Interim reports

Education Learning Log

Tis the season…

I’m diverting from my usual mumblings about school as I feel like an extra in one of those grumpy old women programmes. I need to spit it out. I made a huge mistake and visited the shops in Glasgow tonight… I had decided I’d do all my shopping online this year and its worked a treat, presents gift wrapped and arriving at people’s doors without my hand even touching them, typed up tasteful gift tags enclosed, gift vouchers sent that people might even find useful cos they’re from Amazon, goodies for my boys arriving daily in little boxes with our jolly postman, however for some reason I thought I’d go and see the lights in George Square tonight and pop in to Fopp and Borders for some cheap stocking fillers…. Dearie me. My Christmas spirit disappeared in one fell swoop.

In Christmas seasons gone by I’ve seen the annual argument in the main street where I live, over Santa’s slow queue – this can result in hair pulling fights. I’ve watched the last turkey argument in Asda’s freezer aisle, which can be a dangerous event. But they were nothing to the misery of Border’s book shop at 6.30 on 20th December. Border’s is usually one of my favourite places to spend a happy, meandering hour or two at the weekend. But tonight was different. The first clue was the slamming of main door in my face by an enraged exiting customer. What I thought might be a crowd about to listen to someone give a wee talk or something was the queue for the tills. I couldn’t get up the stairs nevermind read a book. So I gave in and left. However I did contemplate the meaning of this fest of spending in a book shop, and I suppose it can’t be a bad thing that people are buying books, even if they are shoving each other out of the way to get at them – books are infinitely more interesting and useful than chocolate, slippers or bath fizzbomb thingummies. That was a hint to family members….

Anyway the bah humbug bit out the way. Tomorrow is our nativity. It’s sparkly, cheerful and just plain tear jerking! I’m looking forward to it.

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December 20, 2007 Posted by | Nonsense | , | Leave a comment

Changes

I’m feeling a bit wonky today. I was interviewed for a QIO post with SLC and was successful. I should be celebrating this great opportunity to visit other schools and learn from them. Don’t get me wrong I’m pleased as punch but my heart is feeling wobbly… It’s the thought of leaving a school that I just love to bits….So that’s why I’m feeling a bit sad. It’s rare to work with a team that gels so well. It’s hard to leave that when your heart is still with the team and the children.

Tonight I visited one of the teachers from our school who had a baby just the other day, and that helped put things back into perspective for me. Little Zoe was just beautiful and reminded me of why we do what we do in education. Here was a tiny bundle just ready to live and meet every opportunity on the way. Where’s my dilemma in the scale of that? Things come along in life and we should grasp them, learn and just hope we make a small difference somewhere along the way. Somber worry over – babies are marvellous things! However I’m pretty glad my two are now all grown up!

The best thing though is this change will give other staff the chance to develop and do some acting work as PT2 etc. That’s exciting and something they thoroughly deserve after the work they’ve put in.

The children meantime are covered in glue and glitter in school. Most of them are so excited just now they don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I know that feeling!

December 18, 2007 Posted by | leadership, Nonsense | | 4 Comments

HMIe, visitors and discos

Yesterday we had a moderation visit from the distict HMIe inspector. Everyone is feeling like he gave us an early Christmas present! He was happy that we had moved towards addressing our action points and the LA will now produce the follow through report. I’ve felt from the start that the whole process has been a positive one. Yes it was stressful for the whole staff as everyone tries to show how hard they work with our children. But there were really no surprises and it helped us focus on where we needed to move forward.

We also had some visitors from Norway who looked round the school and talked to us about how we teach in Scotland.

Last night was our PTA disco. It is great seeingthe children just having fun. It’s also great to see our Mums who organise Santa, DJ, games, raffles, food etc just doing so much to help everyone.

December 14, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Primary 7s are off on their break

Tomorrow P7 are off on their outward bound week to Castle Toward in Dunoon. Bless em it might be a bit chilly, but they were so excited in Friday they were fit to burst. There are only a few not going and they are going to be trainee classroom assistants next week, helping with the nativity etc!

The week before Christmas we are having a maths theme week to encourage active learning throughout the school in maths. We are using the supporting materials developed by South Lanarkshire as a starting point. These are for P4-7 classes and approach maths in much the way the infant staff do – using washing lines etc. In the meantime everyone is revising addition and subtraction processes P3-7 – the maths scheme (I won’t name it) we use is teaching the thought processes behind concepts but we are increasingly finding it is not balancing this with any processes. So children at times work things out in the most round about way. After Christmas we are going to have a look at multiplying and dividing. Some of these publishers have a lot to answer for and I’m hopeful that CfE will not become something else they can cut up and produce schemes for. For too long many have followed schemes blindly with no thought for real learning and teaching.

Our visitors from Norway, New Zealand, LTS and our disrict HMIe are now all coming on the same day next Thursday. And our head of attainment is popping in too! It’ll be like an education party knees up thing! I thought of plying them with some mulled wine…. but I think they’d see past that ploy and still ask tricky questions! Our children are quite excited at the thought of these visitors from afar and have been polishing up their door opening and welcome techniques.

On our big Christams tree at the front entrance we have a wee enterprise going. We have been selling shiny gift cards which the children have been writing their Christmas wishes on. They have been well worth a read and I’ve seen a few glistening eyes from even the most hardened staff. One of my favourites wished that, even though they had been up to mischief they wouldn’t only get a piece of black coal on Christmas day. It reminded me of when I was little. My nana spent many weeks every year threatening me with just the same dreadful thing. When I had a better, less rascally day she would say that I’d moved from the bit of black coal to a tangerine and a wooden peg. Apparently she was lucky if she got a tangerine, a sixpence and some wooden pegs for her Christmas (she was fairly old at this point). Apparently many a game could be had with wooden pegs in those days. I think she maybe read too much Ivor Cutler.

December 9, 2007 Posted by | Nonsense | , , | Leave a comment

holidayitis

It’s exciting before the winter holidays….. Our children are itching for Christmas to come. The teachers are itching for their break, and I’m itching for a decent sleep!

This session has been a bit tricky for us as we have welcomed a lot of new staff to the school. It’s fantastic to have these newly qualified and fairly newly qualified staff who are keen to learn and make a difference. They sook up advice and are clearly self reflective. For those of us who have been here longer it’s a chance to explain how things are done here (without that getting in the way of new ideas). We sometimes forget that new people don’t learn be telepathy though! I’ve been really lucky throughout my career to have fantastic mentors who have helped me improve. We’re discovering that little things are the most important to explain thoroughly. Just as classroom organisation is the first key to getting to grips with learning and teaching, so too the little “our school” details are really important.

I remember being perturbed when I started teaching at being given a lesson in how to put up millskin and a border round it on a pinboard. It didn’t seem very important at that point….But I still do it pretty well now! But that nice backdrop to displaying children’s work shows that we value what they do and that we are proud of the children, their achievements and our school.

So what are we finding we need to concentrate on just now? Re-inforcement of how jotters should be presented, talking about how to set out sums, how to teach basic processes such as decomposition after the concepts are grasped, talking about how to work on learning of number bonds etc. What we are really doing though through this is talking about learning and teaching! Talking about collective knowledge within an experienced staff . I think there is probably a nugget of thought in here about environment/ethos and how we keep that going by looking at little things in our school, like graffiti on jotter covers just not being allowed. Just as there’s a train of thought that suggests fixing broken windows, cleaning up graffiti etc affects crime in a neighbourhood so too I think there’s something important in there about how schools run. How we keep things going when there is huge staff turnaround, how expectations of something like jotter layout can affect much bigger things like behaviour throughout a school. I am going to have to think about this a bit more, but there’s a thought fermenting in there somewhere!

December 5, 2007 Posted by | Nonsense | , | Leave a comment