2014 has been a busy year, and I’ve managed to document some of it on my blog – which has also been busy! So busy, in fact, that I didn’t manage to mark the blog’s second birthday with a post (as I did last year), but only with this rather token tweet:
So here, belatedly, is my round-up of 2014 on Teaching: Leading Learning:
Most popular post: by far and away Becoming a Growth Mindset School. This post documents the start of the shift in ethos, aims and values that we have undertaken at school this year, as we adopt Dweck’s research in all aspects of our work. It’s been the most fulfilling and exciting mission in my career so far!
Best response: Proud Letters, where we asked families to write letters of support and encouragement to Year 11 as they began their revision, was met with huge warmth and enthusiasm, not least at #TMCotham. I was unable to attend this event in person, but the ever resourceful @MissKMcD persuaded me to put a video presentation together. I could tell when it was shown at the TeachMeet because my phone practically jumped out of my pocket with the Twitter notifications! I have since updated the post with some of the responses at the bottom. Needless to say, we’ll be doing it again this year.
Posts that best capture what I’m about: this year I reflected on my own experience at school and how it’s influenced my own beliefs in Points About Prizes and had a lovely response from Booker-prize nominated author A D Miller. I’ve also firmed up some of my core educational beliefs – including the reasons why I have a Problem With “Ability”.
When I got cross: I’ve been much calmer this year, but I did get cross about a poor Teach First advert and the disservice I believe it does to a valuable programme in Why I Think Teach First Is A Good Thing. I was also irked by the new GCSEs in Who are the new GCSEs for? Rant over!
What I’m proudest of: definitely Growth Mindset Launch, with the associated post about Teaching and Learning Leaders. These posts show how we’re enacting the growth mindset ethos with students and staff. My own teaching and learning team prompted me to try something new in the classroom – Colour-coded Self-Assessment – which worked really well!
Doors which have opened: there has been a lot of interest in our work on Implementing Assessment Without Levels which I have presented now at conferences for Capita and Optimus, as well as at the fantastic #TLT14. I outlined the differences between the Optimus Assessment conference and TLT in my post A Tale of Two Conferences. It was also my privilege to present my synthesis of Closing the Gap Marking and Feedback techniques at Pedagoo South West and the Excellence and Growth Conference in London. This has all been great experience and has led to several follow-up visits hosted at Chew Valley.
English bits: I’ve really enjoyed going back into Year 10 to have a last go at the existing GCSE English course, having been a 100% Media Studies teacher last year. I blogged about a Creative Writing Poetry Workshop and the Owen Sheers poem I used on Remembrance Day. I also had a fantastic Appointment At The Reading Spa with a Year 12 English Literature student.
Assemblies: I’ve really enjoyed my assemblies this year! My New Year’s resolution assembly was on staying Positive. After Easter I reflected on the meaning of Challenge, then thought carefully about lessons we can learn from fleas in an assembly called Limits. Finally for 2014 I gave an assembly on How To Make The Most Of Your Brain which was a squeeze for 15 minutes but well worth it! I’m on assemblies in the first week back after Christmas…so watch this space! All my assemblies are gathered in the Assembly category on this blog. Let me know if you use one!
Fanboy moments: sadly no Game of Thrones stars came to Chew Valley this year, but the return of Jack and Dean (and Poppy) for YouTube day was an excellent substitute. And, if that wasn’t enough, Gandalf popped in to celebrate our work as Stonewall Champions and offered the students some revision advice:
1.5 million views on YouTube and an outing on the Graham Norton Show later…clearly my most popular post of the year!
The future: In 2015 I’m going to focus on keeping the main thing the main thing, and ration my time out of school as much as possible. There is work to be done! Now that the excitement of launching a new ethos, CPD approach and assessment system is over, the hard work really begins. It’s up to us now to make it stick.
Happy New Year!