The Most Open of Classrooms

Learning from colleague reflections is such a privilege. Thanks Ron

Thinking makes it so

I’m grateful to be teaching in a school that is constantly nudging me forward. There are so many exciting changes on the British School in the Netherland’s horizon. Matt Bennett’s blog looks at our most recent shift with technology (, electronic reporting should come to fruition soon enough and we all seem to be making the most of the Twittersphere. The thing that I’m most excited about is the new teaching space that we will have at our school’s hub: BSN Connect. You can read about that development at . It will seek to unite our multi-campus school and challenge us to use space in new ways.

If there weren’t so many of these developments to push me forward, my lazy inclination would be to just coast. I don’t necessarily embrace all change but I’m quite enthusiastic about it and keen to give most things a go…

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Bringing people Together 

The end of the school year always brings time for reflecting. Trying to recognize all the things we’ve achieved. Good and bad, hard and easy, People and tasks, sad and joyous, highs and lows…..

This year has been another of change for me. I’ve worked in two places for the best part of it. 

I’m regularly asked what that’s like. 

I often wonder what people will want my reaction to be. In both places I’m overwhelmed by the same thing. Dedicated teachers and staff working tirelessly to bring a positive learning experience to those in their charge. 


During this year I’ve started to reflect on some tremendous highlights. There’s been a strong tech focus (of course!)

I’m a tech advocate but I lean heavily towards experiences over things and one of those key threads stands out. 

Tech brings people together. 

Let me say that again. Tech brings people together. So often maligned for the fake lifestyles of social media while people phone obsess instead of conversing. Where people text instead of looking at each other. Where people selfie instead of seeing the view. 

This year I’ve seen high school colleagues share their experiences with learners. I’ve taken their wisdom and shared it myself. Then I’ve seen others take it from me and give it a go. 

You know they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, well I can safely say that seeing someone try a technique or a tool in their teaching is an empowering thing.

Two hundred year six students collaborating and learning about peer marking simultaneously in three buildings while consulting another cohort to answer a quiz was probably the biggest risk we took. 

It wasn’t a tech risk it was a human one but people believed in the event. Hearing Eurovision style, cross campus cheering as the results of the event came through was big and memorable. Being told by a student that ‘Canvas day was great’ at the airport that evening really brought home to me what tech can do. 

The whole thing is about people and learning opportunities and tech tools playing a subtle part.

3D Printing 

Parent visitors touring our building were amazed to see a 3D printer purring away in our teaching room. But more impressive were the nine year olds who explained clearly that they’d created a city and  considered the importance of transport and access to the buildings in zone 1.


When Year 5 pupils used Khan Academy to explore JavaScript animation tools they were boosted by a visit from the Senior School head of Computing. He shared example from his Year 9 classes. The students aspirations were raised. 

I’m definately doing computing in Senior School!


The micro blogging platform has had a mixed press but it’s been the best tool for keeping track of all our experiences. No where is it clearer that we’ve pa led a tremendous amount in than here. Many times I’ve lost track but twitter brings it all flooding back. 


It’s often the case that tech stays in side and that is wise on many occasions. But when a student takes their iPad on an activity they get a different experience. The opportunity to capture ideas and voice and motion changes the output dramatically. 

The list is long. Stop motion animation, illustrated games, art vocabulary, all of these have been interesting outside. 

People came together. They brought the tech and there were transformational experiences that were truly memorable.


Roll on next year then. 

What tech experiences have brought people together for you this year?

What are you looking forward to trying next year? 

What has Ed Tech ever done for me? Well apart from help my work life balance……

Good tech should be about the PE Teacher, the individual, the less tech person- everyone utilizing the tools that make life easier. Post from a colleague about tech and flexibility. 


This week saw SSV take a big step towards achieving it’s new Ed Tech strategy with staff receiving their new Microsoft Surface Pro devices. The rationale for this vision has been outlined clearly by Kieran Early (CEO and Principal of The British School in the Netherlands) here and how this strategy will enable our school to improve the outcomes of our students. Having spent the last month trialling the new device, I have been surprised that the area I have seen perhaps the biggest impact in is my ‘mobility’ and how the strategy, coupled with the new device is improving my work life balance.

ed tech

Maintaining a healthy work life balance is a commonly discussed issue in the teaching profession and it’s no surprise why. As teachers we don’t need reminding of the state of workload in the profession. If you do need reminding, you probably aren’t a teacher, and if you are…

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What difference has a focus on wellbeing made?

Considering well being when making strategic decisions benefits staff and students. I was inspired by this post.


This year we have put the wellbeing of staff and children at the centre of our School Improvement Plan. In this short blog post I’ll be talking about our staff wellbeing work.

screen-shot-2016-08-29-at-15-31-53Some of the actions we have taken to improve staff wellbeing this year include:

  • More consultation about changes to the way we do things
  • Changes to PPA time to give you more time working as a year team
  • Allocated time in PDMs to carry out admin tasks and keep working environments looking good
  • Saying ‘thank you’ publically, for example on the Shout Out board
  • Leaders taking account of wellbeing before asking you to do anything
  • Adding wellbeing advice to staff notes
  • Restricting ‘all staff’ emails to mainly staff notes
  • Wellbeing time allocated the latest non-pupil day
  • Changed the marking policy to reduce time spent marking
  • Been very public about the importance of wellbeing
  • EH4MH training and consultation time

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Thank you Facebook for starting my day with a bang! #IWD2017 it is!

International Women’s day. A day of reflection. A day to challenge and reflect. An opportunity to reflect on the many facets of equality, attitude and access which women encounter every day. Taking that time makes it a significant day for men and women.

I was greeted this morning by fireworks on Facebook; ‘huzzah’ it’s international women’s day it loudly declared.


A little much for a pre-coffee greeting I thought at first and then, over my oats, I began to ponder. Is this really a day of celebration? If so, what exactly is it that we are celebrating?  Women, progress, achievement?

As I reached for my coffee, whilst simultaneously packing lunches, checking emails, navigating the art of the preferred ponytail angle and having a battle with Ruby, the PlayMobil pirate who is the defender of gold, it suddenly seemed extraordinary to me that we would dedicate one day of the year to 3.52 billion people (just under half of the world’s population) which feels slightly at odds with the scale of this group. The more I think about it, the more peculiar it seems.

I think the seeds of my wondering had be sown…

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The computing curriculum buzz word is Algorithm

It’s something that needs to be incorporated in our computing teaching for children from four years old. 

Not in a big way but there, getting a mention. 


computing curriculum


A funky opera singer, a U.S. Almost Vice President who got into soul (Al Gor(e) rhythm)?

It’s a curious word.  

It’s actually just a fancy way of saying ‘instruction or processes’

I like to think instructions or processes with an outcome. 

So a cupcake recipe (when did we stop calling them buns?) has an outcome=cupcakes. 




Simple really. 


The challenge of working with adult learners

Very useful post. Thinking of the type of learners that teachers are is a very important angle.

Ed Leader


For many educational leaders, working with adults needs to be given greater consideration when planning change initiatives or designing professional growth and development opportunities. In workshops that I have led on developing collaborative teams, a major area of focus has been on understanding adults as learners. Coaching, teaching and leading adults is different to teaching students. While many of the points below could be applied to working with our school students, there are both subtle and more noticeable differences to working with adults that must be acknowledged and addressed.

  1. Many adults want self-direction and autonomy: This is a ‘right’ that comes with being an adult. Good leaders are able to strike a balance between getting their teachers to focus on the right work while giving teachers the opportunity for self-directed learning and decision-making.
  2. Adults have set habits that have been established over time: The saying that you cannot teach an…

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