I take Monday and Tuesday off this week. We have a foreign exchange student staying with us and I need to be around to drop her off and collect her from school.
Wednesday begins with a compliment from a wonderful new primary teacher. This gives me a great boost. She thanks me for giving her an idea for differentiating a lesson that was being observed by her PGCSE tutor. She tells me that she has been graded outstanding and I am delighted for her.
I grab a blue flask to go with the pink one that I already have at home and scoff the jelly babies.
Continuing with the SEND report that I started last week, I observe learning support in four lessons and interview two staff. The highlight of the day is the opportunity to witness a thoughtfully planned 1 to 1 intervention lesson with a Year 6 pupil who is demonstrating dyslexic tendencies. The teacher uses play dough, visualising techniques, spaced and mixed retrieval, precision teaching and creative art to reinforce the learning objective: the correct formation of the numbers 3, 5 and 9. We chat for a short while afterwards and I offer a couple of books and articles for her to check out.
Thursday I spend most of the morning researching and writing up my interview notes from the previous day before heading down to West Sussex for a Teachmeet. On the way, I meet up with a former colleague (Mike Allen @lowfordlegend) to watch the England v Wales Euro 2016 match before heading on to Durrington High School.
Sean Allison has done a great job organising the Teachmeet and the school hall looks great. It feels more like a wedding reception than a teaching conference; each table is draped and adorned with gifts from the sponsors: pens, sweets, pet hair lint rollers and the obligatory ‘Twinkl’ flask. I grab a blue flask to go with the pink one that I already have at home and scoff the jelly babies.
The presentations begin with a keynote speech from Sir Tim Brighouse and I settle down to take some notes. I’m not presenting this evening so I’m feeling nice and relaxed – unlike Mike who is due up shortly.
Sir Tim opens up with some inspirational words. He talks about the role of the teacher and quotes Haim Ginott:
“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.” (Ginott, 1972)
We hear from a range of excellent speakers and there are lots of ideas for me to take away and share at the schools that I will be visiting in future. Dave Rogers has designed his own ‘curiosity glasses’ and is trying to convince us all that Iceland doesn’t exist! Jason Ramasami @jasonramasami reminds us of the importance of support networks and Mike Allen shows us how his school uses a Friday afternoon forum to identify ‘marginal gains’.
I resolve to put together some videos using office mix for the leadership area of my blog following an enthusiastic presentation from inspirational art teacher, Emma Modder. Thank you to Durrington High School and the inspirational teachers that shared their ideas with the audience.
At the end of the week I get a message from a Head Teacher who would like me to ‘just visit’ his school. I know him well and look forward to supporting him with his school improvement.
Next week, I look forward to two exciting days at the education festival (Wellington College) where no doubt, Shaun and Andy will do all they can to convince me to buy their book again!
I look ahead to visiting some more schools this week. Hopefully, I’ll be invited to come and visit yours soon. #justvisiting