Covert Learning, Coming Up for Air and Warren Zevon



Above is me banging on about teaching, learning and children at the excellent Teach Meet at Clevedon (#teachmeetclevedon) back in June. I had a ball and got to meet a lot of Twitter heroes of mine (@thelazyteacher, @huntingenglish, @headteacherguru, @ictevangalist, @betsysalt and @kevbartle) albeit briefly. You can see my presentation here:

It was a real high point of what has been an exciting year and my thanks go to the organisers and those who attended. Teach Meets are ace aren’t they?

This is now me banging on about the year just gone……….

So, this is the end of my fourth year outside the inside of a school. That’s not to say I haven’t been teaching mind! This year I have taught

  • Y2
  • Y4
  • Y5
  • Y6
  • Y7
  • Y9
  • Y10
  • Y11     in mainstream.

I have also had the privilege of working with a number of special schools supporting those children who find school hard, curriculum tough to access and those whose needs can’t be met in mainstream. Whilst working with these children, I’ve also met some fantastic teachers, HLTAs and support teachers, tirelessly providing opportunities for their young people to achieve the best they can, with out fear of tables, levels, bands or whatever childhood- measurement tool is currently being applied. As a mainstream secondary teacher for many years, I feel humbled by the work I see in special setting and realise what true differentiation is. I’m not sure I really had a handle on it back in the day. There’s a lot we, as mainstream teachers, can learn from schools in special settings. i encourage you to seek out those schools who are innovating at the edges. A deputy head at a school I recently worked in said to his NQTs, ‘There’s no need to go to the Community Special School as there’s nothing there about learning’. Oh dear. I don’t want the NQTs to believe him, so I take them there anyway.

Anyway, other high points of the year:

1. OOPS! Helping Children Learn Accidentally winning a national book award and being nominated elsewhere whilst receiving some great feedback via Twitter (thank you)

2. Seeing the work and interest in Mantle of the Expert grow as colleagues recognise its value in enabling genuine pupil voice and children’s negotiation of facts, knowledge, skills and understanding. A great video here courtesy of the excellent Woodrow First School with children talking about their work (@lizzieH_18 and @rkieran are well worth a follow if you are interested in their work and the work of their colleagues): I love working with this school.

3. Keeping close to the great work around curriculum being done in great schools. I’ve worked in a few schools this year where the National Curriculum is being delivered in all sorts of ways to the point where it’s almost unrecognisible! This takes courage and I’m seeing a lot of that as I’m out and about. Thing is, courage comes from the top – it’s modeled and demonstrated by leadership. This year, it’s been great to work with leaders (and aspirant leaders) across the country. Thank you.

4. Looking back to when I first went freelance (after 16 years in the classroom), I’ve had the best professional development possible in the work I’ve done with children and teachers across the settings. My wing mirrors remain firmly attached as I steam ahead.

wing mirror

5. My network continues to build. It’s such an important feature of what we do. I’ve found Twitter useful, but the Teach Meets (often powered by Twitter), the schools with whom I have an ongoing relationship (as it were) and individuals who are covertly innovating their practice and sharing it so gracefully. What’s your network like and what are you learning from them?

6. I’ve managed to link the teaching of spreadsheets with the concept of hope

7. With my colleague @janeh271, I’ve written and supported the delivery of some quality work around SMSC (so that it’s not just an add-on!)

8. I installed CCTV in a castle with Y4

9. I created contractor contracts with Y10 prior to them scaling the Empire State Building – essentially creating some ‘authentic fakes’

10. I discovered the genius of Warren Zevon – storyteller and songwriter:

i hope you are all enjoying your summer and are having the opportunity to come up for air.



Abandoned mill Italy