The List of Further Education Bloggers (Version 2.0)

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Nurture 2014/15

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It is that time of year where lots of tired teachers are all ready for a break (I know I most certainly am!). We can all finally wake up in the morning without the shrill sound of the alarm clock. Some of us (including myself) will start to reflect on this year as it nears the end and what we hope the new year will bring. As I sat sipping my tea this morning enjoying the fact I did not have to rally the children to get to school on time, make pack lunches and dash to college to teach, I leisurely caught up on blog posts. One of the first I read was @ChocoTzar ‘s  #nurture14/15 campaign. I joined in with this last year for #nurture13/14 and therefore I wanted to make a contribution again. So here are my five positives from this year and my five wishes for next year. 2014 – Five Positives

  1. I am still enjoying teaching despite the ever increasing workload and demands. Although I have to say there have been moments where I have considered a change of career.
  2. In September I had the privilege of contributing to #ukfechat ‘s guide book (see here for the link to download).
  3. November came and with it the launch of a charity diary that was inspired by a blog from @ChocoTzars and got @cazzwebbo rallying teachers to join in. I was one of the many teachers who posed for the camera to go into a diary. This was to help raise money for the Family Holiday Association (see here). It’s not often I don a pair of fairy wings
  4. fairy meThis year I ventured to a few education conferences and events. The main two were Northern Rocks and Research ED, both of which have had a huge impact on my teaching. All have been fabulous experiences and I have been bitten by the ‘edu conference’ bug. In addition to this I have attended some less formal teaching events in pubs! I have met some really great teachers and strongly advise you to try it for yourself.
  5. On the 20th December my little sister got married, it was a wonderful day and a clear reminder to not let teaching consume me. Family and friends are what keep you sane.

2015 – Five Wishes

  1. Earlier in December I wrote a post on what I would do for my #teacher5aday. This was another twitter campaign focussing on teacher wellbeing started by @MartynReah I will endeavour to keep to it as best I can. We all need ‘me’ time.
  2. I am taking a lead role in my department to help create online resources to meet FELTAG requirements in FE (see here and here for more information). My hope is that we develop meaningful resources that will support learning as opposed to ticking boxes to get funding.
  3. On twitter I am actively involved in #ukfechat (see here for more information) and look forward to continuing with this. We have had several meet ups, all organised by the marvellous @MrsSarahSimons. 2015 is going to see us making some real progress in the world of FE. Watch this space!
  4. My daughter will start secondary school in September. I hope she gets into the school both she and I want, and that it is as smooth a transition as possible. It is such a huge step for any eleven year old.
  5. Finally I wish to continue to engage with twitter, blogging and educational events. I have already booked to go to Research Leads, Cambridge and Northern Rocks 2015.

Thank you for reading and I hope you can find the time to do your own #nurture14/15. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and fantastic New Year!

Please Help With The UK Education Bloggers Spreadsheet Version 4.0

This very useful post by @TheEchoChamber2 has a large list of educational bloggers with their subject/ sector area. Please take a look.

The Echo Chamber

The latest version of the spreadsheet of bloggers can now be found here.

Because of all the new blogs that have been found, there is an even greater need for work on filling in the spreadsheet. So can you please, please try to do as many of the following as possible:

  1. If you are a blogger, make sure your own details are on the spreadsheet and are up to date. (Once you have done so, put the date in the final column).
  2. Share this post (i.e. the one you are currently reading) on social media, particularly by reblogging and tweeting.
  3. Find some time to go onto the spreadsheet and look up some blogs where there are spaces and see if you can find the information needed to fill in the gaps.
  4. Let me know about any problems or difficulties. Reading the notes below may solve some of the most…

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My #teacher5aday

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In response to @MartynReah ‘s blog post #teacher5aday I have made some decisions on what changes in my life I can do to improve my own wellbeing. At first I wasn’t sure where to begin. Then I noticed a tweet between @MartynReah and @ChrisChivers2 about art, unbeknown to them in was catalyst for me. Memories came flooding back on all the things I used to do. These were the things I had put to one side due to the demands of teaching. Some of the things I used to like doing were writing poems and short stories, drawing, painting, playing my guitar, gardening and baking. I know it sounds a bit twee but that’s what I enjoyed, it helped me relax. I also remembered I’d promised myself I would learn to play the piano and the drums!

Obviously I realised I couldn’t do everything so I decided I was going to pick up my guitar, do more baking and dig out my paints. Then I looked at my children and thought again. They are what keep me going and deserve more of my time, but where could I give them this? That is when I decided I’d make more of an effort at bedtime for starters. I read to them before bed, my 8 year old son still loves it but my 10 year old daughter is hit and miss. It really depends on whether she hates me and wishes she lived with another family or she’s at the “you don’t understand me” stage. So instead of my quick story and chat before I rush off to mark or plan I have started (five days ago to be precise) to read to both of them in a more timely manner. You know what it feels good and my daughter seems a little less grumpy!

Sometimes you really do need to sit back and take a long hard look. So for now my children will be on top of my #teacher5aday. The other things will happen and I’ll keep a little blog update to ensure it does. Please try to have a go yourself, even if it’s just one small thing. #wellbeingsuperhero

 

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They don’t stay babies forever x

#teacher5aday

I think this a brilliant idea from @MartynReah ! I am definitely going to do this and I’m starting now. #teacher5aday #wellbeingsuperhero

20 years a teacher

On Thursday night I presented at the Specialist School and Academies Trust (#SSATNC14) Teachmeet. The theme of my 5 minute presentation was on the issue of staff well-being. This was a mini version of the presentation Mark Healy (@cijane02) was due to present at David Fawcett (@davidfawcett27) and Jen Lud’s (@MissJLud) TLT14, which myself and Tania Harding (@taniaf77) delivered on his behalf.

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It is a theme which I have returned to this half term (at our TLT14 tea party last week) which links to my theory that a happy staff equals happy students. Simple but who knows!

I often wonder if the job of leadership is to look after the staff. The teachers you have in the building. The ones who look after your students. It appears as though the recruitment crisis will (is starting) start to bite sooner rather than later. If we continue…

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FE and Thinking Out Loud on technology

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On Monday the 1st December I toddled off to London. It was a bit of a train disaster the first part, images of John Cleese in the film Clockwise popped into my head. I was nearly late for my first train but just made it only to be told some idiot had stolen train cable in the Manchester area. This made my first train ten minutes late leading me to entering Preston train station watching my next train pass me by. If only someone had nicked the cable round Lancaster too I would have caught it. Anyway I finally arrived in London later than planned. I crept in at the back thinking I had pulled it off and no one would notice my twenty-minute late arrival. Then I realised as it was a tech event there were people photographing and videoing everything!

So what was I doing there? I had been invited thanks to being an active participant with @theukfechat on twitter. I was quite pleased to be going to this Think Out Loud Club (founded by City and Guilds). I am very interested in why FE needs to improve their use of technology and how it should respond to FELTAG (see earlier post regarding FELTAG here) I wanted to learn more. I will tell you now I am not a big tech expert, give me a whiteboard marker and the opportunity to talk till the cows come home and I am happy. Interestingly so are most of my students or at least they pretend to be. Anyway I wanted to learn more and see if there could be a way to balance technology with teaching and learning.

First up was @Jonathan_Worth talking about the use of photography and the messages that they send via the media. There was an activity following his talk which involved us finding a photo and giving it a headline then tweeting it. It was a useful exercise and I can see how it could engage debate within the classroom or online.

Next was @YFouda who gave us some really interesting information on YouTube and Google Glass. I know some colleges are trialing Google Glass and others use YouTube for flipped learning, forms of assessment and much more. It sounded very good but the one question that kept popping into my head was will it make a big difference whether we use it or not? We did another task and this time we had to create a video in our groups basically sale pitching a phone.

This I liked as it was quick and we did ours ‘tongue in cheek’. However there was a purpose to this task, it was to show us how simple it was to do. I can see how it could be a useful resource for online learning.

Finally was @MarkRiches on badges. I have heard this batting around on twitter but didn’t really understand their purpose or if I am honest what they even were. I am a bit more enlightened but I still need convincing on this more.

Near the end of it I finally got to catch up with @bobharrisonnet and discussed some of the issues with improving the use of technology to support online learning. A lot of it is based round not understanding it fully. Every college is trying to meet these requirements but we are all working at different levels. I am hoping my college will get it right, we are already off to a good start by forming focus groups in each department. These groups will explore ways to develop online learning resources. I have managed to get myself involved in one of these development groups. As I understand it we will be looking at creating online resources, ensuring everyone knows how to use them and that it has purpose to it. I will be blogging more on this once it is fully up and running.

So to sum up I had a great day, learnt stuff and made some good contacts. However I still need to work out how effective all this technology is for enhancing learning. As ever if anyone has any thoughts, advice or links on (for or against) technology for learning I am all ears!