BlogJanuary 2017

Sports Cars and Black Box Thinking

This week marks the anniversary of a significant milestone in my life - the day I realised my two-seater sports car was no longer an appropriate means of transport. A very sad day as I’m sure you can imagine, but the evidence was clear: I have two teenage children, my annual mileage has significantly increased and, if I’m honest, the spectacle of me climbing in and out of the car was becoming increasingly hilarious for everyone to see.

So, I have begun to look at options for a new car. It would be beguilingly simple to follow the lead of a certain motoring journalist and just look for the “prettiest” car that makes the most “exciting” noise. But, how many of us can actually afford to do that?

New Year's resolutions

Here we are at the start of the new year, time to look forward to what the next 12 months have in store.

Very few of us would have predicted some of the major events from last year, so I don’t dare imagine what lies ahead. Nevertheless, it is traditional at this point to come up with some New Year’s resolutions - so, here are five suggestions to act as a starting point.

  1. I won’t use technology for the sake of using technology. Tempting though it might be to jump on the latest piece of shiny new tech, it is important to focus on what is really important in the classroom - the teaching and learning. Let’s vow to use technology as a tool to help us by adding value to the classroom experience. Yes, keep experimenting with new ideas and tools, but teaching and learning must be at the core of everything we look at. The best solution should fit seamlessly into existing practice to the point where it becomes almost invisible.

  2. I won’t try and do everything myself. Education and technology is moving fast and keeping up with the latest developments can be difficult. The best way to make sure that we are up to date is to tap into the knowledge and expertise of others. This might be seeking advice from colleagues, going on a course or even subscribing to a podcast. Learning from others makes it easier to develop our skills and understanding, as well as sharing ideas and best practice.

  3. Instead of one big goal, I will set smaller, more realistic goals. It can tempting when we see the possibilities that technology offers us, to try and do everything at once. But, if we think about it sensibly we know this isn’t going to work. As teachers we make sure that we set out a chain of short term goals for our students as we know that this will enable them to achieve success more rapidly. By giving ourselves ‘bitesize’ goals, such as focusing on approaches like flipped homework or building up our online resources, we can stay in control and are able to better manage our progress.

  4. I will keep going. Whenever we try out something new, it will take time to establish so we shouldn’t lose heart too quickly. Keep focused on the target and celebrate successes - however small - along the way.

  5. I will forgive myself. As we try out new technologies and strategies, let’s not beat ourselves up if they don’t work out as planned. Technology providers know that education is evolving and are constantly learning how to better support teachers.