Not quite time for the long break –still a few more weeks of busy activity including Sport’s Week, work experience and the best classroom display winner for each tutor group’s World Cup team. The teachers are taking the competition really seriously, spying on each other’s rooms and they look great. Year 11 have officially left to return for their leaver’s assembly, prom at the Vincent and last but certainly not least-their exam results! Very recent visitors to school have [or will] included St Michael’s to look at our data, Wellacre to discuss music, Astley Park to chat learning and teaching and Grange and Culcheth to talk about lesson study-hope they all had/have an enjoyable and worthwhile visit. Alison Heaton will speak at Twickenham next week at the SSAT Achievement Show about our use of pupil premium money and we have joined a network of schools-Excellence and Growth Schools Network-who are interested in developing a ‘growth mind-set’ amongst all of their school community. I was delighted to listen to Hannah this morning who had visited a school in Clapham and was really excited by what she had seen [literacy] and wanted to book a time with me to discuss how she could put into action some of her thoughts-a Magic Moment for her and for me to see a teachers so enthused and open to new ideas which she can share with our subject literacy co-ordinators-a great start to my day-thank you!
Celebrating the success of others and supporting each other is a vital aspect of developing a positive mind-set and in this edition of Magic Moments, I’m going to share a mixture of thoughts from a range of adults working in our school-some are funny, some are touching-all represent the caring values and collaborative ethos that we are trying so hard to develop at Meols Cop. Thank you to the contributors-hope our readers enjoy my choices.
It’s always interesting to begin with some lively visual images-here is Claire’s Magic Moment.
“At the end of last term 9(1) made their own revision page in their exercise books. They had to choose the facts that were the most important to them”.
Equally colourful and a powerful learning experience was Rachel’s Magic Moment.
“My favourite moment of teaching this year was working with a group of Year 7’s (7 set 2) creating a response to our collaboarative ‘Mail Art’ project. We have been working with The Blandford School in Dorset on the theme of World War One, creating collaborative art on envelopes, a project initiated by the National Society of Education in Art & Design. Year 7 created their first envelopes last week, and I was overwhelmed by the quality of their verbal responses, their empathy and understanding, and above all, their incredible creativity.
Students responded to Wilfred’ Owen’s poem, Dulce Et Decorum Est, selecting a line from the poem which inspired them, and an image to accompany it. They then used a range of media to create empathetic responses, which portrayed the emotion, colours and images evoked. The conversations in the room were electrifying, and all of the of the envelopes were stunning. I have included two particularly outstanding examples below.
I can’t wait to see how the project continues, and what these brilliantly imaginative students will come up with next.”
I went up to Emma’s geography room and was met by the light blue and white of Uruguay flags and paper chains-how could you Emma! The luck of the draw I guess but no luck in her magic moments-just creative learning and teaching.
“Year 7 and 8 pupils made models of islands and volcanoes at home after being given this as a project. The dedication and hard work the pupils put into their work made me very proud to be teaching them. Also, recently year 8 have been making products from recycled materials-a group from 8.1 spent over three hours at home making their product and where so pleased with themselves bringing it into school. It’s nice to see students being so enthusiastic about the tasks we set them.”
Jack Pounder made this lovely island cake and took photos of it for his home-learning project.
Jack Kershaw and Caleb Howie made this ‘hoover’ out of recycled goods as part of their ‘WASTE’ topic-‘Dragon’s Den’ activity.
A couple of TA Magic Moment below-anonymised-illustrates the impact their support and guidance can have on individual learners who are often our most vulnerable.
“One of my magic moments was with a year 10 student in Spanish. He really struggled to accept that he needed to revise at home to prepare for his assessment and not only in school time. This is partly due to his Asperger’s Syndrome as he feels his ‘free time’ should be ‘free time’ and not ‘school time’. I created flash cards for him with his work which helped break it down into small chunks. I set him a challenge to remember 1 flash card every couple of days at home. He came into school telling me that he just doesn’t have a good memory and his head was like a sieve. Fortunately the teacher allowed me to take him out of class leading up to the assessment to support him with his revision. I sat with him and gave him 1 flash card at a time, I let him read it for a few minutes over and over, then told him to read it aloud a couple of times and then I took the flash card off him and he recited what was on the flashcard to me. I wouldn’t let him move onto the next flashcard until he recited it perfectly. As we were limited to the Spanish lessons he had on his timetable, it clearly wasn’t going to be enough time to learn it all so I set him a challenge to learn 4 flashcards over the weekend and ask his parents to test him just like I had done. When he returned the following week, he had managed to learn 3 out of the 4 which I feel was a great achievement as homework is a real issue for him. Bit by bit it built up to the point where he could recite it from beginning to end and it was clear to see the sense of achievement and his hard work had paid off. It was such a relief for him when his assessment was completed but, at the same time, it was a real confidence boost for him showing that he CAN do Spanish, it just takes a bit more effort than other subjects where his interest is greater.”
“The student I work with struggles to get his ideas down on paper. I have created a flip book of sentence starters to help him. Some are subject specific, others can be use across the curriculum. This has worked really well. It has given him more time to get ideas down as he is not taking as long for him to decide how to begin. I have also found that often he only needs to look through for the initial sentence starter and once he has that his work begins to flow. This has helped to get more work down on paper so teachers have a larger quantity of work to mark to ascertain a more accurate level.”
Tim’s moment shared his love of technology that transmits to all of his students! A true geek!
“My most magical moment recently in teaching has to be when the students were using the 3D printer in my lessons. Students were design their own model to print up and attempting to use the cura software to convert it into an appropriate file for the 3D printer to make. We were also printing up designs that students had downloaded from the internet including robots and puzzles. This really captured the imagination of the students. Not only were they learning new skills in ICT but they were inspired by what the technology can do. The conversations around the room amongst the students were all about what will the future be like with ICT and what will we be doing in 20 years. The students will take this inspiration with them. This indeed was a magical moment.”
Not surprisingly Claudio’s Magic Moments also involved his love of technology and soccer.
1] What has been your favourite moment of the year involving your role-the moment when you feel you made a great contribution to school [don’t be shy!]
Two magic moments come to mind both of them include things that I feel passionate about. Programming and football, in programming club we all shout out Eureka when we get something to work for the first time. Football is my sporting religion and if I can preach this to both students and staff alike via the Schools Fantasy League then I’m happy. The Staff want to beat the students and visa-versa, a bit of competition is good for us.
2] What has been your Magic Moment involving the students this year-what made it so special?
My magic moment by far has to be teaching Binary Code to 9 set 6 last lesson on a Wednesday. This lesson can be challenging at the best of times but to make it worse on this day the software I wanted to use was not working properly and I had to think of something fast. I had wanted to try this Binary lesson out for a wee while. The students were getting restless until I showed them this picture.
I then showed them an online Binary Clock.
Then they were hooked, it just goes to show how visual stimulation can aid in the delivery of what could be classed as a boring topic. The rest of the lesson was really good and each student took their turn to come up and answer the binary question at the end of the lesson.
It isn’t always easy to understand how difficult some of our students find socialising and taking part in activities that many other students participate in and take for granted. Our TAs are often involved in breaking down barriers, not just to do with learning but to do with ‘fitting in’.
What has been your magic moment of the year with the student(s) you support? What made it so special for you?
At his child’s review a parent expressed his concern about his son not socialising and not being in any clubs. I thought about what I could do to encourage him to not sit in the LRC every lunch time so I sat down with A and showed him the list of all the activities he could take part in within school. I read them out to him and he said he was interested in playing table tennis, but when I suggested him going he blushed and said no. I asked if he’d go with me as I fancied a game of ping pong and he was really pleased and said he’d go.
We went and we both laughed so much he recommended it to one of his peers who goes as well now. It seems an excellent opportunity to develop his co-ordination, speed and social skills. I put a note to dad in his planner and A said he was very pleased.
What is the biggest impact you have had on student learning this year? How did you make it happen and please explain your evidence for the impact?
One of my students is nervous, has low confidence and poor self-esteem and can display anxiety when presented with literacy based tasks. During our small group sessions he struggles to be as quick answering questions or to complete his work as the others. It is noticeable to his peers and I could tell he is embarrassed about it. A is motivated by success and needs to experience regular success to help build his confidence.
I thought of using his interests to support his learning and give him the opportunity to succeed, especially in front of his peers. This was achieved by ending some sessions playing true or false where each student has one card with true on and another saying false. I then included many questions about his interests; natural history, animals, and the Solar System.
When I saw how his hand was shooting up to answer and how happy he was I was delighted. What made it even better for him were the boys asking where the old A had gone, (in a nice way), as he got the answers correct before them.
MFL Helen chose Magic Moments with both staff and students-these are 2 of the student ones
“My first Magic Moment with a student came on Thursday 8th May with my Year 7 set 1 French class.
I was introducing a new topic ‘pets’. We had looked at the new vocab for 11 pets and I wanted them to be able to say if they have or don’t have a pet at home.
Hannah Brookfield told me ‘j’ai un hamster’ and when I asked her if this was true, she said ‘no’ and we laughed.
Then, another female student told me ‘ je n’ai pas un chien’.
I asked the class if this sentence was grammatically correct.
Declan straight away blurted out ‘ no miss, it should be je n’ai pas de chien.’ I know because you made me do the intervention on the VLE because I got it wrong on my first test. (When we were trying to say we haven’t got classroom equipment.)
Yay, my hours of prep putting intervention material on the VLE (and tracking if they do it) has finally paid off! Delighted.”
2nd Magic Moment – “absolutely perfect piece of writing produced by 7 set 1 student Georgia Mullin during an assessment test. That made me smile, too!”
And 1 staff moment
“My first magic moment from my role as subject leader came when a lovely box of chocolates and a card arrived on my desk one morning. ‘Thank you for being a supportive and kind team leader. We all appreciate it greatly!’
Frequently I ask myself the question ‘Am I doing a good enough job?’ I see a lot of talent around me and want to be able to lead and direct that talent effectively. Life has its ups and downs and it is really nice to get some re-assurance that you are appreciated from time to time.”
Anne has led our year 11 students and teachers for 5 years and suddenly finds herself in school alone! This is her story;
“My magic moment is not so much a moment, but a reflection on the five years which have led to the year 11 students who are taking their leave of us.
As year 11 faces their final exams, we see the culmination of five years hard work, monitoring and intervention. We see the fusion of outstanding pastoral care and outstanding learning and teaching unveiled in the Meols Cop High School final product. Not the conveyor belt production of a set of results, but the emergence of individual and various butterflies with confidence and skills from a school where many recognised the importance of ‘growth mind-set’ before that phrase became known.(‘Success comes in cans.’)
Our year 11 have been the first cohort not to have study leave or an official leaving point before the end of the exam season. They have embraced that, attended lessons, many have stayed after school for revision sessions, attended during holidays and on Saturdays. They have not kicked against the traces, there have not been huge behaviour problems; the majority have kept on coming and working and trying and pushing for each possible marginal gain. There has been a striving for success ethos.
I am not going to name individual students, but I am proud that as a school we have motivated so many and some we might least expect have attended voluntary revision sessions. If I were to describe them student by student, I think we would all be amazed at the impact we have all had –learning tutors, support staff, subject teachers, caretakers, teaching assistants, cleaners, kitchen\dining room staff, mentors and the leadership team . Even if that impact has only been really apparent in this final stage for some students, we should recognise that it is better late than never and we should be aware of the knock on effect our intervention can have on society.
As I face the exciting challenge of my new year group, I remind myself that the naughtiest boy in my last year 7, whilst never being perfect; went on to be a prefect and to play a leading role in many drama productions.
I am proud of our school. I am proud to work with so many colleagues who continually and voluntarily give above and beyond for our students – they work with students before school, at break, at lunch time, after school, in holidays and on Saturday mornings.
But for me, the real magic of teaching has been watching, encouraging and supporting my year group, well served by team Meols Cop, as they developed into the lovely young adults who are about to fly free.”
Marion-a great moment-when 2 legends met! “My magic moments have been bumping into and chatting to members of my previous form and former students. Working in school I think we often feel we have a minimal impact on the students we come into contact with, but our influence is often further reaching than we realise. The former students I have spoken with recently all talked about the kindness and support they received during their time at Meols Cop. They were all grateful for it, remembering very specific things about specific members of staff (teachers, support staff, mentor etc.)They all said how the help and advice they received had helped them during their time at Meols Cop or after leaving.
Another magic moment has been seeing the enthusiasm of the French language Leaders who have given up their time after school on Fridays. They have been so keen to learn extra French and to share their knowledge with other students in the class – it has been a pleasure to work with them.
The last magic moment I had recently was when I attended my husband’s work conference. On the last day the partners and wives were allowed to go along to listen to the special guest speaker, who this year was Sir Chris Hoy. Imagine my interest when he devoted part of his talk to the benefits of “Marginal Gains” and “Growth Mind set”. For me personally it is sometimes challenging to take on board all the new theories and be a “progressive” teacher but hearing how it had had such a positive effect on Chris Hoy and the British cycling team made it feel “real” and made me realise that it can be worthwhile. I’m not a big fan of the celebrity scene so I never wait to have my photo taken after the talk but this time I swallowed my pride and joined the huge queue. As I was the last of the “fans” I was able to have a quick chat to Sir Hoy and told him about Meols Cop and how we have been trying to use “Marginal Gains and “Growth Mind set” with our students. He seemed genuinely interested and even wrote a short message to my form (the grammar isn’t perfect but hey he’s Sir Chris Hoy.). Anyway the experience was great and I have to admit I was a tiny bit star struck!”
Top that Magic Moment if you can!
Hulk Hogan and Chuck Norris are pretty big stars too-Joanne used them in an analogy she made and chose this as her Magic Moment.
“My magic moment was with a year 9 GCSE class which are mixed ability. Some of them were struggling to understand the difference between the Richter and Mercalli scale, so we improvised. Decided to come up with a more visual representation of how they vary thus the idea of bringing in Chuck Norris and Hulk Hogan was created.
The Richter scale is based on actual strength (Magnitude) of an earthquake, whereas Mercalli is based on visual interpretations and varies according to what people’s perceptions are.
We showed them 2 images and asked which did they think would be stronger based on what they could see- obviously Hulk has more muscles so much stronger, or so it would be assumed. Then discussed who Chuck Norris was (American Martial Arts expert who served in the US Air force and actor), who Hulk Hogan was (WWE fighter and actor) and their legacy. Asked if Hulk and Chuck were to be in a fight that in fact would win- even the girls knew this- Chuck obviously.
This then brought us onto a discussion that just because you look big does it mean your strong and then eventually onto the links with an earthquake- if visually it looks to have been very damaging to infrastructure does it in fact have to be strong.
Penny dropped for the rest.”
Hulk Hogan would be far too big Jo!
Two more TA moments shared with each other to re-tell
1] What has been you Magic Moment of the year with the student[s] you support? What made it so special for you?
A had a special moment with one of the young ladies in year 11, when she noticed her upset in one of the classes she supports. A asked if she could take her out of class and she broke down in tears. A found out that she was worried about something at home, as well as revising for her exams. She told A that she hadn’t been able to talk to any of her friends or family about what was going on but she could tell A. She had been able to trust in A to tell her. A took her for a walk and a chat and explained to her that she would make her progress manager aware of what was going on, and she was happy with that and wanted A to sit in with her in the chat. The outcome was that all was well at home, and her mum wrote a letter in to thank school for helping her as they thought that she was just being a moody teenager and didn’t know there was anything wrong. The progress manager brought the letter to show A as she said it was all down to her that things had been sorted. A feels that having a good rapport with the students is really important so that they feel comfortable with you.
2] What is the biggest impact you have had on student learning this year? How did you make it happen and please explain your evidence for the impact.
Looking at the students’ in year 11s grades, the students A support appear to be on target, however A said that the proof will be in the pudding when they get their results in August!
She also said that having X come into the exams in a positive frame of mind will hopefully help him to attain, if not go above, his target expected. When they first started doing exams in the dance studio, he would often get upset, which disturbed the other students. So they went into the small changing room and this settled him a bit. Once again she said having a good rapport with him helps too!
B’s magic moments
What has been you Magic Moment of the year with the student[s] you support? What made it so special for you?
When B first took over from C with year 7 going into year 8, the group were obviously very familiar with C, and were a bit wary of a new face. But over the course of the year B has built up a good relationship with the group. 2 of the Girls will now talk to B about anything! A young person with anger management issues and epilepsy used to be very difficult and now B can calm them down and take them out of a room without them getting angry and upset.
Also B said she received this message from a previous student,
“Hello, I’m proud to tell you that I’ve just sent off my application for universities and most of it is down to you amazing ladies so I’d just like to say thank you for all the support that you have provided me with when I needed a kick up the ….! :0 I’m so grateful for you two making me realise that I can in fact do it!!!!!”
Sometimes, penny dropping and magic moments take a few years to come to fruition!!
Sandra-our examinations officer and clerk to the governors has been at Meols Cop since she was 11 and has stayed for the next…..years! Our longest serving colleague and expert worrier-Sandra’s Magic Moments;
“I have always struggled with being forward about my contribution to school and am terrible at ‘blowing my own trumpet’. I have always been happy to be one of the old boilers, happily keeping the engine ticking over in the background. My role has changed so much over the years and is now quite a solitary job. When I worked in the main office (many moons ago), I got to know the staff and students very quickly. I also knew most of the student addresses and ‘phone numbers too (without even having to look them up)! Nowadays, I don’t really get to know the students (or staff for that matter) that well and only have direct contact with them when I am discussing or issuing examination information. Students (and many staff) don’t really have any idea what is involved in ensuring that the exam seasons run smoothly.
The students just turn up, sit the paper and leave the exam room again blissfully unaware of the background work, the behind the scenes working with Janet to free up exam rooms, having Barbara (and now Leon) as my ‘up front’ staff, ensuring that the exams are started, finished and conducted in a correct and orderly way. The organisation of the access arrangements is a job in itself. Making sure every student receives their entitlement is so important. This involves the help and support of ICT Support, the caretaking staff, Nathan, Wes and Mandy, Marie and the teaching assistants and, on occasions, other support staff as well as my team of invigilators. The exams simply could not take place without all of these people working together.
I live and breathe every single examination until it is over, hoping that I have done everything I could to ensure that it runs smoothly and efficiently and, each time this happens, I suppose this is a ‘magic moment’ to me.
I suppose my biggest magic moment in the exam season is when we have had our spot inspection and the inspector has worked his way through his tick list and all is OK. The sense of relief I have once he has been is unbelievable – he came today and all was good!!”
History Helen, hasn’t been here quite as long as Sandra, although it feels like it sometimes! Berlin was one of my Magic Moments too-the staff and students were great company and we all would agree with her 2nd moment.
1] What has been your favourite moment of the year involving your role-the moment when you feel you made a great contribution to school [don’t be shy!]
My favourite moment of the year within my role has been our trip to Berlin. I have never been so proud of a group of students and felt so proud to be part of the school. Their behaviour and attitude towards learning while away was amazing and I will have fun memories for years to come.
2] What has been your Magic Moment involving the students this year-what made it so special?
My favourite moment of the year was students coming out of their GCSE exam so happy and enthusiastic. They fed back and shared what they found good and what they didn’t and by me explaining what they could have put they felt even happier with their exam. It showed that the hard work paid off! Let’s hope it shows in the results J
I received a lovely card from Kelly and Kayley who visited Meols Cop last Wednesday.
“David, we would like to say a massive thank you for welcoming us into your school last week.
You have given us so much to think about and have inspired us to take a very different approach to teaching and learning. Thank you also for breakfast and dinner-we really appreciate how accommodating you and your colleagues were.
Hope to see you soon, thank you once again”
Senior staff should say thank you a thousand times every week but it isn’t often said back to us nor is it expected or sought-nice when it happens though-a Magic Moment! MAGIC Moments is an easy concept for me to talk and write about because they happen all of the time for me during every day. It can be intimidating when senior staff walk into classrooms but I always feel welcomed and able to have some banter with staff and students and to find positive moments of learning or relationships and to catch ‘GREAT’ in action. Colleagues are accommodating to visitors and each other and you do inspire me to rethink and reflect on my own practice. Thank you again for all of your support and encouragement.