Best Practice is only Best Practice if you can Practice it !

Seeking Perfection

I used to coach rugby league. When I was coach, if I was asked to specify what I wanted from my players, the list would go something like :

  • Big (20 stone)
  • So fit as to be functioning as effectively after 80 minutes as at kick off
  • Fast as Usain Bolt (despite size)
  • Clever, choosing the correct pass and play option every single time
  • Can pass equally well off each hand
  • Never drops the ball & never misses a tackle
  • Perfect communication skills with teammates
  • Made of titanium so never injured
  • Stronger than Schwarzenegger
  • Scores a try per match
  • 100% goal-kicking record from every angle
  • Can drop a high-kick exactly on the sixpence they aimed for
  • Agile as a mountain goat with lateral movement as fast as forward sprint

Of course, I never had a player like this.

What Best Practice assumes                v                       Reality


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Welcome to the chalkface : advice to an NQT

I have an NQT starting in September. I still remember my first day as an NQT. I was terrified. Ten years later, and nine years as a Head of History, I’ve welcomed seven NQTs to the Department, four of whom – now highly experienced and effective teachers – will join me in welcoming that new NQT into our small cupboard-sized office under the stairs in the refurbished old toilet room.

One thing I remember well is that there was a huge amount of advice, do’s and don’ts, and other bits of guff which were thrown at me: the NQT evidence folder, the various school policies, the lists of names (students and teachers), the unfathomable site map. Fortunately, my wonderful Head of Department, and some lovely colleagues, both new and experienced, helped me through that first week, term and year. Now, with the benefit of that experience, I can return the favour. Continue reading

I’m not an outstanding teacher. Nor is anyone.

Guardian Link

This article appeared in the Guardian this morning. There’s much in it I agree with.

 School leaders [] have been informed that this country’s teachers are failing, and that they must take charge of a lazy and unprofessional teaching staff, leading to suspicion within our schools. [] I often found that by 9:30am (by which point I had been at school for two hours) I felt I had been reprimanded five or six times in emails to all staff, or in departmental meetings, or staff briefings – all a direct result of current education policies.

This had me nodding along as it chimes with what I’ve read repeatedly, and at some point in the future I’ll probably have a full spleen vent about the adoption of Cult of The Leader enforcement nonsense by rather too many SLTs. However, this is only a quick piece, and I want to focus on this :

I am an outstanding teacher.

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Sabbaticals – not just for teachers

A couple of days ago, I read this blog about sabbaticals from Usman Mohammed :

Usman Mohammed’s Blog on Sabbaticals

I paid attention, largely because of this phrase :

Many difficult schools tend to lose vibrant, middle management teachers who typically fall within the 8 – 15 year experience bracket.

If you take out the “vibrant” bit, then that’s me. Someone actually wants to keep me in a school, despite my UPS pay, my irritatingly independent view of how I should teach, and lack of proper deference to “leaders”! This was surely worth a read. And so it proved. If this is a ball which might start to roll, I certainly want to add any momentum I can. Continue reading