teaching – ¡Vámonos! The musings of Lisibo
 

Tag: teaching

Seen on the cover of a notebook on Amazon

I was talking to someone this week that I’ve known since my late teens about ambitions that we had then and whether they’ve been realised. Whilst they had a long list of aspirations including to write a book, travel the world and win awards for their writing (all achieved), I really only had two ambitions that didn’t seem as exciting – to be a mum, and to be a teacher. Ambitions achieved? Well, yes. I am mum to two boys and I like to think they’re turning out OK, and I am a teacher.

But I didn’t want to be just any teacher. I wanted to be a teacher like Mrs Head, Mrs Corden and Señora Sánchez- Richardson; unforgettable teachers who are etched in my mind, who nurtured and encouraged my fascination with learning and with finding out about the world beyond our town and country, and who inspired me to be a teacher too. I literally followed in the footsteps of the latter as I took over from her as Head of Spanish when she retired, but have I ever managed to make such an impact on a child’s life as she made on mine?

I love my job and have done since I moved to primary but it hasn’t always been like that. At one point, realising my ambition to teach, and to teach Spanish, was destroying my life and that of my young children, and that’s when I left secondary teaching. [NB I am not saying that secondary is bad and primary blissful but I always wanted to be a middle school teacher who taught Spanish and was ‘forced’ into secondary teaching as the closest way forward.] I look back on those days and wonder if I managed to make a difference to any of my pupils as I was a walking stress factory. I know I did though as I’ve since met a pupil who remembered how she’d made my life a living nightmare when I first started as Head of Spanish and told me that she admired my determination to get her to succeed when she was throwing all my efforts back in my face. One of my pupils from those days contacted me (via a teaching friend) when he finished his GCSEs to tell me that he’d done well and to thank me for teaching him French. I’d only done it for a year in Y8, and only two lessons a week although I did love teaching his class. We’re still in contact, and when he wanted to start learning Spanish, he asked for my help.

What about since I moved to primary? I’ve loved it but that doesn’t equate to inspiring anyone. Perhaps I should just be glad that I like going to work, that I have fun and that I’m doing what I love to do. Does it matter if I’m making a specific difference to anyone’s life? Well it does to me. My overarching aim is to encourage children to explore languages, to enjoy learning them and to want to carry on when they leave. The vast majority move to secondary schools where they will learn French or German rather than Spanish (at least at first) so it’s important to me that they leave with the will to ‘start again’ but also the understanding – and belief – that those years of Spanish were not wasted.

So do I make a difference? Past pupils quite often say ¡hola! when they see me so I can’t have made a hugely negative impression on most of them! I love going to ‘prize giving’ evenings for my boys not just to celebrate their achievements but to ‘check up’ on old pupils, and I’m especially proud when they have won prizes for languages (happens quite often!) Former pupils send me messages with younger siblings or even turn up at school to tell me how they’ve doing with languages or have done at GCSE, and some proudly tell me that they’re continuing with language learning. A former pupil asking to do work experience at one school this year specified that she was particularly interested in languages (of course I jumped at the opportunity!) Another former pupil volunteered as a sixth former, first through his school scheme in Y12 and then in his free time, delivering Spanish in KS1, and is now a student teacher with a language specialism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming that it’s all my influence that makes this happen; I know that these young people have had excellent language teachers at secondary level too, but I’d like to think that I started them on their way…

And it’s not just the ‘high fliers’ that I’d like to think have been influenced. A Y6 at my other school last year bought me a huge bunch of flowers and wrote me a note about how much he’d enjoyed Spanish and how he’d miss me – a child who is not a natural linguist but who listened and tried his best, always with a smile. I hope he remembers his experiences if languages are quite the same for him in the future.

I started by recalling a conversation I had with a friend. That was one of two reasons I started this post, the other catalyst being a message on LinkedIn from another former pupil who has now completed his engineering degree and is completing a Masters whilst spending a year in industry. During his internship he’s decided to take up Spanish again and wanted to ask my advice as Duolingo is great but he felt he lacked listening and speaking practice. He’d written the whole message in Spanish (and I don’t think he’d completely GoogleTranslated it either!) which touched me, but what he wrote in the second half of the message made me cry:

Translation – “Also, I have to say thank you. Your enthusiasm for learning and languages is very inspiring and has stayed with me through school, university and until now. I rediscovered the love of languages that you gave me during my internship this year and therefore I’d love your advice.”

So I guess I’ve made a difference to those young people, however big or small. And they’re the ones I know about. As I said earlier, Señora Sánchez-Richardson knew I became a Spanish teacher but she doesn’t know about my career since 2000. Mrs Corden died whilst I was at secondary school but I went to her funeral and made sure that her children knew the influence she had on me. I last saw Mrs Head when I was 10 so she probably doesn’t know how much they influenced me, and she certainly knows nothing of my teaching career as I was Lisa Efford then.

The point of this post is not to say ‘look at me, I’m brilliant’ but to serve as a reminder of two things. Firstly, ambitions are great but who knows as teenager where life might lead you. I’ve done far more than I could ever imagine then including keynoting conferences, writing websites, radio series, magazine articles and textbook materials, running a marathon and completing triathlons and living in Switzerland. And secondly, we might not know the influence we have at the time, and we may never know, but it happens. Teaching can be a ‘thankless’ task, sometimes quite literally. I don’t get piles of presents at the end of the year as a class teacher might do, but it makes any thanks I do receive all the more special. And actually, as much as I love (dark) chocolate and smelly candles, I’d swap them all for a message like the one above.

IMG_4570I received this tweet from @lisacov19 whilst I was holiday, offering congratulations.

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 15.57.10

I had no idea what I’d done – surely I wasn’t been congratulated on collecting owls? So had to check out the link which explained more.

Social media analysts Lissted have created a list of the top 250 Twitter accounts across Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country which have with the biggest impact on the UK.

And it seems that I claimed 160th place. Of course, I then wanted to know who I’d superseded in ‘influence.’

So, apart from Black Sabbath (191st) and the Donkey Sanctuary (164th), I am more influential than Emma Jesson (ITV weather girl 196th) Bradley Will Simpson (frontman of The Vamps 187th), The Education Show (184th), Fifth Gear (177th) the Birmingham City FC newsroom (170th) Jaguar LandRover (167th) and Lloyds Pharmacy (162nd). I even beat The Bullring by one place – that pleased me!

And then onto the question of who’s more influential than me.

Birmingham Police and The Library of Birmingham are just ahead of me in 158th and 156th respectively. Ian Bell (cricketer 148th) CBSO (133rd) Birmingham Royal Ballet (131st) Ofqual (121st) Ed James (96th) DuranDuran (91st) Joleon Lescott (73rd – not beating him was a cause of much dismay to my boys!) The Gadget Show (55th) and Katherine Merry, 400m athletic hero of my childhood (although she never replaced Kathy Cook in my affections) in 50th all have more influence over

The top 49 can be found here. It includes paraolympian Ellie Simmonds, presenter Alison Hammond, various universities and quite few MPs ; in fact the top three are Liam Byrne (Labour MP for Hodge Hill), Michael Fabricant (Conservative MP for Lichfield) and number 1 is Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich East and aspiring Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

I can’t find any teachers ahead of me. There are a few parenting bloggers – Mama Geek @zoecorkhill and @V82CHRIS are 103rd and 102nd and @mrsshilts and @ericahughes are 70th and 69th – and Paul Bradshaw who is a media lecturer at Birmingham City University as well as ‘a data journalist’ is 5th.

So does that make me the most influential tweeting teacher in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country?  

Perhaps I should add that to my presentation next time I talk about Twitter

 

Related posts:

eTwinning National Conference 2015 

#ililc5 Are you a twit or a tweep?

Twitter thoughts – the results

 

 

 

Last Friday (21st) saw me charging from Stafford to Marston Green, and then running at high speed (wearing inappropriate shoes obviously!) from the carpark to Hall3 for TeachMeetEdShow.

Fortified by hugs from various people including Simone (who is as bonkers as me which helps) and Buncey (who is exceedingly clever but also daft as a brush) as well as a bottle of beer, I soon recovered and managed to speak (sort of) coherently for 2 minutes and then 7 minutes.

My slides are shared above – I’ll summarise what I said as the slides alone don’t really speak for themselves (especially the first part)

Keeping in touch

In my two minute presentation I shared the importance of staying in touch at a time when teachers feel very ‘got at’ and need all the support they can get. I shared how social media was wonderful when I was in Switzerland as distance didn’t matter; I knew what was going on, and felt included despite my physical distance. I talked about the support and advice offered, and the care given by people who you’ve never met but feel know and understand you, who notice when you’re a bit quiet or disappear for a while and send a quick “you OK?” message to check. As a community was laugh together, rant together and we cry together. And in the week that we lost Bev Evans, the most selfless caring generous positive star, I encouraged others to join in the community of support, on Twitter (or anywhere else actually) and look out for each other. I’m @lisibo if you fancy following! (Seems very appropriate that I post this on the day that we say #goodbyetoBev)

Felt a bit shaken after that and the discovery of a half eaten dark chocolate Bounty didn’t help. However, I blew my nose and the evening continued with great presentations about exciting science, reuseable QR codes and Whipsnade Zoo. And a real hedgehog.

Using the right tool for the job

My seven minute presentation was about choosing the right tool for the job. I shared the series of lessons with Year 3 Spanish on the theme of Mythical Monsters. We began with learning parts of the face with a song – and I made everyone sing which was amusing! I explained how song is a great tool for learning as, combined with gestures, all the learners could recall the words simply by singing in their heads and gesturing to bring the word to mind before sharing the book that inspired the next part of the sequence. Based on Go away Big Green Monster, I wrote  a simple story called Señor Cabeza Naranja using auto shapes on Smartboard which repeated greetings, parts of the face and adjectives. From this learners used 2D shapes to make their own Señor and Señora Cabeza (insert colour) on large paper, photographing each step with an iPad and annotating the picture as they went along. We then used BookCreator app to create eBooks; we imported the photos, added the text that learners had rehearsed on the large paper, and then added sound as the pupils told their stories. The result wasn’t perfect but that wasn’t the point. It was a journey that continues using the right tool for the job to move forward.

I also managed to win the raffle (a Hue webcam) which was nice with my Twitter comment about the event Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 17.53.49

 

The final session today was focussed on learning styles and preferences.

  • Lighting – dark, small light, whole room lit
  • Seating – at a table, on the floor, lying down, standing up
  • Temperature – warm, cold, hot
  • Sound – silent, music, louder noise

All the above affect our learning if conditions aren’t ideal for us.
Personally, I like to work in daylight, lying on the floor or with my feet up, don’t like being hot and like a murmur of noise to learn best.

I loved Ian’s assertion that adolescents become ‘pseudo stupid’ as their brains adapt to all the changes going on in their brains. Makes a lot of sense!

We looked at VAK approaches and learned how to make history  RE and Geography more kinaesthetic.

People moved from country to city due to wealth, industry, education, a better standard of living and better housing. I remembered that by holding out my left arm, travelling from the country (my armpit) to the the city (my hand) and looking at my fingers.

The Linkword approach in the 80s worked on a similar principle to pegging, linking images to things you need to remember.  In language learning, masculine nouns were recalled with an image of a boxer, feminine with perfume.   Language learning skills that are a  key feature of current language teaching use ideas like this, encouraging making links to aid recall.  For example, la sandia – a watermelon is well stuck in my pupils’ minds as we talked about how you eat it on the beach and if you drop it, it gets sandier.

Looking at Gardner’s multiple intelligences, Ian assigned each one a famous person-

Carol Vorderman – mathematical logical

The A A man / David Beckham – physical intelligence

Princess Di – interpersonal social

Mother Teresa – intrapersonal / empathy

Picasso – visual spatial

Mozart – musical

Charlie Dimmock / David Attenborough- naturalistic

Shakespeare – verbal linguistic

How can we teach to all these people? Perhaps not every lesson, but on a regualr basis?

I had to leave early to fetch J from school, but by this stage my brain was really buzzing and quite full!

I hope I’ve managed to effectively communicate some of the ideas and thoughts from today!

I’ve already blogged about Thunks and making kids’ brains hurt which were the key ideas in this session.

However, a few other things that were interesting.

1. A useful reference for philosophy for kids – SAPERE

2. When we ask questions, we’re not comfortable with leaving silence.  On average, we wait  0.9 sec before filling the silene with the answer.  Thus, ‘learned helplessness’ starts. Sometimes we need time to think and process, sometimes we need to struggle for an answer to stimulate our brain.

3. The 4 Bs for finding things out

Brain

Book/board

Buddies

Boss (teacher)

4. ask for three answers to a question – allows multiple answers, multiple contributions and multiple involvement.

5. Can you raise someone else’s self esteem?  Surely it’s their self esteem so you can only create the conditions for improvement to be possible.  As educators, we are literally moulding the brains that will decide the future by helping the neurones in brain amke trillions of connections.

6. The difference between the arrogant and confident person is that the arrogant person will make you feel worse about yourself.

7. Self esteem is determined by feeling loveable and capable.  Childen need to be hugged and praised.

More brain stuff

There are three parts to the brain –

Reptilian (lizard)  – fight flight hunt

Mammalian (dog) – emotions and memories

Neo cortex – the human bit

The PFC (pre frontal cortex) holds the key to our reactions.  The amygdala ‘calms’ it from its rashness.  So using STAR gives the amygdala a chance to work.

Stop
Think
Act
Review

Some quotations to finish –

To teach you need to contain, entertain and explain.

Intelligence is what you use when you don’t know what to do. – Piaget

Today I’m at a cluster training day entitled Practical strategies for thinking learning and motivation.

It’s being led by Ian Gilbert of Independent Thinking who, so far, has given us all lots to digest!

More detail later as I start to digest what we’re discovering, but so far I have learnt that-

I shouldn’t have a job
AQA stands for ask any question
Picasso said ‘every act of creation starts with an act of destruction.’
‘It’s better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.’

Photo – Davide Restivo on Flickr

tomlin quote

This is the sort of teacher I aim to be.
http://lisibo.co.uk/wp-admin/edit.php
FEEL

I want to be remembered. Not with cuddly teddy bears and keyrings (although they’re lovely!)

Finding Out

And I want to be the teacher who leads her pupils to that ‘true delight’.

¡Vámonos! The musings of Lisibo ©2019. All Rights Reserved.
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