I didn’t blog much in 2018 because I was so busy writing my book Love To Teach: Research and Resources for every classroom, which is available to buy now. You can order my book on Amazon here or from the John Catt Education website here. There is a wonderful selection of educational books by fellow John Catt authors so I recommend visiting the site to find some educational gems (there are sometimes discount codes that you can use too – until January 18th 2019 there is 50 % off my book and all others published with John Catt on their site using the code CATT50). I have been absolutely delighted with the feedback so far about my book as I know educators from the UK, UAE, USA, Ireland, Spain and Hong Kong that have read my book so far!
I came across a quote by Jennifer Gonzalez where she interviewed Cognitive Scientist Pooja Agarwal “Retrieval practice: The most powerful learning strategy you’re not using” (you can listen to the podcast interview here) and this resonated with me because it wasn’t a strategy I was using for many years during my teaching career. Teachers often have so much content to get through that little time can be spent revisiting prior learning and subject content previously covered – I was guilty of this. Each lesson or week I would work my way through delivering new content on the specification or scheme of work and return to recall knowledge and understanding at a much later date. On reflection, it seems obvious that revisiting a topic 12 months later (or longer!) in the classroom just before the exam won’t be as effective as regular recall and retrieval.
Last month, December 2018, I was very fortunate to visit Hong Kong. This trip was a combination of work and leisure. I was presenting at the Asia-Pacific International Schools Conference (known as AISC) and the timing of the conference was perfect as it was at the end of the winter term at my school here in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi. Therefore after the conference, I was able to spend a week exploring Hong Kong – it was my first time visiting Hong Kong. I absolutely loved it, both the conference and the sightseeing. I wanted to share and reflect on my trip.
I regularly review educational books on my site and whilst this post was originally intended to be another review I have decided to go beyond the story in The tattooist of Auschwitz to discuss the historical context of the novel in addition to the central story. The tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is based on the true story of Holocaust survivors Lale and Gita Sokolov. The story is about how they met and fell in love in a concentration camp. It has become one of the bestselling and most talked about novels of 2018.
I’ve recently just completed writing my first book! It has been a long and at times challenging process but also very enjoyable and exciting. Love To Teach: Research and Resources for Every Classroom is due to be published next month with John Catt Education – you can pre-order it on Amazon here. Anyway, this blog post is about reading not writing but a large part of the process of writing my book involved reading and engaging with educational research. Even before I decided to write a book I was reading a lot of books about education, linked to my subject specialism, pedagogy, leadership, literacy and much more. I read a very interesting article in The Guardian by teacher and author Carl Hendrick suggesting ten educational books that he believes all teachers should read. I started to make my way through the list suggested by Carl Hendrick (I have yet to read Daisy Christodoulou 7 Myths and Trivium 21C despite their popularity!). Inspired by this list I have created my own list with my favourite books linked to education. I am very aware there is a lack of diversity amongst the books I have selected. There are many wonderful female authors that I can highly recommend such as Mary Myatt, Jill Berry, Debra Kidd, Sarah Findlater and Nina Jackson. This list was based purely on my favourite books linked to education but I am aware the majority of the books below are written by men. This is the list of my favourite books and I believe every book deserves its place in my top spot list.
It’s no secret that more and more qualified teachers are leaving the UK to teach internationally. In January 2017 there were a total of 8,646 international schools – 3326 of those teaching a British Curriculum. There is a predicted growth forecast of 16,900 international schools to be built by 2027 so qualified British teachers will become even more in demand!
In August 2016 I became one of the estimated 100,000 qualified British teachers who for some reason or other ditch the drizzle in the UK to teach abroad. After a holiday to Dubai during the February half term, I made the decision to start applying for jobs in the United Arab Emirates, this was a very big change for me a village girl who had only taught in one school for six years so very daunting but also very exciting! I was very fortunate to secure a teaching job quickly but then I had so many questions and the process can be very overwhelming. I had support from friends who had moved abroad, the HR team and members of staff at my new school were also very helpful communicating via email and LinkedIn. In addition to this, I connected with lots of international educators on Twitter, I remember finding Steve Bambury on Twitter – an educator with many years experience teaching at JESS Dubai and he was great answering all of my questions and providing advice. Since my arrival to the UAE, I have met Steve and his wife and we are now good friends. Through my Twitter account and website, I get a lot of teachers contacting me to ask questions or seeking advice about teaching internationally. I am always happy to respond and help others, showing the same kindness and support that I received. Sometimes I can’t always answer questions I get asked because schools vary with wages, packages, allowances etc and countries can differ greatly too with benefits and culture amongst other things.
Twitter is (or can be) a wonderful source of networking, sharing, discussion, debate and learning. There are so many communities on Twitter. I was quite oblivious to most of these communities as I have been in my own Twitter bubble with the wonderful “EduTwitter” community. There are even smaller communities within the EduTwitter community – such as WomenEd, BameEd, Edtech, leadership and subject-specific groups such as the History teacher community. These online communities are not exclusive and everyone is free to read what others share ( private accounts can restrict who can view their profile). Recently I became a finalist in the UK Blog Awards 2018 within the Education category, winners to be announced in April. There is now a community of #UKBA18 finalists communicating on Twitter (sharing their excitement) and this has opened my eyes to all the other bloggers and writers online in their chosen fields including arts & culture, events & wedding, fashion & beauty, food & drink, green & eco, health & social care plus much more! The finalists in these categories also use social media such as Twitter to connect with their audience and promote their material online.
Over the holidays I always enjoy spending time reading – from a John Grisham thriller to a historical or educational book. I love to read in different locations too – from my own home, the pool, beach, coffee shops – anywhere nice, quiet and relaxing. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Made to Stick by the Heath brothers – perhaps more so because I read it during the holidays where time becomes a luxury and it’s easier to switch off from the to-do list usually on my mind! The book Made to Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die is a very interesting book because it was not written specifically for teachers, although it is a very useful and informative read for teachers with a chapter of the book actually dedicated to teachers. The authors’ Chip and Dan Heath have written other well known and New York Times best-selling books such as Switch and The Power of Moments which I have yet to read but they are now on my 2018 reading list! Chip Heath is a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, teaching courses on business strategy and organizations. Dan Heath worked as a researcher and case writer for Harvard Business School, he has founded the Change Academy, a program designed to boost the impact of social sector leaders and he is also the co-founder of a publishing company called Thinkwell.
I am delighted to be featuring a guest blog post by Carmel Bones. Carmel is a former History teacher, Head of Department, Teacher trainer, AST and she is now an education consultant providing CPD for teachers across Europe. Carmel is also a well-known author amongst the History educational community and Fellow of the Historical Association. It was at TMHistoryIcons 2017 where I first heard Carmel share the idea of summarising pyramids. In a short amount of time Carmel managed to explain the resource with such enthusiasm and show various examples. I think this is a great idea and resource for the classroom. Carmel has kindly agreed to explain summarising pyramids in more depth. You can read her post below: