Note to self: welcome back…

So the challenge: get back into this blogging malarkey. Blog for twenty minutes daily. 

bloggingIt’s been an awful long time since I blogged. Too long. I’ve been writing, painfully slowly, a thesis on dialogic approaches to the teaching of English in the Sixth Form. It’s fun, honestly.

So, starting today, there’s a new challenge. Write for twenty minutes a day. No more, and don’t worry if it’s less, but write something. It won’t be a work of art, and it almost certainly won’t be profound, and it might not even be that original.

And don’t worry about what to write. Of course, it might ramble and waffle, but just write.

So, with fifteen minutes left on the clock, here goes…

A year ago, I wrote about what it’s like to return to studying, and that’s where I’ll start. What’s it been like after another year?

1. Hard work.

2. Tiring, sometimes fascinating and occasionally enriching. This has been one of the greatest reminders for me as a teacher: when you are learning something that’s difficult and it’s in a different area to your comfort zone, it’s mentally taxing, confusing, unsettling and disturbing. It’s a lesson in empathy, too – on what basis are students going to find some aspects to what they’re learning in my lessons any different?

3. I’m of the view more than ever that more teachers must be given the opportunity to study further. We’re supposed to be purveyors of knowledge. As A level teachers, many of us are gatekeepers to higher education. And yet many of us haven’t set foot in a university for twenty years or more. We have, quite simply, no idea how scholarship has changed, what theories are current or how changes in technology have transformed the way students work. Of all that, I was guilty. Returning to study is a powerful introduction to all these things and more. And it’s revolutionised my understanding of how to teach EPQ. So it’s time for funding from the powers that be for these opportunities.

4. I thought I was a fluent writer. In class, I’d do timed literature essays in half the time that I gave students, knock off an introduction to a piece of persuasive writing or compose the most eloquent of GCSE writing tasks. And they were good and they’d have got full marks. I was well practised. But what I forgot is that fluency comes with what you’ve mastered. When you’re fumbling your way through difficult material you don’t really fully get yet, writing is hard.That’s a powerful reminder for all teachers and especially English teachers.

5. Theory matters. Exploring theory gives a clarity to your classroom practice. I’ve read an awful lot about talk for two years and I’ve thought about it rather a lot. I’m still thinking about it. In classrooms, it really is talk which can make all the difference. Learning really is social. We learn in community and we learn from each other. We learn when different voices converge and there’s a fumbling towards what might be the case.

(22 minutes…)