Mrs Humanities

teacher . blogger . friend


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Mrs Humanities shares… Tips for Roaming Teachers

Wow, what a week. First full week back and it was certainly different. The number of times I left my whiteboard controller in other classrooms is close to double figures. Running back in the remaining minutes of lesson switch over certainly got my steps up.

I’m obsessed with finding time-saving and workload reducing strategies to enable high quality teaching without an excessive impact on work-life balance. During the last week, I started to consider how I could prepare myself for the day ahead to make lesson transitions quicker and smoother.

The following are some of the things I’ve started or will be implementing to help with life as a roaming teacher, hope you find some of them useful.

Note: A lot of my tips, depend on the use of technology. My school has allowed for students to bring their own devices. I’ll be allowing students KS3/4 students to have their phone on silent and on their desk (facing down) throughout the lesson in case they need to use it.

Feel free to share your #RoamingTeacherTips

Tips for Roaming Teachers

Daily Setup

1. Bookmark the web pages you use of a daily basis. Add them to a bookmark folder and set it up on the bookmark toolbar in your web browser. If you’re using a laptop you can open them up in the morning with one click (see video below) and leave them open all day. If you’re moving from one PC to another, you can do the same at the start of the lesson if required.

How to create bookmark folders and open all at once in Chrome

2. Although I embed the majority of videos into my lesson resources (How-to for embedding into Powerpoints & Word documents) sometimes I find something that I might use if I have time in the lesson or if the students take the lesson in that direction. I’ve therefore been opening these up in the morning and bookmarking them to the lesson folder (see below). At the start of the lesson I open all of the tabs in preparation.

My Bookmark Folders
Sub-folders for each lesson under the main ‘Lesson’ bookmark folder.

Start of Lessons

As a roaming teacher, I’ve so far found that the start of lessons can be somewhat chaotic. Students are generally staying in the same classroom for all lessons, except for options at GCSE, meaning that students are in their seats and often ready before I am. To make this time productive I’ve done/will be doing the following.

3. My year 11 students have been given a pack of 6 GCSE retrieval practice sheets. I’ve assigned one per fortnight of this term and next and instructed that once settled they make a start of the assigned sheet until I am ready to start the lesson. They need to have completed it by the lesson in a fortnights time at which point we will go through the answers and self assess. If they complete prior to the deadline, they can move onto the next sheet in the pack.

4. For other classes, I’ll be setting up short quizzes to complete at the start of the lesson based upon last lessons work. So far, I’ve either not really taught any content, since we’ve had introduction and set up lessons or they’ve only had one content so these are on my to-do for this week. I’ll be using Microsoft Forms and posting the link to the quiz on Teams in the morning. Whilst I set up, students will use their own device (phone, tablet or laptop) to complete. If students don’t have access to their own device, I’m happy for them to complete the quiz with the person next to them and they can submit as a joint entry. This will mainly be used with KS3, year 10 and year 12.

Useful Links:
Create a quiz with Microsoft Forms
Assign quizzes to students through Microsoft Teams

Setting and Collecting Work

5. In lessons I will use the PowerPoint, Word document or similar with the instructions and resources as usual, but will be posting the resources for the lesson onto the class Team to enable students to access the digital version at their own desk or at home. This is mostly relevant for KS4 and KS5 students to enable them to work at their own pace through the lessons work. It also means that when students require assistance they can tell me which page or slide they are on and I can support as required.

6. I loved using Teams whilst remote teaching. The ability to set up assignments and feedback digitally was really useful in my opinion. This year I’m using the assignments function for all homework & assessed work. For homework or assessed work, students can submit a digital copy if using own device or upload photo/scan of the work from their book. With assessed classwork (formative and summative) students will be given a time frame to submit it within before I assess and feedback.

7. If, and this is very rare, I need to collect in books or paper based work, students will pass their books to the end of the row, a box will be placed at the back of the room and as they leave, the pile will be popped in the box. I’ll collect the box at the end of the day to save me having to carry it around.

AfL and Feedback

One of the things I’m already finding difficult it not being able to circulate the room to assess understanding and provide verbal feedback in the moment. I can already envisage that I’ll be making even greater use of self and peer assessment along with modelling this year.

8. Digital submission of homework and assessed work means I can provide feedback via Teams. Before the Summer I ensured all of the assessed work which would be completed across KS3 had a feedback sheet which could be easily converted into a rubric on Teams. For staff, its just a case of copy and pasting to the ‘new rubric’ when setting up an assignment. Once a rubric has been created, it can be used again and again.

9. If students work directly on the resource provided via an assignment, the teacher can access and comment on the work in real-time. Whilst the majority of my KS3 and KS4 students will be working on paper, this I feel is particularly useful for year 12 and 13. This will allow me to see the work that the students are doing and provide timely feedback and support.

10. I used to collect books in from KS3 students for a quick book look in between pieces of assessed work and would complete a book look sheet. Later this would be shared and discussed with the class. As my practice has developed, I’ve reduced the need for this through effective and regular AfL in the lesson, modelling and self/peer assessment.

However, a lot of that came from being able to circulate the room. My plan this year is to make use of polls via Teams and mini-whiteboards (the school wide plan is that class sets will be available). During and at the end of the lesson to check understanding, I’ll pop a question on the class Teams ‘feed’ for students to answer, review the results and discuss any misconceptions. I’m not entirely sure how effective this will be but I’ll be giving it a try this week. When or if the tech isn’t available, I’ll revert to the mini-whiteboards.

11. I can already see that modelling and discussing success criteria is going to have even greater importance than it has previously. My lessons regularly make use of modelling through one of three ways:

a) pre-created example – shared via whiteboard or print out
b) in the moment example – shared via visualiser or written in a word document and displayed on whiteboard
c) student work – shared via visualiser

Now the first two I can continue to do, however the third is going to be a little trickier. My plan therefore is that students that volunteer their work can take a photo, upload it to Teams and I will open it from there and display on the whiteboard.

Useful Links:
Creating and managing a rubric in Teams
Sharing Rubrics (Export and Import)
Sharing Rubrics in Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams
Review, return, and turn in assignments using the feedback loop

Moving Resources

Moving resources around the school, oh my. I already do a large number of daily steps, so for me it’s no different, but my arms are not used to carrying so much around. Initially, I was carrying folders, laptop, equipment etc. in multiple bags, boxes and folders. By the end of the week I had it organised as follows.

12. Invest in an expanding folder (or similar). I’m popping my printed resources in order of my lessons. I have this one from Paperchase and it fits plenty of resources in, including my A4 school planner.

13. I’ve been using slip-in wallets like these for sometime for storing paper based homework and assessed work (mainly from KS4 & KS5). Each one is labelled up with the year group. This year, I’ll be continuing with this method as and when required. I’ve stored all 8 in the very last section of my expanding folder. This week when I needed to collect in some retrieval sheets, I popped the relevant file on an empty table at the start of the lesson. At the end, students collated the sheets and one student popped them inside the wallet which went back into my expandable folder. Easy with limited touch and interaction.

14. I realised this week I need a clear pencil case or similar to keep my whiteboard pens, a cloth, whiteboard remote and the like. The majority of the week they were in the pocket of my laptop bag, but this made it difficult to do a quick visual check to ensure I had everything. To solve this I’ve picked up a clear zip-seal wallet, so at the end of the lesson I can do the quick ‘leaving the classroom’ routine have I got my… *insert list of items here*.

15. Thankfully, our students are very well prepared so I don’t need to carry general stationery around with me, but I know of teachers elsewhere that are. They’ve therefore invested in travel cases and the like to help them to move everything from room to room.

In my first few years of teaching I used the collapsible ones for dragging books to and from school, I highly recommend them. Incredibly useful.

Some examples:

To discover tips from others, check out the thread below

Got your own tips? Share your #RoamingTeacherTip on Twitter or add to the comments below.

I’m adding to the #RoamingTeacherTips Here’s mine:

Hope you’ve found something to useful to help you manage your time and potentially reduce workload. Look forward to seeing what other tips you have.


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Mrs Humanities shares… planning an MYP unit

At the end of the last academic year, my colleague and I sat down to design a new unit for year 7 that would inspire and empower them to feel that they can do something about the global issues they worry about.

Before we sat down to create our unit, I’d already discussed the idea with some of my year 7 students and they helped me to formulate a few ideas. By the end of our collaborative session, I had a brief outline to take to my colleague for exploration and discussion.

Main points from my students included:
- they worry about global issues but feel they have no involvement in dealing with them
- they felt they didn't have a voice in the issues that WILL affect them (climate change and the consequential problems primarily)
- some knew enormous amounts about particular environmental issues but never got to make use of their understanding 
- they wanted to feel empowered
- they wanted to learn about the solutions as much as the issues

MYP Unit Plan

It’s pretty lame, but I was really excited about creating this unit as it would be the first one I’d had the opportunity to create from scratch. I’d started as Subject Leader in September 2016 and inherited the MYP plans already in place. In the first few years, the departmental focus was on developing the new GCSE course & the new IB ESS course initially, followed by the new IB Geography course. MYP would stay as it were until the new exam courses were in place. Instead with the help of the team, we updated the existent MYP units.

Now however is the time to improve the MYP curriculum, to make it the foundations for future geographical study and to make learning, assessment and feedback fully integrated through the 3 years so that everything builds on what has come before.

Year 8 and 9 (MYP years 2 & 3) are functioning well thanks to the changes and developments over the last few years, however year 7 (year 1) needs quite the overhaul to make it truly fit for purpose. So this is where the ‘new’ department and I have started.

An MYP unit plan looks something like this (please note however that I added SDGs they are not a common feature):

Designing our unit

The first part of designing a new unit is to decide upon the final outcomes – what do we want students to learn and take away from the unit of study?

There are three areas of the unit plan we needed to explore before we could decide on these outcomes, these were
a) the content to cover
b) the objectives of the unit
c) the summative assessment

We started by writing a brief outline of the content we thought appropriate whilst at the same time formulating a few key objectives. Once we had a rough idea, we discussed the summative assessment and how the three would connect. This was all rough and nothing was set at this point.

Once we had a rough idea, we went back to the core elements of an MYP unit; the key concept, relate concepts, global context and statement of inquiry. The aim of these are to establish the purpose of the unit.

From there we created the inquiry questions for the unit, these are broken down into factual, conceptual and debatable questions. These questions guide the learning and are asked throughout the unit to check for understanding.

The next stage of developing a unit is going back to the objectives, content and summative assessment and fine tuning these so they integrate the inquiry questions.

We decided upon the following objectives and summative assessment for the unit:

The unit would develop student understanding of one global issue together – we selected the plastic problem. We would teach students about the issue, management (including responsibility) and a select few solutions to the plastic problem. Student will then use this outline to structure their own awareness raising campaign, which makes up the summative assessment.

Our next focus for discussion returned to the content. We had our objectives and summative assessment decided we now needed to align the content, approaches to learning and formative assessment to these.

We started by breaking down the content and working out the sub-content.

Once the sub-content was determined we explored the approaches to learning that could be developed through the content delivered. Students would cover the AtL – Research (information literacy) in unit 1, so we wanted students to build upon this and selected a further two as shown below.

Now that we had our objectives, summative assessment, AtLs and content sorted we could consider the formative assessment – these are pieces of work that are assessed by the teacher and feedback is provided to the student. These are the only pieces of work teachers are expected to assess. All other work can be assessed through book looks with feedback provided via whole class feedback, assessment for learning strategies or peer/self assessment.

The aim of any formatively assessed work is that it should feed into the summative assessment and future work. Thus meaning that any feedback provided ought to be transferable between topics – thus developing the learner not the work.

We decided upon the following:

And added in where the formative work fitted into the content.

The final stage involved completing other elements of the ‘learning process’ section which include the learning experiences & teaching strategies along with differentiation (scaffolding).

After this unit, we created two more units using the same process. However the one difference being ensuring that content and approaches to learning developed through this unit, fed into units 3 and 4 of year 7 (MYP year 1).

Assessment for Learning and Feedback

In order to reduce the workload of assessment, teachers and students are provided with a feedback sheet prior to the task. These sheets outline the success criteria for the task. Here’s an example for formative work 2.

Teachers are encouraged to live mark whilst students work, pointing out the next steps the student could take before completion of the task.

My classes do a lot of what I call ‘messy progress’ , this means they are encouraged to add to their work, this can be in the margins, as footnotes or through the use of edit strips, encouraging them to self-assess their work and look for their own potential improvements before submitting as complete. It may end up looking something like this:

Once a formative piece is completed the teacher simply highlights the successes achieved and any relevant next steps. If teachers have any specific feedback for individual students they can either write it in or speak to the individual during the lesson in which they receive their feedback.

Summative feedback looks very similar, except an MYP grade is provided for the criterion assessed.

The key part of producing feedback sheets is that you have to know what you want your students to achieve through the task. This therefore requires an element of planning backwards.

Lesson Planning

From unit planning came lesson planning. During my gained time I created a set of outline lessons to cover the content of the unit. These are just outlines for the class teacher to amend to suit their approach.

Hope you found the post of use, feel free to share how you go about planning a new unit or SoW.

Best wishes,

#teacher5aday


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Mrs Humanities shares… how #Teacher5aday changed my mindset

#teacher5aday

It was around this time 5 years ago I first stumbled across #Teacher5aday. It felt like a breath of fresh air; something that gave me permission to put me first. As selfish as that may sound, it was something I hadn’t done since becoming a teacher.

At the time I was at a difficult school, one with high expectations for staff which meant high workload as well as many behavioural issues and lack of senior support in managing it. I was doing detentions most lunch breaks and regularly after school and didn’t have much time for a break during the school day.

Just before I came across #Teacher5aday I recorded my workload in order to ask for support (if interested you can see the workload diary here). I was working long hours and long weeks and putting my job before my health and wellbeing. I was constantly exhausted, snappy with my partner, always saying no to friends and generally not a likable person to be around.

There was an element of change when I came across #Teacher5aday. I felt like it gave me permission to say no. I felt like it gave me the support to say no. I felt like I was part of something.

Over Christmas, I came up with my first set of #Teacher5aday pledges and published them on December 30th 2014. You can read them here.

“I will be the first to admit that I get stressed, I work and work and work and then I buckle under the strain. I don’t speak up until I’m about to hand my notice in. I don’t rest and feel guilty when I give up because I’m too exhausted to do anything.”

30th Dec 2014

The pledges were going to hold me to account. I was going to work hard to connect, exercise, notice, learn and volunteer over the coming year. I was going to do things for me and my loved ones. School was going to come second. Okay whilst that didn’t exactly happen, the pledges made me start thinking about how I was not looking after my own health and wellbeing. They gave me a daily focus and encouraged me to take time out from working where I could. That first January went better than expected, but then the workload went up several notches and the stress and anxiety kicked in. But there was a difference in how I handled it as you can see in the quote below from my end of January reflection.

This year started like any other, calm and relaxed and then boooooom! Workload went into overdrive.  However there has been a slight difference in how I’ve coped with it. Normally I’m calm and placid in school but when I get home my frustration and stress comes out; I snap at Mr Humanities, eat tons of chocolate, work long hours, try to sleep but end up tossing & turning… the list goes on. The start of 2015 has been very different.

Keeping the idea of #teacher5aday in my mind has helped me to remain calm (most of the time), I had a wobble before school the other day but survived it through a chat with a HLTA and good friend. Phew. So far any time this term I’ve felt my blood pressure rising I’ve taken the time to think about ME and not felt guilty about it. How nice is that

1st Feb 2015

Knowing that there is a network of other teachers out there thinking about THEIR wellbeing made a big difference. It gave me the courage to put time aside, even if it was only one day on the weekend leaving me with just 6 to do the work. Knowing others were doing similar gave me confidence.

That support and confidence has continued and 5 years on I’m in a much better place (literally and metaphorically).


I made pledges again in December 2015 and 2016. However come December 2017 I felt that I didn’t need to make pledges anymore because my mindset and circumstances had changed.

I was no longer at the school that causes me to burnout and breakdown.
I was actually saying no and I meant it. I was only working weekends when it really necessitated it.
I wasn’t working until late each night.
I had found strategies to manage my workload in the 4 months at my new school.
I was taking anti-depressants and my mental health was improving.
I had support from EduTwitter friends and loved ones.
I felt I could manage.

Teacher5aday is always in my mind, it’s given me many fantastic friends, connected me with many through #Teacher5adayBuddyBox and changed how I approach wellbeing and mental health. I even wrote a whole section about it in ‘Making it as a Teacher‘.

There was a time when I didn’t recognise the importance of looking after myself. I’d plough away at the to-do list and work and work until I broke. That was no good for me, my students or my loved ones. #Teacher5aday helped to change that. Whilst it may only be a small part of a bigger story, the 5 elements and the support of a great community got me through some very difficult times. It changed my mindset and now I proactively look after myself. Why? Because ultimately it makes me better at my job, benefits my loved ones and makes me happier in both work and life.


All that is left to say then is a massive thank you to Marty Reah!

You’ve done an incredible job of putting wellbeing at the forefront of our minds, of bringing people together and ultimately improving the lives of many school staff and their students. For that I am sure there are many that would like to say a massive THANK YOU.

How has #teacher5aday benefited you?

Books on teacher wellbeing


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Mrs Humanities shares… templates for teaching

One of the things I mention to people when I talk about how I’ve cut down my workload is how I have a template bank of ‘go-to’ resources.

My template bank includes resources for scaffolding, teaching activities, retrieval practice and feedback. Along with a PowerPoint template in which I’ve been using since 2014. So I thought I’d tell you a little about them and share a few with you.

PowerPoints

My powerpoint template is as follows:

I first created a template to suit students with SLCN and Autism during my NQT year, after doing some work with my SENCo at the time. I had a large number of students with SEN and wanted to ensure I was doing the best for them. My template has come some way since my first creation as I learnt more about dyslexia and other specific learning needs.

It’s quite simple. The learning objective and list of keywords for the lesson are repeated on each slide. Then each colour textbook represents different information as follows:

I’ve chosen pastel colours for textbooks and a light grey for the background. Reason being they are beneficial for dyslexic students and reduces eye strain associated with white backgrounds.

Further reading on role and value of colour 

My powerpoints are pretty small these days in comparison to what they used to be, usually a maximum 10 slides per lesson. Videos are embedded and instructions are made clear. Students are allowed to access the resources digitally in lessons via their phones or devices if required for SEN. Download a copy of the template here.

Example Powerpoint

Teaching Resources

Next I have a bank of go-to teaching resources and keep them in a template bank folder. I have about 30 in total for different skills I want students to develop and simply adapt to suit the content, class and students. I’ve put some of them into a document for you here.

In my resource template bank, I have resources for a wide variety of activities from activities to describe patterns or to encourage interpretation, analysis and linking to templates for revision and retrieval, peer assessment and teacher feedback.

They can all be easily adapted and either projected on the board or printed off.

More recently I’ve created a set template for our MYP (Key Stage 3) assessed work – formative and summative – along with the feedback to go with them which my whole department use. We simply project the instructions on the board and print out for those that need a hard copy whilst feedback is printed and highlighted during live marking and after completion. More information on these can be found here.

Self-assessment and monitoring

I also have templates for student self assessment and monitoring. At GCSE and IB students are required to regularly assess their own learning through the use of AfL grids/booklets.

The IB template provides space for the topic content, the case studies and the examples studied. I’ve simply copied all of this information from the specification.

IB AfL grid template
IB AfL grid example

The GCSE ones outline the course content with key terminology/skills and case studies or examples.

GCSE AfL grid example

I put these into a booklet for students to make it easier to check students are self-assessing. You can find out more about the GCSE booklet here and IB ones here.

Less is More

When it comes to planning and workload, the one thing that has helped me though has been to simplify what I’m doing in the classroom with my students. Rather than focusing on engagement, I now think more about the actual learning and what I want students to achieve and go with the motto that “less is more”. This then feeds into how I assess learning and provide feedback – it becomes part of a feedup-feedback-feedforward cycle – whereby I am modelling and clarifying, allowing students to work, assessing and then feeding back, all of which then feeds forward into my short, medium and long term planning.

How do you manage your workload? What are your top tips for reducing it?


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Teacher Truths: Drowning in Marking (and other things)

This article was created as part of Twinkl‘s worldwide teacher wellbeing campaign, TeacherTruths. Head over to their Year of Wellbeing page to read other’s views and find out how you can have your say.

TeacherTruths: Supporting teacher wellbeing, one conversation at a time.

If we rewind a few years back to October 2013. This was my marking pile for the 1 week half term.

This pile included Geography controlled assessments, KS3 and KS4 examinations and 2 sets of class books!

The following October half term was a little better as I was at a different school, mainly just a few piles of books, but that was only because the week before I’d had to mark exams and input data for all of the classes I taught. There was just a shift in when I did it. Booo.

Anyway, I found marking and assessment a struggle; firstly because it was just a tick boxing exercise and secondly because I didn’t quite understand the potential it held and thus didn’t fully implement an effective feedback system via my marking. I always felt that feedback was always too late for it to have impact on my learners despite the use of directed improvement and reflection time (DIRT). Marking books every 4 lessons just didn’t have the impact a more flexible system could have.

I was drowning in marking (along with lesson planning, curriculum development, assessment, behaviour etc).

So what did I do about it?

The first thing I did was ask for help. I kept a workload ‘diary’ and went to my headteacher at the time and said this is what I’m spending hours and hours and hours doing… please help me! How can I reduce this?

I was given a day off timetable to catch up with planning for the next term but nothing else was done to support. And so, I continued for a few more months, but the workload didn’t relent and so I went back and asked for help again.

This time my Dad was the influence, he told me to write down everything I did over the period and keep track of the hours spent doing each task.

Over 17 days, I taught 49 hours yet did 184.5 hours of work.

I took this data and asked for help again. I was told “leave it with me”. That was the last I heard of it until my back to work meeting after time off sick in April 2016 due to burnout, when it was exclaimed “well if you didn’t keep a diary of your workload…”

After little support, I decided I had to take things into my own hands and find ways to reduce my workload for myself. Marking was one of my biggest time consumers so that was where I was going to start.

I started investigating other ways of assessing and marking. I came across a variety of ideas and was reminded of some of those I’d used as an NQT such as that below and decided to implement some of these strategies again to see how they worked.

During my NQT I’d create these before assessing any work based on the all, most and some learning objectives of the lesson. Students would read the feedback and then use it to write a target for themselves. Did they ever act on the target? Rarely! (My fault not theirs).

So I tired these again, however this time I looked into how I could give them the success criteria in advance and then make use of the feedback to drive learning forward. I realised that I had to know myself what I wanted my students to be achieving and what that would look like before I planned any learning. Reading ‘Engaging Learners‘ and ‘Teaching Backwards’ were both influential in helping me to understand this.

I tried numerous strategies to find what worked for me and my students at the time but that would still meet the criteria of the school’s marking policy.

Some of these strategies included:

marking codes DIRT
dot marking DIRT
WWW and EBI marking and DIRT
self assessment WWW and EBI marking and DIRT
generic peer assessment DIRT

But the one that worked best for me was the feedback grid…

feedback grid DIRT

After seeing this tweet by @fiona_616 I decided to give the feedback grid a try.

It was slightly more time consuming initially to set up, but once created they were easy to adapt. I started using them in a variety of contexts since they saved me a lot of time when it came to planning, assessment and marking as outlined in this post ‘My Marking Saviour – The Feedback Grid‘.

The following year when we were required to provide an outline of topics and progression on the front of books, I explored how I could combine this along with feedback to make my workload more manageable.

Along came the Learning Matrix

learning matrix assessment for learning

These combined the topic outline, assessment objectives and success criteria along with what would later become feedback comments. During the assessment process I’d simply highlight the criteria achieved in one colour and the criteria for students to act upon in another.

marking and feedback

When marking books, I would write the corresponding code in the students book in the appropriate location.

marking and feedback

In line with school policy students would have time to act upon the next steps criteria during DIRT.

Unfortunately, reducing my workload from marking and feedback felt like the only area in which I could take control. I still felt overwhelmed with work and eventually experienced a breakdown due to burnout in April 2016 – more on that experience here.

However my exploration into marking, feedback and assessment led me into a topic I now find of great interest and I’m fortunate to be in a position to now be writing a book on the topic to help schools, departments and individuals move away from marking policies and into feedback systems. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from 10 fantastic case study schools, 5 departments and a range of individuals in the process and I can not wait to share the book with you next Spring/Summer.

Until then, I’ve plenty more to inspire your journey from marking to feedback here.

Share your teacher truth…

What challenges have you experienced during your time in the profession and how have you overcome them? Share your Teacher Truths with others and develop the conversation on teacher wellbeing.


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Mrs Humanities shares… why I’ll continue to talk about teacher wellbeing and mental health

If you’re a twitter user, you may have noticed that this weekend a prominent, highly-regarded teacher offered an opinion about mental health and wellbeing that was rather controversial and for some, including myself, upsetting to come across.

The tweet read:

Twitter at your best: Sharing ideas. Pooling resources. Generating debate.
Twitter at your worst: Droning on about your mental health / wellbeing as if you work down a Victorian bloody coalmine. Get a grip.

I’m not going to name and shame as the tweet has now been removed. However before it was deleted there had been a barrage of more than 250 responses striving to counteract the statement made. It was pleasing to see that not a single response had been in agreement and that so many came out in support.

A bit of a shock!

When I first read the tweet I was flabbergasted that a member of the teaching community that I held in high esteem, could say such an insensitive thing. I retweeted with a comment explaining how I was ever grateful that I’ve been able to talk about my mental health and wellbeing over the last 3 years and left it at that.

However it stuck with me throughout the night and by morning I was rather angry. I had to respond directly so I outlined how being able to talk about and share by experience online meant I was able to accept my experience and later recuperate from the depression and breakdown.

However I also felt ashamed, firstly ashamed that others could feel this way about such an important issue and secondly because it brought back how I felt before I brokedown in Spring 2016 when I’d been too scared to face the reality of my mind and emotions. It’s really hard to hear others speak of mental health and wellbeing like it doesn’t matter, because when you’ve come so close to ending everything because of work-place stress, you know full well it’s not something to dismiss.

Worst thing is I’m not alone.

As a result of willingly sharing my experience, I’ve been in the position whereby not one but two fellow teachers have contacted me to discuss their mental state. One told me what they were planning on doing at the time, the other didn’t until weeks later. It was heartbreaking to hear, however, if they hadn’t reached out on those nights it could have been a very different story for them, their families and their schools. That’s two people that needed to talk, but there are countless others in similar circumstances. For instance, the Education Support Partnership year-on-year are seeing rising numbers contact them, in the year 2018/19 they saw a +28.1% cases compared to 2016/17. What a rise.

But there are also those that never reach out, that keep their challenges hidden and those that eventually leave the profession because it gets too much to deal with. We can’t hide from the issue.

We’ve got to keep talking!

Mental health challenges are easily hidden and without talking, how are we to uncover them? How to we de-stigmatise them? How do we make people feel okay about how they feel? How do we get people to reach out for help?

We need to talk and we need to look after and out for each other; be it ourselves, our colleagues or our students. We need to normalise the discussion, we need to normalise any need for support and we need everyone to know that it is okay to not feel okay. Society and individuals need that as much as schools do.

We all deserve to be happy.

Staff in schools have as much right to positive wellbeing, to be happy and to live free from excessive work-place stress just as much as the young people we work with. No body should be made to feel ashamed about their mental and physical health or their wellbeing and no one should be made to feel ashamed about talking about either.

I’m in a fortunate position whereby I have been able to publicly verbalise how many others are feeling. I’m contacted daily by teachers, school leaders and support staff about their wellbeing or lack of as the case usually is, each one fearful of saying anything whether it be to their schools, their loved ones or a professional. They don’t want to be seen as weak, inadequate, failing or add in any other negative connotation. But having the ability to speak to someone that has been through similar helps, it most certainly helped me. I was kindly offered support by a highly experienced geography teacher that had been through several of his own breakdowns and mental health challenges. His words lifted me on some of my darker days because he understood better than any of my friends or family could. Not only had he had similar mental health challenges, he was a teacher too. He understood. And that’s what is needed. Understanding and empathy.

Too many of those I speak to, meet or listen to say their school leaders, line managers, head of department or the like, lack it. That they’ve been told to get themselves together, that they’ve been told to grin and bear it, they’ve been told that everyone finds it hard they’re not the exception etc.

That’s not how we should treat one another; that’s not how we normalise mental health; that’s not how we save lives.

Teaching broke me. But it also helped me.

I’m stronger, braver and prouder now than I’ve ever been and that’s thanks to teaching and Edutwitter. I know I’ve been able to help others, whilst so many have unknowingly helped me. And so…

I’m standing proud and owning my mental health.
I’m standing proud and talking about mental health.
I’m standing proud and normalising mental health.

Why?

Because mental health matters and so do you!

Need help? Who can you talk to?

The Education Support Partnership are the only UK charity dedicated to improving the wellbeing and mental health of education staff in schools, colleges and universities. They have a 24/7 helpline if you need to talk about anything, whether it be professional or personal they are there to help.

Alternatively, find someone with #Talk2meMH on twitter. They are happy to talk not as a professional but as a friend. Some have been through their own challenges others have significant understanding and empathy.

Either way, if you need to reach out and talk, ensure you do so.

Best wishes,

P.S. I’m fundraising for Ed Support by walking 100km in 48 hours from London to Brighton next May. To find out more or to donate check out my Just Giving page here.


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Mrs Humanities shares… useful Google Drives from generous teachers

I’ve come across some very useful tweets whereby teachers are sharing resources they’ve created via a Google Drive (or similar) as opposed to Tes or other resource sharing platforms. But since they tend to highlight their resources via twitter it can often be hard to come across them in a web search. In order to help highlight the fantastic resources others are kindly sharing I thought I’d put together a list to share with you, with many thanks to their creators. If you know of one I’ve not yet listed, please feel free to comment or tweet me with links.

This post will appear on both MrsHumanities.com and Magpied Pedgagogy and will be updated as and when I come across new ones so you may wish to bookmark it.

NOTE: As most of these are Google Drives you will probably find that you need to login to Google otherwise the folders will appear empty.

Let’s start with something I set up a while ago but never launched. One for all the Geography teachers.

National Geography Department Google Drive is a way of geography teachers to upload and share resources. Simply upload to this folder and they will then be moved to one of the other folders which can be found here. Once moved the resources are view only. Please name documents by topic and key stage they are designed for.

General Resources

Jamie Clark @XpatEducator has quite a set of accomplishments. I first came across their resources some time ago back when I was Head of Humanities. Their profile now says they are Director of Digital Integration and Enlgish Teacher along with Apple Distinguished Educator, Producer of The Staffroom Podcast and Author.

Jamie Clark’s DropBox

Humanities

Mr Classics @MrClassics3 is a classics KS4 Latin and Classics teacher
Mr Classics Google Drive

Denise Freeman @geography_DA is a geography teacher and teaching school lead working in London.
Denise Freeman’s Google Drive

TeamGeog @GeogTeam is a platform to share resources for Key Stages 3,4 and 5 and is managed by @m_chiles and @jennnnnn_x
TeamGeog Google Drive

Rachael Speed @BeingMissSpeed is a Geography NQT based in Hampshire.
Rachael Speed’s Google Drive

Simon Beale @SPBeale is a Head of History, a @ssat lead practitioner and co-founder of @historybookgrp and critical conversations pod.
Simon Beale’s Google Drive

Morwenna Chapman @MorwennaChapman is Head of Department and Geography teacher. She has created a lovely set of resources for stretch and challenge. Grab a copy here in Morwenna Chapman’s drive

Science

I Teach Boys @ITeachBoys92 is a Science Teacher in London.
I Teach Boys Google Drive

Louise Cass @louisecass is a Science Teacher and former Forensic Scientist.
Louise Cass Google Drive

Miss Keloglou @MissKeloglou is a chemist and chemistry teacher. You’ll have to explore the folders to see their helpful resources.
Miss Keloglou Google Drive

Adam Bilton @heroteach is a Science teacher.
HeroTeach Google Drive

Dr Sue Thaw @aegilopoides is a Head of Science and has shared their revision resources. Again you’ll have to open the folders to see the resources.
Dr Sue Thaw Google Drive

Hope you find these of use and please do highlight to me any others you come across.

Best wishes,


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Mrs Humanities shares… A peek inside my department handbook

Recently I’ve had a lot of requests for copies of my department handbook. Is there a sudden surge in people being asked to create them or is it just the time of year that people are updating those they already possess? Hrm?

Anyway, due to it being a school document that I have partly created during the school day I don’t feel I have the right to share it. Therefore instead, I will explain what mine consists of along with a few screenshots. I hope that helps those of you that are creating or updating yours, but please do not ask me for a copy as I will not be able to send it to you I’m afraid. However, I have created a template that you may wish to make use of, find it here.

Contents

  1. Academic Statement
  2. Department Vision
  3. Department Staffing – roles and responsibilities
  4. Teaching load – who’s teaching what
  5. Other responsibilities – e.g. extra-curricular, extended essays etc.
  6. Curriculum – break down of KS3 (MYP), KS4 (GCSE) and KS5 (IB)
  7. Assessed work expectations
  8. Lesson Observations – expectations and responsibilities
  9. Lesson Planning – expectations for teaching and learning over time
  10. Feedback and Assessment – expectations and strategies
  11. Student Assessment for Learning – outline of the AfL sheets we use with students
  12. Revision and Exams
  13. Reports
  14. Behaviour and rewards
  15. Trips and Fieldwork
  16. Day-to-Day housekeeping

I’ve learnt a thing or two this year which means I’ve put a bit more in, with the aim of making things explicitly clear to aid consistency and professional development.

Academic Statement and Department Vision

These two pieces layout the basis of what it means to teach our subject, the former, the academic statement, seeks to set out the role of Geography.

Why is it worth studying?
What value does it have?
What do we want students to take away from their geographical studies over the 3, 5 or 7 years in which they study it?

The latter, the department vision is then an outline of how we as a department are going to achieve the above and how our department fits into the whole school vision and development plan.

How will we make Geography a subject worth studying?
How will we demonstrate its value in the curriculum and beyond?
How will our department contribute to the whole school vision?
How will our department contribute to the school's development?

I believe this section needs the buy in of all staff. During my first year here, I sat down with those in my department to create both of these. I had my ideas, but I wanted to have their input too. Since then I’ve had a new member of staff join the department each year due to the progression of others and I’ve failed in creating the statement and vision collectively.

This September we’ve two new members of staff joining the department, meaning a fresh start really as the other remaining member of staff joined us this academic year. My plan for our CPD day in September then is to sit down together and create a new academic statement and department vision as a collective. I believe it’s important for everyone to feel they have a contribution to make to the success of the department and a say in how we do it. I want us all to be aiming for the same thing and to be able to see where we are going together collectively.

Additionally, I know my vision has changed since I started as subject leader 3 years ago. These statements need to reflect the developments in my geographical knowledge, practice and general pedagogy as well as whole school changes.

Department Staffing, Teaching Load and Other Responsibilities

What this section includes is quite self explanatory really.

The staffing table outlines the position each person plays in the department, the responsibilities of their role and their teaching load. This is to enable staff to seek support and guidance from the right people, it’s to help teachers collaborate across year groups and key stages and to allow staff to identify their strengths in the provision of other responsibilities e.g. trainee mentors, extra-curricular, field-trips etc.

Curriculum

This section breaks down the curriculum by key stage, providing vital information about the topics and specifications studied, the examinations undertaken and the options selected.

This section also refers the user to important documents such as the exam specifications, the programme of learning for each key stage and the assessment for learning booklets and documents.

Assessed work expectations

We don’t mark general classwork at GCSE and IB, just past paper questions which are undertaken throughout a topic. This equates to 1 set of PPQs every 2-3 weeks. This is how we assess student’s application of knowledge. In lessons we then use assessment for learning strategies to check for understanding.

For consistency, expectations for assessed work are set out explicitly in the handbook.

This year I’m introducing a change to our testing procedures. Rather than giving end of topic tests at the end topic, students will not sit the test for a minimum of 2 weeks after they have finished it. Although I am considering making it so that end of topic tests are done at the end of the next topic, however I’d like input from my ‘new’ department and line manager on this before any final decisions are made.

Lesson Observations

This section merely outlines what should and what doesn’t need to be provided for a formal or informal lesson observation in accordance with the whole school policy. It also directs staff to lesson observation documents such as the observation feedback form, 5 minute lesson plan etc.

Lesson Planning

Really this section should be called learning planning, but I don’t like how it sounds so I’ve stuck to lesson planning.

It is something I’ve added this year for consistency and is an outline of what should be evident in teaching and learning over time. It would not be expected to see evidence of all of this in a lesson observation, nor evident just in books.

Instead sources of evidence would include discussions with staff, classwork, homework, lesson resources, assessment for/of learning, data, conversations with students, collaborative planning, units of inquiry, etc.

Feedback and Assessment

This section discusses the importance of feedback and assessment for/of learning in all its forms. Here staff are referred to the Power of Feedback document for further reading for the logic and evidence for the strategies outlined.

This section then provides a range of feedback strategies that staff have the autonomy to mix and match providing that students receive regular feedback from the teacher or peers to enable them to develop and progress.

More on the strategies that make up our Feedback NOT Marking ‘policy’ here.

Student Assessment for Learning

In supporting our students to become independent learners, we use assessment for learning sheets at KS3 and booklets at KS4 & 5. These enable students to track their progress along with set and track their personal targets.

This section aids the teacher in explaining to students how to use their AfL documents.

The remainder of the handbook

The remaining sections are just basic details that outline where to go for information on and resources for revision, exams and reports

There’s a bit that outlines our departmental approach to rewards and behaviour. There’s an outline of responsibilities for trips and fieldwork and some general day-to-day information that maybe of interest to new members of staff.

I hope this is of use.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Best wishes,


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Mrs Humanities shares… twitter highlights #5

Wow, what happened to that gained time after my GCSE and IB groups left? This term has been hectic so there’s been a lack of posts this month. But here’s a small one with my most recent twitter highlights. You’ll notice a bit of a theme with the geography highlights.

Hope you find something of use!

Geography

History

Other Subjects

Teaching and Learning

Wellbeing, workload and whatever else

And this one…. well it’s about me *chuckles*

Have a great week.

Best wishes,

My book ‘Making it as a Teacher’ is now released.Click the image to find out more about it.


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Mrs Humanities shares… twitter highlights #4

Wow, this term has started with chaos; stomach bug, camps, interdisciplinary activities and trips, end of year exams to mark…. as a result I’ve not posted a blog since the end of May. So I thought I’d start with Twitter Highlights number 4, I’ve added a few extra ones in since I’ve missed two weeks.

Hope you find something of use in the highlights below.

Geography

History

Other Subjects

Teaching and Learning

Wellbeing, workload and whatever else

And this one just made me chuckle

Have a great week.

Best wishes,

Not long until my book ‘Making it as a Teacher’ is released, so scared for the 28th May. Click the image to find out more or to pre-order it. Massive thanks in advance if you do!