Flipping it…

One thing I love is flipping my classroom on its head.

The flipped classroom is one that is busy, engaged and has plenty of ‘deeper’ developed learning activities happening from start to finish. The students that participate allow themselves to ‘master’, truly develop their understanding, and show their knowledge in a variety of creative and interesting ways. It’s a little like applying Blooms at every stage within one lesson. It also allows students to develop their understanding and learning at their own pace, not worrying about their peers in the classroom.

What is Flipped Learning?

Teaching is often considered to be an ‘art’. The idea of Education being an art would usually allow us to assume that there should be some element of creativity involved. When I first went into teaching, I wanted to make sure that my students would never have to suffer the repetitive teacher led drone that I had endured during my education in the 1970s and 80s. However, with an ever-increasing focus on schools data, Ofsted and exam results, along with continual student assessment, teaching is starting to lean towards the rote dictatorial teaching that I hated as a learner.

How to lose the fear of introducing Flipped Learning into YOUR classroom
Unless students learn within a physical and emotional climate that supports their learning, no teaching method can be truly effective. It’s like trying to set off on a car journey when there’s only a dribble of petrol left in the tank.’ Jarvis Hayes.
I like to read a lot of Ken Robinson  theories, and agreed with how he thinks that we need to encourage a more Creative society and Education system. But what is Creativity? How do we encourage it in Education? Should it be restricted to certain subjects, or teachers, or even classes?  By flipping your classroom – which ever subject you teach – you can make your lessons more engaging and creative from start to finish… and beyond.

“The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without a teacher.” Elbert Hubbard

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Initial thoughts and reasons for blogging about Education

… and yes, I have spelt Education with a capital E!

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Ever since I was young I have been keen to speak out. During my teacher training I was the NUT rep, the one that spoke out for the other students. Since my training I have still continued that voice and have often been thanked for sharing my views, advice and just being vocal. More and more recently, I have had colleagues, and peers, ask me to start a blog to provide a realistic teacher voice.

I am hoping that this blog will provide a voice for all those teachers that are struggling everyday, often just to get through the day, and realise that they are not alone. Although it is from an English teacher perspective, it should share the general atmosphere and climate of teaching at the moment. I am currently a Head of Department with many additional responsibilities and roles (that are expected but not recognised in my job title).

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This blog post explains my initial reasons and thoughts behind blogging about Education and ideas for teaching in the UK. This was my original ‘about’ page, and you can see that my blogging plans have now changed. I do intend to still blog about my thoughts about UK Education, and that will be under separate pages, but my main purpose is to provide a realistic and helpful insight into ways of teaching a variety of students, making sure that they all enjoy and succeed in English. Plus, of course, the importance of helping a teacher enjoy their job once again…

‘Twas the night before A level grades…

… and not one teacher could sleep.

The irony of writing my first blog on the eve of the first set of A level results that I have overseen as a Head of Department, but not taught, is not lost on me and perhaps the reason for being an apt time to begin.

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It seems strange how, as a teacher, the summer examination results are often considered ‘our’ results and not those of our students. I wonder if this is due to the pressures that teachers are now under for them to perform and produce grades from their students, as opposed to teachers wanting their students to get the best grades that they are able to achieve?  It’s a feeling of willing the grades, hoping the questions cover the aspects that were taught, ensuring that everything has been done to meet the targets that have been set by a data manager that generally has never set foot in a classroom.

Targets – that is the word that flummoxes me the most since coming into teaching. Targets are something that are set for sales people, not for educators. But, targets are now set for teachers to achieve from their students. It is as though those sponge like brains are actually commodities that can be sold not nurtured. So, instead of developing hearts and minds, we are encouraged to almost treat our students like cars that can be sold to ensure that we hit the annual grade targets when the figures come in each August.

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With all the annual scare stories being published and shared online over the past few days, it would seem that neither students nor teachers know what they are walking into and opening up to find in their brown envelopes tomorrow. It seems that some stories are saying there are more higher grades than ever before and other reports scaremongering the fear of asking for any re-marks. It has amused me that universities appear to have the luxury of gaining the results that students and teachers have worked blood, sweat and tears for before those that have attempted to gain the targets set – and have ‘accidentally’ informed students ahead of results if their university places are confirmed or not.

In the meantime, I, and I am sure many other teachers and Heads of Departments, find myself unable to sleep, having a much shorter holiday than any of my non-teaching friends realise and wondering the impact of the results that are opened and analysed tomorrow will end up affecting my job, my department and my schools position in the ‘all important’ league tables.