As we prepare for the new school year…………… #PostAPositive

maryisherwood

It is inevitable that at the end of August, our thoughts have been increasingly turning to the start of the new school year. indeed some colleagues have already returned.

I was inspired by the post on Staffrm  by @SeanwelshBacc in which he talks about how much he enjoys his job and also takes up the mantle of #PostAPositive ( thanks Sean), so much so, I decided to write my own.

I am in the privileged position of being a headteacher. The best job in the world I would say ( well most days anyway!). Along with that privilege though comes responsibility and accountability neither of which should be taken lightly. The pupils and their needs must always be at the heart of what ever we do as a school so as I have been sat reflecting, preparing and discussing aspects of school improvement on my own, with members of the leadership…

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The First Day

Differentiation Is Easy

The first day of school is almost upon us. As a teacher I couldn’t be more excited. That first day is my favourite time of the whole year! I’ll be dressing up as a pirate to launch our new class theme, our room will have new decorations and there will be small gifts on my students’ desks to welcome them back. I didn’t do end of term gifts this year for either my LSAs or my students, I wanted to start the year with a buzz, so I’ve saved them for September.

Why? Because although the second of September is the most exciting day in my calendar; it’s the most difficult one for my students. Walking through the door on the first day of school can be a challenging prospect for any student, for a student with autism those fears are amplified multiple times. Whether it’s s a new school…

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Values, beliefs and biases

bjpren

This is not quite the opening for this blog that I had anticipated. Yesterday brought the news that one of my students had lost her life, it seems whilst trying to save the life of her younger cousin. The teenagers appeared unaware of the dangers of open water swimming. We sadly see this type of news every year when the sun comes out.

She was ‘my’ student, but in reality, I only knew her for about three hours. In those three hours though, I learned a little about her past and a bit more about her hopes and dreams for her future. I can visualise her folder as clear as if it was in front of me now. A yellow folder with her name written in large, rounded letters by a member of staff. She wanted to work in a caring profession. She was an immigrant, she was an asset…

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Inclusion rhetoric

Filling the pail

“Inclusion” is something that it is easy to be in favour of. However, inclusion rhetoric often conflates very different kinds of issues, ignores social consequences in order to focus on the individual and, at worst, acts as a front for a dumbed-down pedagogy that works against the interests of the working class.

Conflation

I secured my first teaching position at a time when children with physical disabilities were starting to be encouraged to attend mainstream schools. My school admitted its first child who used a wheelchair. The science labs were on the first and second floor of the building and so a lift was installed. All of this was perfectly reasonable and an example of how to include children with different needs.

However, imagine that a child is particularly badly behaved. Perhaps she comes from a difficult background or perhaps she has psychopathic personality traits that mean that she lacks empathy…

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Time to Reboot

Differentiation Is Easy

My greatest fear when my daughter was first diagnosed was that she would never have a friend. At three she showed very little interest in other children, unless you count screaming at the top of her lungs if there were too many of them, or being physically sick at the thought of going to nursery the next day. I wondered if other children would ever play with her, I wondered if she would ever care if they did or not. There were so many things I worried about in those days, but that fear was the greatest of them all.

We’ve had some utterly dreadful play dates; her screams could have probably been heard over the other side of town the time her friend decided to rearrange her play house, and I’m not sure the time she decided she wanted a sleepover with two friends and therefore had to rearrange…

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Making Mistakes

Differentiation Is Easy

One of the things my students find hardest is when they themselves make mistakes. Almost all of my students are perfectionists; they have higher expectations of themselves than anyone else in the room. And there is nothing harder than failing to meet your own expectations.

We talk a lot about mistakes and why mistakes are a good thing in our room. Our praise is never higher than when someone has made a mistake but stays calm, unless that is, when they’ve made a mistake, had a meltdown and still been brave enough to go back and try again. But even with lots of encouragement and lots of praise mistakes are still hard.

I remember a while ago now going out to see a student in another setting whose teacher was incensed that that he had threatened to kill her. He hadn’t meant it. He was in fact a lovely boy…

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Routines – Friend or Foe?

Differentiation Is Easy

Today we went to the beach. The day ended in blazing sunshine, but as we arrived this morning the rain was coming down with attitude. My heart sank, as I remembered a previous rainy day at the beach.

You see we have a beach routine; not deliberately but by default. At the beach (in no particular order); we go on the donkeys, we play in the sand, we go on the trampolines and we play on the pier. On a rainy day none of these things are possible. On a rainy day the routine does not work. You have to adapt, go to a café, look round the shops and play on the pier. These are all things that on a normal day would be enjoyed, just not on a beach day. You see they are not what happens on the beach.

Routines can be a double edged sword. They…

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