What lies beneath? The truth behind teaching

After reading a blog http://betsysalt.wordpress.com/

I was really challenged about what I am blogging about.

I really love teaching and want to share what works for me. I feel that as teachers we waste considerable time writing the same generic type policies, schemes and lessons.

Now I know one size does not fit all but I do think sharing good practice is important.

@betsysalt asked some hard hitting questions so here is my attempt to answer one of them…

My background in teaching is rooted in the inner city. The colleagues I worked with were hard working and dedicated individuals who couldn’t do enough for the kids. From them I learned many lessons about teaching. From our old vice principal, I understood what it was to be a great child centred leader.

When you teach in the inner city you encounter a host of issues that are totally foreign elsewhere. Poverty is one of the issues that I think is one we don’t talk about enough.

Children attending school regularly came without breakfast, no break and the dinner ladies feed them the biggest portions of free school dinners every day.

In her post @betsysalt asks us to think how barriers to learning are removed.

The school opened a free breakfast club but the children who needed it most didn’t go as most slept in.

As healthy eating was all the rage we started a fruit scheme banned the junk at break time. At the start it was free but as time ticked on a small cost was involved.

All the children were encouraged to drink water.

Now some children did avail of these fantastic initiatives however some of children did not.

Some weren’t sent with money to buy fruit and some continued to eat nothing.

The result was poor concentration and children who were always tired.

How did I try to remove this barrier?

I bought the fruit for them from the school scheme and encouraged them to drink as much water in class as they could.

Did it work? Yes it made them concentrate better in school
Did it produce better outcomes – sometimes it did.

But…More often than not there were other factors that I could not influence that where greater barriers to their learning.

I think her blog post raises a point about teacher blogging but the reality is no matter how great a teacher you are can’t affect some of the issues these children go home to.

The main thing you can do is be there be the person who cares, is approachable and be a great role model for learning.

Assessment for Learning – Steps to success part 1

Assessment for learning is probably one of my biggest passions in teaching.

Giving the children ownership of what they are doing and why they are doing it is of upmost importance in helping them reach their full potential.

Some time ago I worked with the BBC to show teachers how I use assessment for learning strategies in my classroom.

See bbc4teachers

I still use these methods in school as well as a few others that I’ve developed. Although I do cringe when I see this, staff that I have worked with find it a useful starting point. It shows them the practicalities of doing it and gives them a few ideas of how to embed it in their practice.