Friday, 20 May 2016

Year 11 - Go Forth and be Awesome

As the exam season kicks into full swing I wanted to dedicate a blog post to the students who are going though this life changing experience right now.

I teach three year 11 classes this year (yes three!) so I really feel a deep connection with what they are all going though at the moment.  I am privileged enough to work with some really quite exceptional young people this year that I really do believe will be game-changers in whatever they decide to do when they leave us.  They make me so proud. Ok, enough gushing.

One of my Year 11's said today in class "This week is full on man." and you know what... they are right.  This short period in their life really is full on.  Year 11, this one is for you.

Students, here are my top tips to get you through this tough old time....

It is an absolute necessity that you revise regularly and that that revision makes a difference to how you feel about and approach you exams.
  1. Breaks - Give yourself regular breaks when you are revising.
  2. Space - You need to find a quiet space to revise.  If you don't have it at home there are other places - the school or local library is a great option.
  3. Avoid procrastination - Make sure you set your revision area up with everything you need so you don't have any excuse to keep getting up and distracting yourself.
  4. Tough topics - If there is a topic you are dreading coming up in the exam then revise it first.  Deal with the difficult stuff so it does not weigh on your mind and distract you from the other stuff.
  5. Get revision right - If you are using the internet, rather than resources your teacher has provided, then please make sure you are using a reliable website and that you are revising the correct exam board and paper.  Sounds obvious but you would be surprised how often students have revised the wrong topics!
Rest and Recuperation:
It is so important to look after yourself during the exam period.  If you burn out then you are no good for anything and exams will be so much harder for you.
  1. Sleep - Make sure you get enough sleep each night so that you are well rested enough to to be on top form in the day when you are revising or taking your exams.
  2. Diet - You need to eat a balanced and healthy diet during this exam period.  If you do not give your body and brain the right fuel then it will not be able to cope well with the pressure that come with exams.  Cut back on junk and sweets and get a well balanced meal three time a day.
  3. Exercise - Exercise  is vital to keep you brain and body healthy and ready for anything.  Make sure that you keep moving during exam season.  This time involves a lot of sitting in exams halls and revision lessons so walk rather than get the bus or go for a job in the morning or evening a few times a week to boost your energy levels.
  4. Do what makes you happy - If you feel the pressure is all getting to much for you then use some techniques to manage the stress.  Exercise, take a bath, sing, laugh, meditate, dance or listen to music.  Do what makes you happy to relieve the stress.
  1. Friends - Make sure that you spend time with friends that are encouraging and supportive of you doing well.   Let's be honest, not all of them are.  This time is your time and if necessary you need to just have time alone if you have friends who you love dearly but that will hold you back right now.  This time will pass and they will still be there.  Choose wisely.
  2. Family - When tensions are high we often take things out on those closest to us.  Make sure that you are not doing this to your family.  They want you to do well and they are behind you.  Make sure you show your appreciation of their support.
  3. Teachers - Us teachers really do care a great deal about you lot you know.  It came sometimes seem like teachers are always on at you and never let things go.  But deep down you know that we only do this because we care - admit it!  We do a tough old job and we do it because we want to make a difference and help young people like you really be your best.  Make sure you ask if you need help because that is what we are here for. 

  • Fuel - Make sure you are eating well in the morning or lead up to the exams.  If your body and brain are running on empty you are not going to be at your best game in the exam. 
  • Nerves - It is not a bad thing to have some nervous energy.  If you feel nervous then breathe deeply and channel that energy into drive to do well in the exam.  If you are the unfortunate few that really suffer with terrible exam nerves then tell a teacher and see if there is anything the school can do to make you exam period less horrid.
  • PMA - Positive mental attitude.  Go in to your exam with a can-do attitude.  There is nothing more you can do at that stage so go in all guns blazing and do all that you can. You can do no more.  Think positively.

Your Future:

Once you have battled through this short time in your life and achieved good grades due to that hard work... the world is you oyster.  You can be anything and do anything you like.  You can find the thing you love and you can go for it, knowing that you have a good set of qualifications behind you to make it all possible.  How exciting is that?  This is your time.  Go forth and be awesome.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Marking and Feedback - Strategies for Success

Here is my presentation for #TMBloomsbury on Marking and Feedback - Strategies for Success.

The video can also be viewed on my You Tube channel here.  


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Bloomsbury CPD Library - Marking and Feedback #BloomsCPD

This is a guest blog post I wrote for Bloomsbury Education Blog last month.  Read the original piece here.  

Series editor and author of Marking and Feedback, Sarah Findlater, explains how designing a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme can be daunting…but whether you are looking to better your own practice or coach your colleagues, the Bloomsbury CPD Library is here to help!

This series is such a exciting project for me to be involved in. When we were sitting down as a team to plan out what the books would look like and how they would work it was clear to me that this was going to be something quite special.  The books in this series are written by teachers for teachers. Everything in them is designed to be practical and help teachers reflect and to improve their practice.

The teaching and learning titles in the series are split into two sections. Section one takes you through the essentials of the topic and gives you tools to improve and reflect upon your own practice. There is all that you need to secure your knowledge in the teaching and learning area and feel confident that you have fully developed your knowledge and practice. The second section is designed to help you train others. Whether that is your departmental team, a group of teachers across different areas or on a whole school level.  This section provides pick up and use now CPD plans and resources and guidance. There are free electronic resources that you can download and adapt for your CPD sessions. Such a time saver!

The first book to be released in the series is Marking and Feedback.  The train yourself section in this book takes you through assessing your own marking and feedback practices and secures your knowledge on the topic.  I take you through all the different types of marking out there.  Then I explore all the big theories and ideas in terms of marking and feedback and give you practical ways you can apply these in your everyday practice.  I then show you a practical and research based approach to cyclical marking and feedback and how it can be used for impact in the classroom. There are a number of self-reflection tools that allow you to deeply analyse your own practice. After all it is essential to know yourself in order to guide others.

The second section of the book guides you through best approaches to planning and running your own CPD. It also provides you with pick up and use now fully resourced and detailed plans for CPD sessions on marking and feedback. There are full plans and resources covering full day training, extended twilight sessions, action research sessions and a full term’s worth of weekly after school training sessions. All plans have downloadable, editable power points and supporting resources on the website to go with the plans – so you really can just pick it up and use it if you so wish, or you can adapt it for your setting very easily.

CPD is so important and we have too little time in schools to do it well.  This resource really will support you to get more out of your in school CPD provision as it does a lot of the research and ground work for you.

Marking and Feedback by Sarah Findlater and Middle Leadership by Paul K. Ainsworth are now available to purchase on . Use #BloomsCPD @BloomsburyEd