Teaching future feminists

I have had the privilege in the last week listen to intelligent and passionate speakers debating a wide range of issues at the HowTheLightGetsIn festival in Hay-on-Wye. On Monday these included two debates about feminism: one focused on the diverse approaches taken by different feminist activists, and the other specifically about the gender biases in science, historically and today.

I also attended other debates about equality, “meritocracy” and free speech, among others. These were all fascinating conversations that I felt lucky to be a part of. I was able to ask questions at the end of these debates, and on several occasions to speak with the debaters face to face immediately following the events.

I also had the further privilege in the previous week of interviewing candidates for Deputy Head of Science roles in the department where I begin my first Head of Science post in September.

It occurred to me today that the situation in which I find myself puts me in a perfect position to pursue the goals I see as vitally important in science education when I begin my new job in September. To explain why requires a little more context regarding the department I will be leading.

Continue reading “Teaching future feminists”

My educational values

  1. Everyone has the right to their own ambitions
  2. Nobody has the right to define anyone else’s level of ability
  3. Everyone deserves dignity, respect and space to express themselves
  4. A teacher’s job is to teach as effectively as they can
  5. A student’s job is to learn as much as they can
  6. Hard work and grit are to be celebrated
  7. No one should be lazy or rude
  8. Language is powerful and creates our world
  9. There is only one Earth, and we all live on it. Respect it
  10. Think for yourself

If I am to maintain my integrity in my work life, my actions need to match my values.

This is a first attempt at putting those values into language and I hope to refine them and most importantly to act in line with them, without worrying about who might be upset!

Assessment without levels – prologue

My school has produced a first draft proposal for a new assessment framework relating to the new GCSE grades, and looking to move to a system without levels.

The gist of it is: a student comes into school, and based on their prior attainment they’re set a ‘projected grade’. This is the minimum expected GCSE grade (e.g. grade 5).

Teachers will use this to set a professional target.

In each year, the same grading system will be used, so a student should in theory progress from grade 5 in Year 7 to grade 5 in Year 11, with each subject setting the standards against which these judgements will be made.

As I spent some time on my response to this first draft proposal, I thought it would be worth sharing more widely. Below is my response. I’d be interested to know what you think.

Continue reading “Assessment without levels – prologue”

Books: “Flow” by Csikszentmihalyi (1990)

The book Flow

“Flow: the psychology of optimal experience”


Harper Perennial Modern Classics, paperback, published 2008 in New York

When I read it

Summer 2009, quite a lot of it in Bristol where I was beginning my SASP course (science additional specialism programme – gaining an official second specialism in chemistry after teaching A level chemistry for 4 years!) Continue reading “Books: “Flow” by Csikszentmihalyi (1990)”

A (non-fiction) reading list – but no descriptions, yet

More or less in order, these have been read in the last three years or so, and have had major impacts on how and what I think:

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1991) Flow: The psychology of optimal experience

Daniel H. Pink (2009) Drive: the surprising truth behind what motivates us

Matt Ridley (2010) The Rational Optimist: how prosperity evolves

Daniel Kahnemann (2011) Thinking, Fast and Slow

Carol S. Dweck (2006) Mindset: how you can fulfil your potential

Jim Collins (2001) Good to Great: why some companies make the leap… and others don’t AND (2006) Good to Great and the Social Sectors

Patrick Lencioni (2004) Death by Meeting: a leadership fable about solving the most painful problem in business

Daniel T. Willingham (2009) Why Don’t Students Like School? A cognitive scientist answers questions about how the mind works and what it means for the classroom

John-Paul Flintoff (2012) How to Change the World

Read a longer time ago, but had a lasting influence: Continue reading “A (non-fiction) reading list – but no descriptions, yet”

AQA Additional Science – learning/revision checklists

Note: as the title suggests this will only really be of use if you are teaching AQA GCSE Additional Science!

In the spirit of Ian of @teachingofsci this is an attempt to share some resources I’ve put together (based on similar checklists found on the TES website, such as the excellent ones produced by my-GCSEscience.com that link to his YouTube videos).

What I have made: The links are to DropBox folders containing separate checklists (some short ones combined 2 in 1) for all the topics examined in the AQA GCSE science courses (not including Science B and Additional Applied Science). They have been written using every statement from the specifications (excluding the seperate sections on How Science Works and Mathematical Requirements, but including the ‘outcomes’ at the beginning of each part of the spec), but written in a “You should be able to…” form.

How I’m using them: For my current Year 11s and Year 10s, I have given them the whole lot as a booklet to use for revision, but for my current Year 10s and all future GCSE classes I will give each student the relevant checklist for each topic at the start so they can be crystal clear about how their learning in class links to the exams they’ll have at the end. This means they are always aware when they are learning specifically what’s needed for their exams, and when they are going beyond the specifications.

Any comments / corrections most welcome, and if anyone knows who I should be crediting for the original checklist formats, please let me know. I can’t remember where I found the ones I used as a starting point.

The links are all in the same format:

is.gd/AQAB1checklists  is.gd/AQAB2checklists  is.gd/AQAB3checklists

is.gd/AQAC1checklists  is.gd/AQAC2checklists  is.gd/AQAC3checklists

is.gd/AQAP1checklists  is.gd/AQAP2checklists  is.gd/AQAP3checklists

How can disillusionment be addressed? #BLOGSYNC

Written as part of #blogsync3: “Wasted investment? Why do so many teachers leave the profession in the first 5 years?”

To find other posts on this topic, please visit share.edutronic.net/teacher-attrition/ Rather than write about the reasons that teachers leave the profession, I thought I would suggest how it could be avoided.

Why people leave teaching (paraphrased from another post in this month’s #blogsync by James McEnaney)

  1. They made the wrong decision – teaching is not for them
  2. They find other opportunities more suited to them
  3. A major life event makes it impossible to stay with the job
  4. They become disillusioned because of
    1. Being micro-managed
    2. A lack of support from senior management
    3. Being stifled by systems that put constraints on their creativity and innovation

How the issue of ‘disillusionment’ be addressed?

Middle and senior leaders must find that happy balance between providing guidance and direction, while putting trust in teachers and supporting their ideas.

Continue reading “How can disillusionment be addressed? #BLOGSYNC”