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Teaching never changes

I taught my first lesson to a class of students in September 2006. At the time I was so proud to actually do it, looking back it was a disaster only saved by the well behaved students who gave me the benefit of the doubt and made the best of my rambled explanations. For that lesson, I created a PowerPoint, filled it with objectives and a 'learning journey' and then proceeded to fill it with bulky in depth written instructions that I smashed through in exactly the same way that my university lecturers did. It was incredibly dull and confusing but the students did 'something' which at the end I had reason to feel good about.


Since that day, most of my lessons have been prepped in much the same way. There are still PowerPoints but I try to limit myself to a maximum of two short sentences per slide and a maximum of 3 slides between each student activity. The majority of my content delivery is via my 'performance' in the room. The reaction to questions and comments sprinkled with anecdotes from my many screw ups in the class room and my in depth reading of Computing horror stories from Wikipedia and blogs. My teaching is more polished, it's demonstratively better and on the whole, I usually get more thumbs up reviews by the end of Year 11 than thumbs down.


Last week changed my 'business as normal'.


In the back of my head there was always a feeling that schools 'might' close. Maybe for short sharp deep cleans. Perhaps in a ripple across the county or country to minimise disruption. I had my money that the government would try to ride the storm until the Easter break and then put some measures into place while we were already off.


The rumours and whispers spread through the school on the 'announcement day'. Would we close? Is my mum a 'key worker?' Maybe? I guess my mind was more focused on the crumpling of the 'old' style of teaching.


I've tried to keep up with new tech. It's kinda my thing after all. I've been using cloud based learning and submission since about 2010 to varying degrees. I was an early advocate for VLE's and I treated the coming of Microsoft Teams and OneNote like the return of the chosen messiah himself. That said, my teaching was still very 'me' focused. I created this 'TenTenTen' brand in my head in May 2019 after a particularly grumpy few months where I though I wasn't any good at teaching anymore. The idea was to reinvent what I do and stop repeating my past lessons. TenTenTen the website and the YouTube channel is attempting to bridge a digital gap between what teachers do and what students are already comfortable with. But like many of my ideas since 2006, it was kept as a slow burn... I never followed through. My problem was the so called Toolbox Fallacy... perhaps I'll talk through that at a another time.


So, schools are shut, what do we do? Well here we go. Properly this time I hope. My hand has been forced and now it's time to make this digital curriculum work. There is a potential generation of students who will be forever in their 'quaren-teens'... not my phrase, blame Twitter. Their Toolbox will be empty because they have had potentially months less of me and others like me performing their well rehearsed shows in classrooms up and down the nation and across the globe.


The actor Ron Perlman narrated perhaps the most recognisable intros of video game history and his quote is now synonymous with the franchise. "War, war never changes". And in the game, it never does. Now if you'll allow me to haphazardly re-purpose that quote, perhaps in my head these past years I always felt that teaching never really changes.


Well on Wednesday 17th March 2020 just after 5pm... maybe it did.


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