Month: October 2013

Do teachers need to be qualified? Don’t ask such silly questions

This article was originally published by The Guardian on 28th October 2013 and was a response to Anthony Seldon’s Guardian article.

Surely it goes without saying that teachers should be qualified? Apparently not.

The idea of unqualified teachers working in school is nothing new and Gove has made it clear for sometime that he feels experts in their field should be able to work in free schools and academies. It would appear that all it takes to be a teacher is subject knowledge and a passion for the subject. Can you imagine how easy teaching would be if this was true.

Our job is far more than that, which is why gaining a teaching qualification is so important. When I think back to my training year, I can see that it was the hardest 12 months of my life, closely followed by my NQT year.

I was eager to be a teacher but wouldn’t have lasted five minutes without the sort of formal training I received not only from my school but from university. Teaching is hard, students can be challenging, the job can affect you in ways you never expected. Working towards a qualification prepares you for this.

I trained alongside some incredible people at university; people that ran their own tech companies, computer programmers, some trainees with first-class degrees – people who, on paper, would be far better teachers than me. I can imagine these people would be exactly the sort that Gove would love to see in schools. The problem is, many of them did not cope well. They found it hard to deal with behaviour and students’ social problems. They struggled to communicate their vast knowledge to students. Lots of people drop out. If they had been employed by a school straight away rather than starting a PGCE they would have quit, leaving students without a teacher.

Is it not fair on the unqualified teacher, their colleagues or students to employ them without having proof that they can meet a national minimum standard. We should not be experimenting with this.

If a school sees potential in someone and wants to employ them as an unqualified teacher, then great. But that school should be willing to train this member of staff up and get them qualified. If they are not willing to train them up, I think questions need to be asked.

Could employing unqualified teachers be about saving money? They are certainly cheaper. Will unqualified teachers be less likely to be unionised? Is this an advantage for schools?

Finally, how would students and parents feel about this? If you want a carer for your child you want one with qualifications. It’s important, it gives parents confidence that carer can do the job. Social workers need to be qualified. And, teachers are social workers too, of sorts. It does not matter if you are in a free school, academy or independent school you will have to deal with pastoral problems of different kinds.

I absolutely understand that those without a teaching qualification have much to offer. My advice is to do your training, get a qualification and join a union. Teaching is so much more than standing in front of a class and knowing stuff. I wonder if Gove has heard of pedagogy. Knowing something doesn’t mean you can teach it. Teachers should be qualified.

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A Guide to Delivering Creative Computing Lessons (Presentation)

This is the presentations I gave at the ‘Design and Deliver an Outstanding Secondary Computing Curriculum’ conference by Optimus Education on 15th October.

It was a really great day and I saw some fantastic presentations and talks.

My Journey into Hip Hop Pt 1 – My 1st Instrumentals

Back in the early noughties I was a member of a Hip Hop and Garage crew. I used to be a Hip Hop DJ and I enjoyed spending my time playing, what I considered to be the cream of Hip Hop. During that time I also produced a few tracks with some MC’s in the crew. It was great fun and we even had a track played on Radio 1 as part of their One Music feature.

Since then of course, much has changed but my love for Hip Hop has not. It has been part of my life for over 20 years and has helped me get through so pretty tough times.

Anyway…I have promised myself to get back into production so I recently picked up the ‘Maschine Grove Production Studio‘ which was recommenced to me by up and coming rapper Burgess and Hip Hop producer 3MANBeats.

There is a steep learning curve but I am trying to get on top of it in the precious time I have when not teaching or running Realise Learning.

So, below is my 1st attempt. It is rough and not 100% finished, but thought I would post them. There are two versions and they include an Eminem sample from the film 8 Mile, hence the name of my track – ‘The 8th Mile’.

For the best experience listen to with headphones, loud and with the bass turned up.

(Digital) Information Literacy – Top 10 Tips for Parents and Teachers

  1. Explain that not everything on the internet is true

  2. Ask your child/student to compare information from different sites when doing research. Some sites may be biased or have a political agenda

  3. Trustworthy sites may be associated with trustworthy organisations

  4. Question what you read and look for other opinions

  5. Use keywords when searching the web to make your search more accurate. Do not just type a question – select the most important words

  6. When searching for websites and images etc try refining the search using the search tools so you are more likely to find what you want. These options are just underneath the Google search bar

  7. Encourage your child/student to read the whole article or page

  8. Information should not just be copied and pasted. It needs to be read, understood, digested and questioned

  9. Encourage your child/student to use well known sources. For example: NASA, BBC etc.

  10. Avoid using sites such as answers.yahoo.com. Anyone can contribute to these sites and the information may not be correct or accurate. If you are using Wikipedia, make sure you look out for mistakes or things that may not be true.

(UPDATED) Swivl: A Device For The Flipped Classroom

I recently purchased a device called ‘Swivl’ for school and I thought I would take the time to write a quick post about it.

‘Swivl’ is a used to film lessons or other activities for use with the flipped classroom or lesson observations.

The device sits on a tripod and has a slot for you to put your iPhone or iPod Touch into it. You can then put the microphone/sensor around your neck and the device will swivel round and follow you as you walk around the classroom. It pretty cool and staff and students were impressed with the tech.

It is a great device that is very useful if you want to film your lessons, especially if you have a teacher that walks around a lot, like me. It also has a free App that that optimises the experience.

As you will see from the video below, you should check the white balance as you can hardly see what is on the whiteboard. I should have really had a look before I started filming, leaving the classroom light on would have helped. It is also fairly pricey at about £175. I got mine from: http://www.techinvasion.co.uk/

There is another issue too. If you are walking around the camera follows you, which is fine. However, I make lots of small movements so the camera can be a little jerky. Probably something just to be mindful of when you are using it I suppose. Update: A representative of Techinvasion read this post and kindly emailed me with some guidance. He let me know that there is a ‘Sport Mode’ which is there for just this reason. 

Overall, I think it is really good. It is very easy to set up and will certainly improve the filming and sharing the lessons.

Have a look at the video and make up your own mind. Sorry about the rubbish commentary. It has been a long day. 🙂

MOOCs – Cambridge GCSE Computing: Free Online Computing Course

The Cambridge GCSE Computing MOOC is well worth visiting, whether you are a teacher or student.

It is completely free and includes hundreds of videos, resources and quizzes.

If you are a teacher looking for some CPD, look no further. This could really help your personal development.

Students will love this too. It is aimed at 14-16 year olds but I have a 12 year old working through this in his spare time. You may not get a GCSE out of it, but you do get a certificate of participation.

It is clear that a lot of time has been spent creating this. I really appreciate those involved in this project, I am sure it will be a great success.

This is work in progress and they are adding more lessons throughout this year and next year.

Give it ago, you may just love it.

Sign up for it here:

http://cambridgegcsecomputing.org/

Here is an example of a couple of videos: