Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job.


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Mrs Humanities shares… how I cut down my marking workload.

mrs humanities shares

If there is one thing that has had the biggest impact on my work-life balance it has to be assessment and marking. There was once a time when marking took me several hours an evening and several over the weekend. I had a marking timetable and felt I had to rigorously stick to it to ensure I ‘passed’ book scrutinises.  I’d worry if my books weren’t up-to-date yet also felt that marking has little impact on student progress.

Nowadays I spend a few hours a week out of directed time marking and assessing. No longer do I drag a bag of books home with me. No longer do I have a books and assessments piling up by the door over the holidays, calling and beckoning me to mark them instead of resting. Yet I see more progress taking place in my classroom than ever before. How? Well here’s my secret, I started to refuse. I rebelled. I researched. I implemented. Okay, there was more to it than that, here’s how…

  1. Adapt to School Policy
    My last school had a every 4 lessons policy; books required success comments and next steps to act on during directed improvement and reflection time. To start with they were written comments then I started to use a feedback grid instead – these consisted of a bank of comments in which I’d expect students to achieve, followed by a bank of comments that students may need to do to improve their work.
    GCSe exam questionHaving these in place helped me to live mark and ensure the feedback I’d given was evidenced to save having to write verbal feedback in books. I’d carry a highlighter and highlight the achieved criteria, would put a dot on the criteria to work on next. When I’d collect in the work, I’d already done half the marking and could simply finish it off and highlight one or two of the ‘next steps’ criteria for students to do during DIRT.
  2. Meticulously planned feedback
    Next step has been planning when and where to give feedback across the school year. My department and I have looked at the work we get students to complete and figured out how we can assess progress over time. We’ve introduced a spiralling curriculum in which skills and content repeat throughout topics allowing us to spread out formative and summative assessment. The provision of feedback has been carefully plotted to ensure students can act on it in a timely fashion but so they can also make use of it in the long term when they come back to similar skills or content.
    Assessment outline.png
  3. Less is more
    Alongside careful planning of feedback across the year, we’ve reduced what we mark to ensure that feedback is high quality and effective. For example at GCSE we give students 3 sets of exam style questions for each unit to assess their understanding of the content, we don’t mark their notes unless students ask. We use assessment for learning strategies in class to check understanding and to pick up on misconceptions along with verbal feedback. The exam style questions are roughly undertaken every 2-3 weeks. Despite not marking the classwork, I know where my students are through discussions, live marking and assessment for learning strategies.
    booklet pages
  4. Create a feedback-friendly classroom
    I’m a huge fan of feedback-friendly classrooms whereby teachers are not the only providers of feedback. I teach my students from day 1 how to feedback effectively. It takes times, scaffolding and persistence but it pays off.

    By the end of the year students are highly effective at self and peer-assessing. They do not take my place as the professional provider of feedback but they provide one another with feedback on their work and they have time to act on the feedback before they submit work. I feel it’s an important skill to teach to support students in becoming independent learners. More on peer assessment here.

  5. Feed-up, feedback and feedforward
    Feed up, might be better known as modelling expectations or to clarify the objective, before allowing students to engage with a task. Take feedback from students through assessment for learning and use it to forward plan. For this I quite like using the whole class feedback approach, I review all of the books without writing anything in them. Instead I go through the feedback with the class the next lesson. Feedforward Book Look Record
    I use the information I’ve gained from their work to then plan the following lesson or series of lessons to review ideas or misconceptions, to challenge and extend or change the course of the learning taking place.
  6. Live mark
    I love discussing work with students there and then in the classroom; the ability to identify successes with students and areas for improvement in the classroom is incredibly powerful. I carry a highlighter with me as much as possible and will highlight areas for improvement or put a dot in the margin to identify an area to review. I discuss progress with my students and encourage meta-cognitive questioning.
  7. Simplify feedback
    Make it simple. Use strategies such as marking codes, dot marking or comment banks to reduce your time spent writing feedback. More ideas here
  8. #FeedbackNOTmarking
    Since starting at this school in September 2016, I’ve strived to ensure marking and feedback is manageable, meaningful and motivating for myself, my team and my students. In doing so we’ve moved from marking to feedback as part of our departmental policy.

    For me, not having a set number of lessons in which marking has to take place has been freeing. I much prefer using the time I’d have once spent marking, planning lessons that actually lead to more progress. I use the feedback from student work and the discussions I have with them to integrate work that covers the targets I would have otherwise spent several hours writing into their books. Personally I prefer that to writing a comment that may never be acted on. More on the 3 pillars here.
    3 pillars of effective marking and feedback

At PedagooHampshire I was extremely surprised to hear of schools either still implementing excessive marking policies or even introducing them. I would have thought that with the Governments recent publication of the workload reduction toolkit along with all the reports on reducing teacher workload and evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation on feedback that there would be more schools moving away from such policies.

For more of my posts on #feedbackNOTmarking click here

Feel free to share any other ways you’ve reduced the workload associated with marking, feedback and assessment in your school.

Mrs Humanities

 


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Resource – Lagos Redevelopment DME

resourceA simple activity that stimulates students abilities to make informed decisions in preparation for AQA Paper 3. Students are given resources on the redevelopment of the waterfront of Lagos in order to make a decision on whether the waterfront redevelopment should take place. After discussion students answer the exam style question.

tasksources

There are a wide range of videos that could be shown to the class alongside the resources to develop their understanding of the redevelopment.

Some suggestions include

EKO ATLANTIC Lagos Nigeria. Whats Inside??

Residents of Nigeria’s floating slum thrive

Lagos: Evicted slum-dwellers demand right to return

Download the resources by clicking below.

download here

 

Mrs Humanities


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#TMWellbeingIcons 2019

I’m so excited to be organising the first Teach Meet Wellbeing Icons and sharing what will be a magnificent day.

Keep reading to find out more…
Are you interested in teacher wellbeing, mental health and workload reduction?

Join the TeachMeet Icons team for a day of inspiring speakers, networking and a few laughs.

Aimed at teachers and school leaders across the spectrum of contexts, everyone is welcome. VISIT EVENTBRITE FOR TICKETS.

The day comprises of two fantastic keynote speakers and a series of short Teachmeet style presentations of 3,5 and 10 minutes long. If you are interested in presenting at the event, please fill in the form here.


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Mrs Humanities shares… 8 reasons why I love to teach.

After all my recent anxieties, the first day was fine. I’m sure tomorrow will be too, Wednesday the same…

Anyway, I’d like to share some positivity around teaching so here are a few reasons why I love teaching. Would love to hear your reasons, feel free to add them in the comments.

1 // Learning is awesome. Seeing my students engaged, enjoying their learning is a fabulous feeling. I love it when a class is fully engaged and I can step back and see the learning taking place.

2 // Planning learning is also awesome. It’s great sitting down and planning the process in which my students will participate to learn what they need to learn. It’s a beautiful moment when it all comes together and you know the kids will love it.

3 // Students teach me as much as I teach them. Whether it’s pedagogical, subject based or something a little more personal like something about them, I love that I learn from my students. One of my favourites is when students take our learning in a different direction due to their curiosity, it’s inevitable that I will learn something too.

4 // Students help me to forget my worries. Teaching takes me out of my mind, the best distraction possible. My students make me want to be happy, to want to be the best possible me. They deserve that so I strive for it. That includes taking charge of my wellbeing, to be the best teacher possible we need to be healthy, rested and present.

5 // Developing lifelong learners. Knowing that the skills, knowledge and understanding my students develop in my classroom they will take forward into their futures is empowering. I want them to be the best possible version of themselves now and in the future.

6 // Responsible citizens. In the last 7 years I’ve seen a huge shift in the attitude of young people. In general they are more politically engaged, more open-minded and more emphatic to the experiences of others. When the world is becoming increasing fractionned, the rise of the far-right is evident and leaders aren’t exactly the best, it’s a relief to see that young people want to see change. Our job is to empower then to engage and be work towards that change. I love it when students start to be the change they want to see.

7 // Teachers are great people. Generally speaking, most are caring, supportive and helpful. Sometimes that means we are taken advantage of but it also means there are some incredible people who’ll have your back.

8 // Teaching is like a jar of jelly beans. It’s fun, full of variety, colour and flavour. Every handful is different, so is every day in the classroom. Embrace it.

Why do you love teaching?


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Starting the conversation… #PedagooHampshire2018

PedagooHampshire2018

This week I’ve had to take some time away from twitter. My anxiety surrounding returning to work has been growing and growing for the last 2 -3 weeks and reached an unbearable level at the beginning of this week.

You see recently I’ve been spontaneously emotional to the point that I’ve burst into tears twice just in the street with no obvious reason. I’ve had palpitations, restless night sleeps and hours of not doing anything because the anxiety I’m experiencing feels debilitating.

My anxieties aren’t so much about going back to school, I’m really looking forward to it but about whether I will be able to manage my mental health, wellbeing and work-life balance as well now that I’m not longer on medication.

As I pondered about the world, my thoughts turned to the anxiety and the causes. It’s partly the fact that I’m no longer of anti-depressant medication but also the fact that I surround myself in education for too much of the day. I realised I was spending 5 or 10 minutes here and there on Twitter reading notifications, browsing my twitter feed and following links to interesting articles and blogs. I was continuing to surround myself in education when what I really need is a break. As a result I decided to sign out of twitter on Tuesday 28th August and didn’t sign in again until Friday 31st August.

The break has helped, I’ve managed to put things into perspective and consequently I’ve also decided to no longer have twitter signed in on my phone to stop the incessant desire to check it.

You might be wondering the relevance of this; well on Saturday 15th September I will be attending and speaking at Pedagoo Hampshire for the 3rd time running.

My first session was on Less is More: Marking with a Purpose, my second Less is More: Strategies to Reduce Workload and this year I’m going to share something a little more personal, Less is More: A motto to live by.

In my session, I’ll be sharing my journey with mental health from breakdown to recovery and the 5 strategies I try to live by to maintain a work-life balance; it’ll be part self-help, part pedagogy.

The whole signing out of twitter isn’t one of the 5 strategies, so you’ll have to attend to find them out.

But what I want to share is how having gone through a breakdown as a result of work-related stress, I’ve developed the ability to see patterns, to identify characteristics and too hopefully take measures to step back and recoup. That there is importance in understanding yourself.

(Note: However I can only say this though because people remind me that I do, that I have done over the past two years and that even now that I have come off of medication I can and will).

The other thing I want to highlight is that its okay to not be okay. I have the knowledge now that if I need to there are people to help; I’ve opened up the dialogue and can continue it whenever I need. I can go back on medication if I need to. I can get through stress and anxiety; I’ve shown that already. Relapses are not a sign of weakness.

The reason I’ll be sharing my experience is because too many others are experiencing similar circumstances in the workplace; pressure, accountability and high levels of stress. But there are also those going through depression, stress, anxiety and other mental health issues as a consequence of work. But no matter your experiences with mental and physical health in schools, I want people to know they are not alone. That there is help and support available.

We can insist on change, we can implement change and we can create change in our schools.

I look forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones in the Library at 11:15.

Until the 15th, best wishes for the new school year.

Mrs Humanities

p.s. For some reason I can’t get this to flow right, I hope it makes sense.


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The What if… of mental health.

It is the week before we go back to school. 5 weeks have passed. I’ve relaxed, rested and written the majority of a book.

I’ve also been off of anti-depressents now for 3 full weeks. By the end of July I’d made it down to 1 a week. End of June 2 a week. End of May 3 a week. You get the idea I’m sure. There were a few hiccups when I’d forgotten a dose and had a few side effects but on the whole it was a relatively okay process.

Anyway, the longer between doses the more my thoughts have invaded the space in my mind that has been clear for the last two years. My thoughts have turned back to sudden thoughts of possible dangers, thoughts of worst case scenarios and just general worries.

Now I’ve always suffered from some sort of anxiety or stress, uni was a particularly prominent time for instance but it wasn’t until I started taking anti-depressents that I realised just how much I worried about things.

When I started taking medication, I experienced for the first time in as long as I can remember what it felt like to just have a clear mind. To not be continuously worrying about this or that. To have a thought come into my mind and have the ability to decide whether to continue with it or shut it down. I felt like I’d become more productive and alot happier.

As I started to come off of the medication, I maintained the ability to abolish those thoughts that plagued me; to switch them off. But as the time has progressed and the level of medication in my system declined I’ve found my thoughts returning to old patterns. The school holidays have certainly not helped; no routine, time to think.

As we’ve gotten closer to the beginning of September the more I’ve started to worry about going back. Worrying about the anxiety returning. Worrying about managing my workload. Worrying that I won’t be the best teacher I can be for my students. Worrying about worrying.

It’s gotten so bad I’ve had to detach myself from all things education for a few days, including Twitter.

I’m not the only one to be experiencing such fears I’m sure but I feel like I made such headway in the last two years, I’ve implemented strategies that have reduced my workload. I’ve developed a system for working that works for me. I’ve learnt to put myself before my work and to look after my wellbeing so I can be on top form for my students.

Yet still the fear is there. What if I can’t cope. What if I fall back into old routines. What if I stop saying no. What if… I burnout and breakdown again?


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Resource – Be the IDEAL Geographer

resourceAt the start of the academic year, in the first lesson I like to give a brief introduction of myself to my classes, a little about me and my expectations of them. The register is taken and then straight on with setting them up for learning.

One of the things I go through in my introductions are expectations, those I have of them and that they should have of themselves.

I haven’t changed my introduction for the last 2 years so thought I’d change things a little, thus came up with ‘Be the IDEAL Geographer’. I’m figuring that across the key stages I can make reference to it regularly, are you being an IDEAL Geographer?

Be IDEAL.PNG

Any way, it’s one of those resources that can easily be amended to suit your school or other disciplines, scientist, historian, mathematician etc. So here is an editable version for you. Click on the image below to download it.

download here

Please do share your recreations of it via twitter or share a link to it in the comments.

(Note: The comment on inquiry questions is associated with the IB curriculum. More info on ACE discussions/questionning here)

Mrs Humanities

 


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Resource – Road to Aspiration

resourceA little idea for form time to get students considering where they want to go this year, to question there aspirations and goals and to consider how they will get there.

Image

The road to aspiration resource can be used in a variety of ways from verbal discussion to reflective journal. I’ve not thought that far ahead yet, so can’t tell you how I’ll be using it just yet but thought I’d share in case if inspires others.

Hope you like it, if you’re inspired to create something similar, please share your creations. Always love to see and share them.

Mrs Humanities

 


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Mrs Humanities shares… 10 fantastic displays for the Humanities

mrs humanities shares

Twitter has been alive with incredible display material this August. To some degree it scares me that people are working so hard during the break but then I remember what I was like the first few years and my concerns turn to ensuring these people don’t burn out.

Since so many of them are sending lots of people direct messages or replies with links in, I thought one way to help would be to collate some of the incredible display material in one place.

All the credit goes to the creators mentioned.

In no particular order then

1 // Stretch and Challenge Geography Display from @mrsrgeog

Nice little display piece to develop geographical thinking. Could easily be adapted for other Humanities subjects. Resources can be downloaded from here

be a better geographer

2 // 100 Women from @sehartsmith 

Influenced by September 2018’s edition of BBC History Magazine, Sarah decided to create a display on ‘100 Women Who Changed The World’. Here’s a link to her initial inspiration https://www.historyextra.com/100-women/

100-women-4.jpg

Sarah has used @missgeog92 ‘s idea of the ‘Hello, my name is…’ badges to create the display. For all the resources visit Sarah’s blog S E HARTSMITH HISTORY.

100 women

3 // Histagram classroom display template and significance task from @MrJPteach 

A neat little display of ‘histagrams’ to challenge or extend students. The resources provide a template to create your own as well as ready-to-go ‘histragrams’. You can download the resources here.

histogram

Also check out Jack’s other display materials here.

4 // Extra Reading from @EduCaiti 

A great little idea, inspired by @Jennnnnn_x. An idea that can be easily adapted to any subject. This one has been put up in the corridor to help tackle corridor misdemeanours.

extra reading

You might also fancy these ideas from @EduCaiti for inspiration

5 // Geography Menus from @MsGallagher92 

Not quite a display but material that can be displayed. Gina has produced support menus for her students. They can be downloaded from here.

6 // Geography Case Studies from @siddons_r

It has never occurred to me to use a display board for case study content. Here’s a way to say you some work if you’re a Geographer or to inspire your subject content displays in other subjects. Resources can be found here

case-study-2.jpg

case-study-11.jpeg

7 // Support for Success Tabletop Displays from @Mrs_Educate 

Inspired by the work of others Laura has created a set of table top displays to support literacy and extended writing tasks. Her resources are created for the RE classroom but again are easily adaptable. You can download her resources here.

8 // Wonders of the World from @mrsgeogs

Create some awe and wonder in the classroom with @mrsgeogs display. Resources can be found here.

where in the worldKeeping with the worldly theme with her golden globes reward display. 

golden globe

9 // GCSE Command Terms from @Jennnnnn_x

Although from Geography, these lovelies can be easily amended to other humanities subjects (and further afield). You can download the resources here.

command-terms.png

Photo – @Jennnnnn_x

Here’s a close up from @GeoBlogs 

command

10 // Plenary Cards from @MissKDeighan

Great for a finished board for any subject area. 45 plenary task cards for you to download and use. You can download the resources here.

plenary cards

And here are some of mine you might also find useful

‘Help yourself’ display and station

I wanted to get this post finished after trying to get it done for several days, so I decided I’m adding mine. It is simple, students help themselves to the resources as and when they need them. I don’t have a photo of my current displays unfortunately (will update in the new school year).

GCSE display

You can download my help yourself resources here

Finished Board

I’ve categorised the tasks into those that extend learning, assess learning or encourage reflection on the learning process.  Along with other ideas such as the roll a plenary and peer assessment support. This is an old display and it has since been updated and improved but you can download the resources here. Scroll to the bottom of the post.

plenary display board

Hope there is something of use to you here to inspire you this new academic year.

(I hope to add more as people respond to messages)

Mrs Humanities


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Resource – Assessment for Learning Booklet AQA Geography

resourceI’ve previously shared with you all the AfL grids my department and I use with our GCSE students which our students use to assess their understanding of the content before and after the topic. They also enable students to track their progress.

We make use of ‘PPQs’ also known as past paper questions. These are mostly taken from the AQA sample papers but we have also used a number of relevant questions from past papers.

Rather than printing off each set of PPQs as and when required, this year to help our students to become more independent in the learning process I’ve created an assessment for learning booklet.

These booklets contain both the AfL grids and the PPQs which will be completed over the course. Some times PPQs are completed in class, other times for homework.

booklet pages

My plan is that as we cover the content, students can start to answer the PPQs when they are ready to do so. A deadline for submitting the PPQs will be set as we undertake the topic so students have a deadline to work to.

You can download a copy of it by clicking the button below.

download here

Feedback welcomed.

Mrs Humanities