Looking back at the Richard who was a school kid in the 90s is a happy experience. He had a naive excitement in all of his subjects, and really wanted to make his teachers proud of him. He enjoyed learning, and he decided from an early age that he wanted to help other kids learn things.
Today he is a high school science teacher, and the author of this blog.
Some would say that he is a classic story of expected success: starting from a working-class background in which his parents had divorced when he was around 2-years-old, to becoming a university graduate, then teacher, then author and now blogger.
But was it really enough in the 34-year time period that elapsed?
Everyone told me that I could do it. Everyone encouraged me along the way. Nobody really doubted me.
Few people told me what I would later learn – that as we rise we are also pulled down by relatively unknown forces – ‘invisible anchors’.
The demons that many people face remain hidden in the closet of mediocrity, which often has a large sign on the front that reads ‘I have achieved success’.
We have been deceived, to a certain extent.
These invisible anchors include:
Lust and the inefficient pursuit of its gratification
Alcohol and drugs (of which peer-pressure to ‘try’ can be massive)
Procrastination (amplified today by the compulsive use of mobile technology)
The mismanagement of money
George S. Clason speaks
For a large part of my working career my expenditure matched my income. I earned money and then I spent it. I lived paycheck-to-paycheck, no matter how large the paycheck increased over time.
Thankfully, I married an investment banker, and that changed things. She pointed out some of my errors and together we worked hard to achieve a milestone that many people set for themselves – we purchased a large house here in Bangkok.
But the balance sheet was still, well, balanced – what came in, went back out again.
Secure your lending – don’t lend money to anyone without securing an asset of equal value beforehand (e,g. jewelry that can be returned when the debt has been repaid)
Invest your money with trustworthy people and ventures – don’t ask a gardener to purchase gemstones or cryptocurrencies on your behalf, for example)
Have integrity: In this digital age of people-policing-each-other (sorry to say it how it is), one false move can destroy everything. Fraud, infidelity and even a temper-tantrum on an airplane (remember the Korean ‘nut-rage heiress’ and her sister?) can severely effect peoples’ trust in you and your business.
High risk, high return. Low risk, low return. High risk investments (such as stock) can yield very high returns, but they can also crash. Low-risk investments (such as real-estate) tend to slowly increase in value over time. The trick is dividing our money sensibly between the two types.
Rich people say “I control my life”. Poor people say “life happens to me”. I got this one from T. Harv Eker (author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind) and it really was a game0-changer for me when I changed my mindset from ‘I’m controlled’ to ‘I control’. I think it’s worth teaching kids that some people can’t help being poor though, despite their best efforts (people living in desperate conditions in the developing world, for example). However, for those of us privileged enough to have life’s basic necessities our mindset can literally take us from broke to rich).
The pioneer class
I taught these principles to my students in an ECA after school, once a week. I coupled these principles with the science of Platform Building (digital marketing and brand creation) and the kids loved designing their brands, logos and websites.
I currently have 17 students signed up to continue the ECA from next week onwards, which is quite a large group as far as ECAs go.
Last year I also gave the students the option of taking an exam in Money Management principles, and a small group took it up. They earned certificates and learnt skills that will serve them incredibly well for the rest of their lives.
My thoughts on money management
It should be a compulsory life-skill that is taught at every level of secondary school. From games like Monopoly, to money-management simulations like those at practicalmoneyskills.com, there are a range of fun and useful ways to teach this essential subject.
A personal development
I’m currently studying for a Professional Certificate in FinTech (Financial Technology, which includes crytocurrencies and blockchain) with the University of Hong Kong.
I plan to take what I learn and teach it to my money management students in the ECA.
Finance and the way we use money is changing rapidly, and teachers everywhere would do well to skill up.
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Our cover teacher was late to class and we were having a right old laugh! It wouldn’t be allowed these days, but we walked into the empty chemistry lab and sat at our seats.
Some of us were chatting, some were making silly noises that inspired a raucous of laughter. We were chilling-out like pros!
Then he walked in.
As the most notorious maths teacher in the school all he had to do was walk in with a grumpy look on his face to cause instant retreat into silence.
“Oh no!” was the look that was plastered across everyone’s faces.
“Get up off your backsides!” He snarled.
We stood, and gulped, and he stared at us. He waited until absolutely everyone was paying full attention. It didn’t take long.
“You all know what you’re supposed to be doing, don’t you?”
“I can’t hear you!”
“Yes” we all synchronistically chimed.
We got on with our work without a fuss. Some of us itched with the desire to chat, but we didn’t dare to.
Fightingfire with water
This maths teacher had what only the best teachers possess: presence. One of his defining techniques was the power of waiting, or more succinctly, pausing.
Pausing provides the modern teacher with a number of distinct benefits:
It can be used as an effective behavior management tool
It can be used to make concepts and content really clear
It allows students time to articulate their answers
It generates that enchanted and mysterious teacher quality known as presence
It can increase the perceived seriousness of a situation, which may be appropriate in certain situations
It de-escalates conflict
That last point is an important one: as a new teacher all of those years ago I would often try to ‘fight fire with fire’, which almost always failed. If a class was chatty I would shout at them to calm them down (N.B. – it had the opposite effect).
Sometimes I would even shout on a one-to-one basis with individual students.
I soon learned that shouting was almost always a bad idea. It creates an atmosphere of instant negativity, and that affects everyone: even the compliant, hard-working, ‘good’ kids.
Ways to use pausing as a behavior management tool:
For whole-class low-level disruption (e.g. at the very start of a lesson, or at the end of a task), simply wait, silently. Look at the students with a look of “I’m waiting” on your face. After waiting a short-time, you can say something such as “Thank you to those who are listening, and thank you to those who are facing me. I’m still waiting for one-or-two.” Normally, in this scenario, the students will say ‘shh’ and ‘be quiet’ to each other, removing the need for the teacher to get loud and aggressive (which usually doesn’t work as a long-term strategy anyway).
At those times when you need to have a serious one-to-one talk with individuals or small groups, pausing can really have a dramatic effect and can emphasize the seriousness of the situation. A good example I can think of from my practice happened a few years ago. A group of boys had been chatting for a large part of the lesson, instead of doing the work I had assigned them. They thought I hadn’t noticed, but I had.
I called the boys to my desk at the end of the lesson and waited for them, silently, to sit and listen. I then asked to see their work, which they reluctantly gave me. I must have stared at the dismal trash that was handed to me for a good minute, not saying a word. The boys looked mortified.
”This simply isn’t good enough” I said.
”Err, sorry. Sorry sir” piped in one of them.
”We’ll hand it in tomorrow”
”Yes, you’d better, and it had better be a lot better than this” I concluded.
They left the classroom and I got that work back the next day. I said “Thank you, let’s have a fresh start next lesson”.
That’s important isn’t it – a fresh start. We all need one of those at some point in our lives.
I rarely had a problem from those boys after that. Sure, I had to reel-them-in once or twice, but generally they got on with their work because they knew I was serious, and they knew that I wanted what was best for them.
The ‘Shouting Myth’
Is it still a myth? I’m not even sure.
I, like many teachers, have found that pausing works much better than shouting, almost every single time. In fact, unless a student is in an emergency situation (e.g. about to fall down the stairs), shouting is never effective.
Here are the problems I have with shouting:
Over time, it ruins the teacher’s health. It creates internal stress that permeates the body tissues deeply. Stress is not good for us – it even accelerates the ageing process.
It immediately creates an atmosphere of negativity in the classroom, and it can be hard to flip-that later on when you have control of the kids and you want them to approach you and ask questions.
When shouting is adopted as a consistent teacher behavior, it loses its effectiveness over time. Like a drug that one has become dependent on, larger doses are needed to maintain control in the future. It’s intimidating and can make students fear you, rather than respect you.
There are many advantages of using pauses as a behavior management tool (such as avoiding the consequences I just listed above), but the main reason pausing is so effective is that it creates an atmosphere of willful clarity, where excellence is achievable and desirable, rather than mandatory and burdensome.
Pausing as an instructional tool
One obvious adavantage of pausing in an instructional context is that it allows students time to think and process information. When used effectively it can also be a great way to ‘coax’ answers and responses out of students who would otherwise be shy or disinterested (or simply too tired to focus in the moment).
Try the following techniques and watch miracles happen!:
Pause halfway when saying a key word or phrase, and coax the rest of the word from the students. “The stomach produces digestive en, en…………., enzymes! Yes, well done. Enzymes is correct”. This technique aids memory and gets kids focused on the content.
Stop part-way through a lesson and do a quick review. Bring the kids to the front of the class if you must. Ask individual students some pertinent questions. Pause and allow enough time for the students to answer.
Pause and check that the students understand what you have said thus far. “Okay, put your thumbs up if you understand everything so far. Does anyone have any questions? (Pause). Okay, in that case can I move on? Thank you.”
Did you just notice the pause after asking if anyone has any questions? That’s important isn’t it? We must pause for ‘question time’ at least once every 30 minutes. Sometimes our pace can be very fast (especially with exam-level classes) and students may not feel confident enough to ‘butt-in’ and ask questions when you are mid-sentence. Allow them time to ask. Make yourstudents feel that asking questions is a good thing, and that you are happy, veryhappy, to help when needed.
Pause between topics and sub-topics, and allow students to think for a moment. When you’re teaching at the pace of a steam-train it can become quite overwhelming for your students.
Look at your students and notice how many have finished writing their notes. Pause to allow time to finish the note-taking. If you’re not sure who’s not finished, then you can simply ask “Does anyone need more time?”.
Pausing is a very powerful technique, when it is used properly. Use pausing to:
Get your students focused and listening without being confrontational in the process
Reinforce the seriousness of a situation (e.g. when homework isn’t handed in)
Aid instruction through response ‘coaxing’, pausing for ‘question-time’, checking that students understand everything, allowing students to think between topics and subtopics and allowing adequate time for note-taking
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I was very excited when I handed my homework to her. I was 16-years-old and a very keen GCSE Science student.
That piece of Chemistry homework took me ages to complete – a good few hours if I remember correctly. I really tried hard to write the displacement reactions neatly and clearly, and in a different colour to the explanations.
I knew my Chemistry teacher would be impressed, and I really wanted to impress her. I think that as a teacher almost two-decades later, I am mindful of the fact that my students look-up to me, and they want to impress me.
That gives me a huge task (I won’t say ‘burden’, because it’s not a burden): the task of being responsible and caring enough to give my students the feedback they deserve, in a timely manner.
I waited weeks and weeks for that Chemistry homework to get back to me. Finally I summoned up enough courage to ask her where it was.
“Oh, I am sorry, Richard. I completely forgot about it. I’ll get it back to you pronto.”
She was honest, and I respected her for that. When it did finally get back to me, she added to the written feedback (which I can’t fully remember, if I’m honest) with “Richard, I could tell that you put a lot of time and effort into that work.”
That felt good.
Juggling many things at once
Looking back on those bright and happy days as a teenager I can now see what my Chemistry teacher was suffering with – she was clearly very busy with a number of different things and my homework was low on her list of priorities at that time.
I don’t blame her or condemn her for that at all.
I’ve found myself in the same situation many times in the past, and it was all because I wasn’t organised. Here are the key mistakes I would make in my first ten years (yes, ten – it was slow learning curve!) of teaching:
I would give homework to different classes on random days each week. So, for example, Year 8 Science would get homework on a Monday one week, then on a Tuesday the week after, then maybe on a Thursday the week after that.
Since I was setting homework on random days each week, I would receive it back randomly too. This would mean that I would have ‘cluster’ days when I would get back, say, four classes of homework in a single day.
The net effect was that I couldn’t mark it as quickly or as effectively as I really wanted to, and on some days I would stay at school very late to mark it all
So, what’s the solution to all of this chaos? Well, today, I can very happily say to you that I no longer have problems with marking and returning homework. In fact, I’m almost astonished to say that it has even become an enjoyable process!
So what are these four strategies? Let’s explore them together now.
Strategy #1: Create and implement a homework setting, marking and returningtimetable
Sounds obvious doesn’t it? It wasn’t obvious to me for a very long time (granted: I am slow at learning certain things!).
Many schools will have a homework ‘timetable’ in place, but this normally only extends to the setting of homework. Even if you follow that timetable, you still need a schedule in place for the marking and returning of that homework.
And that’s another point I must make: if your school has a homework timetable in place, then please follow it! I know I’ve been very relaxed about this at certain points in my career, but I now realize that that strategy didn’t help me or my students: they would find themselves overwhelmed with homework on certain days because their teachers didn’t follow the timetable.
Here is my current setting, marking, receiving and returning timetable:
Feel free to download and enlarge the above picture and share it with colleagues if you wish.
Strategy #2: Use Learning Journals
Learning Journals are a form of ‘recurring’ homework and are very powerful because:
They quickly build routines into your students’ lives
They reinforce the importance of constant revision, reflection and reviewing of work done in class
The are cumulative, and provide a record of the work done by the student to-date
They provide an excellent revision resource prior to exams
Students receive quick, effective feedback
Students can customize the work using their own styles, colours and sequence of revision. They even get to purchase their own ‘special’ notebook for this, making the experience uniquely personal.
So, how do we implement a ‘Learning Journals system’? Here are the steps I suggest:
Students purchase their own ‘special’ notebook. A school notebook can be given to students who can’t afford this/don’t want to buy their own.
Students fill their learning journals with revision notes, past-paper questions, Mind-Maps®, summaries and exam-preparation work. Students do this every week. A page from Pop’s Learning Journal (one of the first students I piloted this technique with about 9 years ago) is given below.
Students bring their Learning Journals to class on an assigned day each week. For this academic year, my IGCSE students bring their Learning Journals to me on a Thursday, and my IBDP kids bring them on a Friday (this spreads-out my marking a bit and matches the kids’ timetables)
Students sign on a big sheet on the wall when they hand-in their Learning Journals (please see below). Please note that the following image is one year old (sorry). I now collect in my journals on a Thursday and Friday, not a Monday like it says in the photo:
I put one and only one post-it note of feedback into each learning journal each week. This keeps my feedback focused on what’s most relevant to the student, and it ensures that I don’t spend too much of my free-time marking piles of work. Please see the example below:
The process repeats itself every week, providing a clear and productive routine for myself and my students
In addition to this, I’ve turned my Learning Journals into a ‘live-marking’ recurring feedback system: I mark them in class, with the students. It means that I lose no free time, and I am able to give one-to-one feedback to each student that is meaningful and specific.
Strategy #3: Live marking
‘Live’ marking is an incredibly powerful feedback technique, but it is rarely used effectively in the teaching profession. However, with just a few tweaks our daily routines, that can change.
I’ve made a quick video that outlines the technique of ‘Live-marking’ below:
I have personally wasted so much of my free time both at school and at home marking student work. Many late nights; many lost weekends. All for nothing.
Well, not completely for nothing – at least now I’ve seen sense and can pass on my experiences to you so that you don’t go through the same pain.
You see, I now know that feedback only works if it is relevant, specific and somewhat emotional. How do we achieve this? – we must mark student work with the students. They have to be involved too.
As soon as I started doing these things, my impact skyrocketed:
Simply walk around the classroom with a colored pen in hand. Tick, flick and mark student work as you walk around.
For larger pieces of work, set the kids on a task and call the students to your desk one at a time. Sit with the student and discuss the work, adding written comments in front of the student along the way. Use praise effectively and remember – praise only works if it is sincere, specific and collective (tell your colleagues and get them to praise the student too).
Use peer-assessment and self-assessment, but don’t do this for everything. Students still need to receive acknowledgement from their teacher.
I’ve written a useful article about peer and self-assessment techniqueshere. Some general advice on giving feedback can be foundhere.
Here’s a video I made about the Four Rules of Praise:
Strategy #4: Self and peer assessment
I first learnt the power of peer assessment back in 2008, when I had just moved to Thailand.
As a keen young teacher with two years of UK teaching experience, I found myself teaching students who were all very keen to do their best. Homework assignments and classwork seemed to come my way on a real-time, live-stream basis, and I soon found myself inundated with lots of work to mark.
At first I tried the traditional methods of using a green or red pen to write lengthy comments on each piece of work. I had learned from my training in Assessment for Learning in the UK that written comments that help the student to improve were much better than a letter grade or a score followed by a ‘Well Done’. I’d learnt about the ‘two stars and wish rule’ where I’d write two positive things about the work and then one item or target for improvement.
These ideas were great in theory, but I found that my weekends became shorter and shorter as I tried to write effective comments on every piece of work that came in. I was spending less and less time doing the hobbies I enjoyed, and I became quite the old grouch.
I finally expressed my concerns in the staff room one day and a colleague of mine said “You should do more peer assessment”. She was right.
I instantly started getting my students to mark their own work, and reflect upon it, and the results were astounding: My weekends became ‘me time’ again, and students seemed to learn better than they would from receiving my comments teh traditional way.
As I continued to develop my skills in assigning proper peer-assessment, I discovered that I was sometimes making some catastrophic errors. I refined my strategy over the years, and came up with this six-step system:
Step 1: Make sure that the work you set has an official mark scheme or set of model answers associated with it. There’s nothing worse than trying to ‘guess’ the best answers along the way as you’re trying to get the kids to assess the work. Make your own mark scheme if necessary, but make sure the answers are clear.
Step 2: When it comes time for the kids to assess the work, ask them to swap their work with someone else in the class. Alternatively, if this doesn’t work for your particular class, then collect the work in and redistribute it.
Step 3: Ask each student to get a colored pen ready to mark with. Red and green are good. You may wish to have a set of special ‘marking pens’ somewhere in class that the kids can use whenever they mark each others’ work.
Step 4: Print the official mark scheme and give a copy to each student. This has the advantage of providing a permanent copy for each student to keep, and allows you time to help students as they mark. Projecting the answers onto a screen can also work, but you may find that students cannot see and that you may have to scroll through at a pace that’s not suitable for every student. Printing a copy, or sharing it on the schools VLE so that students can access it via a tablet or laptop, is best.
Step 5: Make it very clear that students should tick the answer if it’s correct, and make full corrections if it is wrong. The mere act of writing out the model answer onto the work being marked will reinforce the concepts into the subconscious mind of the student doing the marking.
Step 6: Let the students give the work back. Collect it in at the end of the lesson so that you can glance through and check that everyone has peer-assessed properly. If anyone hasn’t, then make them do it again.
Once work has been peer-assessed, you can sit down with individual students and have ‘progress conversations’ designed to pin point areas of weakness and highlight areas of strength
You have to be quite organised with this method (e.g. making sure you print the mark schemes on time). However, this will save you loads of time and will definitely help the kids to learn properly.
Not surprisingly, self-assessment has similar perks to that of peer-assessment. This great overviewby the University of Sydney advocates for the wide-use of self-assessment with students for the following key reasons:
It encourages student involvement and participation, so it’s great for students who normally find group activities or active class-tasks a little uncomfortable
When used in conjunction with group work it can be a great way to assess one’s personal role and contribution in the group experience and learning process
Academic appraisals aside, I’ve found from my own personal experience that both self and peer-assessment are absolutely invaluable to the modern practitioner. They save you oodles of time as a teacher and students learn so much from each process.
There are a number of different ways that self and peer-assessment can be used in the classroom. My experience has taught me (the hard way!) that the following tasks work really well:
Making corrections to tests and assessments: When any important test or assessment comes up, I don’t think it is appropriate to have students marking these themselves. They’ll get it wrong, even with a mark scheme to use, and will be overly generous on themselves and their peers (unless they’ve been trained for a period of time). However, a great activity is to mark the tests yourself, then give the tests back to the students along with a printed or online mark scheme. The students could then use a coloured pen to make full and detailed corrections to their test papers. You could turn this into an AfL exercise, with students writing down the question numbers they got wrong on the whiteboard, or on an anonymous piece of paper. You could then go through these questions afterwards to clear up common misconceptions. If you run a regular Learning Journals system (as I currently do), then students could write down the questions and the model answers in their Learning Journals. This causes very deep-learning to take place and is great for building long-term memory!
Assessing homework, classwork and regular assignments: A great time-saver for teachers. Just make sure the kids have access to the model answers. Don’t forget to collect the work in too – you need to know that the kids actually did the work you asked them to do.
Past-papers: Exam-level students really need to become familiar with the official mark schemes provided by exam boards. They need to become comfortable with key vocabulary, language and command terms. Provide exam-level students with regular past-papers to do as homework. Provide mark schemes too, so that they can self and peer-assess their work in class later. For older students (e.g. ‘AS’ – Level, SAT and IBDP learners) I’ll sometimes give them past papers and mark schemes to take home. Their task is to complete the past-papers under timed conditions and mark them using the mark schemes. The student then hands me the papers completed and marked (this is essential – I need to know that they have completed the assignment). I then check the papers for common misconceptions and target those in class.
Technological means: There a number of ways in which technology can assist in the peer and self-assessment process. Google forms are great; as are online quizzes provided by trusted third parties (e.g. BBC Bitesize and MyiMaths) and online quizzes that teachers can build by themselves (e.g. Quizlets). Make use of these and others (e.g. Kahoot– great for getting kids to use their mobile devices), as they are really interactive and can offer a nice break from traditional methods.
Stategy #5: Make use of ‘Intangibles’
Intangibles are those pieces of work which aren’t really marked, but are still really important. They count as homework, but they save you time because no feedback (or only limited feedback) is needed.
Revising for tests and quizzes
‘Reading ahead’ prior to starting a new topic
Completing a group presentation using software like Google® Slides (presumably, the kids would stand-up and present the presentation in class, allowing you to give real-time feedback verbally to them, in the moment)
Automated systems, such as Educake, MyMaths and Lexia. Computer programmes like these assess the work for the students, saving you time. You may, however, wish to follow-up by keeping records and sharing some verbal feedback with your students.
Make homework a powerful and enjoyable process of providing high-quality feedback and learning opportunities for your students. Implement the following strategies today!:
Create a homework marking, setting, receiving and returning timetable for yourself, and stick to it!
Create a Learning Journals system – this will build routines and get your students into the habit of reviewing, customizing and summarizing their work on a regular basis
Try ‘Live-marking’: it’s such a powerful technique and it saves you so much time!
Use peer-assessment and self-assessment – why mark things yourself if the students can do it (and they’ll learn more from the process)?
Make use of intangibles, but don’t overuse them
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In this compulsive age of one-click logins, left and right ‘swipes’ and selfie auto-sharing, it can be easy to let our guard down and cross the line between what is appropriate and what is inappropriate when using social media.
This danger is further compounded by the ‘blurry’ lines that exist in the first place. For example:
Concordia University, Portland, advises teachers to “not get too chatty with students on their personal profile”, implying that teachers can become ‘friends’ with students on social media
TheGeneral Teaching Council for Scotlandadvises that teachers should “only use official channels of communication e.g. GLOW and work e-mail addresses and be aware of and comply with employer’s policies and guidance”. This implies that teachers should never connect with parents or students via personal social media accounts.
I’m now in my 13th year of teaching. I taught before social media exploded in popularity, and afterwards. In this article, I will aim to give all teachers a very clear and direct guide as to how social media should be used.
Some pills will be hard to swallow.
Rule #1: Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want a parent, boss or student to see
Foul language and/or any expletives (be especially careful with tweets)
Photographs showing behaviors that we encourage our students not to undertake: this includes that we-fie with the 20 empty beer-bottles in the background, binge drinking and smoking.
If you have old photos containing any of the above on any social-media platform, then stop reading this article and delete them now.
Inappropriate social media posts can damage a teacher’s reputation in a number of subtle ways. Just take a look at these shocking examples:
A teacher from California was reprimanded by her school districtin 2014 for a number of tweets, including one that read “I already wanna stab some kids. Is that bad? 19 more days.” Moral of the story – don’t use social media to vent your frustrations!
In 2016 a teacher from Baltimorewas disciplined for posting a picture of her students on Instagram with the caption. “Field day with my little [expletives] that I somehow still love.” The teacher probably thought that she was posting a light-hearted joke, but the school leaders and parents didn’t see it that way.
APE teacher from Waleswas given a formal reprimand in 2017 for exchanging Instagram messages with two students which contained “swear words and ‘winky faces'”.
The consequences of posting anything inappropriate on social media, whether privately or publicly, are very serious for teachers.
Another factor to consider is that the three examples I have just mentioned are not even the tip of the iceberg. A quick web-search is all you need to find hundreds and hundreds of stories just like these.
Future employers, parents, students – they can all search online and find this information. One silly mistake with social media can be enough to totally crush a teacher’s reputation, forever.
Rule #2: Never, ever add students or parents as ‘friends’
The stories just mentioned above should be enough to convince any teacher that it is simply far too risky to add any parent or student as a ‘friend’ on social media.
Use official school channels for communication only.
Rule #3: Be careful when adding colleagues on social media
You may think your colleagues are your friends, but don’t forget – they work with you.
If you post anything on social media that may offend or upset a colleague, directly or indirectly, then you run the risk of being reported to senior management.
That’s a risk that’s too high in my opinion. Colleagues are colleagues – communicate with them via professional channels or setup professional social media accounts that are purposefully designed for clean and appropriate networking.
Rule #4: Never post pictures of your students
Take photos with your school’s permission only, and share them with the school to share on their own social media channels if they wish. Delete the pictures after taking them.
You see, when sharing pictures of students you expose yourself to the issue of permission. Do you have parental permission to publish the nice we-fie on Instagram? Do you have each students’ permission?
Clearly not, so don’t do it. It’s not worth it.
Here’s a link to a great article by We Are Teachers entitled ‘Should Teachers Accept Facebook Requests from Parents?’. Well-worth a read!
Teachers’ lives can be dramatically and devastatingly affected by the incorrect use of social media. What advice would you give to a Newly Qualified Teacher who may not be aware of these issues?
Please comment below.
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I’m an avid reader and, at times, a ferocious information consumer.
Whilst I try my best to avoid the compulsion of checking my social media feeds every five minutes, I do find myself engrossed in a number of books at different points during a typical day.
One of the old adages that I attempt to live by is the notorious ‘life is too short to learn from your mistakes, so make sure you learn from other peoples’. However, I know that I’m going to make mistakes just like anyone else, so I guess I’m going to have to learn from my own mistakes whether I like it or not, right?
Well, kind of.
For quite a while now I’ve been writing about the idea that we can only learn from mistakes (ours or other peoples’) if we remember those mistakes.
And that’s the problem isn’t it? – memory.
Organizing the information we receive from life can help to solve the problem of mistake memory, as well as help with our studies, build relationships with colleagues and clients and even help us to build up skills and new personality traits.
As a high school Science Teacher I am constantly encouraging my students to organise their notes and resource-information effectively, so that they can revise successfully for tests and exams. However, these techniques can also be used to plan for, and solve, a plethora of day-to-day problems that we all face.
Easy and simple: bullet-points list the important parts of a text or information piece in a somewhat-sequential order. Great for summarizing large processes.
#2: Concept Maps
Concept maps are artistic and highly visual representations of concepts that link to a central theme.
Although concept maps have be used for centuries by people from all walks of life, they were first popularised by British psychologist Tony Buzan in the 1970s and given the name ‘Mind Maps™’. Buzan’s suggestions for creating the most effective Mind Maps™ are as follows:
Start in the center with an image of the topic, using at least three colors (I’ve clearly missed that in the example above, oops!)
Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your mind map
Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters
Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line
The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The lines become thinner as they radiate out from the center.
Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support
Use multiple colors throughout the mind map, for visual stimulation and also for encoding or grouping
Develop your own personal style of mind mapping
Use emphasis and show associations in your mind map
Keep the mind map clear by using radial hierarchy or outlines to embrace your branches
For more information about Mind Maps™ you can visit thiswebsite.
These are fun phrases that help you to remember sequences, hierarchies or concepts. Here are some random examples:
Naughty Elephant Squirts Water: North East South West (starting at 12 and working clockwise)
King Prefers Cheese On Fresh Green Salad: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species (classifiers in evolutionary biology)
My Very Energetic Maiden Aunt Just Swam Under North Pier: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Asteroid belt, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto (Order of the planets in the solar system starting at the Sun – yes, I know, Pluto isn’t a planet anymore it’s a dwarf planet – change pier into ‘Dark Purple Pineapple’ and you’ll have ‘Dwarf Planet Pluto’, I guess.)
These are a little different to mnemonics – you just use the letters for these (no need to invent a new word sequence).
Here are some examples:
MR FABor “Mister Fab” (when spoken): Mammals, Reptiles, Fish, Amphibians and Birds (vertebrate groups in the animal kingdom)
MRS GREN:Movement, Respiration, Sensitivity, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, Nutrition (the 7 functions of life)
Now this is where I reveal my weird side: you can actually use this technique to reinforce core beliefs and value systems.
In my case, my wristwatch is anORISAquis:
Now, to me,ORISmeansOrder,Respect,Integrity,Strength:four life-principles that I try to live by. This means that every time I look at my watch, I am reminded of my core-values and that drives me forward to succeed a little more, every single day.
Are there ways that you could use the acronyms in your life to drive you onwards and upwards?
Do you remember when teachers used to ask students to make posters? Well there’s a new kid on the block: the infographic.
An infographic is basically a detailed, organised poster and can include all of the organisational methods I’ve method, but all together on one page.
One of my favorite websites for making infographics ispicktochart.You’ll have to sign up, but it’s free to use once you’re in.
Here’s an infographic I made over there:
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