Lightbulb moment

27 09 2011

I’ve just had a bit of a eureka moment – at least I hope that’s what it will turn out to be.

I was flicking through blogs, having recently found this one: (as recommended by Ollie Bray years ago; I was looking at his SQH blog posts) and again a couple of years ago the author Dj MacDonald had linked to a video on You Tube as recommended by Ewan McIntosh about children copying what adults do.  That was interesting and well done but of course then I started looking at other commercials etc and saw an upsetting picture of a child.  I couldn’t even bear to watch the video – one image is more than enough to set me off but it got me thinking!

Just yesterday I had, for some random reason, being wondering if there was anything I would regret I didn’t get the chance to do before I died.  Previously I have always been quite insular in what I have thought, usually did I get to travel to and explore all the places in the world I wanted to, did I climb enough mountains, run enough races etc.  I was thinking yesterday would I regret if I never got a faster marathon faster time, never qualified for Boston, never got a sub-24 hour west highland way race time (bit of a pattern here), didn’t do everything in my career I wanted to and would I regret it if I didn’t have kids.

Then I saw this picture tonight and realised what I believe and hope I would certainly regret when I died if I didn’t do it and that is to at least keep trying to make a difference in the lives of some kids that don’t have the same opportunities and life chances as most of the children I know. 

As we talked in my first SQH day last month about what our values in education are and what our vision is someone commented that I was looking for utopia and I suppose that probably is what I want – something that seems so unobtainable and impossible that it is not even worth trying.  And yet we have to keep hoping and trying that we can make a difference.

I quite firmly believe that doling out charity is not the way to solve this issue long term, although I do want to do some more research to find out which charities are most beneficial to support and of course in the case of the current crisis in the Horn of Africa immediate aid is needed to ensure people’s survival.

One way I hope I am making a tiny difference is with the link school in Malawi, both the one that has been going for 3 years and the one I am hoping to set up when I go out again next week.  That has been about developing learning and teaching and management skills in Malawi and the friendship and partnership between both schools.  However it has also been about raising awareness here and developing my pupils knowledge and understanding of other cultures and sense of equality. 

I have tried, and will especially try to do with this new link, not make it about northern school giving money/resources to the southern school but about sharing a frienship and learning from each other.  What I really think we have to do is educate our pupils in how to bring about change both in their envrionment and at a higher level. 

I cited Cummins (1996) in my essay for this SQH unit who said there was a need to educate for global citizenship; to treat people equally and enforce the redistribution of wealth.

That last bit about enforcing the redistribution of wealth is the hardest part I think, and I don’t have much idea about how to go about this but my lightbulb moment is I’ll regret it if I don’t keep trying!  The inequality in the world and the unfair distribution of wealth is the one thing that makes me really angry….and I know I’m as bad as anyone else, I like my holidays and books and clothes but I’m going to think about that too – how I spend my money and do I need to!

This post ended up longer than I meant it to and is possibly the most personal post I have ever written on here but I thought even if I am the only one who reads it it was important to write it.  Now the hard part – to actually do something about it!

I’m back…I hope!

24 09 2011

I had never intended to abandon this blog the way I have, there has been loads I wanted to write about but I just haven’t made the time to do it.

I love my new job; the SMT, all of the different staff, the pupils, the learning and teaching, the open areas, the ICT, my actual post as principal teacher and having made a move to a new, smaller authority.

What was supposed to be a term at the end of last session just to get to know the school, staff and pupils was turned on it’s head a bit by the arrival of the ‘box’ about 4 weeks after I started!  This was to be my third inspection in my 8 years of teaching but although I had a bit of a panic having only just arrived I was actually in an ideal situation.  I had technically not been there long enough to be responsible for much but would get the chance before they arrived to get stuck in and gain some credibility among the staff. 

The head teacher and I had already discussed a re-arrangement of the open area before we got the box for next session but this just meant we speeded things up.  This allowed me to have something to lead and to show that I was going to put in as much, or more, work on it as anyone else.  I also tried to do it collaboratively, consulting all of the infant teachers and involving them, as well as the learning assistants, in the planning process.  (I have to say I have never worked with such fabulous learning assistants and the fact that they feel part of the whole p1-3 area team is due to the great ethos in the school.)  I also consulted with pupils in the area to see what they would like/felt the area would need and the pupils are certainly confident individuals and effective contributers being able to discuss and express their opinions.  Plus little things like providing lunch on a Saturday when the school fayre was on and we were in working on the open area helps too, even just in providing time to chat and build relationships, and this includes learning assistants again.

The actual inspection process, of which we were a pilot for the new approach, went very smoothly.  Mary Ritchie, whom I have worked with before, led the inspection and from the start we were put at our ease and made to feel involved in the process.  On the Monday afternoon one inspector and the lay inspector were in and around classes while myself, the depute, the HT and our QIO met with Mary Ritchie.  This part was far removed from what I have heard of previous presentations etc by the HT.  There was no presentation, just an open discussion around what the school had ranked itself against the quality indicators they were inspecting us on.  After school all of the inspectors met with staff and after introductions and a description of what would happen during the week we split into small groups with an inspector each to ask questions/have our minds put at ease really and this then just set the positive tone for the whole week.  We were asked to put up post it’s on their door of things we wanted them to come and see and the door was pretty much full by the next day!  They spent a lot of time with different children and they certainly did us and themselves proud!

They disengaged by the end of the day on Wednesday, talked to all the children about what they had seen at assembly on the Thursday morning and spent the rest of the day writing their report.  I can’t remember when they talked to the rest of the staff but they met with the SMT and the QIO after school on the Thursday for a very positive report!  The format of the new report can be seen here:

The only negative about the inspection, or the bad timing of it anyway, was that on the Friday night at 1am at the end of that week I was attempting the 95 mile West Highland Way race.  The sheer mental and physical exhaustion must have had an effect but finally it was an injury that forced me to pull out.  I’ll be back next year to put it to bed, and at least I know I won’t have an inspection before it!

I am teaching primary 2 again this year and have 24 of them.  I am sharing the class with a fabulous teacher ( I am out Thursday and Friday) whom I love working with.  I wasn’t sure how I would get on sharing a class but as we are both there all week it works out great as we get to talk so much together about the class and really share it.

The class have just started a blog but as this is totally new for the school I think it is going to take a while to get it going properly.  The parents that have been on think it is a great idea for improving communication and involving them in their child’s learning.  You can find it here:

The only thing this term is I feel I have had hardly any time to take on my PT role even though I have 2 days out a week.  I have been out of class loads,  in particular because I was accepted onto the SQH programme and have had a few days out for that so far.  I am really enjoying it but it does take up a fair amount of time both in and out of school.  I particularly like at the moment how directed it is so that I know exactly it is I have to do and there are only 5 of us in my group which means we are getting to know each other well.

As if that was not enough I am going back to Malawi a week on Thursday!  This is with my previous school at my head teacher’s request as it was already set up before I left.  In fact we just had the head teacher and depute head teacher over here at the beginning of term which was quite an experience for them!  I’m not ready at all as life has been so busy but I’ll get it done in the end!