Author Archives: Kate Rook

About Kate Rook

Scottish Primary School teacher.

An Unexpected Journal (There and Back Again)

As Gordon Ramsay would say, “Week 1…Done!”

An excellent first week back and can happily report enjoying my PT role…so far.


My first “day out” as PT was Monday and I was to be “it” for the day. “It” being she with whom the buck stops! Our HT was out and our other 2 PT’s were in class-Yikes! Was given the simple task of using common sense which would of been ok if not for my, at times,  abundant lack of it. (Note to self: I was the girl who tried to fax letter to lawyer while said letter was still in envelope! In my defence,(Is there any?) I was only 16, it was my first job and to be fair no-one had shown me how to work such cutting edge technology.)

Back to present, day went surprisingly well. Welcomed children, visited classes Happy New Yearing, patrolled corridors, played outside and needless to say was thoroughly exhausted by end of day. However, I loved it, used my common sense and fortunately there was no need to use fax machine!

Tuesday-Thursday (Back in class)

I have just recently moved from P7 to P1. This was for a variety of reasons-I felt the need for a complete change; I didn’t want to always be the upper school teacher and I have always been interested in literacy and wanted to see first hand the teaching of reading, writing and phonics at the early stages. I always found myself wondering why such a number of P7 children were still struggling to read, write and spell when they arrived in their last year of primary. Our school has very good phonics, reading and writing in place and also very good teachers at the early stages. So, why do some children seem unable to fully participate in the curriculum due to literacy issues? I have decided to go on a liitle adventure, quest if you may, from P1 to P7  to see if I can find any answers. This will of course take some time but I think it will let me see the pitfalls at each stage and if there is anything that we can do to change things for the better.

So, back in class and all was well. It was great to see them all again,  hear all their stories and thankfully they had remembered quite a lot of what we had taught them-who would have thought it?

Friday (Strathclyde University-Exploring Writing Cultures)

A truly excellent course with some inspirational speakers from around the globe.

Dr. Steven Layne presented Igniting A Passion for Writing and quite frankly, he did. Really wanted to be instantly transported to my class to try out his techniques all of which heavily relied on books as a stimulus. It boiled down to using 5 main arenas to encourage writing with children and although there is nothing particularly new there it was a privilege to hear him speak so warmly and so enthusisatically about inspiring our children as writers. The arenas are as follows:

  • using life experiences – “Love the Baby”, Stephen Layne – family stories/arguments/funny happenings
  • using other people’s life experiences – “Mailing May”, Michael O Tunnell re-telling something you have enjoyed hearing
  • using the senses – “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick”, Chris Van Allsburg – visual, complete with title and caption, what could the story be?
  • being unique – “Mind Quakes-Loveless”, Neal Shusterman – writing in the 2nd person narrative
  • re-inventing the past – “As the City Sleeps”, Stephen Johnson – doing something that is known to work!

Also, of particular interest to me, was the contribution from Sue Ellis and her presentation of AIFL and the currrent use of 2stars and 1 wish to assess pieces of writing against success criteria. She gave, in my opinion, a much needed word of caution. Be careful to balance product based assessment with emotional feedback. Read what is being written and respond to the message. Did it make you smile, think, wish you there, gald you weren’t.  If so, let them know. For me, it is always this emotional response/feedback that children want to hear. Yes, paragraphs, punctuation, spelling, good vocabulary, genre markers are all very, very important, but let’s not forget that this is a child trying to say something to you. Say something back that lets them know you appreciate it!

So, first week back. My journey has begun and my journal is continuing. Will try to keep you posted of my trials and no doubt many errors as often as possible. Will really, really try to write less and say more for everyone’s sake!

Quote of the day goes to Henrietta Dombey of the University of Brighton, “Scottish Enlightenment. Yes, that never reached England.”


An Unexpected Journal

If anyone had said to me way back in January that by the end of the year I would be on twitter and writing my first blog I would of looked at them with a mixture of laughter and haughty derision -oh, how I love you, Sheldon. Yet, here I am, in December, on twitter and today writing my first blog. This is all kinds of crazy!!

There are 2 reasons for this incredibly insane turnaround. The first is- I stopped having an opinion on something I knew nothing about (twitter)  and the second, I started to follow some people and liked what they had to say. Sometimes agreeing with them, sometimes not. They were not misogynistic maniacs as I had previously thought (sorry) but genuine people trying to support/advise/coach and  dare I say it, perhaps even teach at times, for those of us like-minded in our quest to improve our own teaching and perhaps even the profession as a whole. I was hooked.

So, here I am with 2013 fast approaching and I have decided to jot down my musings for the coming year.

In January, I take up my new Acting Principal Teacher role and I do so with a real mixture of emotions. Having taught for 20 years I have finally decided to dip my toe in the murky waters of management. When feeling positive, I think what a fantastic opportunity to set the tone not only in my own classroom but beyond those doors and throughout the school. To have a real say, to shape what happens in my school, to speak out for others, to raise standards, to put children first. When feeling somewhat less than positive, I wonder if I’m doing the right thing and fear that I may have to lose some of me along the way. Will I have to sacrifice my ideals? Will my teaching suffer? Will I be too busy to really hear what others are saying?

However, twitter has unknowingly, for several months now, been encouraging and inspiring me to grab the opportunity and run with it. Through my new friends, and yes, I do think of them as friends  I am reassured that it is possible to be in management and retain not only some but all of your integrity, enthusiasm and desire to keep improving

My title suggests a certain homage to all things middle earth, so here we go…

As I set out on my unexpected journey to middle management I do so sure in the knowledge that I can count on my very own fellowship of tweachers to aid me in my quest and to point me in the right direction if I happen to stray off course.  So my journey begins. I will keep in touch and a huge  thanks to all who managed to get me this far. Coming Soon : There and Back Again (An Acting PT’s Tale)