Monday, 15 January 2018

The Pearl

It crept towards her, out of the pages of her diary. Those empty rectangles of nothing. And from where there were entries and to-do lists it swaggered out across the pages, parading past her, jeering. When she did manage to shut out the noise, it whispered derisively instead. Not into her ear, but directly from the centre of her head, engulfing all else, like backwash on a beach rattling her logic, dragging all order away and into the deep.

It wasn’t as if she had nothing to do, and it definitely wasn’t because she wanted to do nothing. It was just that what she did have to do felt like nothing. The sense of urgency and fear that she relished did not make residence in the items on her schedule. It didn’t even really feel like her schedule, and definitely not her agenda. Someone else’s, perhaps. Maybe no one’s in particular. Just a schedule.

Things to do, things to do. Busy, busy. No time. The familiar phrases taunted her. She had once felt that way; she felt that absence keenly. It left a vacuum, now perforated and being slowly inhabited by the swirling grey of a winter North Sea, carrying sand and seaweed, grating and tangling with her thoughts.

When had she last been on the beach? Too long ago. The stretching sands and undulating water reminded her that, despite how she felt, the tumult in her head was only… not imaginary, but… something that could be controlled more easily than she could control the heaving mass of water rushing to meet her feet.

King Cnut. He had been demonstrating that he couldn’t stop the tide coming in. So misrepresented these days. He knew he didn’t have divine powers, and that only God did. She pondered this. Then she pondered her train of thought, wondering why she was now sitting at her desk with her organiser open in front of her thinking about God.

She flipped it shut, decisively. Although, she knew not what she’d decided. Only that she would shut it and that somehow, perhaps, that would change the course of her thoughts. Then she realised actually, that in imagining the events going on inside of her head as something more tangible, she had spent a blissful few untouched minutes – she had fought back, stemmed the tide.

She got up. She knew she should do it more often. She should get out there. The nothing must become something. And it would only become something if she made it so. If she found the purpose in it all.

Feeling the sand between her toes she headed to the shoreline, the retreating surf beckoning. The tide was turning taking with it that which had filled the void. The emptiness returned, but it was welcome – it could be filled. And this time she would curate its contents. The sea was back where it belonged and the pages of her diary remained closed.

Something winked up at her, its lustrous shell reflecting the moonlight. The world had its order – tides would come and go. She didn’t have divine powers, but she knew someone who did. Nothing is nothing, everything is something, she realised. The last sounds of the sea washed away, the corridor seemed a brighter place and a pearl began to form around the last remaining grain of sand.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Transforming Primary School Lunchtimes With Family Dining

Transforming Primary School Lunchtimes With Family Dining
The second phase of our school's building work meant that we lost half of our playground. This meant that we could only safely have half the number of children playing out at any one time which was going to be a particular problem at lunchtime.

Break times were easy - we just staggered it so that only two year groups (we are two-form entry) are out at a time, with the oldest children waiting longest for their morning play. So, years 1 and 2 use the playground 10:15 - 10:30 (school starts at 8:45), years 3 and 4 have it 10:30 - 11:45 and years 5 and 6 have it for the following 15 minutes until 11am. Early years have their own outdoor space.

Lunchtimes presented more of a challenge. But our lunchtimes needed a revamp anyway - behaviour still wasn't as we wanted it, the level of waste food was high and the queuing system was inefficient. Thankfully we had a ready-made solution to hand: family dining, something which several other schools in our MAT already did. All we had to do was to make it fit for us.

Here's what we did:

Staggered dinner times
There are three half hour sittings - Reception, years 1 and 2 at 11:30, years 3 and 4 at 12:00 and years 5 and 6 at 12:30. Each sitting is followed by half an hour on the playground. Children do not leave the dinner hall until the half hour is up. Benefits of this are that children no longer rush their food so that they can get out to the playground and they eat more and appear to waste less (on the first day of doing it we went from five or six bins of waste to less than one).

Staffing
Teaching staff are not required to take part in family dining however they are allowed to if they want (main course will be paid for if they do join in and sit with the children). Instead we employ a handful of lunchtime supervisors and teaching assistants and learning mentors work a full hour at lunchtime - first leading a table inside and then doing duty outside. In order to accomplish this TAs and learning mentors then have a half hour lunch break afterwards once the children are back in class. In addition to this there will be one or two members of SLT in the dinner hall who also sit at a table and lead proceedings. The fact that we have well trained staff outside who know children well and who interact and play with the children has meant that incidents of poor behaviour at lunchtime play are almost non-existent these days - no more afternoons spent dealing with behaviour issues for teachers.

Table lists
Children are assigned to a particular table with a particular adult. Children will sit in mixed-gender, mixed-year group and mixed-class groups (when children had a choice this never happened). Adults who know the children create these groupings based on many factors - this is a good opportunity to help particular children who are struggling with friendships or behaviour by grouping them with suitable children. Because of this children and adults have the chance to build and maintain relationships with the same people. Preset groups mean that transition to the hall is quick and there are no issues with who sits where. These groupings may change during the year. 

Serving
One of the worst parts of the old way of doing lunchtimes was the queuing up both out on the playground to bring children in and inside the hall whilst children waited to be served. Now, once tables are ready, children collect the food (which the kitchen staff have already put in containers onto deep trays along with serving implements), take it to their tables and serve each other - members of staff may aid with this although the aim is to have the children do as much as is possible. Once everyone is served children and adults begin eating together.

Room prep
Lunchtime staff start getting the hall ready for lunch at 11am. To facilitate the quick turnaround between the hall being used for PE and the first lunchtime sitting we invested in new tables. The tables have a built-in bench, comfortably seat 12 people and fold in half in order to be stored much more compactly - we have given over a small office-sized room attached to the hall for storage purposes. Lunchtime staff also set up trolleys containing cutlery, crockery, jugs of water and a cleaning station. Once children have been greeted (usually as a whole group by the member of SLT on duty) the nominated children go and collect the things they will need to set the table from the trolleys; all children will then help to lay the table.

Meal choices
Shock horror! There is not a choice of food. There is one meal per day and everyone eats the same food. And you know what? The children eat it. We constantly review the menu and listen to the children as to what their preferences are. Of course, special diets are catered for and in our school a very high percentage of children are from Islamic communities so all the meals are halal. We have had next to no opposition to these changes from children or parents. I think the kitchen quite welcomed this change once they saw children were happy.

Packed lunches
Children are also free to bring their own lunch in - these children are still involved in family dining in that they sit on the same tables as those having school food and they too take part in serving food and setting tables. They wait until all children are served their food before tucking in - part of family dining is that everyone eats together. On each table there is a mix of children who typically have packed lunches and school lunches.

Cleaning
Cloths and water, brooms, dustpans and brushes and mops and mop buckets are all available for children to use to help keep the hall tidier. The improved cleanliness of the hall was immediately noticeable when we started doing family dining. After the children have eaten they clear their plates into the containers the food came in and one or two children will carry away the waste food and dirty dishes to the cleaning station where a member of kitchen staff sorts the items into various larger containers and the bin. Washing up is done by the kitchen staff, as is the final set down of tables.

PE timetabling
Four class teachers at a time are covered for PPA - part of this PPA cover is the week's recommended amount of physical education. In order to accommodate this both the hall and the playground are used on a rota; we also hire a local sports hall which children and staff walk to. Outdoor PE happens in all weathers - children know to come dressed accordingly. All of this ensures that the hall does not need to be used from 11am onwards as the two hours of PE fits in before that.

Filling the time
Quite often the half hour time slot is easily filled with the setting, serving and eating but there can sometimes be a spare five minutes left at the end before the playground is available for the group of children in the hall. This time is used for passing on messages, times of reflection, conversation (the members of staff on each table are there to encourage conversation throughout the mealtime) and appreciations (where children publicly share things they are thankful for).

All in all these arrangements make for much calmer lunchtimes that allow children to exercise their social skills and eat a good meal. I certainly would never want to go back to the old way of doing things. And the fact that Ofsted referred to our lunchtimes as 'fine dining' must mean something (we did get the report amended to say 'family dining' - we didn't want future children and parents to be disappointed that we weren't serving up Michelin-starred food)!


Thursday, 11 January 2018

Book Review: 'Make Me Awesome' by Ben Davis

In this hilarious send up of self-help guides and larger-than-life celebrity life coaches Ben Davis introduces Freddie, gamer and son of a failed antiques dealer, and Chuck Willard, 'inspirer and giver of dreams'.

Things aren’t going too well for Freddie Smallhouse. His dad left his successful job to set up his own business which failed and now they’re living at Uncle Barry’s but he’s about to kick them out. Freddie enrols on Chuck’s Complete Road To Awesomeness programme and sets about trying to make the family’s fortune. One failure after another doesn’t perturb our hero, not when he’s got Chuck’s AWESOME tips and advice to hand.

In this laugh-out-loud tall tale Freddie learns about friendship, integrity and true success as he muddles his way through his response to his dad’s despondency. Amongst the hilarity (the headteacher is called Mr. Bümfacé – pronounced ‘Boomfachay’) there’s a really touching story of how a not-quite-yet teenager might try crazy things in an attempt to deal with a difficult home situation.

‘Make Me Awesome’ is an easy read yet the age of the protagonist (he’s at secondary school), and a couple of the jokes (reference to the rude channels on TV and perverts, for example), mean that this would be really suitable for reluctant KS3 readers as well as KS2 children. With better, slightly more sophisticated jokes than a David Walliams and more plausibility than a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, ‘Make Me Awesome’ will go down very well with those children looking for a funny, quick read.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Book Review: 'The Light Jar' by Lisa Thompson

The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson That Boy Can Teach Review
Very early on you know something is not right - the nighttime escape with hastily packed bags, the feverish glances in the rear view mirror; Nate's mum's paranoia seeps through the pages. And as soon as you hear of Nate's dad leaving and mum's new man Gary you marvel at Lisa Thompson's bravery: tackling a subject like domestic abuse in a story aimed at 9 to 12 year olds? But she does it so beautifully. And it is important that she does - books should tell all stories.

Once again displaying her knack for weaving intriguing mystery into a story about terrible real life events - one that still has many blindingly bright and brilliant moments - Lisa Thompson leaves the reader in a quandary: they want to know more, but they're scared of what they might discover. Where has mum gone? Why did they leave home in the dead of night and turn up to this decrepit cottage? Why does Kitty avoid her own home? These questions and more make 'The Light Jar' a one-sitting type of book - the urge to read on and on is overpowering.

Brimming with clever imagery and metaphors 'The Light Jar' will get minds young and old alike thinking about the significance of Nate's favourite book, of the chicken and the light jar and the magic fortune telling ball toy. Readers will experience the satisfaction of solving the mystery of Nate's new friend Kitty's treasure and will be left wondering just how real Sam and his friends are. This finely-crafted multi-dimensional story will introduce children to the necessity (and joy) of flicking back through previously-read pages to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

'The Light Jar' is a book that digs deep into human emotion, validating the gamut of thoughts and feelings that children the world over will feel on a day-to-day basis. And with all the current news of young people's mental health issues, books like these are crucial in normalising and validating the responses our children have to difficult life circumstances; 'The Light Jar' will provide illumination in the darkness of some of its readers' lives.

Serious, uplifting, mysterious: a combination I've not found served up quite like this before. 'The Light Jar' is a special book and is certainly a must read for 2018. I can confidently say that not much will top it this year.

'The Light Jar' was published in paperback on 4th January 2018 by Scholastic (9781407171289 £6.99)

Sunday, 7 January 2018

I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue: Oracy Games For The Classroom

Hello and welcome to another blog post on thatboycanteach.blogspot.com, the blog that has done for teachers 'what being hit repeatedly on the head with a large croquet mallet does for small frogs... or so I'm told'. You join me here today as I consider what teachers can learn from the long-running BBC Radio 4 panel game 'I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue'.

Whilst the chairman always introduces the teams as being given silly things to do, the entertainment is usually derived from witty and clever wordplay which demonstrate the competitors' mastery of the English language. Both the EEF's KS1 and KS2 literacy guidance reports have the development of pupils' speaking and listening skills (or oracy skills) as their first recommendation - in the KS2 document the emphasis is on developing pupils' language capability.

The KS2 guidance specifically mentions the benefit of collaborative approaches to improving oracy skills:
The impact of collaborative approaches on learning is consistently positive, but it does vary so it is important to get the detail right. Effective collaborative learning requires much more than just sitting pupils together and asking them to collaborate; structured approaches with well-designed tasks lead to the greatest learning gains. Effective collaboration does not happen automatically so pupils will need support and practice. Approaches that promote talk and interaction between learners tend to result in the best gains. The following should be considered when using a collaborative learning approach:
  • Tasks need to be designed carefully so that working together is effective and efficient, otherwise some pupils will try to work on their own. 
  • Competition between groups can be used to support pupils in working together more effectively within their group, though over-use of competition can focus learners on the competition rather than succeeding in their learning, so it must be used cautiously. 
  • It is particularly important to encourage lower achieving pupils to talk and articulate their thinking in collaborative tasks, as they may contribute less.
  •  Professional development may be needed to support the effective use of these strategies.
Now obviously the games that the participants play on ISIHAC aren't research-based but if we apply the principles above, and pay heed to the warnings too, we should be able to use some of them to promote a collaborative approach to improving oracy skills, and as a result improve reading and writing skills as well.

Without further ado, the games:

Ad-Lib Poetry: The teacher (or another child) reads or invents a line of poetry. Children than take it in turns to continue the poem, one line at a time. The focus could be on rhyming words, adjectives, synonyms or telling a story. This game does not have a strong competitive element.

Cheddar Gorge:  Children all start with 10 points. By taking it in turns to say a word each, children should aim not to be the one who completes a sentence. If the word they say finishes a complete and grammatically correct sentence they lose a point. The main tactic is to try to force the next person to complete the sentence. This game has a focus on correct grammar and syntax and might help children to assess whether or not a sentence has been completed. Teachers could record the sentences and model correct punctuation. As an extension to this children could be permitted to name a punctuation mark instead of giving  a word - this would allow for the inclusion of parenthesis and other clauses.

Compressed Works: Children give brief synopses of films and books whilst other children guess the title. Similar to this is Rewind where children explain the plot of a book or film as if everything happened in reverse order. This could be played in pairs, groups or as a whole class and gives children the opportunity to practise summarisation - an important and often difficult reading skill.

Letter Writing: Similar to Cheddar Gorge, children take it in turns to say a word, this time 'writing' as famous or historical person to another such person, usually about something they are known for. This can be played in teams with the two teams taking the roles of the two correspondents. Letter Writing could be a good game to use in history lessons or in response to the class novel with children taking on the role of the book's characters. This could be simplified for any style of writing so that children orally co-create a piece of work prior to recording it in writing. One tactic in this game is to add in conjunctions, adverbs and adjectives to prolong the sentences. Another variation is Historical Voicemail  where children suggest messages that might have been left on the answerphones and voicemails of historical figures.

Uxbridge English Dictionary: Children come up with new definitions of words based on the parts of the words. This is potentially difficult so this game might need some preparation in the form of teachers selecting words that would work well. This is a word play game which requires children to know meanings of other words, rather than the one they are redefining. A health warning exists here: it might be wise to supply true meanings as well so that children don't believe that their new definitions are correct.

What's the Question? Either the teacher or a child supplies an answer to a question. Children then have to make suggestions as to what the question could have been. Plausible or funny answers can be accepted. This game might get children thinking about cause and effect and is a great opportunity for them to ensure that their questions are succinct and linked well to the answer.

Word for Word: Children take it in turns to say a word. The aim is to say a word that has no association to the previous word. If another child can prove, however ingeniously, that the word a child say is associated with the previous word, then they gain a point. This game could develop children's vocabulary as they hear words that others know and by trying to find links children will think carefully about word meanings.

Click here to listen to examples of the show on the BBC iplayer (may not be suitable for children)

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Crowdsourced Advice: How To Find The Perfect School For You

Crowdsourced Advice: How To Find The Perfect School For You
When you looked round your school how did you know it was the one for you? 
What were the tell-tale signs that it was going to be a good place to work?

Those are the questions that I asked a whole host of teachers who love their current place of work. I wanted to find out from people how it felt looking round a school, and being interviewed there, which they subsequently went on to enjoy working at. In their answers there are resounding echoes and although I’ve roughly categorised them there is plenty of crossover in what they say.

So, here’s what to look for when you visit a school you’re thinking of applying to for a job:

A Warm Welcome

"A warm welcome from the staff and happy content-looking students." - @resayer

"As I walked through the doors, the office staff were laughing and joking then I got a really warm welcome. In my interview lesson, the TA offered me a brew first and couldn't do enough to help me then the kids just seemed lovely. Lots of smiles of encouragement from interviewers - overall just making the place seem as welcoming as possible. A 'we want you to do well' attitude rather than trying to catch me out, which is then exactly how it has turned out - a very supportive school." - @fandabbydoz

Just a Feeling

"It was the 'feeling' of the culture. It was how people talked about students and each other. Obviously supportive and genuinely caring." - @terryfish

"It was a feeling more than anything else. The way in which staff (both teaching and non-teaching) spoke with each other as well as how they interacted with the students. You can have the shiniest of buildings and equipment but if you don't have the basic positive human relationships as the main ethos of a school then it's not worth it!" - @SamlouJ

"It was a bit like buying a new house. It just felt right. Very much a family feel." - @diankenny

"It was the feel when I went to visit. It was welcoming and the staff were incredibly friendly. The head was off but it seemed calm and everything was running smoothly. I had a tour by a TA and it just felt very natural. Spent about twenty minutes over a break time chatting in the staff room! It was relaxed yet purposeful." - @kathrynmc77

First Impressions Count

"The first person I met was Amy, in the office. She was so friendly, acted like she was truly happy to help. Almost made me feel like we already knew each other. She's got a real skill and welcomes people to our school with such warmth." - @EmmaValerio82

"When I walked into the foyer there was an explosion of children's creative artwork everywhere, books listing the children's certificates of the week for every class, and an outside environment that celebrated childhood and showed how important play was in both key stages. It is a place where I can still enjoy my childhood as an adult. I'm allowed to. Now in my 7th year!" - @natsbailey1

The Headteacher

"The headteacher gave me her vision; it was clear and simple. I felt I knew what she wanted from teachers. Students were calmer than my previous place." - @Mr_Davies_Eng

"The principal was visible in the school which was a HUGE selling point - he visited classes daily, greeted families in the morning and afternoon and obviously had a lot of respect for and from the staff." - @kaz_phi

"I instantly clicked with the headteacher and I could see massive potential in the double RI school I was looking round. I could see that my experience of working in a school that had been in a similar place would be helpful. All the signs were pointing in the right direction. Best move I ever made." - @jessmann11

"For me it was my conversation with the Head. I'd had a really tough time in my previous school and he was very kind and understanding about it. It was also really apparent that we had very similar values, so I knew I could work for him." - @DaisyMay29

"Primarily it was the headteacher - she was definitely someone I knew I could work with. Hard to quantify, but there was definitely a good vibe and a happy ethos and the other staff seemed friendly. Also, it is in the town where I live, so was going to cut a horrid commute!" - @rcoultart

"I was convinced I didn't want to work there before - I wanted a 2 form entry school but when I visited, the head sold it to me. (Flora Barton). She was so enthusiastic, was clearly so passionate about her school, and the children responded to her really well. Our conversation was entirely based on teaching and learning. I remember going back to my previous school and telling my colleague how blown away I was by her, and that's when he told me he used to work with her too, and confirmed that she was great to work for." - @mrsbarlowteach

Behaviour Matters

"It was the students: positive and calm even at lunch. The older students, I noticed, also mingled well with the younger students." - @TJohns85

"450 children were sat in the school hall while the assistant head led assembly. There were no other adults in the room and year six were NOT mucking around! Then the orchestra played as part of the assembly and I was blown away. Also, the fact that it was a six form entry school and teachers shared planning. It was clear that there was an ethos of respect and sharing which would also ease workload." - @LCRteach

Happy, Friendly Staff

"Staff were smiling (always a good sign!), calm atmosphere (but purposeful - people were 'about' but always on their way to or from something and able to explain what and why), and HT was open and honest about positive and negatives of the school. Just a good 'vibe' for want of a better phrase." - @LCWatson01

"It had a sense of calm, instead of intensity. The staff looked healthy not bedraggled." - @natalee_paice

"Every single communication with every single person was polite and kind and good-humoured: not just between me and the Head, PA, Receptionist, HOD and kids giving me tour, but also between staff. For example, in staffroom when I was waiting for different parts of the interview - watching the relationships between staff as they came in and out of staffroom was really positive. Humour was evident throughout - not mocking, satirical humour but just people having fun with each other and ideas. Short answer: the school felt like it was about people and relationships and high aspirations... and it is." - @teacherwithbike

"Existing staff were friendly and welcoming. I've now been here 9 years and can honestly say that even though we have had lots of changes the staff are still as friendly and welcoming as they were then." - @magpie221

The People

"The way I knew I it was the right sort of school for me was more about the people. When I met who was to become my new HOD I could tell that we would get on and that she would give me space to teach the way I wanted. The two students who took me around the college on my first day were open and honest about the school, both its good points and things that weren't so good, for example the fact they have Saturday school but get longer holidays." - @HecticTeacher

"It was all about the staff for me. So positive and all team players. I'd actually seen them all on a night out at the local pub and said to my mate I'd like to work there. Then a job came up." - @MrHeadComputing

Great Atmosphere and Good Vibes

"For me, it was how open everyone was when I first met them. When I looked around, I was welcomed into classes with the head and children we super enthusiastic. There was a positive atmosphere from the first phone call and just good vibes. However, I did know what I was looking for. I wanted a school who were looking to improve and I wanted somewhere which had a strong link and attitude towards well-being and growth mindset. How lessons were taught were also very important to me; I didn't want too many restrictions and some ownership- which was clear I would be allowed. But the winning point was just how open and happy people looked." - @DanMorris90

"Well I was lucky and looked round on World Book Day when everyone was dressed up so it was good vibes anyway. But it was just little things like, on my interview day I was waiting in the staffroom and everyone would come in, speak to me, force me to eat the cake on the table! Everyone was laughing and getting along so well." - @MrTWC

"I'd left a very toxic environment in another school so I was very wary when I visited my new school. Atmosphere was very important. I've been teaching a long time and my antenna is finely tuned! Atmosphere was very positive. Staff are friendly and a good laugh. Head is open, direct and honest. I looked at their twitter feed too and was impressed with their work with parents too."- @weeannieg

"It was the atmosphere - it felt nice going around. The acting head showed me around and was very honest (it's a tough area and attainment is always an issue) but about the positives as well as the challenges - and my experience has proved that she was telling the truth. As I looked around I could see parts of the school practice or ethos that I identified with and felt comfortable with as well as aspects that were new or challenging but that I was excited by. Staff that we met were friendly and welcoming. I heard them laughing together as we walked around and it sounded a happy place to work (it was the Monday of SATs week as well so quite a stressful time!). I do believe first impressions are very powerful in affecting your decisions." - @KatyVaux

"The feel of the place did it for me. The physical building is shocking but the atmosphere was friendly, inviting and purposeful. The headteacher at the time, the staff and governors all made me feel welcome (both during my pre-visit and the interview day itself.) The conversations were around the children and the aspirations for them." - @bethben92

Reputation Precedes

"It probably started before I looked round as I knew of a couple of people who worked there so was able to find out through them what the head was like and how the school was developing (the head was very new and there were things that needed to be changed)." - @rach_b84

"Firstly I already knew the school by reputation and that they had a very low staff turnover - schools I'd worked in in the past had staff who were desperate to leave and that was reflected in their incredibly high turnover which I never think is a good sign!" - @helen25c

The Children

"Loved the ethos of the school, the children were very proud of their school. Really liked the head - he was old school and a true gentleman!" - @klsacker

"I started as a supply teacher so it just grew on me. One thing that struck me was that there were never any tearful or reluctant children being peeled off of parents. When I asked the children if they'd had a good summer holiday, they said they looked forward to coming back to school more." - @JMPNeale

"The impressions I got from both the head and the HoD were very positive (both left within seven months of my arrival!) and the pupils were honest in the Pupil Panel section which was endearing. I've been at interviews where I have withdrawn because things didn't feel right." - @dooranran

"I went round on a Friday afternoon and the students looked happy and engaged. The school was calm but had a bit of a buzz about it. 6th formers showed me around, I could go where I wanted but they were really proud of their school." - @mrsdenyer

"I had already seen the girls at the train station- very confident and lively girls that I knew I would mesh well with in the classroom. Super welcoming environment and the head teacher popped in to see me to say hi because she was off on a trip and couldn't interview me. Just a really relaxed environment which I knew I wanted." - @MrsHaggerNQT

"The first sign was that the older children were the people showing me around without an adult, their responses to questions and the way they spoke about the school and the staff. True honesty and a clear love for the school and those that worked with them." - @APLByrne

Fair Interview

"A very endearing aspect of the interview was that they gave us questions 15 mins before and encouraged us to bring notes in stating they didn't want to catch us out. Despite the challenges I've faced since joining I am really enjoying the freedom the school offers. We are getting a new Head soon too and I think with a few easy changes the school could be one of the best in Wales." - @davowillz

"At interview we were given the questions before the formal part to prepare answers to show our best. Never had it happen before (or since)." - @littlemrsj

Best Fit

"Many reasons: potential that matched my skill set and previous experience; ethos and culture - albeit untapped to some degree; students - I recognised them; Chair of Governors - felt I could work with him well. It felt like 'me' but also like I could really help lift it to what it could be - very exciting!" - @BarlowCaroline

"Just got a feel for the place, good vibe from the head, her philosophy seemed to align with mine. You've got to be on the same page as the head though I think, because they set the climate." - @MrClarkeY6

"Meeting the head, hearing her vision, realising I could help and recognising that she valued what I could do in the classroom. I had been through a horrible time before and she listened." - @BespokePeter

"The feeling I got from faculty, SLT and students was that my kind of approach would be welcomed and valued - a good fit. The school had academic aspirations but were secure enough in their school status that they would let me get there with my own approaches. Gut feeling was that this would be a good fit and turned out that I was right, even better actually." - @MrDeach27

"It felt calm and welcoming, staff and children I saw were smiling. As I went into interview, it felt relaxed like they knew what they were doing, questions were what I would have asked and showed we were a good fit." - @geordiecat2012

Strong Testimony

"The headteacher introduced me to other staff who pretty much all said that they were either proud to work at the school or that it was a great place to work." - @KateHalfpenny1

"I knew someone that worked there so they could give me an honest view of the school and that made a big difference!" - @LAShaw66

"I had a feel of community and support within the staff. Everyone had something positive to say (and you could tell it wasn't faked) I was encouraged to visit and watch classes." - @MissNP_

"One of my friends from my previous school was working in the department, and I was still in regular contact with her, so she gave me an honest appraisal of what the school was like. It was also an instinct thing if I'm honest. I liked the ethos, the students and the way it felt teaching my lesson (to a mixed ability tricky class) so I felt like I'd had a true picture of what it would be like." - @SusanSEnglish

"When I drove past on the way home from other places the car park wasn’t full very early/late. I didn't look round it during the day but the HOD met me after school and they were really friendly. People speak highly if it as a place to work and a middle leader there recommended the school to me. During my interview lots of what SLT were saying clicked with my ethos." - @JenJayneWilson

Sunday, 31 December 2017

On The @TES Blog: Six Books That Chart My Reading Evolution

On The @TES Blog: Six Books That Chart My Reading Evolution
Another personal blog post about reading (sorry). This one was hugely enjoyable to write due to the fact that books are not just bound and covered collections of paper with words printed on them - they are intertwined with life's real events and characters. I could not have picked six books without thinking particularly of my dad and my wife as well as times and places in my life.

I hope you enjoy reading about the six books that chart my evolution as a reader; I'd love to hear about the books that you'd consider to be elementary in your growth as a lover of books.

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/six-books-chart-my-teacher-a-reader-evolution