Thursday, 18 January 2018

Believe In Your Vision

It might not sound relevant to teaching, but as The Last Jedi reaches over $1billion in takings, it is worth reflecting that the whole story was almost never told.

George Lucas wanted to make a movie with his favourite science-fiction character, but he couldn’t afford to buy the rights. Instead he borrowed a little bit from old science fiction stories, samurai tales, Westerns, WWII pilot adventures…and then set his own story in space. That was only the beginning of the struggle to get Star Wars made. No one wanted to finance the story, the budget was tiny, the skills didn't exist to make it... even the cast and crew were reluctant to take part. They thought George's vision was crazy.

However he persevered, he re shot scenes, he believed in himself and never gave up on the vision he had for the story.

It is an incredible tale of success against the odds. 
  • How would you get staff to buy into your vision?
  • Have you ever been tempted to give up when others just don't get it?
  • Are there factors holding you back from achieving your vision?
Maybe watching George describe what the process was like for him will be inspiring for you!

Click here for the video

Friday, 12 January 2018

Teach London

"London is the greatest city in the world in which to live, to work and to study. It is no wonder that thousands of graduates choose to stay in the capital to teach and to inspire the next generation of Londoners. Teachers have a huge impact on young Londoners’ lives. I urge you to consider London as a place to train to be a teacher and play your part in nurturing and inspiring our capital’s young talent for generations to come." 

If you are interested in finding out more about teaching in London then please look at out local Schools Direct program:

or look at the Mayor's Teach London resource

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Leadership Conversations

A significant part of leadership is all about developing the right habits. One of these is around the types of conversation that you tend to have as a leader. Andy Buck has simplified this for school leaders at all levels - you should only have three types of conversation!

‘Monkey on the shoulder’ conversations

Someone comes to talk to you about an issue and concern. Before you know it, you’ve ended up with a job! Whilst there is a place for ’monkey on the shoulder’ conversations, you shouldn’t have too many.

‘Wise owl’ conversations

These are dialogues in which you end up giving advice, making suggestions or even just telling someone what to do. These conversations don’t build capacity or competence in your colleagues. In fact, they do the reverse.

‘Dolphin’ conversations

The important habit I am suggesting all leaders need to keep developing, is that of ‘asking first’. Here, leaders just ask brilliant questions. It is more about you using a coaching leadership style than it is actually formally coaching. In a nutshell, aim to ask questions that help the other person to:

1. understand the background or situation

2. work out what they want to do or their aim

3. consider their options and work out their strategy or approach

4. decide what they are going to do or implement

5. work out how this can continue as a sustainable solution

As the words in bold highlight, this approach to structuring these conversations uses the acronym of BASIC.

Click here for the full article

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Thought For the Day

On the theme of small changes to make a big difference, the story of how the inspirational quotes seen at TfL stations came to be is a great one.

What is the Quote for The Day?
Passengers using Oval station on the Northern line have come to appreciate the ‘Thought for the Day’ quotations put up by station staff in the main concourse.

The innovative project began in 2004 and has been taken up by several other stations on the Underground network.

It’s a team effort, started by station supervisor Anthony Gentles and looked after on a daily basis by station assistant Glen Sutherland.

Anthony Gentles said: “We are here to provide a service to our customers, not just to sell tickets. We like to provide a happy and relaxed environment, which is why we have classical music playing at all times.”

The idea behind ‘Thought for the Day’ was to give passenger’s something inspirational to think about during their journey.

Click here for the article

  • What small changes could you make in your school?
  • How could you excite staff about new ideas or techniques?
  • How would the 'quote for the day' work in your setting?

Monday, 8 January 2018

Rethinking Giftedness

How are you supporting More Able pupils?
This short clip from Citizen Film was created after hearing from pupils about the labels they had received growing up. Many of the pupils had been labelled as “gifted” or “smart,” when they were in school, and these labels, intended to be positive, had given them learning challenges later in life.

Most people realize that it is harmful to not be labelled as gifted when others are. The labelling of some students sends negative messages about potential. However those labels could be damaging for those who receive them too. 

At Stanford many pupils were labelled as gifted in Kindergarten or 1st grade and received special advantages from that point on, raising many questions about equity in schools. But labels and ideas of smartness and giftedness carry with them fixed ideas about ability, suggesting to pupils that they are born with a gift or a special brain. 

When pupils are led to believe they are gifted, or they have a “math brain” or they are “smart” and later struggle, that struggle is absolutely devastating. Pupils who grow up thinking that they have a special brain often drop out of STEM subjects when they struggle. At that time students start to believe they were not, after all, gifted, or that the gift has “run out” as one of the students in our film reflects.

In the film, which I really recommend that you watch, we also hear from students from a local elementary school who shared their experiences of learning without labels. Their school does not give students the idea that some students are smart or gifted and has instead shared our youcubed messages and videos about the high potential of all students to grow and change their brains. Their math community values all kinds of learners and communicates that all students have interesting and unique ideas to share. The teachers know that careful problem-solving takes time, conversation, and lots of questions from everyone. The fourth graders who are interviewed illustrate the different ideas students can develop when they are given messages of brain growth and high academic potential for everyone, rather than messages of high academic potential for only some students.

Jo Boaler - Youcubed

Click here for the video

Click here for the website

Friday, 5 January 2018

Maths Progression Videos

These video clips may be useful when explaining to staff the progression in maths concepts through the Early Years and Primary phases.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Don't Mention The Nail - Just Listen

Have you ever had a performance conversation with a team member where you felt that there was a very obvious solution?

Have you ever wanted to just 'give the answer' so that you can move forward?

Have you ever felt frustrated that the team member couldn't see the same solution as you?

In order for the issue to be resolved, it may sometimes be better to just listen... however difficult that maybe. Once the team member feels that they have been heard, that a quick fix isn't just imposed on them, it may be more likely that you will be able to agree on a way forward...

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Small Changes - Big Difference

When looking at resolutions for a New Year it is easy to be seduced by the dramatic... a whole new me! Targets set can easily be vague... get fitter, read more. Too ambitious and it is too easy to give up. Too vague and it is unclear if you have achieved them.

Here are some top tips that we would offer - which are good for any time of the year and not restricted to the first week in January:

  1. Be specific. If you are going to get fitter, what do you mean? Is your aim to run without stopping for 10mins? How many minutes can you do now? How do you know? Is your goal appropriate?
  2. Do something today... it is very easy to come up with a target that means you can put off any effort. What can you do today to make a difference to your goal
  3. Build on an existing behaviour - is there a habit you have which you could develop or improve? Perhaps you already walk for 10 minutes... now you can stretch it to 12?
A key question would be... how will this improve my life, my health, my teaching. If you aren't clear on the expected benefits of the change then how will you stay motivated to achieve it, how will you know if you have achieved it?

NPQ Courses - Deadline Extension 26th January

Have you set yourself a leadership goal for 2018?
Would an NPQ help you achieve it?

If so, you will be delighted to hear that we decided to extend the registration deadline for NPQ courses starting this spring.
We will be accepting applications until Friday, 26th January.
Please use the registration links below to ensure you are able to access outstanding leadership training starting in your locality this spring.

For general information on these courses, please visit our website.

Reading Comprehension

What does comprehension require? Broad vocabulary, obviously. Equally important, but more subtle, is the role played by factual knowledge.

All prose has factual gaps that must be filled by the reader. Consider

“I promised not to play with it, but Mum still wouldn’t let me bring my Rubik’s Cube to the library.” 

The author has omitted three facts vital to comprehension: 
  1. you must be quiet in a library; 
  2. Rubik’s Cubes make noise; 
  3. kids don’t resist tempting toys very well. 
If you don’t know these facts, you might understand the literal meaning of the sentence, but you’ll miss why Mum forbade the toy in the library.

In one experiment, pupils — some identified by a reading test as good readers, some as poor — were asked to read a passage about football. The poor readers who knew a lot about football were three times as likely to make accurate inferences about the passage as the good readers who didn’t know much about the game.

Current education practices show that reading comprehension may be misunderstood. It’s treated like a general skill that can be applied with equal success to all texts. Rather, comprehension is intimately intertwined with knowledge. That suggests three significant changes in schooling.

  1. Look at decreasing the time spent on literacy instruction in early years. Early in Primary pupils can spend 56 percent of their time on literacy activities but 6 percent each on science and social studies. This disproportionate emphasis on literacy backfires later  when children’s lack of subject matter knowledge impedes comprehension. Another positive step would be to use high-information texts earlier - historically, they have been light in content.
  2. Second, understanding the importance of knowledge to reading ought to make us think differently about year-end standardized tests. If a child has studied New Zealand, she ought to be good at reading and thinking about passages on New Zealand. Why test her reading with a passage about spiders, or the Titanic? If topics are random, the test weights knowledge learned outside the classroom — knowledge that wealthy children have greater opportunity to pick up.
  3. Knowledge needs to be deliberately built into the curriculum. What are the key facts and understanding that we want pupils to have acquired and how are we planning to deliberately cover it?