Team GB‘s cycling team is now perhaps synonomous with the Aggregation of Marginal Gains made famous by Dave Brailsford. He says, “It means taking the 1% from everything you do; finding a 1% margin for improvement in everything you do. That’s what we try to do from the mechanics upwards.” Small things like athletes taking their own pillow around the world with them to reduce infections and to ensure a good night’s sleep and washing hands more thoroughly to ensure germs are not transferred more readily. I began thinking….sometimes a rather dangerous pursuit. This combined with my current read “The art of being brilliant” by Andy Cope and Andy Whittaker led me to think how I could apply some of these psychological approaches to my role as a team leader and teacher.
As Andy Cope and Andy Whittaker say, life is full of busyness (that’s how they spelt it) and to be more effective in our roles we have to harness being happy (apparently only 2% of the population are happy at any one time) and seek to eliminate or reduce the ‘mood hooovers’ in life who are on a perpetual cycle of negativity that sucks any positivity that is present. I suspect we are all at one time or another a ‘mood hoover’, but strive to be happy. Equipped with the 2 Andy’s and Team GB’s principles, I decided to ask my team to compile a list of small things that were either time consuming, annoying or got in the way of their roles. Some items are duplicated which made the decision of trying to remove them somewhat easier. An example was having to input a photocopier code for every document you wanted to print – 17 documents equals 17 code inputs. Removal of the code therefore frees up more time – we’re on our way to begin aggregating those margins with the hope of massive gains!!!! I’m only a third of the way through this entertaining book so it must have had an impact to make me proactive before even finishing!
This may of course seem whimsical or petty, but I really believe that (along with Dave Brailsford) controlling or changing lots of small things will indeed make a HUGE difference. We are at the beginning of our journey to allow us ot be focussed on what we are good at, doing more of it and being the best we can be – whether that be teachers, team leaders, parents, spouses or friends. Was I inspired? Yes, without a doubt.
As an addendum to this post that was also recently tweeted, I was signposted by @ictevangelist (many thanks) to the fabuloUs blog of Zoe Elder @fullonlearning http://marginallearninggains.com/ – much more excellent reading ahead…
Some time ago, the idea was muted about teaching maths through stories. At the time, I wasn’t sure what this would look like other than a tenuous link to a story book that you may have in your cupbaord or book corner. More recently I have come across a super book written by the Devon Primary Maths team called Story Maths – using picture books in the primary classroom. It does exactly what it says on the tin…… Some fantastic story books and a myriad of suggestions how they can be used for the different blocks, themes and year groups. A very comprehensive collection of ideas. I bought a copy fully ready to embark onusing some of these suggestions.
Each book selected has a:
- synopsis of the story
- themes listed from the framework
- suggested activities and key questions
- suggested resources
- possible cross curricular links
- suitablility for which year groups/key stage
Updates to follow – but so far, so good.
Following a search for further ideas on how to incorporate maths across the curriculum, I came across some fab sites which did just this.
www.livingmathbooklist.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/multiplication – books link maths to literacy
Last Monday, at the Eliminating Gaps – What really works? conference, I was invited to give a workshop by my LA on using technology to engage learners and ultimately narrow those gaps in attainment and progress. This followed a very successful project ran by Wiltshire ICT and Literacy Team called Playing the Writing Game (see previous posts for more details). Basically, all participant teachers across the county found that their focus groups of 6 vulnerable grouped children make at least 2 sub levels of progress during the six month project and finished the project with a much higher engagement in literacy and using ICT. Games based learning was at the core of this project and was the subject of my workshop. It was a bit like speed dating or a Teachmeet, where we had 6 minutes to show and tell the many virtues of GBL to one group of delegates and then each group moved in a round robin so all delegates got to see all four worshops.
I had brought along my ever growing collection of Wii games, along with pith helmets, night watchman hats etc to give a real flavour of what GBL has to offer. Of course, six minutes is a tight time in which to fit in all that could and maybe should be said about collaboration, engagement, emmersion, shared learning, build community, language opportunities and so on, but I did my very best! I also signposted the http://swgamesbasedlearning.wordpress.com blog that would give even more ideas and hopefully inspire them to have a go!
The surprise of the day was just how many Headteachers, teachers etc have devices which are currently redundant in the back of the cupboard and could be put to much better use. I can’t think of a better use than hooking those reluctant children in to a world which inspires them to write, talk and communicate.
All in all, a great day!