Category Archives: General Reflection

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.

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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.


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!

What is already known?

There are a plethora of existing resources around sharing good practise in schools – everyone knows why it is important, but often it is challenging to facilitate without making workload more extreme. This is particularly taxing in the time of online learning, which leads to the question: how can we successfully share good practise in a safe space about online learning?

In Lieberman and Mace’s ‘Making Practise Public’, the importance of a “growing your own” variety of teaching being celebrated is stated as key to success in sharing good practise. This raises questions with set observation criteria lists and also indicates why so many teachers are finding online learning challenging – just as pupils are all different so too are their educators. It is vital that any sharing good practise space I create has reflective topics or questions so that all educators are celebrated – those who are comfortable with technology and those who are not. Additionally, this article speaks or the existing strength of social media networks in connecting people. This will prove to be key moving forward in my investigation.

Although not strictly academic reading, another useful source to me has been Teacher Toolkit’s Article “26 Ideas for Sharing Classroom Best Practise.” In this, multiple techniques are discussed such as talking in front of peers and starting a reflective blog(!). While many of these are valuable ideas, they are not quite as practical as the ones I am looking for to solve the feeling of uncertainty and insecurity I am feeling in my colleagues at the moment. It has inspired me, however, to write a list of my own ideas.

My professional “itches”

Bitmoji ImageHaving read through a number of colleagues’ blog posts regarding professional “itches” – the inequalities and niggling areas in their school or classroom that just won’t go away, I have reflected and come up with a few of my own:


  1. The ICT gap

This is really only one I can comment on having worked in a number of centres under 3 different LA areas. The gap between the ICT facilities available in different schools and authorities is astonishing. I have worked in a centre where there are no ICT rooms available with more than 18 computers (no use for an English class of 30) and also a school where every pupil has their own digital device provided for them. This is a problem far too big for any one local authority alone to solve, and I know how hard my colleagues work and have worked sourcing ICT for those who do not have access to any at home, especially during lockdown. Despite this, when it comes to pupils working on portfolio pieces, more than a couple of pupils in each class benefitting from access to ICT for longer pieces of writing or individual study, the itch that I can’t solve will always resurface.

  1. Learning English through immersion

One particular challenge that is presented through working in my current centre is that we have a high number of pupils who have English as an additional language. While many of these pupils are fluent, often with Scottish accents to boot, the problem arises when a new family moves to the area and their child is in the late secondary school. With new arrivals, even those with no English, joining full timetables for immersion, things go one of two ways. Either the pupil flourishes and is keen to learn, or they have additional barriers that are very difficult to break down. Perhaps they didn’t want to move – perhaps they have come at too old an age and are too self conscious to make mistakes with language? Either way, despite excellent though sporadic ESOL input, I never feel I can do a good enough job in making these individuals comfortable in my classroom – the English room.

  1. Active Learning challenges

This is only a current itch and I completely understand why I can’t do my usual at the moment – but it’s annoying anyway!

I miss some types of active learning so much. Although I am able to do a wide variety of activities without pupils moving or leaving seats I am missing some of the classics – moving around the room for a quiz, speed dating, knockouts, question panels, roaming experts, different group tasks that aren’t in rows… you name it. As much as I am enjoying the challenge of making learning as active and engaging as possible at the moment – I can’t wait to get back!

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