All posts by Mrs Halliburton

Before The End Draws In…

welcome classroom

Part of this reflective blogging opportunity has been commenting on and reading other blogger’s posts. I have been very open with my incredibly supportive project lead about how anxious and at times inadequate I have felt around posting my progress (or lack thereof) and thoughts, and often this has led to a bit of a backlog of my posts.

Due to this, today I wanted to do something a little different and shout out the three teacher leaders in my region whose journeys I have learned the most from.

  1. Miss Harvey – Blairgowrie High School – Performance Anxiety

What is it about? This enquiry is about the effects of performance anxiety on young people in music and what strategies could perhaps be imbedded in learning to promote a calm mind before performing.

What did I learn? This might honestly sound crazy but I had never really considered how big an impact things like performance anxiety could have on a pupil’s actual performance and their wellbeing. Miss Harvey created a number of starters for her class to enhance the space they are in before they perform and they look excellent.

Can I use it in my own teaching? Absolutely! We do solo talks all the time and performance anxiety is a huge deal, I definitely need to be more aware of it. Perhaps adopting a similar approach to Miss Harvey will make my pupils perform significantly better during talk assessments.

Bitmoji Image

2. Mr Stuart – Harris Academy – Sketchnoting

What is it about? This enquiry is about using sketchnoting not only to support pupils in anchoring information but also as a revision guide and using them where possible to assess understanding.

What did I learn? I sometimes encourage sketchnotes among the young people I teach but I was inspired by someone using them in a more consistent manner and having quantifiable evidence as to their benefit.

Can I use it in my own teaching? Absolutely again! I am very excited to see if I can assess understanding of something like the plot, character and themes of a text based on a pupil’s sketchnote. I will have to reflect on the best way to introduce this for clarity of learning.

3. Mrs V’s Leadership Journal – Kinross High School – Co-constructing Feedback

What is it about? How co-constructing feedback can lead to higher engagement and attainment in pupil responses.

What did I learn? A really interesting approach to engaging pupils with their feedback particularly for pieces of work where there is an indication of where marks are awarded and lacking.

Can I use it in my own teaching? I am very excited to use this in my own teaching as a method of teaching 10 mark answers in the Set Text Paper or RUAE questions. I think this will really allow pupils to see where they miss easier marks in particular.


How has this impacted on your leadership learning?

A snapshot of an honest professional learning evaluation

My understanding of leadership of learning has not necessarily changed as a result of this programme but I would say that it has widened. I think that as long as you are taking ownership of your own interests and trying to progress for the best then you can be considered a leader of learning.

I think in future I will be more confident with the progress and process over finding a neat solution to questions. Perhaps this negates against the idea of setting goals and SMART targets as I ask my young people to do – things should definitely be more malleable than this.

What has happened and what are my next steps?

laptop waveEnquiry Question Reminder:

In what ways can teachers share good practise to build confidence in delivering socially distanced and online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic?

  1. To what extent did you manage to answer your enquiry question?

I am not sure I have managed to come up with a solid answer, but I have a variety of thoughts and responses based on different people’s perceptions and preferences.

2. What have you learned about your learners throughout this process?

They genuinely take quite well to knowing everyone across different classes is doing the same thing  – perhaps it offered solidity in a time of turbulence? Unsure.

3. Did anything take you by surprise (in a good or not so good way)?

Many people who used things like teacher twitter and social media to find and share lesson resources found themselves in the first lockdown feeling confident as people were learning skills that they perhaps already knew. By the second lockdown there seemed to be an online challenge of sorts in some communities about whose online teaching setup was crazier, who was doing the most interactive stuff which while fab, does not perhaps provide the equity for pupils across the board with less sophisticated technology that in my experience is the main challenge. This was a strange transition.

3. Has your enquiry process impacted on the wider school community at all?

At the beginning of the year I was given a teacher leadership role on sharing good practise, to try and set up some drop-in sessions purely based on talking about teaching and building confidence, as well as learning rounds, but these have not happened yet due to restrictions.

4. What are your intended next steps following the close of this programme? Do you have more work to do on this area or can you see new enquiry areas opening up

I would ideally like to take the strategies and advice I have learned to the whole school. I would like to set up a small network across the school of the best people to go to for advice on different challenges teachers may face i.e reinforcing positive behaviour, ICT, Teams specifically, creative learning ideas, pupils leading learning etc. Hopefully this will be something I can carry forward.

5. What are the implications?

Across the school hopefully there would be a rise in confidence because a number of people are feeling really demoralised at the moment. There are also a number of members of staff who are experienced but not promoted and there can be a little drop in confidence sometimes once you reach the top of the scale so giving these members of staff some go-to status would be beneficial. The school does not currently have any sharing good practise sessions so this could be an invigorating addition. Obviously, any improvement in staff confidence or addition to staff skillsets benefits pupils in a variety of ways so this could be an extremely positive thing.

How did Covid-19 effect your plan?

I could write about this for a long time and I have redrafted three versions of this post over the past month to try and make it as positive as I can. Covid-19 has effected everyone in the world, of course, and thinking of how it effected me with something as simple as work when it has stolen lives from millions is an uncomfortable, yet necessary question.

  1. How did Covid-19 impact on your practice and your beliefs about Scottish Education

I have always believed Scottish Education to be fair, equitable and forward-thinking. Teachers have blown me away this pandemic with their hard work and their workload, but I am demoralised and devastated that those Secondary teachers that have well over 100 certification pupils on their remit are being offered minimal support.

2. How was your enquiry affected by the changes Covid-19 brought about?

It was affected it in almost every way possible. My first focus was too big, then health and wellbeing as an issue was too big for my classroom teacher remit even in research, then because I wanted to research something staff-based, lockdown made that incredibly difficult due to not communicating with members of staff for months at a time. Now because of the alternative certification model, all of my time in work and hours at home every night is spent marking, moderating and trying to make robust judgements on four key pieces of evidence that show the best in each child. I feel that I very much lost myself this year.

3. How did you adapt or change your enquiry to continue to meet the needs of learners and yourself?

I scaled my enquiry right down to make it more manageable, took notes and stock of staff wellbeing and surveyed my department based on us and this year alone. We also do an annual SIP evaluation as a department and it was very interesting to see how things had changed from last session.

On Further Reflection – What did you plan to do and why?

Here are some reflective notes under some question stems provided by Education Scotland in relation to my enquiry.

  1. What did you plan to do and why?

I initially planned to take stock over what could be done to improve staff health and wellbeing. The magnitude of this as a class teacher was much bigger than anticipated and lack of ability to gather data proved a stumbling block, but with support from those at the drop-in sessions I reframed my enquiry to be on a departmental basis. My new plan was therefore to evaluate what helped my department’s health and wellbeing during the pandemic and to measure the success of collaborative working during this period, as our method of teaching completely changed between August and October as well as during online learning.

I have found the lack of coherence in my own plans and movement in my research focus very frustrating throughout the year, which is why the journal article from Tina Cook called The Importance of Mess in Action Research really spoke to me like no other reading we have done this year. It has made me feel like even if I have no conclusion to draw after this, just having an increased awareness of the way in which we work as a department and how it effects our stress levels and wellbeing is perhaps worthwhile in itself.

Combined Update Posts

Despite reflecting with and sampling opinions across members of staff in my department, this term we seem to have reverted back to an isolated way of managing our classes. This could be for any number of reasons, a few are listed below:

  1. Lack of preparation time for classes coming back
  2. Blended learning worked differently for each class and transitioning from that was a challenge
  3. Each teacher wanted a chance to rebuild a relationship for their class with no common courses required.
  4. Those who did not create units for whole yeargroups before now no longer had the time to, and some who did no longer had the will to.

This has, unfortunately, led to a lack of equity to some extent across classes.

Update 1 to Plan and topic

(Post from February) I had worked for the second term on staff wellbeing, as some of you will know – organising small socially distanced staff events such as a reading Friday, but of course the January lockdown changed these things.

Through conversation with SLT my focused was altered to sharing good practise. I have been incredibly overwhelmed with workload in January and February, teaching a full online timetable and coping with the marking of this, so sharing resources and strategies with other colleagues has been vital, but Emma reminded me through discussion at our last drop-in that research does not have to be huge scale.

As a department, we have changed the way we work this year significantly and are sharing resources and buddying up on courses like we never have before, so I am going to implement some research within my department to see what strategies everyone has found successful. Some things to look at include:

  • collaborative teaching
  • year-led responsibilities
  • doubling of senior texts
  • split classes and workload
  • the use of MS teams
  • regular engagement letters and feedback
  • junior phase course
  • senior phase course
  • anything else that arises in discussion#

I am just back online after a horrible lonely fortnight of internet downage, so have written two posts to upload at once – please bear with me!