Poor teaching: short shrift

I can’t fail to feel ever-so-slightly relieved to read the Telegraph article referring to Mr Gove’s intention to give Headteachers the power to remove poor teachers within a term. As a school governor, a teacher, and a parent of teenagers, I do feel in a position to make some judgments about what I see and hear.

Fact: Teachers have a challenging job. Nobody (unless they’ve been a teacher) can possibly comprehend the need to be at the top of your game on a daily basis. The smallest of chinks in your confidence, knowledge and personal skills can be chipped away by the pupils, particularly in secondary education. This means that teaching isn’t just about subject knowledge, a teacher needs to be capable in many areas. A personable approach, positive attitude, patience, subject knowledge and exciting pedagogy will bring about some outstanding...

Listen, listen, listen – classroom management

Young people who experience behavioural, emotional and social disabilities (BESD) are constantly overwhelmed by feelings they cannot understand and impulses they cannot control.  They may not be able to articulate their feelings and impulses and instead show anger and distress if they feel overlooked or that nobody is listening to their point of view.

If low level disruption in the classroom has resulted in you issuing an instruction to stop the behaviour/noise/lack of work, check how you do this.  You might loudly reprimand the young person, who then attempts to defend themselves.  Your efforts to bring order back to the classroom may include interrupting their defence “I don’t want to hear what you have to say…”  “You’ve said enough/I’ve heard enough, now go and sit down..”  “Stop making excuses…”   etc.

The trigger is pulled, the...

Can I Have a Word? The case for GCSE ICT

I read in the news today that the latest subject to be meddled with is the GCSE ICT curriculum.  It seems that the ‘boring’ lessons (where students learn Word and Excel) are not meeting the needs of businesses and that the qualification is perceived to be worthless in the real world.   I embrace the changes, and the idea of offering ‘computer science’.  However, it isn’t realistic to think that we can do away with Word and Excel.

Basic grasp at the basic level

As a lecturer in ICT in Further Education, I have seen many 16 year olds joining college with at best a basic grasp of Word and Excel, and certainly a limited knowledge of social media.  But Word and Excel are essential tools and I am concerned that they are being dismissed as inconsequential.  I have yet to meet a 16-year old student...

Do you suffer from ‘Clutter-itis’?

Yesterday was ‘National Clean Off Your Desk Day’.  If you are desk-bound and suffer from the highly contagious syndrome of clutter-itis (so common amongst time-challenged people), this was your golden opportunity to make some changes.

If you didn’t know about the NCOYD Day or you decided it wasn’t for you, here are some thoughts:

If you think that putting papers and documents in piles will save you time by avoiding filing, try this: each time you touch a piece of paper or document, place a small mark on the top right hand corner.  Be rigorous about this!  I think you’ll be surprised at how many times you handle the paperwork. 

Sometimes the piles of papers stack up because you have nowhere to put them.  Make some files and folders, even if they are labelled ‘Miscellaneous’.  Use some numbered tabs, write an index at the...

It Ain’t What You Do…… (behaviour management)

Behaviour management: It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it! (and that’s what gets results) (with grateful thanks to Bananarama)

In her book “Getting the Buggers to Behave”, Sue Cowley ( says that we can alter our tone and delivery to increase student engagement.  Here’s a section from the chapter “The Effective Teacher”.

Wonder – putting a tone of wonder and interest into your voice will help you engage a class.

Excitement – an excited tone can help you give pace and energy to a subject or activity, it can help you motivate and inspire learners to participate in the learning.

Deadly – this is a tone that tells your students you are not happy.  It is a cold, calculated sound, rather than one of anger.

Disappointment – when dealing with misbehaviour, disappointment is one of the most valuable tones of all.

A slow pace can be useful for calming down...

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