Subject knowledge CPD

Thought I’d make a list of the things I’d read or watched to do with improving my subject knowledge this month, ok not quite the end of the month but near enough.

Book, non-fiction – Bury my heart at wounded knee – Dee Brown – still got a bit more to read

Book, fiction based on a true story – The German girl – Amando Lucas

Magazines – BBC History Magazine, All about history magazine, History Revealed

Booklet – The story of Vikings and Anglo-Saxons from the BBC History Magazines

Documentary – The West ep 2 – Ken Burns

Civilisations ep 1,2 and 3

Do these count as keeping up my subject knowledge? I think they do.

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#teacher5aday #pledge

Looking back and looking forward using #teacher5aday

#exercise.  I have lost just over half a stone in the three months leading up to Christmas by exercising more and making better choices with my food.  Fell off the wagon a bit with the food over the holidays but am back on track. I’m doing red January for the charity  mind which means running every day for a month.  I have taken the pressure off myself and am running without my Garmin watch so I’m not looking at distance or time; just trying to enjoy the exercise and the countryside.  No pressure.

#volunteer.  I have volunteered my school to host a #womened event which @KerryJordanDaus is organising and I have volunteered to speak at that event.  My aim is to volunteer to help staff a bit more to spread the load at work; maybe do a duty for them or offer a resource.

#learn.  I started a new job last January in a new school so there have been lots of learning experience in this last year.  In addition, all of the new specs are keeping me busy as I have new subject knowledge to get to grips with.  Next topic is the American West so I’ve been reading Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown in preparation.

#connect.  I attended PedagooHampshire again this year.  Another road trip with @KerryJordanDaus and @MrsHumanities where we put the world to rights on the way there and back.  Lots of people to connect with and looking forward to connecting with more new people in March at the Kent #womened event.

#notice.  As already mentioned I’m running without a timer so this means I have more time to notice what’s going on around me.  Trying to take time to look around me on my drive to work.  So lucky to live and work in the countryside.

Looking forward to see what 2018 brings.

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Year 11 Revision Recovery Bags

Old post from a couple of years ago copied over from @staffrm.



Year 11 are looking really tired as we approach half term. They have been working incredibly hard and have had their mock exams. When they return after our two week break (yes, two weeks!) we have history revision recovery bags to give them. We hope these will inspire them to keep going for the last few weeks until the exam. This is what we are putting in them:

A5 sheet with suggestions for revision strategies.

A book mark for each topic exam paper giving the breakdown of what is required for each question.

A book mark with QR codes which will take them straight to our revision guides for each topic on our school website and other useful sites for revision.

Little sticky tabs to mark pages in their revision book.

A pen.

A highlighter.

Little bag of sweets.

A loyalty card. They will get a sticker for their card for every revision session, intervention session, outstanding class work or outstanding behaviour. They can redeem these when full for a prize.

77 personalised labels have been written. Now we are just waiting for the little brown paper carrier bags. Come on postman!

Most of the items have been inspired by things I have seen on twitter. Let me know if you think we have missed anything.

Come on year 11! #Wecandoit!

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Tips for running a meeting

Here are some tips I’ve learned from attending meetings, getting advice from others in business and running them myself.

1. Only have them if they are needed.

2.  Keep them short.

3.  Publish the agenda in advance.

4.  Share the agenda on one note (or something similar).

5.  Share documents that need to be read in advance using one note (or similar).

6. Encourage editing/discussion on documents online prior to the meeting to ensure meeting time is used productively.

7.  Set roles to help keep everyone engaged; time keeper, minute taker, someone to ensure agenda item is adhered to and note any new items for future meetings.  Alternate these roles.  It’s difficult to run a meeting and take minutes – I’ve tried.

8. Don’t have AOB.  Encourage people to put forward items in advance.

9.  Publish minutes and action points on one note (or similar).  This ensures there is a record of everything in one place.

10. Finish when you say you will.

11.  Provide biscuits!  (Thank you @Gwenelope)


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#teacher5aday update

imageAnother year had passed and #teacher5aday is still helping me to keep a work life balance.  Here’s a brief update on how I’ve used it this year.

#Exercise.  This has helped me keep fit and healthy in both body and mind over the year.  As I’ve said before, breathing and exercising is all I can manage, trying to think as well is impossible. This gives my mind a rest and by the time the exercise is over things are clearer/don’t seem quite so bad.  This year I ran my first 10k race to support cancer research which felt like a big achievement.  I’m also encouraging my sister by running the C25K with her. Next step is to get back to bootcamp which I’ve hardly been to the last two months due to work.

#Volunteer. In addition to helping my sister with exercise and running the race for life, I have run a few virtual races where the money goes to charity and in December as did the reverse advent calendar and took a box of food to the foodbank.  Need to keep working on this one.  Helping others takes my mind off myself.

#Learn.  Passed my NPQSL at the beginning of the year and that helped me get my Lead Practitioner role in the middle of the year.  I’m starting at a new school in January and I’m sure it helped my application.  I continue to read books and blogs but next year I’d like to learn a new skill.  Just need to decide what I want to learn.  Probably going to start with how to work my new camera.

#Connect.  I continue to connect with teachers on twitter.  This year a group of history teachers have set up a Facebook page to share resources and support one another, it has been great to be a part of that.  More importantly I have spent more time with my family.  We bought a camper van in October and have already had lots of fun days out.  Looking forward to lots of weekends camping next year.

#Notice.  Struggling with this one.  I was lucky enough to get a camera for Christmas so I’m going to learn how to use that and it should really help me notice what’s around me. We took a trip to Dover Castle yesterday and looking through the lense I noticed things in greater detail.


I’m looking forward to 2017 and keeping these five words in mind.



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Healthy eating and vegetarianism

Healthy eating and vegetarianism

First of all this post isn’t trying to convert anyone; it’s just me rambling one about how I try to eat healthy and be vegetarian.  Sounds like it would be easy but it took me a little while to figure out how to make sure I was getting a balanced diet.

I have been vegetarian for 21 years, I don’t think about it unless I am going to eat somewhere where I have to state dietary preferences or  eat out somewhere new.  Overall, eating out has got much better.  Most pubs and restaurants have at least one vegetarian option on the menu, some will increase the size of staters to give more choice and some the chef will make you something.  However, I am still often disappointed by the lack of choice.  I mean, one option is not a choice.  I can’t imagine many restaurants just offering one meat dish.

At home it is much easier.  I started by using meat substitutes for the meals I was used to cooking for example quorn mince to make lasagne, shepherds pie and chilli.  However, I had given up meat for animal welfare reasons and as a result I also didn’t like the taste because I connected it to eating animals.  Therefore, I moved away from meat substitutes to using only vegetables.  I still have shepherds pies and chilli, I just make them with veg and pulses.  I also eat as little processed food as possible; this makes my eating choices healthier as I eat less salt, sugar and chemicals used in processing food.   The other thing I did was eat too much cheese.  Many vegetarian recipes include cheese so I keep a careful eye on how much I’m eating in a week.  I also make sure I eat enough protein.


There is something therapeutic about buying fruit and veg.  I love the variety of colour.  Borough Market, London, is one of my favourite places to shop for fruit and veg but usually I buy from the farm shop in my village; seasonal veg is local and tastes and lasts longer than supermarket equivalents – as long as you don’t mind a bit of dirt and rather wonky veg!  I also really enjoy prepping veg; chopping, slicing and dicing is very relaxing I find.  Prep might take a little longer but many veg dishes are speedy to cook (stir fry) for example and wonderfully colourful to look at.  Spices and herbs help give wonderful flavours.  During the holidays I batch cook curries, bolagnese and casseroles for busy days in term times to make sure I don’t make the wrong choices.


A typical day’s food on a school day would be a protein shake made with frozen fruit, protein powder, oats, spinach and almond milk.  Quick to make and drink but filling and nutritious.  Nuts and dried fruit for break and a hearty salad with fruit after for lunch.  Dinner might be frittata and a green veg or salad.  I do eat cake, biscuits and chocolate but mainly at the weekend.  I find my diet is really varied, gives me energy and helps keep me healthy.  My favourite cook books are Delia Smith’s and Hugh Fearnley-WHittingstall’s vegetarian cookbooks.  Many people aren’t vegetarian but eat meat free once or twice a week.  I’d love to hear some of your favourite vegetarian recipes or if you try something for the first time.

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I will be presenting at #Pedagoohampshire16 this year and my session is titled recovery bags for year 11. Revision period is, for me as head of department and class teacher, one of the most intense and perhaps stressful periods of the year. Exams come at the end of the academic year when both teachers and students are tired. As a non core subject we have to compete with the importance of core and with all other subjects for revision sessions. After school sessions can only happen in my school Tuesday or Thursday as Monday we have meetings and Wednesday is training. I think revision should be happening all year with the intensity building from January until end of term in May when our students go on study leave. This contrasts with some students who think it should start the week before the exams!


At my session I will be sharing the revision recovery bags we give to our students and what we put inside them to help them revise. I’ll be talking about how we share this with parents and how we’ve changed this over the two years we’ve used them. I’m hoping this will start a discussion on what other teachers do in their schools to support students with revision. How do you ensure they are ready for exams? How do you balance your subject with others? How do you help students get a balance between revision and life? How do you balance your own well-being at this difficult time with the increased requests for revision sessions after school, at lunch and before school? I’ve felt the revision bags have helped my well-being by providing as many opportunities for my students as possible but I’m looking forward to discussing them with you to make them even better.
See you in September.

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