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Go The Extra Mile

September 24, 2012

The extra mileSo Mr Wilshaw’s at it again, having established that he thinks that a head is only doing something right if morale amongst the staff is low, he has now set about reinforcing that principal amongst the teachers of the nation, so that he can be sure he is doing something right. Teachers, he says, if they want more money, must “go the extra mile”.

Actually, it’s an interesting metaphor “go the extra mile”, I did a little research, turns out that it comes from the Sermon on the Mount , it was spoken by Jesus, no it’s okay I am not going to compare Mr Wilshaw to Jesus, but the context has some relevance. In the days of Roman occupied Palestine any Roman soldierCarry my bags could force any citizen to carry his equipment for one mile. The essence of what Jesus said on that day, was that if that happens to you, then go another mile with him, own the moment, don’t be a slave, take away his power to force you to do it by offering the service voluntarily, take the moral high ground. Now I’m not entirely sure that that is quite what Mr Wilshaw meant.

Hold that thought.

To be fair the vernacular use of that phrase in the new millennium has come to mean doing extra work, putting in more effort and not necessarily expecting (but maybe hoping) for anything back for that effort. To be honest (to use another vernacular phrase) I have always been a little bemused by this idea of free work. I have only been in teaching just over ten years, before that, like most of the rest of my family, I did not have proper job, I was freelance. When you’re a freelance you assess the job, you assess the time, you sign the contract and you complete the job in the hours assigned or you charge more. Of course, it’s a nightmare of judging the value of the client to you, if they ask for more than agreed. Your tender may come in more expensive because you want to do a good job, than someone else’s and so you lose the job, you have to judge all the time what the job is worth, and if the client comes back to you and asks for more, they should be aware that they’re trying it on. The principle is clear, agree the price, do the work for that price. Anyone who has ever had building work done, a boiler put in or windows done, knows the price of the job and what it covers, nothing more.

When I was first employed I was given the contract, which outlined my designated hours and was immediately told that that didn’t matter because everybody worked at least 10 hours over the contracted hours anyway. SAY WHAT? How does that work then? Is the contract not worth the paper it’s printed on then? Why would I work more than I am contracted to for no more money?

Taking the moral high ground.

It seems to me that Mr Wilshaw is very much in the role of the Roman soldier, he is asking teachers to work more for nothing. He is suggesting that they may get more money, but then that really does allow him the power over the extra mile, which is, in principle a voluntary act, nothing should rest on it, not pay, not expectation, like a lawyer who does pro bono work. A teacher should not be paid according to their volunteering services and, more to the point, other teachers should not be judged if they do not “volunteer” – who knows why people don’t do unpaid work, aside from it not being a contractual obligation, health problems, sick partners, elderly relatives or volunteering for a charity might be the reason why a teacher is out the gate at 3 o’clock.

Out the gate at 3 O’clock but still working

Of course you could be out the gate at 3 o’clock with a pile of marking, a good bit of lesson preparation Homeworkto do, and the facilities to do it at home, that are more efficient, more up to date, better heated and isolated from the constant demands that distract you from completing that wonderful Scheme of Work, or uploading some good resources to the VLE.

In the flipped classroom where you work will become increasingly irrelevant, that will be true for both student and teacher, particularly at the post-16 level which I inhabitant. Perhaps the main problem with the flipped classroom, is that you can never get away from it, parent email, uploading resources, colleagues asking for one more thing by email.

As for me I work in FE, teaching A Levels, my teaching hours are 9 – 4, I am never out of the gate at 3 and I earn thousands less than equivalent colleagues in secondary school, my mile is well and truly trodden.


The Dog Ate My Homework….

September 17, 2012

OH how we hanker after just one excuse for not doing an assignment. In the old days (perhaps a decade ago) all they had to do was hand in was an exercise book or a piece of paper, vulnerable yes, but they either had in their bag or they didn’t – if they didn’t – done or not done it was their responsibility! Nowadays – oh no – there’s a whole realm of virtual excuses, but most of them are as weak as “the dog ate my homework” here are a few.

The Dog Ate My Homework

No doubt there are many more excuses, but most can be answered with, BACK-UP, SAVE – USE THE CLOUD!

  • email it to yourself
  • use DropBox, SkyDrive, BoxNet, Google Docs or the college VLE
  • back up on data-stick, disc or on a system
  • print it out – there’s no substitute for a good old fashioned hard copy

Most of all it’s their responsibility, if we are going to flip this classroom, then they have to be as careful with the technology as they were with their satchel and their exercise book, that too was their responsibility!


The little comic page was done on Comic Life, which used to be free when it was new to the net, as a consequence I spent an afternoon struggling with the old free version – on principle refusing to buy the full version and initially refusing to buy the iPad App but I gave in. The above was designed on the iPad App at £2.99 – well worth it although saving is a bit of mystery and I would advise you to work that out first as it crashed a couple of times when I was working lettering.

I Do Like Mondays

September 10, 2012

I’ve always had trouble with flip flops, bit of a family thing actually, probably ever since my father got his flip flop caught under the accelerator and shot back into the verandah. Although it’s not so much the thing (the rather painful between the toes, form of footwear) but it’s the word it’s the word that can cause problems.
In Australia the word for such footwear is “thongs”, at least it was when I was there, and that has led to some confusion, since. In this country a “thong” is the generic term for a certain form of lingerie. In American politics “flip flopping” is the generic term for what we Brits would call a “U Turn”. Not only that, in the US they “flip” pancakes, in this country we “toss” them, in the US flipping is just about turning, in the UK “flipping” can be a mild vernacular substitute for another “f” word, hence My Flipping Classroom.

Thus in this introductory post here is a bit of an explanation of flipping: the presentation on the side bar A Flipping Presentation gives you some idea of what this is about, quite possibly you are already on the case, but even if you are, knowing about it and actually doing it are two different things. Help is at hand – possibly!

“Flipping” it seems, is a process by which you share and adapt resources. The idea is that you set the lesson going with electronic back up and then support the class as they work individually on the task you set, either by traditional personal contact or by using an overview interactive software.

The trick is the illusion of spontaneity when, in fact, everything has to be meticulously prepared and not only that it relies on appropriately maintained and supplied IT equipment and support, of which more later. In theory, once you are up and running, you have more time for quality teaching, but you do need a serious amount of resources to flip your classroom every lesson.

This blog is about trying to flip the classroom.

On the menu bar there is more about me, the page entitled

  • Free Stuff  is not gifts or competitions, but reviews and demos of all that stuff out there on the web, that with a bit of knowledge can wow your flipping classroom
  • The Power Pointers is a page on presentations and the like
  • Media Theory is related to the subject I teach – the dreaded Media Studies.
  • Consult is where you can contact me if you want me to come and help out, consult, lead a seminar.

… and why do I like Mondays? Because on Mondays this blog will be updated – the rest of the week I’m in the flipping classroom!

I do like Mondays!

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