When I grew up we had vinyl, not CDs. We had one of those red players where the arm swings in by magic and the music starts up. We didn’t have mobile phones and I spent a lot of my childhood waiting for people to turn up. But I digress.
We had an album by the Incredible String Band, which had a fantastic cover, so I played it a lot. I discovered years later, that the album meant to be in the cover was lost. I was not in fact listening to the ‘5000 spirits of layers from the Onion’, but accuracy aside there was a song on there that goes something like:
And that is why I have thus titled this blog.
In this world of education there are clear competitive pressures between schools and, even within schools. It is refreshing to see someone prepared to give away their work.
In recognition of teachers who do just that. Those who spend hours and hours on their weekend and in their evenings making resources, and then they give them away. I’ve asked them simply… “Why do you do it?”
I asked that question to Miss Bartram (@missBresources), creator of MissBresources.com and donator of materials. Miss Bartram is maths lead practitioner and numeracy coordinator at Acklam Grange School in Middlesbrough.
There’s not much out there for numeracy and I was getting frustrated. I am doing a lot in my school, and the material I was creating has had a positive impact, but it was only getting used within my school. The resources and ideas were getting great reviews and feedback from my colleagues, but it stopped there. I did not get into this career to just help one person, or even a class. I want to help as many people as possible develop the skills they need for life. So I thought I would just start to share it.
I’ve kept it kind of quiet though, I’m not a show off. Of the 200 staff at school, only 20 really know about my site. In the New Year I’m hoping this will change with the drive of numeracy coming through.
But I think that is all about me really; other people didn’t think that at all. People are really supportive of new staff, and the new ideas.
It was really good to get external feedback, as there is quite a narrow section in the school, and to get that range of comments has helped me quite a bit.
Sometimes you get a lot of likes, which is great, but it’s the comments that can be as positive as they are negative. Some can be harsh, but also very helpful. I check, check and check again before I post anything now.
I was quite nervous creating my site, I was relatively new to teaching and I was really worried about the whole ‘what do you know?’ attitude – so I kept it quiet. However it seems overall I was worrying about nothing. In creating the site, it has developed my own practice and helped me focus a lot more on the things that matter.
The materials provided on my site are ones that I use both in my classroom and across the school. It’s what I use in my daily practice, and I put it up there for others to use too. This means it’s just a case of uploading the resources that have generally been used and worked within a classroom. What I realised, though, was that I was a maths teacher but not language professional. I often head round to see the English Department, who have supported me in learning about subject specific language techniques to enhance the resources. For example, the ‘writing weigh-in’. This has developed my practice, and taken it up a level to be used by anyone, not just me.
I came to this profession to make a difference, and many people would say the same. Numeracy and maths is something that everyone needs support with, and really is a national problem. I don’t think that I’m making a massive impact. I’m not making waves in the world, but I might have helped one or two more people; and with that I’m extremely happy.
I’ve been quite shocked by the uptake, there is obviously a need for these kinds of numeracy materials and maths resources. Alongside the interactive seating plan, there are my maths tutorials ideas: the blogs and videos. Hopefully these resources might help people with key ideas to develop their own teaching practice, having a direct impact on the students learning.
I’m quite techy and that is the culture of teachers I know. The twitter and online CPD is some of the best I’ve had. These things really have changed and supported the way I teach. That bit was easy, but being confident to tell people what I’ve done and be confident to share them, that’s the difficult bit.