I began blogging in July 2011. In January 2012 I signed up with Google Analytics and have clocked up over 2 million pageviews since.
Then in July 2013 I shifted the site over to WordPress and on Tuesday broke the million views mark according to their figures too.
Since I started writing there’s been an awful lot of change. The education landscape has changed in ways I never imagined.
– The death knell has sounded for graded lesson observations. Ofsted (at least as far as schools are concerned – FE is another matter. )have drawn a line under lessons and teachers being awarded grades. Some schools have seen the light and, I predict, the practice will disappear completely over the next few years. I can imagine a scenario where it takes legal action to force some schools to stop making up numbers, but if one teacher sues because their pay or employment is threatened by this ridiculous conceit, that will finally nail the coffin closed.
– It’s no longer anathema for teachers to talk. The misconceived nonsense that compelled teachers to stop speaking after a maximum of 5 minutes is also in its death throes. Ofsted have told us that inspectors must not criticise teachers for talking too long (although they can, I assume, criticise them for being rubbish at talking.) Maybe schools will begin to invest in training that improves teachers’ talk rather than seeks to minimise it.
– And on the subject of Ofsted, the current Inspection Handbook has been heavily influenced by my writing. How do I know? Because National director for schools, Sean Harford, sent me a draft copy last July and I edited and rewrote much of the Quality of Teaching section. For better or worse, a lot of what’s in there is my fault. I’m particularly proud of the line, “When observing teaching, inspectors should be ‘looking at’ and reflecting on the effectiveness of what is being done to promote learning, not ‘looking for’ specific or particular things.”
– Many of the assumptions I had taken for granted since qualifying as a teacher in the late 90s have been under increasing attack. Daisy Christodoulou’s controversial book, Seven Myths About Education has struck a chord with many teachers. While her accusations of a ‘progressive hegemony’ don’t “ring true” with some, for me the big change is that we no longer have to feel guilty about actually teaching children.
– The work of Robert Bjork is starting to find an audience in the UK. Since being introduced to the concept of desirable difficulties in 2013 and beginning to write and speak about the ways they could change the way we think about education and learning, many others have taken up the baton. My new book What if everything you knew about education was wrong? will be out in June and I’m thrilled that Bob has agreed to write a foreword. I’m hopeful that it will help shape future thinking on how best we design schools and make education policy.
– All this reading and thinking has led me to challenge some of the axioms of modern education. If learning is invisible then maybe progress in lessons might also be a myth? And if that’s true, where does that leave assessment for learning? And possibly feedback, long considered the king of all education interventions, might be widely misunderstood and misapplied. I’ve been truly grateful to Dylan Wiliam for engaging with my critique of formative assessment – his generosity has been humbling.
As well as all this turmoil, blogging has changed me personally. I’ve described before the journey I’ve been over the past few years, but for those that don’t know, I’ve changed my mind about a number of things. Not only that, I’ve spent the past 18 months as a freewheeling education consultant sharing my ideas about literacy, curriculum design, teaching, learning and leadership with schools up and down the country from Stirling to St Helier. Next month I go international with a week-long visit to schools in Singapore. All this hasn’t really sunk in. In my head I’m still just a stroppy teacher with a big gob. I still have to pinch myself.
And change continues to be the one constant. Although I can’t yet reveal the details, excitingly in September it looks like I’ll be back working in a school.
Anyway, all this is in large part down to you. If you didn’t read what I write then I’d probably have stopped bothering a long time ago. Particular thanks to all those who regularly take the time to comment on what I’ve written: your criticisms aren’t always welcome, but they always make me think.