The NUT (National Union of Teachers) states that “Teachers’ workload is currently far too high and surveys show that recently qualified teachers work longer hours than their more experienced colleagues.” Clearly, this is not acceptable but fortunately there appears to be a movement recognising and tackling this problem. No one wants to see teachers, especially enthusiastic and optimistic NQTs, suffering from exhaustion and burn out caused by excessive and unnecessary workload. It can take years for some teachers to find the right balance in their life between work and home life. Sadly, some teachers never find the balance and leave the profession as a result. However, managing workload can be a skill that teachers can get better at, especially with the right support. Hindsight is a wonderful thing as they say. There are some experiences that teachers have to experience for themselves and learn from, for example we can reflect on a lesson that we didn’t feel went well and do things differently next time or ask why the lesson plan didn’t actually go to plan as we hoped for? However, there are lots of experienced teachers, myself included, who are willing to share their stories and offer advice to support NQTs and other educators from repeating mistakes we made. Here’s some advice I have to offer …
I didn’t fully engage with educational research at the start of my career but in recent years it has transformed my teaching practice and further built my confidence in the classroom. As a trainee teacher I was told that educational research informed us about VAK learning styles and the idea of the learning pyramid! This so-called research is now better known by many in education as edu-myths, theories that have been debunked because they are not supported by the science and research as initially claimed. This post isn’t about debunking myths but if that is something you are interested in then I can highly recommend the work of Pedro De Bruyckere, Paul Kirschner and visiting the popular blog by US educator Blake Harvard.
The comic strip has often been a popular go-to resource and activity for teachers. They can provide an overview of events, tell a story and so on. However, the comic strip task can also be an activity that is a time waster and not support learning – wasting precious lesson time and simply keeping learners busy which of course is not good. The issues with the comic strip are that pupils can spend too much time on the illustrations and colouring rather than focusing on the captions and information, although many pupils can effectively communicate their understanding and knowledge through illustrations too. When using technology to create comic strips pupils can again place the focus on the layout, design and other features rather than the actual content. Dual coding ( combining written information with visuals to support) has become a widely recognised as an effective strategy to support learning and comic strips are a great example of this. I do believe that with guidance, clearly explained success criteria and a modelled example the comic strip can work very well in the classroom. You can watch an excellent video explanation of dual coding by the learning scientists here.
A few weeks ago I presented at the second Digital Innovation Summit in Dubai at Jumeriah English Speaking School ( known as JESS). I have written an overview of the event that will be published in the upcoming edition of Education Journal Middle East (so apologies if this blog post seems self indulgent as it is just about my presentation which I didn’t refer to in the EJME article!). Many people have contacted me since my presentation to ask questions or provide feedback. I thought I would address any questions and share my slides for anyone who wasn’t able to attend my session or the event.
Adding captions, speech and thought bubbles can be done digitally with ease and simplicity. Although this can be achieved by Word, Power point, Keynote etc the quickest method in my opinion is using the app Balloon Stickies Plus. This great app is also FREE! The app allows the user to insert speech and thought bubbles and captions onto images very quickly (there is another free app called Bubble but most of the features are locked unless you are willing to pay). Balloon Stickies Plus app also allows the user to convert spoken word through recording into text – this has a lot of potential in the classroom for SEND and/or EAL pupils. Here I share some examples of how I have used the app with my pupils.
QR (quick response) codes are not new and certainly not just for the classroom but they have so much potential for teaching and learning – I think they are great! There are a wide range of websites and apps to create and read/scan QR codes, I would recommend the app QR Reader. If you haven’t created QR codes before they are very easy to do so, I was surprised by how straightforward and quick it was! If you haven’t tried QR codes in your classroom then it is worth trying, because again its very simple yet effective so here is another blog with some advice to get you started.
My iPad has become an essential part of my teaching toolkit; for various reasons. I am an advocate for using technology in the classroom. I always keen to learn about new technologies and share apps that can be used in the classroom to support and enhance learning.It is important to add that I believe in using technology purposefully and effectively, not for the sake of using technology or as a “gimmick”. I have undertaken research and further reading focusing on how best to use technology in the classroom to support and engage learners. I would recommend reading Perfect ICT Every Lesson by Mark Anderson, to build confidence, discover different strategies and find out about the SAMR model. You can read my review of his book here.
Initially, I assumed this book was aimed at teachers of ICT and Computing… I was wrong! Perfect ICT Every Lesson is written for all teachers; from Primary to Higher Education, to support embedding technology across the curriculum successfully, effectively and purposefully. Originally published in 2013, it could be assumed that technology has advanced so much in recent years that this book is quickly outdated. However, it is clear that the strategies, advice and tools that Mark suggests are very much relevant today. I can’t believe how advanced the technology was in 2013 at Mark’s school, as many schools are still playing catch-up today!
The app Typorama is a simple and easy app to use and I have used it in so many ways in my classroom!
I thoroughly enjoy creating teaching and learning resources. I’m also keen to embrace technology in my classroom and lesson planning. Typorama app ( a free app but it does cost to remove the watermark) transforms photos and text into amazing typographic designs on iOS. Images are provided on the app or you can upload your own from your camera roll. The images are powered by Pixabay search engine, where all images are released free of copyright. There are also over 40 different typographic styles available with photo filters, overlays and adjustment tools. I have used this app in a variety of ways. I wanted to share ten methods to use Typorama focusing on teaching and learning.
What does it mean to be a connected educator?
It’s that term you’ve probably heard but what are people actually talking about? The term ‘connected educator’ is the term used to describe teachers who use modern methods to stay connected with each other. Connected educators tend to be passionate and committed educators who use their global network of educators called a ‘professional learning network’ to share, learn and develop their work as an educator. This could vary from having a friend who teaches in another part of the world to having thousands of followers online from across the globe. In my opinion a connected educator is someone who is passionate about education and learning from others. Due to the global nature that comes with being a connected educator, essentially all connected educators are international because their networks transcend geographical boundaries (although time zones can be a pain sometimes!). Connected educators are able to keep up to date with educational issues and debates, beyond the walls of their staffroom and the whole school. Connected educators are dedicated to their own professional development and recognise that as well as learning and gaining so much from others they can also share, collaborate and inspire other educators in some shape or form.