I am writing this post to save you (and me) time. As you will read, teaching for me is a vocation (and one that, now I am international, pays well). I’ve shared plenty of resources for free; I am now selling premium version of such resources.
I wanted to say a few words about this decision, not least in terms of the journey(s) I have taken through teaching in a few different environments. Throughout this time, many people have given me their time freely, as I have done in return. My teaching is a part (and a testament) to influence of them.
Ultimately, buying these resources will give you the gift of time. I sell systemic planning resources that will enhance all your lessons by affecting how your students grow to think. Purchasing them is an investment that requires more than a quick, hopeful download on a Sunday evening: there will be free versions for those who wish to spend the time to personalise them available on my TES shop. For those who want to buy time, though, some premium resources are now available.
As a Gamer, I dislike pay-to-win. However, I dislike grinding more, and teaching can be an unrelenting grind. My vision with these resources is to grant you habits of planning (and therefore teaching) that will give you lessons you are happy to be observed on every day while still having a life at the weekend and evenings! I plan to eventually show I plan using them (including realistic timings) in order to demonstrate that professional excellence is possible under the right conditions.
It has certainly helped that I have, after some fruity initial experiences in a school in inner-city Northern England, I have lucked-out in quality schools where the critical mass of staff and students want to think.
Not every school can be a Leicester; most schools can be a Stoke! Not every school can overachieve massively; most schools can get the critical mass of students and parents into thinking hard and valuing it.
So how has the purpose of this website grown?
I have never marketed it. From humble origins in Hull, England (where my suits for for teaching were often purchased in charity shops), to aspirational areas in Asia (where I wear bespoke tailored clothes, hurrah!), I have let my website and writing speak for themselves. There have been no advertising banners, nor any sense of trying to garner views for the sakes of viewing.
I do not express political views: others do so clearly. I believe in the morality of teaching, but that the mix of perspectives necessary to do so should not be limited to the influences around you.
I have found though, after delivered a good amount of training over my twelve years of teaching, that the most valuable commodity for teachers is time. It is said that 10,000 hours of practice leads to expertise. This can be achieved in anything from 3-5 years of teaching. However, another easily-found statistic is the suggestion that classroom teacher plateau after 5 years or so – that is, a teacher of 5 years is as good as a teacher of 12 years.
I am better now than I have ever been.
The difference between those teachers who improve, and those who plateau, is that those who reflect with a eye more critical than it is polite for others to cast actually identify what to improve. Each year my mind has found its own focus on what part of my practice to improve: my speech, my marking, my rubric planning, my responses, the minutiae of literary analysis. I can happy spend a thousand hours on refining my practice on planning whole-text responses, and discount previous practice with a precise refination, knowing that such a change will have echo of previous thought behind it.
What have I found now?
That teaching is not the focus: learning is the focus. And the performance of learning is not the focus: deep, hard thinking is the focus.
Of course hard thinking is not observable. This is problematic for school leaders in some settings. It is, of course, problematic for leaders. It is also problematic for me (myself!) as I begin to discover ways of sensing hard thinking in my students, especially amongst the daydreamers and fidgeters. Yet hard thinking needs to be the way of the classroom, above everything else. Focusing on classroom activities or content without judicious (and I think explicit) reference to what the students are going to think about is, frankly, bunk.
I know, however, what it is to manage classrooms with some students whose behaviour seems to be a far cry from thinking hard in an academic way. Managing these students towards even a base level of performance requires a particular expertise. For some students, the best that can be hoped for is to sow some seeds of hard thinking that may one day flourish in different circumstances. For teachers who only ever experience classrooms with those kinds of challenges, becoming an expert teacher is almost an impossibility: your focus and discourse with your students, your colleagues, and yourself, will be prioritising the performance far more than the inner, felt, thinking life of the student.
This can be seen by the separation of behaviour management from effective teaching. Such folk have great skills in managing the performance students, and are by no means unaware of the need for students to think hard. Their discourse, however, must necessarily prioritise the performance of students whose natural inclinations is not hard thinking with academic purpose.
I am deeply fortunate to have been led by a number of leaders who have ensured that they share the academically gifted classes with other teachers. For me, this is the sign of a great leader. It allows, also, the more inexperienced teachers to flourish in a place where hard thinking can be the driving light of the classroom, and beyond.
To drive hard thinking requires a good amount of time, focus and thinking yourself. To plan performance and content and activities in students take seconds. Read the TES and Teachit and any other teaching resource website and you will see this philosophy inherent: take a resource, and plan a lesson seemingly focused on the students doing a bunch of stuff. At best, some SoWs reference abstractions in the form of the NC or NLS (both monstrously well-intentioned). But in terms of the thinking expected or encouraged, the focus seems a little vague.
These are the services I intend to provide:
a) Scheme of Work planning that focuses on thinking. That is responsive to student need: Coming Soon!
b) Planning for Student PowerPoints that are compelling, responsive and efficient. Now available!
c) Planning for Teachers that allows you to thread links throughout the year. Coming Soon!
d) Beyond this, I can also create websites and blogs to guide teaching and learning for your department, or even school. Coming Soon!
e) A responsive PowerPoint with links to the generic activities used in 80% of lessons. Coming Soon!
f) PowerPoint templates for teaching poetry that focus on the principles of close reading. Coming Soon!
g) Flowchart resources that embed in students the ways to respond to literature. Coming Soon!
h) Flowchart resources that empower students to write using tangible techniques. Coming Soon!
i) Rubrics that guide students to self-reflect on what they need to improve in their language studies. Now Available!
j) Video library booklets that allow students to extend their learning at the right time for them. Coming Soon!
With each of these services, what you are buying is time. For each one you can have a free sample of each. With your own time, you can personalise and make them work for you. If you are desiring of really understanding their principles, you can put in the 10,000s of hours to personalise them to your curriculum.
These resources are purposefully not ones you can pick up and use on a Sunday night for a quick fix. There are plenty of resources you can pick up elsewhere. Instead they are resources that are best considered over a half-term or a holiday where you can truly integrate them into your teaching. Really understanding their principles will grant you opportunities for consistently excellent and compelling teaching while still having a life!
Remember: the clever person learns from their mistakes. The wise person learns from someone else’s!