The Consigliere


Interesting ideas and comparisons

Originally posted on Teaching Reno:

Been a while since my last post and there have been many ch-ch-changes.  The main one is that I have a new job!  Having worked at my current college for over 8 years I began to have ‘itchy feet’ and started to feel that I had completed all I was ever going to achieve here so I know that if I’m to stay in the education game then I would have to move on.  This is going to be a huge change for me as I will no longer be actually teaching anymore.  Well, not teaching students that is, as I’ll be focused on training other teachers.  But it looks like for the time being, my days as a Film Studies teacher will be coming to an end.

My new role will see me as the Learning Technology Manager for a General Further Education college. The role is an exciting…

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Paris, Moulin Rouge and Hot Chocolate

imagesCAJBSB01Back in Paris, I love Paris and it seemed the perfect place to take my wife for her birthday. It’s been a while, but nothing has changed. Parisian’s do not build towering office blocks around Notre Dame or place skyscrapers in front of Sacre Coeur as some cities do; no names no pack drill.SONY DSCFrom the Gare du Nord to our hotel was a short journey, or it would have been if we had been on the right metro. To be honest it was the right metro we were just going in the wrong direction, but, hey this is exploration. There was a conscious decision not to do the galleries (they had been done years ago). We did the Moulin Rouge for the first time and it was fantastic. You do have to queue (trip advisor) but how else are you gonna get hundreds of people into a show? And yes there are lots of breasts, but you kinda get used to them after a while (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it)

TOSHIBA Exif JPEGLe Deux Magots still has the best hot chocolate in the world, the ambience is the same as it was when I was there fifteen years ago and the same as it was in the 20’s when Hemingway, Joyce, Fitzgerald and the rest of the ‘Lost Generation’ were there. I am always told how expensive Paris is, hmmmmm? A glass of wine in the Cafe de la Paix would have cost me nine euro, whereas the delightful cafe around the corner cost me three and a half euro. Get a grip people.  Of course we did shopping at La Fayette and I have to say shopping here is a little different to the Mall ;-)Galeries Lafayette - ParisBut after all the razzmatazz and great food I just got to spend some time with my wife with no particular place to go  xx

in love in Paris






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Why Good Teaching is Good for You

According to Ofsted Observation’s there are four types of teacher – Outstanding – Good – Hmmmm? and Ugh! According to my students there are three. Alright – Dunno and Crap. Since I started teaching eighteen months ago I’ve been judged ‘good’ by all, except myself. Everyone was happy, except me.


During the past three months though something has changed. During a DTLLS class our Learning Technology Manager Nikki Gilbey gave me some great innovative ideas of how to use emerging technology and I tried them out. My students loved them (really, not just liked but loved) The classes became different, one student who was generally negative in class said, ‘I’m enjoying this lesson.’ Eureka! I then started looking at other ways of teaching in lessons where I don’t use emerging technology. I suppose you could all it transference.                                                                                                                                                I’m more confident and I sleep all night. Since then I’ve found some of my work on the college Blog, my Head of Department did an observation on Friday and was ‘very’ happy and I look forward to every lesson. I don’t think about how others judge my lessons anymore, which as a new teacher was a constant worry.  All I concentrate on now is making my lessons as enjoyable as I can for my students as a result my students are enjoying their lessons and they are enjoying learning. So, being a good teacher isn’t about Ofsted it isn’t about graded observations or pay increments. It’s about you and your students. Happy days ;-)

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I’m not sure if I am doing the right thing here, but this is the first draft of the the first part of a possible book I have been considering for a long, long time. Curious to see the reaction ;-)

Bradford: Spring 1976

He wondered if he should retire and then smiled to himself, would it be classed as retirement he thought, when you’ve only been boxing for three years and you’re seventeen years old, but Billy had made a decision to leave and he couldn’t see how boxing would fit into his new life. ‘Move on and leave the baggage behind,’ he thought. That was the way it had always been and not always his choice. A heavily built awkward youth appeared at the door.

‘Hey Billy, great fight, man.’

‘Thanks Stevie,’ he smiled, but it was an outward smile.

‘Second round, POW, he was gone, you really showed them tonight mate. Old man Reece was really pissed off coz you missed all that training, I think he was even more pissed off that you won. Hey, guess what?’

Billy didn’t answer, he shrugged keeping his eyes to the floor.

‘You’ll never guess who’s out there, not in a million years. You could have knocked me over with a feather, honestly.’

Billy looked up, ‘Sheila?’

‘Yeah, how’d you know that? She said she’d never ever and I mean never, come.’

‘She came to say goodbye, Stevie, that’s all mate, just came to say goodbye.’

‘Why? Where’s she going?

‘Nowhere, it’s me that’s going.’

‘Noooo, where you going? I mean you can’t, I mean where can you go? What about me? Anyway you’re too young. You really going Billy? When?’ Stevie was upset and confused, Billy had always been there for him he couldn’t comprehend life without Billy, then someone nudged him out of the doorway.

‘Tonight, apparently, hey Billy?’ Sheila stood just inside the doorway, looking and acting way beyond her sixteen years, she was a good actress.

Stevie was still confused, he was confused on a good day and this was far from a good day.

Billy was fed up of life on a council estate. He hated the insular, monotony and most of all he hated the complete acceptance of it all by everyone. The attitude that this was as good as it gets, be thankful for what you have; all that bullshit it wasn’t for him. But he loved the two people before him and this was going to be hard.

Sheila was angry, the last place she wanted to be was the boxing club with its dim lighting and stench of sweat and deep heat. But the one person she could really trust had told her he was about to leave, for good and so here she was.

‘I need to speak to Billy alone, please Stevie,’ she said.

Billy nodded towards the door and Stevie ambled out.

Sheila folded her arms. ‘So, love me forever huh? What exactly does that mean in Billy language? Hey, Billy what does that mean in your head? Love me for sixteen years and then leave forever?’ Is that it?’

Her voice was trembling and Billy thought that maybe she was going to cry. ‘I’ll always love you Shei, we were born on the…’

‘Same night,’ Sheila interrupted. ‘ In the same hospital, we were meant to be together for all time. You and me against the rest of the world. I know that speech off by heart Billy I don’t need to hear it again. When did you first tell me that Bill? I’ll tell you when. It was on my fifth birthday Billy and you’ve been telling me it ever since. You know what really hurts though? It’s the fact that you have never considered that I might come with you. Is that because you know I would? Is that why you kept this a secret until the last minute? Because I would you know, I would follow you anywhere Billy. So all I need to know is if you are leaving tonight; without me?’

‘Yes,’ he said knowing the consequences.

Sheila turned and ran and Billy didn’t run after her.

Stevie appeared at the door. ‘She seems upset, you really going?’

Billy looked up at his friend, ‘ Look after her as best you can, yeah?’

‘Don’t go Bill,’ Stevie was pleading now.

‘Go after her now Stevie, and look out for her. I’ll see you around.’

‘Yeah but this is stupid, where you going to go?

‘Go now! Stevie before she runs into a car or something!’

Stevie was gone, he knew from past experience when Billy shouted there was no point in arguing, that time had gone.




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Has Teaching Changed?

No, goodbye. OK I can expand. When I was a kid at school there were good teachers who were intent on expanding my mind, challenging me and generally making my educational experience a great one. Well to be honest there was two; Jenny Dewhurst, English teacher. She had a passion for literature and a talent for infecting you (sorry Miss Dewhurst not a great verb) Mr Little, Music teacher. He introduced me to classical music and the guitar (still playing the guitar Mr Little but not really your taste ;-) Again that man was passionate about the subject.
The rest of them went through the
motions good old talk and chalk. I need to make two points here. 1. I think people forget that teachers are human. Some are passionate about their job and some just do it. Some are lazy and some are hard working and some are just ordinary people trying to make a living the best way that they can. 2. Mr Gove wants ordinary schools to aspire to Public schools. That’s great, but first of all Mr Gove give us £6000 plus, per student per term and a society where a mother doesn’t have to get up at 5am to go and work in Asda (other brands are available) for minimum wage because she is the only parent. The father isn’t an alcoholic, in prison, dead or just plain absent, because there is a restraining order on him. Give us an education system that doesn’t change every time we get a new government and we’ll see what we can do.


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The Stray Black Dog


I can’t class myself as a great poetry aficionado but I think this really hits the spot.

Originally posted on Pandora and the Phoenix:

It’s been seven years.
Seven years but the pain is still as fresh and raw as if it happened yesterday.
A black dog walks in my shadow.
I like dogs but I can not care for them.
I pat them and instantly want to wash my hands.
This one will not go away no matter what I do.
I throw it a stick. “Go fetch dog!”
But he always comes back.
“Fuck off. Leave me alone. Go home!”
But he barks and smiles with a twinkle in his eyes that says, “I am home”.
He licks at my wounds but they do not heal.
He lays at my feet and I realise he is never going to leave.

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There’s Tracking and There’s Tracking


I know I’ve been away for a while (they used to say that when you had been in the nick) In truth I have been studying for my DTTLS and learning the craft of a College Lecturer.
‘Ah,’ I hear you all say. ‘The finer points of teaching carpentry?’
Alas not my dear friends, tracking. I have learned how to track students in so many different ways.

‘Oh my! Do they keep escaping?’

Once again, no. Although getting them to turn up is a task all of it’s own. I track everything they do and then I track the tracking, I sometimes even track the things they don’t do. When I’m not tracking students I track me, or at least my progress and I’m sure my head of department tracks me also. In fact tracking (if you haven’t guessed already) is very important in FE. It’s important because it proves you know what stage your students are at. It’s so important that we have software called E-tracker.

So I track my students progress on paper. I also have the same tracking on Excel, twice, the official one and my own copy. On top of this I complete E-tracker which is not like Excel and it’s not Excel. Its a great way of tracking students and everyone says they know how to use it; but don’t. It’s so great we are dumping it, so rumour has it. The strange thing is, all the trackers contain the same information. I can understand the theory of tracking but I can’t understand the duplication. Everyone I ask tells me to just do it and don’t ask, because that’s FE and if I keep questioning  it, I will go insane. Mr Chips never had these problems. ;-)

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