Five things that scared me

This week has been perhaps the busiest of the year so far, and I’m mostly just delighted to have survived it. My lesson of the week has been to always do what scares you: only when out of our comfort zone will we truly learn and become our best selves.

That being said, I’m a stickler for routine, so leaving my comfort zone is no small feat. This week I have done a personal record of five scary things. Here they are:

1. Reading assembly

In honour of World Book Day on Thursday, I delivered a reading assembly to three different year groups this week. I’ll blog about this separately at a later date; suffice it to say it was scary and wonderful in equal measure.

2. Speaking and listening exams

For the iGCSE English language, speaking and listening still counts as 20%. The exam is recorded and sent off for moderation. Ok, these were definitely more scary for the students than me; but there was definitely the worry that I’d ask the wrong questions and a student would end up with a less than wonderful mark because of me. These went well, and broadly speaking the students were happy as clams.

3. Miss Representation trip

Taking a trip is always scary, as you’re responsible for students out in the big bad world of cars, buses, other humans and slippery floors. On being offered tickets by Boster Group to see the documentary Miss Representation, exploring how women are presented in the media (I blogged about it here), as well as attendance at the panel discussion afterwards with a load of female luminaries, I could hardly pass it up. The students got a lot out of it, and all returned alive, which is the main aim of any trip.

4. Sixth form assembly

I spoke to Year 11 about why they should take English A-level. To close, I used one of my student’s favourite poems, and quipped: “I was just so delighted someone other than me has a favourite poem.” The main awesome outcome of this was the student who angrily informed me afterwards: “Miss, have a favourite poem too you know.” When you think kids can’t get more wonderful, they just do. I’ll blog in more detail on this soon, I promise.

5. Pedagoo

The scariest of all the scary things was being asked to give a workshop at Pedagoo by the marvelous Helene Galdin-O’Shea. I hadn’t presented before so I’m very grateful to have been given the opportunity. Some wonderful people also came to my session, which was fabulous, and they discussed and debated and engaged and were lovely. Some smiled and nodded, which I’ve never realised was so important before, until being up there myself.

I was seriously impressed by the quality of sessions at Pedagoo, a testament to Helene’s gift for getting educators together.

I later visited Rachel Stevens who shared ideas on lesson study, as well as some nuggets for making teaching and learning the hub of any school. Rachel was also funny, friendly and very willing to share her experience and resources. Our talking questions on the advice we would give to teachers made me realise I need to seriously refresh myself: I’ve spent most of this year wrapped up in curriculum and data, but what really matters is pedagogy: teaching and learning forever!

I then attended a session run by Jude Enright and Jo Leaver-Cole on coaching. This was a brilliantly planned session, with the speakers complementing each other wonderfully. They explained how they’d moved to a model of coaching in their school, and some of the challenges they had faced. I loved that they were willing to share both what had worked and what hadn’t. Their teacher improvement plan was supportive, thoughtful and challenging, and left me wishing I worked at their school!

I know I have a very long way to go to be such an accomplished and inspiring speaker as the many who I witnessed yesterday, but I also feel inspired to work harder and do more.

Here’s my presentation from yesterday, and thanks again all who came!

Pedagoo

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