t changed it (publicly) in well over a year but we have a great level of kit in school now and I have teachers eager to use it with their children. So I need to put together a curriculum that works for us and this will be in place for September. That will only be two years late, but hey…I made the deadline, I can change it….right?
I know which year group I am in from September and this will be another level of challenge, but I feel ready. I won’t have a newborn keeping me awake or taking up every second of my spare time so I want to get on with enjoying the challenge of leading a year group and making it interesting and exciting for the children and the staff too.
So, does this mean I will blog more? Hopefully. I think that the focus of the blog needs to change a bit. There will still be the ICT elements, I know people look for the Google Apps stuff or the Chromebook guides for example, but I want to include more about what we do on a day-to-day basis. This might involve technology, it might just be good stuff that we should share. I already know that my next one will be about an approach to Maths that we have taken recently. I feel a bit out of the loop. I haven’t been to a Teachmeet in ages (except the one at BETT ’16) and only recently was I invited to a conference. This is the first time in months. It’s nice to know people still remember me now and again.
Anyway, if there is still anyone out there that sees this, thanks for reading. I know I waffled, but I have also written a blog post for the first time in forever. So I feel better about it.