Lena Carter

  • Thank you. This is so, so well written and powerful. I think it chimes with this (plus a lot of other posts that I have written!) https://lenabellina.wordpress.com/2016/05/21/watch-your-words/

  • Oops…. Sorry if I have called you Polly when it should be Pauline! I thought I had seen Polly somewhere on the Facebook post but maybe not!

  • Hello Polly
    Thanks for this honest and very interesting post. I think that the very fact that you have written it is evidence that you are a reflective practitioner and doing all you can to be the best you can be; learning from the pupils and from your own successes and challenges, self-evaluating and looking for example of good practice from…[Read more]

  • Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and for your supportive comments, Jill.

  • I have been following the teacher slow-chat wellbeing posts this week with great interest and decided to have a go at a 15-16 wellbeing post myself.

    I am a driven person. I am not sure when I became […]

    • Good to read this, Lena. And I was struck by, and very pleased to see the phrase: “I am a good teacher.” You KNOW you are. It’s a mantra you need to repeat to yourself when self-doubt creeps in – as it does for all of us from time to time. And a degree of self-doubt and the humility that comes with it will make you a BETTER teacher, and leader, and (in due course, I hope) headteacher. But we have to work not to let it become debilitating when our resistance is low.

      Very best wishes for a positive, satisfying and enjoyable 2016. The balance/well-being drive is tough, but think of it as a journey rather than a destination and congratulate yourself on the baby steps you take along the way! The important thing is just that you never give up trying.

      And let me know if I can help in any way at any stage, especially as you think about readying yourself for headship.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and for your supportive comments, Jill.

  • I think that, strictly speaking, Pedagoo is  meant to be about sharing classroom practice and I therefore have to start with a confession; I am currently not classroom based. Those who know me well will know that […]

    • I was reflecting on my own relationships in the classroom this evening and your post seems very poignant. I think one of my strengths is my ability to form positive relationships with pupils but my concern is that I might not be consistent in my approach. How can you be when you have such different personalities in each class?
      Can anyone recommend any strategies or literature which could help me to add more structure to my approach and be more proactive and constructive than reactive?

      • I know what you mean. There are some strategies in this book which I’ve found useful:

        • This looks good. I think that it might be just what I am looking for. It’s always reassuring when everything comes full circle. I already do use mindfulness in a sense as I only have one rule in my class which is “be nice” and we have regular discussions about what that actually means in terms of being nice to yourself and giving yourself the opportunity to learn and having high expectations. Being nice to others by respecting and supporting them (thinking time and reassurance etc.). Really being mindful in different terms. Now if I can just practice what I preach…
          Hopefully the book will help.

    • Hi,

      I can’t recommend Functional Fluency highly enough for self-awareness, and building effective communication & relationships. It was developed through Susannah Temple’s PhD. Her validated research created TIFF – an on-line tool which provides a ‘snapshot’ of how we are using our energy on behalf of ourselves and on behalf of others. A TIFF ‘provider’ collates your responses and helps you to explore the significance of the resulting unique profile. It essentially shines a light on the difference between responding and reacting.

      It became the key research approach for shining a light on my own behaviour in the classroom. It underpinned all the techniques / tricks of the trade / habits etc. I had picked up through years as a teacher.

      I attach a link if it is of any interest to you:

      Best regards


  • It’s a bit like standing above a pool of cold, deep water and daring to jump in, isn’t it? My first Pedagoo post…..Can I do it? Think how good I’ll feel if I do…..No, I’m too scared……I’ll let him just go first…..Oh no wait, now he’s beaten me too it….I’m useless……Oh maybe not….deep breath….Splash!!

    Back in the spring of last year I got caught up in a Twitter debate about the need for teachers to engage in research. Whilst I could absolutely see the point of what was being said, I asked how on earth teachers were supposed to fit in research along with the hundreds of other tasks that fill their days (and nights). Wasn’t creating an expectation that they should do research just another way of making them feel inadequate when they couldn’t find the time?

    And then came my discovery of the debunking of Brain Gym and Learning Styles. “What?” I cried, feeling entirely defensive and embarrassed at having launched a ‘Learn to Learn’ programme in several schools which has both within its content…..”But I DID research around those! I read shiny, published books by Alistair Smith and others and they’d done LOADS of research in writing those books….” I felt let down (as well as stupid) and thought indignantly that if, as teachers, we don’t have time personally to do the research, we should surely be able to trust the ‘big names and the shiny books’.

    And in such a frame of mind, my eye fell upon a tweet from Mark Healy about researchED Scotland. Late to the Twitter party and not at all knowledgeable about researchED, I decided to go along and see whether it would be able to help me with my malaise about the relationship between educational research and practice.

    What was I expecting? Maybe something above my head and overly intellectual. I suspected, having driven for 2 hours to get there, that I might duck out at lunchtime and get back to my family. It was Saturday, after all.

    What did I find? Passion, connection, challenge and stimulation and some answers to my questions, plus a few more questions to ponder…Do I have any part to play in the research debate as someone who fell for Brain Gym? Yes, as Tom Bennett said, everyone within the education eco-system has a right to talk to everyone else in that system.

    Is the research always 100% to be trusted? No. As George Gilchrist said, sometimes we stop, take stock and have to ask “what have we been doing for the last five years?” before moving on and trying something different. What worked 2, 5 or 10 years ago may not work any more.

    If the research provides compelling evidence that we should teach in a particular way, should we ignore it? No, said Anne Glennie. Not in terms of teaching reading and when we are risking the future wellbeing and life-chances of our children.

    Is IQ testing outmoded as a useful benchmark? No; Andrew Sabisky has a LOT of data and evidence that proves otherwise. Can it assess all types of intelligence? No… but then the definition of intelligence is the stuff of another huge debate…

    Can we half-do Mindset interventions? Mark Healy and Marc Smith would argue not. Everyone in the institution needs to understand the theory and walk and talk the values. But this can be problematic when the system we are working in is based on different values. Character education must be a good thing, right? Not necessarily. Gary Walsh explained that the jury is out and that we need to continue to seek hard evidence of its benefits.

    And where exactly is the love? Well, my love has found a new recipient. His name is David Cameron and my tweet, after attending his session was “Your talk today was the most inspirational 40 minutes of my educational life. You are my new hero and I actually love you.”

    @realdcameron Your talk today was the most inspirational 40 minutes of my educational life. You are my new hero and I actually love you.
    — Lena Carter (@lenabellina) August 29, 2015

    The key messages of his talk? Don’t be blinded by research that isn’t. Don’t allow politics to rule education. Use relevant, pertinent data to inform developments. And “it is better to try in the face of incorrectness than to give up on children’s lives.”

    I stayed until the bitter end and was sorry not to be able to join the others in the pub after the final panel session. I left with my faith in research, passion and debate restored. I know to be a little more cautious of the big names and shiny books in future….but also that passion and meaningful research can combine to create the best possible outcomes for our learners. Thank you so much to all those who made it happen and brought researchED to Scotland.