When I started this blog, I didn’t really expect very much. As a veteran bedroom-studio musician, I’m used to the tumbleweed of indifference to my creations. I flogged my music through MySpace for a couple of years and got absolutely nowhere beyond a few scraps of encouragement. So, with low expectations to start with, the level of engagement with this blog never ceases to surprise me.
I was really happy with how it went last year, but this month things have moved to another level. For the first time, I’ve had over 50,000 views in a month, with over 1000 views every day. Some days I’ve pushed this along with quite a few tweet-outs, but on others, strange flurries of interest have developed out of nothing; a sudden interest in old blogs, a Facebook post in Sweden or an unexpected plug from the GuardianTeacher site have kept things moving.
The main thing that triggered this post was seeing that six of my posts have now had over 10,000 views. These six posts are the ones that deal with the everyday routine of being a teacher, which is extremely gratifying. They say something fairly obvious about the key issues we face as teachers and our search for affirmation as professionals:
1. The runaway leader is Behaviour Management: A Bill Rogers Top 10.
In this post I am simply describing my favourite ideas from Bill Rogers; I’m just a messenger for his brilliant work. He made a massive difference to me and I hope others find the same. Recently I had the pleasure to meet Bill at Shenley Brook End school in Milton Keynes. I gave him a copy of my blog and told him that it comes up as the top google search for ‘Behaviour Management’. He said he’d only just got email and the internet was new to him – so blogs and ‘google’ were alien concepts. His materials for the CPD session were hand drawn cartoons shown under a visualiser. He’s now even more of a legend in my book.
2. The second spot goes to Making Feedback Count: “Close the Gap”.
Once again, I am the messenger. This post was a report on a visit I made to Saffron Walden County High School in Essex. Their CPD session on ‘Close the Gap’ marking was inspirational and many other people have found the idea resonates hugely. The post includes a superb sheet from Wilson’s Grammar School suggesting lots of ways to reduce the workload of marking whilst also increasing the impact. It gets downloaded several times every day.
In all honesty, I think this post gets the hits more for its title than its quality. It is part of the Great Lessons series I wrote last year. This post has its place in the series where I have tried to focus on the habits of everyday teaching, but, by itself, I’m not sure it is offering too many answers. However, I’m happy that his post helps to lead people to the others in the series, from Probing, to Explaining, to Awe and Joy.
This is one of those list-posts. A ‘Top 10’ that I couldn’t contain. I have tried to reflect the many ways in which teachers can create reputational ‘capital’ through engaging in a range of different elements of school life and setting high standards in different elements of routine teaching. In some ways it is a challenging list – some people have suggested it is overly demanding and even ‘preachy’ in places. But it works as an aspiration and it certainly covers the territory that real judgements are based on every day in schools.
It still amazes and annoys me when people trot out a glib phrase suggesting that Hattie’s effect sizes show that homework doesn’t work. It’s really an ignorant position to take, because his work doesn’t do this at all. But why let the facts get in the way eh? John Hattie, to my huge delight, even commented on this blog himself:
This was my Christmas crowd-pleaser. It had a huge splurge of hits during the Christmas holidays leading into the start of term. The main reason for writing it was just to remind people of the all the good reasons to talk up our profession. I think we do ourselves down too often; we disparage the profession and our working conditions to our own detriment, diminishing how the job is perceived by others – including prospective new teachers. Actually, I think we should celebrate the job more, for all the reasons in this post – and that doesn’t mean we can’t also strive to improve it. I am really pleased with how this post has been received – we’re not all a bunch of cynics at all!
After the top 6, there is quite a drop before the next batch. Here they are:
As you can see, the themes are recurring: More on marking, more on homework and two posts on questioning: Probing and Think Pair Share. Then there is a post on creating the conditions in which we can all flourish – and, finally, a leadership-orientated post about our longitudinal process for evaluating the quality of teaching and learning.
These things seem to be the ones that matter. Thanks to everyone who has read, left a comment or shared any of these blogs. There will be more to come.