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Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

February 8, 2010
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This was our first day of getting ready for the imminent arrival of the HMIe and we had our first ‘war cabinet’ meeting. And that’s exactly the wrong terminology to use as it suggests confrontation and fighting… we expect neither from the visit!

I’m actually looking forward to meeting the HMIe team and getting the opportunity to share some of the great work my department are doing… but always there is the nagging feeling that it isn’t enough. As teachers, we can sometimes be the most reluctant people in the world to have anyone else look at what we do. Especially if they are going to pass comment on it. Especially if we value the commenter’s opinion. Especially if we have forgotten that this is exactly what we tend to do day-in and day-out to the young people sitting in our classrooms. No wonder the kids are scared or worried about offering their opinions… and they are just developing the skills and confidence that I have taken years to hone…

How refreshing would it be to have the kids go through the processes that I am currently undertaking? Working with their peers to understand what is required of them before collating their evidence and presenting it in an acceptable format. Identifying gaps in their own knowledge and working out how best to fill in the gaps and make sure they are ready for future tasks of a similar nature. It sounds like the perfect CfE project…

…and maybe that’s why I’m torn. I know that many of the kids I teach do have these skills – some of them in abundance – and yet lots do not and a few never will. They have been ‘judged’ and ‘found wanting’ by their ‘elders and betters’ and that is something that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. For my part, I try to encourage and cajole and humour and do everything I can to get the best out of my pupils. I am moving towards having my pupils work in the way I have described above, but it is hard going at times. Too often, they do not have the confidence in their own abilities to be reflective. They fear the process and cannot see the benefits it brings. Which brings me back full circle to the inspection.

Sometimes, if we are going to truly understand the learning experience for our pupils, we need to be reminded what it’s like to be the one trying to please… 😉

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2010 10:06 am

    “Working with their peers to understand what is required of them before collating their evidence and presenting it in an acceptable format. Identifying gaps in their own knowledge and working out how best to fill in the gaps …”
    What a thought provoking idea! I love it! Lots to think about here and how I might manage this to some degree in my primary classroom.
    Thanks so much Neil.
    Hope your Hmle visit goes well 🙂

    • February 13, 2010 10:19 am

      Hi Kim,
      At the moment, I can’t see the wood for the trees. Need to get my head around the process and what is needed.

      There is much we do well, and we are working on the areas that need to be improved. The hard thing is working out how to measure and demonstrate ‘impact’… We know much of what we are doing is making a difference… but how do we ‘prove’ it!

      Hey ho! Tea break is over…

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