In case you forgot – how to behave on Twitter

In case you forgot – how to behave on Twitter

debating

It seems to be increasing: anger on Twitter. So I thought it necessary to remind people that that’s not really how it should be.

Everyone is passionate, and coming across opposing ideology can be difficult. It can lead to those passions boiling over, and sometimes to inappropriate tit for tat. But can I ask those who engage in such arguments whether there is ever a positive outcome to the fray? I’m yet to see anyone inside one of these conversations give any ground, to acknowledge the other side to the point that their mind is changed.

So if the result never changes, why get involved? Well we all know that constructive argument can lead to growth, but considering that very few of these interactions actually penetrate the most important issues in education, I really think it’s time to show a little more humility.

Once things start to get a little heated, be mature and take the conversation into the private setting – we don’t need or want to see it unfold.

voyeur

And if I hear you say that some do, well that’s hardly encouraging – in fact it’s a slippery slope to sadism.

I’m @edmerger

Let’s wake up people – there’s more at stake than we think

I think there needs to be a new shift in where teachers and educators pour their energies. Currently, lots and lots of focus is on teaching methodology, when it actually should be on the massive injustice that happens before any student even enters a classroom.

forest for the trees

Getting passionate about methodologies in improving outcomes for students is certainly an admirable pastime, and any practitioner worth their salt would aspire to delivering quality lessons, but both are futile endeavours when in the background of it all an evil divisive ideology permeates and drives the entire system. It’s as futile as getting worked up over the weather in the middle of a war.

So what’s the war?

 

Well at the end of GCSE, by definition nearly 40% of students are labelled as FAILURES.

Let’s actually take a moment here and think about this, and what it means to our culture at large. Effectively, we can be sure that 40% of the people coming out of their GCSE courses have a shattered personality. They are deemed as failures, and no matter how schools try to dress the results up, the sense of failure is unavoidable, because for years, schools have no choice but to pump into students’ minds the importance of progress and achievement. Imagine what it does to a young person’s mental state to receive the results on the day, having actually put in quite a bit of energy to succeed, and not pass. Some students can sometimes bounce back, with either a rare or remarkable show of resilience, or with enormous energy provided by family or support networks, but boy oh boy, what an incredible feat to do so. For most, they absorb the notification, internalise it, if they haven’t already in their schooling life, and move into the greater culture with it – which is a loss for everybody.

gcse reality

Now here’s why the current norm distribution can never work. The psychological outcomes for students who have the same ability and skill level in a course are at the mercy of the rapacious and inexorable ambitions of those in government. The ostensibly innocuous rhetoric of unending progress is in fact a great big lie, as it is literally impossible to achieve. Those in power know this, and so their actions can be interpreted as nothing short of invidious. Let me just restate that – a student who gets the same result as a student last year cannot move forward in the culture with the same sense of confidence. How can this be good for our society? What dangers are we actually inventing here by providing so many with such little hope? Let alone the pressure it places on those responsible for the success?

So are criteria based assessments the answer?

There are two main arguments against criterion-referenced assessment:

  • Reliability: it’s difficult to keep the standard of tests similar year after year. Well surely an exam board can collaborate with a group of recognised teachers in each field and moderate papers to be comparable year on year, especially when the consequences outlined above are so damaging.
  • It doesn’t promote competition: students ought to know where they sit compared to others taking the same test, right? Again, this isn’t really a necessary focus at GCSE level, as long as the student knows they’ve achieved a certain level of skill the community believes is advantageous. The current competitiveness of wanting to know if you’re better than others is hardly conducive to societal success, as logically, knowing you are or aren’t better only creates an imbalance and reduces a desire for cooperation. Is it so bad that everyone passes exams if they’ve reached a recognised level of skill? If you want to know who’s the best and would be eligible to take advanced courses, then apply norm referenced testing at A-level, not GCSE.

But the lack of focus on this issue and the enormous energies that go into educational debate, including the best way to teach, to the efficacy of technology and PowerPoint’s, to the more concerning immature and disgraceful abusive tendencies of some, is the context that justifies appropriation of Marx’ wisdom. Let’s not be distracted by the opiate. Let’s prioritise! Let’s as a collective (not a fraternity) step back from the noise, and pour our souls into the far more urgent situation at hand: education shouldn’t be a numbers game.

I’m @edmerger

Is your CPD hitting the mark?

Is your CPD hitting the mark?

missed target

Do you know if your staff are getting what you want them to get?

For lots of teachers CPD has been a large thorn in their side. But there are reasons for the barriers: teachers feel like they are shoved into sessions that aren’t suited to them, and perhaps more importantly, they are not guaranteed to be getting quality whether they want to be there or not. It is this last point that I am going to suggest a possible solution to.

CPD Quality Control 

Let’s face it, there aren’t too many schools around who can afford to provide their teachers with out of house/expert deliverers of CPD. Typically, the school reaches out to those identified as being strong in a particular area, and also willing to deliver a session. Of course teachers delivering CPD in-house need to be valued and applauded for their bravery and willingness to add to the betterment of the school; it is a large step for many a teacher to take. However, there is a great risk that despite the good intention, there may be a lack of focus in the alignment of the session to the needs of the school, and consequently, and ironically, the session could end up adding to the negative attitude towards CPD.

In considering how difficult it is to recapture motivation to participate enthusiastically in CPD once a negative experience is endured, I wonder if it would be in a school’s best interest to quality check the delivery before it is delivered on the day.

This could be done by having those in the delivery team watch each other in a pre-CPD day, armed with explicit criteria decided on by the school in terms of moving towards its core foci. This type of collaboration designed to strengthen each session would not only be a massive benefit to those delivering the sessions, by getting quality feedback from other like minded teachers, but also to those receiving the eventual improved session.

Applying technology to the situation can enhance the process even further. Lesson recording platforms such as Iris Connect  provide opportunity for quality CPD sessions to be preserved for later use. Derventio Education’s School iP allows videos to be embedded on each staff member’s tracking and development plan. Both platforms open up the availability of personalised CPD, and opportunities for staff to practice the skills learnt in CPD with more frequent feedback on their progress. To me, that seems like it would significantly improve the outcomes of CPD, and serve to drive a school’s mission statement.

It may sound a little patronising to have to ‘check’ what’s being delivered, but actually, most teachers who have taken on the role of delivering CPD sessions are aware that it is a different kettle of fish compared to teaching students, and have undoubtedly had very little PD on it. Also, if the team I work with, led by the amazing @nickyhawkins, are an indication of the norm, these teachers tend to be open to feedback, and have a strong desire to improve their practice, especially from those around them with whom they identify as being excellent teachers.

Because it is different, and you don’t get that many bites at the cherry, having a few practice runs in front of peers would dramatically improve the quality of the session. It would also dramatically improve the perception of CPD in your school as teachers begin to benefit from the improvement to the quality of every session delivered, and begin to perceive CPD as ‘opportunity’. Might be worth a try?

I’m @edmerger