My name is Kelvin Furze and I’ve been teaching English for over twenty years – but not always well.
This is not through lack of effort, of course. I have worked extremely hard for the students in my care and have the stomach ulcers to prove it. However, it was only after embarking on the Mindlap PGC course that I started to think deeply about the theories and philosophies that underpin my daily classroom practice and to reflect seriously on fundamental issues such as the way students learn and the way that we assess.
That is not to suggest that I’ve only just started to take my job seriously, of course. I have always participated – even enthusiastically – in the formal structures provided by schools and governments for self-reflection and have dived through all of the various appraisal and performance management hoops that have been tossed up in front of me. However, I now recognise that my attempts at self-reflection involved a quick glimpse in the mirror whilst rushing off to do something else, rather than a serious look. I have now taken the long look and realise that I need to adapt my teaching practice to reflect the 21st century changes that are happening around me. I need to embrace innovation. I need to rethink my strategies.
If you had visited me in my class in 2015 you would have met someone who takes their job very seriously, who enjoys working with young people and who works hard to bring success to students. If you visited me today, that same person would greet you, but he would also be experimenting with digital technology, taking risks with new approaches, and perhaps even flipping his classroom and not just his lid.
The fact is, like most teachers, I just want to do a better job. This blog exists in order to help me do this. My main focus is on finding ways to improve assessment for learning practices in my classroom. I want to find better ways to incorporate formative assessment practices into my teaching and so improve learning outcomes for students. I believe this has been an area of weakness for me in the past. I have always adopted a relaxed, discursive approach to teaching, formed positive relationships with students and acted as a facilitator rather than dictator in student learning However, in future, I intend to merge this approach with greater use of digital technology and collaborative innovation in order to make assessment for learning an achievable goal in my classes. I want to spend less time teaching for summative assessments, and more time helping students to develop into critical thinkers, collaborative workers and reflective citizens.
I am hoping to share ideas, through this blog, with fellow teachers, parents and students. This blog only exists in order that I can reflect on my teaching and hopefully improve.