Who Are You? – Written by The School Planner Co.

SPC_logoWho Are You?

The question: ‘Who are you?’ is one that probably doesn’t cross your mind all that often, unless of course you are currently in the depths of an existential mid-life crisis.

For teachers however, particularly new teachers, this is actually a question that seems pretty valid, and probably isn’t asked enough. But in today’s world you can’t just ask the question ‘Who are you?’ (At least you can’t if you want to get something that resembles an accurate response.) Instead we must ask ‘Who are you, in this really quite specific situation?’ Obviously this variation of the question doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as easily as it’s succinct and pithy counterpart, but it is immeasurably more accurate. We, the modern human being, do not have just one identity, or one personality. We have many.

Not to accuse you of being two faced, you’re not, and it would be far more correct to accuse you of being five faced, maybe six, maybe even more. We conduct ourselves in an entirely different way when in the company of our boss, as we do with our parents, or children, of friends, or on the bus, or on a date, etc.

Now let me tell you something I probably shouldn’t: I have known ‘teachers’ to swear. I have been in the company of ‘teachers’ who have made quite risky jokes, who have laughed at the misfortune of others. This bit may be hard to believe, but I have even witnessed ‘teachers’ brazenly parade around in public, with their top button undone and shirt not tucked in.

Except, at the time; they were not teachers. Hence the sarcastic apostrophes. At the time, they were not teaching a class, they weren’t even inside a school building. They were a million miles away from the teacher persona they put on at school.

Now this isn’t being fake, or lying, or falsehood. They are simply displaying a facet of themselves that they reserve for the classroom. After all; the sarcastic, joke-cracking, shirt-untucked, occasionally swearing, persona you might find in a bar on a Friday evening, has no place in a school.

For new teachers, creating their teacher persona isn’t easy. You probably won’t get it right straight away. You might even spend your entire NQT year getting it wrong, and the following three years making slight adaptations to it as you progress and grow as a teacher. But it is important that you consider it, that you are always conscious of who you are when you are in school.

Whilst I can’t tell you who you are, or instruct you on what your teacher persona should be, I can give you an idea of who you are not. Firstly you are not the outside-of-school persona we have already discussed. That person leaves you at the school gate, and whilst he or she may be patiently waiting for you to finish at the end of the day, during your time in school you should have no contact, not a wave from the window, not even a lunch-time text. You don’t want your students to see you as you, you want them to see you as what you should be- in charge.

At the risk of coming over hypocritical. You still need to be yourself. Just not completely yourself. Be you, but not all of you. As much as that might upset John Legend. If YOU can’t muster up a little gravitas and dexterity, then maybe you have chosen the wrong career? The classroom needs a leader, and before you nervously look over your shoulder looking for someone else to step up to the plate; as a teacher, that leader needs to be you.

If I could sumarise everything you need to be in just one word (which I can) it would be: adult.

You have to be the adult in the classroom. It doesn’t matter that just a few months ago you we’re taking advantage of two for one at Vodka Rev’s every weekend, or that actually you’re a mere four years older than some of your A-level students, you are the adult. If this isn’t something you are prepared for; then again, teaching maybe (definitely) isn’t the career for you. Not yet anyway.

I grew up with a head-teacher as a parent. As a child, other kids used to find it hard to comprehend that teachers existed outside of school, that they have their own lives and interests in the real world. And the truth is they don’t. Not only because of the heinous time commitments associated with the job, but because actually; teachers do, and should, leave themselves at school. Once they are outside of the building, they become a new person. They revert to being themselves.

Teachers, as many primary school children already believe, do not exist outside of school.

Right into my teenage years friends would comment that they just couldn’t see my dad as a head-teacher, they couldn’t possibly imagine him telling someone off, or raising his voice. I didn’t quite realise at the time, but I know now, that that is because my dad isn’t a head-teacher. He wasn’t then and he isn’t now. He both was and is my dad. But when he steps over the threshold of his school, he becomes someone else entirely; he becomes a head-teacher. He becomes someone you may well have had the pleasure of meeting, but someone whose acquaintance I am yet to make.

Interview with Aldo De Pape – Founder of Teach Pitch.

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TEM – Aldo, please tell me why you are now every teachers new best friend?

 

ALDO – Hahaha, I would surely love to be.

 

TeachPitch is a web-based platform that helps teachers and schools to find the best online learning resources in the quickest way possible.

 

With a growing abundance of learning material available on the Internet (e.g.: videos, downloads, lesson plans, online courses and online tutoring) it is becoming increasingly difficult for teachers to find the best available resources most relevant to the learning questions they have. As a former teacher I know how constraint for time (and budget) educators can be and with our platform we focus on presenting you with the best resources out there in the quickest way possible.

 

TEM – So, effectively a time efficient search engine?

 

ALDO – Yes that is step number one. After you have found the right resources we offer you a range of functionalities to save, rate, review and plan around the resources you have identified. We are fortunate enough to be growing very quickly – in the thousands of teachers from over 81 countries have already signed up  – so you are also able to share your learning ideas with educators from all over the world with just the click of a button.

 

TEM- Can this platform meet specific outcomes for each school?

 

ALDO – It sure can. Through our TeachPitch for Schools solution that we are due to launch later this year, we allow multiple people within a school to work with our technology. Many central administrators and school directors are looking for optimal ways to work together with their teachers on the identification of online resources for purposes of collaboration, re-use, induction and even evaluation. Such an account would allow people in a central school position to have an overview of which material their teachers are using while giving suggestions on how to fit it even better within the school program or curriculum.

 

We are really happy to see that schools are currently signing up to find out how they can work with our technology to this end.

 

TEM – What about teachers CPD, everyone needs to be informed, can this help those on the ground meet their own needs too?

 

ALDO – Yes. We are seeing a growing number of CPD courses becoming digitally available. Technology has enabled us to disseminate  great online CPD courses so a teacher can work with such material at his/her own pace. Another advantage is that the teacher has a genuine choice as to which course is most appropriate and relevant.

 

We are currently partnering with a number of teacher training agencies and video platforms in the UK so teachers can find and work with CPD resources online.

 

TEM – What are your plans for further development Aldo?

 

ALDO – It is our aim to help as many teachers and schools as possible by finding them the best online learning resources. In terms of development we want to be the best technology out there, so teachers can truly learn more and teach better.  Currently we are working on building solutions that teachers and schools can use while using the most relevant resources at the right point in time.

 

We aim to be as precise as possible, implementing carefully what and how teachers are going to use our technology.

 

It is great to see that the TP community is growing and we receive great feedback from our teachers as to what we should build first.

 

TEM – As we were speaking here, I have managed to access Teach Pitch from my mobile device, I love that its on the move!

 

ALDO –  Thank you – we are working with a team of 11 people on TeachPitch right now, so every day I see improvements on the platform. It is really great to be part of such a process.

 

TEM – What would you say to the Head Teachers reading this right now?

 

ALDO – Think digital!  There are so many great online resources out there that you can use to support your teachers every step of the way.

 

TEM – Well then, and extremely informative chat! Thank you for speaking with us Aldo, where can we find out more about Teach Pitch?

 

Sign up to TeachPitch.com and let us know what you see. We would love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

Bargain Time!

As you may have noticed from our social platforms, we have an exclusive limited 50% off our normal rate card for all bookings for next issue for the next 14 days. This discount represents a significant saving for you and a great opportunity to showcase your product / service to all UK Schools/Academies and Senior Leadership Teams within. We have plenty of right hand pages and superb positions for you too with an incredible line up of writers, governing bodies, celebrity interviews to boot! As well as the huge discount, we are matching your purchase with free editorial space giving you maximum impact!

To secure your preferred position early, and save a huge 50% AND get a free editorial allocation too, email me Toby Johnson – Director@the-educator.org NOW.

WHO ARE YOU? – Words by The School Planner Company

Who Are You?
The question: ‘Who are you?’ is one that probably doesn’t cross your mind all that often, unless of course you are currently in the depths of an existential mid-life crisis.
For teachers however, particularly new teachers, this is actually a question that seems pretty valid, and probably isn’t asked enough. But in todays world you can’t just ask the question ‘Who are you?’ (At least you can’t if you want to get something that resembles an accurate response.) Instead we must ask ‘Who are you, in this really quite specific situation?’ Obviously this variation of the question doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as easily as it’s succinct and pithy counterpart, but it is immeasurably more accurate. We, the modern human being, do not have just one identity, or one personality. We have many.
Not to accuse you of being two faced, you’re not, and it would be far more correct to accuse you of being five faced, maybe six, maybe even more. We conduct ourselves in an entirely different way when in the company of our boss, as we do with our parents, or children, of friends, or on the bus, or on a date, etc.
Now let me tell you something I probably shouldn’t: I have known ‘teachers’ to swear. I have been in the company of ‘teachers’ who have made quite risky jokes, who have laughed at the misfortune of others. This bit may be hard to believe, but I have even witnessed ‘teachers’ brazenly parade around in public, with their top button undone and shirt untucked.
Except, at the time; they were not teachers. Hence the sarcastic apostrophes. At the time, they were not teaching a class, they weren’t even inside a school building. They were a million miles away from the teacher persona they put on at school.
Now this isn’t being fake, or lying, or falsehood. They are simply displaying a facet of themselves that they reserve for the classroom. After all; the sarcastic, joke-cracking, shirt-untucked, occasionally swearing, persona you might find in a bar on a Friday evening, has no place in a school.
For new teachers, creating their teacher persona isn’t easy. You probably won’t get it right straight away. You might even spend your entire NQT year getting it wrong, and the following three years making slight adaptations to it as you progress and grow as a teacher. But it is important that you consider it, that you are always conscious of who you are when you are in school.
Whilst I can’t tell you who you are, or instruct you on what your teacher persona should be, I can give you an idea of who you are not. Firstly you are not the outside-of-school persona we have already discussed. That person leaves you at the school gate, and whilst he or she may be patiently waiting for you to finish at the end of the day, during your time in school you should have no contact, not a wave from the window, not even a lunch-time text. You don’t want your students to see you as you, you want them to see you as what you should be- in charge.
At the risk of coming over hypocritical. You still need to be yourself. Just not completely yourself. Be you, but not all of you. As much as that might upset John Legend. If YOU can’t muster up a little gravitas and dexterity, then maybe you have chosen the wrong career? The classroom needs a leader, and before you nervously look over your shoulder looking for someone else to step up to the plate; as a teacher, that leader needs to be you.
If I could summarise everything you need to be in just one word (which I can) it would be: adult.
You have to be the adult in the classroom. It doesn’t matter that just a few months ago you we’re taking advantage of two for one at Vodka Rev’s every weekend, or that actually you’re a mere four years older than some of your A-level students, you are the adult. If this isn’t something you are prepared for; then again, teaching maybe (definitely) isn’t the career for you. Not yet anyway.
I grew up with a head-teacher as a parent. As a child, other kids used to find it hard to comprehend that teachers existed outside of school, that they have their own lives and interests in the real world. And the truth is they don’t. Not only because of the heinous time commitments associated with the job, but because actually; teachers do, and should, leave themselves at school. Once they are outside of the building, they become a new person. They revert to being themselves.
Teachers, as many primary school children already believe, do not exist outside of school.
Right into my teenage years friends would comment that they just couldn’t see my dad as a head-teacher, they couldn’t possibly imagine him telling someone off, or raising his voice. I didn’t quite realise at the time, but I know now, that that is because my dad isn’t a head-teacher. He wasn’t then and he isn’t now. He both was and is my dad. But when he steps over the threshold of his school, he becomes someone else entirely; he becomes a head-teacher. He becomes someone you may well have had the pleasure of meeting, but someone whose acquaintance I am yet to make.
The School Planner Company

7 WAYS YOU CAN IMMEDIATELY IMPROVE MIDDAY SUPERVISOR ENGAGEMENT – Words by Paul Aagaard

Paul Aagaard - photo on white background

Do you feel your Midday Supervisors (MDSAs) engage with children inappropriately and only engage when they have to? Do they spend most of their time washing, wiping and wandering around talking to their colleagues and are they inconsistent in how they apply your behaviour policy?
If so, children are likely to come back into class upset. This creates two problems. Firstly, the children aren’t ready to learn again in afternoon lessons, and secondly they are likely to talk about unresolved lunchtime incidents which lead to lost learning minutes for everyone in the class.
From a child’s viewpoint this is confusing and unsettling. In the classroom everything is clear and any concerns are dealt with very quickly, but not at lunchtime. This is because MDSAs, unlike teachers, aren’t trained and don’t know how to deal with children who are upset. They often learn on the job and end up reacting emotionally to children’s concerns. Responses like “how dare you argue with me” or “hurry up and finish your dinner” are typical and make the situation worse, not better.
I have been running MDSA Training for the last ten years and have discovered that they are very motivated by being introduced to a few positive behaviour techniques. Explaining why a focus on the first behaviour and not the second will quickly stop inappropriate behaviour is one good example. Using ‘thank you’ rather than ‘please’ as a way to respectfully ask a child to do what you want them to do is another. These techniques to manage behaviour together with a practical demonstration of playground games and how to create a restaurant style lunchtime environment is a good way of getting MDSAs to engage more effectively with children. Here is a summary of the strategies I have successfully used.
7 ways to improve Midday Supervisor engagement
1. Lunchtime charter.
Schools councils often say they think their MDSAs are kind, but they really don’t like it when one contradicts the other. “It’s not fair if one dinner lady reports us to a teacher and another isn’t reported for doing the same thing”. MDSAs need help in applying their school’s behaviour policy, which is often not easy to read and assimilate. To make it more accessible I have helped schools draft their own lunchtime charter with a series of specific lunchtime behaviours and the agreed consequences. In other schools a zero-tolerance approach has been taken when it comes to any serious inappropriate behaviour with immediate consequences and no warnings. The training is a very useful way to identify and agree as a team what these behaviours are.

2. Positive behaviour techniques.
Confidence in dealing with lunchtime incidents is improved once the MDSA understands three key behaviour principles. Firstly a focus on what you want the child to do and not stop doing. (It’s so easy to say “will you stop shouting at me please” if a child is arguing with you rather than “I would like you to speak quietly. Thank you”.) Secondly the use of short, very understandable sentences. For example, at the end of lunchtime saying something like “Y2 line-up. Thank you” is commanding, respectful and authoritative. Thirdly, to partially agree and distract as a way to avoid a power struggle.

3. Changing aspirations.
MDSAs end up spending far too much time washing and wiping in the dining hall and being reactive in the playground when there is an incident rather than proactive. There are three reasons why this happens.
1. A lot of MDSAs start work with no training and perceive their job is primarily about cleaning up after the children and helping to deal with trips and falls in the playground.
2. Washing and wiping is easy and it’s a comfort zone that requires no effort.
3. Lunchtime provision in many schools is so chaotic that MDSAs are forced to spend most of their time managing the ebb and flow of children coming into and out of the dining room. There is little time to effectively engage with the children irrespective of whether they want to or not.
Although cleaning is part of a MDSAs role they should be spending most of their time engaging with the children to encourage eating, to listen to what they have to say, to teach good table manners and to facilitate playground games. It’s possible to change this perception and raise MDSA aspirations once three key objectives have been addressed.
1. They understand and are confident in using some of the behaviour techniques mentioned in point 2.
2. They are in charge of a lunchtime system that is conducive to socialising and children are motivated to eat better, eat together and engage in good conversation.
3. They don’t walk around with a cloth in one hand and a jug of water in the other all the time. Instead they should walk around looking for children to praise and reward; looking for those that need encouragement to eat their dinner and looking for those who struggle to use a knife and fork properly.

4. Pupil respect.
MDSAs often complain that children don’t respect them. “You’re only a dinner lady, my Mum says you can’t tell me what to do” is an uncomfortable but harsh reflection of how some children perceive MDSAs. However, from the eyes of a child if they spend most of their time wiping and washing they will see them as waitresses/waiters. It’s very difficult therefore for MDSAs to assert their authority when needed because children don’t think it’s what they are employed to do.

School leaders can change this perception by getting the whole school to recognise that the MDSA role is primarily about being a counsellor to listen, a teacher to help reinforce PSHE messages around friendship and socialisation, a health promoter to talk about a balanced diet (which includes a bit of chocolate) and a play worker to facilitate games. Cleaning and first aid is a small part of what they should be doing. To achieve this that means school leaders have to get MDSAs talking to school council about their views and opinions on lunchtime provision, to ask them to present any appropriate lunchtime awards in assemblies and to ensure children see that any behaviour decisions made by them are supported by teachers as part of a well communicated lunchtime charter in the classroom.

5. Engaging through play.
Children often start play fighting in the playground. Someone then gets hurt accidentally and MDSAs end up managing conflict and administering first aid. This can so easily be avoided if MDSAs were more proactive about getting children to engage in a series of simple games. Using the strategy of distraction and armed with no more equipment than a few balls MDSAs can choreograph some games for at least a dozen children. Start in a circle and teach a few ball based games such as hot potato (passing a ball quickly around the circle) or guard your gate (trying to roll a ball between people’s legs which are placed wide apart). To maintain interest make the games harder by, for example, introducing two balls or in the case of hot potato changing ball direction. You could then split the circle into two teams and start to play games such as up and over (ball over the head of one person and under the feet of the next) or number bounce (children given a number in their teams and when a ball is thrown and their number is called they have to run and get it). To calm children down in readiness for afternoon lessons ask then to make a circle again and play games like keeper of the keys (one person closes their eyes and holds a bunch of keys. Another child is nominated to collect the keys and the keeper of the keys has to then guess who did it.)

6. Lunchtime provision.
For MDSAs to effectively engage with children you have to create a restaurant style environment so children have enough time to eat and they can sit with their friends. This is achievable by creating a series of set sittings where everyone knows who they will be sitting with, when they will be sitting with them and for how long. But can this be done in a large school with a one hour lunch break? Yes it can. It just needs some classroom style planning to create friendship groups, a seating plan, a strict timetable and consultations with your pupil voice, your caterers and of course your MDSAs.

7. Rewarding good behaviour.
Rewarding good behaviour is a great way to change pupil perceptions of MDSAs. Walking into a dining hall or playground and giving out golden tickets that say ‘I am pleased with you because you chose to show good manners’ or ‘be helpful’ or ‘play well’ will get children to respect the MDSAs. However, to be effective and to make a sustainable impact they need to be linked to classroom rewards. If, for example, children are awarded house points then each golden card needs to come with a few house points too.

So, if you want your MDSAs to step up to the plate and effectively engage with the children then it’s important they benefit from some positive behaviour training and you review and audit your lunchtime provision. It may help avoid losing learning minutes in afternoon lessons and improve readiness to learning.