a catchy song or tune that runs continually through someone’s mind.
I’m sure we’re all familiar with the sensation of the ‘earworm’. It’s that one song, or usually fragment of a song that replays through your mind over the course of a day, or perhaps even longer. And, no matter where you go or what you do, the earworm stays with you. You can’t shake it. The melody stubbornly clings to your synapses.
Now think of a blog. That blog which stuck with you. That blog which raised a niggling doubt, or resonated with your own experience. That blog which forced you to reconsider your practice.
Might this be a blogworm?
What follows is a list of my blogworms from 2014, slightly organised but in no hierarchical order. These are the posts which stayed with me this year. Hopefully, anyone reading this will find something of interest, whether it’s completely new, or a post worth revisiting.
- I’d be surprised if many people hadn’t already read this incredible post from John Tomsett. Even as a bog standard classroom teacher, I’m well aware that sometimes I let myself be consumed by work. It shouldn’t be this way. This much I know about… why putting your family first matters.
- The second post on my list is by Nancy Gedge. Although written back in June, I think it’s the power and passion of the writing which has stayed with me. We all need to be a little bit more careful about our assumptions, particularly about students with Learning Difficulties. What Not to Say
- During mock exam week in November, several of my students struggled to cope their anxieties. A couple sat in the exam hall close to tears, another left home to come to school but never arrived. I was feeling utterly helpless. A few days later James Theobald published this hugely helpful post offering ideas about how to work through anxieties. The Magic Roundabout: Why Anxiety shouldn’t stop us learning.
- In October, Kris Boulton shared the text of his Wellington Festival of Education speech. In it, Kris argues that having a codified body of knowledge could help raise the status of teaching as a profession. Not only is the post really interesting, it’s also incredibly persuasive. It’s sobering to think how little I actually needed to know to become a teacher.
- David Didau’s posts on the differences between ‘learning’ and ‘performance’ have influenced me hugely this year. I’ve always performed well in observations. I feel that I’m reasonably good at getting students to behave, work hard, and perform well in classroom activities. But does my performance, or their performance, guarantee learning? Once I realised the distinction, I had to think a lot harder about whether or not my students were learning. The problem with progress Part 1: learning vs performance.
- I’ve read many great posts on differentiation this year, but this one from Andy Tharby really resonated with me. I want to differentiate for my students, but I can’t do this if it means spending an extra half hour, or even 15 minutes planning every lesson. Andy explores how differentiation can be achieved through knowledge of your students and responding to their needs in class. Differentiating the Responsive way.
- Every time I see less than perfect behaviour, I immediately think about Stuart Lock’s post about how he and his team changed behaviour around at their school. I can’t believe the post is almost a year old, as I think about it on a weekly basis. It’s the behaviour, stupid! Turning a tough school into a good school.
English Teaching Posts
- There can’t be an English teacher on Twitter who hasn’t benefited from Chris Curtis’s excellent and practical blogging. My favourite post this year helped me change the way I think about teaching writing. When will … when will .. when will I be subtle?
- Like many others, I’m missing Joe Kirby’s regular contributions to the education debate. The post that I most revisit is about the teaching of Rhetoric. When I first read this, I felt angry about how little I knew. It was as if this whole area of study had completely passed me by throughout my training and first couple of years as a teacher. I’ve worked hard at integrating some of the ideas in this blog into my own practice. Reclaiming Rhetroic
- Now that levels are a thing of the past, schools face difficult decisions about what to use in their place. Although our department hasn’t decided exactly how assessment in English will look at KS3 in the coming years, we’ve had some pretty interesting discussions about what English is, what good readers and writers do, and how we might go about assessing this. Phil Stock’s posts about how his school responded to levels certainly helped my thinking and enriched our discussions. The Elements of Language: what we are using in place of levels.
This is no doubt a very personal list, reflective of what blogs I regularly read and engage with.
If I’m missing anything, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.