Friday 5: Teacher Fashion Picks

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As a teenager, I spent many years working in a shop. Once I graduated, I spent some time in a bank. Both of these positions required me to wear uniforms. Starchy, ill-fitting and generally uncomfortable, I longed for the day I would be in a position to pick my own clothes to wear to work. Little things, I know.

I love fashion, and I enjoy browsing the internet for trends about to hit the high street. I am also sort of known for being pretty bold and quirky in the way I dress. I have been known to crack out the occasional bow tie, and am regularly seen sporting some wide legged culottes. Teaching is a wonderful profession in this regard as it allows you a certain freedom of expression, and I like to grab that bull by both horns.

However, dressing as a teacher can also be a daunting prospect. Especially for younger, female teachers, you are greeted by 150 critical eyes every day, and one wrong move can spell corridor gossip suicide. It can really say a lot about you as a person and a professional, so it is an aspect of the job which requires some consideration. I am an advocate for dressing more formally. My school requires it, and I feel more professional when I do. As well as that, I am in my mid twenties and can slip into sixth form territory if I start to dress down, which is not good for someone trying to assert authority over students only a few years younger. Dressing professionally, however, does not mean same old white shirt and black trousers every day. I refuse to slip back into having a work uniform.

So, without further ado, here are my top 5 picks to have in your wardrobe as a teacher. Hopefully this will inspire you or give you some staple items to start with. I also have a teaching fashion instagram account over at @pixiepoppinslookbook so you can see how I style things every day and hopefully get some ideas there too!

1. Cigarette trousers

I love a good cigarette trouser. I have a bunch in different colours and with different patterns. They are formal enough to look like suit trousers but are as comfy as jogging bottoms. I pair mine with a plain t shirt and either a cardigan or a blazer and I’m good to go.

2.Brogues

I have stupid feet, so brogues are the best shoes for me in terms of staying on. As well as that, they are effortlessly on trend and heeled version as super comfortable to walk around in all day. I have a black and a brown pair and I rarely wear anything else. Winner.

3. Florals

As the. And of my blog suggests, I have a pixie cut. I like to dress in slightly more girly pieces to take the edge off it, especially when it’s freshly cut. I also like something with a pattern so drywipe marker stains and humous drips are not so obvious. Florals are a great option because they are not so bold as to be unwearable more than once in a week, but offer something extra feminine and colourful to an outfit.

4. Blazers and Cardigans

Blazers add a touch of structure and formality to any outfit. I have a load of different colours and styles, but my favourites are ones with some jersey stretch that allow me to reach up to the top of my whiteboard without bursting a seam. I like to shop in the sales for mine and I often go for bold block colours rather than black and grey. Of course, I do have black and grey, they just never really seem to make it out of the wardrobe. A cardigan, conversely, can dress down an outfit slightly, making it a little less starchy and over formal. I often wear cardigans with office and pencil dresses I have, to soften the silhouette.

5.  Dresses

A dress and a trusty pair of black opaque tights has never done me wrong. I prefer a more fitted pencil dress but I do own a couple of flared skirt dresses too. As mentioned above, I pair these with a cardigan and change it up for a jacket if I am attending a parents evening or an open evening. A couple of things to bear I mind though – midi length is always best and, though I love to shop from Boohoo.com, I always pick thicker pointe or scuba material rather than the thinner jersey material. I don’t want a VPL to be attached to my reputation for evermore, and it’s that bit more formal and appropriate.

Honourable Mention: Scarves

Scarves are my go to accessory and I have just enough to be a little ashamed. In the colder months they can provide a much needed barrier against chills and student sniffles. In the spring and summer, they can provide a feminine floaty extra to an otherwise business like attire. You can also get away with , in desperate times, wearing a dress or a top two days in a row by throwing a scarf on top and thereby changing the whole look. Hooray for scarves!

And so this concludes my fashion essentials. As mentioned above, I am self indulgent enough to have a teacher fashion instagram, so if you want to see any outfits in action head to @pixiepoppinslookbook. I always look out for bargains, so most of my clothes are from Tesco, Asda, Boohoo, Matalan or Primark. I occasionally splash out on a more expensive item but I think as long as you feel good in the clothes you wear, you will always look like you are dressed well.

‘What is you staple item for the classroom? What are your teacher fashion essentials? Let me know, and thanks for stopping by!

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Friday 5: Alternative Feedback Methods

Being an English Teacher is tough for many reasons, but among the teaching community the primary source of contention is the marking. The never ending ever growing truly relentless marking.

Exam season seems to bring out the sadism of the job. Just how much red penning can you handle before you crack? It isn’t just English, but from my personal experience the constant correcting of repetitive mistakes and hours writing developed feedback can take its toll: especially when students get books or papers back and all they look at is the number, or the letter, or nothing at all. Certainly not your carefully crafted comments.

As I teach a lot of KS3 and my priority has to be shifted to examination classes this term, I have spent some time collating methods which reduce the teacher workload when it comes to marking books, exams or other forms of student work. These are not new or groundbreaking but they are things I didn’t think of until someone mentioned them or I discovered them online. I am still hunting for more ideas, so if you use something which works well please let me know through Twitter or by commenting below!

 

1. Whole Class Feedback Sheets

This gem of an idea came from @RSillmanEnglish, a fab colleague and fiend of mine. She saw it on Twitter and decided to try it with her GCSE exam class. I looked into it and became hooked. It gives you the opportunity to provide detailed feedback, praise and address concerns without writing the same thing fifteen times. I designed my own class feedback sheets with STAR (Solo Time for Achievement through Reflection. DIRT for most people) tasks so the next lesson I had with the students was already planned and differentiated accordingly. I love them so much, I even developed a student feedback and reflection sheet for my exam classes. You can download any of this stuff for free on TES

2. Stamping Approach

This has worked pretty well for my younger classes, but requires a bit of set up. My students have written the writing success criteria for any piece of work in their books, using their two hands as a key for the two main aspects of writing: content and accuracy. I have a stamp with two hands on it. All I need to do now is to skim read their drafts and RAG each of the fingers of the hand. Students can then look back at the hands and work out what they need to work on. Quick but detailed, and students love having little hands stamped on their work (for some weird reason).

3. Highlighting

This is a tried and tested method which works well with lower attaining classes as it focuses them a little more. It was first brought to my attention by my Head of Faculty and I have been using it ever since. We use an orange highlighter (colours are, of course, interchangeable) to run through work and highlight any errors. This can be done when books are collected or, more conveniently, can be done whilst students are drafting. Students then need to address each highlighted word/mark/area and tick when they have done so. This can then be verified by the teacher. As well as this, we use a green highlighter to identify some great moments in the work. A confidence boosting DIRT/STAR task can then be to get the student to justify why we have highlighted the particular line.

4. Student Selector

This is not a feedback method as such, but feeds into one nicely. It’s as simple as it sounds: select three to five students at random at the end of each lesson. I do it on a fortnightly cycle so I end up marking everyone’s book in a fortnight. I then highlight or do a simple book check checklist to see if they are on track. The fact it is random means it keeps everyone on their toes, but it also means you are not taking in 30 books to mark in an evening. Instead you have a maximum of 25 and, if you keep up the routine, a maximum of two weeks’ work to check through. On busy weeks, I simply stick a red, yellow or green dot on the front of the book to indicate how the student is getting on. I then have a DIRT/STAR card which corresponds to the colours, getting the student to reflect on work and presentation and improve them. This is often set as a homework or starter task.

5. Kaizena

This is another fabulous discovery from the wonderful @RSillmanEnglish and is a really exciting way to give feedback. It is a web and downloadable app and allows you to leave comments on student work, which is uploaded from a digital document or a photograph. But here’s the really exciting bit. It allows you to leave voice annotations and links to video tutorials. This means you can explain corrections, rather than having that frantic feedback lesson. You know, where you feel pulled in all directions by students who cannot be bothered to read you comments, or who don’t understand your illegible scrawl. Considering we make video tutorials for students already, it also makes sense to be able to link them to work where the content is needed and will directly help the student to improve. Best of all, it syncs with Google Classroom. Winner!

 

These are the methods I am trialling and experimenting with so far. I hope to update this post with pictures once I am back in school and can get hold of some good examples. I hope this is useful and you can take something away from it – what do you do to alleviate marking workload? What methods work best for yoU? Let me know, and, as always, thanks for stopping by!

Friday 5: Uses for Sticky Notes in the Classroom

MAY15_26_456701506Being a complete stationery addict, it’s no surprise I am pretty obsessed with sticky notes. Sat there in big colourful blocks and available in a host of hues and shapes, they bring vibrance and life to my otherwise dreary planner and make my never ending to do list a little more palatable. Continue reading “Friday 5: Uses for Sticky Notes in the Classroom”

Friday 5: Apps for the Classroom

I love a bit of technology in the classroom. For some reason, it really seems to click with students and some of the most trying students can be coaxed into producing decent work if they are presented with a keyboard and mouse. Maybe this is because of the novelty factor, or maybe it’s because I’m not asking them to handwrite things. And maybe that’s me being cynical. In any case, technology is more and more becoming a regular feature of our classrooms. Continue reading “Friday 5: Apps for the Classroom”

Friday 5: Resources for Teaching Shakespeare

ShakespeareTragedyI’ll be making a video to go with this at some point, but as I am teaching Shakespeare to two classes I thought I would share now some of the resources I have come across that have really helped with bringing the plays to life. Continue reading “Friday 5: Resources for Teaching Shakespeare”