Phil Beadle: Pointless, Posh and Boring?

Not Phil, but how the kids he works with view school.

Phil Beadle is the author of Dancing About Architecture and is currently in Australia, working at Knox Grammar School as a Teacher-in-Residence.  During this time, he has done an interview with ABC’s Richard Fidler for his ‘Conversations’ series. The conversation is fast-paced and really interesting and well worth a listen.  Recorded on my birthday (!) I consider this a special gift from Phil to me (thanks, Phil!) and now I would like to share ten points of note from the conversation:


  • Show up.  Be there, be engaged with your kids.  Let them know you are there for them, consistently.


  • Eat lunch with your kids – look out for them from a different environment – who needs more from you?


  • Groups not rows – discourse with each other not a reliance on the teacher as the font of all information.


  • Grouping slightly higher attaining boys with slightly lower attaining girls is optimal for all students.


  • Have a performance space for your students – they need a stage to share with each other and a space that you step back from to let them shine.


  • Instead of a ‘zero tolerance’ policy, schools should have massive amounts of tolerance. Set clear expectations and ‘sweat the small stuff’.


  • Your mantra should always be “What is best for the child?”


  • Hand the learning over to the young people and get them to develop their oral skills. End teacher-led discussions to avoid rogue student behavior.


  • Never let your kids behavior change your behavior – always project positivity and professionalism in the face of poor attitudes.


  • Use praise liberally and ensure everyone in the classroom gets it.  The absence of praise is an utter negative.  Believe in the beauty of real, descriptive praise.


Phil concludes by speaking proudly of his little book on creativity, Dancing About Architecture. If you haven’t done so already, get your hands on a copy and have a read (you can borrow mine!). It really is inspiring and funny and challenging and the perfect pre-back-to-school read.

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