Musical Misery: reflections on my own fixed mindset

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Having read a lot about growth and fixed mindsets of late, I was given cause to reflect on my own experiences as a learner and came to the realisation that there were some things about which I had a very fixed mindset. Music was one of those things. By the time I reached Secondary School I didn’t see much point in persevering with the subject because I believed that you either had musical talent or you didn’t.

In year 6 I was amongst a select few who were chosen to learn to play the violin. I was delighted. My mum didn’t play an instrument so the violin I borrowed from school was both precious and alien in equal measure. I can still recall the smell of resin as I opened up the violin case; the feel of the horse hair bow; the iridescence of the mother of pearl on the handle. I wanted to master it. I wanted to be able to throw it under my chin with ease. I wanted to be a violinist.

Sadly, however, I never mastered it. I didn’t even come close. I don’t think it’ll be a surprise to anybody who has tried to play the violin but it’s really very tricky. You have to contort your head, neck, arms and fingers to play the thing whilst simultaneously reading sheet music. Having never seen the latter before, you might as well have put a Jackson Pollock painting in front of me and told me to play from that. It felt like I was learning to be contortionist at the same time as learning to read a foreign language and it was, frankly, challenging.

Because it was such hard work, I didn’t practise often enough. Practising at home was also a pursuit that was not encouraged by my mum. I can forgive her for this. At that time, she and I lived in a small flat and there would have been very little escape for her from the painful sound of her ten year old daughter murdering a piece of music in the back bedroom.

The culmination of my lack of effort and persistence was a cringe-worthy performance of the violin group in front of the entire school. We were stood in a row at the front of the hall and I had to resort to pretending to play. I remember to this day holding the bow just above the strings and trying to follow the arm movements of my peers. To be so exposed in my failure was embarrassing and subsequently coloured how I felt about Music. I quit the violin group and concluded that I did not have musical talent; that whilst I didn’t try as hard as I could to master the violin, my lack of innate talent was the main thing working against me. It was easier to adopt a fixed mindset than persevere and find out what I was really capable of.

I pity my Secondary School Music teachers for having to put up with me for the three years that followed. My fixed mindset stunted my progress. If my teachers did try to convince me otherwise, I didn’t believe that there was any hope for me. It seemed like a waste of my effort to make sense of the Pollocks because I was never going to be any good. In a school where nearly every other girl played an instrument, I felt like a bit of a rebel. At the end of every year there’d be a compulsory graded performance. For three successive years I performed ‘Three Blind Mice’, probably a bit angrily, on the recorder. Not only did I not believe I could get better; it was easier not to care.

Whilst I may never have become a Vanessa-Mae, I believe now that it wasn’t a lack of talent that held me back (I’m not sure how much I even believe in the idea of ‘talent’ any more). The main thing that held me back was my fixed mindset. If I could go back and speak to my 10 year old self I’d tell her to believe that she could one day play the violin but that it would be hard work. Adopting a growth mindset is about belief. It is a matter of faith. I think it’s also a matter of acceptance – accepting that dedication is necessary.

When I next come across a student who refuses to persevere because they’re convinced they have neither the intelligence nor the talent; when I next come across a student who puts on a front of not caring and when I next come across a student who’d rather fail to try than try and fail, I’ll remember that I’ve been there. Maybe I’ll tell them about my fixed mindset and my belief that I just didn’t have it in me to be musical. Whilst I’d love to be able to follow such a conversation by whipping out my violin and effortlessly playing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto to demonstrate the fruits of adopting a growth mindset, to do that I’d actually have to learn to play…

Do you have a fixed mindset story?

 

What I learnt from my first Teach Meet…

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#TMkentmeday

I joined Twitter a couple of months ago and, until then, had never heard of such a gathering. My feed was soon filled up with happy tweets from teachers enjoying Teach Meets and naturally I felt left out. Serendipitously, last Thursday I was on an NPQML day and through the old fashioned method of face to face networking I was invited to #TMkentmedway by one of the hosts, Charlene Noble. And that’s how, earlier this evening, I ended up joining approximately 150 other teachers in the main hall of The Howard School in Kent. Like me, these teachers were choosing to spend two hours of their evening at a CPD event run by teachers for teachers.

The two hours flew by with 15 presentations (each a maximum of 5 minutes) broken up with a short break. There was a real element of fun with the Teach Meet bingo and prizes and an incredibly friendly, supportive environment. The cookies were fantastic and I’ve a little haul of bags, stationery and mug. Best of all, though, I took something away from each and every presentation and would like to thank those that were willing to stand up and share today. Thank you also to the organisers who obviously put in an awful lot of work behind the scenes.

What did I learn?

The first thing I learnt, or was reminded of, was what a passionate bunch of professionals teachers are. This was a room packed full of colleagues giving up their evening so that they could share ideas for how to develop their practice. I think we should feel immensely proud of our profession’s willingness to collaborate.

I learnt that a beach ball can represent a learning journey (and not just a trip to the beach). This presentation focused on a range of ideas taken from ‘Talk-Less Teaching: Practice, Participation and Progress’ by Isabella Wallace. The ‘wonderball’ (a name which immediately has me humming Oasis) was my favourite. At the start of a lesson you might share the lesson topic/objective and ask students to write down a question about it on a strip of post-it note which they then stick to the ball and pass back to you. Towards the end of the lesson, or series of lessons, the wonderball can be passed randomly around the room and students remove a question and attempt to answer it. Thank you, Hannah Covey.

I learnt that there are some ‘quick wins’ when embedding SMSC. This presentation focused on how different subjects already cover SMSC strands (e.g. expressing opinions on social issues in English lessons) we just need to identify where this is happening. I especially liked the idea of thinking about how we’re equipping our students for the future. Thank you, Esther Cook.

I learnt that there’s still a place for A3 paper in revision. This presentation focused on a revision technique whereby students begin by filling an A4 page with everything they know about a topic. Next, in a different coloured pen, they can make additions using other resources e.g. their peers. Students then stick the A4 sheet onto the middle of an A3 sheet (I love A3) and around it, in a different coloured pen, write past exam questions on that topic. Finally, students might then include some of their answers to these questions. Voila, a revision process and something pretty to put on the wall. Thank you, Hannah Miller.

I learnt that you can roll your own revision. This presentation focused on using dice to add a bit of variety and fun. Students can roll a range of dice that represent whatever you need linked to a resource of your making e.g. roll one die for a noun and another for a verb etc. and then translate from the Latin into English (Steph teaches Latin and is, as I discovered from sitting on her table, the proud owner of 21 tarantulas!) Thank you, Steph Harrison.

I learnt that John Tomsett’s influence is everywhere. This presentation focused on setting ‘memory homework’ that would best support long term learning by being cumulative i.e. revisiting previous topics (a quick nod to Ebinghaus). John Tomsett also got a mention with a share of his thinking aloud strategy. Thank you, Stuart Gibson.

I learnt that teachers make great teapots. This presentation focused on gap analysis plenaries whereby students share their ‘I’m still stuck’ points on post-it notes to be peer unstuck or to inform the teacher what needs to be covered again. Another great plenary, entitled ‘Body shape plenary’ involves students adopting different shapes in response to multiple choice questions e.g. a church, glasses or standing on one leg. Thank you, Mike Baker.

I learnt that, for the first time in 60 years, a new cloud type has been discovered. This presentation focused on a range of activities used throughout a Geography lesson on clouds and rain. I particularly liked the idea of using concentric circles for students to make notes during Think-Pair-Share. For anybody still wondering, the new cloud is Undulatus Asperatus. Thank you, Mohamed Dada.

I learnt that emotional intelligence is important too. This presentation focused on helping students to understand the spectrum of their emotional responses to situations rather than seeing them as binary (e.g. happy – sad). Thank you, Charlotte Webb.

I learnt that there’s an IDEAL way to do things. This presentation focused on how to use IDEAL (Identify, Describe, Explain, Apply, Link) and a plenary grid. I thought the plenary grid, with a range of different ways for students to reflect on their learning, could be a great tool if used in moderation. Thank you, Luke Harris.

I learnt that students can monitor their own behaviour. This presentation focused on encouraging students to monitor their own behaviour, both positive and negative. Thank you, Trudie Bhola.

I learnt that students can be monsters. This presentation focused on using Class Dojo as a tool to encourage positive behaviour. You can input a range of positive and negative behaviours and track these for different students – each student is represented by their own little monster. Thank you, Heather Dent-Cowan.

I learnt that hating marking can inspire you. This presentation focused on how to use Excel to generate personalised WWW EBI and TRY feedback sheets for students. The motivation behind this model was to reduce the amount of time spent writing out similar comments and targets and the presentation began with the words, ‘I hate marking’. Thank you, Clive Boughtflower.

I learnt that students spend upwards of 30 hours a week on the internet. This presentation focused on the misconceptions students bring with them as a consequence of using Twitter and Youtube as their primary source of news. Kevin spoke about having to spend time unpicking these misconceptions before new learning could take place and suggested pre-empting this by doing a bit of research and then evaluating the likely sources of common misconceptions at the start of a lesson/topic/unit of work. Thank you, Kevin Thomas.

I learnt that it’s possible to use interpretative dance to teach the process of longshore drift. This presentation focused on how to use dance to help students remember tricky processes. We were given a fantastic demonstration of the ‘swash’ and ‘backwash’ of the longshore drift with a tantalising mention of the ‘waterfall dance’ which was, apparently, another story… I was thankfully not hit on the head by a flying hexagon that was thrown out to the audience (like a drummer throwing out his drumsticks at the end of a performance) at the end. Thank you, Andy Knill.

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What now?

I will be trialling a few of these ideas in my classroom and exploring the possibility of using a ‘Mini Meet’ model for CPD at my school. I’m also really looking forward to my next Teach Meet on Monday 6th July at Highbury Grove School in Islington. I’ve got the Teach Meet bug.

The Inspection Borg: resistance isn’t futile

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Image credit.

“We are the Borg. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.”

“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times… don’t provoke the Borg.”

These quotes will be familiar to Star Trek fans (or those married to one). The Borg, for the uninitiated, were introduced as a coercive and symbiotic life form that then took over key Federation personnel. The Borg assimilate human beings and link them to a collective consciousness – the hive-mind. Borgs are collectively aware but not aware of themselves as individuals.

It might be a stretch but imagine that Ofsted are the Borg. Coercive? Yes. Symbiotic? Certainly. I’m pretty sure the school system would survive (and even thrive) without Ofsted but if we were to disconnect from the Ofsted Borg they’d have nothing to inspect and consequently shut down. Ofsted have been assimilating schools and we’ve been complicit in homogenising by conforming to what we think Ofsted want to see when they inspect schools. Paradoxically, I believe this has had a detrimental effect on what happens in school when the watchdog was set up to improve them.

‘The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing’ – Stephen Covey

In his speech on Monday, Sir Michael Wilshaw said that one of the key questions that inspectors might ask of school leaders is about whether they are, ‘focused on what really benefits children and young people rather than wasting their time endlessly preparing for an Ofsted inspection?’ For me it was the stand out quote of the speech.

I’d like to work in a school that genuinely focused on doing things that were purely for the benefit of students – that is ‘the main thing’; anything else is a distraction.

Using meeting time to second guess what Ofsted might be looking for during a lesson observation is a distraction. It is a distraction from exploring the teaching methods that are best for our students. It engenders an idea that there is one set way to teach. We teachers are a heterogeneous bunch, as are our pupils, and the idea that there is a perfect way to teach a single lesson is a nonsense. Worse still, it is a distraction from focusing on long term student progress rather than performance in a 20 minute or hour long observation. Resist.

Encouraging teachers to mark books in a way that we think Ofsted want to see or at intervals we think Ofsted might expect is a distraction. It is a distraction from providing timely and impactful feedback. What if the feedback that has the biggest impact on student outcomes cannot be evidenced? Should we not do it because we can’t prove to Ofsted that we’ve done it? What if the kind of marking we are doing is having little or no effect on pupil progress? Resist.

Constantly second guessing when Ofsted might arrive is a distraction. It is a distraction because it ramps up teacher stress levels. There are schools that sigh a collective sigh of relief when another week passes and ‘the call’ hasn’t come. At the end of the week their shoulders drop back to their normal position and their buttocks unclench. Come Monday, however, shoulders tense; buttocks clench. This can go on for whole terms: clench, sigh, release, repeat. Resist.

In fact, just mentioning the ‘O’ word is a distraction. Let’s replace the word Ofsted with ‘students’. What lessons are best for Ofsted students? What marking is best for Ofsted students? What do Ofsted students think of what we’re doing? That way we’d be keeping the main thing the main thing.

Ban the O word. Resist the Ofsted Borg. Talk a lot about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what impact it has on students. If something works, great, keep it. If it doesn’t, learn from it and adapt.  Talk to your stakeholders: your students and their parents. Listen to what they have to say and explain your decisions. Say to them, ‘We are doing this because we know it is what’s best for you – it might not match up with what the Borg say but we’ve seen the impact it has had here’. They are who matter. If they believe that what you’re doing is for the best, and they can see the impact, does it matter what Ofsted says? Have confidence in what you’re doing because you are doing it for all the right reasons.

If Sir Michael Wilshaw is to be believed, this approach might actually do you some favours when the Borg comes to assimilate you. He said on Monday that Ofsted were going to support the reforming leader. He referred to being a maverick when he led a school but that doing things differently needs to be for one purpose and one purpose alone – to raise standards for the children you serve.

Be brave. Don’t be afraid to do something different. Resist the Ofsted Borg.

What if, like teachers, MPs had performance related pay?

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The Context

From the 1st of September 2013, schools have been able to link teachers’ pay to performance – the idea being that this allows them to pay good teachers more. The DfE advised that schools should consider a range of factors when assessing teachers’ performance including their impact on pupil progress; professional development and their wider contribution to the work of the school.

This requirement of schools to revise their pay and appraisal policies followed the publication, in May 2012, of the Education Select Committee’s report entitled, ‘Great Teachers: attracting, training and retaining the best’. In the report, the committee asserted that:

‘There are, currently, huge differences in teacher performance in the UK; no longer should the weakest teachers be able to hide behind a rigid and unfair pay structure. We believe that performance management systems should support and reward the strongest teachers, as well as make no excuses (or, worse, incentives to remain) for the weaker. Given the profound positive and negative impacts which teachers have on pupil performance, as demonstrated earlier in the report, we are concerned that the pay system continues to reward low-performers at the same levels as their more successful peers.’

There is no such Select Committee to publish reports on the way in which MPs should be paid. For centuries MPs controlled their own pay which, for perhaps obvious reasons, they ‘held down’. However, to make up for their basic annual salary they allowed their allowances and expenses (less visible to voters) to increase. This culminated in the 2009 expenses scandal which saw revelations of ludicrous ‘expenses’ including the infamous £1,645 duck house claimed by Sir Peter Viggers MP.

duck house

In answer to the public outcry at MPs claiming for such things as porn films (Jacqui Smith), installation of lightbulbs (David Willetts) and toilet seat repairs (John Prescott), the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was created. With its power to set MPs pay, the IPSA was established to make decisions on the basis of evidence. The authority found measures to illustrate how MPs’ pay had fallen behind its historic level. For example, from 1911-1980, an MP’s salary was worth on average 3.16 times the national average wage. It is now 2.67 times the average wage (£79,193 would bring it back to the historical ratio).

Following a two year pay freeze and subsequently a 1 per cent increase in 2013-14 and the same again in 2014-15, an MP is currently paid £67,060. Having considered all the evidence, the IPSA judged that a salary of £74,000 a year (an increase of 10%) was appropriate for MPs and proposed that this should be a one-off adjustment, ‘designed to restore MPSs’ pay to an appropriate and professional level’. In future years, MPs’ pay should keep pace with national average earnings. At the beginning of this month the IPSA launched its final consultation on the 10 per cent pay rise asking: Is there new and compelling evidence that might lead us to amend our determination?

I don’t have any new and compelling evidence that MPs should not be given their pay increase (though it seems a little galling that this is being consulted on during a time when there’s still a public sector pay freeze). I do, however, have one suggestion – why don’t we introduce performance related pay for MPs? After all, the Education Select Committee which suggested the measure for teachers was made up of a selection of cross party MPs. If they thought it an appropriate measure for us why not roll it out for them?

Performance Related Pay for MPs

Let me start by quoting from my report on MPs’ pay entitled, ‘Great MPs: attracting, training and retaining the best’.

‘There are, currently, huge differences in MP performance in the UK; no longer should the weakest MPs be able to hide behind a rigid and unfair pay structure. I believe that performance management systems should support and reward the strongest MPs, as well as make no excuses (or, worse, incentives to remain) for the weaker. Given the profound positive and negative impacts which MPs have on the lives of their constituents (and, more widely, the country) I am concerned that the pay system continues to reward low-performers at the same levels as their more successful peers.’

Compelling, right?

I think we can accept that an MP can have a ‘profound’ impact on the lives of their constituents and, by voting on issues in parliament, the general public. Why, then, is it acceptable for failing MPs to be remunerated in exactly the same way as MPs who are doing a good job? Of course if we were going to go down this road it’d have to be clear how we judged what we mean by a ‘Good’ or even ‘Outstanding’ MP.

How could we judge the performance of MPs?

It’s a slippery fish this judging performance business but if we’re going to introduce performance related pay for MPs somebody’s got to put together a measure, scale or criteria.

A good place to start might be the proportion of votes an MP turns up to. How many times have they spoken in debates or received answers to written questions? How often do they hold surgeries for their constituents? What do their constituents have to say about them? What impact is their voting, letter writing and surgery holding having on those people that gave them their seat in the House of Commons? Are they making their constituency or this country a demonstrably better place?  How can we tell? Where’s the evidence?

Ofstip

Might it be worth considering setting up a watchdog to routinely inspect the 650 constituencies and use data to assess the impact of our MPs? Ofstip has a certain ring to it (The Office for Standards in Parliament). We could use Ofsted’s foci and adapt them:

‘Achievement of pupils constituents’

This would not only cover the achievement of school pupils but also adult literacy rates; the number of people in full-time employment; the relative success of people from disadvantaged backgrounds and so on. It could even encompass sporting achievement – how many Olympiads in your constituency?

‘Quality of teaching MPing’

This could be measured by observations of surgeries – are they meeting the needs of their constituents? Are they differentiating the way in which they engage with the people who come to see them? An inspector might also drop in on a session in Parliament to check the MP is there, how vocal they are or maybe if they’re managing to stay awake (ahem Stephen Pound). It might also be worth inspectors checking the feedback the MP is giving to the people they serve and if they’re engaging in a dialogue that has real impact.

‘Behaviour and safety’

How well behaved are the constituents? What’s the crime rate? Is it dropping? How is anti-social behaviour being tackled? If an Inspector walks around will they spot any litter, graffiti or poor behaviour? Is that penis daubed on the railway bridge indicative of a wider issue?

You get the idea…

A final thought

I’m not saying that MPs have an easy job but then nor do we teachers. I don’t disagree that failing teachers and schools (and, for that matter, MPs) need to be held to account but I think there should be more room for trusting and empowering professionals to do a good job – it’s what the vast majority are trying to do.

Redesigning the KS3 Curriculum: Stage Two

Compromise

Consultation and Compromise

A couple of weeks ago I posted here about how I wanted to approach redesigning the KS3 curriculum in my new school (my most popular post to date). I said I’d let you know how I got on…

I have had just four days in my new school (Mondays and Fridays until I start full time in September). After finding my way around the school, meeting some of my new colleagues and having a nosey at what the English team have been up to with regards to KS3, I have largely been holed up in the English store cupboard, with its comforting smell of old books, working on my redesign.

On my first day I talked at length with my Head of Department about my ideas. He was sold on nearly everything except the sequential teaching of texts. As a Lead Practitioner I have been given a lot of freedom but ultimately it is his decision and I therefore needed to compromise. Whilst I haven’t been able to implement sequential teaching of texts over the whole of the KS3 course, I have thought much more carefully than I might have done about the order in which texts are studied within each year. The sequence is by no means perfect but I think there are some clear links and an order that will hopefully aid students’ understanding of contexts (e.g. studying ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ will be followed by War Poetry).

The other compromise with the redesign was, quelle surprise, budget. I could not just select texts from the ether and, instead, was limited largely by what was already in the store cupboard. There will be some money made available for buying extra sets but the budget is tight due to a new KS4 curriculum and the other usual budgetary demands on the English Department.  However, I have managed to include challenging texts and where we’re studying genres or poetry we will be able to collate and explore a range of texts. I make no apologies for studying a Shakespeare play every year but I wish there had been some more modern play texts in the cupboard.

Emerging from my second day in the cupboard I got the green light for my draft redesign from the Head of Department and subsequently the Principal (also an English teacher). So, please see below what I have put together. I would welcome any feedback/constructive criticism.

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This is an overview document. You can’t see from this that within each unit we are interleaving English Literature and English Language skills (e.g. transactional and creative writing; analysing non-fiction texts etc.). What you can see is that there are only 4 units for each year – approximately 10 weeks – to encourage greater depth and breadth of study than trying to cram everything in to whatever length a half term is. What you will also see is David Didau’s English threshold concepts and Daisy Christodoulou’s decontextualised grammar drill in the teaching sequence she suggests.The latter is not something I’ve done before but, given the literacy skills in the context of the school I’ll be teaching in, I think it is important. Our KS3 pupils will have a discrete grammar lesson a week.

Whilst I’ve mapped out the ‘What’, and addressed the ‘Why’ in my first post, I think what will be important in the implementation of the KS3 curriculum is the ‘How’. I feel that, through Twitter, I’m now plugged into a wealth of fantastic ideas. As a snapshot of my thinking, for the grammar lessons I’m currently exploring mastery learning techniques and Eddie Kayshun’s Spaced Learning ideas. I also think that we need to consider ways to teach vocabulary and love these 10 minute vocabulary lesson ideas from Marilee Sprenger.

You might be wondering what I’m planning to do about homework… I’m not a fan of homework. I don’t doubt that there are colleagues, departments and schools that set homework that is fantastic and helps students to progress. Nevertheless, I can’t help but question the utility and impact of homework in general. Oftentimes teachers set homework because they have to (perhaps according to a whole school rota that is monitored on an online platform) and spend a lot of time chasing students for incomplete homework or using up their precious lunch time to hold catch up detentions (I won’t even mention the additional marking that is generated by homework).  A proportion of students who have handed in their homework have likely rushed it or, worse, copied. What’s the point?

So, no homework. Well, sort of. I want to encourage our students to read, read for pleasure and read widely. That is the homework we’ll be setting. I don’t want to get bogged down in reading logs – I’d far rather we were engaging in discussions with students about their reading – but I will be making some use of the Accelerated Reader programme. I’m also going to explore ways in which we can guide students to appropriate texts, encourage reluctant readers (campfires and dogs?) and share recommendations and reviews.

Tomorrow I will be presenting the new KS3 curriculum to the English Department. Wish me luck. I hope it will be received positively but I understand that this is a massive change to what they’ve been doing for years. Change is daunting but I’m going to do my best to bring them on board.

How to be a Happy Teacher: Tip #3

FramingThink about your framing

How happy you are as a teacher has a lot to do with how you frame things. Broadly speaking you can frame things positively or negatively; as an opportunity or a threat and as a challenge or a hurdle. If we take my image as an example, we might all face the same garbage but if you frame it in the right way you’ll be happier. Whilst it doesn’t change what you’re actually looking at, it will change how you feel about it.

I’m no Pollyanna, I fully accept the challenges our profession faces: sweeping and relentless curriculum changes; uncertainty about life after levels; an ineffectual Ofsted; high levels of stress and poor retention of new teachers to name just a few. But what does framing things in the wrong way achieve? Ultimately I think it just serves to make you feel unhappy.

How do you frame things?

The negative framer:

The sort of person whose first reaction to whatever picture they’re presented with is to focus on the aspects they dislike. They might not be able to see past a surprising composition to appreciate the use of colour. They prop the picture up against a wall in the corner. They don’t bother to hang it let alone frame it. Their paintings sit in the dark and gather dust.

The positive framer:

The sort of person who takes whatever picture they’re presented with – even a very dodgy painting of a sheep with wonky eyes – and see something good in it. They actively look for what is working rather than focusing on what doesn’t. They take the painting and hang it on the wall, in the light, in a cheery frame that distracts from the disconcerting eyes. When they walk past the painting they can’t help but smile a little.

The threat framer:

The sort of person who sees a new picture as a threat to what they’re already doing (imagine the National Portrait Gallery being asked to display a landscape painting…). They might hide the painting so they don’t have to face it or else do whatever they can to destroy it. Fear is the ruling emotion and they’d rather stick to what they know than look at something they see as threatening.

The challenge framer:

The sort of person who accepts that a picture doesn’t currently fit with a collection they’ve put together but accepts the challenge of finding the right place for it or rearranging what they’ve already done. They’re not quite sure how they’ll fit Tracy Emin’s ‘My Bed’ amongst the Pre-Raphaelite paintings but they’ll enjoy figuring it out. Once they’ve found a place for it they’ll feel a sense of pride at what they’ve managed to achieve.

The hurdle framer:

The sort of person who sees a picture as something they have to hang. There’s no pleasure in the act it’s just something they need to do. It’s tiring work and there’s not pleasure in it. It’s a chore.

The opportunity framer:

The sort of person who sees a new picture as an opportunity to do something different. A chance to take a collection in a new direction or diversify or completely throw out the old stuff for something new and exciting. It might not have been what they were expecting but they embrace the opportunity it represents.

If you want to be a happy teacher in a time when a lot of the profession are making a lot of noise about how challenging it is, I encourage you to think about how you frame the challenges we face. Be positive about the job we’re doing despite how tough it is. See the curriculum changes as a challenge to do something better and life after levels as an opportunity to do something different. We can’t stop the waves of change that keep coming our way – and, like Canute, it seems futile to bid the tide to stop – so let’s change what we can: our attitude.

See Tip #1.

See Tip #2.