Improve/Improv

For the last year I have been part of an improvised comedy group . We meet weekly ( haven’t always been able to attend, but that will change this year with new work life balance aims ) to workshop games and techniques and I have now performed in about 5 gigs with them .

Learning how to improvise has been enormously helpful to my teaching and also to my wellbeing. I will aim to explain a few reasons why .

1. Saying yes 

Improv forces you to say yes .You have to agree with your partner to make whatever scenario you find yourself in work . Eg if your partner says , “Hello doctor ……”  If you say ” but I’m not a doctor” you have just killed that scene dead . I’m a bit of a control freak ,I sometimes found it difficult to relinquish planning ideas that I thought were best in the past I  might say , ” No but” or “yes but…” that it almost as bad as saying “no” . Its just killing someone else’s idea dead. Since learning improv I have found myself saying yes more often and just going with the flow . It’s risky , exciting, creative and fun .

2. Not always getting the laugh 

I don’t think I am brilliant at improv , but I am lucky enough to work with people that I think are . Over time I am getting quicker and better. It’s not about always getting the laugh , not everything I say will be funny . It’s ok to play the straight guy .In fact that can be the funniest thing ( I am perfecting my Paul Merton straight face) . Getting a laugh feels great , but actually helping someone get a bigger one feels good too . It might be a duff  idea for advert break , or a terrible scenes we’d like to see . But it might just spark another person to take a leap  into a better joke .

In terms of my teaching , this is about  support . Recognising  the skills of others and letting them flourish .Put the seed of an idea , but be brave enough to let someone else tend the seedling.  In terms of teaching it’s about encouraging children to take that leap . To put that pen to paper and have a go . So what if the first one isn’t that good , the next one will be even better , a little tweaking here and there and you could have an amazing piece of writing . You can spark own creative journey. The more you do it , the better you get .

3. Fun 

I have taught some improv skills to kids and you know what ? They love it ! They are a lot more fearless that adults  and  there are also  a whole host of other skills that it develops . The best thing is that the whole classroom  usually ends up in fits of laughter through a simple game such as 2 headed expert ( which can be tailored to any topic – good for sentence building skills)

This is a subject I will return to as I  continue my adventures in improv.

Even if you don’t feel brave enough to have a go yourself , why not get out there and watch someone else do it or you tube whose line is it anyway and Drew Carey’s Improvaganza  .

There is a whole host of games on the internet such as this encyclopaedia 

Further reading

Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre
Keith Johnstone
ISBN 0878301178 (ISBN13: 9780878301171)
Improvise.: Scene from the Inside Out
Mick Napier
ISBN 032500630X (ISBN13: 9780325006307)
Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Theatre, Comedy, and Beyond
Tom Salinsky
ISBN 0826428584 (ISBN13: 9780826428585)

I am looking forward to starting my drama /improv club again and will hopefully be updating this blog  with ideas, thoughts etc

#Nurture14/15 looking forward

So its the first day of 2015 and having just written my reflections on the last year , I’m on a roll so will get started on this one as well .
Well the end of 2014 forced me to take a break and reflect so I have done a lot of thinking about what I want out of life . Here are just a few of the things I would like to achieve this coming year .

1. Organise – Get on top of finances and clear debts – really important this one it links in with teaching in that I will often buy a book or resource and not charge it back to school . Moving out of my classroom the other day made me realise that I need to downsize a lot. In my personal life this is also true . So will really try to ask myself these questions Do I need it ? Can I afford it ? Is it worth it ? I have just unsubscribed from all of the shopping emails that I get sent as well. I need to do some serious shifting of old clothes, books and other junk .
2. Write – Not just blog posts , but journals , letters, allsorts .
3. Cut down  meaningless screen time – I really need to get out of my faux relaxation habit of slumping on the sofa and browsing the internet of an evening . Especially facebook . I did have a bit of a break from it and it was great , so I am going to make a better effort at this .
4. Create – I have a lovely craft desk and a ton of paper and dies, stamps , inks and other goodies so I need to make better use of them as I really do find that immersing myself in creating is a bit like meditating .
5. Travel – whilst I would live to go further afield I am really happy just dotting up and down the country with my husband for odd weekends .Would like to do some more walking as well.
6. Perform – I will hopefully get back on stage with The Same Faces and am hoping to land a part on one of the many productions that Masque is putting on this year.
7. Learn – from my mistakes and move on.
8. Enjoy – My job ( it is changing a little this year so I am looking forward to some new challenges ) I have really reflected on what it is to be a teacher and I need to focus on the main reason I came into teaching which is for the children.
9. Run – just get up and run


10. Nurture – myself with good food , good habits and lots of pampering .
11. Stop – worrying about the past and future and live in the now .

12. Support– my colleagues , pupils,family  and friends

13. Challenge – myself to do new things , step out of the comfort zone every now and then and don’t be afraid to ask for help .

14. Smile 

15. Relax  and with that I’m off to slouch on the sofa with … a book

Nurture 14/15 looking back at 2014

There’s that phrase isn’t there ? “can’t see the wood for the trees”  and this year I was forced to do a bit of pruning in my life . It’s been a very challenging year for many reasons  and whilst I won’t go into detail here , I will just say that something had to give and it was almost me .

I didn’t do a 13/14 nurture blog ,in fact as you can see I haven’t blogged for over a year .

I think I would like to change that , but we’ll see how it goes .
So, I’ll just take a look back at the last year :

1. Looking after myself – I learned the hard way that I need to look after myself . I didn’t see the signs where others did , but luckily I was able to take time and reflect on what  my values truly are .

Putting my feet up .


2. Launching a brand new behaviour policy and seeing it work – at the end of summer, I went to a fantastic course with Paul Dix and with his help was able to create a workable policy that is delivering results across the school .
3. Acting in a play- ok it was just a bit part and I was replacing a drop out, but I had lines and make up and costume . It was fun ( I played Helen of Troy in Troilus and Cressida)

4.Learning new skills – I got a pyrography set for my birthday and have spent some lovely hours burning away . I made a few xmas pressies as well .

5. Appearing on stage in an improv comedy group- again I call myself the ‘supply’ improviser , but I have had the chance to appear onstage a few more times this year with ‘The Same Faces’ I really love improv and have learned a lot this year .

6. Running a half marathon- yup I did the great North Run again and knocked a few minutes off my time. Very proud of myself .

7. Giving up booze for 6 months – not as hard as you would think. Although I do wish there was a bit more choice in bars for non drinkers .
8.Understanding the benefits of sharing – in my case especially of talking about problems rather than hiding away from them .
9. Appreciating the amazing colleagues that I work with .
10. Kind words from parents – it really does make a difference when you are thanked .
11. Being able to support children who are struggling . As pastoral leader this isn’t always easy , but I always try to be there to listen .
12. Seeing amazing live music . My husband and I have spent a lot of time travelling to gigs around the country, quite a few of them bands we both loved in our younger years. Highlights were : Arcade Fire, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, NIN and The orb . There’s something special about being right there .

13- Being married for 10 years – my husband is amazing

14 – Making time for friends – lots of cups of tea, shopping and day trips and maybe the odd glass of wine ;-p

Where’s the off switch ?

I was going to call this post  “Switching Off ”  but my lovely colleague beat me to it ,read her fab post here .

But that brings me to mind why us teachers find it so hard to switch off in the shorter holidays or in some cases the summer holidays as well .

My husband does a stressful job , I don’t envy some of the work he has to do , yet when the shift is over and he is back home , he thinks nothing of  switching on the pc for a couple of hours of gaming  . So why do I feel differently ?

Someone very close to me has recently had to be signed off their job due to stress  ( they are not a teacher , but in one of the other professions  where  these problems are all too familiar) . It has made me think very carefully about what I want out of life and why I place so much importance on work .

I love teaching , but I have had a very difficult few years  in the job , My dad ( who is a retired teacher ) constantly reminds me on the phone to beware of burnout when he hears me talking about books I need to mark , or  planning that needs to be done . I used to laugh and say ” Don’t worry that’ll never happen to me ” , but it nearly did . I found myself in a  trapped , unable to work out what needed doing and just working  all the hours I had, blindly  thinking I was holding it all together . I wasn’t .

Luckily, a fresh start in September has given me  a chance to reassess my career . It hasn’t been easy and I am still very much a novice at my new job. I have made mistakes  , but the difference is that I am able to ask for help,  listen, learn and act .  I am lucky to have supportive colleagues  and am beginning to understand the importance of working together  towards a shared goal.

Anyway about that off switch . I found it this week (well the mute button!)  . I went away to my in-laws and took no work . Instead I filled my days with  walks in the countryside and reading . Pure Bliss . I have a very busy mind ( another blog post I think)  but I do feel that I was able to quieten my thoughts   a little this week .  I will return to work  feeling a lot brighter  and I will make sure that I work when I need to work and try to  make time for me  as well .

Teaching is a hard job . I define myself as a teacher , but I am also a wife , a daughter , a sister ,a friend  and me .

I think that list might need reorganising a bit 🙂

Right I’m off to put those walking boots on!

These boots were made for walking

These boots were made for walking

Thoughts on the BETT show 2012

Teachmeet So on Friday I dashed away from Northampton to catch the train down to London to catch up with friends old and new at the BETT2012 TEACHMEET . as soon as a it through the door I was me by a sea of friendly faces , people there to share there ideas and strategies to elp their pupils become better learners . Giving up their Frday night some of whom had already done 3 days of BETT now that’s commitment ! so there ‘Mr Gove ‘ I attended my first Teachmeet 2 years ago in the same room and sadly missed last years although I did attend BETT .I was looked from the off , because it was a revelation o find that there were teachers like me , who wanted to experiment with new technology in order I engage and enthuse pupils. I had seen the fantastic Tim Rylands speak in Milton Keynes and had already started to experiment with blogging and websites etc Anyway I filled a couple of pages of my notebook with lists of websites to visit , twitter names etc (I found the original the other day ) I think the thing that struck me most was that everyone was just like me. There was no one claiming to be doing it the best way , just enthusiastic real teachers sharing what worked well for them . There was an attitude of I’ve it a go and try it for yourself . This year we had two trainee teachers up and I was inspired to hear how they were using blogging as a tool to develop as teachers . I was also impressed that they were specialising in ICT (if only I had the chance when I was training ) So this years Teachmeet didn’t disappoint . it was wonderful to see so many familiar faces and people who like me just kept coming back.Plus I got say thank you to Mr Rylands himself. I feel part of something exciting , I feel proud to know so many exciting and innovative teachers .

This year I am going to aim to get to more teachmeets if I I can and maybe even shedfest . BETT I don’t really come to BETT for the stands , although there are always a few I make a point of visiting (brainpop,rising stars,2simple etc ) I go for the people. I remember meeting Mary for the first ime haing arranged t meet up through a teaching forum . She had to call me to come out with some change to park .Mary is an inspirational teacher and extremely well deserving of all the accolades she has picked up. People are what make BETT for me , I can remember quite a few of the conversations I have had and I have gone away with my head buzzing with ideas about teaching and gone straight back into school and done something about it . I am definitely a better teacher because of that .

Three things that were highlight for me apart from the people .

1. Listening to Pie Corbett talking about sentence building games on the Nelson Thornes stand .Ideas to use on Monday that  and will have an immediate impact .

2. Eavesdropping the # domoredu session . I had seen the hash tag on twitter , despite the dodgy wi if so decided to investigate . I spent a good half an hour listening to educators collaborating and discussing a range of ideas , haven ‘t had the chance to look back yet .

3. Being handed an iPad and getting a 2 hour practical demo of some of the best apps for education .Filled a notebook up with names and ideas( fell in love with garage band)

2011 some educational books I enjoyed last year

So where was I – ah yes

I had given the overview of my thoughts about year 4 so far .

Right

So the last year has been one of my most challenging , but one that I have survived . I think I am now in a place to develop and grow as an educator. Here are some things I have learnt  this year

Books that have inspired me( links to amazon if you click)

Why do I need a teacher when I have Google-Ian Gilbert

I am a big fan on Ian Gilbert’s work ,he talks a lot of sense and has an understanding of what really goes on in the classroom. His style is engaging and a lot of what he says is  common sense ( but remember I was going through the year from hell and common sense can be lacking when you are in a fight or flight situation) .

It is a scary thought when you consider that children in  class right now are learning  and preparing for jobs that may not haven’t even been invented yet . Which brings me nicely onto:

The Element – How finding your passion changes everything  Sir Ken Robinson

Again another amazing orator and educationalist just look up some of his TED talks . He reiterates a lot of what Ian was talking about , but also  makes you consider your own motivations .

Throughout my darkest days last year I never once considered quitting teaching – ( perhaps I may have had to leave , or change the place I worked , but teaching runs through my veins )

 

 

 

The lazy teacher’s handbook- Jim Smith

Aah another great book , which again as an easy read , but full of tips and techniques for use in the classroom . I am now in the beginnings of experimenting with techniques such as “teach the cat” and have seen some great results and increased confidence from my children. Its early days and If i manage to keep up blogging I will detail  further.

 

Talk for writing across the curriculum – Pie Corbett and Julia Strong

As a literacy leader I was lucky enough to attend one of Pie’s Talk for writing conferences  and came away enthused and inspired raring to go . But you know how it sometimes is : those notes get misplaced, “oh what was it he said again ?” ” “what type of text was that ?”

Well this title  is inset / lesson planning and inspiration in one handy place  and there is even a DVD included with Pie himself talking ( filmed at the courses he delivered)

What I love about Pie’s work is that it works ! We had so much fun doing our work on dragons  and the structured was that it was taught helped even  my children who struggle come up with their own ideas. I am looking forward to getting stuck into the persuasive writing unit this term 🙂

 

and if you needed further convincing  just watch this

 

 

I could go on and list all of the educational books I have read and sorry if I didn’t mention  all – but these are a great starting point for anyone who is either starting out in teaching , or like me just wants to keep learning .

Here’s to a great 2012 

 

 



 

Well that went well ! first term of year 4

So I find myself back on my blog , having just signed up to attend teachmeet at the Bett show . I have just dusted away the cobwebs and found that I have had very little to say this year so far . Well that’s not true , it’s just that life has taken over  especially school life .

So i find myself nearing the end of this year  having done very little in the way of blogging . I feel a bit disappointed about that as I had such high hopes for myself . But hey! , a new year is on the horizon so rather than make it a resolution to start in the New Year , I will just get on with it now .

 

OK thoughts

Teaching Year 4

If you read my previous entries you will know that I had the most difficult year of my career last year .  I survived and  am now a term in with my year 4 class who are brilliant ! . They are enthusiastic about pretty much everything ( from my random breaking into ukulele songs to on the spot poems ) I feel rejuvenated and much more able to cope . Ofsted came and monitored and that went OK , I was pleased but still not convinced it was my doing ( still needed so much support)

So far we have covered light and sound  ( a very science based topic ) and also taught one of my favourite books ” The Lost Thing” by Shaun Tan . I was so pleased the kids loved it too .

I think I have also relaxed back into maths teaching . I am really keen to work on my lower ability children especially one boy who is only low ability because he is EAL ,I  know that he will fly once  he has the language skills in place . I want that to happen while I am teaching him .

What I have found beneficial is that I  have a better understanding of where the children need to be  by year 6 and i think that has led to me having higher expectations especially with my higher ability children . I find it much easier to move them on quickly  and long may this continue !

I really enjoyed our Vikings topic and  i think the children did too , right from videoing the first discovery of artefacts in the school field to the final exhibition . I tried really hard to let the children’s questions lead the teaching, but I still think there is a lot of room for development here .

Personally I really enjoyed getting my kids to make up their own dances to “Immigrant song” by the mighty led zep !!!

 

 

 

What I find tricky about our connected curicculum is the timings as we are required to do so many other things and my mind wants to join everything up . but i have two half days out of class which means it can be tricky to fit everything I want to in . I am not very good at  prioritising. Another target .

 

 

Anyway our next topic is “Chocolate” the children have to design and make their own chocolate bar . I am going to run it a little like Junior Apprentice I think so that there will be a winning team . We will be enlisting the help of reception children and in ICT lessons we will be creating our own advertisements and posters for our products .They will also have to pitch  their product 

 

I think I will split up these blogs into sections . so  the next one may be more  personal development and then some thoughts about technology . Otherwise I will just “ramble on” ( god bless yah Robert Plant!

 

 

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Steps in teaching & learning

Using technology in the classroom

TechnoStories

Bev's adventures in ICT

Adventures in Learning

in an EBD Classroom

Classroom Tales

Reflections, Resources and general musings from a primary school teacher.

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