Not just surviving, but thriving in your NQT year

Gone are the days where all of your trainee peers secure full time contracts by the time they have finished their initial teacher training (it’s certainly a different landscape to when I qualified in 2002). I am having more and more conversations with people entering the profession who are unsure about their immediate and long term future. With more people moving to teaching from other careers (as opposed to the more traditional post graduate route) and often with families to support, it can be quite an unsettling time. This may not make you feel any better, but I spotted this quote on Twitter via @growthmindset1



In a recent conversion with a (nearly) Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), I was asked to consider what advice I would give for their first year in post. They have a one year fixed term contract as cover for maternity leave. This post is aimed less at surviving their first year, more about preparing them to be an attractive appointment for a school in one year’s time. Continue reading

Excellence V Success

In a recent Cabot Learning Federation CPD session on developing a growth mindset, I was introduced to a quote from American Football Coach Joe Paterno (1926-2012).
“There are many people, particularly in sports, who think that success and excellence are the same thing. They are not the same thing. Excellence is something that is lasting and dependable and largely within a person’s control. In contrast, success is perishable and is often outside our control. If you strive for excellence, you will probably be successful eventually. People who put excellence in the first place have the patience to end up with success. An additional burden for the victim of the success mentality is that he is threatened by the success of others and he resents real excellence. In contrast, the person that is fascinated by quality is excited when he sees it in others.” 
– Joe Paterno

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Looking back…

…at posts as far back as 2011, there is evidence of changing the way I teach to promote Growth Mindsets in students (although I may not have specifically used the term back then).

I have been having a look at the archives, in readiness for a CPD session for the PE staff of Academies within the Cabot Learning Federation. I am co-coordinating this termly event as part of my Specialist Leader in Education work.

A range of posts include:

Comfort – Stretch – Panic from December 5th, 2011

A range of thoughts/posts considering Setting in PE from March 2012
I recall writing these early in the morning (5:00am) and early evening (5:00pm), on my phone, whilst turning out and bringing in my horse from the paddock/stable. In particular Part 5, talks about setting by Personal Skills.

This incident from a Waboba / water polo lesson called Man Down, a post from a swimming lesson called I don’t want him in our group and the follow up to both of these. All posted in November / December 2011.

One final post on a tipping point, occurring in November 2011.
On reflection, this behaviour is now an embedded culture; a culture that I am immensely proud of.

What does "Literacy" actually mean!?

Literacy. A term that is often used in Education and one that we all know is vitally important to maximising young peoples life chances. Twitter and Educational blogs are full of information about Literacy. One such post that resonated with me is David Didau’s (@learningSpy) post on the Matthew Effect.

But what does “literacy” actually mean? Can you define literacy in the education context? What does an effective literacy strategy look like?

These questions were asked at our SLT meetings at the start of our “literacy” journey. Geoff Barton (@RealGeoffBarton) has written a book called Don’t call it Literacy!, which incidentally, was something that our Principal wanted to do (or not).

Our “literacy” strategy is one of numerous policies and strategies that have been implemented at BCA since becoming a sponsored academy in September 2012, each being linked to one or more of Teaching and Learning, Behaviour and Safety, Achievement and Leadership & Management.

Here is an advert for a new post at BCA, which communicates our journey and the result of some exciting and innovative work.

The advert is due to go live in the coming days.

Here it is…

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@thedanplan – The Assembly

Every term, our assemblies at BCA are strategically planned by the Principal, appropriately themed and then planned and delivered by senior and middle leaders.

As we continue to try and raise the aspirations of the young people who attend BCA, we used the book “Bounce” written by Matthew Syed as a stimulus.

The concept of 10,000 hours of practice isn’t a new one, but it is one that we have used as part of our work to develop growth mindsets among our cohort. The basic message – work hard, achieve more.

We (SLT) were each allocated a famous person mentioned in the book (including Picasso, David Beckham, Tiger Woods, the Williams’ sisters) to talk about. I was given an extra subject – Dan McLaughlin, who I had not heard of before. With a bit of research ( I soon became captivated by his story and started to work up some ideas about how the assembly might work.

Having thought up a few ideas, I decided to try and make contact with Dan, which I managed via Twitter (@thedanplan). Dan agreed to record a Skype chat with some of our students and do a radio interview (with our school radio station) to talk about his plan to become a professional golfer.

I helped to prepare some of our students, who thought up a series of questions for Dan. Unfortunately, I was unable to host the Skype chat, however I was helped out at the last minute by a colleague. I then edited the video, embedded it in a Prezi, took some key themes and then presented it in an assembly.

Enough of the preamble, here it is…

(some of the video embedded in the Prezi appears to take a while to load, so please be patient if you see a blank screen)

Performing Arts – A Growing Culture

Before the Cabot Learning Federation (multi academy trust) became the sponsor of Bath Community Academy, the predecessor school had been an all boys for the previous 50 years. From September 2012, the first girls started to attend BCA and they now make up over half of Key Stage 3, with ever increasing numbers in Key Stage 4.

Whilst an occasional (half-hearted) attempt to introduce dance (on the curriculum and through extra curricular opportunities) was made (through the predictable format of the Haka and break dance), it was never given priority over other activity areas within the curriculum. How things have changed.

Last year, I wrote about raising the profile of dance in post called Let’s Dance.

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