Friday, 14 April 2017

Give a Little Praise

In schools, we have a tendency sometimes to treat members of staff (colleagues) like the children. In the past I've received stickers, House Points, certificates and so on...

When a colleague is helpful, I often say to them, "Oh, give yourself 20 House Points". It's a bit of a joke and a bit light hearted; they have no where to record the house points, but it acknowledges my gratitude. 

In the past, Year Three children received marbles as a reward. When I wanted to thank a Year Three teacher, I sent a Year Three pupil to say thank you, with a marble for them - the pupils thought this was great!  

Now those certificates... I received my certificate of NQT induction in a whole school assembly, I've received attendance certificates at the same time as the children and other colleagues, and more recently I received (in a staff meeting) acknowledgement of my passing NPQSL. 

We often give each other stickers as a thank you or well done too. Many a time I've been in a shop or petrol station still wearing a 'Head Teacher's Award' or 'Brilliant' sticker. 

At times I've found this a little odd, but reflecting on it and now looking on it from a leadership perspective, we're not patronising each other, treating each other like children or 'being a bit silly', we're thanking and working with members of our team. It's important. We know how much the children value these things and use them to support and thank each other too.

Recently, I saw this Tweet:

So, the next day, I grabbed a handful of praise post cards and set off to find a child from each class. I asked the child to, 'Write something they wanted to thank their teacher for'. The comments were lovely. We sent them all out on a Thursday and they landed on most door mats on a Saturday morning. A nice surprise just over half way through the year. There was some mystery around how it happened for a little while and many teachers told me how much it meant.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Meeting Every Child

As a leader, how well do you know the children in your subject, year group or school? As a teacher, you spend 190 days in the company of your class and therefore get to know them quite well quite quickly.

However, as a leader, that's different: more children and not as regular contact. So, it's important to find a way to get to know them.

Our head runs weekly birthday celebration - on a particular day, those who have a birthday that week go along to receive a sticker and have a chat. The children think it's all about their birthdays (which of course it is), but it's also about seeing each child and getting to know them a little.

Something we've done, as assistant heads, is release each class teacher for a lesson to allow them extra planning time (important), but also, in turn, got to see each child in the school and teach in every classroom.

How well do you know each child?

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

On Friday 27th January 2017, we attended the BETT Show in London and Liam presented at the TeachMeet that followed.

He presented about how his classroom practice has developed since writing 'Shoes Off If You Love To Learn' during the autumn term. 

 Image Credit: @pamelaaobrien

Do you keep your shoes on in your own house? Do you always work on a chair at a desk? Where would you choose to sit and read? Does how comfortable you are affect your ability to learn?

There a times when children need to be sat at a desk. But, how's about offering them a little more freedom about how and where they work? And, do they need shoes on in class if they're more comfortable without them on?

UKEdChat kindly captured the talk here & here (from about 15:30).

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Nomadic Staff Meetings

Where do you hold your staff meetings? School hall? Staff room? Meeting room? The person leading the meeting's classroom?

How about visiting a different classroom each week. We have 16 classrooms and therefore can visit each class about twice a year. So the staff meeting gains an extra focus. Everyone attending can learn about what is being delivered, but also can look at displays, classroom organisation and more.

Not got a system for where the staff meeting is held? Have a think...

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Grounds Treasure Hunt

Want to get your staff looking at how they can make use of all parts of the school grounds? Set up a treasure hunt. In each location you want them to visit, ask them what the area could be used for and include a riddle for them to solve. Engage them in the process? Prizes for those who are first back, with the most correct riddle answers.

When we did this, we placed a QR Code in each location that linked to a Padlet wall. The staff entered their ideas onto the Padlet wall and we've been able to read the responses since.

Friday, 23 September 2016

The Art of Delegation

You can't do it all yourself! You can't. You can try. It won't work! 

I became a Head of Year at the start of a spring term. In the April of that year, I lead a brand new residential trip for four days with ninety odd children and twelve members of staff. Trip Leader? Yep, me. 

The day after that trip, I woke up at 14:30. Not got out of bed at, but woke up at! About 17 hours sleep...

I thought nothing of it. I'd been tired after every residential trip I'd been on and, this time, I had more responsibility. Of course, I needed more sleep.


It was earlier this year that I realised what had happened. For the fourth time, I lead that same trip. I returned home, cuddled toddler daughter, checked heavily pregnant wife was ok, slept and got up (07:00) - the same time as the rest of my family.


In the first trip, I checked every seat belt and counted every child every time we got on a bus, I spoke at every meal time, always ate last, was at the forefront of every activity. I've since learned how and what to delegate to others. 

And, like me, I think this is unfortunately just something that comes with experience...

Thursday, 8 September 2016

TeachMeets at home

We love a good TeachMeet. The people, the ideas and the sharing all add up to fast, in depth and engaging CPD.

We have taken the model, stripped it back and are using it for a few staff meetings each term. Firstly, we decide on the topic (most recently formative assessment tools), put out a sign up sheet to avoid repetition of ideas and then set the stage.

The great thing about this method is that every member of staff can contribute. This week, we had ideas from our most seasoned staff and our newest, three-days-on-the-job NQTs. Every participant got something out of it even if it was only a reminder of a tool they had neglected, every member of staff was listened to and clapped and, as it was so fast-paced, we were all able to stay engaged throughout the meeting.

Bring a TeachMeet to your staff meetings and watch the ideas roll in.