Radio EDUtalk session: talking podcasting, badges, and tools for productivity with John Johnston

The recording of my interview from Wednesday night.


5 ways my teaching will change because of today’s GCSE results.

Despite having now completed my fourth year as a teacher, today’s GCSE results were my first batch. Unfortunately, they weren’t great. In fact, they were rather embarrassing. 😮

I could list many reasons why my two Year 11 History classes didn’t do as well as they were predicted – or as well in History as they did in other subjects. But I’m not a whinger. Instead, here’s the ways I’m going to prevent the same thing happening again:

1. Spend some time ‘off the bandwagon’ before implementation

I was guilty of using my GCSE class as guinea pigs; we tried a whole host of Web 2.0-related stuff. I should have focused on stuff I knew inside-out instead of being intent on being an early adopter. There needs to be a sound pedagogical reason for using a tool, rather than just finding it ‘cool’.

In every other sphere of my life I try not to be an early adopter. For example, I usually wait for the second revision of products, for others to work out the quirks and foibles. Perhaps I need to do that more when teaching, too.

2. Treat students as teenagers, not adults

I tend to have a fairly laid-back approach in the classroom. I’m interested in stories and tend to go off at tangents. I assume that students have an interest in doing well and so perhaps I wasn’t strict enough with those who didn’t hand in practice exam questions during the revision period. I’m fairly certain it was those students who just missed out on C grades…

3. Get parents more involved

In my first, less successful school, I phoned home often – and not just to ask parents to discipline their children. I’d phone home and let parents know how fantastically their child was doing in my lesson. Cue extra effort in my lessons. I haven’t done that nearly as much at my current school.

Parents obviously have a massive influence on the life of young people and help shape their values and beliefs. I need to call on the power they hold a lot more often than I do now.

4. Be more positive

I smile a lot. In fact, people comment on it. But there’s more to being positive than just appearing happy. I know that I’m overly sarcastic and can take the mick a bit too much. I just find it hard to big people up in a non-sarcastic way. Too much Monty Python and Eddie Izzard, perhaps.

I’m going to make a conscious effort to, as John Johnston commented on a previous post, adhere to a policy of ‘unconditional positive regard’ within my classroom.

5. Feel less guilty about detentions for not doing homework

I don’t like homework set for the sake of it. I’m fine with project work done at home and students doing extra research out of interest, but homework for the sake of just trying to get knowledge into heads seems to me a waste of time in this day and age.

But when students get to GCSE level unfortunately they have to fill their heads full of some knowledge that they’ll probably only ever use for the exam. In this scenario, then, I’m going to feel a lot less guilty about insisting they complete knowledge-based homework.

What lessons have YOU learned recently?

And finally, just to make me feel better: “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth learning can be taught.” (Oscar Wilde) – also read this. Thanks goes to @theokk for both. 🙂

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We have a winner!

Macvatar skinLast week I launched a competition to win a Macvatar Macbook skin after the company sent me two skins for the price of one. The number of entrants was, well, underwhelming, but congratulations should nevertheless go to John Johnston, who wrote:

Hi Doug,
My macbook looks exactly like the 6 we have at school and I want to avoid a mixup. The scratch resistance will also be important to me, my macs last a long time, my new macbook (no scratches yet) replaces mt G4 which was born in the year 2000.
a skin also might prevent this problem from developing

John, let me know your postal address and the Macvatar skin will be winging its way to you in no time! 😀


EdTechRoundup: Episode 2

EdTechRoundupThe second EdTechRoundup podcast is now edited and available for your listening pleasure. This time around we have the smooth sounds of John Johnston and Tom Barrett caressing your ear canals. They begin with Voices of the World, Tumblr and Ning as well as the ManyVoices Twitter writing project. The main section of the show then goes on to sharing a Google Spreadsheet in class and using a digital camera for video blogging. Good work guys! 🙂