Tim Peake, workload and growth mindset theory: the top 10 teacher buzzwords of 2015

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The biggest stories published by TES are read by hundreds of thousands of teachers every week. As a result of investigative reporting, powerful writing, burgeoning social media engagement and the historic place of TES at the heart of Britain’s educational conversation, our reach has never been wider.

Throughout 2015, the digital revolution has given us greater insight than ever into the minds of our readers – the teachers and school leaders of Britain – and has allowed us to understand what’s really going on in the psyche of the nation’s collective staffroom.

As such, we are ideally placed to identify the stories, the issues and the buzzwords that really press your buttons. Here are my top 10 (in no particular order)…

  1. Workload: This piece by the ATL’s Mary Bousted ("'I hear of teachers crying on their kitchen floor…'") on the pressures associated with teaching is one of the most read articles in TES’ 105-year history. Take from that what you will.
  2. Carol Dweck: Has there ever been a more popular educational guru than the Sage of Growth Mindset? Like catnip for teachers, a deep respect for St Carol unifies the entire spectrum of the profession: left and right; progressive and traditionalists; heads and teachers. And if you needed persuading of her popularity, the viral nature of this story should be evidence enough: "Watch out for your own fixed mindset, Carol Dweck tells teachers".
  3. Pupils: They really can be wonderful, can’t they? And often they say the funniest things…
  4. Ofsted and accountability: Few stories resonated with heads and teachers more than this little story about Ofsted’s decision to axe thousands of its so-called “additional inspectors”, judging them not up to standard: "Ofsted purges 40% of inspectors".
  5. Stress: That there is an epidemic of workplace stress is widely accepted. Something must be done – especially if we are to avoid the problem infecting the pupils, too. Just ask the Department for Education’s mental health tsar, Natasha Devon who last month argued: "'To improve the mental health of young people, we should start by tackling stress among teachers'".
  6. Fun and listicles: Despite all the doom and gloom, there can be no doubt that teachers like a bit of fun, especially if it comes in the form of a list. Big hits over 2015 included the top 100 books all children should read before leaving primary, a similar list for the secondary sector and Helen Ward’s brilliant "23 ways primary teachers know that Christmas is coming…".
  7. A loathing of political meddling: Nothing is more certain to wind up a teacher than the idea that politicians are mucking around with education for the sake of political point-scoring. And celebrated headteacher and TES online columnist Colin Harris received rave reviews from colleagues when he stuck it to his local MP.
  8. Love of teaching: For all the stress, worrying and overwork, there are many, many teachers who say it loud and say it proud: They bloody love life in the classroom. Not least among them is Zac McKenzie, a primary specialist who won many admirers (and a fair few cynical critics) when he got in touch with this article:  "'Yes, we're overworked and stressed, but I love teaching. We need to stop complaining and get on with it'" 
  9. Space, astronauts in general and Tim Peake in particular: 2015 was the year everyone fell back in love with the Final Frontier. And it turned out teachers were right in the vanguard. School staff love nothing more than exploring how they might use Major Peake’s adventures in the classroom. And the icing on the cake? TES giving you the opportunity to live link your pupils to the British astronaut early in the new year. Sign up here. #cosmicclassroom
  10. Pay: Nothing (other than workload) really gets the profession clicking faster that issues relating to their pay packet. Especially when the POPE DEMANDS BETTER PAY FOR TEACHERS!

Without doubt 2015 was a rollercoaster for the teaching profession, and there are no signs that 2016 will be any different. You can be certain of one thing, however: TES will be at your side throughout.

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