Welcome

Hello and welcome to my blog. Here you can read about my role as an advanced skills teacher (förstelärare) in Sweden and the application of technology in education.

I also post on other school and education related issues.

Peer tutoring

 

ResearchEd is becoming a regular feature on many teachers’ calendars and last month together with some colleagues, I found myself wrapping up warm to brave the Swedish winter once again as I ventured to the outskirts of Stockholm on this annual pilgrimage. The reason I keep coming back was neatly summed up by Alex Quigley (Senior Associate at the Education Endowment Foundation) in his keynote speech: attending events like ResearchEd gets us off the treadmill of classroom practice and encourages intellectual discussion. While the event may seem just as exhausting as a treadmill session at the gym it is ultimately good for us. A full day (a Saturday!) includes 6 lectures plus opening and closing speeches. There is little time to catch your breath let alone a coffee yet year after year educators flock to this event.

In past years, I have benefitted greatly from the reading tips gleamed from the sessions I’ve attended. As all busy teachers know however, finding time to keep up with the latest research is a challenge. One book recommendation I had not yet read was Graham Nuthall’s The Hidden Lives of Learners and for that reason I chose to attend Jan Tishauser’s session on this subject. Continue reading

Retrieval Practice

Fetch!

It’s autumn again and you’ll often find me spending my weekends unwinding from a week in the classroom by going for long walks in the forest with my dog. Over the years I have taught him a number of tricks. Some took longer to learn than others. It took a concerted effort on both our parts before he mastered the adorable ‘high five’ but fetch is a game he learned very quickly and he delights in bringing back a ball or stick for me to throw again. It has become part of our weekend routine and a morning walk is not complete without a quick game of fetch. This is not dissimilar to how I work with my students during the week – though they are not quite as effusive in showing delight when I play fetch with them. Continue reading

Teachnology or distraction devices?

This week I reviewed a presentation with my mentor students on the dangers of social media. This presentation builds upon the ideas espoused by Dr Cal Newport of Georgetown University. In his blog, Study Hacks, Dr Newport writes about “how to perform productive, valuable and meaningful work in an increasingly distracted digital age”. His book, Deep Work, refers to studying for focussed chunks of time without distractions such as email and social media.

In brief, Dr Newport concludes that social media reduces our capacity for attention, leads to loneliness and isolation, and causes a state of continuous latent anxiety.   Continue reading

Impactful Learning

Teaching is not seen as an attractive career choice. Why would someone want to sign up for (and indeed stay in) a career which is often criticised for long hours, poor pay and piles of paperwork? Take a minute to think about your answer.

There is a good chance your answer goes something like this – to make a difference in young people’s lives, to have an impact.

It is easy to lose sight of why we became teachers as we go about the day-to-day job of planning lessons, creating material and marking tests not to mention the regular writing of reports on each of our students. And yet maybe, if we are to address the recruitment and retention crisis in teaching, we should encourage teachers to reflect over the impact they have on learning and the difference they can make. Continue reading

Train the Brain

This week spells the start of Spring break for schools in Stockholm. The week-long hiatus from school is called ‘sportlov’ in Swedish which translates as ‘sports break’. Traditionally this is a time for families to retreat to the mountains for a week of high exertion on the ski slopes. However, the long winter has had its toll on many who opt instead for warmer climes and a week of R&R on a beach. Indeed, one of my students quipped that the closest they would come to sport this week would be doing a Netflix marathon.

As we are encouraged to turn our attentions to the benefits of physical activity, we should maybe take some time to reflect on mental exercise too. Continue reading

Remembering Ebbinghaus

Among the speakers at researchED‘s lead network day in Haninge on Saturday was Pedro de Bruyckere, educational scientist and author of Urban Myths About Learning and Education.

His presentation on the basic ingredients of education highlighted seven principles of learning for educators to keep in mind. Continue reading

Know Thy Impact

Visible Learning

One of the goals of our Social Science department this year has been to encourage more peer observations of lessons. The prospect of having a colleague sit in on a lesson, armed with paper and pen to critique performance, can make a teacher uncomfortable. This is why I prefer to think of these lessons in friendlier terms as ‘classroom visits’. These visits not only offer the teacher greater insight into their teaching practice, they can serve as a source of inspiration for the visiting teacher too.

John Hattie (who introduced the concept of visible learning in his meta study on factors affecting learning outcomes) notes that teachers make the greatest difference to students’ learning. He says that as teachers, we all know what works in the classroom based on our own experience. However, what Hattie would like teachers to ask is – ‘what works better?’ Continue reading