Where is your homework?

One of my favourite education papers is Sec-Ed. Sec-Ed is the UK’s leading free education paper that is sent to every school across the country. I have been very lucky in the past to have had some articles printed by themselves, of which can be found on the Sec-Ed Articles tab on the right hand side. Pete Henshaw, editor and Chris Parr are great writers who are always on the look out for new writers and education issues to print.

Last weeks Sec-Ed edition was another classic with an article on the back pages that gripped my attention…‘My Goldfish ate my homework’ by Emma-Lee Potter. It was very amusingly written looking at the different excuses that we as teachers have heard regarding homework either being late in or not being handed in at all. It was interesting to read that up to twenty different excuses have been heard by some teachers over a given week, my favourite being ‘a lion took it’. Well done Emma-Lee, Pete and Chris! The article can be accessed here.

It does ask the question though, is the right homework being set, too much/too little or not pitched at the correct level? Any comments are greatly received.

Teacher Tools

With the new term fast approaching, I have started preparing for my new classes and aims for the year. Before the summer break I outlined my five objectives for the year ahead and wrote about them on my blog back in May. These were:

  • Teaching & Learning
  • Assessment for Learning
  • Reflective Teaching (including observations)
  • Technology
  • International link with a school abroad and feeder schools

With these five objectives in mind it has got me thinking what are the most important tools to achieve this? What do we need as teachers on a day-to-day basis? What are the best web pages/blogs for guidance? What tools can we do without to teach? I will be putting my list together on the next few days, but I would like to hear your views and share them.

TeachMeet

I was recently looking at a variety of education blogs over the Easter break and I came upon a very interesting blog by Ewan McIntosh. Ewan is one of Europe’s foremost experts in digital media for public services, particularly in education. He is an enthusiastic educator with a passion for learning and development who wants to bring education into the 21st century.

He was a key player in setting up one of the most ambitious investment funds from a public service broadcaster in the UK (Channel4), himself making the call on investing over £1m in cutting edge and high impact digital media products. He is also the founder of 38minutes.co.uk, the creative industries platform for the North of the UK. His understanding and application of the latest web, mobile and games technology also continues to influence policy and practice in the world of education, where his personal passions lie.

Ewan founded TeachMeet in 2006 as a means of gathering enthusiastic but often unheard educators under one, beer-filled roof, to share the innovations going on in their classrooms. Senior education officials were always invited along to listen. No keynotes. No spotlight sessions. One teacher to another. Key to its success was gaining support from the education and publishing industry to sponsor drinks, food and a/v for a community that has gone from six educators to several thousand, going from Scotland to a worldwide phenomenon. Personally, I haven’t attended a TeachMeet event as yet (sorry!) but I would love to go to one soon. Talking and listening to other educators is a great way to develop yourself as a teacher and to improve your lessons and school. I have read a lot about TeachMeet in the past and I think it is time one came down to my area of the world! Anyone fancy organising a TeachMeet event down in Dorset?

Proud to be a teacher!

Q. What do the following people have in common; Mark Knopfler, Chris Tarrant, Sheryl Crow, Nick Hornby, Frank Skinner, Stuart Maconie, Jim Bowen, Alan Bleasdale, Ian Drury and Sting?

A. They have all worked as teachers. 

What is it that drives us to become teachers? I say ‘us’ as we are different…I don’t mean to offend anybody but there is a certain type of person who becomes a teacher. I love teaching…it is simple as that. It’s not just a job I go to Monday to Friday but a way of life. Teaching has given me the chance to inspire and encourage a young persons mind to love the art of learning. But it isn’t a role that everyone will enjoy. There are of course disadvantages to teaching, so why do it?

Teaching is a popular profession for many graduates. Last year 38,918 (TDA Training Profile 2008) people completed a PGCE. The number of graduates completing PGCE’s has steadily risen over the last few years. It is a role that people find exciting, challenging and extremely stimulating. It is a profession where we are able to move people forward in their aspirations and assist their learning. Friends will know that I sometimes refer teaching to stand-up comedy. You have thirty pupils sitting in front of you expecting to learn. It is up to us to take it upon ourselves and show our worth. We need to work collectively together to make education great. We sometimes get too much bad press and the papers gloss over the successes and achievements that teaching has bought to so many thousands of pupils and students. We must praise each other in this very sacred profession.

Nicholas Hargreaves of Radipole School, Weymouth backs this up by saying, ‘Teaching is a wonderful career choice for anyone. From a young age several teachers and friends helped and encouraged me to aspire to become a teacher. To provide young minds with the knowledge, skills and passion to take control of their lives and become the experts of tomorrow. Personally it has given me the chance to inspire young people with my knowledge and expertise. Working with a group of like minded teachers and young people is extremely inspirational. It is a role I have always been determined to succeed in and work hard for.’

The role teachers’ play in their local community is also central to a student’s development. Schools’ and communities must work collaboratively together for an area to benefit. Economic investment is a necessity with schools. Schools are the training ground for our future generations and they need to be at the forefront of technology for our young learners with the very best facilities for them to achieve their potential. The local community and schools’ must be incorporated into working together to create an ethos of self belief and to achieve their personal best. The community must be involved in their local schools creating community centres, so local people can benefit from the facilities and technology a school has. A community that sees the benefit of an education can help generate our leaders of tomorrow but they must work in partnership with the local schools. We as teachers are the facilitators of this role and can help enrich a wide variety of lives in the process. Working with the local community to enhance the school ethos and help an area develop.

Teaching in my opinion is the greatest role in life that someone can do. To actually see the look of wonder and understanding on someone’s face is something that cannot be bought. To pass on knowledge and see where it takes a young person in life is amazing. To actually help young people in life choose a path in the life with your encouragement and guidance is breathtaking.  

Russell Wait, of Cove School, Hampshire; ‘I was inspired by my secondary school Headteacher who encouraged me from the tender age of 12 to reach my aspirations and goals. I find that teaching is an ever changing occupation that keeps you on your toes. To teach the future generation of Britain with a passionate voice can create change and can only be a benefit for the country.’

Many professionals from industry are turning to a career in teaching because of the many benefits the role brings. They bring with them a vast range of experiences from industry that can only enhance the profession. Experience from outside the classroom and shared with the students is vital. Young people do need to have role models and even though they sometimes might not want to admit it, teachers are a very important one. Only recently the government announced the newly planned PGCE changes where graduates can complete the course in six months. It is very clear that many people want to train as teachers but cannot afford to take a whole year off for training. With the recent credit crisis it is understandable, but it does show that people do want to be teachers.

When former pupils come into my school and remember certain times, events or even lessons, I am proud. Proud to be a teacher, proud to have had a positive effect on somebody’s life, proud to have taken on this honoured to have helped a young person. We have a wide pool of teachers with much experience. Working together we have helped create a career choice for many young professionals. Even Paul McCartney was planning to become a teacher if his band ‘The Beatles’ didn’t make it. Teaching is the best profession and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise! As Batman once said, ‘it isn’t what you say that defines you but what you do’ (Batman Begins, 2005).