Session 60 – Thursday 25th August 2011

Session Title:

Practical Ideas for getting to know your new class

Session Summary:

In the lead up to the new school year, I hoped to run a really practical session full of ideas for getting to know your new class.  The main aim was to share as many practical ideas as possible, and I think it’s fair to say that it didn’t disappoint.

Some of the notable ideas shared included

(A big thank you to Paul Collins who took the time to expand on all of the ideas on his blog)

Then, of course, there was the row about rows.  It started off innocently enough, with some people feeling that rows were not inductive to learning, nor to getting to know the pupils, whilst others felt that they improved behaviour management and therefore facilitated learning.  Tempers and humours ran high and I ended up having to threaten the perpetrators with detention…

It was great to see some new faces last night and it was a real pleasure to see so many outstanding ideas shared.

Notable Tweets from the session:

@PivotalEllie: Get students to write down 20 questions for each other in pairs and then join up with another pair. Teacher stands and listens

@ConsultantHead: I like to make little top trump type cards with their photo on and use them to learn their names

@PhilWheeler1: Get a competition going boys v girls about what they can find out about each other with yes no answers only

@EmTeaches: Getting kids to play ‘Call My Bluff’ about themselves is good fun and helps me get to know them and their personalities

@Tim1768: Games, like getting them to try to line up in alphabetical order, oldest to youngest, height order

@benwhite25: always keep records of early lesson findings about pupils, never know when they could be useful for teaching / pastoral care

@deerwood: look at their Facebook page

@jackieschneider: I used to write a letter to class about me & put in env 4 kids to take home. Most times at least half class write back unprompted

@victoriaellis: I’ve had tutor groups on first day write their end of year report – interesting reading a year later!

@futurebehaviour: Learn names quickly – using it and knowing them really makes a diff to relationships & helps with behaviour

@SheliBB: I’m going to try a ‘feelings’ thermometer this year to help children identify their own feelings and understand related actions

@richard_james: as a HoY I often set at Yr7 where will you be in Yr 11 ambitions etc -job etc – then at Yr11 give it them back

@jackieschneider: – nothing like a class sing song to create bonds & positive feelings. See @SingUpTweets 4 ideas

@EmTeaches: Present your autobiography (so far!) through photographs and ask chn to do the same complete with ambitions

@bellaale: Feeling v energized that we are talking about getting to know PEOPLE on the day when its been a massive stat-gasm..

@bellaale: Be open about *yourself*… (within reason!)

@SheliBB: ask children what they should expect from you as teacher, then what they will do in return.refer to throughout the yr

@TeamTait: Positive Friday Phone Calls. It’s amazing how well kids respond if they know you’ll phone home just before the weekend!

@bootleian: Baby photos – guess who with a prize for the one with most correct

@PhilWheeler1: class speed dating or speed info finding.

@NickiA10: use a snowballing effect, find a child to learn something about, then find another pair to share with then another.

@bellaale: Get kids to make presos about selves: films, Powerpoints, whatever they want


Tweet of the week:

@deerwood: If you want to know your new class, look at their previous test scores.  Then tear them up and give each pupil a fresh start


Highlighted links:

Microsoft Partners in Learning UK Forum Winners 2010

The Ice Breaker……

‘You’ve got mail’ idea explained

Trust games to play with students

New class ideas from TES Connect

Bingo game designed to help people get to know one another (face to face and online)

Colour Coding to help you get to know your pupils!

Ice Breaker suggestions

Validate – it’s great!

How to remember pupils’ names


About your host:

This session was hosted by @creativeedu who most of you already know as the author of the Creative Education Blog.  I’m the managing director for the training arm of Creative Education who provide CPD for teachers.


Session 59 – Thursday 18th August 2011

Session Title:

How can we change the mindset that it is not ‘cool’ to achieve in school?

Session Summary:

This discussion aimed to deal with a situation that I am sure many of us have faced with children who are afraid to achieve because of how their peers will react and indeed how to deal with those children whole feel it is ok to bully others because of their achievements. Almost straight away the question was asked as to whether this was a discussion about praise or motivation and I responded that it was a bit of both. The discussion then moved on to the question of praise and more importantly how children react to praise. It became quite clear that children react to praise in different ways – some will love the public praise of an Achievement Assembly whereas others will dread these occasions. The point was made that praise and rewards need to be meaningful – we can over do stickers and certificates – and that the praise and reward that works for one age group can be completely ineffective for another. We also talked about who the praise comes from and how children can react completely to praise coming from outside school through tools such as blogs and Twitter. After the discussion I then came across this quote which I thought summed up this topic quite well – “We destroy the love of learning in children …by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards.” by John Holt.

The discussion then moved on to how to foster this love of learning and motivate children to want to achieve. We also looked at how to make low-ability children not feel threatened by the high achievers. Everyone agreed that every child achieves in some way and that all achievements, academic and non-academic should be praised. We also talked about how, as teachers, we have a responsibility to act as role models to show how much we enjoy learning and how we need to demonstrate our passion for whatever subject we teach. We discussed celebrating geekiness and how a teacher’s enthusiasm for their topic can be a very powerful motivational tool.

Notable Tweets from the session

@chilledteaching: I am going to throw down the gauntlet! Perhaps it is the disenchanted pupils in the middle who need more attention!

@GeekPeter: I think some students will try hard to achieve to please someone they respect, relationships with staff are very important.

@a_p_martin: getting families to value school achievement is crucial this can help create a groundswell in the whole community.

@mattpearson: Do you think that celebrity culture is partly to blame. Most celebs come across as anti-intellectual. Do kids latch on to this?

@DepJo: I think it’s about teaching children to work hard for themselves, not just to gain praise from others.. That inner self-confidence.

@EmathsUK: Kids would engage more if the curriculum was to the world that they will be adults in… it’s hundreds of years behind.

@joanne_rich: Chatting to teenage son & friend – yr 10 – say praise is only bearable in top set lessons not in mixed ability.

@mikeatedji: Why would you want to achieve if you felt you had no stake in the eventual outcome.

@EmTeaches: Role models must be relevant and aspirational to the chn, and able to talk positively about their own time at school.

Tweet of the week:

@LearningSpy: Stop mentioning praise! We don’t want childrenn to learn cos there’s something in it for them! We want them to love learning!!!

Highlighted links:

The taxonomy of the nerd

Nerd Venn Diagram

RSA – Changing education paradigms

ICT display – celebrating geekiness!

Why don’t boys want to be Lady Gaga? (looking at boys lack of role models)

The learning loop

Cybraryman’s motivating students page

Punished by rewards?

Do extrinsic rewards lower intrinsic motivation?

About your host:

Chris Leach is Head of ICT at an independent prep / pre-prep school in Northamptonshire. He has presented at Teachmeet’s and BETT and this was his debut as a #ukedchat host.

Chris’ blog is

Session 58 – Thursday 11th August 2011

Session Title:

How can we improve the teaching community’s relations with the public?

Session Summary:

There were so many threads to Thursday’s discussion, the debate was as vibrant and brimming with ideas as ever, that this has been very difficult to compile, so I hope I’ve done it justice.


One major theme of the discussion was a perceived dissonance between the way people felt that schools and teachers were perceived locally, versus the way they were perceived nationally. Indeed, several people felt confused about the need for this discussion as they felt like they had a good relationship with parents and the local press, and the school had a good reputation locally. It was suggested that the picture painted by the national press was very different, but that this was driven largely by politicians and the media, and not by parents. Most agreed that there was a need for teachers to have a better relationship with national media, amongst the ideas proposed were media ‘champions’ or high profile spokespeople and an ‘Education Media Watch’, which could tackle misrepresentations of education issues by the media.


There was much discussion about whether the professional standing of teachers had been degraded, and many felt that it had been. Whether there is enough public understanding of the role of teachers, and how this could contribute to commonly held misconceptions about the education agenda, was also raised. There was also some debate as to whether the unions act as a suitable platform for teachers views. There were several ideas aimed at ‘demystifying’ teaching, making teaching processes more publicly accessible, such as by providing more detailed information to parents and the community about what goes on in school, as well as the suggestion that we need reality TV shows to show what teaching is really like! It was also suggested that in order to win back public support and/or professionalism, we perhaps need to address directly public concerns about poor teachers by raising the bar to enter teaching and making it easier to sack poor teachers.


There was also much discussion about what schools could do to improve their public relations, which inevitably raised issues about whether schools should be run more like businesses.


Thanks again for letting me host!


Notable Tweets:

@deerwood: If teacher does good work with each pupil and communicates this, then parents feel they have a good teacher despite media view.

@EMathsUK: Teaching unique in that everyone thinks they know what the job is because they once went to school… so all have preconceptions

@passionateaboot: Teachers have good news stories but they never get beyond the confines of the school. How good are you guys at selling yourselves?

@EmTeaches: The ‘public’ perception of teaching from the parents of kids in my class very positive. Media perception is a separate issue.

@deerwood: UK education has a long history of useless ministers in charge. The key is to ignore them and carry on promoting good education.

@mattbuxton10: Perhaps we should put together a renegade curriculum teaching how politicians & journalists are all corrupt/criminal!!!!

@altyapple: Might I suggest that if it was easier to remove poor quality teachers public perception may increase.

@unseenflirt: @genkijen @coopsonia Good point. The pensions issue is evidence of why teachers need the public’s sympathies.

@joanne_rich: Community involvement/local media/student voice etc. all good but drowned out by national message that ‘schools’ are failing

@BernieThomas: teachers are seen as overpaid and underworked

@PivotalEllie: Maybe we need more fly on the wall day-in-the-life-of documentaries that follow teachers and show what they do.

@mattbuxton10: Issue isn’t helped by govt reviews done by celebs as opposed to educators; sends message we aren’t experts but they are!

@robbmonster: Raising perceptions of teachers begins with raising entry criteria for trainee teachers. It should be an elite profession.

@jodieworld: The current government has done a LOT to damage teaching reputation but how much have teachers done to damage that too?

@PivotalEllie: Whose responsibility should it be to ensure nationwide good publicity of the profession? TDA? Ofsted? Unions? Who?

@bigart_jim And edu is constantly seen as a problem to solve RT @tim7168 Politicans have no incentive to portray teachers in a good light.

@EmathsUK Teaching often doesn’t help itself, with the constant “woe is me” voice of the unions. It’s the greatest job on earth!

@rapclassroom: Unless we are happy being reduced to ‘deliverers’ of the Government’s curriculum, we have to engage politically.

@wjputt: Stop getting celebrities to ‘teach’, review or research education. Get ‘top’ teacher to do it & use Web 2.0 techs to share it!


Natacha’s proposal for Ed Media Watch

Britain is not broken


Examples of good press for individual schools:

PSPs at Gloucestershire College


Hard work by teachers, pupils, and staff pays off


Session 59 – Pre-Chat Reading

This week’s #ukedchat is going to be guest hosted by Chris Leach.  He’s written a blog post to give you a flavour of what we’ll be discussing.

Too Cool for School?

On Thursday 18th August at 8pm I will be guest-hosting #ukedchat for the very first time.

Several times during my teaching career I have come across children who are academically very gifted and yet are afraid to reach their full potential because of how they think their friends will react. They don’t want to be labelled ‘boff’ or have their achievements mocked by their classmates and I have seen children who will deliberately score low in tests and remove pieces of work from display. I’m sure many of us have dealt with children who have been ‘bullied’ due to their successes in school.

So my question for this week’s #ukedchat discussion is “How can we change the attitude that it is not ‘cool’ to do well at school?” In a week where youth disengagement has been hitting the headlines it seems even more relevant that we discuss how we can ensure that all children feel that there is a purpose to school and that they are not afraid of achieving and reaching their potential.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions regarding this topic please join me on Twitter on Thursday evening from 8pm till 9pm. Just use the #ukedchat hashtag. (More info about how to #UKEdChat here)

Further Reading

“Why do Children become disengaged from School?”

Not so fast: ‘jocks’ lose their cool as teens strive for banality to fit in (TES)







Session 58 – pre-chat reading

This week’s #ukedchat is going to be guest hosted by @tim7168.  He’s written a blog post to give you a flavour of the type of questions we’ll be exploring on Thursday night.  

Topic: What could we do to improve the teaching community’s relations with the public?
Background Info:
The publication of the KS2 SATs results last week has heralded the next bout of teacher bashing from the media, politicians and the public alike. This relentless focus on results and targets has served to narrow the political and public discourse about education. Politicians have no qualms about publicly undermining the efforts of teachers and schools to further their political aims, and the media will all too often happily oblige: a story about failing schools is more compelling than a story about their successes. But this approach is frequently misleading to the public, propagating and reinforcing misconceptions which are harmful to the profession, the education system and, inevitably, to children’s education.Looking at the US, we can see where this variety of constant negative publicity and focus on arbitrary targets can lead. Teachers are widely demonised in the media, dismissed as overpaid and judged against unrealistic and ever rising targets in a relentless standardised testing regime. Teachers have been sacked for cheating on tests, raising their students test scores fearing for their jobs if they failed to make the grade.In the face of this tension teachers (and unions) are often forced onto the defensive, polarising what should be important, sophisticated debates. Are our schools lawless jungles of knife crime in which the teachers lost control long ago? Or is everything hunky dory? In the face of rhetoric like this, how can the public be expected to contribute to debates about educational reform?Each week in #ukedchat I meet dedicated, innovative and inspiring professionals. The passion for learning is evident in the frenzied pace and energy of the discussions, not to mention the simple fact that hundreds of teachers choose to take time out of their busy week (and even their ‘gratuitous’ holidays!) to work on improving their practice. I believe that we need to work on our public relations to show people what is really going on in schools and give them an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the great education debate, away from the headlines and spin.
Some questions we’ll be exploring:
  • How could we improve our relations with the public so that they can understand the facts beyond the headlines and spin, and better understand what we are trying to achieve in the classroom?
  • How could this impact on our practice and the results of the system as a whole?
Join the discussion at 8pm on Thursday 11th August 

Session 56 – Thursday 28th July 2011

Session Title:

“Hard to reach parents” practical help and suggestions that have been successful.


Session Summary:

A very lively discussion; full of very interesting suggestions. Apart from the many practical ideas, themes did begin to emerge including breaking down barriers, mutual respect, opening up schools, holding events and employing outreach workers and mentors. Helping parents who are wary of schools because of their own perhaps negative experiences, are also vital in forming successful links. It is important to remember that good home school relationships help pupils flourish in school. Good schools should reach out to whole community


Notable Tweets from the Session:

@cloud_burst: #ukedchat when speaking to parents be truthful, but positive, foster an equal partnership ethos


@pivotalpaul: #ukedchat ask parents for help and advice, value their expertise, use their skills, start the relationship with humility and an open mind

@rapclassroom: Parents are much more than resources to help us cope with challenging behaviour in class. How do we communicate this to them? #ukedchat

@Mr_J_Light: @ePaceonline we have a successful reading program. Parents come in to chat and listen to our ‘weaker’ readers. Children enjoy the attention

@teachitso: RT Key- @DexNott #ukedchat careful, thoughtful wording about incidents expectations helps. High expectations of youngsters echo with parents

@pivotalpaul: #ukedchat worth remembering that all parents want the best for their children, it is just that some don’t know how to go about it

@DexNott: #ukedchat listen carefully2 child &2 parents we too often want to give advice/lecture just listen and respond kindly thoughtfully tirelessly

@Nic5Harrison: I think our partnership with parents is key to supporting pupils and helping them reach their full potential – I welcome all ideas #ukedchat

@PivotalEllie: @DexNott#ukedchat Send more notes, make more positive phone calls, emails, invitations to parents eve, anything but more persistently

@Mando_Commando: #ukedchat one contact can build a relationship with parents rather than them feeling bombarded by 14 indiv teachers. (secondary)

@mattharding007: #ukedchat We started a topic by inviting parents in to do activities with their children. They also help us get displays up. Everyone wins!

@smurfatik: when in theUSAwe were expected to tell parents how to contact us and what times & be available to any parent at those times #ukedchat

@RossMannell: @serenity100 #ukedchat Training for working with parents is a great idea. We may be there for the children but parental

@ePaceonline: invited a whole group of parents in, mainly parents of difficult children, so they realised their child wasn’t the ‘only one’!

@richards_james: If you make a promise to a parent to do something make sure you do -or else ?

@geraldhaigh: Some success in engaging older women to work on playground games. Interesting with ethnic groups. Get the grans, and mums follow.#ukedchat


Tweet of the Week:

@rapclassroom: See ‘hard to reach’ as a gap that you would like to close. Consider what you could do to move closer, and your motivations. Listen! #ukedchat


Useful Links Highlighted:


Learning Logs and ERIC Time

Car number plate maths


Using technology to engage parents in children’s learning

Meet the parent

Overcoming 10 common barriers to parental engagement

South Rise Primary School’s parental engagement project


developing a department twitter feed



About Your Host:

Your host tonight @ePaceonline Mary Blake, ex secondary English teacher involved in many educational projects aimed at improving teaching and learning, member of multi disciplinary teams and now working as Educational Consultant developing ePace.

Thank you all for your ideas, hope they will help others in ‘bridging the gap’.