Why did some parents get sweaty about Christmas Sweater day?

If, in the name of science, you want to cause stress in the life of primary school parents there’s one sure fire way to do it.  Just change what the children have to wear in school on one day and then stand well back.

To amplify the effect, the following would be recommended for consideration:

  • be slightly unclear about the date for this variation in uniform
  • pick a time when parents are already emotionally rollercoastering along on their own journey towards a critical event over which they have little control
    • e.g. religious festivals, transitions across key stage or school, national charity events like Sports or Comic relief
  • include the information at the foot of a newsletter as part of a much longer list
    • also, use Comic Sans pt size 10 or another any off-beat font to dissuade reading
  • if asked, tell parents you told them already in this month’s newsletter, text, radio broadcast or personal address by the Head
    • this reinforces their sense of powerlessness to control even the most trivial variations in their life
  • forget that parents are only half-listening anyway
    • What was that last one again?

They're only ever half listening anyway

 

In short, for pre-stressed parents, finding a Christmas sweater for their child has the potential to festively and royally de-rail their normally stable emotional centre.

How can a sweater have such an effect?

Well along with applying one or more of the above top 5 tips, it’s probably worth stepping back a bit and looking at these two graphs about why people think they were bullied in 2016. Take a look at the top reason.

Schools are so nurturing, so accommodating and probably unlike any other setting a child will ever experience, aside from their own family unit, when it comes to putting their needs first.  Schools with the best intentions may quietly tell a parent;

“It doesn’t matter really – just something red would be fine!”  or,  “Just send them in with their usual one on and we can put some tinsel on it for them.”

In reality, most parents, having once been in primary school themselves, don’t hear these kind offers as intended.  They want their child to ‘fit’ or if they’re going to stand out it’ll be for having the most awesome sweater ever made.  Back in the day when primary parents were in school it is very possible that the top reason people thought they got bullied was no different to the 2016 survey.  Judging by appearance in today’s society has arguably never been more shamelessly normalised by popular media and at some time probably everyone has been guilty of doing it. Even us perfect people.

The instinct to protect offspring is hard coded and seemingly trivial things like Christmas Sweater day can be a trigger for this instinct to kick in.  People act out of character.

Should this kind of thing be kept out of school?

It’s a difficult question to answer but perhaps, in amongst everything else that school leaders and teachers bear in mind every second of every day for every child, by stepping back a bit and seeing where parents are journeying from and to we’ll all have an even more wonderful <insert religious festival or special event name here> time.

Wishing you all the best!

We are doing social media workshops for schools throughout 2017 starting in the north west of England. Email support@blippit.co.uk if you’d like to know more.

Schools, Trains and Change Management

Today I was travelling back by train from a meeting in Manchester. Hot choc in hand I arrived at the platform and found that the train I was to catch had been cancelled.  No worries. Trainline App to hand (I wasn’t alone – another guy also had this) I worked out what I needed in no time. No worries.

In front of me was a chap who looked confused.  He asked another guy what was happening with the trains and he replied to say he had an app that said the next train was due shortly, quick change then onward no worries.  Chap was pleased to help and confused guy glad of the info and he hung around phone app guy in some sort of subconscious thankyou mode.

The platform soon filled with lots of other people.  One threesome couldn’t see their train on the departure board so they went off to seek a train person to ask.  There was shoulder shrugging and frowning in equal measure.

Finally the train arrived, we all piled in for one stop then piled out again at the next station to change.  The app people, including myself, stepped straight onto the connecting train on platform 3 quite confidently.  Elsewhere other voices could be heard asking the same question.

Is this the train for Preston?  Is it?  You think so?  Yeh I’m pretty sure it is.  According to this app it is yes.  Noone seems to know for sure.  You’d think they’d put someone on here to ask wouldn’t you?

Complete strangers reaching out for the right information and reassurance but sadly both were in short supply.  People were resigned to their fate now.  Doors shut and necks continued to crane looking for signs and confirmation that they were headed in the right direction.  Like a slightly smug individual I opened my laptop on a free table and got working.

Why the train story?  For me it illustrates what happens when there’s an enforced change and people have to divert from their usual trajectory.  Some people are in the know and can crack on.  Some people are good at finding out the answers and seek either authority or peers.  Passengers with access to the latest info at the point where it’s needed are able to cope with the change and even become useful to those who are less connected.

When social media is used proactively, responsively and strategically by schools to the benefit of their community it’s magical and empowering and it’s precisely why we do it; we’ve called it ‘improving the parent journey’.

For more visit Blippit Social

Communicating with parents heading in to the festive season within the structure of the Aristotelian Dramatic Arc!

The story arc of your school should ideally be less Aristotelian and more ‘Downton-ian’ where the peaks and troughs are relatively gentle and you could be forgiven for thinking that nothing much is really going on!

When school is on the front foot & leading communication it helps to make responding to parents less of a drama. We think Facebook is a key factor in taking the lead towards reclaiming school’s position as the authoritative news source.

Fishing where the fish are does work & if you’d like to know more you’re welcome to call 01772 657 100 or support@blippit.co.uk

Face-to-Face with New Blippit IO Spotlight

It’s time to put learning literally in the Spotlight.  Meaningful, authentic and unique experiences with high expectations are where Blippit IO Spotlight is aiming to help out.

Historically face-to-face communications using technology has been thwarted in school because of

  • technical barriers i.e. Skype is blocked or Google meant a lot of account setup and wider thought
  • lack of service support
  • stranger danger worries
  • memories of megabucks needed to achieve anything worthwhile

Blippit-Spotlight-LOGO

So what have we done?

We’ve created Blippit IO Spotlight & the plan is that it’ll be exclusively available to all our Blippit IO School users as part of the Blippit IO suite whether you use the App Maker or PureCode Python or both.  Here’s a quick introduction:

What does Spotlight do and how is it different?

We have given the teacher full control over everything with no need for tech support.  The teacher chooses

  • who can use video to communicate
  • when it’s available and therefore when it isn’t by default
  • when ‘rooms’ for links are available

We’ve made Blippit IO Spotlight so that teachers can

  1. create exciting and unique opportunities for communicating and collaborating with others
  2. connect simply to another Blippit IO member or invited ‘other’ from outside of Blippit IO
  3. use text chat to share comments or links with others
  4. make best use of our quick file sender to share resources with others in project chat
  5. collaborate and communicate via Blippit IO Spotlight safely any time and anywhere

We’d like to thank all our users, past and present, for coming along with us on this change-filled time in education.  Let’s face it – change became the norm many years ago so why not try to have some fun along the way?  😉

Green Park Primary School – Change for all the right reasons

Yesterday, thanks to a random tweet about Chromebooks by Green Park Primary computing lead Pete Rafferty (@Raff31), I had the great pleasure of spending a morning there with the children, teachers & Head Teacher Mrs Hains.

teachershowing-2

One of the areas I’m always really interested in is how schools make things happen, why they happened in the first place and what’s the outcome at the end of it all.  The time spent in year 3 & 6 was so interesting that many things, though not necessarily in this order, shot through my mind
  • if Ofsted walked in now, unannounced, where would they put themselves & how would they begin to understand what was happening
  • technology is often seen as an isolator of children; a shutting down of a child to those around them. Not so particularly in the Year 3 lesson. The level of conversation leading to division of labour and ongoing review of improvements was really quite special.
  • the children can choose the right tool for them; they use a white board to jot down the essence of information from a web page then the Chromebooks to edit and add it into their work. Less & less copy & paste
  • distributing leadership across the class is a much-hammered phrase down the years but when the teacher ‘believes’ and hands over the reigns it’s a powerful thing in a one-to-one situation
  • shift happens; peer review/AfL is non-threatening here and being shared to the big screen is no biggie
    • children invite others to collaborate on their work including the teacher
  • risk taking is a gradual process but clearly the Head has, with teachers, nurtured a culture with Pete that mistakes happen but that’s life and so long as they’re learned from that’s fine.  The lesson is not to not take risks again.
  • they’ve done it the right way round; network wireless infrastructure is bolstered to take the demands of busy children & teachers
  • lives are touched by tech where it’s advantageous for it to be so e.g. Google Drive enabling job shares to work seamlessly on report moderation

overheadnotes-2

Miss Lewis-Brown (Yr 3) was the guide and the side not the sage on the stage.  Capturing notes on her iPad during the lesson and I believe filing them away using Evernote it was pretty inspiring that though the technology was so conspicuous it wasn’t the star.

On tech note, I’m a big fan of Chromebooks in schools for some practical reasons to do with reducing

  • technical support burden on ICT people i.e. you can forget about updates & antivirus
  • waiting time when people log in to the Chromebooks i.e. you’re talking about seconds
  • cost overheads and worries about ratios e.g. you’re looking at around £160 ex vat per Chromebook
  • the digital divide i.e. some of these children asked for a Chromebook instead of an iPad this Christmas

class-2

Managing ongoing change that leads to the kind of images you see here takes nerve and leadership but it’s definitely achievable.  With the support of the Head, Pete has gently guided his colleagues along a path driven by need and potential which I could imagine influencing the secondary school provision.  One of the feeder schools has in fact recognised this already and is laying the ground with Office 365 where the children’s collaborative working skills will be transferrable.  Just some of the challenges will be in
  • exploiting the opportunities Office 365 this has to offer
  • nurturing digital leadership as a desirable attribute in students
  • ramping up the network infrastructure services in a larger setting (££)

questions-2

By coincidence the BBC published a story today about a campaign by employers that puts a value of £88 Bn on soft skills.  Food for thought.