Samantha Rodgers' blog

The excitement of a new curriculum!

I am in the very fortunate position of working in an international school that encourages innovation, creativity and forward thinking. As a Head of Dept in this school, with my team of 14 English teachers, we have transformed the curriculum for the students, invigorated ourselves, and renewed my sense of what it is to be a teacher. Using partition walls and team teaching IB classes is one of our achievements, collaborating on a new global qualification with Cambridge International Examination board is another, creating pathways for students in Year 10-11,  and embedding Assessment for Learning, inquiry, learning technologies in our 1:1 laptop program- my years at this school have been full of opportunity and professional learning.

I have had the chance to work with fantastic VPs, who have led the ‘learning’ journey at my school- introducing me to the likes of Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Ken Robinson, H Lynn Erickson, Willingham, Senge, Dweck and so on, to add to my reading and understanding of pedagogy. Continue reading

Brain based learning: Willingham’s ‘Why don’t students like school?’

WIllingham's book

A few months ago, I was asked about what started my interest in curriculum design and change management. I don’t that there was any one moment, but I do remember the moment, a few years ago, when I knew that there was ‘something’ in these books that I was reading, and when my belief that change was needed- and now- was cemented. This, combined with being a mother whose daughter was just about to enter primary schooling, was a powerful motivator for change. This moment occurred when I was at an ‘Aspiring Principal’ course and I was seated with some primary school colleagues. I had with me a book – Daniel Willingham’s ‘Why Don’t Students Like School?, who as a cognitive scientist was answering the key questions about how the mind works and the implications this has for the classroom.

One primary teacher glanced at the title and said, ‘I don’t need to read that- kids love primary school!’ That comment really got me thinking, one- do kids love primary school and lose that feeling in secondary school, and if I was going to try and make a difference, what would this book tell me?  Continue reading