The Arrival of The P45


Woke up this morning to the arrival of the dreaded P45! I say dreaded because there are always negative connotations about a P45 landing on your door mat! 

And indeed that’s how I felt- dreadful. Dreadful about leaving a school, pupils and staff, where I had only been for 18 months. But I should not be feeling this way at all. I should be excited and proud about having gained a promotion. 

This holiday I have been conserving my energy for my new role. I haven’t really thought about my new job of Assistant Headship much; I’ve been reflecting on the one I have left, thinking about all the mistakes  I have made ( there have been plenty of those!) and what I have learnt from them, as I remember the saying: in life there are no regrets, only lessons learnt. I have also spent a lot of time thinking about all the things that went well and what I learnt from those opportunities. 

 Even though there are children everywhere who need us, I am filled with a degree of sadness about leaving the pupils and the staff. It’s strange how by the very intensity and nature of our jobs, we are able to form close relationships very quickly. Saying goodbye is never easy. 

It was the place where I had truly discovered myself. I had found out what my values are and what drives me. It is where I learnt about being my authentic self and leading with my values and morals. It was also the place where I learnt the most about interactions and relationships between people. 

Reminding myself about everything I have achieved all the wonderful people I had meet, virtual and otherwise and all the opportunities I have been lucky to have had, fill me with a sense of excitement. 

Receiving my P45 means there’s no turning back as I nervously wonder about what the new academic year will bring. At last I can think about my new class, displays and priorities! 

Finally, now that I have received my P45, I can look forward to further learning,  feeling the excitement of the flutter of butterflies in my stomach about my new role in less than two weeks! 

Has my teaching of writing improved since I started blogging? 

When I volunteered to take part in the #WeeklyBlogChallenge17, I was unaware as to how challenging it would be. Having only ever written short pieces of text for modelling to my class, I was daunted by volunteering for such a task.  I was nervous about the whole thing from writing it to publishing it and wasn’t sure if anyone would want to read it.

Imagine my surprise when after only writing two blogs, I was asked to write a third. I naively thought it would be easy. However, this is where I got stuck. I was given the title ‘My hopes for diversity in the educational profession’.

I could not begin to think where to start. Is this how children feel when we ask them to write? It was such a broad title and I was stuck and stuck fast. I suddenly felt overwhelmed and realised just how much information was contained in my brain. How could I select the information that was required? How could I narrow down the millions of thoughts swimming around my head?

Writing blogs has made me realise how hard it is to find links between out thoughts. When I started thinking about the title, I found my mind clutching and grasping at any word associated with the title. I had to capture each thought and find a link between it. This, I found difficult without making notes; it made my brain physically hurt!

On top that I had to think about what impact I wanted to create on the reader, then how to create the impact. I suddenly remembered that I needed a theme through the piece of writing. How was I going to create that then?

How do we link our thoughts together? How do we make sense of it? It reminds me of how Harry Potter pulls out his thoughts into the pensieve.

I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.
Albus Dumbledore explaining what a Pensieve is[src]

 If only we could extract our thoughts, to enable us to see obvious links and then return them back into our brains.

Unfortunately, this is not possible. However, we still need to enable children to make sense of it all and teach them how to link their thoughts together. But how do we do this? We need to have a deep understanding of pedagogy and metacognition. Do we need to be metacognitively aware of writing in order to become better at teaching how to write?

When we are challenged to think, our brains create new pathways and links. The more these new pathways are used, the more concrete the thought becomes. It all makes sense now- why we set activities the way we do. They all help pupils to make links.

I have heard that children see images a bit like a Picasso painting, in pieces. Through the construction of meaning and scaffolding, and making them see links, we as educators coerce their thoughts to link together, transforming the lateral nature of writing to linear.

So this begs the question: have I become a better teacher of writing since writing my own blogs?

Although, I am better at teaching pupils to link and extend their thought processes for writing, this is not a question that can be fully answered in this blog, without further research.

I would need to compare the outcome of children’s writing before and after I started writing and under the same conditions with the same cohort but alas this is not possible.

One thing is for certain: my own writing has improved. Perhaps because of this reason, my teaching of writing has inadvertently improved.

References:

http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Harry_Potter_and_the_Goblet_of_Fire

My hopes for diversity in the educational profession :

https://musingasofamughal.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/defining-diversity/

Creating a positive atmosphere and remaining calm #wellbeingdgmeet

Creating a positive atmosphere and remaining calm #wellbeingdgmeet

Being a life-long advocate for wellbeing, I always try to emulate a positive mind set. I believe that having a  positive state of mind and body enables adults and children alike to deal with the ever increasing pressures of life.

The pressures on young people are tremendous. These new pressures have not been experienced by our generation before and our young people are left to deal with new issues, as well as national and global issues. As a result there is an urgent need to teach our children a range of strategies and give them a range of tools to enable them to cope effectively.

Our  main aim was to create a positive atmosphere, a sense of belonging and a feeling of doing something worthwhile. We had just come out of requires improvement, so that was when we could really focus on developing  wellbeing further. Here are some ideas we tried to improve wellbeing for staff, parents and pupils.

Staff wellbeing- developing a team

We made wellbeing a priority at school, for staff this year and organised meetings to obtain ideas. A staff ‘shout out board’ with post-it notes thanking staff and yoga lessons, were some ideas. The power of positive praise is not to be underestimated! You can change the way a day pans out for someone just by giving them a compliment or by saying something positive to them. We also identified that we needed to do more collective activities together, so decided to create opportunities through literacy such as : dressing up for World Book Day and for the first time took part in a staff costume parade and a secret Santa!

This year we also started Sing-Offs ( singing competition between classes). Seizing the opportunity to take part in teamwork, we decided to perform a song for pupils. We rehearsed singing and dance moves in the staffroom during lunchtimes ( and yes I am guilty of starting the dodgy dance moves!). Not only were the children surprised at our rendition of ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us Now’ but staff surprised themselves at what could be achieved together. The atmosphere was electric! The memories and relationships that we have developed as a result of these experiences really gelled us together as a team.

Parent wellbeing- developing community spirit

Literacy, wellbeing, emotional resilience and books go quite well together. I wondered if there was a way to combine all these elements and involve the community, creating a sense of belonging and community spirit but the issue was budget and affordability. After a few meetings with the PTA, we decided carry out a Book Swap.

The turnout was fantastic! We had about 70 families attend, swapping approximately 500 books in 45 minutes! The best bit was the look of excitement on the pupils’ faces as they happily left school with ‘new’ books to read!

Working collaboratively with parents created a sense of belonging and teamwork. Shared experiences between parents and children created emotional closeness and trust.

This year also sees the return of another community event: home-school picnic. One afternoon per year parents are invited to this annual summer event and enjoy a picnic with their children and teachers. It’s a really fun way to build links with the community and create a sense of belonging. 

Class wellbeing- creating a calm atmosphere

My class this year used to get enthusiastic about everything and I mean everything! By the afternoon the noise levels used to be horrendous; it used to be like having a playground in the classroom!

I have taught such classes before and they have all calmed down quite quickly but not this class. I tried the usual strategies but nothing worked. I had to try something else with them. They seemed to be anxious all the time, so I set about teaching them to meditate. Meditating during my teenage years really helped reduce anxiety during A- levels. Here is the way I was taught to meditate:


I wasn’t really sure if this would work. The first session I taught, straight after lunch, was awful! Some of the boys got particularly giggly; I stopped the session. I knew that all we needed was time- time to practise and embed.

We tried again the following week. Most of the pupils had realised that this was important and we managed to get through the session. There were, however, two pupils who found it extremely difficult to concentrate. By the third week they all really started enjoying the meditating sessions and noticed themselves that they had become much calmer and concentrated better in the afternoons. The metacognitive understanding and awareness that they developed also improved progression in learning ( currently in process of writing blog about metacognition).  In fact the afternoons became silent times of productive work. My class started to write pages and pages!

After witnessing the calming benefit of meditation and the increased levels of awareness and concentration, it was decided that the whole school would learn to meditate, so a programme called Jigsaw was introduced. This combines meditation with PHSE. It even has a chime for the meditating sessions ( see link below).

Parents have commented on how calm their children have become. Whilst on a trip a member of the public commented on how controlled, well behaved my class were and how engaged they were with their learning. We all feel connected as a group and can meditate anywhere and now that they are used to the routine, we can meditate everyday. We’ve even meditated in the park and on the bus! It did wonders for my wellbeing too!

There is so much more that has been introduced this year such as Lunch Leaders, Play Leaders, empowering pupils to take responsibility for their own wellbeing and being positive role models for the younger children. 

It’ s been a great start for wellbeing this year but there is so much more we could do. There was a lot of interest in whole school group exercise sessions too. Perhaps I’ll start these at my new school in September!

Further reading/resources:

For definitions of wellbeing terminology:

www.gov.uk/government/uploads/

Ain’t No Stopping Us Now song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRNEzzN-gTo

Link to Jigsaw website:

www.jigsawpshe.com/

Headshot photo credit : Pixabay.com. (2017). Free Image on Pixabay – Yoga, Outdoor, Nature, Woman. [online] Available at: https://pixabay.com/en/yoga-outdoor-nature-woman-fitness-2176668/ [Accessed 24 Jun. 2017].

Lessons in Swimming and Assessment

Lessons in Swimming and Assessment

Swimming, absolutely love it! The feeling of gliding freely through the water is second to none.

The soothing myriad of blue shades ranging from intense turquoise hues to almost paler shades of grey caress the worlds’ coasts over and over again.

However, water the basic life force flowing through the world’s oceans, seas, rivers and streams has many sides to its character. It is transparent and opaque at the same time. It can be refreshing and clarify your thoughts or distort the vision before you.

One minute the beauty of it can portray an image of peace and tranquillity and serenity and the next can transform into a raging beast, ready to destroy everything in its path. When it stagnates for long periods of time, it brings disease and death with it.

In fog form, water can creep through crevices as mist, terrifying even the brave and fearless, mysteriously enveloping everything around it.  An atmosphere of both sadness and exhilaration can be created when it rains. It has even been claimed that the invigorating benefits of  water can bring about youth and vitality. Yet this substance is something that we cannot live without. Without water there would no life on earth. 

Our assessment systems are currently in a state of stagnation. Without accurate assessment systems in place, we cannot create a culture of helping each child achieve their potential. 

Without water, we would not exist. So therefore, we must learn to conquer it, in other words learn how to swim. 
We need to learn how to conquer the complexities of accurate assessment in order to support our pupils ride the waves of success. 

This got me thinking about how to assess accurately beyond levels. We need to have a set of agreed questions within the teaching profession which would distinguish between secure and mastery at each year group for each subject. With war being declared on primary writing moderation, the need has become even more urgent.  It still sounds like levels but it is the only way forward. How can we teach and ensure progression without it? Just as humans needing water for survival, so do pupils need to be accurately assessed. 

One idea is to use Bloom’s Taxonomy to create the questions. 

I wrote a history assessment without levels a few years ago for primary. 

Could we base all assessments on similar criteria? What is clear is that collaboration will be key in ensuring the successful implementation of assessment without levels. 

For the last two weeks I have been taking my Year 5s swimming every day. We decided that it was better to have an intensive swimming course for one hour per day, over two weeks rather than spread it out over 10 weeks. When children attend swimming lessons once per week over a period of time, progress can be quite slow.

Having never taken children swimming before ( apart from my own), it was indeed a revelation. I had completely forgotten how shy and embarrassed they are at this age and how they can even laugh at their own embarrassment.

My class are an extremely enthusiastic bunch and their excitement about swimming penetrated my soul. Meet some members of my class:

Pupil 1- he is ultra confident, has been accustomed to the high life, wants the very best in life, always wants to be the best at everything but avoids hard work

Pupil 2- came to the UK last year and has too much confidence, tries to make up for the fact that his mother has left his father behind in another country

Pupil 3- has global delay, doesn’t retain information, tries hard

Pupil 4-comes from an extremely large family, had constantly  been told that he was not good enough, wants opportunities in life but sometimes can’t access due to lack of parental support

Pupils 5 and 6-  EAL and new to the country and school, nurtured by parents

Pupil 7- EAL, never been to school before coming to England which was a couple of months ago

Pupil 8- shy, not very confident

The  first day was assessment day so they did not really spend much time swimming. It was more about getting into routine and understanding rules and regulations. Their groups had been decided based on how confident they had been in the water.

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To the untrained eye the children were just splashing around apart from three who could really swim.

To the trained eye, there were three groups of children: the swimmers, the quick learners and the slower learners: learners they all were but to varying degrees.

The following day they were all separated into three groups and began on this special learning journey. The three excellent swimmers were challenged to swim the whole length and other various challenges were added in. They also had to work on their stamina. 

It wasn’t a surprise that Pupil 1 was not in this group. During class it quickly became obvious that this pupil did not enjoy challenging himself. He was afraid of hard work and very reluctant to try new things. I wondered how and why a quite intelligent boy would end up like this. 

Maybe he has been praised for intelligence but not effort. It is obvious that he has been spoilt. Most of us do spoil our own children but have to be mindful to teach them valuable lessons to ensure a successful life.

The second group were taught activities to accelerate floating and moving in the water.

The third group, who were extremely afraid if the water, needed their confidence to be built up.

The second group surprised me the most. On the second day, they started swimming. This was no ordinary swimming, they were streamlined and swam elegantly through the water, like they belonged in it. They looked as though they had conquered the water.

The third day the second group were taught how to breath under water. By the fourth day they were swimming several metre lengths  ranging from 2m to 12m. Pupils 2, 4, 5 and 6 were in this group.

Accurate assessment is as important as the sir we breath. I still don’t know how the swimming instructors assessed the children so accurately to know which children would be focused and well motivated enough to learn. I was surprised by their choice of putting Pupils 2 and 4, who normally find it difficult to focus on class, into the second swimming group. 

They were completely focused and determined to learn how to swim. Their motivation became infectious as their whole group remained focus and resistant to distractions, listened intently to instructions and followed them correctly. 

However, when I am out of class these two boys suddenly switch into completely different children and display the emotional turmoil that their background is really having on them. This, I find the saddest part of my job.

This got me thinking more deeply about assessment and accountability. In the classroom we use formative assessment to help pupils make immediate progress through teacher questioning. 

The time has come for teachers to collaborate and agree on probing questions for both formative and summative assessment. This will require and deep understanding of subject knowledge and pedagogy. 

Back to swimming for a minute. The third group found it extremely difficult to concentrate and were easily distracted. They had been assessed accurately and they were given extra support to succeed. The group were further divided in the second week into those who were not going to learn to float and those who would.

A sadness filled my heart when I saw that Pupil 1 was in group 4. Pupil 7 who had never been to school was in group 3 and was doing quite well at floating and managed to swim a couple of metres. Pupil 1 became ‘sick’ on the second day and refused to swim. I was devastated. 

Although, he is slowly beginning to challenge himself in the classroom, and reluctantly trying new activities, I wondered how long he would keep this up. I got the feeling that he led a somewhat sheltered life and I really felt for him. 

Thankfully and to my relief the next day he was back in the water and making some effort. I have been speaking to his parents all year about allowing him to try new activities and challenges but they are rather overprotective of him and my advice seems to fall on deaf ears.

Pupil 3 loved swimming from the minute his toes touched the water. I have never seen anyone throw themselves into the water like he did. It was a lovely surprise that he did so. 

I could see and feel the pride swelling up inside of him and I felt a flutter of butterflies in my stomach.  The difference between Pupils 1 and 3 were that Pupil 1 had already given up before he had started and did not enjoy challenges but Pupil 3 was determined and worked really hard.

I could already see the resilience in Pupil 3 in the classroom but was unaware about how this would translate into other areas of learning. Clearly it does. This was Growth Mindset in motion and what a beautiful thing it was to see. 

Pupil 8 also surprised me. I had watched her try to swim for about 7 days with little success, so I decided to have a pep talk with the group who were struggling to swim. I explained that they had to work hard in order to learn how to swim. They had to use muscles that had been unused before but in addition to this they had to become fearless of the water. They had been taught how to blow bubbles in the water and need not worry about drowning. If they overcame this fear, then with hard work they would be able to swim. Above all they had to believe in themselves in order to succeed ( had shared stories about self belief all year). 

Out of the whole group, I suddenly saw Pupil 8 pushing herself in the water and I witnessed the determination in her face for the first time. The self belief shone through like a ray of sunshine, culminating in muscles being forced to awaken and move against the resistance of the water. 

 I have referred to self belief as a ‘golden thread flowing through our arteries’ in a previous blog and could visualise this. I felt extremely proud that we had achieved one more swimmer between us. After getting dressed Pupil 8 came out of the changing room, walked over to me and said ‘Thank you for making me believe in myself. Now I can swim.’ I could have cried. 

Out of 24 children, 3 children could swim already and 4 never reached water confidence during the two weeks we had swimming lessons. Seventeen children learnt to swim in two weeks. Now that is progress!

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Strengths Based Leadership Development @lifelflowbalance #WomenEd

When I attended the #WomenEd lead meet event in Coventry on 11th March 2017, I knew that I would learn a lot but coming across Charmaine Roche’s brilliant Strengths Based Approach to Leadership Development was indeed a revelation.

This 4M model of leadership helps you to see where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It enables you to visualise and set a course for what you need to do in order to improve performance, growth and development.

There are 4 areas: realised strengths, unrealised strengths, weaknesses and learned behaviours. Being new to leadership I was aware about strengths and weaknesses but it was the first time I had encountered the idea of unrealised strengths and learned behaviours and I quite liked the idea of these.

Realised strengths are things you need to marshal and find energising, perform well and use often. These qualities should be used for outstanding performances. Scale these up and down depending on the situation.

Unrealised strengths need to be maximised and are the ones required to reach your goals and for career development and advancement. These are not often used but will energise you and you can perform these well.

Learned behaviours need to be moderated and do not energise you but they are what you have learnt to do well. These must be used with caution in order to prevent burnout and be used less. Work from your strengths more.

Finally we are onto weaknesses. These drain you and are the hardest of all to do well. Try to eliminate them by making them irrelevant. Work on them, avoid or delegate.

Charmaine Roche listed 53 strengths, asked us to think about them and choose 3 of each. I felt quite rushed at the workshop so I decided to re-do the exercise when I returned home.

Here they are: adherence, detail, persuasion, connector, humility, resolver,           optimism, emotional awareness, creativity, resilience, relationship deepener,         judgement, rapport builder, adaptability, courage, planful, centred, empahatic      connection, curiosity, equality, catalyst, change agent, spotlight, authenticity,        personalisation, moral compass, esteem builder, persistence, compassion, listener, incubator, mission, scribe, strategic awareness, growth, service, pride, improver, adventure, explainer, self-awareness, unconditionality, personal  responsibility, feedback, legacy, time optimiser, prevention, drive, competitive,  work ethic, enabler, humour, gratitude.

Some of my unrealised strengths and weaknesses have now moved into the strengths category, as I become braver and bolder and grow in  this area day by day. How has this happened so quickly? 

Thinking about strengths in a more positive light has enabled me to understand myself further in my leadership journey. 

Consciously working and developing my weaknesses has enabled me to improve my skills. Self awareness is key when leading others and this model has helped me to achieve just that. Being able to articulate it and discuss it with others has helped me to find like minded people and a whole new tribe!

Try it. You might surprise yourself!

Anoara Mughal 03.04.17

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Dance #WomenEd #iwd7 #beboldforchange

Just Dance #WomenEd #iwd7 #beboldforchange

Feeling energised, empowered and excited about the future of @WomenED in Coventry, I return to London tonight.

We were given a warm welcome from John Watson, the head teacher of Bablake school as he described it as being richly diverse. Little did I realise that it was going to be the place where I would disclose something that I had never verbalised before to anyone other than to my sister.  The day came to a smooth conclusion by the inspirational Dr Jill Berry, with her experiences through the leadership journey.

Now that I am back in London, I can finally sit down and reflect on yet another wonderful weekend of learning and self-reflection and self-awareness.

It was quite by accident that I booked tickets for this event. Firstly, at the time of booking, I did not realise that it was a lead meet event. Secondly, I did not realise that I had accidentally ticked all the boxes for being a delegate, delivering lead meet, keynote and  facilitator sessions. It was not until I received an e-mail from  @misswilsey‍, that I realised what I had done- I had ticked all the boxes, as usual! Need I say more?

I had accidentally become #beboldforchange. In fact the whole day became a bit of an accident. I had taken my sister along for moral support and the night before, we had decided upon the workshops that would be beneficial to us. We only ended up attending one workshop of our choice which left us energised and left us dancing.

The first workshop was delivered by the wonderful @kayfuller‍ who discussed        the differences between the way men and women lead. The first time I had met Kay  was at the beginning of the day and I immediately took a liking to her. I was also honoured that Jill Berry sat on our table and was really looking forward to speaking to her. When Jill asked me if I wanted to become a head teacher, I blurted out that it was all I had thought about. I surprised myself by this comment. I had only ever mentioned it to my sister. Was it really I had thought about? Could I actually do it?

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I started my leadership journey a little bit like a man. I too, just like Claire Cuthbert (head teacher at 36- a great inspiration) thought that I had to be a man in order to lead, although she was in a completely different position to me and had it much tougher, in a male dominated world. I also thought I had to show that I was tough all the time. As  my experience has grown, I have realised that I can show vulnerability and still  lead. I can lead the way I want to, as long as I hold onto my core values and  morals. I can lead like a woman and still maintain respect and dignity, perhaps even show that I am having fun. I do not need to put on a mask.

As the second workshop was full, we attended the fabulous @charmaine‍ ‘s session. After, attending this, I was beginning to think that it was no accident. This workshop was about having a strengths based approach to leadership and it was extremely inspirational. Making me aware of  what my realised, unrealised strengths were and what my learned behaviours and weaknesses were, I began to feel rather enlightened and almost weightless.

Feeling like I was on a bit of a spiritual journey, yet again the workshop we wanted to attend was full, so we went the amazing @amyjeetley ‘s workshop on Meditation-what the research says and how we can use it. An inspirational discussion on changing states of consciousness, left me even more energised and awake. All day our brains are in beta wave status. In this state we are processing, reasoning, thinking and concentrating. If we remain in this state of consciousness for excessive periods of time, it can produce, tension, stress, agitation and restlessness.

We need a break from this and for the reasons above, we have to alter our state of mind.  I was fascinated by the brain’s waves, alpha theta, delta, gamma and beta waves. Alpha status could be achieved when meditation was carried out for 10-20 minutes per day. A higher learning awareness with inspiration and creativity was achieved when the brain was at operating a theta level. Altering your brain waves meant that it would be operating at its optimal level. This was monk-like status which many people did not reach. It was achievable, however, after years of meditation.

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Amy taught the group how to meditate and shared practical tips and advice. By now we were soaring and feeling really light on our feet, as all our negative energies left our bodies. This session brought back memories of being taught to meditate and focus on breathing when I was doing my a-levels, a very long time ago!

It also made me realise the high importance it deserved and the place it should take in today’s society. I began to wonder if it had been an accident attending this session or not. I knew that I needed to meditate. Amy you need to record your voice on a CD because it is the perfect voice to carry out meditation to.

Then it was time, time for me to get ready for my speech. I was glad that I was last, so that I could watch everyone else and learn. Feeling nervous and excited about the whole thing, I proceeded. My speech was about self belief and finding your own opportunities by becoming braver and finding your own opportunities.

Having replayed the video of my speech about a hundred times, I realised that not only did I look like a flapping bird but I looked like I was rehearsing for an episode of Just Dance! I was, as they say ‘all over the shop!’

The synchronicity of the day left me thinking that if we all danced to the same rhythm, we could perform at optimum strength. Not only was it a wonderful opportunity to meet Twitter colleagues but also to meet new inspirational people. Networking in this way is indeed very powerful.

I would like to say a huge thank to @TheHopefulHT and @Daringoptimist for taking the time and effort to organise such an empowering event and for booking inspirational speakers. Thank you to @Mattgovernor too for your involvement. It was a pleasure to meet you.

Thank you for giving me an opportunity to present and learn from it. Thank you for allowing me to accidentally open a door. Thank you to all the brilliant presenters at all the workshops. Thank you also to all the people who tweeted and retweeted. I was unaware if the kind helpful people out in the world. The whole event was full of kind and encouraging people offering their help and support, especially the lovely Claire Cuthbert. Everyone gave up their time on a Saturday and some dedicated hours of preparation time. Hopefully, one day I can too offer support to those who need it.

Having, a building full of inspirational people left me buzzing. I feel as though I have been on a spiritual journey this weekend, continuing to formulate my own visions and values. Thank you #Women Ed and long may you continue dancing!

Since starting my journey into the world of leadership, so many other doors have opened for me. I don’t know what the future holds but one thing I am certain of, I will continue to knock on doors, whether by chance or not. Who knows which ones will open…

Anoara Mughal 12.03.17

Open a door #BeBoldForChange

Open a door #BeBoldForChange

‘If we magnified our success as much as our disappointments, we’d all be much happier,’ a brilliant quote from Abraham Lincoln and quoted by @HealthyToolkitHQ.

Here is the excellent blog: https://healthyteachertoolkit.wordpress.com/2017/02/26/magnifymarchht/

This quote really inspired me, in fact the whole blog is full of inspiration and great advice. The blog goes onto to say that as teachers, we are negative about ourselves. I think as a women, we can be even more negative about ourselves. We have to have the perfect husband, the perfect family, the perfect home, the perfect career, the perfect car and some would extend that to the perfect life. The judgement of others can sometimes have a very negative impact on us.

As teachers, we have extremely high expectations not only of our pupils but of ourselves. The slightest criticism sends us into a frenzy of worry which can spiral into self destruction. We must avoid this at all costs.

@Healthy Toolkit HQ goes onto say : Magnify your core rather than your ego because your core spirit and values, as well as our physical core, upholds you as an individual.

Who you are rather than what you have done is the more important. 

As well as magnifying our core values and morals, we must magnify our self belief. Our self belief is like a golden thread flowing through our arteries. Our self belief is what helps us to succeed.

Sometimes all you can hear are the negative judgements but you need to listen to your inner self. You need to stop and listen to yourself. Having confidence in our own abilities is crucial for success.

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What is self belief?

Self belief is a feeling much larger than confidence. Self belief is an innate feeling that overrides the feeling of failure. Self belief is something that negates the feeling that others are better than yourself. Self belief overtakes the feeling that success is for others and not for you. Self belief helps you to realise that you can really do it. 

When your self belief is so strong, it will enable you to open a door, a door to success, a door to what you are seeking. 

How is self belief developed? 

We rely so much on opinions of other people to shape us into who we are. We judge ourselves based on others. Practise and praise is needed. Practise your craft and praise each other. We need to unite and praise each other in order to help build self belief and we need to remain positive and hopeful in our plight. 

Currently I am feeling hopeful about:

  • The positive impact of networking
  • The power of being part of a collective voice and changing mind sets and attitudes

We we need to work together and encourage each other.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • Motivational blogs and how I can inspire others to realise their dreams and potential

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Having a supportive network of family and friends and educators from around the world

When we believe in ourselves, only then can we become who we want to be.

If opportunity does not knock, open a door. You are the architect of your reality (quoted by @HealthyToolkitHQ). So be 10% braver. What have you got to lose? 

Remember that what you are seeking, is seeking you ( Rumi- Persian Poet).

 

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The Power of Books

The Power of Books

Imagine being told that a multi-award winning author was visiting your school… In order to launch Book Week next week and as we study Varjak Paw, I had organised for SF Said to visit.

The excitement of SF Said’s forthcoming visit was too much for some of our pupils to contain. They had been whispering in the playground and in corridors for weeks! SF Said’s celebrity status spread through the school, like wildfire. I was slightly nervous about containing the excitement but need not have worried.

On the morning of his arrival, pupils were squealing with delight and literally jumping up and down. Their enthusiasm became infectious and this developed into a huge buzz of hysteria.

A few days earlier I’d asked my class if they were going to buy some books and I noticed that one boy did not raise his hand. I asked him why, to which he replied that they did not have enough money. I had to do something about this, so I explained why it was important to read and thought that I may well have to intervene. 

We entered that hall still squealing as the classes began settling down. As SF Said started talking, a calmness descended and the pupils were hanging on his every word.

The entire visit was inspirational but my favourite part was when he explained how he got his first book published. It took him five years to write his first book, Varjak Paw and he had to edit it eleven times.

Realising the importance of editing, the pupils continued to sit in silence, with the occasional gasp of awe and wonder. Then came the best bit, SF had to go to ninety publishers with his book and each one refused to publish his book! Ninety publishers!!!! I could see the shock spread over their faces, including the staff’s faces.

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The ninety first publisher eventually published Varjak Paw. SF explained the importance of never giving up. Look where he was now, with a fourth book on the way.  Not only were the pupils inspired but so were the staff, myself included. As adults, we also need to be inspired.

When the round of questions began, one of the pupils asked what SF stood for. SF explained that it was a long Arabic name. You can predict the next question, with 98% of our pupils being Muslim, they asked if SF was Muslim, to which he replied, yes.Well that was it, they had found something in common with an author and his celebrity status increased even further in their eyes.

After having a questioning round, the pupils could not stop clapping. They clapped three times for him. I had never seen them do that before, for any visitor. But this was not any visitor, this was an author.

As we left the hall, they crowded around him and we had to prise them away, with great difficulty.

My son with SF Said

I was not only surprised by the number of pupils and staff, who bought a book that day, but also by their enthusiasm. It was like we had a pop star in the building!
The next day pupils and staff could not stop talking about the visit.

One of the teachers had bought a signed copy for her son (he is only in year 2!). He was so inspired that he read Varjak Paw in one evening!

Thank you SF for your inspirational visit. Thank you to all AUTHORS out there. Not only do you change lives but you give us the hope and courage to continue with what we believe in.
Returning to the boy who said he could not afford to buy a book. Guess what? He did. He flew out of the hall, waving the book in the air and  shouting ‘Mrs Mughal, I have bought a book!’

I could have cried. 

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by Anoara Mughal 25th February 2017

A meeting of minds. #Autism #BrainDetectives @CRAE_IOE

A meeting of minds. #Autism #BrainDetectives @CRAE_IOE

The day  is Tuesday 14th February 2017, Valentines Day.

So it was very fitting to attend a workshop called Brain Detectives, love is in the brain.

When we fall in love certain chemicals are released. Adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin each have a role to play and this is what the workshop was about.

It started extremely early for me today, for a half term holiday, at 6am to be precise.

With adrenaline racing through my pulse and with me running through the streets of Euston at 8.30am, I wondered if I would ever make it on time. You see I hate being late and I mean I HATE BEING LATE, for anything!

I would rather be somewhere hours early rather than be one minute late. I know some of you would agree with me there.

Getting to the Institute of Education for 8.45am during the half term was no mean feat, especially with an eight year old in tow. What had I signed myself up for? Why did I always do it to myself? Why did I always sign up for things which I never knew much about? Little did I realise the poignancy of the day ahead and how little I understood and just how much I would learn today.

Anyway I was till running through the streets of Euston, when I found myself lost again! Every time I go to the Institute, I end up lost, even though I have been there a few times.

So I popped into a local shop to ask the way. As soon as I left, I realised that shopkeepers often only go straight to their place of work and won’t necessarily know about directions or routes. I couldn’t even get the Institute on Google Maps! How could I forget? I’d been there less than six months ago! Feeling cross with myself was not going to help.

Suddenly, I saw a vision of loveliness- now normally I would be muttering under my breath,  as they block my path to school but today was different. I knew they would help me find my way. I approached a bin man and asked the way. He pointed to the moving truck and stated that I should ask the driver. Love is indeed in the brain and it was this overwhelming love of educational research that flooded my senses. One way or another I was going to get to the Institute, in order to advance our knowledge into pedagogy further.

My nose followed the stench, as the truck turned the corner. As I approached the driver, who jumped out of the truck, a lady approached me from the opposite direction. The driver was pointing me in the direction of a long and winding road- the only route he knew I guess. All the lady said was ‘Go straight through the hotel and you will land at the door of the Institute.’

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Within 2 minutes, we were there. As I breathed a sigh of relief, my son was whisked away from me for the workshop called Brain Detectives. Reading time, I thought. At last I could finish Cogheart. I’ve been trying to finish it all week and I had four hours to read it. I’d finish it in no time, or so I thought.

I had a number of forms to fill in and after that I moved onto the comfy sofa, to continue reading my book. I had just reached page 26, where it said ‘She saw something far worse: a dismembered arm, sticking out from beneath the pile of coal,’ when a man, whose son was also attending the workshop, momentarily, sat next to me. Even then I did realise how this sentence would link to what I was just about to find out.

As I looked up from reading this sentence, he had disappeared. So I continued reading, thoroughly engrossed in the book. I heard all sorts of conversations going on. An elderly woman, lovingly showed a much younger woman photographs of her grandson and his girlfriend. She went onto to show more photographs- this time of the birthday party of her 98 year old mother. Again I did not realise the significance of this either, until about half an hour later.

So half an hour later, the same man returned and we started talking about our children, who were taking part in the workshop. I did not realise that I was conversing with the father of a child genius!

With his eyes welling up with pride, he explained that his son Joshua Beckford ( and he has given me permission to write about him!) had been diagnosed with autism when he was 7 years old. Joshua is a high functioning autistic and has been giving speeches  to raise awareness in this topic for years. I was in complete awe of this young child. He is eleven years old and is regularly invited to speak around the world on his passion, which is human anatomy- remember the sentence that I read about the dismembered arm? 

So what is autism? The definition is as follows: a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterisd by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts- a very broad definition. It includes an inability to look people in the eye and form close relationships. Does this mean that one of the chemicals mentioned earlier are missing or there is less of the chemical released in autistic children ? This can be worrying to parents of autistic children. Being Valentines Day it was also poignant. 

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Knox Daniels, Joshua’s father explained some of his symptoms such as: a dislike of noise and light; wanting certain routines in place; becoming anxious if they are changed; being affected by certain smells; having an aversion to perfumes; eating only certain types of food and talking incessantly about death. Other symptoms are having a photographic memory and being able to draw images from memory.

At the tender age of six, Joshua had completed studying Philosophy and History at Oxford University and achieved a distinction. The positives to this were that Joshua was able to travel the world, sharing his knowledge about the human anatomy and in turn promoting autism awareness. This incredible young man has achieved so much and I am humbled by him.

On the other hand, some countries would feature Joshua’s speeches but change the photograph of him, into a different person- often that of a white child. 

This made me equally sad, that in today’s society, some people could not celebrate intelligence for what it was. It appeared that colour had to be associated with intelligence also. I was absolutely horrified by this attitude. Knox took it well and laughed it off.

He also explained that because of some teachers’ perceptions of his son, he had remained undiagnosed for a number of years. He had suffered because of misunderstanding. Although, Joshua had studied at Oxford University at the age of six, he was given Little Red Riding Hood to read, age appropriate for Year 2. Teachers lacked knowledge in order to challenge such a bright mind.

This made me sad.

It made me think about how I cater for autistic children in my own class. Do I really understand their needs? Do I differentiate enough for them? Do I ensure that I provide the right level of challenge for them? How about the support provided for the parents of autistic children? Why does there seem to be s negative conotstion associated with intelligence? All I know is that I try.

He also told me that he had read over 32 books on autism and countless research papers in order to help his son. This is what I call love. I was not aware that there were weighted jackets out there to enable calmness or that there are special messages which can be performed to have a calming effect. Some equipment for autistic children cost over £40,000.

Some of this I was aware of but some I admit I was less aware of. I felt slightly embarrassed that I did not know it all. Is it not my job to know? Was my son autistic too?

When both boys returned from their workshop, I so wanted to meet Joshua. He seemed to be just like all the boys I have taught. He was happy, seemed confident, laughed and played Pokémon Go, just like other boys. The difference was his autism. Had his father not disclosed this, I would never have known. Would I have put some of his mannerisms down as ‘bad behaviour?’ How many autistic children go undiagnosed and are misdiagnosed with behavioural difficulties?

Knox was worried about his son’s future and how he would deal with social situations and hold a job down. What was evident was that Knox loved his son very much and is prepared to travel on a learning journey with him, all over the world.

With a loving father, like Knox Daniels, I am sure Joshua will be the surgeon he dreams of being, when he grows up. I hope this is not the last I will see of him.

Thank you for the work of @CRAE_IOE and other institutions who are conducting research into autism in order to advance our knowledge. Thank you for teaching that love is in the brain #Oxyticin and #ValentinesDay.  Thank you to parents like Knox Daniels, who will spend hours of his own time taking his son to these research sessions in order to further our understanding of it. 

As I was racing around this morning, chasing after dust bin trucks, little did I realise what a formidable young man I would meet today. It made me think about all the undiagnosed autistic children who are now adults and how they are coping with life. Please promote the awareness of autism.  It is important. 

https://youramazingbrain.org  

http://www.thetottenhamindependent.co.uk/news/10430758.display/

 

 

Anoara Mughal 14.02.2017 

Picture this!

Picture this!

A continuation from the last blog called ‘Dream in Colour,’ this demonstrates how much the pupils loved this topic. Total immersion and the development of critical thinking has produced some fantastic learning.

 The children produced dazzling dioramas for homework , perfect paintings and wonderful writing. 

Dazzling Dioramas

Perfect Paintings
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Examples of wonderful writing from two pupils:

Pupil 1

Narrative

A Ride of Passage

Toki stumbled into the Amazon Rainforest. Before his crystal emerald eyes he saw a myriad of colours that filled his senses. Toki saw luscious leaves surrounding him. He could smell the fragrance of the flowers. The dampness of the forest floor was covered with a huge leap of leopards. A cacophony of sounds bounced off into Toki’s ears.

Creeping cautiously, Toki was shocked, stunned and scared of the colossal chameleon behind him. His eyes widened further as he turned around. After that they went on an adventure together. Zooming quickly, he found a huge number of animals which he could use to take back to his tribe. If he returned with the largest animal head, he would be the chief of his tribe.

The musty, muggy scent of raging animals filled even more of Toki’s senses. Cocktail blue droplets of moisture touched his tongue with a refreshing taste. A chorus of birds followed Toki and the euphoric, cheerful chameleon on their adventurous journey. Out of nowhere, the chameleon jumped and bounced off the rainforest floor. Riding rapidly, the colossal chameleon suddenly got itself trapped. Without warning two mysterious men arrived filling their eyes happily at the thought of capturing a huge bag of animals. What should Toki do? He had two choices. He could free the chameleon or return to his tribe with the largest animal head and become the chief of the tribe.

Pupil 2

Non- Chronological Report

The Astonishing Amazon

There are many secret gardens situated all over the world. However, the Amazon rainforest is the most extraordinary of them all. Ever wondered what is contained in mother nature’s secret garden? The amazing Amazon is home to half of the world’s animal and plant species. Its diversity and complexity means that most of it has remained undiscovered. It has the world’s richest concentrations ever to be discovered. The Amazon is located in South America and half of it is in Brazil.

Species

The Amazon is full of extra-ordinary species of animals and plants. It is home to two and a half million different insect species and around forty thousand plant species. Twenty percent of the world’s bird species live in the Amazon. However, the existence of these extra-ordinary species are being threatened by humans. The main danger is deforestation.

The Amazon Rainforest topic produced some amazing art work and even better writing than I ever imagined- a  topic thoroughly enjoyed by teachers and pupils alike. How will our show, called The King of the Jungle, based on The Lion King, will turn out? Well that will be another blog I guess. 

Anoara Mughal 11.02.2017