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Credit where credit is due on #PedagooFriday

You’re probably aware of our end-of-the-week hashtag #PedagooFriday.  The idea is to create a space on Twitter where teachers can share a positive experience from their classroom and, perhaps, develop a happier tone at the end of the week.  It’s been quite a week.  Nuff said.

As this week’s Duty Moderator, I noticed that several tweachers posting links to blogs about their practice in their #PedagooFriday tweets and I’ve taken the liberty of producing a summary here.

If you’re interested in tech, you’ll be interested in @stirdigilearn’s post. The EduTechScot2017 conference took place in Glasgow and the event focused on STEM learning through digital technology and how it can be harnessed by educators to equip themselves and children with the tools to succeed. Sounds interesting, right? See the Stirling Digital Learning blog post for a concise review of some of the cool resources encountered at the event. See the #EduTechScot hashtag on Twitter for even more information about the conference.

Tech in the form of visualisers seemed to be flavour of the week, appearing in posts from two teachers at schools in different parts of the UK.

Firstly, @MrMarsham tagged a post on @BedfordAcademy’s ‘Teaching and Learning Showcase’ blog which contains a collection of shared teaching and learning ideas contributed by staff from Bedford Academy in Milton Keynes.  In his post ‘My best friend, the visualiser’ Dave Marsham explains how he makes use of this piece of tech to model and to give feedback on answers in Maths and History lessons.

Secondly, @mrsjmasters tagged a tweet from @HuntResearchSch about a post by Dr Susan Smith, Science TA at Huntingdon School and Biology Tutor at York College.

Huntingdon School is one of Education Endowment Foundation’s (EEF) Research Schools Network.  Work funded in schools by EEF claims that metacognition and one-to-one teaching are cost effective, high impact means of raising attainment.  A focus group recently held at Huntingdon School tried to define metacognition and what it looks like in practice. It became clear that teachers wanted examples of what metacognition means in practice. In her post called ‘Becoming a (Metacognitive) Teacher Part 1’ Susan outlines how she uses visualisers in combination with a virtual learning environment (VLE) with her students. Part 2 is also available on the school blog.

A piece of practice-based enquiry was referenced in a tweet from @TeacherBS14, twitter handle for the web page for teaching and learning at St. Bernadette Catholic Secondary School in Bristol.  In this case, the blog post outlined an action research project into scaffolding and differentiation in Art with Year 8, Year 9 and SEND nurture students undertaken by Art teacher Teresa Hove.  This is Teresa’s first year in the secondary sector after a move from primary.

Last, but by no means least, our very dear friend and inventor of the #PedagooFriday hashtag @kennypieper  published ‘What’s Grown Ups Going to Think?’.  Here Kenny eloquently explains why social media should be welcoming space for all teachers.  Hear, hear Kenny!

In terms of this particular collaborative blog, if it’s about your teaching practice, we’d like to help share it.  You can cross post.  Yes, we’re more than happy to accept posts that appear on other blogs. Otherwise, you can write something just for us. There’s certainly a big Pedagoo audience out there, with currently over 32 thousand followers on social media.

It’s good to share, and it’s the entire raison d’être of the Pedagoo community. Come blog with us! http://www.pedagoo.org/newpost/

What do we mean by leadership?

This is a more difficult question than you might at first think. If someone says they word ‘leadership’ to you, what do you first think of?

In my experience at least, for many teachers in Scotland the answer is ‘promotion’. We say things like ‘I’m not interested in leadership by which we mean ‘I’m not interested in promotion. But when you stop and think about it, that’s not what leadership means at all. We’ve all worked with classroom teachers who were great leaders of practice and we’ve all worked with young people who demonstrate fantastic leadership attributes. I like the following definition from a recent book chapter by Forde & Dickson (2017):

Leadership is an interactional process where influence and power are exercised in different ways, in different locations by different people across an organisation.

Given my job these days is supporting the development of ‘teacher leadership’ I find that we often need to begin by discussing the fact that great teachers demonstrate aspects of leadership in their role day in, day out. Here’s an example of this very conversation in action:

The question then becomes, how do you go about supporting the growth of leadership in teachers? If you’re a teacher in Scotland, SCEL has a growing offering. Firstly, there’s our *free* online framework for educational leadership. This has recently been enhanced and can be used to support teachers to develop leadership in their practice. You can even now download a record of your professional learning from the framework for uploading into your professional learning profile. Check it out now: scelframework.com

We also have a Teacher Leadership Programme on offer. This is free for teachers in Scottish schools and supports and challenges participants to take an enquiring approach to developing practice in their classrooms. We have been prototyping the programme this session and we are currently recruiting for an expanded cohort next session. If you would like to know more about this, including how to apply, check out our website. You can also keep up to date with our support for teacher leadership by joining our Teacher Leadership Network in Yammer.

In the meantime, one other way of course to develop your leadership as a teacher is to get involved in communities such as Pedagoo, TeachMeet and #ScotEdChat…why not begin by checking out the one and only #PedagooFriday today!

Getting started with IT
March 6, 2017
St. Patrick's Primary School, a UNICEF partner school, in Coatbridge, in Glasgow, Scotland, on 27 March 2015.

I was asked recently why I persevere with learning to use IT in my teaching, especially when I seem to be coming up against one problem after another.  At the time, my simple answer was “It’s because I have a degree in IT”. However, I have been thinking about it, and I am no longer sure that is the reason.

I have decided to share my thoughts on this because I see teachers who want to use more IT and really don’t know where to start, and there is always the element of fear of ‘what if it doesn’t work’.

To put things into context, I came into teaching from Industry. I have a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and a Masters in IT, and have worked across both industries for 18 years, before becoming a maths teacher – which I have now done for 3 years.

I have found the biggest issue with using IT is getting started – there are always teething issues in learning how something works. But just as we ask pupils to persevere when they are learning something new so should we – because it is through making the mistakes that we deepen our learning. (Hmmmm where have I heard that before??). Sometimes when things don’t work the way I want, I might use a work-around to try and get round the problem. This probably does come from being an Engineer but ultimately it’s problem solving – again something we are teaching our pupils.

The other big issue is knowing what apps/ software etc to use. The best suggestion I can offer here is to ask around / research on the internet / twitter.  What I am doing is starting within my comfort zone – which scarily enough is Glow.  I have used Sharepoint in industry, and know its potential as a forum for saving and sharing information.  While I am getting the pupils used the the basics, I am investigating the features of Glow and thinking about what I can try next, and how it will fit into my teaching in a meaningful way.

So in answer to the original question about why I persevere, I think part of it is because I am fairly new to teaching, and the fear of things going wrong is ever present, so to me many aspects of teaching are new, so I am not scared to try different things, and to be honest I hope I keep that state of mind throughout my teaching career. In the early days of my teaching career, I was less fearful of the technology than I was of the teaching!!!

Secondly I have come from Industry where I see a digital world.  Technology is everywhere, and pupils will see a big jump in the use of technology between school and either further education or employment.  Many pupils primarily see technology as a means of communicating with their friends or playing games.  The best way to teach our pupils to use technology responsibly is to show them that there is more to tech than Facebook/snapchat or improving their kill/death ratio, and the way to do this is by getting them to use it, as a regular part of their learning.

Wee Pedagoo
March 5, 2017

Good things come in small packages.

Talking about teaching and learning is a magical thing. Get a bunch of teachers together and they spark off one another like pieces of flint. Inspiring, creative, curious conversations happen that lead to practice-changing ‘I-never-thought-of-it-like-that-before’ moments. This much we know.

We also know teachers are busy. Crazy busy.

So how are we supposed to make space for all this sparky flinty goodness in amongst the noise of everything else that happens in schools? Welcome to Wee Pedagoo, the pocket-sized Pedagoo event that really packs a punch!

One conversation. One hour. One huge difference.

Wee Pedagoo is about one conversation that really matters. No name tags, no presenters, no PowerPoints. Just teachers talking. A Wee Pedagoo event is about carving out a wee space to talk about the big stuff. It’s really easy to organise (even if this is your first time planning an event), super-flexible and guaranteed to give teachers the feel-goods. You can have a Wee Pedagoo whenever and wherever teachers get together. You can set the topic for the conversation yourself or choose from our ever-growing ideas page full of #haveaweegoo questions to get teachers talking. You can have a Wee Pedagoo with as many or as few teachers as you want- it’s the quality of the conversation that matters. So what are you waiting for? Have a wee goo and sign up today!


Great! Hop over to the Wee Pedagoo page to find out more and register your event now- then get ready for the sparks to fly!

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!


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

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!

Sharing our Learning Across Oceans
November 25, 2016

Sharing learning is one of the things I love about teaching. I just completed a project within my classroom and attended a conference with the purpose of sharing and learning for others. While at the Teacher Learning and Leadership Program Conference (#TLLP2016) in Ontario, Canada, I met with Fearghal Kelly and now I have this platform where I can share with like minded teachers across the ocean.

My project revolved around the idea of having an outdoor classroom and how we could document the student learning outdoors. We have 30 students in the class and we have them for the two years they spend in the Early Years. They can begin at age 3.8 and when they leave us they can be 6.6 years old. In the classroom, I have a partner who is a Registered Early Childhood Educator, the RECE and I plan and devise an environment that we hope will engage and provoke learning for our students. We also want to communicate that learning to the parents; because who does the documentation belong to? Who is it for?  So we use Instagram and Twitter to share our learning with the parents and beyond the walls of our classroom.

Instagram offers us immediacy. Our parents know what the learning was before they even pick their child up at the end of the day. They initiate conversations, elicit vocabulary around the learning and often contribute and extend the learning in their home, ready to be shared the next day. It affords parents the chance to comment on the learning and offer support for the next steps in the child’s learning.

We also share those pictures/videos with the child in a quiet moment and document their own words about what they were thinking, what their plan for learning was and what their next step was. Sometimes several weeks pass before we look at the picture and this gives the child the chance to reflect back on the learning and discuss what if anything they did to extend that learning. We also share that learning/pictures with the rest of the class. This is twofold; we celebrate the learning but it also works to inspire and provoke other students in the class.

I hope that we can connect with other educators interested in documentation and outdoor learning.

Mary Mahler

#pedagoomuckle -supporting change through the staff room
October 28, 2016

I was trying to unpick some of the things I do in my practice, things I believe make a difference, and talking with a non-teacher friend, I realised that as a profession we tend to like a nice new shiny concept, approach, package, programme or resource. Now I’m not implying that’s wrong, far from it, many of my teacher friends are fantastic advocates of a wide number of approaches, you only have to look at the # tags that some of the prominent tweeters in Scottish Education follow, to see that good practice means having many different tools and options available so that we can meet and support ALL of the children in our classes. But I’m not sure that these approaches and methods are the real crux of why we have our own success stories of children we have nurtured. It’s a common mistake I think, to take a resource that appears to be the reason for success and then wonder why the success hasn’t been as great when implemented in a different environment. I have a feeling that it is in the approach of the person delivering and the school community in which they work. With this in mind I was keen to explore ‘Supporting change through the staffroom’ at the Pedgaoomuckle event in October.

As Outdoor Learning is my soap box, I wanted to ensure that there was some space in the learning conversation to give a gentle nod to the health benefits from being outside, better still being near greenspace (http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/publication/6636651036540928) and the impact this can have on pupils learning and attainment. So we all put on our coats and went on a #walkandtalk . I encourage schools to try and have at least one staff meeting outside every term. Not only does this benefit the staff from a health point of view, but how many staff really know the environment the children in their class are walking through every day. We drive into the carpark, go into the building and at night get back in the car and drive out of the school again. There are so many learning opportunities right on the doorstop, from times tables on buildings, angles in our environment to social studies of house styles, age of buildings and types of materials.

How many coffee jars are in your staff room?

I had written questions on lolly pop sticks and folk quickly fell into a comfortable pace of walking and talking freely and enjoyably with their partner. The first question, how many coffee jars?, I hoped would spark a conversation around what kind of place their staff room was. I have heard many ‘horror’ stories from visitors to school staff rooms ranging from adults being told they are sitting in someone’s seat, to ‘huffs and puffs’ when they’ve not brought their own mug! Surprisingly our group began counting and sharing the different teas they all liked. But through discussion standing under the trees on Sauchihall Street, we pulled out thoughts and feelings about how a staff room represents the school community; is it a welcoming place, is the tea and coffee for all to share, offer and use? Do visitors feel welcome and gauge a sense of belonging? We discussed ideas to help promote the sense of community in the staff room. Here’s what we came up with;
• Social events
• Swap shops; bring a handbag and take home a different one!
• Communal drink fund
• Cake Friday; taking it in turn to bring/bake the cakes
• Staff library/bookshelf of books to read
• Social Fund

What fundraising do you do?

Swapping partners and making our way slowly through the Saturday shoppers in the sun, we shared all of the success and failures that we have tried, in order to raise funds for our schools. We spoke of the Tesco and Asda grant schemes http://www.tesco.com/carrier-bags/ https://www.asdafoundation.org/applying-for-funding the http://fundingscotland.com web page and then suggestions such as garden parties, fashion shows (M&Co, Matalan both offering stores after closing time with discounts for shoppers) race nights, sponsored walks/silences/jumps and fundraising websites such as https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk We all acknowledged that taking part in a communal fundraising activity usually made us feel more ‘together’. Speaking with staff members that we don’t usually talk too happens more naturally and freely at a social event, we can find commonalities between us, these can then be built on back in the staffroom.

What’s on your staff noticeboards?

As we passed by the Pavillion theatre discussing our staff room noticeboards, it was hard not to reflect on some of the things that we maybe haven’t quite got right. If our staff room boards are a reflection of the staff, are they saying who we really are? Are we simply about how to report Health and Safety Issues and when and what will the next collegiate meeting be?
Boards that are useful were discussed;
• Examples of sharing good practice; this worked for me, here’s a good website
• grab and go ( worksheets photocopied and ready to grab in a last minute emergency, or lesson plans that can be easily differentiated)
• Millionaire Moments; post-its on a board that are little successes that have made you feel like the best teacher in the world
• Apps to Action; Place to write up apps that are good and work eg CfE app, plickers, animoto, photohunt, Project Noah, any of the OPAL citizen science ones.

What are you great at?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

We are often, not good at saying what we excel at. We don’t really feel comfortable saying “I taught that lesson so well, they totally grasped what I was trying to teach”. If we want to change things then we need first to start with ourselves. We need to recognise what we are good at, we need to share it and then nurture and support others to feel confident about what they do well. Creating that supportive environment can be difficult at first particularly if we have ‘dementors’ (Harry Potter reference) in our staffrooms, the ones who sit in the corner finding difficulties and problems with every new day. The people who, put simply suck the life from you with their negativity! So start small – find your number 2, your first follower, who will join you in your new dance and make your staffroom something you are proud to let visitors into.

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