Teaching is tough, whether you’re Foundation Stage, GCSE, A Level, Independent, State – all sectors of education come with their own pressures and challenges. One of the most difficult parts of being a teacher can be the questions around quality assurance. It is important to quality assure the work that teachers do, to leave teaching and learning to chance is the talk of foolish but even now despite the huge debate and debunking of graded lesson observations, they do still go on.
The exam season is fast approaching and this can often be a time of stress, anxiety and pressure for students and teachers alike. I have taught GCSE and A Level throughout my career and whilst some aspects have become much easier, for example in the first few years of teaching I would have fears that I wouldn’t teach all of the required content in time … but I always managed to with time to spare. Careful planning, confidence and experience can help teachers with these worries but I like many other experienced teachers are teaching new exam specifications for the first time. This has brought new challenges such as being the first year to sit the new exams, meaning limited examples of past papers and a lack of clear grade boundaries.
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 …
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.
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 keen to progress with leadership 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 the book that I have selected and made using Adobe Spark Post).
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!