How to be a dudette or a dude.

Part of the #29daysof writing on staffrm

Seeing as though it is the 8th (and taking a leaf out of @mrheadcomputing ‘s book) here are 8 ways to be a dude/dudette:

1. Disagree with people politely. Both in real life and online.

2. Live life 90/10. Life is about 10% what happens TO you and 90% about how you react to it. We can argue about the percentages but I feel the general rule holds true.

3. Share. Other people appreciate what you do.

4. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Life is too special and wonderful and short to be serious all the time.

5. Blow your own trumpet… no one else will!  The likelihood is that you have something worthwhile to say. Some people fill twitter and their blogs with so much stuff that it is hard to sort the wheat from the chaff.  Others, and I include myself in this bracket, find it hard to put their thoughts down onto paper (or screen!).  Just because you are not a prolific blogger doesn’t mean your ideas are not as valid as the edu-superstars.

6. Look after your TAs. Buy a bag of giant buttons and put them in a secret place only you and your TA know so that they can be your little secret. They only cost a pound but they are a great way of showing your appreciate them.

7. Follow my classroom rules – be good, try your hardest and listen to others.   They are good rules for my kids and not a bad maxim for being a dude.

8. Don’t believe everything you read in blogs.  Just because someone has typed their ideas down doesn’t mean it is true.  Decide for yourself.

And certainly don’t let a blog post tell you 8 ways to be a dude or dudette when you already know how to do that already!



Everywhere you go…

… you always take the weather with you.

And that includes your classroom.  After spending some time in other schools and visiting other classrooms, I have been amazed at how different classrooms can have a different feel in the same school.  In my own school, I think I know what I am going to experience when I walk into a classroom and having been in my school for a number of years, I think part of that is due to the observer effect.

But visiting other schools has just confirmed how important teachers are in setting the climate of their classroom.  I read something today for my NPQH where a head teacher said that the children in their school probably would have learnt what they have learnt no matter who was in the classroom, but I disagree.  You can have a classroom where the children believe they are geniuses and they will reach the high expectations you set because you give them the wings to fly. Or you can have a classroom where the children are disheartened because the focus is always on the negative.

I have recently found the same as a leader in school.  We, and I include everyone in this, set the climate for our school.  Although we will all have our challenges, what happens in your school that makes you happy?  Focus on this.  Find the things that make you smile and try to do these even more!

I was told by a head teacher that she has a smile line where she always puts a smile on her face when she crosses the line that marks the entrance to her school as she needs to promote a positive, happy atmosphere.  I quite like this idea.  Where is your smile line?   What will the weather be like in your classroom today?


OFSTED… the pinnacle of teaching?

I have been studying the NPQH and have done a lot of work on a unit regarding teaching and learning this week.  What comes through is the use of OFSTED criteria by SLT to judge lessons and more broadly teaching.  I do agree that it is extremely useful to know how you will be judged when OFSTED come in and watch and I do agree that what they write about what is expected in ‘outstanding‘ lessons is good, but if OFSTED did not give schools one of the almighty four grades, would these still be seen as the best way to judge teaching and learning?  Is there anything missing from these criteria?

Outstanding (from the OFSTED School Inspection Handbook)


  • Teachers demonstrate deep knowledge and understanding of the subjects they teach. They use questioning highly effectively and demonstrate understanding of the ways pupils think about subject content. They identify pupils’ common misconceptions and act to ensure they are corrected.
  • Teachers plan lessons very effectively, making maximum use of lesson time and coordinating lesson resources well. They manage pupils’ behaviour highly effectively with clear rules that are consistently enforced.
  • Teachers provide adequate time for practice to embed the pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills securely. They introduce subject content progressively and constantly demand more of pupils. Teachers identify and support any pupil who is falling behind, and enable almost all to catch up.
  • Teachers check pupils’ understanding systematically and effectively in lessons, offering clearly directed and timely support.
  • Teachers provide pupils with incisive feedback, in line with the school’s assessment policy, about what pupils can do to improve their knowledge, understanding and skills. The pupils use this feedback effectively.
  • Teachers set challenging homework, in line with the school’s policy and as appropriate for the age and stage of pupils, that consolidates learning, deepens understanding and prepares pupils very well for work to come.
  • Teachers embed reading, writing and communication and, where appropriate, mathematics exceptionally well across the curriculum, equipping all pupils with the necessary skills to make progress. For younger children in particular, phonics teaching is highly effective in enabling them to tackle unfamiliar words.
  • Teachers are determined that pupils achieve well. They encourage pupils to try hard, recognise their efforts and ensure that pupils take pride in all aspects of their work. Teachers have consistently high expectations of all pupils’ attitudes to learning.
  • Pupils love the challenge of learning and are resilient to failure. They are curious, interested learners who seek out and use new information to develop, consolidate and deepen their knowledge, understanding and skills. They thrive in lessons and also regularly take up opportunities to learn through extra-curricular activities.
  • Pupils are eager to know how to improve their learning. They capitalise on opportunities to use feedback, written or oral, to improve.
  • Parents are provided with clear and timely information on how well their child is progressing and how well their child is doing in relation to the standards expected. Parents are given guidance about how to support their child to improve.
  • Teachers are quick to challenge stereotypes and the use of derogatory language in lessons and around the school. Resources and teaching strategies reflect and value the diversity of pupils’ experiences and provide pupils with a comprehensive understanding of people and communities beyond their immediate experience.

So what would you add to this list that makes freaking amazing teaching and learning?


Look after your colleagues and they will look after you

My school has been dealing with some tough circumstances in which I have found myself the leader of our school.  Headship is always something I have said I am not ready for yet, if ever, but this half-term has seen me leading my school and the excellent team of staff.

My mum always said. “You get more with honey than you do with vinegar” and this saying is bearing true in my current situation.  Just in everyday life in school, I try to go out of my way to be positive and be upbeat and lively.  I have always tried to support colleagues and lend an ear when they have needed it.  I try to make sure that I am available to talk to and, even though I may feign mock annoyance, try to help with technical gliches as quickly as possible.  I try to make my TAs feel loved and special because I know that they are vital.

In a wider sense, I see my role as assistant headteacher as one of a middle man, relaying issues to the SLT and being a voice for staff when changes are being made.  This role has always been tricky as I have a foot in both camps.

I never knew how much an effect my little acts of leadership have had until this half-term.

I know that this isn’t the right time of year for this reference but I feel like George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life.

The support my team have shown over the past half-term has been staggering.  They have taken up any slack that has arisen. They have worked their socks off and they have made me feel honoured to work with them.  All of the enormous things they have done which I know will have had an impact of their lives, like staying for extra-curricular clubs or working extra hours, even down to the smallest of acts, like making me a brew, have all made me feel like I am lucky to work in our school.

I’d like to think that these acts of support are down to all of the little acts of support I have shown over the last 12 years at my school.  Just like George Bailey, this half-term has made me realise how lucky I am.

So, what how do you look after your colleagues in school?  I want to pinch your ideas!



Today I went out to work with some NQTs and when I came back it was my duty. I went out on the playground and my kids who hadn’t seen me all morning exploded with a smile on their face and raced over to me to tell me what they had been doing all morning. 

This is why I love teaching. I had the best fifteen minutes of the school day having a chat with the kids about nothing and teaching them that listening to others and being interested in some one else is a skill to be cherished.

I think I need to do more duties! 



I have been an avid listener to podcasts for many years now and some of my favourite podcasts include @adambuxton, @Scroobiuspipyo, @IAmJericho, @QIpodcast, @pappystweet, @themonkeycage, @WTFpod, @ColtCabana and lots of different podcasts from @Herring1967.  I should also say that for education, I frequent @pivotalpaul and @RckStrPrincipal.

I have recently started to listen to the Comedians Telling Stuff Podcast and I like the format of the show.  She simply speaks to comedians and asks them to talk about memorable stories around six broad areas: first, worst, lessons learned, hecklers, when I knew and love.

I thought that this format could translate well to a series of posts as I often don’t think I have much to blog about but I like to read about other people’s interesting experiences in education.

The themes I have chosen are broad to give as much scope for everyone to share a wide range of stories. The first few themes will be: first, best, worst and change.

I was going to use ‘#first’ to share this, but I thought that would be a difficult hashtag to follow with it being so generic.  So seeing as though I am the co-founder of #PrimaryRocks, it seemed obvious to prefix the hashtag for these posts with PR!

So this is the #PRfirst in a series of posts.  Please feel free to add your own #PRfirst story about anything in your teaching career.


The first day back always fills me with a slight sense of dread.  Memories of the first day of teacher training rush into my brain.  Even more scary is the memory of the first day of my first teaching job.  That realisation that I was responsible for these children and they were waiting for me to teach them. It reminded me of the scene from Indiana Jones where he’s being chased by the boulder.  Nothing was going to stop the momentum of these 9 year olds and it was time to become a teacher.

Looking back now, I can’t help thinking ‘who on earth would have given me a job?!” I knew so little and was hardly ready to teach, let alone do all the other things that come with the job.  I had only had 4 hours of lectures on most of the non-core subjects and now I had to teach them!  But you soon learn.

Probably the most memorable ‘first’ was my first contacts with parents.  One child, whose family were locally known to regularly be in trouble with the police, told me that her mum was going to come round after school with a baseball bat and smash my face in because I had kept her in during lunchtime! Another was the son of the chair of governors who told me I had a cheek to ‘summon’ him into school to discuss his son’s poor behaviour.

Only a very short post to start back, but what are your memorable ‘firsts’ in teaching?

Please use#PRfirst to share.

Thanks for reading and sharing.



EduBlog Awards


I was surprised on Thursday night to see that I had been voted for an EduBlog Award or an ‘Eddie’!

How great! It’s nice to know others appreciate you. I dare say I won’t be chosen next year as there are some fabulous blogs on there but  you can vote for me by clicking here, scrolling down to my box, clicking the thumbs up and registering with your twitter account.  It takes about 1 minute.

Please also vote for my nominations who made the finalist lists:

Best Individual blog: The Primary Head’s Blog – Vote here!

Best Ed Tech Blog: Lee Parkinson – Vote here!

Best use of media: The Literacy Shed – Vote here!

Most influential blog: Michael Tidd – Vote here!

Best twitter chat: #primaryrocks – Vote here!

Best individual tweeter: @urban_teacher – Vote here!

And also the best mobile app: Alan Peat’s Exciting Sentences – Vote here!


Thanks for reading, voting and retweeting.


Well being

After a tweet from @tim_jumpclarke one Saturday evening, I decided to have a think.  He asked some tweeters to RT this:

He explained that it was an initiative by @MartynReah to promote well being amongst teachers.

I thought about what I could (and do) do  for my own well being and here are my suggestions (with added hashtag banners), although everyone will have their own ideas:


  1. Doodle.  It doesn’t matter what you draw, just put pen to paper. Draw shapes and make patterns.  Look through my photos timeline and have a go at something. #learn
  2. Play an instrument. My weapon of choice is the uke! #learn
  3. Close the laptop, turn the phone on silent and spend some time with your family. #connect and #notice
  4. Go for a walk. Go with someone or plug yourself into a good podcast and enjoy the fresh weather at this time of the year. #exercise
  5. Read a book.  It doesn’t have to even be a whole chapter, just pick up a book and read. Books like The General Book Of Ignorance are excellent for this. #learn
  6. Give yourself at least an hour of ‘not work’ time before going to bed. #connect
  7. Watch Fail Army and realise that there are a lot of people far worse off and far more stupid than you! #notice
  8. Listen to some music. With a tipple of your choice. #notice
  9. Have a night off! #connect #learn #notice #exercise #volunteer


Thanks for reading, favouriting and retweeting.


Doodle Your Own Advent Calendar


A long time ago (not in a galaxy far far away though!) advent calendars were not stuffed with chocolate or Lego. There were just flaps with a picture behind which were often recycled year after year.

This got me thinking and, with the success of my doodle-a-day during October, I have decided to do another doodle a day during advent only this time each of the doodles will have a Christmas theme.

You can download the December doodle-a-day by clicking here and for an editable version, click here.

Thanks for commenting, retweeting and favouriting.


#eddies14 – Edublog Awards

Best individual blog

Humourous and insightful look at the world of education

Best teacher blog

A blog that just keeps giving.

Best Ed Tech Blog

Best use of media

Amazing wealthy of videos

Most influential blog post

Easy to use and simple.

Best Hashtag


The primary focused edchat on Mondays 8-9

Best Individual tweeter


A non-stop stream of visual teaching inspiration

Make your nominations here:

Thanks for reading, liking and tweeting!