My best blogs and articles of 2017

Everyone else is at it, so why not me? I’ve quite possibly made some glaring omission, but I thought I would share the blog posts and articles that have resonated with me or made me think the most this past year.

  1. This, this and this by Dr Becky Allen explains so well why schools have morphed into managerial audit-hungry machines that no longer trust teachers to do their job. A must read for every head teacher in this country, and every teacher too.
  2. Robert Peal doesn’t blog often, but when he does it is gold. I found this post on the art of the paragraph particularly rich in strategies for improving essay writing of history students.
  3. I found this blog from Shaun Allison on applying the Pareto principle to English teaching very thought-provoking. I think this explains the purpose of knowledge organisers well (although it doesn’t specifically talk about them) by highlighting the importance of embedding the most vital bits of knowledge (the 20%). It makes me wonder if, in trying to get to grips with the new history GCSE, we shouldn’t try to first focus on securing the most important bits of knowledge rather than lose ourselves in the vastness of the curriculum.
  4. This superb article by Daniel Willingham on the importance of knowledge resonated with me for obvious reasons. Read it. While I’m at it, let me share another article  of his, which explains why you can’t ‘just Google it’.
  5. I have loved reading all Clare Sealy’s blogs this year, and this one was a stand out on teaching for long term memory. It encapsulated much of what I’ve been thinking about this year with regards to retrieval practice and teaching for memory.
  6. This article, which was shared by Greg Ashman, about how so many well intentioned actions have unintended consequences was a real eye opener. It’s entitled ‘When Helping Hurts’. Although it is not about education per se, it has many parallels with what we see in schools today, where well intentioned measures often have unintended consequences and leads us to question our sometimes arrogant assumptions that we can ‘fix’ people.
  7. I found this blog by Dani Quinn, a Maths teacher at Michaela School, illuminating on how to motivate pupils to try their best in lessons. This reminded me of a student I worked with last year, who always sat sweetly quiet in class but was opting out and putting in the least effort possible.
  8. This is a very short blog by Rosalind Walker about the before and after the roll out of a new behaviour policy at her school. It lists some of the day-to-day behaviours so many teachers unfortunately still experience, and then succintly ends with “After: none of the above”  to demonstrate that so much that we take for granted in terms of poor behaviour can be eradicated with the right policy in place.
  9. I could pick any blog by Michael Fordham this year, such is the quality of his writing and thinking about education. I pick this one, because it quite clearly and simply explains why the curriculum (and not some woolly descriptors) should be the progression model.
  10. Last but not least, Andrew Old’s blogs this year have been a must read, but this recent one on teacher authority particularly resonated with me. It hits the nail on the head about the need for teachers to be able to express themselves freely. Here’s a choice quote from it:

“To be a profession, we must have freedom of thought and freedom of speech. Not because there are no right or wrong answers, or no legitimate authorities, but because debating ideas is necessary in order to develop our thinking, and as professionals, we are obliged to think about what we do.”

Hear hear Andrew.

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