In addition to my teaching role I am also a House tutor. I thoroughly enjoy this pastoral role as it provides a great opportunity to build positive relationships with my pupils, not just focusing on the academic elements. Being a tutor allows me to take part in tutor and whole school activities that differ to my teaching role. The start of year is a very important time for teachers to get to know their pupils and as mentioned build those crucial positive relationships. It is also very important for pupils to get to know each other, as well as feeling comfortable and confident in school.
To be empathetic in life can be difficult. To be empathetic can also be a lovely quality to possess. As teachers we often feel and show empathy towards colleagues and pupils, as well as in our own personal lives. Many educators have blogged about the importance of empathy as a teacher and a leader. Empathy, compassion and kindness are important qualities that most, if not all, teachers demonstrate on a daily basis. However, the purpose of this post isn’t to explore or discuss empathy in the workplace. Empathy like creativity and curiosity is very important but how do you teach this? Instead we promote, encourage and create opportunities for pupils to be creative or curious and show empathy. I wanted to share a resource I created for pupils that has helped them to understand empathy, in different contextual settings.
I have recently relocated; teaching History in the United Arab Emirates. However, before my move overseas I taught at Elfed High School in Flintshire North Wales. I also went to school in Flintshire, Castell Alun. I don’t have a Welsh speaking background, as sadly my family and close friends are not Welsh speakers. However, I thoroughly enjoyed learning Welsh second language studying GCSE and A-Level. I then went onto study History at the University of Wales, Aberyswyth a place well known for its strong Welsh speaking community. The ability to speak Welsh was a skill that proved to be a great advantage during my job interview for the position at Elfed High School. Once I secured the job I was able to share my love of the Welsh language with both staff and students. I have also been the UK Ed Ambassador for Wales, hosting #UKEDchat and networking with teachers across Wales online. In 2014 I began the SSAT Lead Practitioner Programme, which I achieved in 2015. I had to focus on an area of whole school development that I could improve and show clear progress and impact. Bilingualism was the obvious choice. An obvious choice as it was one of my strengths but also an area that I recognised needed improvement. Bilingualism can be a very difficult area for schools as a whole to approach. Estyn defines bilingualism as:
Games and gaming has changed dramatically! Teachers often find ways to introduce modern games such as Minecraft into the classroom. I wanted to share some classic ‘old school’ style games that are great fun and can be played by students to help support teaching and learning.
Most pupils love emojis – that’s obvious! There was a recent debate online about using emojis in the classroom. I can understand how using emojis can be viewed as a “gimmick” but I do embrace emojis in the classroom…to help engage pupils and aid learning, if appropriate. In my opinion a gimmick distracts from the subject content or serves no purpose therefore I do think carefully about the resources I create and when I use them. Here are some examples I wanted to share!
I have written about #PoundlandPedagogy ideas before and more recently I collaborated with Mark Anderson writing about #PoundlandPedagogy of apps, which can be found here. This post contains some of my favourite ideas that have worked really well with my students, that I wanted to share and explain. The idea behind this is very simple; using cheap objects in the classroom in a creative way to aid teaching and learning. Isabella Wallace created the hashtag #PoundlandPedagogy. I am regularly inspired by and gain/adapt ideas from teachers on Twitter, sharing their Poundland resources, so hopefully these ideas can be used by others too!
Snapchat has become a popular phenomenon with young people. For anyone who isn’t familiar with this app it is very basic, it allows people to send pictures/selfies to their friends but the picture can only be viewed for so many seconds before it disappears forever. The snap can also include a caption with the picture. I know how much students enjoy using this app so I decided to bring something they liked and were familiar with into my classroom. A simple way to engage students and link to learning.
There are lots of different versions of Bingo that can be played. Walkabout Bingo is a favourite with my classes and this game encourages students to interact with each other and use/consolidate their subject knowledge.
Walkabout Bingo is a simple yet effective idea for the classroom. To play this game there needs to be a series of boxes, the amount of boxes can vary depending on class size or time dedicated to the activity. In each box there will be a question, focusing on the topic or lesson. In the same box a space to write the answer and underneath, still in the same box, it will say ‘name’. The aim of the game is to have all the boxes filled with correct answers but students must get their answers from other members of the class. They cannot answer the question on their sheet themselves; they can only answer for other people. Also, they can only ask someone a question once – hence the name in the box. So a student will go up to someone in their class, ask them the question, write down their answer and write down the name of the person who told them the answer then find someone else to answer their next question.
On a Friday afternoon I often share teaching resources on Twitter, like many other teachers do, using the hashtag #PedagooFriday. The Zone of Relevance resource generated a lot of interest. I was contacted by teachers asking for further explanation and asking questions, which is understandable as 140 characters can be very limited!
The Zone of Relevance works best with GCSE and A-Level students because it is very useful to complete when preparing and planning an exam answer. However, it can be used with other year groups and across the curriculum. The idea behind this is that students recognise what information is relevant for a specific exam answer and essential to achieve exam marks. It also helps students prioritise information. This task supports students to understand what they should and should not include in their answer. This will highlight what information is irrelevant to that specific question to prevent common mistakes being made.
Classroom displays are a love/hate teacher thing. Some teachers take great pride in creating beautiful displays and enjoy creating their masterpieces. Other teachers can find it time consuming, especially when there is always a long list of other jobs that need doing, which are far more important!