I have a blogging conundrum. Like many others, the edu-blogger-twitter-sphere has had a huge impact on my teaching philosophy and practice. In a bid to join the fun, I started this blog just over a year ago. Recently, I’ve been really struggling to think of things to write about as almost everything on my mind has already been covered by someone else. But then that leaves me with a problem. If I want people to be exposed to the same arguments and ideas that I was, then there needs to be fresh material being published for people new to the game to be able to enjoy. To try and help with this I’ve written a list below of the blog pieces that have influenced me the most over the last few years. I have a longer list of reading materials that you might find useful, but the below are the top ones as influencers. They are in no particular order.
1. Just because they’re busy, doesn’t mean they’re learning anything – Carl Hendrick
This great pieceis so blindingly obvious once you’ve read it as to be embarrassing. It was a huge wake up call for me as a teacher and I try to use it to counter my biases now when I have to go and observe teachers
2. Hornets and butterflies: how to reduce workload – Joe Kirby
This glorious blog from Joe Kirby was the first Michaela blog that I read. It spoke so much truth and addressed many of the frustrations I was feeling as a teacher with regards to my time and how it was being wasted. It left me with a lot of hope in terms of making change and I like to think that I’ve been able to help my colleagues, department and school think differently about workload
3. Why AfL might be wrong – David Didau
David’s piece here was the first that introduced me to the learning vs. performance dichotomy. As teachers it is imperative that we understand not just what learning means, but how we can tell whether or not it has happened. This blog made me radically alter the way I thought about my student’s learning and what sources of information were valid as proxies of their learning
4. Six tips to improve your explicit teaching – Greg Ashman
Greg’s blog is number 1 in my book. He is more prolific than any of the other blogs and his entries are always thoughtful, incisive, eclectic and tremendously well researched. He is also unashamedly ideological and in an era where people are saying that there is no debate, that everyone agrees or that there is not best way, Greg’s blog is a must read. It was probably Greg and David Didau who influenced me the most (Tom Bennett directed me to them) and it’s difficult to put my finger on any single blog by Greg that stands out but the above is a great introduction to explicit teaching
5. Making my own textbooks – Rosalind Walker
Ros and I started blogging at more or less the same time. I like to think we’ve spurred each other on (I don’t know if she thinks the same!) and have helped to influence the science teaching landscape just a little bit. Ros is the first one who took the plunge with really getting her students to work long and hard with the aim of achieving mastery. Her collected efforts can be found at the link. SLOP on!
I had spent much of my youth as a Goldacre-inspired keyboard warrior hubristically pointing out the intellectual crimes of others in their faulty interpretations of science. Imagine my shame when I discovered I had been guilty of all those crimes, just in my own domain of education. Tom’s mythbusting was an important part of that. His writing is certainly unique and you should check out his own blog as well as the stuff he has done for others’.
7. Genericism’s Children – Christine Counsell
Christine’s only blog is an absolute corker. It deftly and eloquently dismantles generic teaching advice and practices. Read it, and please please Christine write more blogs!
8. The top five lies about behaviour – Andrew Old
In many ways, Andrew is the king of the bloggers. His blog has inspired tens of thousands of teachers to change their habits and fight back against educational orthodoxies. This blog is important because it is trademark Andrew: fiercely defensive of frontline teachers, aimed squarely at the establishment and prevailing orthodoxies and characteristically blunt.
9. A no-frills teaching manifesto – Curriculum Team Leader
CTL’s blogs are always great. Totally honest and clear, there is always important advice in there. This blog spoke to me on a really deep level as it came at a time when I was first starting my foray into middle leadership. The “no-frills” approach is lean and cuts out all the crap in a bid to form an effective and efficient department.
10. The tiger teachers and cognitive science – Sue Gerrard
I love Sue’s blogs. I almost always disagree but she is way smarter and more knowledgeable than I am and (at least I think) we have had many fruitful conversations. Life would be boring if we all agreed the whole time. This blog is a reminder to us that we aren’t professional cognitive scientists – we are teachers trying to do the best job that we can. We will make mistakes and misinterpretations (and no one should claim that the Tiger Teachers are not self-aware on this) so this blog is a call to humility.
11. Teaching teachers – a silly idea? – Kris Boulton
This final entry provides a powerful framework for thinking about the different domains in which teachers operate and how best to improve as a practitioner. With frontline teachers taking an ever increasing role in the training of the next generation, such depth of thought should be a necessity.
Anyway there we have it. I hope you enjoy the blogs. They are in no way extensive and there is a lot of fantastic stuff out there. Have a smashing new year!