The Creative Teacher Project

An NQT Bringing Creativity to the Classroom

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Heroes of Teaching: Dylan Wiliam on Formative Assessment

Well this guy is a total hero in my book. Sit back, relax and enjoy the dulcet tones of Professor Dylan Wiliam.


You’re welcome ūüėČ


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Mind Blown: Assessments and Embarrassment

I’m having a bit of a moment. ¬†A revelatory one.

You see, I’m writing a paper on formative assessment, its impact on students and the implications for teachers. I’m loving it – this type of development focussed assessing is right up my alley and I¬†cannot wait to get stuck in with my own (future) class. It’s all about high quality feedback, specifically addressing misconceptions but also giving more abstract indications to students about the direction they need to go in to really succeed. Formative assessment happens throughout a course of study, not just a test right at the end, you know, when it’s kind of too late to correct students if their wrong.

But this is where a lightbulb went DING DING DING in my brain. Testing and assessing is not a trick we play on students. We’re not supposed to be tripping them up, trying to ask questions that they don’t know the answer to to prove their not smart enough. Tests aren’t supposed to be too difficult for students. We’re supposed to assess students to find out how much they’ve learned. If they’re failing tests it’s because their not learning. That’s our responsibility!

There’s also¬†no inherent value judgement in assessments. Woah Nelly, did I just say that? You don’t have to be embarrassed if you don’t know something! If only I had realised this in school – I could have asked so many more questions! I wish I had known this at Uni the first time around! Think about how much we could learn if we weren’t afraid of looking stupid by asking questions.

As teachers, we¬†want our students to succeed.¬†We want them to learn and build their own knowledge. Doing well in an essay is not the goal here (mind blown AGAIN). The essay is just the vehicle through which we can see what our students have learned. We need to structure our assessments so that our students¬†can do well but more importantly, we need to use the information from our students assessments to really think about how and what we’re teaching them.

I think I need a little lie down now. My poor brain.

Hit me up in the comments if you’ve ever had a moment like this!

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Monday Provocation

Because I’m a bit of a hippy, I’ve signed up to a daily provocation called Notes from the Universe, which is a daily email from “The Universe” with a little message of positivity for the day. I know. I am¬†that sort of Drama Teacher – sorry not sorry. This is one I received last week, and thought I would share:

When you understand, Sam, that what most people really, really want is simply to feel good about themselves, and when you realize that with just a few well-chosen words you can help virtually anyone on the planet instantly achieve this, you begin to realize just how simple life is, how powerful you are, and that love is the key.

I thought it was really pertinent to me as a teacher. What would happen to our students if we made it a priority to make them feel good about themselves? Would it make them achieve more, or even more significantly, be better people? I think it just might.


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What Happened to Creativity?

On Monday evening, far later than I should have been, I was scrolling through some teaching related tweets. I tweeted about a new post of mine, checked out the #dramaed hashtag, and contemplated letting another Drama teacher know how much I love her blog (I totally chickened out on that one). I felt a bit smug for about 30 seconds, congratulating myself on how well I am doing this whole blogging thing.

Then I switched tabs and caught a view of my latest post. Right up the top, in turquoise letters on my favourite yellow chevron header, was the wake up call I didn’t know was heading my way. The Creative Teacher Project. My blog, about bringing creativity to the classroom. That isn’t what this blog has been recently, instead it’s something more along the lines of Confessions of a Student Teacher.

Although when I created this blog I wanted it to be a place for student teachers to come and find information they weren’t getting at university, I really wanted it to be a place where I discussed and dissected the creative practice of teaching. I missed being creative daily in my last role, and teaching was the path I chose to take instead. But I’ve realised I’m not sharing that creative journey here.¬†

So I’m going to have a little think about how I can work creativity in here a little more. I mean, it’s my name! I simply have to! But before I do that, I’m going to let myself come to grips with this whole¬†teaching concept first, and I hope you bear with me. Can I become a better, more creative teacher at the same time as I actually become a teacher to begin with? I don’t know.

Shall we find out together?

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Getting Myself Together

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It’s the business end of the semester now at university, with an assignment due every week until we go on our final prac. I’ve strategically avoided my assignments up until now (it’s not a very good strategy, I don’t recommend it), but sometime over the last week I found myself looking in the mirror and thinking:

It’s time you got yourself together girl.

Do you ever have those moments? When you think you really have to start going to bed a little earlier than 1am, and getting up, dressed and ‘put together’? So I did it. Smashed out my assignment on diversity and turned¬†it in online, went for a run, showered, before blow-drying my hair.¬†

It sounds superficial – and maybe it actually is – but I think of my hair as a metaphor for myself. It’s generally well behaved, leaning towards a bit curly and wild, often getting out of control pretty quickly if I don’t put any effort into maintaining it. It’s not naturally smooth and tangle free – I really have to work at it. But, when I do give it a little TLC, it doesn’t fight me. It will do what I tell it to do.

When I take care of my hair I feel like I’ve got my head together. I feel like I look more professional, and that makes me relax into the work I have to do, rather than feel like I’m already on the back foot because I don’t look the part.¬†

This isn’t to encourage you to get up early and blow dry your hair (or do something that men do!), but rather it’s a thought piece – what is it that you need to do to feel prepared, to feel confident to tackle the day, to feel like a teacher? What’s one small thing you can do, that isn’t necessarily work related, that makes you feel like you’re in the driving seat again? That makes creativity in your work easier?

For me? It’s blow dried hair, a blazer and a cup of coffee. The little things.¬†