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.
Learning grids are a fantastic resource that can be used across different subjects and with different year groups/key stages. If you are not familiar with this resource it is simple; it is a grid consisting of 36 boxes ( 6 vertical and 6 horizontal). Dice are required – dice can be bought cheaply online or at stores such as Poundland or Tiger. Pupils will roll the dice twice – to give them a number they can use for the horizontal and vertical line (for example 2 across and 4 down). I have used learning grids in a variety of ways; to re-cap previous learning, support literacy, as a plenary and much more! The idea of a linking learning grid is more complex and challenging.
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.
The Confident Teacher : Developing successful habits of mind, body and pedagogy by Alex Quigley really surprised me – as the book covered much more than I expected it to. I have never met Alex Quigley, yet I follow his educational profile online via his Twitter account @HuntingEnglish and I am a regular reader of his blog, also titled The Confident Teacher. I thoroughly enjoy reading his blogs and they have been great resource to me as a teacher, so I was very keen to read his book. Alex is a Teacher of English, that is evident as I think he has a wonderful style and use of language as well as many literature references made throughout his book. He is also Director of Huntington Research School, this book is heavily research informed and influenced which also supports many of his arguments and points. The Confident Teacher is obviously not some sort of quick fix self help guide to give teachers a transformation with confidence overnight, but it does focus on a wide range of strategies to develop confidence for both teachers and pupils. This book is filled with many stories from his career as well as anecdotes about various well known individuals from Pablo Picasso to Michael Jordan and Albert Bandura along the way!
In August 2016 I relocated to teach in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Before my move I had already made some online connections with teachers based in the UAE via Twitter and I have since been fortunate to meet many of them. I’ve also been able to stay in touch with the online educational community in the UK, keeping up to date with the latest developments and news via Twitter. If you are using Twitter you will know it is a fantastic resource for professional development with networking, sharing, collaborating and much more! I have blogged in more depth about how social media can be used for teachers’ professional development here.
In 2015 I joined Twitter with the aim of having a specific account dedicated to my professional development. I remember some of the first teachers I followed were Ross Morrison McGill, Amjad Ali and Mark Anderson. They were all tweeting about #TMLondon. I had no idea what they were on about?! I did some quick research to find out that #TMLondon was a free CPD event for teachers with a line up of experienced and diverse speakers. Fortunately, it was during my Easter break in Wales so I was able to attend. TMLondon 2015 was such a revelation for me and really did inspire me. The presenters including Mary Myatt, Stephen Lockyer and Jill Berry were all very interesting, engaging and shared something different yet relevant. I learnt so much and felt surrounded by people totally committed and dedicated to teaching.
Tonight, I have just hosted my first #Bettchat with @Bett_MiddleEast focusing on the topic of teachers using social media for professional development. If you are not familiar with #Bettchat it’s a Twitter chat, similar to the weekly #UKEdchat, where questions are posed and people respond on Twitter using the hashtag so others can read their responses and reply… simple! A Twitter chat is a powerful method of connecting educators worldwide, to all be involved in one specific discussion or debate online at the same time despite distance or time zone.
Leadership Matters : How leaders at all levels can create great schools by Andy Buck was recommended to me by Mark Anderson. I assumed this book was aimed at SLT given the experience and position of the author. However, as the title suggests it is a book written for leaders at all levels and aspiring leaders. I am a Middle Leader with experience of leading a team within my department and also leading on various whole school approaches and events. I am about to undertake the NPQML leadership course so I thought this book would be very useful and relevant- and it was, as well as very interesting (throughout you can read some of my favourite quotes from this book that I have selected and made using Adobe Spark Post).
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.
A lot of teachers have considered becoming an examiner for some reason or other. Some teachers will strongly recommend becoming an examiner whilst others will tell you to avoid it at all costs! I was a History GCSE examiner for three years in a row but now I have relocated to the UAE to teach I am unable to continue as an examiner in the UK. There are several pros and cons to becoming an examiner so I thought I would reflect and share my experience. Different examiners for different exam boards and subjects will have different experiences so it is worth asking around with colleagues or teachers online to get a broader view.