Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Lessons learnt from 2014/2015 academic year.

Reflection on lessons learnt in 2013/2014

The first lesson I learnt from my first year in teaching was that there is a lot of work to cover. Effective medium term plans allow you as a teacher to have a good idea of what needs to be covered and by when. If learners understand a concept move on if they struggle think of new ways to cover it but efficient teaching is critical.

The second lesson I learnt in 2013/2014 was that Christmas is chaos ultimately a hectic Christmas period is unavoidable but the most effective way I dealt with this last year was by giving learners a clear focus through a project creating their own Christmas Market it made use of the enthusiasm that learners have for Christmas related activities developing global learning and numeracy at the same time.

The third lesson was the effort required to complete assignments for the Masters in Educational Practice. Again the workload on this is always going to be high so embrace it and try to make your assignments both interesting to yourself your school to give it real value. Every assignment I have completed this academic year has achieved a distinction pass and it is because I enjoy what I am studying.

The forth lesson was to join a union and this is clearly increasingly important to ensure you are supported in the classroom should anything go wrong. The experiences and opportunities I have had since joining ATL have been second to none and helped me develop a strong network of education professionals I can call on for advice. 

The final lesson of 2013/2014 was that the summer term is not a breeze with report writing and transition taking up a lot of time alongside the potential for increased behaviour issues as learners get tired and also seize upon the frayed nerves of teaching staff to get emotive reactions. The key to this again is to accept in plan effectively and really focus on strong behaviour management systems and supporting staff.

Midpoint evaluation 2014/2015

Last Christmas I had picked up three further lessons from teaching and these were communicate, routine and collaborate.

Communication is critical in all work places and between all the individuals involved in that workplace and getting it right is a difficult process. Social media has increasingly played a part in more effective home school communication however it needs careful management.

Routine is again an important factor alongside a role that is always changing and always has different challenges. Having regular staff meetings in to communication and setting yourself regular hours 8am – 6pm for me helps with the work/life balance.

Collaboration can be really effective and this can be as simple as attending CPD events and socialising. ATL has been very effective in allowing me to achieve high quality CPD through collaboration and #primaryrocks is also a pain free way of connecting with other schools. I have increasingly focussed upon global learning in the classroom and am part of GLPWales as well as engaging in a number of Etwinning projects. Practical collaboration (sharing resources) though is perhaps one lesson to look at for the year ahead.

2014/2015 Lessons Learnt

Lesson 1 - Collaborate

As identified at Christmas and previously in this post effective collaboration is an important way in which learning opportunities can be maximised. In a small school with a limited budget it is always difficult to provide high quality resources however through collaboration with other schools resources can be shared and expertise brought in from different areas. This year I discovered a sports based cluster that provides exciting competitions in a number of different sports and that has helped me to provide increased opportunities for the learners in my class.
Lesson 2 – Simplify Planning

Planning can be an area of debate and I understand that there will be individual differences in opinion into how best to plan and how effective and important it is. Personally I have discovered this year that the most effective way of planning is to have A4 landscape planning sheets for year, half term and week I am also flirting with the idea of creating and using a daily one. This is manageable and if it’s manageable it is effective. Evaluating your weekly lesson plan is also an important part of developing as a teacher simply writing down what went well and what to improve is important in learning from experience.

Lesson 3 – Manage Behaviour

Towards the summer term there was an unexpected increase in poor behaviour being displayed by the learners in the class and this identified some weaknesses in my behaviour management toolkit. It is important that there are both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards for displaying correct behaviour however the most important area of behaviour management is developing positive working relationships with the learners and being able to explain why it is in their best interests to behave in a positive way.

Lesson 4 – Give 100% to applications or don’t bother.

My personal career plan was based on leaving my current school after two years and moving to a larger more diverse school in North Wales to hone my teaching skills and complete my masters before moving to London to experience what I see as the cutting edge of education in the UK. However next year’s year 6 are a group I feel will need a lot of support perhaps the least able class we have had in the school for a while and I am keen to see them through transition into secondary. With this mind-set I applied for jobs but did not put enough effort in to my applications and therefore any effort I did put in was wasted. Competition for teaching places is tough and giving schools the opportunity to notice you is difficult it requires much more effort than I put in and I feel the lesson learnt is that is more important to produce a few strong applications rather than lots of weak ones.

Lesson 5 – Enjoy the circus.

Working in education throws unexpected problems into your path almost every day and the key is to not let this phase you. Quick thinking and patience are important in adapting to an ever changing environments and group dynamics. It is always worth considering whether an unexpected event can provide an exciting learning opportunity for the class and having a good Plan B in case Plan A goes awry is a necessity.

Goals for 2015/2016

My goals for 2014/2015 were to set up an eTwinning opportunity with at least one other school, run an adventure club and introduce new ICT opportunities for learners and all of those goals were met by December. I then revaluated and hoped to continue the eTwinning project by putting together a video made by the learners about our school and putting it on to our school website. Increase the amount of collaborative feedback and give learners an opportunity to suggest how they would like to learn and hoped that the work covered in Year 2 of my Masters in Educational Practice would lead to exciting learning opportunities for the learners I teach all of these goals were achieved. 

Therefore the goals I am setting for 2015/2016 are as follows,

1)  Make better use of the cluster networks through sharing resources.
2)  Host a CPD event (on use of twitter and sharing best practice if allowed by SLT).
3)  Utilise the teaching assistants within the school more effectively (small group work and different interventions including utilising the school garden).
4)  Focus on spelling.

5)  Run more lunchtime clubs that have a clear focus (e.g. news group and competition prep).

Saturday, 11 July 2015

5 key components of effective behaviour management

Behaviour in my current school had been fantastic for 18 months but as we close towards the end of this academic year a few members of the class have started testing the boundaries and pushing staff into the limits of their capability. This post deals through reflection on my current practice with what I feel are the five key components of effective behaviour management.


Every aspect of education is linked to communication and behaviour management is no different. Communication between staff, parents and pupils is the lynchpin of a good behaviour management system.

In terms of communication with staff it is vital to spend time discussing and agreeing a behaviour management system that all staff understand. It is also important that staff are able to communicate in practical situations within the classroom use the behaviour management system as agreed and evaluating together its effectiveness.

Communication with parents can be difficult as parents can refuse to listen to what staff say however it is equally true that staff can be guilty of sending more information than they receive. It is therefore important that when discussing the behaviour of a child all sides are comfortable in the discussion and it is clear throughout that the behvaviour management system is there to aid and not restrict or indeed punish the learner.

Although a behaviour management system may be created to cater for one child and indeed it may be important to have personalised behaviour management systems to take account of individual differences between children the system or systems will effect every learner in the class and also depending upon size impact upon the whole school. A rewards based system can seem unfair to learners who consistently try their best in class and do not achieve as many rewards.


Patience is a key factor as poor behaviour can be very upsetting to staff especially as is the case in my current workplace they are not used to it. An element of patience is the ability to not get emotionally involved and this may mean allowing learners to have the last word or giving the learner longer to respond to a request. It is better to spread out warnings and give the learner the opportunity to process the information they are receiving.


Unfortunately even with good communication and high levels of patience learners can refuse to follow correct behaviour protocols and it is our role as educators to deliver an education. In order to encourage learners to commit to the behaviour that will ensure a positive climate for learning it can be necessary to offer rewards. 

As mentioned earlier the administration of these needs to be well considered. It is important to use rewards as part of praising good behaviour and also important that other learners are not distracted or confused by why a learner who normally displays poor behaviour gets better rewards. In the past few weeks a learner in my class has been rewarded regularly for good behaviour by being given time on the computer (learner selection of reward is critical) a reward that is not available for the rest of the class. The fact that this learner missed the school trip will probably not be evident to other learners and it is therefore important that the extra rewards the learner receives are not evident either.


Good communication, patience and a well thought out reward system can help develop the relationship between staff and learners and this is an important next step in the development in the learner of more positive behaviour. If a learner has a good relationship with a member of staff they will be less likely to display behaviour that inconveniences them and more likely to display behaviour that will gain the approval of staff members. This ideal though of course goes back to patience it may take years to achieve this and it may not ever happen but it is our duty as educators to put strategies in place to attempt to achieve this.


Clear communication, high levels of patience, effective rewards and a strong working relationship will lead to a level of mutual understanding. This echoes the point made about relationship but understanding is also important within school and returns to the area of communication. Staff, parents and even outside agencies need to accept that behaviour management strategies take time to implement and that it is through working together and effective evaluation that the behaviour of individuals can be changed for the better.

The Past Week.

Star – The levels of engagement shown by two recently disengaged boys in Year 6 when designing and making a new sport.

Wish – To have communicated better with staff a new behaviour management strategy that I implemented midweek.

The past week has primarily involved learners designing and promoting a new sport in small groups. Overall this has been achieved very successfully and learners showed a good level of engagement throughout the week. We also had a trip to Llangollen which went very well and was a good reminder of how well behaved our learners can be.

The Week Ahead.

The last week of the 2014/2015 academic year and a chance to wish year 6 well as they move on towards the secondary education. This year will be a more difficult goodbye than last year as I have had two years to get to know these children and developed some really strong working relationships. A summer party is being planned to give the week a celebratory feel.