Making A Difference… By @ASTSupportAAli

After Northern Rocks 2015 on Saturday the 13th of June, I have updated this blog post…

A question I often get asked is…

How do you find the time to do all that extra stuff, and why do you bother?!

Comments that that others mockingly make to me a LOT are…

Wait, let Amjad ask his Twitter friends…

Or why don’t you Tweet that! Haha.

My family, friends and students are also shocked when they see I have nearly 9000 followers…

Why would anybody follow a boring teacher? What can you offer anybody else?!

In this short blog I just want to explain why I do, what I do:

The answer is simple, it is because I want to make a difference. (I should just stop there… That is enough right? No! I think people (I also need to justify the time spent in my head) need more of an explanation.)

My Teaching and Learning Toolkit.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 12.32.16

I run a free website- www.CheneyAgilityToolkit.BlogSpot.Com that now has a collection of over 275 FREE teaching and learning resources, ideas, suggestions, links, ideas for educators worldwide to use.

Why do I bother? Why do I take time to do this? Why would I relentlessly promote this for no financial gain. (I do not sell any resources, but, I have made myself available for INSETS/CPD and yes, I do get paid for that.)

I guess, the reason I share these activities is the same reason I coach Cricket to young children. Or share a joke on a Facebook status, or recommend a good book to a friend. I think, it is also the same reason I will help my neighbour put up their Christmas lights, or help my sister do her garden. So, is it about having a sharing element to ones personality? A helping one? I think so, I mean, I know I have always been like this. Thinking back to my university days I was doing similar things then too. For example creating networks for students to help each other with their work. Initiating societies that have never been thought of before. Such as the Multi-Cultural Society!

If I think something is helpful, I do not feel as if it should be kept from others. Why not let others benefit too? As ultimately we are in this for students? Not just for OUR students?

Why else?

Is that really the only reason; because it feels good? The maintaining of the toolkit also links back to when I was asked how I would handle being in the classroom a lot less being an Assistant Head Teacher when I started this job. I replied saying…

As a classroom teacher I had an impact on the 100-150 students I used to teach. I took sole ownership for their GCSE/A Level subject grades. Now, I have a responsibility for potentially 1400 students. This makes me proud that my reach, my support goes beyond my beloved subjects.

I feel sharing on Twitter that number could potentially be a lot higher…

However, that doesn’t stop people thinking including me; if I spent less time updating my toolkit, twitter, Facebook page, and Pinterest page wouldn’t I be a better teacher? Couldn’t I focus that time on marking better, preparing better resources, learning more about my subject…? Well, NO! I trained to be a teacher via the Graduate Teacher Programme. We had to reflect a lot. This is now ingrained into my personality. I reflect as I write up my toolkit posts. I tweak the way the activity went, I try to share tried and tested strategies that I know have worked. Look through this blog. I reflect. A lot.

Nevertheless the toolkit does beg the question of why all the self promotion? Why try to show others what you do? Why gloat? Show off? (Is it gloating? Showing off?) I know I have offended some people on occasion sharing a picture of a message I received from former students. The response was you don’t need to show off. I was just proud. I Wanted to share my happiness. Bit like when you phone your loved ones to share your joy about some good news. Is that what Twitter is to me? Us? A family? I don’t know how to really answer sceptics or critics other than…

I have exactly the same time in a day as anybody else… I stay healthy, active and manage my time in a productive way. I am ambitious and want to succeed.

I see others succeeding as me succeeding.

Crowd Sourcing ideas has also been my thing, I collated a list of ASTs/SLEs/LPs and organised them by their subject area and specialism here over a year ago. AST Google Doc. I also created this Useful Websites Google Doc a list of websites organised by subject. Also, all these Padlet Sharing Walls which aim to bring together the many minds online.

Two heads are better than one right?


This initiative was set up by @FurtherEdagogy and me, along with the idea of @SessionBuilder (A free lesson plan creator which emails directly to you your completed plan linked to SOLO taxonomy).

Again, why waste time pairing up teachers across the country to get them to support each other via Twitter?! I guess again, to make a difference. There is no gain for us, we neither see/hear/read about the impact that often. But, we know its made a difference. How? A guess when people go to TeachMeets and say so, create staff bulletin, give us a #FF, write a tweet to us or write blogs thanking us. That makes it all worthwhile. If it has impacted on the practice of one other then I am ecstatic.

So far over 150 teachers (we are currently on round 5 sign ups) have been paired up together to organise SKYPE/faceTime/Hangout/phone call sessions to coach each other to be better teachers, leaders and learners? It makes me proud. It makes me happy that we are doing these things to make a difference. Thank you Dan Williams- without you these things wouldn’t have been possible. SessionBuilder is an amazing piece of work that you have organised!



A global pen pal scheme! Originally set up by me, @MadgieMGEDU and @KaBradders. We wanted to develop our own childhood experience of having a pen pal for our students by making it more 21st Century! We then dreamt up #CultureBox. An idea to get teachers to send boxes of cultural references/links/ideas to other students across the word. We paired up 60 teachers initially from 4 continents and 15 different countries! We have now opened up for round 2

It is going really well seeing/hearing/reading about packages full of goodies, work and ideas being sent across the world. Classes Skyping each other across continents and teachers communicating and interacting with each other; sharing ideas, resources and enthusiasm. What was in it for me? For us? Nothing. Just I remember the feeling of receiving a gift, the sense of awe, wonder and imagination. I am glad this is continuing in classrooms across the world.

Check out the feedback from some of the participants!


I guess I have a special interest with #TMOxford. It was here that I presented in June 2013.

From here, I applied for a job. (Thank you for the nudge Sir Tim Brighouse!)

To me #TMOxford has a special place in my heart. That is why I helped organise it in my first year working at Cheney School in 2013. This year I have organised something bigger and better again with the support of Rob Bown again- the Teach Meet lead.

Sir Tim Brighouse and Vic Goddard providing the keynote speeches; we are extremely fortunate. With @ActionJackson hosting I am extremely excited. Along with the various sponsors I have been so fortunate to acquire, I am extremely pleased. Sign up here!

Why bother? Why spend so much time on this? Why welcome teachers for day visits to help them with their journeys? Why chase up so many people? I guess I want to make a difference. I want teachers to share the buzz for teaching and learning here at my school. I want teachers to know education isn’t all doom and gloom. I want to help.

I have gradually begun to even stop making affiliation to things. I have started to want to give these initiatives over to others. I guess this is directly a result of my learning journey of being a leader. Not wanting credit, wanting others to succeed. Still some work to do here for me yet.

I know I am not perfect, that is why I read so much from others, I have learnt so much from favouriting blogs, then quietly reading them whilst laying in bed.

Thank you Twitter. Thank you for listening, for reading, for participating and thank you for making me at least feel as if I am making a difference.   

Northern Rocks allowed me to feel the above buzz again, having people approach me and say thank you so much. Having people say I love your blog and so on, is what drives me to continue. So, no, thank you all.

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Do pictures speak a 1000 words?

After all, I am just a simple T.W.A.T- Teaches With Agility Toolkit!


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