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Farewell to 2016
December 20, 2016

OK, so 2016 has thrown a few unwanted curveballs at the world but, in the cosy and kind world of pedagoo, 2016 has been rather lovely if I may say – here are my best bits:

  • I became a pedagoo moderator, along with three other lovely ladies and started sharing the responsibility for moving this valuable movement forward.
  • I met said lovely ladies: there has been cake, pizza, more cake, coffee, cocktails, more cake, wine, more wine…
  • It has not been all about the gluttony, oh no, it has been all about the sharing – round the table, twitter, blogs…
  • Talking of blogs, I started mine, inspired by Susan Ward to try to share regularly (even if not as eloquently as Susan does!)
  • Talking of inspiration, a colleague of mine got into twitter – big time – and credited me and my “pedagoo stuff” as her inspiration! In a weird feedback loop this continues to inspire me to tweet and blog, cause even when you feel like you are getting nowhere, you might be having a drip drip drip effect.
  • We had pedagoomidlothian and pedagoomuckle – which was indeed muckle, and was a chance to connect, reconnect and share with many many lovely people.

What did pedagoo do for you in 2016? And what did you do for pedagoo? Tweet all about it to end our year with a festive bang. #pedagoo2016

Closing the mindset gap!
December 15, 2016


While there is no overall magic bullet, I believe that by creating a growth mindset culture within our schools; we can do much to improve children’s attainment and mental health.

Let’s focus on the issue of closing the attainment gap. The link between attainment and poverty is well documented in education research, including the Joseph Rowntree report on closing the gap. However, working to support parents and teachers to embed a growth mindset culture transcends social class. It does so by raising the bar of expectation, in a way that is realistic, based on credible feedback that is supportive, friendly and person centred. Having increased confidence, resilience, appetite for learning and understanding by working hard and practising different strategies can bridge the deficit when there may be little aspiration or value attached to education in the family home.So, how do we make it practical? Growth mindset has the potential to act as a way of supporting vulnerable learners by working on their resilience and using a growth mindset to increase appetite and engagement with learning and allowing those who have reached a good command of a subject to achieve mastery while enabling everyone to improve. Teachers can fulfil this role as well by thinking about the language they use in class and how they differentiate work for pupils – thinking through their own judgements that are applied to student potential (such as avoiding the use of ‘sets’ at too early a stage; using mixed ability groupings to encourage learning, peer learning opportunities, etc).

Mindset activities within the school should be included within school plans but not necessarily as a separate area for improvement. Think what can growth mindset can do within the context of literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing. Standing back and looking at all activities that happen within the school can create the opportunity to think about teaching and engagement strategies that help learners to seek help, understand their intelligence is not fixed and that everyone can improve in their education.

We need to pay attention to transition points, to language, to the curriculum and in ensuring that everyone across the school community is working hard to promote growth mindset consistently and based on a plan that is right for your particular school and community.

So, what are you going to do today to make mindset real within your school for your pupils, fellow staff and parents? Comment below if you are using mindset to help attainment in your school.

John Paul

Unleashing Learners
December 6, 2016

At the start of October I attended the Pedagoo Muckle in Glasgow. One of the learning conversations I took part in was led by Fearghal Kelly about “Unleashing Learners” which was about the pupils leading the learning of a unit of work – I was instantly intrigued! The thought of handing over a whole unit of work to a class to plan was a scary thought but I could see how great it could be. So, I took the plunge and selected one of my Higher Administration classes to be unleashed!

When we were ready to start a new topic, about effective teams (quite appropriate!), we all sat around a table, just like a business meeting. I explained what we were going to do and they were interested in the idea that they could decide how the lessons would go. Each pupil was given some post-it notes to record their thoughts which were added to the planning sheet (see below).

I first of all asked them what they already knew about the topic of “Teams” – they knew a reasonable amount already which was pleasing. I then asked what questions they had about the topic – this they found a lot tougher – and we spent quite a bit of time on that. They worried that their questions were too silly or irrelevant – no such thing I cried! Every day I now give them a random topic (eg bananas, abbreviations, etc) and they have to come up with one question they would like answered about it.

We then looked at the Outcomes for the topic and looked to see where and if the questions fitted in with them, which coincidently most of them did. The class then decided that the success criteria for this topic would be the ability to successfully answer at least 4 past paper questions about effective teams. To reach this stage took about 40 minutes.



The following period we then looked at the order we would like to look at the topic – not the order I would have picked, but they decided! I then asked them what kinds of activities would they like to do to cover the topics – they wanted to take notes, watch relevant videos, make a presentation, work in teams and have a speaker in. I was able to arrange for our Rugby Coach to come in and speak to them about working in a team, the skills involved and they did some team building activities. On this occasion we did not need any research teams.


All in all, the planning took 2 periods – was it time well spent? Yes, it was, the pupils enjoyed telling me what they wanted to learn and how (after being suspicious of my motives, I was the teacher after all, was I not just going to tell them what to do). After one of the activities, a pupil said that they really like learning that way. Pupils are engaged in a topic they are finding interesting, they are displaying their own team skills and supporting each other.

Will we be planning the next topic of the course this way – absolutely yes!

Winter Wellbeing
December 5, 2016

What is Our Winter Wellbeing Calendar all about?

Whilst the Christmas period is seen as the time of the year for joy and celebration, what’s often not recognised, is that it can be a particularly tiring and stressful time of the year for school leaders and teachers.

The plays and special assemblies are all wonderful cause for celebration. However, the continuous run of late nights, mixed in with the everyday pressures of school life can take their toll!

That’s why this year, we thought we’d try to lend a ‘virtual’ helping hand! To help make December just that little bit less stressful and more joyful for you, with our first ever, Winter Wellbeing Advent Calendar.

What can you expect?

The Calendar will involve 24 days of mini-blogs/thoughts for the day designed to offer you encouragement, support and useful advice to help you stay positive right through to Christmas day.

These mini-blogs will be provided by inspiring educators, focused around a different theme of Well-being in education. We have enlisted top educational thought-leaders, bloggers, coaches, authors and inspiring school leaders to bring you a fantastic calendar of wellbeing wisdom, thought-provoking questions for reflection, and words of encouragement and inspiration.

Here is the list of the first 12 days of blogs for the Calendar:


Our Calendar will also be run in collaboration with #Teacher5aday (Twitter Teacher Wellbeing initiative set up by Martyn Reah) and @Tim_JumpClarke’s Winter challenge calendar, which consists of 24 winter challenges, to help you relax and be more compassionate to yourself and those around you this Christmas.


How does it work?

The window will be opened every day between 6:30Am and 11:30AM, on our Twitter account,  where we will be announcing when the day’s window on the advent calendar has been opened and the new mini blog/thought for the day has been released –  click here to follow us on Twitter

Even if you don’t have Twitter, when the window has been opened you’ll be able to read the day’s mini blog by following the link on the calendar itself or via our homepage.

Alternatively, you can now sign up to receive every day of the calendar by following the link below.

Sign up to receive everyday of the Winter Wellbeing Calendar straight to your Inbox

How can I get involved?

We’d love you to get involved with the calendar as much as possible, so if you have any reflections on the winter wellbeing thoughts of the day, please do share them via Twitter using the #WinterCalendar hashtag.

Likewise, if you have any photos, snippets of wisdom or quotes that have inspired you and think would inspire others through the month of December, please do share these too.

Just be sure to use the #WinterCalendar hashtag!

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