Supporting Students with Attendance issues.

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Students tend to fall into patterns of poor attendance for a variety of different reasons: genuine ill health, parents who don’t enforce attendance, parents who can’t enforce attendance, fear of school, frustration with not having their needs met .. the list is long. To explore which ones are the biggest factor in your school, make your attendance officer a brew sometime and ask them to tell you about your Persistent Absentees. It won’t be a wasted discussion and will help you get a wider understanding of the specific attendance issues of your cohort.

As a classroom teacher there is an awful lot you can do to support students with attendance issues. Most crucial is that you need to help them retain their dignity. One of the most common bits of feedback we have from PA students or school refusers is the belief they will be shamed, humiliated or “had a go” at when they return. Helping them to retain their dignity and re-adjust to being back will help prevent further absence down the line.

Do!

Don’t!

Welcome them back into your classroom in a warm and genuine manner. Do this privately. Use the phrase “nice of you to join us” or make a big show of them being back.
Respect their privacy. Ask them to explain where they have been in front of the whole class.
Reassure them that you can work together to get the work caught up. Overwhelm them with the amount of work they have to catch up or load it all on them at once.
Create an opportunity for them to be successful in the first lesson back while retaining their dignity. Set students up to fail or disbar them from doing the same activities as the rest of the class. Nothing will make them feel more isolated and less likely to want to return!
When students miss a lesson, stick sheets or key resources in their book under the date and title for the lesson. Fall into the trap of doing all of their catch up for them. They need to accept ownership and responsibility for their learning too.
If a student has missed a significant chunk of learning, be proactive with planning how this will be addressed. Work with their pastoral or achievement leader, form tutor or parents to make a workable plan. Communicate with the student as you go Write off a student who has missed large chunks of the course. It ain’t over til the fat lady sings!
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Religion, Peace & Conflict Knowledge Organisers

RE GCSE, AQA Specification

Please note:

  • These knowledge organisers have been created for a lower attaining group where the highest target is a Grade 4.
  • They have been designed to provide a foundation knowledge only, you will need to enhance and develop them for students aiming for higher grades.
  • They have been created by a non-specialist and are therefore imperfect.

1. RPC Basics KO

2. Reasons for War and Just War theory KO

3. Protest and Terrorism

4. Weapons of Mass Destruction KO

5. Pacifism KO

6. Holy War KO

7. Victims of War KO

Religion, Relationships & Family Knowledge Organisers

GCSE RE, AQA specification.

Please note:

  • These knowledge organisers have been designed for a lower attaining group where the highest targets are Grade 4.
  • They have been designed to create a foundation of knowledge, you will wish to enhance and develop these further to stretch and challenge higher ability learners.
  • They have been created by a non-specialist and are therefore imperfect.

2. Human Sexual Relationships

3. Sex Outside of Marriage

4. Contraception

5. Marriage

6. Divorce and Remarriage

7. The nature and purpose of a family

8. Gender Equality

Religion & Life Knowledge Organisers

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I designed these for my groups when I took them over to cover for a long term absence.

GCSE RE, AQA Specification.

Please note:

  • These knowledge organisers have been designed for a lower attaining group where the highest targets are Grade 4.
  • They provide only a foundation knowledge for this section of the thematic paper and are not exhaustive. You would want to enhance and develop these for students aiming for Grade 5 and higher.
  • They have been created by an RE non-specialist and are imperfect. To err is human, after all.

2. Origins of the Universe

2b Origins of human life

3. pollution Knowledge Organiser

4. Use and Abuse of Animals

5. Abortion Knowledge Organiser

6. Euthanasia Knowledge Organiser

7. Afterlife Knowledge Organiser

Mrs T’s Revision Strategy

IMG_0078About 4 years ago I designed this simple system to help my Form Group understand how to approach revising more effectively. Please find below a link to the simple one page explanation of how it works.

2. Gather Filter Learn Test

I usually tweak the list of suggested revision activities based on either the subject matter or the nature of the group I am teaching. The last two years I have taught this method throughout the year so students are drip fed the strategy. I’ve also delivered this as whole year group training through PSHCE. It’s worked well in both instances.

I hope you find this useful, don’t forget that YMMV!

Practical Productivity

“Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally but from what you do consistently.”

I’m a big fan of productivity. Simplistic as it sounds I believe that the vast majority of what makes some people more successful is based in productivity, not talent.

The issue of workload has been front and centre within education for as long as I have been in teaching. From what my mother tells me it was the same 40 years ago. As much as I would love it to, I don’t see anything radical happening to the issue of teacher workload for the foreseeable future. The DFE can publish all of the motivational and well meaning videos as it likes, not enough has been done to create an environment where this is possible. Even if the DFE and Ofsted waved a magic wand this evening, I’d still have a stack of tasks to get done before Monday morning.

Productivity therefore is an important professional skill for us to develop yet I don’t remember it getting so much as 5 minutes coverage in any stage of my training. Like most of what I actually need to operate as an education professional, productivity has been something I’ve learned by trial and error. Mostly by error, it has to be said!

Do any of these classic productivity grenades sound familiar?

  • “I’ll just get this sorted out and tidy before I start …”
  • “Oooh .. Netflix notification”
  • “I’ll just check on Twitter ..”
  • “This power point just needs a little extra something …”
  • “I’ll just go and find Dave and see what he thinks about ….”

When we are tired and de-motivated it is very difficult to be highly productive. In a world of the never ending to do list this further saps our energy and we get further behind, we work to clear the backlog and get fatigued, give ourselves a rest and then discover we are snowed under again. Rinse, repeat.

Fundamental to any habits of productivity is the assumption the tasks you are doing are worth spending the time on. Tasks which fill time but have no impact are “busy work”. Do not create busy work for yourself. If you are being given busy work, have a constructive and professional conversation with your line manager. Be prepared to be told it still has to be done – we work in an imperfect system remember!

Here are some of my top tips for anyone to be more productive:

  1. Being rested, fuelled and hydrated will do more for your productivity than anything else.
  2. Accept that sometimes you need to work with dedicated focus on one task (see Power Hour) and at others you will need to be able to multitask. Multitasking is not as efficient as single tasking so avoid it for anything other than mini-league tasks.
  3. Establish clear routines for your working day. Actions which become habit also become swifter and more efficient. You’ll know when you are most/least productive and how you work best. Be honest and be sensible when setting up your routine.
  4. Set a finish time for the day and have a wind down activity to complete before that deadline. This also helps with decompression. Be strict about the cut off point and leave tasks unfinished if needs be. 
  5. Keep a list, check it twice. Make sure your list designates tasks (single sitting, <20 minutes) or sessions (single sitting, up to an hour) or projects (multiple sittings or multiple hours). Allocate the appropriate time to the job on the list.
  6. Before you leave your work space for the day ensure that it is cleared and ready for you in the morning. This is especially important if you are based in a classroom. De-cluttered and organised work spaces are essential. 
  7. Be very clear on which tasks are essential and urgent, which can be delayed and which are simply busy work. Teachers are especially good at finding busy work to fill our hours. Tidying up when you should be working is a classic example .
  8. Schedule a “Power Hour” once a week. This is time to get a big job done, undisturbed, in one sitting. While dedicating a single task such a large chunk of time may seem inefficient , it’s a much better use of time than returning again and again to the same task.

 

We left it all out on the field.

… and no, this is not a review of Sports Day!

So how was your year? Tough? I’m pretty confident that our year was tougher. It’s the eve of the end of 2016-17 for us and I pray I never have a year like this again.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t teach in the only Special Measures school in the world, I know there are hundreds of colleagues across the country who experienced that same exquisite scrutiny this year. I know we’re not the only ones who went through a long and drawn out re-brokerage to a new sponsor. I know we’re not the only one who got through not one, not two but three Ofsted visits. Not the only ones who’ve gotten through three Principals and six Senior Leaders. I’m fairly confident there aren’t many schools who’ve gone through all of that and so, so much more. We’ve had incredible support from some unexpected places. We’ve been spectacularly let down by others. Colleagues have united in shows of strength and support, they’ve also struggled and broken under the strain at times. At the end of a 13 month academic year (don’t ask, it doesn’t even come close to the daftest thing going on here) we had staff today singing and dancing with the kids at Sports Day. Personally, I’ve never worked harder – and I thought I was pretty hard working before!

I’ve spent some time this evening following a thread about the measure by which a leader can be judged as “good”, note the lower case “g” we aren’t talking Ofsted here. In my opinion it misses the mark. I know that when it all comes down to it we are each judged on outcomes. What I also know is that education is filled with incredibly inspiring leaders who are doing great and brave things in their schools and still not getting results which would deem them “good”. There isn’t a convenient statistic to measure the impact of a Headteacher who acts with passion and (importantly) compassion as they drive forward change. There is no metric for trust in leaders. There is no objective, quanitifiable scale for how united and committed to the common cause a team can become under a great leader. I don’t care what results you can publish under your name, leadership is so much more than the score on the door.

Leave the leaders out of this for a second – what about teachers? What about non-teaching colleagues? This year I have worked with some phenomenal staff, or am I not allowed to say that until I have seen their exam outcomes? Can I not acknowledge the work of colleagues outside the classroom if their work doesn’t get ratified by a terminal exam? So the staff who worked tirelessly to win over families, to support and counsel students back into the classroom won’t be “good” unless those students score above the P8 threshold? Nonsense.

I’ve spent the last year trying to upick the damage done by a regime which prized academic results above all else. I’m thankful that before this year  I was mentored by a great leader who believed that results come second to the needs of the whole child. I’m proud of the incredible team I’ve served with this year – I’ve got colleagues who would wipe the floor with their counterparts in an Outstanding school.  I don’t need results day to tell me what our problems are, we know them well. I won’t ever need a results day to tell me what our strengths are either.

Don’t get me wrong, we are far from perfect. So much has to change it would be easier to write a list of what should stay the same. Right now my standard for greatness is knowing we couldn’t possibly have done more. Next year we’ll do better but for this year I’m proud of my school and proud of the job we did. Was it good enough? Not even close but we left everything out on the field.