Striking Out

I usually blog about books and TV shows, films and climate change. Today, however, I wanted to write about something a little bit more personal. My wish to take Strike Action tomorrow.

I cannot remember the last time we were driven to consider striking but this year many unions have decided to take this action due to lots of factors, including workload and pay conditions.

Why Am I Striking?

I know that in education we have seen our workload triple over the past decade. We drown in lots of unnecessary paperwork and admin. We all know that red tape has grown and bogged us down. Our work day is roughly 8:00 till 17:00 but when we come home we switch on our laptops and do another 2-3 hours of admin work every evening.

I hear people saying that teachers are lazy and have lots of holidays but the daily stress and responsibility is enormous. Many people go home from work and forget about it pretty much but we have so many things to plan, coordinate, remember and generally stress about each night and throughout the weekend.

So Why Strike?

Yes it is disruptive and no I would not normally get involved but there is plenty of evidence to show that salaries have plummeted as inflation has risen. We are literally struggling to pay our bills. I now believe strike action is required.

Source: ONS and the Times via @danielkebedeneu

We Need To Stick Together!

I was recently convinced to join the NEU strike because my own bills are increasing rapidly. Yet our pay has not risen in line with this. To add to this, we were made to work in 41 degree temperatures last summer. This was incredibly stifling without air conditioning. A difficult teaching environment.

These two facts led to me signing YES on the NEU ballot.

I feel that our profession is not respected like it used to be and our work is piling up. Teachers are leaving in droves and we are forever having to plan and cover for others as long term sickness and vacancies make us unbearably short staffed.

In A Nutshell

To me it feels like schools are driving talented people away. Other European countries pay more competitive wages and have better work-life balances. Sorry for the political rant but I just wanted to say why it is so important to me. I feel we need to take strike action to provoke change.

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Tying Things Together – A Brilliant Book

AD – This is a sponsored post but the views I share are purely my own. There are promotional links to the book’s website.


Boo’s Shoes: A Rabbit and Fox Story – Learn To Tie Shoelaces

As a teacher, I am always shocked to discover how many children get through life without knowing how to tie their own shoelaces. I am forever being asked to help them to tie them and I cannot believe they can get to eight years old and wear laced up shoes, without being able to do them up independently.

I have to admit that in recent years I have struggled to find useful resources that enable me to go through lace tying step-by-step, so having come across this incredible educational book, I am more than pleased to big it up. The book is called Boo’s Shoes: A Rabbit and Fox Story – Learn To Tie Shoelaces and stars two really cool characters, Boo the bunny and Farah Fox. Check out the colourful cover page below:


Boo’s Shoes is written by Sybrina Durant

Why is this book handy for parents?

Boo always wants shoes without laces and doesn’t have the confidence to learn to tie his shoes. His friend, Farah, convinces him that tying laces is an important life skill and will help him feel better about himself.

As well as telling a beautiful story, which can be read again and again, this book includes an instruction section, where the reader can learn step-by-step how to make a bunny ear bow with their laces. The thing that I love most about it is that it encourages parents and children to share a love of reading whilst also learning a valuable lesson.



So, tying things together, this wonderful children’s book is an educational treat. Boo’s story is part of a series of teaching books, including one about tying a tie and another about neck scarves. Sybrina’s book shop can be found at The Rabbit and the Fox Book Store and is full of brilliant stories, with animal characters who find fun ways to teach these important life skills.

Thank you for reading this shoe tying book post. I am keen for young people to develop their own independence through shared learning experiences. This book is a useful way for parents and children to work together and enjoy getting to grips with tying laces.

Reading Lessons – Top Tips

Reading matters. Us confident readers need to help others to engage with books.

Over twenty years I have taught in many different settings, to a wide range of learners, including adults and early readers. One of the things I have noticed is that some people get bogged down in reading certain amounts of text for set amounts of time. Although, with most things – the more you practise, the better you get -, with reading it depends how well you use that time. Here are some reading lessons worth integrating into book sessions.

For instance, asking a student to read a chapter from a complicated book by the following day is quite demanding. That student may well go away and mechanically read through those twenty pages and feel like they have achieved their goal. However, if that reading time was not engaging, then they will probably still have very little understanding of the text when writing about it the next day. This causes frustration which may lead to them losing interest in reading.

I am not going to spend time talking about phonics in this article. I will save that for another day. Instead, I want to give some general suggestions for teaching reading, which apply to children and adults who already know the alphabet and can segment or blend words. These tips are for comprehending texts and gaining strategies to interact with them usefully.

Ask the right questions

Let’s take a parent who really wants to encourage their child to read. Imagine that this parent is literate and regularly reads themselves. They may be under the impression that speed is of the essence. This misguided idea is common and some young people rattle through books at a rate of knots.

I am not criticising this approach but I have seen this many times. Often parents will say. ‘They have read every book on that level. Now can they move up to harder books?’ Of course, reading lots of books is not an indication of being a more competent reader.

A better approach would be to take a shorter piece of text and practise unpicking it. This applies to those learning to read English at any age. I’d suggest reading three paragraphs and interacting with the text more. Here are some ways to achieve this:

1) Find a word

You might get a student to examine a short extract and then challenge them to find a word that means something in particular. This game is basically using synonyms and helps with scanning techniques.

‘Find a word that means worried.’ As they look through the paragraphs, they then become more familiar with the overall text and eventually find the word anxious. Of course, this relies on word knowledge. I suggest after first reading a piece, to ask them which words are new to them and then discuss their meanings.

This could apply to phrases too. For instance –

‘Find a phrase that means ‘think very hard.’ The answer might be ‘rack my brains.’

2) Read between the lines

Retrieval of facts or details is really handy but comprehension is about understanding and contextualising what is read as well. Starting to get to grips with this is especially difficult. Therefore I would start with this kind of activity:

‘The sentence – ‘She slammed the door and stomped off’ – shows the mood that Jemma was in. What was that mood and how do you know?’

You may then follow that up with –

‘Now find a phrase that shows how Cam felt about moving house.’

We talk a lot about inference skills and these types of questions can stimulate our brains to become better at understanding what we just read.

Reading Rocks

Let people enjoy what they read. Never dismiss their texts as pointless.

My final thought for today is that reading needs to be fun. One of the most damaging things that I have seen over the years is people dismissing certain types of books or text as not valuable. ALL reading is valuable!

Even with the very best intentions, saying that a book is worthless is very unhelpful. If someone is enjoying a particular book or comic then let them read it. Show interest in their choice of reading material and try to engage with them about it. Instead of knocking it, perhaps merely suggest a wider range of texts. Try drawing them into something you enjoy reading and take a more collaborative approach.

Being told that their choice of book is wrong or invalid is only going to deter a reader from wanting to spend more time reading.

Thank you for taking the time to look at my post about reading. I welcome comments below the article and any feedback about if you would like more posts about this topic. I wrote a recent post about why reading is important too. Please follow my blog for similar posts about books, entertainment and climate change.