Monthly Archives: July 2011

Meet the Teacher

Tonight we held our ‘Meet the Teacher’ forums.   This is an opportunity for parents to pop into school to meet their children‘s new class teachers before the summer break.   The evening has grown to be a very popular event on the calendar and something we are delighted to see being so well attended.

The idea for Meet the Teacher came about several years ago but it wasn’t until the last few years that we really looked carefully at how the sessions might best benefit parents.   The meetings used to take place early in September but this was too late to allay many parents’ fears.   By then we’d had the first manic morning back and dealt with parental uncertainties as to which class, which door, who is Mrs/Miss/Mr so and so and what does she/he look like?   Through our Home School Group, parents suggested that ‘Meet the Teacher would be more helpful at the end of the summer term rather than the beginning of the autumn term and we subsequently moved the meetings.

A common format was agreed with staff that had enough space and flexibility for teachers to decide how they would best like to share information with parents.   For some, the sessions began as informal one to one chats while other parents looked around the class but this year most teachers gave a short presentation before speaking to parents individually.   When we first set up these meetings we would be lucky to have more than two or three parents in each class, but over the years the numbers have steadily grown and it was pleasing tonight to see that most classes has upwards of half the parents there.

I spoke to several families and asked if they had found the opportunity to come in and meet their children’s new class teacher useful, their response was overwhelmingly positive.   They appreciated the chance to meet staff new to them, to found out about the systems and procedures for September, the curriculum, class blogs, the opportunities for them to come into school, to help the children with their learning logs and much more.   Most importantly, those parents who came into school this evening now know their children’s new teacher, they have begun a relationship with them that will last for the next academic year and beyond.   Meet the Teacher helps us to build a strong positive partnership with parents and families from the outset, a hugely important aspect of school life.

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Developing classroom practice through self observation

Last term staff filmed themselves teaching, noting the key areas they were happy with and those they wanted to further develop next year.  This approach to observation filled some with dread however discussions with everyone suggest that most teachers got something out of the experience and found it a powerful tool for reflection.

All staff set up cameras in their classrooms and filmed a lesson of their choosing.   They then watched the results in the comfort of their own homes (most with a large glass of wine!) and completed a pro forma which was then used as the starting point for a discussion with their phase leader.   The observations were revealing to staff and the initial thoughts of many were similar  e.g. ‘Do I really sound like that?’ ‘Don’t I say err a lot!’

A common revelation was the ‘over teaching’ staff felt they were doing.   The amount of time spent ‘delivering’ to the whole class in relation to the amount of time the children spent ‘on task’ engaged in their own learning rather than listening to the teacher.   This is an area many have decided to focus on following the observations.

The filming of lessons can be daunting for staff but ultimately the process proved to be very powerful and one worth using again.


Twitter – confirm, reassure, challenge, enlighten

I met with an educational focus group this week and part of our discussion centred around the use of social media as a professional development tool.   The group was split over the importance of such approaches with some advocating strongly the need to engage and others vehemently opposed to its use.   As a keen and  committed tweeter I thought about how I benefit from twitter.   How it has become an indispensable learning tool and constant source of relevant CDP.

Confirm – Instantly ‘check’ you’re on the right lines.   As a primary headteacher I find twitter a great way to very quickly found out how others have dealt with a certain problem, idea or initiative.   What we their experiences?   How did they overcome difficulties?   Twitter helps me confirm I’m going about things in the right way.   It reassures me that I’m not alone in dealing with a new situation.

Twitter also provides challenge and stimulates discussion.   It is a fantastic way to get involved in professional dialogue with equally passionate educators.  Edchat, ukedchat and numerous other forums provide platforms for discussion around topical issues and there are also those individual lines of thought that can be followed up with others anytime, anywhere.   Twitter is an opportunity to test your thoughts and ideas in a critically supportive, encouraging and honest environment.

Importantly, twitter also enlightens me.   There are so many people happy to share new ideas, innovations and practices that they’ve discovered, trialled and used successfully in their own practice that every visit to twitter reveals something to follow up and learn from.

Twitter has become a part of my professional kit bag, it is for me, the educators’ online companion, connecting me to a world of support, challenge and innovation.