Teaching and Learning
Wellbeing, workload and whatever else
Teaching and Learning
Wellbeing, workload and whatever else
In the Easter break I thought it’d be a good idea to share some of the weekly highlights I come across on twitter each week. There’s so much great practice on there and whilst I try my best to collate some of it on Magpied Pedagogy, it’s too big a job for one person. So I thought why not share some of the highlights each week on my blog. It gets a pretty big reach and might encourage others to make use of the excellent CPD opportunity Twitter provides.
This here is the second of my twitter highlight posts.
Hope you find something of use in the highlights below.
Teaching and Learning
Wellbeing, workload and whatever else
Have a great week.
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!
In the Easter break I thought it’d be a good idea to share some of the weekly highlights I come across on twitter each week. There’s so much great practice on there and whilst I try my best to collate some of it on Magpied Pedagogy, it’s too big a job for one person. So I thought why not share some of the highlights each week on my blog. It’s gets a pretty big reach and might encourage others to make use of the excellent CPD opportunity Twitter provides.
This here is the first of my twitter highlight posts.
Hope you find something of use in the highlights below.
Wellbeing, workload and whatever else
Enjoy the long weekend!
Not long until my book ‘Making it as a Teacher’ is released, 28th May. Click the image to find out more or to pre-order it. Massive thanks in advance if you do!
I had a brain wave this morning. You know the kind you have and then think why hadn’t I thought of that before?!
It’s a simple idea really, but goes a long way to highlighting the amazing work being done and shared via twitter for those of you that don’t make use of it for CPD.
For me, Twitter has had a huge impact on my professional practice from inspiring lesson resources to ideas for supporting colleagues, there’s so much you can take away from EduTwitter (see my A-Z of EduTwitter for more info). So here it is, my simple idea is to share 5 tweets that have inspired or interested me each week that I think others may find of use.
Now I just need to work out which day is best to publish? Monday, Friday or Sunday? Hrm… I’ll have a think and set it up from the first week of the next term.
For now, here’s 5 tweets that I think might be of use or inspiration to others:
Knowledge Organisers for Religious Studies GCSE from @MrSmithRS
Geography Teaching Resources from @MrTomlinsonGeog
Teaching resources to support learners with this years RGS Young Geographer of the Year competition from @KCGeographies
Medicine through the Ages Revision Rap from a colleague of @HistTeach55
Oh and don’t forget there are almost 1000 ideas over on Magpied Pedagogy.
Is bringing useful tweets to you a good idea? Let me know your thoughts.
I’m super excited to share with you that my book ‘Making it as a Teacher’ is now available to purchase from Routledge.
I’m super pleased, rather proud and somewhat terrified about it’s publication so I really hope it’s what is needed to help keep new (and experienced) teachers in the profession.
Teaching is a delightfully rewarding, wonderfully enlightening and diverse career. Yet, at present, teacher recruitment and retention are in crisis, with some of the most at risk of leaving the profession being those in their early years of teaching. Making it as a Teacher offers a variety of tips, anecdotes, real-life examples and practical advice to help new teachers survive and thrive through the first 5 years of teaching, from the first-hand experiences of a teacher and middle leader.
Divided into thematic sections, Making It, Surviving and Thriving, the book explores the issues and challenges teachers may face, including:
– Lesson planning, marking and feedback
– Behaviour and classroom management
– Work-life balance
– Progression, CPD and networking
With the voices of teaching professionals woven throughout, this is essential reading for new teachers, those undertaking initial teacher training, NQT mentors and other teaching staff that support new teachers in the early stages of their career.
Thank you for the support along the way.
It was a period of research for me and often the main resources I would come across were academic papers or books by the likes of John Hattie, Dylan Williams, Helen Timperley and Doug Lemov. There were a few blog posts I came across such as David Didau, Ross McGill, Geoff Patty and Joe Kirby but on the whole it was barely discussed online. I found myself digging really deep to find relevant (and free) resources to guide and support my practice.
Now though if you look up marking, feedback or even ‘feedback not marking’ in Google now there are a huge number of relevant hits (including mine).
One of the biggest influences on the discussion came after the publication of the Department for Education’s ‘Reducing teacher workload: Marking Policy Review Group report‘ in March 2016 which put marking (and feedback) in the spot light. This along with the evidence provided by the Education Endowment Foundation’s from their work looking into the value of marking and feedback on student progress, it has grown into a regular topic of discussion and more so a movement of change.
I thought I would share a few that I’ve come across that I have found useful for sharing with colleagues within my school and further afield this year.
A policy for feedback, not marking from Michael Tidd
This post looks at moving from a marking policy to a feedback policy from a Primary perspective with the provision of the policy at the end of the post. Useful for schools taking a whole school approach toward feedback rather than marking.
Insights into assessment from ‘what does this look like in the classroom from Research Schools Network
This post provides a snapshot into what feedback looks like in the classroom taken from ‘What Does This Look Like In The classroom?: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice’ by Carl Hendrick and Robin Macpherson. If you’ve read the book, it’s an insightful read but if you haven’t time for the whole thing this post is a useful summary.
Live Marking: Feedback in Lessons from Ross McGill (Teacher Toolkit)
A 4 minute read on the value and use of live-marking. A useful post for evidencing the value of verbal feedback and how to apply.
Just a useful post from NDHS Blog Spot of lots of useful links on Feedback (and marking).
I hope you find this post useful.
Here are some of my other posts on #feedbackNOTmarking
Moving from marking to feedback
If you’re looking for other ideas check out the hashtag (#FeedbackNOTmarking) on twitter for a wide range of ideas for providing effective feedback.
The great thing about twitter is it has opened my mind, inspired my teaching and introduced me to hundreds of fantastic people, many of whom I would call friends.
The following are some people I would recommend following this year if you don’t already. In no particular order then…
Adrian is the author of ‘Wellbeing In The Primary Classroom’, Primary Teacher and creator of teachappy.co.uk.
I first met Adrian at the Festival of Education, we were both on the Education Support Partnership panel as part of the discussion on wellbeing in schools. We later met again at Pedagoo Hampshire. He’s an inspiring, down to earth person so go follow.
Sarah has been an influencer in the #feedbackNOTmarking movement. After having taken ideas to her senior leadership team, she’s been able to influence change in her school to reduce workload and improve feedback.
Part-time teacher, full-time mum. Go follow her.
Niomi has so much positivity to share. A new mum and Primary school teacher, I’m sure there will be lots of interesting perspectives coming from her this year especially once she’s back from maternity leave. Until then, adore the many baby photos.
Kim is a wellbeing warrior, cat lover and all round goody. I’ve met Kim a number of times over the course of the last few years and she’s as lovely in person as she is online. If you teach Sociology or PSHE, well your in for a treat; her website HecticTeacher.com has a huge array of resources. Additionally Kim shares resources and ideas relevant for any classroom.
Teacher, Geographer and Adventurer. What more could you ask for. You may not get much in the way of teaching resources from him but you get a hell of a lot of inspirational photos, stories and links. I love the break Fearghal creates in my twitter feed from all the ‘Edu debate’. Much appreciation.
History teacher, Tes columnist and Founder of @tmhistoryicons. Tom is a top bloke and one I’m proud to call a friend and colleague. We may not work together in the same school or even country but being part of the #TMIcons team is fantastic. Tom has helped me to open many doors, the first of which was overcoming my lack of confidence and presenting in front of a room full of history teachers at TMHistoryIcons way back in March 2016.
If you follow Tom on Twitter you’ll find lots of tweets saying the things so many of us are thinking but daren’t say aloud. Tom says it for us, we all need people like him fighting for our profession.
Kathryn will be leading #TMMathsIcons, the first #TMIcons event for Maths Teachers. How cool is that? I’m sure there will lots of inspiration posts over the coming year from her.
Natalie has been quiet throughout 2018, she’s been through some hellish experiences over the course of the last year but she’s back and excited for 2019. Who knows what 2019 will bring for her, but I she’ll be sharing lots of educational inspiration over the coming year. Check out her heart felt blog post on the WomenEd blog here.
Patrick is a leader with heart. He cares about his staff and students, he creates change and posts plenty of positivity. If you enjoy travelling, bonus! He’s guaranteed to inspire with his holiday snaps. Enjoy!
If you’re not already following Martyn, why ever not? At times a man of few words, but his enthusiasm and positive nature is contagious. It’s been an absolute pleasure meeting Martyn and becoming part of the #Teacher5aday movement. Without him and it, I probably wouldn’t have made it through the academic year 2014-15. He’s one to follow for wellbeing advice, ideas and inspiration.
Okay that’s my top 10 to follow at the start of 2019. Check them all out on twitter. Many of them have blogs too so be sure to take a read.
A few honourable mentions
Best wishes for 2019.
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?
This is a post I’ve had on my mind for a while but haven’t wanted to write but then I decided that actually I would as I’d also do a post to counteract it with 5 reasons to stay in teaching.
We need more teachers; teachers are leaving the profession and few are being replaced. The numbers of teachers in secondary schools has fallen whilst the number of teachers leaving for reasons other than retirement has increased by 34,910 between 2011 and 2016. Yet the number of students is set to increase by 19.4% between 2017 and 2025.
So why are teachers leaving?
The following five reasons are based on my experiences and those of many teachers I have spoken to over the years.
1 // Accountability
Current accountability structures were introduced originally in 1988 as part of the Education Reform Act with the introduction of Ofsted and league tables yet it’s been Gove’s legacy that has had the most significant impact on teacher and school accountability in my opinion.
Accountability is important to maintain sufficient standards of education for all but it’s the way it has been implemented more recently and combined with performance related pay that has impacted teachers the most.
Ofsted and league tables already have a widespread impact on teacher workload, wellbeing and stress. In my first two schools, I feel as though I heard the word Ofsted more than I heard the word student; yet we are in our schools for the benefit of our students. Everything we do should be for them, not for Ofsted, not for the LA, not for the MAT boss making big bucks but for the students in our care. There are many examples from schools across the country whereby strategies have been implemented not for the benefit of students but to tick box in preparation for Ofsted. Strategies that have had little to no benefit for the students; so why were we doing them in the first place? It takes a brave and honourable leader to stand up and say ‘other schools maybe doing it, but we are not because it doesn’t impact on learning’.
But the introduction of performance related pay for something with so many external influences is damming.
In 2013, the DofE released details on how schools will be able to link teachers’ pay to performance allowing them to pay good teachers more. By that September schools had to revise their pay and appraisal policies to outline how pay progression would be linked to teacher’s performance. The advice suggested schools assess teachers’ on their performance in some of the following
For many this meant setting specific targets for pupil progress and specific targets for performance in observations and scrutinises of different kinds.
For me, one of my appraisal targets looked something like this…
These targets were set by the school. The lack of autonomy in the PM process for many and the implementation of specific targets, some of which are impossible to achieve due to external factors has massively increased the stress experienced by teachers to perform whilst also leading to a great deal of micro-management in order to help others to meet their targets. It’s been crazy for many, stressful for others and downright impossible for some.
2 // Unnecessary Workload
Resulting from the introduction of greater accountability and new performance management measures, teachers have also been finding their workload increase exponentially over the last 5 years or so. Often the workload has been associated with either doing it to cover ones back or to tick boxes for Ofsted, Mocksted, parents or performance management. Too often workload has increased not a benefit to learners but merely to say it is being done.
Take class profiles for instance; in my first school class profiles were introduced to give to any observers. These outlined the class, their achievement, progress, concerns etc.; imagine doing every term for 12 or more groups of students. I never felt this helped me to improve my students learning; instead just a tick box exercise of justifications.
In my opinion the unnecessary tasks that distract from the assessing of learning and planning of progress are the biggest distractions to improving education in our schools.
3 // Constant change
Along with unnecessary workload, another major influence on teacher wellbeing and the workload crisis is the impact of constant change. So far, I’ve been through just two governments in my teaching career, yet it feels like many more as a result of the political input into the UK’s education system. Each time there’s a change of Secretary of State for Education there are new policies and changes to implement; that’s 4 to date for me and despite the name change of the role, others have seen many more ‘in charge’ of education in the UK.
Along with changing ministers, comes changing examinations.
I started my teaching career in 2010; just as Gove become the Education Secretary and since then I’ve taught the following GCSE exam specifications
WJEC (1 year)
Edexcel A (1.5 years)
Edexcel B (2.5 years)
AQA IGCSE (1 year)
AQA 1-9 (2 years)
I’ve taught with levels and without levels. I’ve taught with the national curriculum and without it.
I’ve taught in a comprehensive converting to an academy, an academy, a MAT and a free school. All within 6 years. Some of this was chosen change, others were enforced change all of which those increased workload as it wasn’t possible to just ‘transfer’ resources from one situation to another. Each school their own way of doing things; each exam spec was different; each had new implemented strategies that had been noted in another school as good practice and thus we had to implement just in case.
The change to qualifications, curriculum and testing has probably had one of the largest impacts on workload, in my eyes especially for those teachers in schools teaching both GCSE and A-Levels. The introduction of new testing; the removal of levels and new qualifications have meant a lot of change all at once for schools, subjects and teams to implement alongside dwindling resources and money. All of which has increased workload, stress and poor mental health of teachers.
4 // Limited Autonomy and Micro-Management
Tom Rogers shared this on twitter just the other day
A very anxious and stressed maths teacher received these emails last week. IMO email picking apart display boards (pics) and comparing to another dept is unprofessional. Its lines like “i’ll delay your finish time if…” in the 2nd one that kill this profession. pic.twitter.com/GTRLugFR0f
— Tom Rogers (@RogersHistory) 26 July 2018
A fine example of micro-management and poor leadership. Limited autonomy has a huge impact on teachers; imagine being faced with a school leader that tells you what you can and can’t do in your classroom; that tells you to do things you damn well know will have little to no impact on your students; that tells you to follow me and you’ll be outstanding; that doesn’t let your own way shine through. Imagine how uninspired you’d feel, how your enthusiasm would drain; how ticking boxes to please that person rather than to benefit your students becomes your norm. No thank you.
Yet too many people have experienced this. The list of non-negotiables. The do it this way or take the highway out of here routine. Or worse still the you’re with us or against us, so we’ll put you on PM measures that mean you’ll hate working here and we can soon get rid of you approach. This micro-managing and in some instances, bullying is driving teachers out of the classroom.
We train to teach because we want to teach. We want to give something to our students. We want them to take knowledge away. We want them to develop skills. We want them to be life-long learners. We want them to enjoy and be happy in school and life. If we’re not allowed to do that; our souls become drained. Our happiness withers. Our love for the profession dwindles. We leave.
5 // Societal Opinion
Ever had the kid turn around and say, “my mum says you’re just a teacher, so I don’t have to listen to you’? Thankfully it’s happened just the once; but who has the right to say that? No one is ‘just a….’. We work hard in our jobs, whatever job you do whether a truck driver or dentist, teacher or neurosurgeon you’ve worked hard to get where you are. You’ve put time and effort into your job and/or career. Everybody is worthy.
Just because we’ve chosen to be teachers doesn’t mean we couldn’t have been something else if we wanted to. Teaching is incredible, every day is different, every student is different. We learn as much from the kids as they learn from us; what we learn is just slightly different.
Yet people envisage that we have 13 weeks paid holiday where we go galivanting around the world, sunning ourselves and relaxing. When in reality the majority of us spend much of our time working over the holidays or recuperating after the last slog of several weeks of hard and tiring work.
A recent survey by the Education Support Partnership found that teachers expect to work eight days over the holidays up from six days in in 2013 and that’s just from the 811 surveyed.
I’ve been guilty of working far more days in the summer than 6-8; as I know others have been. Fortunately, I’ve now I’m working in a school that considers workload and have developed my own strategies for reducing my workload meaning I’m sure I can limit my time working to less than 8 days.
Teachers work hard for their students and those that don’t are few and far between. Teaching as a profession needs higher recognition in the UK simple as. Greater recognition for our professional status, greater emphasis on professional development and efforts to retain rather than recruit will help to maintain numbers.
There are so many other reasons teachers are leaving teaching other than those above. What would you add to the discussion? Feel free to leave comments.
// Useful Links
// Posts from teachers that have left teaching
Personally I think it’s important for students to reflect on their learning journey over the year. By the end they often forget what they covered at the beginning. They’ve forgotten how they felt and how much they didn’t know. It’s nice for them to recognise how far they’ve come over the year.
These are a few strategies I use or have used in the past.
1 // Adventures in…
A really simple strategy but very much enjoyable for all. Simply students write a blurb for a book entitled ‘Adventures in…’. Students consider where their learning took them and make it sound adventurous.
2 // Knowledge Scale
The questions you ask are completely up to you. I like to ask the students where they place themselves at the start of a topic and then at the end. Works well for the end of year as well to get them to reflect on their development of knowledge over the year and how confident they are that they will remember it next year as well.
3 // Tell me more…
With this one student’s simply consider what they would have liked to have learnt more about, how a topic could have been improved and if there was anything they felt was missed out of a topic that they would have liked to have covered. A great one for if you want student voice in the development of the curriculum.
4 // Progress Meter
Print out a meter diagram for students self-assess their progress over the year. Encourage students to look through their books to identify where they struggled to start with and where they are now with those particular skills. Often my students don’t realise how far they’ve come until they take the time to think about it.
5 // What helped you the most?
I think it’s important for students to understand how they learn and to recognise strategies that help them to progress. Encourage students to reflect on ways in which you have helped and supported them through the year with any struggles the have come across and the strategies implemented to help them overcome these. This information can then be passed on to the next teacher to take them.
How do you get students to reflect on the year? Let us know.