Next time you agree to give up your weekend to do go on a Duke of Edinburgh Expedition or drive a minibus on a Friday night in heavy traffic to take students to a debating competition think about this poem called the ‘Indispensable man’. It’s also a good poem to think about when you are in a meeting and you are about to thrust your point forward at the expense of everyone else. I remember once in my previous school a teacher that had been there for 30 years said to me “I don’t know how they will find replacement for me, they will need to find two people to replace me”. Well they did replace him and the school moved on. Usually you’re only as good as the next person. Enjoy your life and don’t let your work rule you.
Sometime when you’re feeling important;
Sometime when your ego ‘s in bloom;
Sometime when you take it for granted,
You’re the best qualified in the room:
Sometime when you feel that your going,
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions,
And see how they humble your soul.
Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining,
Is a measure of how much you’ll be missed.
You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop, and you’ll find that in no time,
It looks quite the same as before.
The moral of this quaint example,
Is to do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There’s no indispensable man.
When we are teaching day to day we sometimes don’t make time to read about future proposals. We may hear about changes on the news but sometimes are too busy to investigate further. I would say it is worth keeping in touch with the the Joint Council for Qualifications website and the regulatory body Ofqual. Dip into them every couple of months.
This week there have been two important documents released concerning GCSE changes. One is proposed changes to individual subjects and the other is a review of controlled assessments per subject. You might find the papers a useful read especially if you are a head of department
If you are a Head of Department one of the hardest things you have to administer is the controlled assessment. If you can persuade your academic deputy head to allow a controlled assessment day then this can really work to your advantage. My experience in the sciences is that a whole controlled assessment can be completed in one day – 25% done! This includes the low, medium and high control elements. The advantages of this day as I see it are as follows.
1. Pupils have continuity from one part of the controlled assessment to the next. They don’t forgot what they have done yesterday.
2. In science there is more demands on the technician team but it’s for a shorter more concentrated period. All equipment can be prepared together
and not spread over several days.
3. The pupils generally do better as they have no opportunity but to give the assessment their undivided attention.
4. If you are organised then you can mark some of the earlier parts as the students complete the later parts.
5. The pupils really enjoy the day. They feel relaxed doing it, can form good bonds with their peers and teaching staff. Bring some biscuits in and have a controlled assessment party! Invite the moderator.
So make sure you represent yourself at your next curriculum planning meeting and put your arguments forward.
A week or more of disjointed lessons can be replaced by one highly structured productive day.
Are you in a school in which the Science department only talks to the Science department or the English department only talks to the English department? All too often in schools microcosms are cultivated which at times can be unhealthy. False reputations can be built up and negative labels are often applied. Teachers must work as part of the whole school to have a better chance of promotion and gain more experience in the world of education. I have worked in schools in which the science department rarely visits the main staffroom and if they do can feel like a fish out of water! Why should they go to the staffroom anyway as they have their own kettle, toaster and microwave in the science department – there really is no need to move. I think its really important to mix with other departments as working in a school looking through the lens of one curriculum area is too narrow. So think about your situation now for a minute. Do you mix or have you been enticed into the trappings of a comfortable pocket. Is it time to find a fresh place on the pillow? If you are a Scientist then why don’t you ask a teacher in the History department if you can observe them? Spread your wings tomorrow.